Frolicking Saturday

Today started with coffee and English muffins with my neighbor followed by a pedicure by my dear friend Beth at Hyperion Salon. Working in a warehouse walking 2,500 steps an hour (and that will increase), I need to take care of my feet.

Then I took the teens to the thrift store, where teenager #1 found three nice tops, teenager #2 found two very cute skirts, and I picked up several more pairs of comfortable pants for work.

We spent $30.

I let the teens use a coupon for a 99 cent coffee at Dunkin. Then we stopped at Wawa so we could fill the car with gas and I could redeem my reward from their loyalty app— a free 16 ounce handcrafted drink. I selected a cafe con lèche which is my favorite drink that Wawa offers.

I noticed while in there that Wawa now offers buttered rolls at the self serve coffee area and chocolate croissants. How very French breakfast of them. Their croissants look like overpriced toaster strudels but I will have to try them.

We came home and tried on our goodies. Once we determined everything fit, I started a load of washing.

I cuddled kittens, unraveled an entire spool of thread from the roomba’s mechanical system (thanks to cat mischief), found my missing glasses (yes, kittens), hid unwrapped Christmas presents and paid bills.

The teenagers and I are all cleaning in anticipation of tomorrow’s turkey dinner. The goal of the meal is to see how close to a traditional Thanksgiving as we can just using ingredients from around the house.

I keep a weekly dry erase calendar in the kitchen so everyone can keep track of household goings-on. Teenager #2 came to me and said, “Mom, the board says Taco Bell on Saturday.”

Indeed it did. Teenager #1 had heard a commercial for the toasted cheddar chalupa so I scheduled taco night.

The chalupa shell reminded me of the baked cheese on some Asiago bagels and rolls. I had the black bean one and I have to say I liked the vegetarian version better than their meat.

I didn’t realize this was blurry

The teens approved as did my daughter’s father who stopped by to take the kids to Target. Teenager #1 is in the middle of bleaching her hair.

Lessons I have learned about professional skin care

As my regular readers may know, I recently started helping a friend of a friend launch her social media marketing for her solopreneurship, woman-owned business, Lucha Bella Skin Care and Body Waxing.

I hesitate to call her a client, because I help her with her publicity and she gives me a facial once a month. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to learn more about skin care.

My interest in make-up and skin care came late in life and I think I was also a late bloomer when it came to developing my own sense of style. So to help Merri with her business is also a great way for me to grow and take better care of myself.

So, please please please if you are local to the Lehigh Valley consider checking out Lucha Bella, like the Facebook page, find Merri on Instagram at @luchabella_skincare and book online via http://www.luchabella.com.

I am by far no influencer, but I am a real person with a real life perspective so without further ado let me share with you what I have learned about getting a facial.

  1. It’s not just about your face. The Bella Facial at Lucha Bella involves the face, neck, shoulders, hands and arms.
  2. It’s a great stress reliever— the Bella Facial includes a variety of massage that leaves the upper body feeling loose and amazing.
  3. You esthetician can help you with your individual skin problems and work with you on how to not only look good but also maintain healthy skin.
  4. The attention and solace provides a mental rest and a sense of rejuvenation that matches the glow you will see in your skin.
  5. A Bella Facial includes waxing the chin, upper lip and eyebrows, so not only does losing the dead skin make you feel and look younger, but you don’t have to spend your time plucking. And professional products are less harsh on the skin, reducing redness and potential irritation.
  6. An esthetician has access to the latest industry products so you don’t have to waste your money on things you may not like or may forget to use.

The experience to me is about a place of peace, the fact that I come out with fresh skin and free of my physical tension is a bonus.

It’s a lovely reminder to slow down and be kind to yourself.

And for me it’s extra fun as I get to try adventurous new products like a collagen mask that dried like clay on my face. It went on super cold and thick like honey. My skin absorbed the collagen which made the mask warm and dried it out. Some of the pieces didn’t come off as nicely as Merri would have liked, but they made this amazing clinking sound as they hit each other.

It made my skin feel fresh and refreshed.

Caturday of cuddles

This is my last weekend before starting a full time position as a retail warehouse associate at Stitch Fix. It sounds similar to what I used to do at Target, but without people and more walking.

