Friday, July 31, 2009

Blessings Friday: Toilet Paper

Over the years I’ve formed a special mantra to remind me I’m responsible for my own happiness: When life gives you poop, it’s your responsibility to buy the toilet paper. I don’t actually use the word poop, though—I use a different expression, but it’s my way of injecting humor into challenges faced. A story making email rounds came to me via my friend Peggy and illustrates exactly what I mean.

Source: Wikimedia

You know the feeling....

When you have to visit a public bathroom, you usually find a line of women, so you smile politely and take your place. Once it's your turn, you check for feet under the stall doors. Every stall is occupied. Finally, a door opens and you dash in, nearly knocking down the woman leaving the stall.

You get in to find the door won't latch. It doesn't matter, the wait has been so long you are about to wet your pants. The dispenser for the modern 'seat covers' (invented by someone's Mom, no doubt) is handy, but empty. You would hang your purse on the door hook if there was one, but there isn't—so you carefully but quickly drape it around your neck, (Mom would turn over in her grave if you put it on the FLOOR!), yank down your pants, and assume 'The Stance'.

Souce: Clean Seat Holland

In this position your aging, toneless thigh muscles begin to shake. You'd love to sit down, but you certainly hadn't taken time to wipe the seat or lay toilet paper on it, so you hold 'The Stance.'

To take your mind off your trembling thighs, you reach for what you discover to be the empty toilet paper dispenser. In your mind, you can hear your mother's voice saying, “Honey, if you had tried to clean the seat, you would have KNOWN there was no toilet paper!” Your thighs shake more.

Source: Truman College

You remember the tiny tissue that you blew your nose on yesterday, the one still in your purse. (Oh yeah, the purse around your neck, that now you have to hold up trying not to strangle yourself at the same time). That would have to do. You crumple it in the puffiest way possible. It's still smaller than your thumbnail.

Someone pushes your door open because the latch doesn't work. The door hits your purse hanging around your neck in front of your chest, and you and your purse topple backward against the tank of the toilet. “Occupied!” you scream as you reach for the door, dropping your precious, tiny, crumpled tissue in a puddle on the floor, lose your footing altogether, and slide down directly onto the toilet seat.

Source: Laid Back Think Tank

It is wet of course. You bolt up, knowing all too well that it's too late. Your bare bottom has made contact with every imaginable germ and life form on the uncovered seat because YOU never laid down toilet paper—not that there was any even if you had taken time to try. You know your mother would be utterly appalled if she knew, because you're certain her bare bottom never touched a public toilet seat because frankly, dear, “You just don't KNOW what kind of diseases you could get.”

By this time, the automatic sensor on the back of the toilet is so confused that it flushes, propelling a stream of water like a fire hose against the inside of the bowl that sprays a fine mist of water that covers your butt and runs down your legs and into your shoes. The flush somehow sucks everything down with such force that you grab onto the empty toilet paper dispenser for fear of being dragged in, too.

At this point, you give up. You're soaked by the spewing water and the wet toilet seat. You're exhausted. You try to wipe with a gum wrapper you found in your pocket and then slink out inconspicuously to the sinks.

You can't figure out how to operate the faucets with the automatic sensors, so you wipe your hands with spit and a dry paper towel and walk past the line of women still waiting.

Source: eHow

You are no longer able to smile politely to them. A kind soul at the very end of the line points out a piece of toilet paper trailing from your shoe. (Where was that when you NEEDED it?) You yank the paper from your shoe, plunk it in the woman's hand and tell her warmly, “Here, you just might need this.”

As you exit, you spot your hubby who has long since entered, used, and left the men's restroom. Annoyed, he asks, “What took you so long, and why is your purse hanging around your neck?”

Source: Signs Online

This is dedicated to women everywhere who deal with a public restrooms (rest??? you've GOT to be kidding!). It finally explains to men what really does take us so long. It also answers their other commonly asked questions about why women go to the restroom in pairs—it’s so the other gal can hold the door, hang onto your purse and hand you Kleenex under the door.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Travel First Aid Kit

We’re traveling again soon; we have three trips scheduled—one each for October, November, and December. A post on Maya Made last week reminded me about the necessity of including a first aid kit in our packing.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

I’m not a doctor and, therefore, am not making recommendations on what should be in your first aid kit. Maya Made’s choices gave me a good list to consider; from that I made my own shopping list to supplement what’s already in my medicine cabinet.

