Posts Tagged ‘How To’

Pedometer 1

The final indignity that has opted me out of modern gadgetry was an old reliable pedometer that finally ran out of batteries .

And of course, no one could figure out how to open the battery box.

Maybe it was frozen in shock at how few steps I walked in the last five years.

I mourned that little pedometer and somehow knew a substitute would require a Masters’ Degree in Programming and hours of frustration to get up and running walking.

Forced to buy a new pedometer- three or four new ones  to be exact- they all challenged my intelligence.

It’s not that I’m not intelligent.  I used to be considered a bright child.

But that was in the good old days when life was simple.  There were no huge technological innovations calculated to make things easier.

Life was easy enough with Off and On switches you might have to get up for.

But I am ranting.

Even after hours of reading and re-reading I could not decipher the directions to all the new pedometers stacking up in a secret hiding place reserved for storing complicated gadgets.

Asking for help, as you may know, is humiliating.

But trying one last time, I ordered a supposedly SIMPLE  PEDOMETER that “is operational right out of the box!”


I could hardly contain my excitement when it came – a simple little drop-in-your-pocket pedometer with great big Easy Read Numbers and a little pull-tag.

I pulled the tag (according to the directions) and it was ready to go!  No intelligence required!

But where were the instructions to program calories burned, body mass indexes, breaths per minute, miles consumed, muscle contractions, levels of perspiration, or all that other irrelevant stuff?  Not there.  What a relief!

All I ever wanted to know was STEPS!

And, although I hardly believe it, this little gadget ONLY REGISTERS STEPS!

No need to purchase another 550 page book on Pedometers for Dummies (I wonder if there really is such a book)!  I already have Computers for Dummies, Windows 10 for Dummies, and Office for Dummies, plus a few more.

“By golly,” as they used to say in the good old days, when I was intelligent,  “Someone has figured out how to regress to simpler times.”  Kudos to the inventor of this precious little Steps Only Pedometer!

And  now maybe I can fool the world into thinking I have a Master’s Degree in Programming.

Why can’t everything else be this easy?

Why do I always have to pull out the directions for my self cleaning oven?

Shouldn’t I just be able to hit “Clean??


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I never liked string cheese.

The name, itself, is off-putting don’t you think?  String equates to “stringy” which sounds tasteless and hard to chew.  I think I tried it once but found it as described – tasteless and stringy.


However, my son and the 3 grandgirls were visiting this holiday and brought a giant package of organic string cheese which they seemed to thoroughly enjoy.

“I don’t think I like string cheese,” I said.

“Oh, Grammy – try it.”

I proceeded to chomp down on the end of my stick thing.

“Noooo.  You don’t eat string cheese like that,” rang in the 3 grandgirls.  “Peel off a skinny string and savor the flavor.”

And yes, I am now a string-cheese fan!

I suppose I look young eating it too – savvy and in-the-know you know.

Isn’t it wonderful the things we learn from the young?

From en.wikipedia.org :

String cheese came to prominence following the market crash of 1929. Families desperate for cheese would take discarded cheeses from the aristocrats of the time. They would divide the cheese into sticks. The individual families would then take the sticks and break them into long strings to give to each of their many children. Children would often ask to be given their “string of cheese,” which was eventually shortened to string cheese when cheese manufacturers began selling the product after the U.S. economy recovered.

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Sixteen Year Old Dor Plays Old Lady in On Borrowed Time

Sixteen Year Old Dor Plays Old Lady in On Borrowed Time

This is the story of an old-er lady who is learning to follow needlework patterns and to crochet (or knit) in curves.

Here’s me (Dor) 16 years old, acting in the role of a grandma.  It was a play we did in high school called On Borrowed Time.  They had to put chalk in my hair and painted in forehead lines to achieve a grandmotherly look (no need for all that now of course and I really am “on borrowed time!”).  But as you can see, I was trying to knit even then!

An Old Girl’s Stitching Saga

 It is much later but I can finally wield a crochet hook with professional verve.  The problem is I  only stitch in a straight line.  That means a whole lot of scarves.  Everybody I know has received a Handmade-by-Dor SCARF (or 2 or 3)!  The Oooohs and Ahhhhs are dwindling.

Hoping to finally conquer this Handiwork Handicap, I  recently took a Crochet Class at The Stitchin’ Post – in Lexington, Virginia.  It was a grandly happy experience!

