Pearls Of Wisdom From Ms. Bean’s Weekend On Her Own

Want to know why June Cleaver wore pearls? Watch this.

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Don’t let anyone tell you that my life is not exciting, that I was not a dynamo of whoop-de-do fun while my husband was away over the weekend attending a convention in warmer climes.

I mean, would a boring person spend her Saturday morning sorting through her sweaters, winter clothes, jewelry + scarves, reorganizing her part of the bedroom closet?

Hmmm…?

And then, as a reward for doing such a good job, would a dull person go to Bed Bath & Beyond to buy drawer dividers and a scarf hanger on which to put her newly organized accessories?

Me thinks not.

And lest the foregoing revelation of suburban debauchery doesn’t convince you that I’m a wild child, I’ll tell you, my gentle readers, how I spent my Saturday night.

[Try not to clutch your pearls too hard.]

I watched reruns of Frasier.

Yep, if that doesn’t confirm how exciting I am, then nothing will.

I’ll admit that at one time in my life I’d have been ashamed to let anyone know how low-key and practical I am when left to my own devices & vices on a Saturday.

But now, as a wise woman with a penchant for getting things done, for bringing order to chaos, for buying things with a coupon, I’m happy to tell you this.

~ ~ ~ ~

So what did y’all do over the weekend? Did you wear pearls a la June Cleaver while you did it?    

Blogging: When Nagging Doubts Take Over Your Mind

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• • •

Would you like to know a secret? Something about me, as a blogger, that I’ve never told anyone before?

Well lean in closer, my gentle readers, here goes…

I’m spending way too much time worrying about what to write here.

I mean, if I learned one thing from my blogging break it is that when I’m not blogging I wake up in the morning with a mind filled with mellow thoughts.

And I start my day with a sense of clarity and purpose that’d make Covey [and his Seven Habits] happy.

But when I’m actively doing the bloggy thing I wake up in the morning uncertain, with confused ideas about what to write here and low-level anxiety about whether or not what I published earlier in the week was a good idea.

Doubts fill me in a way that only the Devil [and his Seven Mortal Sins] could take joy in.

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• • •

So you know what I did? How I handled these nagging doubts that worry me?

I conducted a study on my bloggy self and my writing behavior wherein: 1) I tracked the time I spent blogging during October;  2) I reviewed my following/commenting process looking for a better way to do it; and 3) I evaluated my categories with an eye to revision.

Here are my findings + changes:

1) I put in about 3 hours per day on all things blogging, such as researching, writing, editing, publishing, reading other blogs, and commenting;

2) I follow a variety of bloggers and to do this more easily I’ve ditched WP Reader entirely, choosing to upgrade my Feedly account wherein I can have everyone filed away, all orderly like;  and

3) I need to have fewer categories, well-defined in my head, so that when I sit down to write I’m focused and unworried, thus I’ve re-envisioned my blog with 7 categories.

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• • •

So has my little foray into personal blogging self-awareness helped me feel more in control of what I’m doing here?

In a word, YES.  Most definitely.

And maybe the message of this blog post is that once a year I need to revisit what I’m doing on this blog and how I want to keep on doing it, so that writing my personal blog doesn’t cause me to worry.

Seems obvious as I say it here, but sometimes the obvious doesn’t come so easily to me.

No secret about that, now is there?

On Election Day: 7 Issues On Which Americans Can Agree

Perhaps you’ve noticed lately that the news media in all its permutations is obsessing on the idea that we Americans are divided… on all issues… with no unity on anything to be found?

WELL, I CALL HOGWASH.

Thus I, a free spirit and seemingly only sane person left in the middle of this country, give you the following list wherein I’ve taken it upon myself to point out issues on which Americans agree.

YES, I USED THE A-WORD.

So what do you think, my gentle readers, are you comfortable focusing on unity instead of divisiveness?  And of equal importance, what have I forgotten to add to this list? 🤔

~ ~ 🇺🇸 ~ ~

7 ISSUES ON WHICH AMERICANS CAN AGREE

  1. Commercial airplane travel is a tedious experience, even if they don’t lose your luggage.
  2. Daylight Savings Time is a bad idea in and of itself may or may not be a bad idea, but changing your clock in response to it, or any time change, is difficult. [Thanks to commenters, revised upon reconsideration.]
  3. Paying attention to any Kardashian is a waste of your time.
  4. Sports announcers, hired because they claim to be experts, are as clueless as the rest of us about who’ll win the game.
  5. Christmas merchandise for sale in retail stores in August is ridiculous.
  6. The price of a movie ticket is too high.
  7. Meteorologists who report the weather on TV news are bluffing about what’s going to happen.