  • Arnica Spray: external use for muscle aches and pains, as well as bruises from falls
  • Arnica Montana Pellets: dissolves in the mouth for reducing pain, swelling, and discoloration from bruises
  • Burt’s Bees Res-Q Ointment: aids in healing wounds, cuts, burns and bruises
  • Rescue Remedy: for relief of occasional stress or anxiety
  • EcoGuard Bandages: latex-free
  • Desert Essence Towelettes: contains lavender, tea tree, and palmarosa
  • Neosporin: antibiotic ointment
  • Tylenol
  • Aloe Vera Ointment: for minor cuts, burns, insect bites, irritations, and sunburn

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Maya Made provides a tutorial for making a first-aid envelope, including an adaptation for using it with a belt. I have a small bag previously made using a pattern from Amy Karol’s book Bend the Rules and am using that instead. Everything tucks quite neatly inside.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Do It Yourself Hot Stone Massage

I love massages, but they’re not cheap. So I’ve figured out a way to get what I need in a more affordable way. My husband and I decided we’ll learn some massage techniques and then treat each other.

To supplement regular massages for our aching muscles and joints, a hot stone massage makes for a blissful experience. I’ve collected what we need--basalt river rocks, a book about massage techniques, and a stone warmer.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

You need approximately 33 stones: 8 large, 6 medium, 10 small, and 8 very small ones to put between your toes. You can buy the rocks or find them in a riverbed. My sister and I drove up to Apache Junction on Monday and spent the day floating down the Salt River on inner tubes to escape Arizona’s heat. There were gazillions of lovely smooth river stones—gifts of nature.

You can buy a stone warmer at beauty supply stores, but you can also just use an old crock-pot, just be careful you can control the temperature appropriately. Put in your stones and water, making sure the stones are completely submerged, but don’t overfill your pot. In addition to stones, the warmer heats mud, algae and other massage products for varying type therapies.

We’re going to give our new do-it-yourself tools a try this weekend. First I’ll make a bottle of homemade massage oil to use with a recipe found at Pioneer
Thinking for a massage oil called “Muscular Aches Pain”.


  • A Step-By-Step Guide To The Hot Stone Massage at LifeScript
  • Create Your Own Home Spa Experience at LifeScript
  • 5 Simple Steps to Create Your Own Hot Stone Kit for Massages at The Free Library
  • Herbal Magic: Customize Your Massage Oil at The Herb Companion
  • Hot Stone Massage And Other Relaxation Techniques at Relaxation
  • Hot Stone Massage Therapy videos on YouTube
  • How to Give a Hot Stone Massage at How to Do Things

Monday, July 27, 2009

Daring Bakers July Challenge: Mallows and Milan Cookies

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

I was pleasantly surprised at the ease of making these two types of cookies. The homemade marshmallow component was made in advance to save me some time; otherwise, all went pretty quickly.

Mallows (Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Prep Time: 10 min
Inactive Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Serves: about 2 dozen cookies

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs, whisked together
  • Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
  • Chocolate glaze, recipe follows
  1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients.
  2. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy.
  3. Add the eggs and mix until combine.
  4. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with cling-film or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
  5. When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  6. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1- to 1½-inches cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough.
  7. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.
  8. Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours.
  9. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.
  10. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze.
  11. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
  12. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.
Homemade Marshmallows

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

I made the marshmallows a couple of days in advance. To keep them from sticking together, I cut them into small blocks and rolled them in powdered sugar. When time came to use them, it was simply a matter of heating them so they melted for piping onto the cookies.
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 egg whites, room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.
  2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.
  3. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.
  4. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.
  5. Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff.
  6. Transfer to a pastry bag.
Chocolate Glaze
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 2 ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil
Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water.

Milan Cookies

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Prep Time: 20 min
Inactive Prep Time: 0 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 0 min
Serves: about 3 dozen cookies

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar
  • 7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons lemon extract
  • 1½ cups all purpose flour
  • Cookie filling, recipe follows
Cookie Filling
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 orange, zested
  1. In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar.
  2. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts.
  3. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.
  4. With a small (¼-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread.
  5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.
  6. While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream.
  7. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well.
  8. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).
  9. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top.
  10. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Summer Treats: Give-away Winner and Cuban Mojitos

National Parks Give-away Winner

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Congratulations, Sassy-Priscilla, your name was plucked out of my magic hat as the winner of my give-away. Please email your snail mail address; your package is gift-wrapped with a park systems map and ready to go. I hope Aidan enjoys it, too.