My new group of young, crafty (no pun intended) knitting friends cheered for my progress on a market bag, and claimed, “You are intermediate material.”   As you can imagine, I was feeling pretty smug.

You can do anything now Dor.

 You are an “Intermediate.”

You could even make a shawl!

And the experts at The Stitchin’ Post found a pretty shawl pattern for me to try next.

But, even after

  • discussion,
  • re-instruction,
  • ripping,
  • reworking,
  • ripping,
  • reworking,
  • and finally ripping,   I never got past Row #4.
  • Translation: The pattern said “intermediate” but was really “advanced” – right?



The ever helpful stitching gurus found a new pattern, this time for beginning intermediates.

And I went home again, still smugly thinking, “What a cinch this is gonna be!  They are in for such a surprise!”

The second shawl did grow.

It grew bigger -and bigger- into the upside down shape of a Superman CAPE!  Obviously there were some weird mistakes made somewhere.

The rather unfashionable cape was good for Halloween and a lot of  laughs from the girls, but o.k.,

I’m all for joy.

So my helpful friend, Dymph, ripped it all out, which left me guess where?  With two big balls of yarn.

The dedicated knitting gurus would not give up either, and insisted there would be a finished shawl “no matter what.”


This time we added a pointed bottom to the second pattern.  Ellie crocheted the first five rows to get it started, and off I went again, thankful for the patience of lovely people, and with only slightly lower personal expectations.

The new piece grew exponentially (I have been looking for a place to use that word),  and admittedly, it almost looked like a shawl.  Well, almost.

And the Almost-Shawl could only be described as “grossly misshapen.”

Thankfully, my friends at the Stitchin’ Post have never seen this one. (I’m rather sorry I saw it too.)


“Maybe it will look better with blocking if I knew how to block.”

“No, it’s too long in back and too short in front.”

“Take a picture of this third attempted shawl for your blog.”

“No, it’s too embarrassing.”

So I ripped it all out and was down once again to the original two balls of yarn (now looking a bit on the tattered side).



Yes, I am still  grimly determined to crochet a shawl  and now on Row #5 of a new pattern.  That is called “one-row-progress”

The goal now is to use up all that stretched, frayed, ripped out yarn.  Forget preserving the Intermediate Status.

Happily, the new pattern is for a straight and narrow scarf,

but I will just keep stitching until it looks like a shawl.

I am ashamed, forlorn, and embarrassed, but I will return to the Stitchin’ crowd later to show them the final frayed creation.  For now though, I am sticking to the straight and narrow.

Dor on Right - Old Lady Knitting in Play, On Borrowed Time

Dor on Right – Old Lady Knitting in Play, On Borrowed Time

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I do believe the best photography tips are the ones that tell us how to look more carefully around our everyday world.

Magic is the ultimate ingredient that negates the necessity to lug around the hated camera’s hieroglyphic instruction booklet.

And magic can elevate the photographer to something above novice status.

You can be an impressionistic  art photographer too – in one easy lesson!

To find photographic art in mundane places

peer around in your ordinary world.  

The messy kitchen or family room will do  

for there is Art (no, not a man!) lurking in every corner!

It’s all in how you look at him/it

or how you resort to camera magic to fool your one eye.

Yes, try closing one eye (Um –  I do that anyway)  

But the idea is to get a skewed perspective.

Skewed perspective = Magic = professional results!

I tried this yesterday.

Without leaving the chair I simply moved in close to take a picture of  the details in a paper napkin!  Wow! When enlarged (cropped) it resembled imprints in the sand!  With a bit of imagination and one eye I could even see some little swirly creatures too.

The happy result was that yesterday’s post was a mystery photo of fossil imprints in the sand!

And all the time it was  just an enlarged rendition of a Vanity Fair paper napkin (available at most local U.S. grocery stores).


Photographer graduated to artist proficient in the skill of reflective deception.







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Are the ads for faraway places calling to you?  Do you need to escape the mundane?  Is the Winter getting you down?

Go Shopping Somewhere New!

Last week was fun!  My friend and I went shopping.  Ho Hum!  Everybody knows that shopping is “therapy,” but what about the thrill of FOOD shopping?

Admittedly, grocery stores are not exactly visits to paradise but when you live (like I do) in extreme suburbia (extremely close to being rural) and in a place that can be described as “no man’s land,” you too might find big city grocery stores to be a bit alluring.

And even if you already live in a big city, escaping to the inner sanctum of a truly caring market can be at least transporting.  It will get you out of the house and “blow the stink off,” as my good old Dad used to say.

Monticello en.wikipedia.org

Home of Thomas Jefferson Charlottesville, Virginia en.wikipedia.org

Have a Regular Plan of Escape.

I escape by going on a once-a-month “outing” with a good friend.  A lot of the excitement is  in the planning and planning should be part of any program designed to accomplish successful escape.

For January’s a pre-planned monthly outing, my pal and I drove an hour to Charlottesville, Virginia.  The time en route let us catch up on our lives and any local gossip missed since the last outing.  Charlottesville is a pretty big city.   The University of Virginia is  there and Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, to say nothing of a plethora of shopping opportunities.  There is a Downtown Mall where no cars are allowed and most dedicated shoppers probably start there but we stuck to the outskirts of town this time.

Charlottesville Dowtown Mall en.wikipedia.com

Charlottesville Dowtown Mall

First, Get it Out of your System.  Try On Beautiful Clothes! 

We started at Chico’s where the sizes in chic ladies’ apparel are tagged as 0’s, 1’s, 2’s, 3’s, and lately  in added point-5 increments like 2.5, 3.5, and I hope “on up.”  I’m not sure how high they go but I want to be mentally prepared after this winter of more malingering than moving. And I just love those little low size numbers that help me hone latent skills in the art of self deception.

I must say I admired my own restraint and actually did not walk out of Chico’s with anything but vague yearnings.

Lesson Learned:  Stick with Food as a Destination!

Bodossign PhotoNext stop was BoDo’s – a very busy, happily beloved shop where people load up on plenty of New York style bagels.  My friend buys enough to freeze (conceivably to avoid future starvation) and I planned to buy enough to guarantee a Size 4 at Chico’s by next month’s outing!    I joined the masses and ordered 2 whole wheat (my nod to healthful eating), 2 onion, and 2 sesame.  Now I wish I had more and not just from fear of starvation.  They are absolutely delicious and it’s not bathing suit season yet after all.

The point is, I did not have to travel all the way to New York to get the real thing in bagels and the flavors are still lingering a week later.  This was my first clue that food shopping can transport a person to faraway places and create the illusion of a true escape.

Bodo’s Bagels is a trio of Charlottesville bagel shops serving “authentic New York water bagels” and has been a perennial winner of the C-Ville Weekly’s “Best of C-Ville” awards and was named by the magazine as Charlottesville’s “king of bagels.”  *Photo by Adam Sowers

 Now Keep Moving!  Go Beyond Bagels!

Beyond Bodo’s we hit Whole Foods and if you haven’t been there, it’s equivalent to a faraway land of  dreams.  We don’t have a Whole Foods where we live so I was entranced with all the produce in brilliant Technicolor.  There are cheeses of all conceivable kinds, sizes and flavors, the freshest looking fish and meats, the most heavenly bakery and everything you can imagine in between!  Would that I could live in a corner of Whole Foods!  I settled for a luscious looking apple pie (for Bill of course) and three loaves of bread; two Sour Dough and one Rye.

You might call this a “carbohydrate outing” since now I had

3 loaves of bread, 6 bagels and an apple pie!

Apples are healthful you know.  So are grains.  I am beyond happy!


Finally:  Be Sure to Head to Joe’s!

Please, we are not advocating an illicit affair!  Across the road from Whole Foods my friend and I visited Trader Joe’s.  That’s a market, not a man! We don’t have a Trader Joe’s where we live either.  I have not figured out TJ’s yet but someone described it as “the way old-timey markets used to look and feel.”  And someone else said, “They have such different things.”   Maybe the latter friend was thinking of Two Buck Chuck (which may have gone up like everything else) – a sort of cheap wine that I hear is pretty good. I did find some lovely goat cheese and a bottle of sub-lingual B-Vitamins my son advised will provide energy.  And I certainly need the energy to recuperate from all that shopping and inner-mind travelling.

And there you have it!

If you really do want to add spice to life, try shopping, but not just any shopping.

Try FOOD shopping somewhere new.