I’ve read some online reviews and exchanged some texts with some Target folks who also went to Stitch Fix and my concerns are two-fold:

  1. Can this forty-something body with cerebral palsy handle being on my feet walking more than 12 miles a day?
  2. Can I survive on the pay?

But one positive is that the extra steps should help me get my weight under control and increase my fitness fortitude.

Or so I hope.

My accident was a week ago and I’m starting to think that I didn’t hurt my rib but instead really did “pull my boob” as in manage to pull the muscle that supports my right breast. I’m tired of being in pain.

Okay, enough whining.

The day started with a strong cup of coffee shared with my cockatoo, Nala. (YouTube Video: Coffee Time)

And then I heard a ruckus and thought the cats were fighting. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Fog had caught himself a mouse. (YouTube video: Mouse Adventures)

My mom stopped by this morning and transplanted the snake plant that the kittens destroyed. Then Mom and I went to Lidl where I not only got croissants to go with my delectable quince jelly, but I got discounted naan and lots of seltzer. In new flavors! Yes, Lidl has new flavors of seltzer including grapefruit.

I did lots of dishes, vacuumed the downstairs and my room (the roomba is functioning great now that I cleaned it, and washed the dining room and living room floors.

In between these tasks, I cuddled kittens and watched Car Masters: From Rust to Riches on Netflix.

Vale of the Norse Pride

In the last three days, I’ve managed to watch both seasons of this program. I love cars. My dad was a diesel mechanic and truck driver for much of my childhood. He can fix anything and I have a certain admiration and attraction to people who can fix things.

I’ve had the same cell phone number since 1998 because my dad gave me an old 1984 Ford Escort whose carburateur would flood and leave me stranded with every rain storm.

Some of my favorite memories are of watching my father work.

I recommend the reality series Rust to Riches — it features some serious strategy in building some amazing cars and also has more drama than one might expect.

The people who staff Gotham Garage in California include a woman who specializes in motors and knows classic muscle cars.

I made the teenagers a cheap knock off of seafood Alfredo for dinner.

And now the teens are playing Monopoly with a friend downstairs.

Tomorrow I will be getting a facial at Lucha Bella, hopefully making a trip to the Dollar Tree and taking the foster kittens, all seven of them, for shots.

Cats, doctors and Dunkin’

I was up until 2 am last night cuddling kittens and watching Gotham Garage on Netflix.

The Fluff butts of the Norse Pride are battling ringworm— the teenager and I also have that fungal delight.

When I woke this morning around 7, I saw an email from my new employer StitchFix telling me that my orientation is 6:30 am to 3 pm on Monday— and my doctors appointment for my blood pressure, itching, anxiety and cerebral palsy. But now I also have ringworm and some aching in my ribs from my fall.

I really didn’t want to start my new job with all of these things untreated. Luckily my doctor’s office had an opening today.

And I had trouble with all of the apps to do the paperwork for StitchFix. Still haven’t straightened it out.

I decided to change up my makeup for Zeus and Apollo’s adoption today. Teenager #1 and I headed to Chaar to meet their new family.

I hope they send lots of photos!

I promised the teenager an egg wrap from Dunkin on the way home but for some reason the app wouldn’t let me order eggs.

The doctor’s visit went fine and their social worker will call me to help with Medicaid and whatnot.

On the way home from the doctor, I finally got the egg wrap for the teenager, a doughnut with sprinkles for the other teenager, a glazed doughnut for my friend who was coming over, and I finally got to try the sourdough egg sandwich.

MY REVIEW

The bread is bigger than the eggs. Very spongy and I feel like it would make delicious toast. I feel like the bread would be better as a side. Or as a BLT. For $5– I’d rather have one of their other egg sandwiches.

Sheetz Shenanigans

Tonight, the teenagers had their last competition recording and end of year review concert for marching band. Saturday is the last football game— I have a much coveted ticket.

Teenager #1 earned her varsity letter tonight. Teenager #2 earned a pin.

Proud of these two

After the performance, the teenager wanted her dad to take her for ice cream but he’d had some alcohol so he asked me to take her.

But I dilly-dallied over the menu too much and Dairy Queen closed before we got there.

I salvaged the evening by offering a trip to Sheetz. We all got milkshakes— Teenager #1 got the Monster Mash and all she would say was “mmmmm” over and over; teenager #2 got a custom chocolate caramel milkshake with brownie bits. I redeemed some rewards points (which turned out to be a fairly complex process) for the pucker shake. I’m not even sure what it really was but it was a blue milkshake with lots of sour patch kid pieces. I loved it.