~ ~ 🇺🇸 ~ ~

A Halloween Review: In The Rain With The Usual Suspects

The Usual Suspects waiting on the deck behind the house before going on stage in front of the house. 

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IT DRIZZLED THEN RAINED HERE last night, starting at about 6:00 p.m. just in time for the trick-or-treaters.  The temperature was in the 60s, about as warm as I’ve experienced in late October.  The night was in a word, unusual, and our reduced trick-or-treat count proved it.

In years past we’ve had anywhere from 120 to 220 beggars at the door, but this year our head count was only 60 kids.

Unheard of.

Despite the rain and because of the warm temperature, Z-D and I sat outside on our front stoop where we plopped ourselves onto two chairs he’d brought around front from the deck in the back.

There we waited to hand out candy, holding umbrellas over our heads, watching a slow parade of cute, polite kids shuffle their way across our yard, ignoring the precipitation.

Trick or treat!

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YOU MIGHT BE WONDERING WHY we didn’t stay inside our house, waiting for the kids to ring the doorbell.  And this would be a sensible thing for you, my gentle readers, to wonder.

But the thing is, and in my world there’s always a thinghere in Beanlandia our doorbell, a diva, is broken and has been for a few weeks.

From a distance it glows and looks useful, however if anyone pushes it the middle button thing pops out and dangles down from an electric cord.

Kind of dangerous.

The doorbell has one ring in it before it has to be manually reconfigured and placed back into the wall where it resumes its role as a pretend working doorbell.

Hence, maintaining its integrity is a bother that we avoided by sitting outside under our umbrellas in the rain.

As one does.

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AND WITH THAT GLIMPSE INTO the life and times of one woman, one husband, one house, I’ll end this wordy post in which I’ve discussed the weather, trick-or-treaters, and doorbells gone bad.

Scintillating, eh?

In fact, should future historians whilst looking through old personal blogs want an example of a blog post that is the epitome of flapdoodle and twaddle, I do hope they find this one.

Because if there was a point to what I said here, I dunno what it is.

Other than to say, Halloween has come and gone.  And we have a lot of leftover candy in this house.

Only 60 kids…

The Great Cobbler Debacle Of 2018 + 12 Fruit-Based Desserts Explained

In the aftermath of the debacle there were questions, reasonable ones.

How could this have happened? What recipe did you use?

I used a recipe I found online from what I thought was from a reliable source.  Fake news, meet fake recipes.  But here’s the thing, I didn’t double-check the recipe, comparing it with other recipes, like a smart person would do.

After the debacle, when I found a wonderful recipe by the Barefoot Contessa, I realized that I had used a recipe with the wrong batter to fruit ratio.

Did you set the oven to the correct temperature?

I did, but after the debacle I checked the oven temperature with a thermometer to confirm that the oven was heating like it should.  It is not.

In fact it’s heating about 25º below where it should be so the cobbler baked at the wrong temperature.  Hence, the cobbler remained a soggy mess even when it’d been in the oven for twice the suggested time.

 How much money did you waste on this debacle?

Oh, the shame.  I hang my head as I tell you that I bought raspberries and blackberries and blueberries for this untested recipe, assuming it’d be a wonderful desert.  But it wasn’t, it never even made it to the table– thus my $12.00 worth of berries were lost.

And from a good friend trying to distract me: what are the differences among the various fruit-based desserts? Do you know?

I didn’t know the answer to her question, so I did some research, which was a good way for me, an egghead, to get over the debacle.  This is what I learned.

• • •

BROWN BETTY – fresh fruit [often apples], spiced, then baked under buttered bread crumbs

BUCKLE – single layer cake that rises up around the fruit that is in the middle, making fruit buckle down, while cake forms circle above it

CLAFOUTI – fresh fruit [often cherries] covered with a flan-like batter and baked, usually in a cast iron skillet

COBBLER – fruit sweetened in a way that creates a thick syrup, with dough plopped on top like individual biscuits that when baked looks like a cobblestone street

CRISP – fresh fruit, spiced with cinnamon [+ other spices sometimes], baked with streusel topping

CRUMBLE – buttery crumbs that include oats with sweetened fruit baked between two layers of crumbs

GRUNT – fruit base with sweetened biscuits or dumplings on top, cooked in covered skillet on the stove top, named for the sound the fruit makes while it cooks

