Wednesday, June 25, 2014

All the Food in Ireland...

... And England, Wales, and France too... :)

First dinner in Ireland, at Glena House in Killarney, Ireland.  We stayed just down the street at the Rivermere Inn, which is a partner property to this one.  Dinner was Irish Stew, and tasted EXACTLY like the beef stew I grew up with.  Therefore, I loved it.  :) They even gave us ice cream for dessert.  

Breakfast at the Rivermere the next two mornings was wonderful, too.  Eggs, bacon, breakfast sausage, juice, coffee, tea, toast, cereal.  They had to tell me how to eat Weetabix, which utterly confused me when I picked it up.  Lol. But it was tasty once I understood to put it in a bowl and pour milk on.

The Vixens Den at the Bog Village Museum, Ring of Kerry - I had my second Irish Coffee of the day here.  :). I was finally feeling good and warm on a chilly, wet, windy June morning.  The first Irish coffee at the other place was a bit meh, but it was a free hot drink so I tried it.  This one was made with Bailey's...  I have found a new favorite. :).  

To answer the unasked question: I never saw a single drunk Irish person.  I think that's just a foul stereotype.  They were really polite and friendly everywhere we went.  

Cahersiveen, Ireland. I think this was the Kerry Coast hotel.  Potato and Leek Soup with brown bread. Very tasty and filling.... This one was a lunch stop on tour, not one of the included meals, so we were free to choose our own food, aaaand this is another dish I'm going to learn to make. :)  

Glena House, Killarney, Ireland - Turkey and veggies with potatoes two ways.  The crispy potatoes were delicious... The whole potatoes were just potatoes.  Lol. Raspberry Ripple Ice cream for dessert.  Mmm!  

Takeaway breakfast leaving Dublin - cereal with "long life milk". It actually tasted just fine. Lol. Don't get me wrong - there were other things in the breakfast box. I was pretty surprised.  Milk and cereal, a lemon & sultana (golden raisin) muffin, orange juice, and a Nutri-Grain bar.  

The day before, when we had time for a sit-down breakfast, there were pancakes, cereal, eggs, juice, toast, coffee, and breakfast sausage.

The Irish seem to really support the idea that a good breakfast is important.  I concur.  

Cottage Pie and chips at Hand Hotel in Llangollen, Wales. They gave us breeeeeeadddd with dinner!  :). And dessert, too, which was some kind of custard thing, I believe?  (I suppose I could admit that the custard dessert was forgettable to me because I think of homemade boiled custard at Christmas  when I hear the word.  It's very sweet, and this dessert.... Wasn't.  Sorry, I'm a sugar addict.  Still, I was pleased with a real dessert.). 

Breakfast was pretty good here too, though it was obvious that the eggs were powdered.  Lol. Still, there WERE eggs, plus cereal and toast, juice, tea, and coffee.

Lol Saw these in the gift shop at Beaumaris Castle, Wales.  See? They've got rednecks in Wales, too. Oh, but those toffee waffles behind them?  Yeah, I should have gotten some just for the sake of research. 

"Beef Stew" gruel at Taylor's Three Rock in Dublin.  I'm not impressed with their "world famous" fare. They gave us jello with fruit cocktail for dessert.  Really kinda lame.  

Our guide kept telling us on the way there that we were having beef stew made with ground beef rather than chunks if beef.  Okay, I thought, until the plate arrived.  

It tells me that they saw their contract with EF tours as a way to be cheap and get paid well before their real customers came at the dinner hour. They rushed us out before I had time to come back from the bathroom.  

Notice that's a flat plate, and the potato, about the size of that teaspoon, is the biggest piece of food in my whole dinner.  Lol. If I ever go back to Dublin, I have to assume this is what Taylor's thinks of as high quality food, and bypass the place entirely.  Their thatched roof isn't enough of a reason to return. Thumbs down.  

Our guide (who was wonderful) kept emphasizing that this meal would probably be a bit different than what we were used to, and it sounded almost like an apology.  There really wasn't a meal's worth of food there.  The picture shows what it looked like before I took a bite.  It tasted good, though it was a bit greasy.  (Which is why most beef stew isn't made with greasy ground beef.) It might have helped if there had been any bread.  

