Y/Z

YODELING

Whenever we think of yodeling, we flash back to watching the movie Heidi and little Shirley Temple yodeling (or at least giving it a good try). Naturally, that made us associate yodeling with the Alps. Wrong. True, it takes place there but it’s not just a Swiss thing. It’s found in many places, including in punk and contemporary rock, in French and African music and it’s also home on the range as well.  So we decided to give it a try! There are several tutorials on the web that tout one can learn to yodel in three easy steps. Well, that’s true but not with great results. We tried it. We somewhat succeeded. And, of course, we laughed!

ZIPPER ART

What better way to end the first-round of the ABC life than with zipper art! Just grab a whole bunch of zippers and unleash your creativity. There are quite a few projects that turn zippers into jewelry but most require skill with a needle and thread – a skill we are sorely lacking. However, there’s nothing a little paper, glue and scissors can’t create. This was definitely a fun project and one that would never have occurred without the ABC life! What do you think? 

And as our mom used to say, “if you can’t say anything nice about something then ZIP your lip.”

EATING OUR WAY TO THE END – THIS GO ROUND

We found out that surprisingly there are several restaurants in the Plano area whose name begins with a Y or Z. We sampled food from Yao Fuzi, Zalat Pizza, and Zenna. We enjoyed all three of these cuisines but Zenna will certainly be new on our lunchtime rotation moving forward. For under $7 we had a salad, soup, spring roll, 2 pieces of California roll and tuna sashimi – what a deal!

 

More or less

Laura: More “ZERO Waste Kitchen Habits.”  I’m determined to waste less food in the months ahead. According to Dana Gunders in her “Waste Free Kitchen Handbook,” approximately 40% of all food in the United States is wasted. Yikes! Americans toss an average of $120 a month per household of four of uneaten food. So, that means Kurt and I trash about $60 a month. Sounds about right when I think of the lettuce that wilted, the mushrooms that I didn’t get to use in the dish I never got around to making, the leftovers that were literally left to rot in the fridge…you get the idea, right? Well it’s a matter of buying less, tracking what’s in the refrigerator better and eating what we have. The pantry alone is a gold mine of food waiting to be chosen. I have to start thinking about meals as a means to using what I have. For starters, I will be relying on soups, omelets and salads as a go-to when I need help with this quest.

Laura: Less YELLING.  I’m thinking neither of anyone in particular nor of a specific instance. But please, let’s have less shouting, screaming, yelling. It seems the noise level is being ramped up in TV shows, movies and commercials – as well as at political rallies and public gatherings. Maybe we should try whispering? Wait – what did you say?

Barbara: More ZANY. One thing the ABC life is teaching me is that it is a whole lot of fun to do something zany and now that I have more time I can take advantage of this. After our Goat Yoga experience I had so many people tell me they couldn’t believe I would do such a wacky (I’ll say zany) thing and that it looked like a lot of fun. Well it is! I’ve done some other wacky things in my life – like going door to door in my cousin’s new apartment building asking if the renter had any boys of a particular age, coming off a plane with Laura to meet our friends wearing Barbara and Laura Bush faces (since they call us the Bush sisters) and hanging upside down over a cliff to kiss the Blarney Stone – and sometimes we stifle that part of our personality. But no more!

Barbara: Less ZEALOTS.  I’m not crazy about extremes and it seems that lately everyone with a viewpoint is so ADAMANT about their position and that connects to Laura’s less yelling wish. Let’s just be able to say what we think about something and listen to other viewpoints without such animosity.

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Y’ALL – WE’VE COME TO ZE END OF ZE ALPHABET

Y and Z begged us to be together since they felt that W and X paired up nicely.

YOGOATTA DO THIS!

Once you’ve had a monkey on your head, as we had in Brazil, the next logical step is to have a goat on your back. Goat Yoga has fast become a trend and is as much fun as it sounds. It started in Michigan in 2016 where Lainey Morse lived on a farm with ten goats. She first hosted a goat happy hour for people who were stressed or ill because “it’s impossible to be sad or depressed when there are baby goats jumping around.” At one of her events a yoga instructor asked if she would be interested in mixing in yoga with the goats.  And voilá – Goat Yoga was born.

We checked it out and can attest to the fact that a crowd of about 30 people were constantly laughing and cuddling with our new found friends. Plus we even got in a few yoga moves. 

 

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WRAPPING UP W/X

MORE AND LESS – “W/X ZONE”

Laura – More WATCHFUL. I need to be more in the present, less in my head. I want to take the time to see, hear and smell the roses – which I can only do if I’m in the “now.” When I walk the neighborhood, I want to look around and enjoy what I’m seeing. The squirrels, rabbits and birds are fine with a little eye contact. Maybe, it’s time to resume a project I started long ago (and abandoned for no good reason). It was take a photo of at least one interesting thing per day. That will help me be more watchful wherever I go.

