Snowblowing quandary…..and tv snow camp breaks up…
February 11, 2010

My Uggs, pillow and Vera Bradley, packed to go home.....

Well, that great old gang of mine is breaking up….probably just in the nick of time. It’s been fun :), and a lot of work…but honestly people are just a little fatigued, and I suspect our tolerance for each other’s company might, ummmm… be wearing  just  a smidge thin? You know what I’m saying. No doubt many of you are harboring the same dark feelings  about family members….”If you ask what’s for lunch one more time…”…yeah.   

OK, since everyone is trying to dig out today, here’s a timely question for you, and I ‘m not sure what the answer is either….this is Bob’s philosophical snowblowing quandary: 

 ” Donna, about this neighbor helping neighbors I have a question. I have a snow blower that I paid nearly $1k (wow, Bob, look at you shellin’ out the big bucks!) for a few years ago. The reason I bought it was because as I am getting older it has become harder for me to clear my driveway with a shovel. Of course after I bought it we didn’t get much snow until this year. From sitting around the belts went bad so I had to pay to have them replaced. I live in a development and have many neighbors many who drive better cars then me and whose houses are much nicer then my little rancher. I always have made an effort to help our across the street neighbors with snow removal even back in the shovel days. I never ask for anything in return but they always bring something over. Last week she brought a case of Coors Light over which is probably enough beer to last me until this summer. These neighbors are the only ones that I help. Not because I don’t like my neighbors but because I am limited by my ability to do much more. When I finish my property and my neighbor I am totally wiped. So does that make me a bad neighbor to the rest? Where do you stop if you go to the next house to help? I can’t do the whole development and no one ever offers to help me because even with a snow blower there is some shoveling required. So please give me your opinion how do us that have snow blowers determine who we help and where do we stop? “ 

Bob, I have a neighbor who is probably in the same situation….who do you help and where do you stop? (That reminds me I REALLY need to pick up a case of beer for him!!) My feeling…If you’re wiped after you do those two properties, then you’ve done enough. And if your neighbors don’t come out and help shovel, no matter how nice their cars or houses are, then unfortunately they may be the kind of people who would look out and see the snow blown away and just think, “Great!! Just what we needed!”, and never think about who did it or at what cost.  Snowblowers run on gasoline and sweat equity. I say do you’re doing and forget about it….you’re already a nominee for sainthood. Maybe other will feel differently. Readers? 


I love the boots!!

Oh and this is the coolest snow outfit I’ve seen today…love the olive and check out the boots!! 

A Tardy(not tacky) Holiday Wrapup……
January 5, 2010

Mea culpa to those of you(probably very few) who have wondered what on earth happened to my blog….just this weekend my sweet daughter exclaimed, “You are  a crappy blogger. If you don’t post people will stop checking to see if you have anything new up.” And I know that’s true…the me being a crappy blogger part, anyway. Here’s the thing.…once you go for a little while without posting, it’s easier to continue doing  just that…nothing. It’s kind of like anything you stop doing for a while…exercising, going to church, calling your mom….once you don’t do it for a while, it’s gets easier and easier not to do it. But that all ends. Today. At least when it comes to blogging.  

I thought I’d do a little holiday mishmash, since I haven’t told you ANYTHING about what went on. My son and the lovely Jennifer came down for Christmas and spent 4 lovely days with us….it’s so much fun having them around, and seriously I dread the first year they won’t be here(and yes, I know the day will come)…because it will just be the three of us…two doddery old adults watching my daughter open her presents. She would be horrified. Maybe that will be the year we shake it up and go to Mexico or Spain for Christmas, thought honestly, it sounds a little depressing. But I digress.  

My new Manduka Yoga mat and bag.....

I got some good stuff…presents, you know….and the following are some of my faves. A Manduka yoga mat…..and a really great carrying bag, from my son and Jen…..they love yoga, and say all the cool kids at Kula Yoga in NYC use this kind of mat. I want to be one of the cool kids too! And this mat has a lot of support and good spring for the hands, and you don’t slip on it…love it, and love the bag too.  


New Uggs. My daughter gave me these, as she was disgusted by the fact I could stick my toes out of the side( yes really) of my old chestnut Uggs. I may still try to have them repaired…but they are really old. Oh, and tip for those of you who wear a size 8 or smaller…save yourself $40 and order kids Uggs. A child size 6 is an adult size 8….that’s what she got me…and with all the variations of Uggs out there today, I still love the Uggs classic Chestnut boot.   

play some new tunes....