All in all, it reminded me of a pre-made Easter basket.  It looks like it's full of goodies, being a deep basket, but the factory put in a cardboard shelf, so that there is just that one layer of goodies, and a huge disappointing cheating empty space.  What's a basket for, if not to fill for your little bunnies?  

If I'd had any little bunnies of my own, I would have pulled out the cardboard shelf and filled the basket properly, myself.  

Pier House Cafe and Bistro - Beaumaris, Isle of Anglesey, Wales - I really wanted that taffy apple cider they were out of. I don't care for Magners.  Lovely little restaurant on the bay in Wales.  :). Welsh cheddar and onion relish sandwich.  Very tasty but very messy. Lol. Lovely beachy atmosphere here.  I wish we'd had more time to scout around this town.

Note: I only had the cider because none of the students on the trip were around.  :). 

Half-pint of Guinness at the Hand Hotel.  First few sips - yuck.  But then it grew on me. Now I realize I just don't like light beer.  My dad put it this way, "Light beer isn't really beer."  Our carriage driver in 
Killarney, Mick, said that Guinness is good for you.  Enough of it and you'll be seeing double and thinking you're single. Haha.  I went to bed that night in the haunted hotel watching a scary movie on my iPhone, drinking the rest of my "ladylike" half pint.  There were a few strange noises here and there, probably due to the age and structure of the building.  Still, I slept well with no problems, other than just needing a few more hours of sleep.

At Anne Hathaway's Cottage in Stratford-Upon-Avon.  Once again, victims of "the tour group special contracted food". We had parsnip soup for lunch (not a fan... Parsnips want so desperately to be tasty potatoes, or carrots... But fail both ways... I suggest you add pepper!) with a few finger sandwiches: Branston pickle, ham and cheese, white and wheat.  I discovered that brown sauce does wonders for bland sandwiches.  This place wouldn't give us water for our meal.  We had to beg for it, because they gave us nothing to drink.  The other people eating regular lunches seemed to be pleased, though, so I imagine if you're a "real" customer, the food is quite different.  Maybe?

Again, thumbs up for our hotel meals in Ireland and Wales.  They were spot on.  (Except for Taylor's.  Yeah, I'm still beating that dead horse.)

Had a Belvoir Elderflower Pressé while I was in Stratford.  It tastes like flower blossom soda. Kinda weird at first, but bright and refreshing after that. :). Basically, I was drinking flower nectar and felt like a faerie.  Wheeee! Let's dance!

Traditional Cornish Pasty from The Original Cornish Pasty Company at Victoria Station. This was supposed to be a pre-dinner snack, and turned out to be my entire delicious dinner because this small one was HUGE and filling and I wasn't hungry a few hours later when the group stopped at... KFC.  *sigh* Think great beef stew / best beef pot pie ever / disguised in a giant hot pocket with amazingly flaky crust.  And because all fellow travelers are chicken to try it and head for McDonalds, it's ALL MINE.  

Seriously, I feel like they were completely short changed!  Mwahaaha!  I'm gonna learn to make these. If I had to use the Tube very often, I'm sure I would catch myself rerouting to the nearest franchise of TOCPC pretty often.

The next day we went to Windsor Castle and had lunch in the Windsor Royal Station at a place called Cinnamon Cafe.  They had massive cinnamon rolls and sandwiches. I had a decent bacon sandwich there, but it didn't really rate a photo. :). I wanted a cinnamon roll, but I was thinking about the nightmare all that yeast dough would be for my tummy.  :(. I had a sample, and found that it wasn't as good as the cinnamon rolls my high school used to make. Just really bread-y with a bit of icing.  The staff were very polite and friendly, though they were dealing with the lunch rush crowds.

Fish and chips at The Centre Page in London.  Well, the tail gave me pause.  And after the first six bones, I kinda lost my appetite and was wishing for some plain old Long John Silver's. I know, this is real fish, but everybody knows I have a serious issue with bones in my food.  It was tasty, but I'm squeamish about those bones.  Hardly anyone else had bones.  Darn freaky bones.

