Sunday, April 28, 2024

Small Changes/Big Impact


Small Changes/Big Impacts

Last week in April already...looking forward to May, warmer weather, and travel.
I made a few small changes - upgrades - recently and am very pleased with how things worked out.
First off - new phone!
We have been Tracfone users for the last several years.  I always used Tracfone as I had little or no reception in the school library where I worked so I could not justify having a data plan.  And Tracfone worked better in some spots at school than my previous service provider.  When my husband retired and stopped needing an iPhone for work we sold his iPhone and he started using Tracfone.  It works perfectly for us.
We buy our Android ( Samsung ) phones from either QVC or HSN...usually when they are on a special sale.  The price varies, but usually around $100 dollars for the phone, 1500 minutes of talk, 1500 texts, and 1.5 gig of data for 365 days.
That is IT!  No monthly fee!
That is plenty for us...and when we renew at the end of a year, all of our unused texts, minutes, and data rolls over.  We have more than enough to do whatever we want.  We are usually on wifi somewhere so the data adds up and lasts, not having children we don't get very many phone calls, and the texts last a long time - longer for my husband.  I often add more texts ( $5.00 ) as group texts with friends add up.  We do everything that people with a plan from another carrier can do.
It costs $125.00 to renew at the end of 365 days and get another bundle of texts, calls, and rollover what you did not use.  We do this each year, unless we decide to upgrade our phones - which makes it even more of a bargain.
I just upgraded my phone to the next level - A Samsung a15 5g with a lot more storage and a better screen. I kept my phone number, and transferring the number to the new phone was super easy.
Then, using an app called SmartSwitch...all of my apps, contacts, info are transferred to my new phone...wirelessly!  This amazes me!
After a bit my phone is ready to use.
And that is it!
I do have to enter some passwords for some apps, but that is not an issue.  And my old phone...I use it to listen to music in the bath or on the screen porch.  Any old phones we have are also donated to a local funeral home( after I return them to factory settings) who recycles them to get gift cards for our troops.  It's a win-win and works for us.
Thought I would share this information with you if you are not a big cell phone user and looking to cut that monthly bill.

You might remember the bathroom refresh we did in 2020 - 
We switched out the counter tops to granite and are so glad we did!  But the bathroom still needed something...
We really wanted to add a frame around the mirror - we like the big mirror, but wanted it to look more finished.
I ordered samples from the places you see on Facebook - FrameMyMirror and such - but nothing looked like what I wanted.  I wanted the frame to be the same molding that was around the doorways to the bathroom.
A few weeks ago we had to have an adjustment to the kitchen cabinet near our dishwasher...after our dishwasher flooded and we had the floor repaired.  We live in a retirement community and the Renovation workers were doing that when I asked "hey, can you guys make a mirror frame out of molding for our bathroom?"
The answer was yes !
Here is the before - 
The workers did a very thorough job measuring and figuring out how to attach the new frame...

They added some wood strips to the top of the mirror to make sure it would be flush...

And we LOVE it !

It really finishes the bathroom and we love the way it looks!  And...that is just the primer - waiting for the painter to come and paint the final coat.
This was a very reasonable cost - much less than the FrameMyMirror cost - which would also include us doing the work.

It always amazes me how little changes can make such a big difference!
What changes have you done recently ?  I would love to hear - please leave a comment below - it makes my day to hear from you.
Hope you have a great week - and get ready for a wonderful month of May!

Monday, April 15, 2024

Paris Brunch


Paris Brunch

If you follow this blog, you know that I love all things Paris.
Here is a link to our Paris guest room bed and bath - 

Friends will be visiting Paris for the first time soon and wanted to get together to talk about our experiences...the metro, restaurants, and such.  We invited them for brunch and I decided to make it Paris themed.

I used a mirror from Dollar Tree as a base for the centerpiece, added some faux roses that I have had forever, some candles ( rechargeable and I love them!) and an Eiffel Tower cookie cutter.

The chargers are several years old, from Ross...and they are a deep cobalt blue.  They look very blue on a white table cloth, but I wanted to use these placemats to match the roses.  The china is our wedding china, as well as the flatware.

The napkins had a floral pattern and the colors worked.  I usually put the napkins folded like this in wine glasses, but since I was setting up a mimosa bar, I thought this worked and looked cute!

Water glasses were a wedding gift...and I love them.  One broke over the years, but I still have seven...and am trying to figure out how to remove that fog from the glasses.  Yes, I put them in the dishwasher over the past 47 years, but I did not realize this would happen.  

Once I have ice, water, and lemon in the glasses you don't notice the fogging...but I wish I could get rid of it.   I have tried Barkeeper's Friend, Magic Erasers, vinegar and baking soda....nothing works.  If you have had this problem and know of a trick, please leave a comment!

A mimosa bar - and I found some great Parisian cocktail napkins, also at Ross.
The menu - and I forgot to take photos of it all - was French Toast (of course!), Spinach/Artichoke Quiche, Bacon, and Fruit Salad.  Because of the bready French Toast I did not serve muffins or scones.  I did put out some Archway Lemon Cookies - they are light and yummy - as well as some Peanut M&Ms and mints.