PANDOWDY – a baked pie [usually apple] that has a thick crust on top with slits that allow the juices to bubble up onto the top of the pie, then using a spoon one pushes the crust down as it bakes so that the dessert looks dowdy when taken from the oven

PIE – sweetened and thickened fruit as the filling, baked, usually in a round pan, between lower pastry and top pastry or crumb topping

PING – fruit [usually cherries], covered in a sweet sauce, with spoonfuls of dough that form a crust on top that when tapped makes a hollow pinging sound that indicates it’s finished baking

SHORTCAKE – I’m not going down this road again… click here & read what we discussed earlier this year

SLUMP – fruit base with sweetened biscuits or dumplings on top, cooked in covered skillet on the stove top wherein the topping slumps into the fruit

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Sources of general information + a few specific recipes: Serious Eats, Huffington Post, the spruce Eats, FLOURISH, kitchn, Cook’s Country, COOKS.COM.

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I’ve eaten 9 of the 12 desserts defined above.  I’ve not had Brown Betty, nor have I had Grunt or Slump– which some sources say are the same thing.  🤨

Laughing With A Friend About Her Peeping Mom Problem

HERE’S the dealio. Friend and her husband live in a house on a country road, with an acre front yard, situated on the top of a steep hill.

This is rural. Very rural.

Directly across the way on the other side of the road on top of another hill is Friend’s husband’s parents’ house.

From their front doors they can see each other’s houses in general, but not the specifics, such as what’s going on inside the house or who’s sitting on the front porch.

Because they’re isolated up on their hills, it is private.

• • •

Antique wire-rim spectacles

• • •

EXCEPT that Mother-in-Law recently retired from a full-time job and bought a pair of binoculars to watch the birds in the trees that surround her house on a hill in the middle of freaking nowhere.

However birdwatching has not been enough to keep MIL entertained.  She is bored. And clever.  

In fact, MIL has figured out that by sitting just so in her living room she can use her birding binoculars to look inside Friend’s house.

Or to see who’s sitting on Friend’s front porch.

To spy, in other words.

This new turn of events has put a strain on Friend and MIL’s relationship.  MIL sees nothing wrong with peeping in on her son & wife’s daily life, and despite being asked to, will not stop her peeping.

Friend is peeved.

• • •

Bowl of plastic eyeballs

• • •

BEING a pragmatic soul I asked Friend why she didn’t shut the blinds on the windows on the front of the house. She told me she didn’t want to do that because it was unfair for her to have to do something she didn’t want to do because of her MIL’s interference in her life.

Uh huh.

So I suggested that Friend needed to do something to get MIL’s blood pressure up and offend her enough so that she’ll stop being a peeping mom.

“Amuck, amuck, amuck…”

To wit, I suggested that Friend could join a coven, dress like the witches in Hocus Pocus, and have a witches meeting in her front yard, complete with dancing, spells, and a big cauldron of boiling something, like the witches of Macbeth.

“Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and caldron bubble.”

And you know what, my gentle readers?  Friend told me that I was being silly, unsympathetic to her plight, and that I was: “NOT TAKING THIS SERIOUSLY.”

To which, between giggles, I managed to say: “You’re right, because this is not a problem. This is an opportunity to EITHER get over MIL’s interference & shut your dang blinds OR cause some mayhem.”

The choice is hers.

Question of the Day

With a peeping mom directly across the street from your house, would you buckle under and shut the blinds?

OR

Would you stir the pot and cause some trouble to make a “mind your own bidness” point to peeping mom?

I await your insightful answers in the comments below.

Fashionable Or Not, Here Are My Answers To The Fashionista Questions

Over the weekend I saw that Carol had answered these questions. She got them from Melanie who got them from Rory who asked them originally. I thought this looked like fun so I did it too. Here are my answers.  

• • •

Q1 How important is colour in your life?

It’s very important, so much so that I have a blog tag for it: Colors Of My Life.

Q2 What is your most favourite colour to wear?

Blue, all shades– but not at once.

Q3 Is there a colour that you wear that brings the best out in you and in others – in so far as compliments?

Teal or aqua.  I get compliments when I wear either of those.  They bring out the color in my blue, sometimes greenish, eyes.

Q4 Are you a person who likes to overdress for the day or are you a follower of the credo, less is more?

Less is more, my gentle readers.  Overdressing makes me feel silly and contrived.