Bought these at St. Pancras Station before boarding the Eurostar to Paris.  They must be filled with sleeping meds, because I passed out on the train and missed the Chunnel experience altogether.  I really wanted to see the decorations carved into the hills before you go into the Channel Tunnel, BUT we were facing backwards and I fell asleep hard and fast.  

Walker's had some interesting crisp flavors in the UK. I tried the roast chicken.  :). I should have tried more, but it probably wouldn't look good for a tourist to walk around eating crisps all the time.  

Dinner in Paris.... Crispy cracker-crust pizza with salad. Mmm... Dessert was Nutella Pizza. Well, at our table it was. :). The other tables got apple cinnamon pizza. Lol

Eggs Benedict for lunch at St. Regis on ile Saint Louis in Paris.  Oh so perfectly yummy.  My vegetarian roomie had crepes with chocolate, and everybody else had hamburgers... Which inexplicably came with a fried egg on top of each.  Ha ha ha! I'm not sure I get that...   However, my lunch was everything I had hoped for, and I even ate the beets and my salad.  

Chicken in mushroom sauce with rice at le Centre du Monde in Paris.  (In the vampire hangout basement lounge heavy with incense... I wonder...). Tasty food, more like home cooking than restaurant food.  Custardy dessert again.  Still not sweet enough for this sugar freak.  Ha ha ha. 

Speaking of sugar.... While we were in the Champs Élysées, we stopped by Ladurée, the pastry shop and tearoom.  They are reputed to sell the best macarons in Paris, and possibly all of the world.  I only have one regret about this place -- that I didn't buy more macarons at their airport shop.  (But honestly... I couldn't justify spending $50 on cookies.) Lol. They are crazy expensive, though, and are only good for about three days.  They're supposed to be kept in a bottom drawer of the refrigerator for that three days.  Obviously, this is their photo, not mine.  Do yourself a favor; use your Google-fu to look for pictures of "Ladurée macarons". I wasn't comfortable using someone else's image on this.  But I warn you -- they might make your mouth water.

Being such an expensive treat, my choice was limited to 8 macarons for somewhere around $25.  To be brief, I'll say that they tasted like two meringue cookies sandwiched with the most incredible light flavors of jam.  Well, if you ever have the chance, just splurge and buy them! They are wonderful!  Light, airy, delicate, and delicious...  No wonder people make such a huge deal about them.  

If you want to read a much better review of Ladurée, try here:
They have the delicious photos of the macarons. :). Another thing I may have to try making, but I don't think I can manage the rose petal flavored ones. *sigh*. They were my favorite. 

I tried these flavors: rose petal, strawberry and mint, lemon, chocolate, caramel with salted butter, raspberry, red fruits, and blackcurrant violet (because, you know, PURPLE!).  Gorgeous colors!  

I did buy a bag of salted caramels in Charles de Gaulle airport that I should have stayed away from.  No discernible saltiness, and they were so sticky that they yanked out one of my crowns.  Fortunately, that was here at home and my dentist was able to repair that horror by the following day.  I have a better tasting, non-sticky microwaveable sea salt caramel recipe from Pinterest that frankly tasted a lot better to me and didn't make me live in fear for my dental work.  Lol. I'll stick (eww bad pun) with that from now on.  

A final word on what to expect food wise on an EF Tour...  It was great, unless you have special dietary needs / preferences.  My roommate was a "picky" vegetarian (her words, I promise I'm not insulting her!) and a few times her needs were sort of accommodated, but I still don't understand how "vegetarian" means "cook me a plate of peppers" to a chef.  It seemed like the universal punishment for being a vegetarian.  *sigh*. But she never complained about it -- she just laughed and ate what she could stand.  

While we were in Blarney, we went looking for the deli that our guide, Katie, recommended, to buy lunch for the ride to Dublin. We ended up in a grocery store that had sandwiches (she had a box of fresh raspberries for lunch!), but on the way there we accidentally walked right into a good old butcher shop.  The air was full of the smell of raw meat, and I couldn't stay in there any longer than she could.  No offense to them, but it made me queasy enough to want to reconsider my status as a carnivore.  Gross.  

