Thursday, July 3, 2014

In honor of Independence Day, here's a patriotic story from my book, Flying Cheese
(I don't know why the link isn't working here's the url:

Happy Fourth, everyone!
Mary Pickersgill's Flag
Pickersgill. It’s an unusual name. Unusual, but fitting, for Mary Pickersgill was given an unusual task.
In the midst of The War of 1812 between the British and the Americans, Mary Pickersgill, a widowed Baltimore flag maker, was asked to sew a flag. But not just an ordinary flag. Major George Armistead wanted a big flag, a very big flag, to fly over Fort McHenry at the entrance to Baltimore Harbor. So Mary and her 13-year-old daughter, Caroline, spent weeks in the summer of 1813 assembling a flag measuring 30 feet by 42 feet. That's as big as almost 30 ping pong tables.
By September of 1814, the British had burned Washington, D.C., and were bombing Fort McHenry from land and sea. An American attorney was watching the battle from aboard a British ship, having just negotiated the release of an elderly physician who had been taken captive. The battle continued into the night until the British abandoned the attack, judging it would be too costly to complete the task. As the smoke cleared and the sun rose, this attorney saw Mary Pickersgill's flag flying over Fort McHenry. He was inspired to write these words:
Oh, say can you see,
By the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilights' last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
Yes, Mary Pickersgill's flag became known as the Star Spangled Banner. The flag survives to this day and hangs in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. Mary Pickersgill's home has been converted into a museum called Flag House.
Pickersgill. It is an unusual name. But it's a name forever linked with The Star Spangled Banner, an unforgettable flag.
 Source: Honor Our Flag, David Singleton, The Globe Pequot Press, 2002

 (c) Rebecca K. Grosenbach

Monday, June 30, 2014

Things #24-26. Purses.
Of course I have to say something about purses. There are two—count ‘em, two—chapters in my book about purses. For some women it’s shoes; for me, it’s purses.

Sorry, you non-purse-carriers out there. Check back later for some tips that apply to you.

Thing #24. Carry a medicine bag in your purse.
This is a little tip I learned from my bestie, Ruth. She’s very organized. Years ago I observed that she had a little zippered bag in her purse that kept all the little bits and pieces rounded up—medicine bottles, nail clippers, nail file . . . . I adopted the practice. My little zippered bag, a bit smaller than my hand, also holds a mini sewing kit, a tiny bottle of lotion. And something deserving of its very own “thing.”

Thing #25. Keep a tape measure in your purse.
Yes, my little purse pouch holds a tape measure. It comes in handy. You never have to wonder if that side table at the garage sale is going to fit in the little nook in your living room (provided you’ve already measured the nook in your living room). I’ve also pulled out the tape measure at work—will that bookcase fit in that corner?

Thing #26. Keep a flashlight on your key ring or in your purse.
Yes, I have a flashlight in my purse, too. Ever tried to read a program in a dimly lit auditorium (before the concert, of course)? I’ve even pulled it out in a dark restaurant. Most people have this option on their phone, but I don’t get much light from my phone, so a little flashlight is just the ticket.

Besides, without a flashlight, how am I going to find anything in my purse?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Thing #22. Store your shirts on their sides so you can see them all at once.
I saw this idea online several months ago and decided to give it a try. I really like it. It’s so much easier to find what I’m looking for, or to look at all my shirts at once to decide what to wear. My shirts do come out a bit wrinkled, but I think they did when I stacked them on top of each other, too.

Which brings me to my next “thing.”

Thing #23. Spray clothes with water to get rid of wrinkles.
I do this just about every day before I get dressed.  I pull something out of my closet or a drawer and discover a few wrinkles or a crease. I put the garment on a padded hanger, spray the wrinkles, and do whatever else I need to do to get ready other than putting on that piece of clothing. I’m sure this works because of the kind of fabric I tend to wear and the fact that I live in a very dry place (Colorado), but give it a go and see how it works for you. Some fabrics don’t like water, so test a hidden area first to be sure you don’t leave water spots on your clothes. 

This tip is especially helpful when traveling. I’ve tried various methods of folding clothes in a suitcase—including rolling rather than folding—and things still seem to come out wrinkled. So now, when I arrive at my motel (or friend’s house), I take out all my clothes, hang them up (if possible) and give them all a spray. (I pack an empty spray bottle and fill it with water at my destination.) Wrinkles are usually gone the next morning.

You’re welcome.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Things 17-21: Weight Control
I have a constant battle with my weight. I'm always a little heavier than I should be.  I tend to binge on sweets and the pounds creep on. But I have learned a few things that help take the weight off, and help me maintain my weight in between holidays.

Thing #17. Drink water.
On a very basic level, water fills you up so you eat less. But there are other advantages that have little to do with weight control. According to WebMD, drinking water helps maintain the balance of body fluids (our bodies are 60 percent water, don’t you know), helps energize your muscles, and helps your kidneys function properly.

Thing #18. Eat an apple a day.
It keeps the doctor away and all that. But it’s also high in fiber, so it fills you up.