Less WASTE. I have been making inroads but I still have a way to go toward using up the food I have. Whether it’s in the refrigerator, freezer or pantry, I don’t get to it in time to feel that it is still safe and then it’s thrown away. What a waste – of money and resources!  Trying to buy less and go to markets more frequently to accommodate the fewer items purchased per visit. Also I’m tracking what I have through a visual reminder system I’m testing out.  Whatever works – but the goal is to purchase the right amount of food and to use it all up. Who knows…maybe I’ll also resurrect my old book project: Eat Your (Future) Garbage Cookbook.

Barbara – More WEAKNESS. This is not the meaning you are thinking of. As sisters and best friends, Laura and I spend a lot of time together laughing. I’m talking about the full out, fall on the floor, uncontrollable bouts of laughter laughing. It’s so bad we’ve given it a name – The Weakness. Everyone in our family and our close friends can’t help but be familiar with this “affliction” of ours. When we are weak with laughter in the kitchen we can hear from the other room “Oh, they’ve got the weakness again.” Friends have even taken to snapping candid shots of it. But I say, bring it on! Nothing in the world better than laughter!

 

 

 

 

Less WEAKNESS. This time I mean it in the traditional sense of the word. I want to work on weakness of character – having the strength to stand up for what I really want, need or believe in rather than worrying about what someone else would think of me. I’m not really terrible in this regard but there’s always room for improvement.

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WALK ON THE WILD SIDE

We’ve been talking for some time about having a reunion with four great ladies we met on our recent Amazon trip and finally we did it. We met up in Tampa where Jane, Janice and Sandra live and Mary Ann flew in from Wisconsin. Although we had many interesting and thoughtful discussions, much laughter and caipirinhas to drink, our main emphasis was on visiting Zoo Tampa and the Center for Great Apes (CGA) where our Florida friends volunteer their time.

First up was Zoo Tampa . The two highlights there were getting the inside scoop on the orangutans and an up close and personal experience with the tortoises.We were delighted to meet Winston who was the inspiration for Steven Spielberg’s creation of E.T.

The next day we were privileged to spend time at the Center for Great Apes, which is not open to the public. This was a very moving and emotional experience where we felt sad and hopeful at the same time. CGA is a sanctuary for orangutans and chimpanzees that have been rescued from lives of abuse or neglect. Many of these situations were in the entertainment industry. At CGA, they are allowed to live out their lives in an atmosphere of comfort and caring and with no expectations other than to live naturally.

Our biggest takeaway is “what you see is NOT what you get.” When you see a disclaimer that no animal has been harmed in the making of a particular film, it may be the case but it doesn’t tell the true story of what happens to non-domesticated animals before and after the making of the film.

We are so lucky to have met these ladies – new friendships always lead to enriching our lives. All in all, it was a WONDERFUL WEEK.

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W and X

We are in W month but decided to add X as well. It’s hard to do a lot of X activities without cheating by adding an “e” to X and making it an Extra special combination. So we thought we’d combine our W and X into the same month. After all, why should X be lonely?

XO COFFEE COMPANY & BISTRO

It’s very hard to find an X item so we were very lucky to find this cute little coffee house right in our backyard of downtown Plano. We thought it would just be coffee and maybe some little treats, but the real treat was that they had an Xtremely appetizing menu of breakfast and lunch items. Laura had their cappuccino, which she thought was one of the best ever, and Barbara tried the cauliflower bisque since it was a bone chilling day. Although the bisque was an acquired taste, Barbara wound up really enjoying it. The wait staff was very friendly, which added to the experience, so we will be back.

 

 

RESEARCH CENTER -XOX 

In keeping with the XO theme, have you ever thought about the reason people use XOXOX to indicate hugs and kisses at the end of a letter or email? Well, if you’re Barbara you have. X has been used since 1763 to indicate a kiss due to the medieval use of X by illiterates to indicate a signature. X was the symbol of the cross, so signing with an X was indicating “in Christ’s name it is true.” The cross was then kissed to indicate sincerity. The origin of the O is less agreed upon. One theory is that illiterate non-Christians used it instead of an X so as not to be representing Christianity. The O made the jump to being a hug because it was in the shape of two people hugging.

What have YOU been wondering about this month?

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WAXAHACHIE WALKABOUT

What a great discovery! Waxahachie, the Gingerbread City – named for its nearly 200 Victorian and Gingerbread architectural homes. Downtown Waxahachie was a wonderful and charming destination, with great shops, friendly people and a beautiful courthouse.  

First stop was the Ellis Country Museum. There was a large amount of items displayed from WWII but the one we found the most interesting was the contraption used at hair There was a large amount of items displayed from WWII but the one we found the most interesting was the contraption used at hair salons to give perms. 