We had plenty of opportunities to buy more food wherever we went, so it wasn't like we would starve if a meal was served that we didn't like. The food was tasty for your average American palate. It's definitely worth going!

Monday, June 23, 2014

You Couldn't Pay Me...

This is a phrase I keep hearing when I travel, and it wears thin... Oh, after about the first time I hear it on a trip.  "You couldn't pay me to take a vacation here."  "You couldn't pay me to live here." "You couldn't pay me to come here."  (And the ever-popular "You couldn't pay me to eat their food."  Okay, more Cornish Pasties and Cottage Pie for me, thanks.) Of course, there are more variations that I have heard, and maybe I'm being unreasonable, but it really angers me to have to listen to it nonstop by people who, YES, actually did pay to go there.  And now, it seems, are taking their gripe factor to the next level by trying to bring me down and make me miserable too.

May I ask this?  When you hate everything, everywhere you go, who do you keep going? (Of course, this may just be another person who is simply exhausted like me, but has the energy to say these things, when I have energy enough to fall asleep on a weaving motorcoach or a bench on a street filled with pickpockets.)

When I have paid THAT MUCH for a tour, the only mood suggestions I want are from that sunny fellow traveler pointing out lots of good things about where we are, to the point I forget to dwell on just how much pain I'm in from my aching arches / plantar fasciitis / broken toe, or whatever my exact problem is at this less-than-halfway point of our journey.  I appreciate the reminders to take my ibuprofen and the gentle concern about what's wrong with me, as well as the acceptance of my completely brushing off my pain.  This was my attitude:  "All I can do is suck it up and keep going, because I'm not going to miss anything while I'm here."  I said several times I've just got to suck it up and keep moving.  

Nothing can be done about it anyway, according to the neurosurgeon I consulted.  The rest of my life will be daily pain, and sometimes it will be tearful for me.  

I was okay with that, because I was allowed to make my own decision.  :) Tell me you're going to torture me in the gym by making me run a mile and a half on my first day back after months off, and I will most definitely be resentful and resistant.  Let me make my own choices about it, and all it takes is that one song spurring my perverse notion to run without any encouragement or threat whatsoever.  

(There was that quiet voice I heard yesterday in my head, saying, "Oh no, you're going to run, aren't you? You shouldn't.  But you're going to." And then I turned on my 10K trainer program to week one, day one, and hit the start button.)

A big part of that is the desire to be a runner, and to be a smaller person, just as there is my desire, when traveling, to not miss anything I don't have to.  Still, self motivation is often the key, so why do other people want to try to ruin someone else's motivation by being negative?  

A lot of the walking that is required on a tour like this exacerbates the sciatic nerve pain I have to deal with every day -- when I've pushed too far (according to my sciatic nerve and not my will), instead of thigh numbness, I get fiery electrical pain stabbing and flaming through the front and side of my entire right thigh.  

I don't want to hear how much my fellow traveler hates our current location, because it kills my own enjoyment, which I could be using to drown out the pain I'm in.  Let me enjoy the vacation I've waited and paid for over two years.  Find a willing listener.  I'm busy looking for the sunshine, and being an ADD person, it's easy to tear away my attention and make me anxious about the whirl and crush of the people surrounding me. 

By the way, have I spent all my time telling you about my pain? No? I kept it pretty quiet, didn't I? My roommate and group leader know about what I'm hiding, and nobody else needs to know why I almost shriek when I put my bare feet on the floor in the morning, and limp for a long time after that, because ...

OMG! This is a train that's going to whisk us UNDER the English Channel at better than 200mph!  (Right after I get ripped off on currency exchange and I suspect housekeeping stole some euros from my luggage). Still, OMG, how cool is this gonna be! *

WOW!  Ireland is beautifully, lushly, gorgeously green and filled with charming villages, little houses surrounded by rustic rock walls, castles and cathedrals, and such warm, friendly, and funny people!  (Rain?  Big freaking deal!!  This place makes me want to dance in the rain!  Sure it's a bit chilly, but I brought a hoodie and it's a fine excuse to buy the Aran sweater I've always wanted!  Where can I see the fairies?  LOL)

LOVELY and peaceful... Ah, Wales is enchanting (yes, after you leave Holyhead, I agree)  Such a romantic place, it's no wonder King Arthur lived in the mountains here. Hey, I believe it, now that I've seen the place.  So what's a little haunting, when the hotel is so interesting to explore, and there's a lovely front garden right over a whitewater river?