Though Sheetz really could give the milkshakes a wider straw.

I ordered an appetizer sampler of boneless wings, jalapeño poppers and Wisconsin cheese curds. I already knew I loved Sheetz’s jalapeño poppers, but their cheese curds are beyond amazing. The boneless wings were dry and disappointing.

Dairy Queen retains the title for best chicken.

Meanwhile, the sugar from that milkshake left me feeling super hyped and more inebriated than an alcoholic beverage.

My top 10 videos on YouTube

I started a YouTube channel long ago to record and transmit a video to one of my friends’ writing classes. Six years ago. Somewhere around three or four years ago, I ramped up my production of videos with no real rhyme or reason.

What surprises me is what people watch and what they don’t. I now have about 325 subscribers but they don’t really interact often so I’m not sure if I have a certain type of audience or not.

Because I don’t promote my YouTube videos (they are crude and unedited and not really meant to be a commodity) I think most of my viewers stumble upon me by happenstance.

But I thought it would be fun to share with you the top ten most viewed videos on my YouTube channel.

10. The list begins with author Jordan Sonnenblick doing a reading from his new-at-the-time book at Mary Meuser Memorial Library. 557 views

Jordan Sonnenblick

What puzzles me is that # 11 is my review of a Starbucks Maple Pecan muffin at 554 views. Review of the muffin and at 475 views there is a few second video of a unicorn icee. Unicorn icee

9. This one is the now teenager as elementary school student (six years ago!!) playing variations of Bingo on her 3/4 baritone. 586 views.

Bingo

8. This one has 776 views and all it is is ducks recorded during our road trip to Georgia.

Ducks

7. The teenager’s middle school band playing an Irish Jig. 783 views. The composer/arranger commented on this one.

Irish Jig for Young feet by Travis J. Weller

6. Another marching band video from three years ago, the teenager’s high school victory song. 1,000 views.

Hail to the Warriors

5. (And 4.) The teenager as a middle schooler explaining how to assemble a sousaphone. Part one has 1,600 views whereas part two only has 1,200.

Putting a Sousaphone Together part one

Putting a sousaphone together part two

3. My daughter’s first season in marching band, stand tunes at a football game. 1,600 views

Warpath

2. My daughter as an eighth-grader playing Smoke on the Water on a sousaphone. 1,700 views

Smoke on the water

And #1 — for reasons I don’t understand:

My daughter removing my splinter

This video has 506,000 views. And my chipped nail polish received much criticism. Next time I will be sure to paint my nails before trying to remove a splinter.

So other popular videos include:

Opie the 3-legged cat and I make my bed (327 views)

Sun conure (322 views)

Yet Marzieh Hashemi only received 289 views. Marzieh Hashemi at a rally in DC

Dunkin and Wawa got it right

I finally got to taste the Dunkin Spicy Ghost Pepper Doughnut. I’m very glad I haven’t tried it weeks ago because it was delicious.

I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t as pretty as the photo, but such is life.

The doughnut itself was their basic glazed doughnut without the glaze. More moist than their basic cake doughnut.

The ghost pepper was incorporated into a sweet icing with little bits of decorative red sugar. The pepper flavor was present from the first taste, then came the sweet icing, then the finish was a heat that hung in the throat pleasantly but didn’t destroy your mouth.

YouTube: Tasting the new items

My business partner wanted to stop at Wawa so I got an iced coffee and opted to try the French toast flavor. I loved the vanilla and cinnamon notes, and while I’d like to dial back the sweetness I can tolerate it as made. Wawa doesn’t allow as much customization of drinks compared to Dunkin.

What I’m watching

It’s time for an update on What Angel is Watching. Other than foster kittens. I watch them eat, I watch them sleep, I watch them look at me suspiciously. The Roman Pride kittens ate THREE cans of cat food in front of me today. For breakfast.

Minerva, Mars, Vesta, Jupiter

They must be going through a growth spurt.

So, even though I am job hunting and now have four volunteer responsibilities (foster kitten mom for FURR, communications director for ASPIRE to Autonomy, trustee at my local library and now member of the drug and alcohol board at the county level… and an informal member of the social justice committee at the YWCA of Bethlehem… so maybe 5…) and have two teen girls at home who also participate in marching band, I occasionally have time to watch some programming usually while folding laundry or late at night waiting for the dishwasher to finish.