Let’s see….I love, love, love  my new Bose sounddock speaker for my Ipod…this was from the hubby who gave me “portable speakers” a few years ago, but in truth, they’re not really portable. Nice smaller speakers but with a lot of wires and the plug is big, and they just don’t work for carting around. The Bose SoundDock is perfect…small, runs on battery or electric power, looks sleek, no wires….love it and have used it a lot already, after downloading free yoga classes from Itunes! There are some good ones…some that last 20 minutes, others a little over an hour, and for people who know something about yoga, it’s much better to hear the directions that watch it.  Saw some great films over the holiday…you probably did too. Avatar…I give an A-….and liked the 3D effect after I got used to it. Took me a few minutes of feeling a little disoriented though. Invictus….loved it…a solid A. Why this film starring Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman hasn’t created more buzz, I don’t know. Great story….go see it. Up in the Air with George Clooney…again, an A. Smart, smart writing, and it’s much more than just a romantic comedy….it is funny, but it’s also sad..and deals with the downsizing of many jobs. A multi-layered film.  And I tried a new fabulous dish, from the NFL of all places….a recipe for Pork Belly with Collard Green Risotto and Pickled Okra. It did have a few steps, and I cheated and didn’t “cure” the pork…I just roasted it with sea salt, and a little cinnamon and it was still fabulous. And I only put part of the collards into the risotto…if you put all that’s called for, I think the risotto would be overwhelmed….just serve the rest of the greens on the side.  (If it seems that I am addicted to pork belly…I am. It is just so delicious, and cheap.)  And just the recipe for the greens alone  is lovely, even if you don’t do the rest of it! 

 So there…gifts, movies, home cooking….that’s what the holidays should be about anyway, don’t you think? Many of you have asked how this Christmas was, the first without my Mom. It was…different. She was very much in my thoughts and memories of Christmas past, and I so miss talking to her. She is the one person in the world who was always, without exception, happy to hear from me. Always. Even other people who do love you, aren’t always glad to hear from you…they’re busy, have a lot going on, now’s not a good time…you know? She was always thrilled to talk to me. So I miss that. But I’m happy knowing she’s not struggling anymore, and my sister doesn’t have to race to the hospital all the time. But I miss her. A woman that I work with here  lost her Mom two years ago, and she told me, “It’s still hard for me, without her.” I think it’s the loss of the person who always  loved you( not necessarily approve…oh no, but love, yes)…no strings attached…that kind of love is hard to come by.

OK, I’m not a big believer in making resolutions for the New Year, because like many of you, I feel like I do the best I can, 24/7. Now that may not be good enough, and let me assure you it often is not…but still it’s the best I can do, ok? So why make some namby=amby “resolution” to do better when I’m not? So I’ve decided instead to to make some negative resolutions…things I will not worry about doing.  

1. Sto worrying one cat is too fat and one cat is too thin. It’s true of course, and I do what I can(my best already being done, remember?)…to make sure they eat the correct amountws, but there’s only so much one can do with cat and their eating habits. I’m letting it go.  

2. I’m gonna worry less about things I can do nothing about. My Mother, bless her, was the champion at this….I’m determined not to follow in her worrying footsteps. I can’t fix the middle east….I can’t do anything about the economy. Let it go.  

3. I’m going to sincerely try…really, really try…

Staying sparkly and warm this holiday season…
December 4, 2008

December on my Dana Heacock Abacus calendar!!

December on my Dana Heacock Abacus calendar!!

Alright you chipmunks, ready to sing your song?….ready Theodore?….Yes,  gentle blog-reader, it is time to light up the Washington Monument in Mount Vernon. and get this party started…the Christmas party, that is. Or Hanukkah. Whatever you celebrate this time of year. And even though many people..hey all of us, ok…are feeling a little nausea about the economy, and no one knows what’s around the corner, let us be assured that the holiday season is here just the same. And there are ways to enjoy it, without spending a fortune. Take tonight for example. The Monument Lighting is free, free, free. Pack up the kids and find a parking place…there’s music, and pretty lights, Charles Street will be so happy and alive tonight, and fireworks! What’s not to like? Get a cup of hot chocolate at Donna’s  right on Mt. Vernon square, and you are set for  great, cheap evening.

Oh, and dress warm. It’s always a big decision for me …WHAT TO WEAR TONIGHT….especially when you know you’ll be standing in the cold for a couple of hours, no ducking into stores or restaurants…so while you want to look good(naturally), you also don’t want to be a popsicle by 7:30 when the fireworks go off. (And I’ll be honest, Mindy Basara and I froze our you know whats off last year…) I have a couple of secrets….Under Armour  cold gear pants and shirt…thin and  silky but warm….I bought them four years ago for the last presidential inauguration…now that was COLD. My  other secret which really works: those little stick on heating packs that are sold in drugstores for neck and back pain. If you slap a couple on your body, it really does keep you warmer.

Snowflake pin? Check. Blingy earrinngs? Check. Uggs? Super-check.

Snowflake pin? Check. Blingy earrinngs? Check. Uggs? Super-check.