INCREDIBLE...London is so huge and fast-paced, but there's so much amazing history, and probably anything you could want to keep you busy and entertained for the rest of your life...  I want to go back there and stay longer someday.  :) And visiting two of the Royal Family's castles?  Just... Wow.  :)

So why are you trying to spoil my good time by telling me you hate it, every chance you get? Who designated me your earpiece? Pardon me, while I walk away and stay away as much as possible. Please don't garsh my mellow?  :D  

I don't hate it.  I love it, and I would even go back to Paris though I wasn't my favorite place and I felt very intimidated there.  I promise, I'll learn more French before I go back.  And figure out a way to have more energy.

You know, in Dublin I went to one of the Lush stores, and bought some rose jam bath bombs.  I took three bubble baths on my tour, and they helped with the pain in my feet.  I walked around Paris with no tape wrapped around my arches at all.  And I was fine, except my energy was rapidly dying and I fell asleep on a couple of different benches.  It might have been psychological, but I suspect the hot water soak and some of the ingredients in that bubble bath were beneficial, justifying the purchase. :).

Maybe I should have given one of the bath bombs to that negative person?  It probably would have resulted in more complaint about the fragrance, the bubbles, the color.... Nah.  More for me.  

* I did get ripped off on the currency exchange going from dollars to pounds to euros.  No other choice, really.  However, I did say to my roommate that I couldn't find that fifteen euros I thought I put in my bag, but wasn't sure, and I didn't really believe housekeeping stole it.  I kept saying that I would likely find it later in that famous place "I'll put it here so I don't lose it," where I promptly DID lose it.  And I did... After I was home, I found it in the zipped security pocket of my purse. :)   Which means I need to go back to Europe to spend my euros. Lol

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Listerine for Softer Feet?

Last night I decided to try out a currently popular solution to dry, calloused feet.  

The directions say to use half Listerine and half vinegar, and soak your feet in this mixture for anywhere from ten minutes to half an hour.  And then, voila! The dead skin will pretty much rub off your feet with a soft washcloth. And you will be left with "feet as soft as a baby's".

Well, I tried the toughest version of the instructions, opting for a cup of gold Listerine (people report that  green and blue stain their feet and toenails - no thanks!), a cup of white vinegar, and a cup of warm water in a plastic dishpan bought solely for this purpose.  I soaked for 30 minutes, and when I was done...

The soaking solution looked pretty murky and I could see a few small skin flakes in it, but nothing more.  The dead skin didn't rub off my feet with a cloth.  In fact, the brand new pumice stone I used required quite a bit of force to scrub my calloused spots, equal to the force I've always used scrubbing with a pumice stone.  

Go figure.  

The pumice stone did become weirdly gummed up with flesh-colored ick, so I presume it was the result of being softened by the chemicals. However, I truly believe that a soak in plain warm soapy water would have had the same foot softening results.  

Not that I'm covered over with foot crustiness,  but I had a couple of stubborn spots that caused blisters from pressure on them while I was traveling last week.  I really wanted to reduce the size of my toe callouses too, though they aren't obvious looking at my feet.  It's just the thought that bothers me.

I bught my supplies for this little venture at Dollar Tree, so the total cost was $3.10.  I can always use the pan to soak my feet again (I didn't have anything for that before) and I could use the rest of the Listerine for the intended purpose, as well as the pedicure set I bought for the pumice stone.  Still, I consider it a waste of money because it didn't work, and my feet aren't even neglected.  Just occasionally abused...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sephora Intimidation

I'll admit that my self-confidence falters sometimes. Okay, a lot.  On the ninth day of an 11 day tour of Ireland, Wales, England, and Paris, I found myself on the Champs Élysées  in Paris, checking the place out.  (Last week, actually.) It was hot, I was exhausted beyond my limit, my arches were falling to the pits of Hell, my sciatic nerve pain was rearing up, and I was tired of being accosted by panhandlers.  I was HURTING, in a completely shouty capitals way.  And I didn't want to let on that I was miserable, nor miss seeing a thing while I was there.