This is what I have recently watched or tried to watch:

  1. The Social Dilemma — I already came to the conclusion that Netflix makes boring documentaries. This one is no exception. Well, except maybe they finally have watched some of their own documentaries and know how truly dull they are. I say this because they added a dramatization of a fake family to demonstrate their point and made some elaborate “Matrix” vibe scenes when discussing the effects of social media. It makes the awkward sensation of watching a Netflix documentary even more uncomfortable. The content of course is good, but if you hadn’t thought about how social media manipulates you and your life, well you must either be one of the brainwashed masses or live off-the-grid.
  2. The Kitten Lady— since we work with feral kittens, we’ve been watching The Kitten Lady on YouTube to gather some new techniques on socializing our fosters.
  3. Jackson Galaxy/Cat Mojo— Another YouTube personality with more cat information. Both of these people are a little vibrant and off-kilter.
  4. Diana: In her Own Words— Another slow-paced Netflix documentary I didn’t finish. This documentary uses recordings of interviews done with the princess in secret. Fascinating and compelling topic but dry in execution.
  5. Fight the New Drug (Human Trafficking stories)— These 5-10 minute videos were recommended on YouTube and I enjoyed their presentation, though the content is sad. I didn’t research the organization to see how they put together these shorts.
  6. Real Families: Thalidomide Disaster Survivors Share their Fight to Get Justice— This is a feature-length documentary on YouTube about the Thalidomide babies of the early Sixties. I found it much better done than anything on Netflix.

The Highlights

The last two days have involved trying to deal with the demands of house and health, applying for jobs, and keeping the pets alive and hopefully happy.

Today I learned county council passed a resolution appointing me to the Drug & Alcohol Advisory Board.

Yesterday and earlier today, I exchanged text with some of my peers volunteering with Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. One person is updating Zeus and Apollo’s pictures on the web site and report that the pair are “playful” and becoming more outgoing. And as usual, Zeus is the attention hog.

I miss her so much. I haven’t stopped St. Chaar Pet Supply since Tuesday because it makes my heart hurt.

Zeus is the one in front

This morning I got my monthly Ipsy Glam Bag. It was due between October 6 and 16. So I was getting impatient. Especially since this is my last one until I get some income.

Ipsy Unboxing on YouTube

Later in the day I got some grey cat cuddles.

The teenagers had to go to Marching Band and record their performance for competition.

Click on the  image to see my recording
Click on the image to see my recording

So in the afternoon, I worked on posts for Lucha Bella’s social media. (Lucha Bella_skincare on Instagram)

Finally, the teenagers are off doing laundry and homework with the estranged husband at his parents’ house. I used the last $20 of my GrubHub gift card to order Taco Bell. I chose Taco Bell for several reasons:

  1. With a $15 order you got a free taco and free delivery (delivery is $3.99 plus $3 service fee plus tip)
  2. The food is cheap, so even with all those fees you can still get food for $20.
  3. My last two orders got screwed up— I blame the app not the restaurant. I don’t want small independent restaurants to be penalized for problems caused by the app and fault’s in GrubHub’s design. Ironically Taco Bell is the only order that came out right.

So finally, here is yet another video. Nala and I have Taco Bell

Tasting everything

If you’ve read this blog at all you already know several things.

  1. I love to try new grocery items.
  2. I love to save money while shopping.
  3. I love The Grocery Outlet.
  4. I make a lot of ridiculous videos that combine all of these things.

So today, I hope to enjoy some “brain off” time by tasting things and making silly videos. Here is the first one: Birds Eye Cauliflower Buffalo wings vs. Morningstar Popcorn Chicken

Later in the day I did a taste test of doughnuts — Giant Bakery vs. Maple Doughnots at Grocery Outlet. Fog crashed this video so you can get the cat’s opinion, too.

The Doughnut Debate on YouTube

And of course the teenager wanted to try something so she tried the ranch flavored Pirate Booty.

Review of ranch Pirate Booty: YouTube

And now as I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, I am mixing the Positive Beverage Cucumber into a gin cocktail and chatting with one of my Sarahs.

Mixing a cocktail: recipe here