Thing #19. Make a large salad and eat on it for several days.
 I enjoy salad, but it takes so much effort to put together. But if there is a large bowl of salad already made, I’ll grab some for lunch, or make it a large part of my dinner. You may prefer to have several dishes of different salad ingredients ready to go rather than having it all tossed together. Either way is a huge time saver and will encourage you to eat more fresh veggies.

Thing #20. Eat vegetables only for one meal a day—salad, or steamed.
Very similar to tip #19, this tip encourages you to make veggies your entire meal once a day—or more. Or set aside one day a week to eat only veggies. Stick to low starch veggies to get the best weight loss benefit. (I have to be careful not to overdo the corn, peas, and lima beans. I love them all.)

Thing #21. Make a small change.
If you need to adjust your eating habits—or any other habit—decide on one thing you can do this week that will send you in the right direction. Then next week, or maybe the week after, make another change. Don’t try to fix everything all at one.

What will be your healthy eating change for this week?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

      Thing #14. Alphabetize your DVDs.

This makes me sound like I’m super organized. I’m not. Ask my family. My house is always in some state of messy. When the kids were young, if they caught me cleaning house they’d ask who was coming over.

But I alphabetize our DVDs. I like it that way. It makes it so much easier to locate a particular movie. Yes, I need to shift things when we get a new movie, but it doesn’t take that long. Leave some space here and there so you have room for new movies.

Thing #15. If you have a big project to tackle, start by giving it ten minutes.
For me, getting started on a big project is often the most difficult part. I’m lazy, I’m easily overwhelmed, so I delay starting a tough job. But then, I’ll tell myself I only have to spend 10 minutes on it. Just 10 minutes. And after 10 minutes I’m usually on a roll and make some serious headway. I’m not sure how this works, because I know I'm only tricking myself. Somebody psychoanalyze me, okay?

     Thing #16.  If you are anticipating an activity with a lot of walking, don’t be afraid to wear good walking shoes, even if they’re less fashionable. Fashion is less important than your health.
I hope this doesn’t gross you out, but I once wore cute but ill-fitting shoes for a work project that required a lot of walking and it messed up my big toe nail. Permanently. It isn’t horribly disfigured, hardly noticeable. It just sits at a rather odd angle. But it was pretty stupid of me to opt for the cute shoes and mess up my toe.

And shoes aren't the only issue. Vanity once persuaded me to forgo a hat in winter. I got an ear infection.

So next time you're choosing between fashion and health, go for health.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Thing #13

       Thing #13. Learn to do something with your hands, like knit or crochet, so you can be productive while watching television or waiting at appointments.

I learned to knit and crochet as a teenager. I’ve never mastered the ability to follow a pattern—I think it requires a mathematical brain, which I lack—but I’ve made a great number of scarves and blankets in my day. My mother-in-law taught me a simple crochet pattern—slanted shell—that I use for most things. She’s made afghans for all of her children and grandchildren, and many, many other people.

I’ve also learned a few things off the internet—granny squares and a very pretty scalloped edge stitch, for example.

What I like about crocheting is it’s something easy that can occupy those idle moments when I’m watching TV or waiting at an appointment. I am able to be productive. And the things I make become special hand-made gifts. If you master following a pattern you can make sweaters, bags, hats, socks. My sister Jeanette even makes stuffed animals.

My friend Liz (pictured) is never far from her knitting needles. In this photo she’s finishing up an amazing cowl scarf while I’m starting a new baby afghan during a movie marathon at her daughter’s home. Fun times.

Another nice thing that can come from a hobby like this is the opportunity to build relationships with others who share this interest. I have friends who are in knitting clubs. And learning a new stitch from a friend—or a mother-in-law—creates special memories.

So give it a go. You’ll never watch movies at home the same way again.

Here's a recent project for my friend's baby. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thing #12

businesses,businesspeople,ideas,light bulbs,metaphors,persons,women

Thing #12: Speak up.

This is a lesson I have spent most of my lifetime learning, and I can’t say I’ve mastered it. I am often hesitant to say what is on my mind. I don’t know if my opinions are worthwhile, if my ideas sound smart.

You see, I’ve never thought of myself as an especially bright person. I was a “B” student in a household of “A” students. Even my best friends were on the honor roll. But, over time, I’ve come to understand that it’s only in certain areas where I’m not as bright as others. In other areas, I’m very smart.

Especially at work. I work in communications, and I have learned a thing or two over the last 30 years, so I am getting better about speaking up in discussions. It also helped hearing a co-worker once tell me she liked it when I spoke up.

I’ve also learned that sometimes there needs to be one person to voice a differing opinion in order for other people to say “Yeah, me, too.”

I heard of a situation recently where the board of directors of a company made a controversial policy shift and when that policy was made public, it was, shall we say, not well received. They quickly reconvened and reversed their decision. It came out in those subsequent discussions that some of the board members had never been comfortable with the original decision—but they never said anything.

So, my friends, trust yourself. Speak up. Take the risk. Sometimes you’ll be shot down, but other times you’ll hear those lovely words, “Yeah, me, too.”

Let me leave you with the words of Christopher Robin, speaking to one of my favorite characters, Winnie-the-Pooh, “A Bear of Very Little Brain.”

You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh