Thursday, 12 January 2012

Most Men hate the Sales.

Last week I went into Dublin town to have a look around the shops as the Sales were on and the first big rush was over. I would not be an avid shopper but a bit of retail therapy never went amiss especially if there are genuine bargains out there. My shopping list was modest enough; a  pair of jeans, a navy cardigan  and a jumper or two of my fancy! When I was going around the Ladies Fashion departments in the bigger stores, I noticed the amount of men sitting outside the fitting rooms. To say that they had a condemned look on their faces was putting it mildly; they looked utterly miserable. Only a few hardy annuals amongst them thought of bringing a newspaper or their book. I thought of my own spouse who would never venture into the Male Fashion department during the Sales, let alone accompany me on a Ladies Fashion department Sales outing. One cannot help but wonder why the respective partners of all these condemned males did not suggest that they go off for a cup of coffee and said partner would join them in an hour or two. Certainly the man's opinion is needed when the fitting room curtains are swept back and the lady appears in the prospective garment. Is the advice  honest though? A size bigger or smaller, does my bum look too big, another shade perhaps, could be met with a soleful gaze to the wristwatch and a reply implying, are we ready to go now (which is a childhood echo of;  are we there yet?) In one department store, upstairs in the Ladies Fashions there are now islands of comfortable chairs all along the floor. Someone on the Management Team in this store has picked up on the phenomenon of the condemned men during the Sales; at least they can now be comfortable condemned men, whereas before they were uncomfortable condemned men sitting on a plastic or wooden chair outside the fitting room. My daughter was recently over in a south side shopping centre and in one of the department stores the Management Team had obviously been brainstorming to help the lot of the condemned men. Guess what they came up with? An area with comfortable chairs and a TV showing sports programmes! Women on the other hand are a more resilient breed but ladies, we just might see "chilling out" areas in our supermarkets soon offering free foot massages to get us up and down those aisles.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Nifty and Thrifty.

Thrift, described in the dictionary as "wise economic management" or "frugality" may soon become a frequent topic of conversation. Yet, if I think about it, I've been engaged in some household thrift practices over the years. Take women's tights; one can get a ladder or hole in one leg and retain a perfect second leg. Cut off the imperfect one at thigh level and discard; you're left with a one legged tight and waistband top. It might raise a few eyebrows when hanging out on the line but persevere till the same scenario happens again and you match up your two one legged tights! For this to work, you must buy the same colour tights each time.The downside is that you have two waistband tops on the tights, but in Wintertime, this gives extra warmth. If you are of a very thrifty nature, the old discarded leg can be successfully used for storing tulip bulbs which will hang in the garden shed! Other ideas for "wise economic management" are, saving the elastic bands from bunches of flowers and tweeking out the corners of Tetra packs of milk, juice or yogurt drinks. I estimate that you can save approx 0.5 ml extra per week per pack. This is a staggering 26 mls per annum. Just consider the savings you make here! Christmas time brings unique opportunities for clawing back some of the overspent cash. Scrutinise the stamps on your post carefully. You will be amazed at the amount of stamps without a postmark.Steep the stamps in cold water, remove the backing paper, dry out on a tissue and re-apply using glue stick. (Hope there are no An Post employees reading this!) Try to use your stash of stamps up in the Springtime as people will guess what you've been up to if Baby Jesus is on your post during the Summer. Christmas cards can be recycled by making clever cut outs, punching a hole in the corner and using the following year as gift tags. If you're into a combination of thrift and time saving, remove all the gift tags from the discarded paper each year and store in a corner of the desk till next Christmas Eve. It saves a half an hour for stressed out Mothers and is a God send. I guarantee you, no one will notice! Hold on to those Jiffy padded envelopes; paste a piece of paper over the address and re-use! The Dutch nation have a name for being thrifty and this is reflected in some of their household gadgets. While living in the Netherlands I came across an ingenious kitchen utensil; a small plastic rod with a flexible half moon shaped attachment on the end. I'd call it a "scraper-outer."  When a jar or bottle is almost empty, this gadget will
scrape it clean.  These are small examples of thriftiness but they give great satisfaction.Who knows, some readers may regard tights, tetra packs and Christmas post in a different light from now on and be converted to the art of thrift!

Monday, 2 January 2012

The Healthy (Prolonged) Breakfast.

A few years ago I decided to switch my breakfast fare for the healthier alternative of fresh mixed fruit. This involves cutting up an apple, adding a mandarin and banana, squeezing an orange and adding the juice to the fruit. A dietician on a radio programme spoke glowingly about Cinnemon powder so a generous sprinkle goes over the apple. Finally, I add a helping of oatmeal and a few spoons of probiotic natural yogurt with  a teaspoon of honey.Then I read an article  by a Scottish nutritionalist who wrote that we should never give our stomachs a shock first thing in the morning with cold drink or food; she advised that we should start our day with a glass of warm water.This duly took precedence and is handy for swallowing the vitamin tablets and cod liver oil;  (think of lubricating those hip and knee joints!)   The benefits  of  a clove of  garlic and some  fresh  ginger  are well documented for boosting the immune system so the chopping board then made its' appearance each morning.Chop it up, mix it in with a spoon of yogurt, then down the hatch! A friend mentioned the benefits of two spoons of cider vinegar in a little warm water and I lined this up before the garlic and ginger. In the Health Shop I heard about the increasing popularity of a variety of seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin and hemp which had to be ground down for better absorption.Thankfully, one can now buy this ground and mixed, so a few spoons are added to the fruit.Then there's the Lecithin granules for keeping the cholesterol levels at bay; a few spoons will suffice. Our son was home for Christmas and remarked that my "breakfast routine" was taking considerably longer than on his previous visit. Now here's the dilemma; will I persevere or go back to the tea and toast?