Can you imagine sitting in that contraption with the smell of chemicals and burning hair?

Then it was off to dine at the Dove’s Nest Restaurant, where the food was amazing. Our Dove’s Nest Club Panini was one of the best sandwiches we’ve ever had (was it their famous almond bacon cheddar spread?). The blackberry bread pudding with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream was a perfect end to the meal. Plus, they had a fun gift shop, where Laura just had to buy a rabbit plate, thus launching her new animal plate collection.

Next up was The High Cotton Exchange where a great little pitcher and a beautiful serving bowl called Barbara’s name. For years, Barbara has wanted to collect different china sets for holidays and although that urge has been pared down to single serving bowls, Barbara’s long overdue wish to start her collection has now been fulfilled.  We can see a lot of antique shops in our future.

We capped off our excursion with a walk past the Courthouse (one of the prettiest we’ve seen), a visit to the Folk Art Gallery, and a short ride past some of those Victorian homes.  If not for the ABC Life we may never have discovered this charming town!

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OUR VERY LAST V

The thing we really like about the ABC Life is that it gets us out of our routine. If it weren’t for the fact that it was the last day of V month (January), we probably would have shined on our last activity – going to Lewisville on 1/31 to eat at Prohibition Chicken and the Volstead Room

The National Prohibition Act, also called the Volstead Act, was enacted to carry out the intent of the 18th Amendment, which established prohibition in the United States. The bill was named for Andrew Volstead, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who managed the legislation. Respectable citizens were lured by the romance of illegal speakeasies, so called because of the practice of speaking quietly about such a place in public, or when inside it, so as not to alert the police or neighbors.

When you enter Prohibition Chicken it looks like any other family-style chicken restaurant. But if you know about the Volstead Room, you get the code from the hostess (we had read it was a secret password but she just said to dial zero; maybe she was new), walk through the telephone booth in the back, pick up the old fashioned phone and dial.  Once you tell the person answering how many in your party (and supposedly give him the password of the day), he buzzes you into the back room “speakeasy.”

Our bartender/waiter, Luke, was wonderful. Extremely friendly, treated us like family and suggested the drink that fit our “flavor profile.” He was dead on. He made something called Pretty in Pink with vodka and raspberries.

Then on to dinner, which was great – from the homemade biscuits to the tri tip to the fried chicken, green beans and slaw. Definitely worth a return trip!

 

 

 

MORE AND LESS – “V” ZONE

 

Barbara – More VOLUNTEERING. Having recently retired I am still making the adjustment to going from being a vital contributing member of society to someone who is doing whatever she wants. I know that after 25 years of being a workaholic I am entitled to some more “me time” but we’ve come to associate some of our value with our job. So I’m determined to start exploring volunteer opportunities. They don’t make it easy though. I thought as soon as I said I wanted to volunteer somewhere it would be an immediate thing but I’ve found that a lot of places I was interested in had waiting lists of volunteers. I did find two that would give me the most sense of helping but the application is long and I need a background check. Now I sound like a complainer so I’ll just put my big girl pants on and tackle those…tomorrow.

Less VIAGRA and Cialis commercials. When did we go to 75% commercials for pharmaceuticals? The ones that bug me the most, though, are the various commercials for the drug Viagra and Cialis. I watch very little TV but when I do these are the ads that pop up (no pun intended). I don’t doubt the worth of it for those who are in need but really…how many of us have two matching antique tubs outside? And does every man with E.D. have a gorgeous woman in tow? I’m guessing that the ad makers thought if it showed a good looking man with a plain looking woman the people watching would blame the woman. It’s really a comment on our society.

Laura – More VICHYSSOISE and VITTLES. I have always loved the sound of certain words. They can make me smile, laugh and/or ponder (another word I like the sound of). For V, these two shine and they have the added benefit of being appreciated for what they are as well.  Vichyssoise can be heated but, like revenge, it is a dish best served cold. Vittles, on the other hand, came about because back in the 14th century, most people kept mispronouncing “victuals” as vittles. They both mean the same thing but the latter is easier and nicer sounding.

Less VERIZON commercials. This must be the month that TV commercials are truly getting on both Barbara’s and my nerves. In addition to the annoying commercials Verizon is running lately and their frequency (enough!), my main beef is with the use of Thomas Middleditch (Richard from the series Silicon Valley). Now I don’t mean any ill will toward the actor or his right to earn a living in whatever way he chooses, but having a well recognized actor in those commercials completely takes away from any believability about the premise of the ads. Are we really being asked to believe that a successful actor just believes in Verizon so much that he would use his “free” time to pester people at coffee shops and remote rural areas to sing the virtues of the company?  It just makes me think how phony the whole ad campaign is. Well enough complaining….time for some vittles!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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