I wasn't all that excited to be in Paris, because it was overcrowded and there was trash all over the place.  I also had no idea what a big deal the Champs Élysées really was.  Ha ha. I'm such a country mouse.  

Let me give you a hint about my tiredness: a couple of hours later I was sitting on a bench on that street, and I kept falling asleep.  My eyes were literally crossing and rolling around uncontrollably, so I put on my sunglasses to disguise that fact.  I was really too tired do any acting and pretend I belonged there.

Our tour director had pointed out the Sephora store as a great place to find whatever perfume you wanted, and I wanted to compare the price of Hypnotic Poison eau Sensuelle to what I'd seen on the ferry from Dublin to Holyhead.  So I went in, all by myself, thinking it would be a little cosmetics shop....

OMG did you know that's their biggest freaking store in the world??  I didn't!  There were hundreds of people in that front section of the store alone, and I'm sure that fifty of them at least were Sephora staff.  (I believe they have a cuter name than "staff", but I can't remember what that is.). 

Three of them faced me like Stygian witches and asked what they could help me with. I stammered that I was just browsing, determined to find that perfume on my own, because I wasn't going to buy it on that stop, most likely.  (3-1-1 regulations and carryon limits were the problem, and fear of thieves with checked luggage) I expected Parisian retail snottiness, but really, they weren't like that in the five seconds I interacted with them. I was also afraid because my French skills SUCK.  I can read a menu, find the bathroom, and say all the courtesies and niceties properly, but discussing makeup techniques?  Ain't happening.

I probably seemed as furtive as a potential shoplifter.  Truth? The place scared me.  My stomach started hurting. I have never felt so out of my element in my life! I like being a girly girl, I like dressing up pretty, and I like wearing makeup that makes me look pretty, but honestly, I feel like I pull off cosmeticized "prettiness" with all the flair of a tomboy little sister.  *sigh*. Hey, I'd love to be glamorous and gorgeous, but I think I'm utterly missing the poise  gene.  

And let's face it: I'd gotten up at five am, hadn't washed my hair, put on the minimum of makeup, and was dressed in touristy clothes.  I had literally passed out on the Eurostar from London to Paris before we hit the Channel tunnel, and woke up approaching the Paris station.  I was disappointed to have missed it after all that buildup, but I was facing backward on the train and I think the speed knocked me out.  I woke up with an aching neck, feeling absolutely greasy.

In short, I looked like a haggard, swollen, badly dressed tourist.  I felt even worse than that.  (This trip, my ankles didn't balloon... My entire torso swelled, hips to ribs.  I started avoiding all mirrors. )

What I should have done was to go in and ask for a makeover.  :).  I didn't know that was an acceptable thing to do.  I could have come out looking drop-dead gorgeous and overdone for my current wardrobe, or I could have come out looking like an escapee from Madame Tussaud's.  In any case, I'll bet it would have done wonders for my self-concept, but instead I'm feeling like a frumpy fat scaredy-cat.  

I didn't even really go but about fifty feet into the store, when a stronger will should have had me exploring every color-filled row there was in each floor of the store.  Who knows, the makeover girls might have even been nice.  I might have exited feeling attractive for once.  I probably could have spent a lot of money in there, and not just on a bottle of Poison.  :) LOL. Not that that's a good thing, but you know.  I think it would be nice to feel absolutely beautiful at some point, and not perpetually existing in someone else's shadow.  

I didn't have time for a makeover, however.  Everybody else in my tour group was waiting outside the store for me, and when I came out I felt like I had emerged a failure from the Cave of Glamour.  I'm pretty sure I nearly ran out, I was so freaked out by the magnitude of the place.  A friend to explore with would have helped, I'm certain.  