Q5 What are five of your best items of clothing that you simply couldn’t be without? [and l don’t mean underwear/socks]

T-shirts, cotton sweaters, Birks, denim jacket, jeans.

Q6 Do you dress for the season, as in colour wise, or just throw on whatever is warm and practical?

Remember the book, Color Me Pretty by Carole Jackson?  With a hat tip to her seasonal color analysis [learn more about yours here], I dress for each season using colors I know flatter my skin tone;  I’m a summer.  Then I add a shade or two associated with whichever season it is, so that I “blend” with the world around me.

Q7 If you were going for an evening out and the dress code was ‘smart casual’ what is your ideal outfit and why?

Dark jeans, silk blouse, a spectacular necklace + simple hoop earrings, leather flats with a bit of attitude.  Why?  ‘Cause that’s how I roll.

Q8 If you were having to attend an important meeting or appointment and the dress code was smart – what would your outfit be then?

Dark pants or a pencil skirt in wool [maybe], a blazer or v-neck cardigan, white blouse or t-shirt, small necklace + stud earrings + watch, flats or pumps [depending], a stylish leather purse.

Q9 How many pairs of shoes do you own, and what is the breakdown [as in casual, smart, evening, leisure]

Flats [5], sandals [12], pumps [3], boots [5], athletic [5].  This means I have 30 pairs of shoes.  Is that a lot?  Seems like it to me.

Q10 Do you have classic clothing, or classic items in your wardrobe that you have had for years and never go out of fashion if so name three?

Of course I do!  I’m all about classics.  Three items are*: cotton cardigan sweater by Lands’ End, three-quarter-sleeve blouse by L.L.Bean, Court bag by Coach [from before they lost their mind].

Q11 Are you into plain colours, wild colours or outlandish designs or a mixture and which do you favour more?

Clear colors, simple textures, as little pattern as possible.  Nothing too match-y, match-y.  I want people to see me not some goofy overpowering pattern or unflattering trendy color.

Q12 Do you have a favourite quote with regards fashion or design – if so what is it?

Yes, it is bien dans sa peau, a French saying that means to be happy + comfortable in your own skin.  ‘Tis a goal and a mantra.  I read about it first in French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano and the idea has stayed with me.

Q13 Knee high socks, ankle socks, shin socks or no socks?

No knee socks ever.  Ankle socks sometimes in the winter when it’s cold everywhere I go.  Sans socks when possible.

Q14 Can you see the connection between colour and music and if so does it influence your dress code for the day in any way?

No, I don’t see a connection between color and music.

Q15 If you are going out somewhere special and want to listen to some music to put you in the mood whilst getting dressed up, what do you listen to? [Provide link please]

I play no music while I’m getting dressed.

Q16 How often do you buy new clothing for the season or the year?

I HATE SHOPPING FOR CLOTHES, however I may buy one or two new items each season… if I have to… preferably while shopping online… so I don’t have to go near a store… with other people in it.

Q17 Remember tie-dye from the 70’s was it a thing you followed, bought into or worse, how do you feel about it now?

I have no strong opinions about tie-dye.  I’d wear it on a t-shirt or scarf, if I liked the colors in it.

Q18 What is the brightest coloured item of clothing you have in your wardrobes/drawers?

I have a bright pink [blue undertone] fleece jacket that I wear more often than you might think I would.  It goes with everything I own.

Q19 What is the most expensive item of clothing that you have in your wardrobe? How often do you actually wear it?

The most expensive item of clothing in my wardrobe is my lined wool winter coat that I wear when it’s below 30ºF outside.

PQ20 Are you deleting any questions, if so which ones?

Nope, answered them all, thank you very much.

Q21 Is being ‘fashionable’ important to you, or is being comfortably attired more so?

Being stylishly attired is important to me, which means that occasionally I’m fashionable, but for the most part means I follow my own aesthetic that I’d describe as relaxed classic with a little boho chick thrown in for fun.

I have a casual vibe.  I like simple structured clothes in natural fabrics, with an occasional foray into animal print or ethnic print or lace or tiny shiny bling.

I want NO extra fabric draping all over me, NO sports team apparel, NO tacky jewelry or makeup.  Just me, pulled together without fuss, comfortable in my own skin**.

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*Hello FTC! As usual no company has paid me a cent to talk favorably about their products here. Fear not, my old friend, The Spectacled Bean remains an ad-free blog.

** In case you’re interested, three personal style blogs that I like are: GIRLS OF A CERTAIN AGEThe Vivienne Files, & une femme d’un certain âge.