Clothes? I decided on a thick pearl gray sweater tonight instead of a coat…and I may live to regret that choice…we’ll see. My glittering snowflake pin and big blingy earrings(one does want a touch of sparkle), and a big black fur muff to keep my hands warm. And while you won’t see my feet, rest assured they’re in Uggs. Warm furry Uggs.(and nothing is new…it’s alll recycled!) Simple, chic(?), and inexpensive…love it.  Now I have to look for my ear warmers! See you tonight at the Monument or at 7 on tv….be there!!!

De-funking those funky smelling Uggs!!
December 2, 2008

Do your Ugg liners look like this....or much worse? Read on, my friend....

Do your Ugg liners look like this....or much worse? Read on, my friend....

OK, I thought everyone knew about what I’m about to tell you…but apparently that is incorrect. As I told you yesterday, we were en famille in Pittsburgh over the holiday weekend….and one of the places we stopped in is one of the lovely Jennifer’s favorite shoe stores….a family run business, where Jennifer’s Mom Jill has been buying shoes since forever. It’s called Littles, in Squirrel Hill… of  Steeler-town’s leafy(though not this time of year), upscale suburbs. They have a whopping selection of Uggs, in case you’re looking.

New fresh, fluffy good smelling inserts!

New fresh, fluffy good smelling inserts!

At Little’s, Jennifer was astounded by some Ugg inserts she saw …”I didn’t know you could put in new footbed liners !”, she exclaimed.  I felt really bad, because I gave here those Uggs a few years ago, and it pains me to think she has been running around in those same funky footbed liners for all this time.(And it was her idea to write about it..”You should blog this!”) Let’s face it, if you don’t wash/replace those liners every year or two, they….smell…really….bad. Stinky. Funky. Funkalacious. Phew.

I discovered the liner inserts serveral years ago, and they have saved my Uggs from the discard heap. You pull out the old liners….throw away if they’re truly beyond saving, but if you soak them in a cold water and detergent wash for a few hours or overnight and then  rinse well….I think you’ll find they fluff up some, and God knows they’ll smell better. That way, you always have a fresh pair to put in…just alternate them with the newer inserts.

Why dont ALL Uggs have replaceable liners? Huh?

Why don't ALL Uggs have replaceable liners? Huh?

You can order the inserts online, from Nordstrom’s or Ugg Australia…..but I should warn you…not all Uggs have removable liners. Why, I do not know. My chestnut original Uggs do…but the black ones you see here, do not. I don’t know what’s gonna happen with those puppies one day, but I just don’t wear them as often.  Check yours….you’ll either see your sole is detachable, or it is not.

At any rate, I bought a pair of replacement inserts for my sweet daughter(who also did not know about them-sad, so sad) and the lovely Jennifer, oh, and they do make them in men’s sizes as well. Now…you have no more excuses for smelly Uggs. None whatever. And in the end you save a bunch of money, because who wants to throw out a pair of boots that cost you well over $100, when you can just replace the liners for about $15? Not me. P.S.  And fyi, there are fake Uggs that cost you less $$….their nickname is fuggs…get it?

How to throw a big party without spending a lot of money…..
October 28, 2008


Whose chili is best? Pick mine, Pick mine!!

Whose chili is best? Pick mine, Pick mine!!

In these days of people keeping a close eye on their wallets…in some cases ever shrinking wallets….you may be thinking about a way to get friends and neighbors together without spending a bundle. No worries,  I’m here for you…. First you find a free venue…like a park, or your backyard…invite your friends and neighbors….and make it a cooking contest. That way they bring all the food, and oh yeah, make it byob! Fiendishly clever, don’t you think? I got the idea from a shindig in my neighborhood this weekend…now this is not unusual for where I live….we have these kind of things every so often, but it always takes someone who’s willing to take the time and effort to make it happen. 

An energetic neighbor named Martha  stepped up to the plate this time, with a fabulous chili cookoff….you bring the chili! And if you didn’t prepare feel up to preparing a big batch of chili, bring a dessert, or chili fixings like grated cheese and sour cream. Yum. 

I made Silver Palate Chili for a Crowd recipe, though I cut the amount of food of it in half, and there were still 20 servings. And I took quite a bit home, but as you can see above, there were tons of entries. And while I love the Silver Palate chili, it’s not too intense for a crowd..some people don’t like the hot…and you can always douse it with Tabasco.

A pulled pork chili...

A pulled pork chili...

There was even terrific bluegrass music provided by another (musical) neighbor, and a roaring bonfire. I wore some old castoffs of my daughters….a much loved school sweatshirt hoodie that is huge, sweatpants, Uggs…..someone asked, “Who underdressed you ?”

The perfect bonfire for roasting marshmallows...

The perfect bonfire for roasting marshmallows...


A pretty good line really …and right on the mark, but who wants their clothes all smoked up? I just threw mine in the wash. Also overheard, some sage advice for parents who have either grown or almost there offspring…”I don’t say why don’t you, or why haven’t you, or you should do this or that…I simply say , let me offer another perspective.” Hmmmm. I like it, and will use it soon.  Or, as soon as I need to give some stealth advice.