Maybe one day I'll steel my nerves to go back into Sephora somewhere, and see if they can unlock my hidden (oh so VERY WELL HIDDEN) gorgeousness.  :)

Monday, June 2, 2014

It's One of Those Days

One of those days when the house is hot because the AC isn't working and I'm living in front of an oscillating fan.  I'm living on a survival dosage of iron because I'm no longer a woman in denial of what my femininity is doing monthly to my health.  LOL. Plus a B-Complex and additional B-12 to give me energy by rebuilding my red blood cell supply.  I've watered down my pomegranate-blueberry sweet potato juice to cut my sugar intake and boost my water intake.  As you do.  :) (Tropicana Farmstand). 

I'm going to search out the juice bar at JFK Airport and hopefully enjoy some fresh juice on my five hour layover, because the bottled stuff doesn't taste alive or healthy like freshly made, unpasteurized juice does. It would be lovely if they could put it in a bottle for me, but I bet it will come in a cup. 

I'm hoping my supply of Midol outlasts the need for it this week.  Ha ha ha !  I'm hoping things go well for those in painful situations.  *sigh*

Right now, I'd love it if my neck stopped hurting. That's just not cool.  My cracked rib finally stopped killing me, and now my neck starts nagging.  Go figure.  But that's okay, because right now I'm in paralyzed-by-indecision anxiety mode.  It's not crippling... I just can't decide what step to take next, so I'm accomplishing nothing but sitting in front of the fan.

I have created courses on iTunes U. Oh my gosh.  It's really cool! And of course, right after setting up some coursework for my students, the next thing I thought about was ways to use it in other areas of my life.  :). Sometimes we have to sit through useless, boring INSERVICE sessions as teachers.  I can say that nothing I sat through last week was useless.  What's more, I can see how I can use those skills to make myself feel less useless as a person in general.  I know stuff!  I can share it, if anyone is interested.  

Speaking of feeling more useful... I need to start by making some clothing alterations.  Two of my tops need bra strap capture loops.  Yes, it's a thing, and it will hopefully help hide my sinful, wicked bra straps.  What a horrible thing for the world to have confirmation that I wear a bra.  I'm sure they never suspected!

And... Cue the anxiety attack.  *sigh* 

I'm going to attempt to derail it with a shower, some industry, and S3 E1 of Sherlock.  My, wasn't that a dashing way to make an impression on a girl? Never mind that physics wouldn't allow what he did.  Lol

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Underwires on a Plane / Is This A Weapon?

If you know me, you understand that flying while wearing an underwire bra is a concern of mine.  No, I can't wear a wireless one.  I've tried, and they don't support the girls.  I'm physically uncomfortable with the amount of movement and lack of support caused by an absence of heavy metal underwear.  

Besides, my special hardware bras perform a magic trick: they make my top look smaller.  They squash me and they hurt me, but it's better than allowing the girls to be totally out there.  (It's a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't.  That's life.)

Well, if you could see the difference with and without the body armor, you'd believe me, but I'm not going to demonstrate.  Sorry.  You'll just have to take my word for it.

I gave a brief lesson on underwires during CPR training last week, when we were reviewing the use of a defibrillator.  Basically, the wires don't join in the middle, and that's where you'll have to cut through. 

Yes, I'm cleared to shock your heart if it stops.  Scared? Hey, better living through electricity!

Underwires and back hooks can cause burns with a defibrillator, so we are told to cut the bra off.  I personally don't want random people seeing me topless, but if I'm going to die otherwise, I guess go ahead and do what has to be done.

Knowing I'm going to be flying this summer, I always ask myself what I'll do if I have a disagreement about my bra with a TSA agent at the airport.  Before one has the chance to start groping me, I'm likely to unsnap my bra and whip it out through my sleeve for a closer look before the guy even realizes he's not being handed a massive slingshot.  

It's a move lots of us bra-wearing ladies perform every day when we are finally at home and wish to get comfortable. We can do it rather quickly and one-handed.

Yes, I hope it embarrasses them.  

Because I will already be angry and embarrassed, and I might as well not be the only one with a red face.  

I doubt it will be a problem, because I've worn the same bra model through all their security scanners before without any questions, so it does make me wonder a few things: 

Are they really paying attention?  (I'm ok if they're not looking at my naked image closely.)

Isn't it conceivable that someone could conceal a curved-blade knife where an underwire goes? 

Couldn't someone pull out the underwire, sharpen it, and then reinsert it for boarding a plane? 