You will feel happy too and you will return home with the odd sense that you have been far away on an exotic vacation. 

You will even have the extra weight and caloric souvenirs to prove it.

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SIMPLE SOLUTIONS is a collection of bright ideas shared by a brilliant blogger community –

things that have worked for them, but may or may not work for you.  Of course there are no guarantees.

Thank you –  each of you – for your incredible ideas. 

The following “tips” are not listed in any particular order.  If we get thousands more, I may try to organize them by categories.

Until then, the “simple solution” is to browse.

ENDING FREEZER TAPE LOST ENDS  From Virginia Views –  Sick of coming back to the roll of freezer tape only to find the end stuck so you can hardly see it much less peel it off?  Save the little plastic tabs from bread packages and stick one on the tape end.  Problem solved!


WHICH SIDE IS UP? From Silver in the Barn –  My Simple Solution is from my mother, the hausfrau supreme. You know how it can be hard to tell which way the mattelasse/duvet/bedspread should go on the bed? And inevitably, fifty-fifty chance, you put it on the wrong way the first time. Well, she just pins a tiny little safety pin on the underside at one end and then she knows just how to place it. Works like a charm.

LONE WALKER Safer Night Walking

UNWRAPPING SARAN WRAP  From Mama’s Empty Nest – It took me years of opening up the saran wrap/aluminum foil/whatever box and accidentally dumping out the roll which then rolled across the floor or counter. Many years later, I FINALLY figured out there were little tabs on the sides of the box to push in which hold the roll in place in the box. Who knew?? They have saved my sanity and angry outbursts!

CLEVER TOOTHBRUSH STAND Travelling Toothbrush Stand

DOUBLE DUTY PAPER CLIP From Jill Weatherholt –  I’ve always used a small paper clip to keep from going insane when needing a piece of tape.

FOR A WHITER SMILE From Jill Weatherholt – For teeth whitening, I mix up a little peroxide with some water. I’ll brush and rinse with the solution. Those whitening toothpastes and rinses are too harsh for me.

BYE BYE BEE Bye Bye Bee  

DO-IT-YOURSELF CHIP CLIP From Eliza Waters – How to close a bag of chips without a clip!    http://youtu.be/2icvrrrwMYw

EGG CARTON STORAGE From Virginia Views – I store small Christmas ornaments in egg cartons.  The soft cardboard ones are the best because they provide a nice protective padding.

SOFT TOES From These Days of Mine – The most recent one I’ve learned: Vaseline on the cuticles of my toenails to smooth them. I’ve tried everything, so I was so happy that this works!

ORGANIZING CORDS AND CHARGERS From earthrider –  I  like to use  Freezer Bags that allow you to write on them with permanent marker. Wonderful stuff. I use it for items that I don’t freeze as well such as my cords and recharger for my camera.

Note:  The inserted photos above are just some of the many suggested by Eliza Waters .  Thanks Eliza!

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Over time I learned a few things to help cope with life’s little aggravations.

And since I love you all, I plan to share some of my “aHa!” discoveries.

You may have your own secret tips for survival and I hope you will share those too.

And when we are done, we may have a Simple Solutions Online Encyclopedia! 

PROBLEM:  Freezer Tape Sticking to Itself

To label a leftover the old way was to peel open and tear off a strip of freezer tape, stick it down and mark the contents destined for long-term storage.

But when I came back to the roll for the next leftover, the tape would be stuck back down and impenetrable.  That meant staring stupidly at a roll of tape that had no visible peel-off point.  It meant looking and looking and blindly feeling along for the demarcation line and then finger-nail picking a resistant (sometimes shredding) ridgeline.  There are and were a few choice words to express my ultimate frustration.  But, finally – there came an answer.

Was it a fellow blogger who taught me this?  I no longer remember.  But it works!

SOLUTION:  A Plastic Bag Closure Tag

  Simple Solutions 003

I couldn’t believe it.  The little tags that sometimes come to rewrap bread, etc. are a perfect solution and I have never had the problem again.   Actually, I have reused the same little plastic closure tag now for months.  It’s a good idea for duct tape storage too.

Here’s how.Simple Solutions 005

I hope this tip is as new to you as it was to me.  I absolutely love those little tags and every time I open and close the freezer tape roll, I have a happy feeling inside.

Do you have a happy idea or Simple Solution?  Please do share!

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