Here is the recipe for the French Toast that I make all the time...

This is the French Toast before I popped it into the oven.  I forgot to take photos of the process, but it is SUPER easy.
I have the recipe for 1973 there was  book called 
The Total Woman. It was a "how to be a good wife" book and it was a hoot to read.  But...the author, Maribel Morgan, wrote another called The Total Woman Cookbook in 1980.  I was working in a library at the time and saw the book...and this recipe.  Been making it ever since!

French Toast Casserole  Serves 6  to 8
1 loaf of French or Italian bread
8 large eggs
3 cups milk ( I use milk and that sugar free sweet Italian creamer)
4 teaspoons of sugar ( when I use the creamer I do not use sugar)
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces
Grease a 13x9 pan.  Cut bread into 1 inch thick pieces and arrange in one layer on bottom of pan.  I cut as many as I can and try to squeeze them in without squeezing too much. Beat eggs with remaining ingredients except butter and cinnamon.  Pour over bread in pan.    Dot the top of each piece with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Cover with foil and refrigerate 4 - 36 hours.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes, until puffy and light brown.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.   Top with hot maple syrup and serve with bacon or sausage.

We always have music playing, and for this occasion we pulled out our Paris CDs.  It added such a nice touch to the day !
I even tried to dress Parisian....and I did not get a great photo, but I also used a RED lipstick.

We had a lovely time...and it made us want to return to Paris soon. We have other trips planned for next month and the future...but you know what Audrey Hepburn said...
"Paris is always a good idea!"
Do you like to entertain with a theme ?
Are you a dinner or brunch person when you have guests?
Have you been to Paris...what do you love ( or hate ) about the city?
Leave a comment below - and if you have a trick for fixing my water glasses please let me know.  I love reading your comments and enjoy all the blog friends I have made.
Thanks for stopping by Our New Vista!!! 

Sunday, April 7, 2024

April Showers Reading Hours!


April Showers Reading Hours

We certainly have had our share of April showers here in Pennsylvania...but that has brought a lot of indoor time enjoy one of my favorite pastimes - reading a good book.
Since this is National Library Week I thought I would share some books that I have enjoyed recently.

Just finished this as it is the pick for our book club next week.  Very fortunate that Kristin Hannah came to Lancaster, PA back in February for an author visit sponsored by the Friends of Lancaster Libraries.   Have been to presentations by several authors in the past few years - and this was a great event.  Kristin Hannah was interviewed by Adriana Trigiani - another of my favorite authors - and it was a wonderful conversation.

An intimate portrait of coming of age in a dangerous time and an epic tale of a nation divided.
Women can be heroes. When twenty-year-old nursing student Frances “Frankie” McGrath hears these words, it is a revelation. Raised in the sun-drenched, idyllic world of Southern California and sheltered by her conservative parents, she has always prided herself on doing the right thing. But in 1965, the world is changing, and she suddenly dares to imagine a different future for herself. When her brother ships out to serve in Vietnam, she joins the Army Nurse Corps and follows his path.
As green and inexperienced as the men sent to Vietnam to fight, Frankie is over- whelmed by the chaos and destruction of war. Each day is a gamble of life and death, hope and betrayal; friendships run deep and can be shattered in an instant. In war, she meets—and becomes one of—the lucky, the brave, the broken, and the lost.
But war is just the beginning for Frankie and her veteran friends. The real battle lies in coming home to a changed and divided America, to angry protesters, and to a country that wants to forget Vietnam.
The Women is the story of one woman gone to war, but it shines a light on all women who put themselves in harm’s way and whose sacrifice and commitment to their country has too often been forgotten. A novel about deep friendships and bold patriotism, The Women is a richly drawn story with a memorable heroine whose idealism and courage under fire will come to define an era.
This was an emotional book to read...and at the author presentation question and answer period, many women came up to the microphone to talk about their experience during that time. Looking forward to our book club discussion next week!

I really enjoy historical fiction....and this was a little different - 

In New York City, you can disappear into the crowd. At least that’s what Gloria Downing desperately hopes as she tries to reinvent herself after a devastating family scandal. She’s ready for a total life makeover and a friend she can lean on—and into her path walks a young, idealistic woman named Estée. Their chance encounter will change Gloria’s life forever.
Estée dreams of success and becoming a household name like Elizabeth Arden, Helena Rubinstein, and Revlon. Before Gloria knows it, she is swept up in her new friend’s mission and while Estée rolls up her sleeves, Gloria begins to discover her own talents. After landing a job at Saks Fifth Avenue, New York’s finest luxury department store, Gloria finds her voice, which proves instrumental in opening doors for Estée’s insatiable ambitions.
But in a world unaccustomed to women with power, they’ll each have to pay the price that comes with daring to live life on their own terms and refusing to back down.

Blending Estee's story with a fictional character made this a fun read.  And learning the origins of the famous cosmetic brand was interesting.