Or maybe those things would be easy to spot on the scanners.  

Ask any lady who has been stabbed by a broken underwire, just how sharp and deadly they can be....

Waiting For the Thaw

So, yeah.  I'm sitting here on my couch, waiting for the ice to melt.  What ice?  Oh, that would be the ice on my central unit.  It has frozen up again.  Specifically, the condenser has frozen over.  It's 79° Inside my house, and beginning to get a wee bit uncomfortable.  I may have to resort to recreational cold showers before long.  

Right now, it's ok.  It's only 81° outside, though I know that temperature is scheduled to rise about ten more degrees by sunset.  As long as my Midol keeps working and I don't get nauseated, AND my dog doesn't overheat, things might be tolerable.  :). Hopefully it will be warm enough to melt the ice so I can use my AC again.  Sparingly.  Until I can get it fixed.  Again.  It's probably a refrigerant leak.  The first guy could never find the leak.  I have higher hopes for the last guy who DID manage to find and repair the problem with my central heat. Hey, when you live in the southern US, where temps often reach over 100° In the summertime, central AC isn't a luxury anymore.  It's a necessity.  

Last night I bought an oscillating pedestal fan because I'm worried about my dog.  He has long hair, but so far he hasn't been panting inside.  He still burrowed under the covers this morning to get out of the wind from the fan and the ceiling fan.  Spritzing the sheets with water didn't really help, but I slept in a wet t-shirt and got a bit chilled at one point.  Better cold than hot, right now, eh?

I've been practice-packing for my trip to Ireland this summer.  Well, I can't say just Ireland, because I'm going to other countries.  I can't say the UK, because Ireland isn't in the UK.  And neither is Paris.  :D What to call it?  Ok, it's the Ireland trip, along with Wales, London, and Paris.  I read that one hotel, the Hand Hotel in Llangollen, Wales, is haunted.  Ah, good times.  I wonder if I'll see or hear anything, like the reported organ music or the woman who died in childbirth there.  Maybe I'll dream about my mother or my grandmother.  I usually do, when I'm feeling spooky things.  Of course, I'm not going to tell anybody I'm traveling with that the hotel is haunted... Until after we leave.  :). People tend to sleep better when they don't hear ghost stories. Lol. Suggestion is very powerful.

Oh, the packing.  I'm going to try rolling my clothes this time.  Last time I bundle-wrapped them, and my  suitcase was a huge mess when I had to take the first top out of the stack.  I've practiced rolling, and it seemed to take a lot less room than bundling.  I could also grab individual items as needed.  I can't say that the wrinkle likelihood is lower with rolling, but let's face it -- there will always be wrinkles, and I will not obsess over them.  I'm taking an empty spray bottle (a 2 ounce one), so I can spritz my face in-flight as well as my wrinkled clothes.  Oh gee, I'd hate for anyone to mistake me for a tourist, right?  ;). 

I seriously doubt I'll be mistaken for a local with my yard-mowing tan.  

I'm going to take a huge risk and pull my saline solution out of my 3-1-1 bag because it is a medically necessary liquid for me, and I need that tiny bit of space for a couple of other things.  I just hope I don't run into a TSA agent who causes me a problem about that.  I can't go about my day in my migraine-causing glasses.  They are only for short-term situations.  

Here's how I pack: when I know I'm going somewhere, I start putting things into my bag that I know I'll need on the trip, sometimes as early as a year and a half before the trip.  I keep a packing list.  I try to keep things as condensed as possible, but still I catch myself trying to add "just in case" items that will just be dead weight.  For example: I know I have a windbreaker at work, and a windbreaker that folds into a pouch somewhere here at home.  I keep trying to rationalize taking one of them with me (the pouch one I can't find right now), even though I know I'm taking a very cuddly hoodie with many pockets.  Still, there's that overwhelming need to pack the windbreaker.  I'm fighting it.  I know it isn't necessary. 

I want to take a grocery cart full of snacks, which is silly. I know the food will be great, and they have shops to buy snacks in if mealtimes are inconvenient and my blood sugar drops.  I won't need a snack every day. Still, I've gotta fight the impulse. Lol