Category Archives: Monday Mix

Best of the best 2013

As 2013 winds down, I’ve found myself reflecting on the past year. All in all, it was a great year, full of memories to treasure. It was a year of new adventures, big trips, challenging goals, and coming home. Not counting the long-awaited reunions with friends and family, which have been priceless, here are the top three reasons I will remember 2013:

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Posted by on December 30, 2013 in Monday Mix, True Life


Weekly photo challenge: One



I’ve been fast enough on the shutter release to capture several dragonflies in my day, but this is the only hot pink one I’ve ever seen.

You can check out other photographers’ interpretations of The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: One here.


Domestic near-disaster

Not the best way to make tea...

Be careful where you drop the tea bags…

In the south, nothing says welcome home like a tall glass of sweet tea. So I cranked the stove to high, set a pot of water on to boil, and got ready to welcome.

Do you have any idea how quickly a Lipton teabag will combust when dropped onto an electric burner?


Do you know how big the flames are if ten teabags are tied together when they hit said burner?


How do I know this?

Because I nearly burned down the house in that attempt to make some sweet tea. Not just any house. The brand new, paint-is-still-pristine, boxes-are-still-packed, townhouse of my then-boyfriend (now hubby, miracle of miracles). Nothing ruins the ambiance of a new home like soot stains on the ceiling and the aroma of scorched black tea layered over the fumes of just-laid wall-to-wall carpeting.

Luckily, there was no irreparable damage, and after a quick call to the insurance company to be sure his policy was up to date, the then-boyfriend (now hubby, miracle of miracles) was ready to forgive and forget.

Well, maybe not forget. The incident has come up each time I’ve unpacked the tea pitcher in a new house in the past ten years.


Everyone has some kind of domestic disaster story, whether it’s a kitchen fire or a DIY project gone horribly wrong. If you’d like to laugh at commiserate with other people’s misfortunes, please, please check out the hilarious Domestic Disaster Diary. A slew of talented bloggers share their own near misses, creating a community of sympathy and solidarity for those of us who have good intentions but not always the best results.

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Posted by on December 16, 2013 in How It Was, Memoirs, Monday Mix, On Me, True Life


Do you dare to durian?


Months ago, I “liked” Mental Flosspage on Facebook because its seemingly endless supplies of facts, trivia, lists, and quizzes bring light to even the most monotonous of days. I’m always tickled when the editors post something I’m already familiar with; I love comparing their impressions on a particular subject to my own.

Earlier today, I read with interest their take on durian. If you’ve never heard of durian, it’s a fruit native to southeast Asia, one that I encountered when I visited Thailand a few years ago. It has the heft and appearance of some kind of medieval weapon–a yellow-green, spiky, football-shaped cannon ball. Durian is banned in hotels and on public transportation in many locales–not out of fear that someone would use it to inflict bodily harm, but because it stinks.

Let me be more specific. Durian smells like sweaty feet wrapped in a poopy diaper, propped up on a rotting carcass. It is foul.

So foul that I often wonder about the desperate circumstances that led the first human to brave the spiky exterior and offensive odor to actually break open the fruit and raise a piece of its flesh to his mouth. Why did he think durian was going to be safe to eat? Why did he think, with that aroma, that it would be palatable? Was he so hungry that he was willing to risk everything to prove this fruit could provide sustenance? Or were things so bad in his life at that moment that he was actually hoping it would be fatal?

I tasted durian when it was offered by a street vendor in Bangkok, because hey, when in Rome, right? Holding my nose and circling around to approach from upwind to control my gag reflex, I tentatively accepted a small wedge of the butter-colored fruit. The texture was unappetizingly soft and slimy, and despite my best attempts to find something positive about the flavor, it tasted exactly like it smelled–like sweaty feet wrapped in a poopy diaper, propped up on a rotting carcass. Water did nothing to chase away the aftertaste–nor did a bottle of warm Coke or a series of chain-crunched Wint-o-green Lifesavers. Hours later, I actually started wishing the flesh of the fruit would prove fatal, just so I wouldn’t have to endure the noxious aftertaste any longer.

But not everyone has the reaction I did. Although nearly everyone will admit that durian stinks, some, like New York Times writer Thomas Fuller, believe the fruit has “overtones of hazelnut, apricot, caramelized banana and egg custard.” Wow. That’s some sophisticated palate, to find all of those flavors hidden beneath the taste of rotting flesh.

I won’t be sampling durian again. Frankly, I think Fuller was smoking something when he ate it. But I don’t have the intestinal fortitude to attempt to prove or disprove his claims. Durian has a place of honor on my relatively short “been there, done that, won’t EVER do it again” list.

Have you ever tried durian? What did you think? Creamy, fruity, custard-like delicacy or offal from a slimy, putrid, corpse? If you haven’t tried it, would you?

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Posted by on December 9, 2013 in Monday Mix, Observations, True Life


Travel theme: Sky

If you want to see some breathtaking skies, head on over to Where’s my backpack? to check out Ailsa’s photos and to see who else has participated in her weekly challenge.


Posted by on December 2, 2013 in Challenges, Monday Mix, Photography



Road trip: Skyline Drive

The hubby and I were hoping to see some glorious fall leaves when we drove through Shenandoah National Park along Skyline Drive today. There were a few golden hues, but the leaves were definitely past their peak by a couple weeks (duly noted for next year). It was still a lovely day out though…a leisurely drive, a tasty lunch, and a chance to play with the camera feature on my new iPhone. Gotta say, I’m impressed with the color and detail it captures. I think the days of point-and-shoot cameras are numbered. Why carry an extra piece of equipment if you’ve got such a quality camera in your phone?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to research photo editing apps. If you’ve got a favorite, please share!


Posted by on October 28, 2013 in Monday Mix, Observations, Photography, True Life



An open letter to my fellow gym mates

showerPicture from weheartit

Dear Gym Rat,

First, I’d just like to say how much I admire your endurance. There’s no way I could do 45 minutes at level 15 on that Adaptive Motion Trainer. Ten minutes at level 1 and my calves are cramping, so you go, girl!

But just because I am in awe of your stamina and envious of your non-jiggly thighs, does not mean I want to share your funk.

In the row of six available showers, I purposely select the one at the end because it only abuts one other shower. I always choose an end one. ALWAYS. An end shower means less chance of a draft that will wrap the slimy, mildew-spotted shower curtain around my legs. It also means my shower can only be potentially contaminated by the splash-over of one other shower.

I know I’m type-A, but I honestly thought every female on the planet would share this aversion to foreign splash-over. Moreover, I thought all women, being the considerate creatures that we are, would be careful not to inflict such contamination on others.

But not you! In a row of five vacant showers, you choose the one RIGHT NEXT TO ME. Before I can dry off and escape to the safety of the lockers, you have turned your shower on full blast. In the blink of an eye, your water, your shampoo, your soap, your funk are splashing under the shower wall onto my recently scrubbed feet, ankles, calves.

Ick, ick, ICK!!! I am contaminated.

Now I’m torn between trying to stand outside my shower, putting my right leg in then my left leg in hokey-pokey-style to rinse off your splashed-on funk (without acquiring more in the process), running down to the other end shower for a quick rinse before anyone else comes in, or retreating to my locker to slather hand sanitizer all over my lower legs (FYI, that stuff stings like hell).

Next time, for the love of Pete, can you please leave a one-stall buffer? Better yet, pick the other end shower. You’ll love not getting your cheeks (the ones you just tortured for 45 minutes at level 15) caressed by the moldy shower curtain.

With sincere gratitude,

The clean freak in the end stall

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Posted by on October 14, 2013 in Monday Mix, On Me, True Life