If historical fiction is my favorite genre...WWII is my favorite era.  This was a very moving novel, based on a real person who was a midwife in Auschwitz.
Auschwitz, 1943: As I held the tiny baby in my arms, my fingers traced the black tattoo etched across her little thigh. And I prayed that one day this set of numbers, identical to her mother’s, would have the power to reunite a family torn apart by war…
Inspired by an incredible true story, this poignant novel tells of one woman’s fight for love, life and hope during a time of unimaginable darkness.
Ana Kaminski is pushed through the iron gates of Auschwitz beside her frightened young friend Ester Pasternak. As they reach the front of the line, Ana steps forward and quietly declares herself a midwife – and Ester her assistant. Their arms are tattooed and they’re ordered to the maternity hut. Holding an innocent new-born baby, Ana knows the fate of so many are in her hands, and vows to do everything she can to save them.
When two guards in their chilling SS uniforms march in and snatch a blond-haired baby from its mother it’s almost too much for Ana to bear. Consoling the distraught woman, Ana realises amidst the terrible heartache there is a glimmer of hope. The guards are taking the healthiest babies and placing them with German families, so they will survive. And there are whispers the war is nearly over… Ana and Ester begin to secretly tattoo little ones with their mother’s numbers, praying one day they might be reunited.
Then, early one morning, Ana notices the small bump under Ester’s thin striped clothing…
This is the first in a series of books and I am on the hunt for the next one...The Midwife of Berlin.

I always enjoy a little bit of magic, a little bit of scary, and Nora Roberts never disappoints!  
1806: Astrid Poole sits in her bridal clothes, overwhelmed with happiness. But before her marriage can be consummated, she is murdered, and the circle of gold torn from her finger. Her last words are a promise to Collin never to leave him…

Graphic designer Sonya MacTavish is stunned to learn that her late father had a twin he never knew about―and that her newly discovered uncle, Collin Poole, has left her almost everything he owned, including a majestic Victorian house on the Maine coast, which the will stipulates she must live in it for at least three years. Her engagement recently broken, she sets off to find out why the boys were separated at birth―and why it was all kept secret until a genealogy website brought it to light.
Trey, the young lawyer who greets her at the sprawling clifftop manor, notes Sonya’s unease―and acknowledges that yes, the place is haunted…but just a little. Sure enough, Sonya finds objects moved and music playing out of nowhere. She sees a painting by her father inexplicably hanging in her deceased uncle’s office, and a portrait of a woman named Astrid, whom the lawyer refers to as “the first lost bride.” It’s becoming clear that Sonya has inherited far more than a house. She has inherited a centuries-old curse, and a puzzle to be solved if there is any hope of breaking it…
I really enjoyed this...and can't wait for the next volume of the trilogy to be out in November of 2024.  If you are not familiar with Roberts, give her books a try...she has all kinds - mystery, fantasy, romance, and a whole series under the pen name J.D. Robb.
After reading her Boonsboro trilogy we spent a great few days at Inn Boonsboro - based on her books and owned by the author. 
You can read about our wonderful visit here - 

Lastly...this one by Danielle Steel.  I call her books my "tub books" that are an enjoyable read, not too deep, and I can read them in a bubble bath!  
Oscar-winning actress Ardith Law is a Hollywood icon. Radiant at sixty-two, she is the epitome of glamour and a highly respected artist. But her success has come at a she has a strained relationship with her daughter, Morgan, who at thirty-eight still blames Ardith for putting her career before being a mother. Morgan is a successful plastic surgeon in New York City—and the distance from Ardith’s Bel Air mansion is not lost on either of them.
Ardith became a single mother when Morgan was seven, after her unfaithful husband died in a helicopter accident. In recent years, she has found amiable companionship with fellow actor Bill West. But Ardith’s comfortable world is turned upside down when she hires a temporary personal assistant, Josh Gray, while Bill is away filming in London. Josh’s rough-around-the-edges persona is the opposite of what Ardith is used to, but an unexpected tragedy brings them closer, stirring up conflicting feelings in her for this younger man.
In New York, Morgan is swept off her feet by world-renowned TV anchorman Ben Ryan. Though more than two decades her senior, Ben is handsome, charismatic, and just as smitten as Morgan. But when a blackmail scheme puts his career—and their relationship—on the line, Morgan doesn’t know where to turn. Perhaps . . . to her mother? As each woman navigates an unconventional romance, they cautiously approach each other on new terms and attempt to put aside their past for a new future.
This was enjoyable because the main character was older, and it was a good story about love not caring about age.

What have you been reading lately ?  Do you read "real" books, eBooks, or listen to audio books?  I do all three!  Do you purchase your books - or borrow from the library?  As a retired librarian I almost always get my books from the library.  Libraries are such a wonderful resource that many people do not use.  So many great resources for free !   I use Hoopla and Libby to download eBooks and audiobooks, Flipster to read magazines on my tablet, and love going to our new public library in downtown Lancaster to look at the new book shelf...I always come home with a big pile of great books!
Please leave a comment below  -  would love to know what you are are reading!  And give some love to your local library this week...they are under attack and under funded and need your support.
Happy National Library Week !

Trip !

  TRIP !!! And not the trip we were looking forward to...out for a walk and waiting for the crosswalk to say WALK.  A tractor trailer turned...