Bodeguita del Medio Cuban Mojito

Now the drawing is done, let’s relax. Just the aroma of a freshly-crushed mint leaf invokes a sense of cool comfort during summer’s sultry days and nights. I’ve been thinking about mojitos lately—Hemingway’s favorite drink. Invented at La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana, Cuba, mint is a prime ingredient.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

After searching online, I chose Taste of Cuba’s recipe to try last evening. Using a tall mojito glass and a wood muddler, I did my best to emulate Hemingway’s beloved drink but without the end result the hard-drinking author sought. I prefer awareness as opposed to oblivion.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Hemingway would be appalled about my adding a paper umbrella, but it looks festive. Ah, my mojito tastes deliciously refreshing.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bring the Ocean to Us

We are inveterate collectors of shells found on beaches or via dives my husband has made—always being careful not to collect anything living or harboring a little resident.

© Dub Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Since we’ve not ventured to a beach yet this year, my clever sister brought the ocean to us in the form of this beautiful glass panel she created depicting an underwater scene.

© Dub Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Connie used a few of our ocean treasures, adding a tiny baby sea turtle (not real) to represent a family outing we made to a sea turtle sanctuary a couple of years ago at Topsail Island, N.C.

© Dub Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Brilliant, isn’t she?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Craft:along July 2009 Project: Summer Shimmer Scarf

My project for July’s Craft:along 2009 hosted by Africankelli and Finnyknits is done. I chose the Summer Shimmer Scarf knitting project using Jen’s Purl Bee pattern as featured on Craftzine.

The yarn used in Jen’s project is a beautiful silk/bamboo called Lorna’s Laces found
here ($43.50/skein). I substituted the much-less costly Naturally’s Spa silky soft bamboo-blend yarn ($3.74/skein) in the color Ocean Spray found at Jo-Ann’s Fabrics.

From comments left on Finny’s blog, I realized care would be needed with the pattern although it is pretty straightforward. A quick test showed what the problem is—at least for me.

Instructions for the left leaning bias call for: Row 1: K1, * ssk, yo; rep from * to last stitch, end k1.

My count kept being off, so I switched the pattern instruction to this: Row 1: K1, *yo, ssk, rep from * to last stitch, end k1.

The minor revision worked and the scarf knitted up like a dream.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

My new scarf is 7-feet long. The zig-zag lace trellis pattern echoes fishnet which makes this summer scarf perfect for a mermaid.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

National Parks Celebration Give-Away

Yesterday I took my camera and water on a trek to Saguaro National Park, a little over 4 miles from my house.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

I love the way this Saguaro seems to be clapping its hands for the Ocotillo (the cactus with all the skinny arms). I’m not sure what the Ocotillo did that was so marvelous, but I’m pleased the Saguaro is so happy.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Century Plants grow so tall (up to 25 feet) I had to look way up to photograph this specimen’s blooms as evidenced by the clouds in the bottom of the picture.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Flowers on the Fishhook Barrel cactus will soon turn into a small yellow pineapple-shaped fruit.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

This Prickly Pear has already bloomed and its fruits are just about ripe enough to pick. The fruit looks almost like a crown on this particular Prickly Pear pad so I stopped, bowed suitably to its regality, and then acted like a paparazzo in taking a quick photo.

Isn’t it amazing that the desert, even in summer’s deadly heat, still has much to offer?

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Since our National Parks have given me many years of enjoyment, I want to celebrate these amazing resources by offering a give-away opportunity. On my way out of the park, I stopped in the Visitor’s Center and did a bit of shopping for you. What’s inside this bag?

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

  • A Park Ranger doll
  • Passport to Your National Parks book for collecting stamp cancellations on your visits
  • Kids’ Passport to Your National Parks Companion
  • A sticker representing Saguaro National Park
  • Box of Prickly Pear Cactus Candy as a little tasty treat from my neck of the world
The Rules

Simply post a comment on any post beginning today until Thursday at midnight. I'll announce the winning name Friday morning.

If your name is Anonymous, you won’t be entered in the drawing—fair warning on that as the postal service dislikes packages addressed to Anonymous.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Man’s Day/Night Out

What kind of a gift would a man really enjoy receiving? I figure time out for just doing guy things. So that’s what I gave my husband and a bunch of his buddies on Saturday—golf in the morning and poker that night in honor of my husband’s birthday which is actually today.

After stealthy covert ops for the last couple of weeks, I actually managed to surprise him with all this. Surreptitious planning is hard to do when the honoree lives with you.

Surprise Golf Outing

Getting my husband to the golf course without his knowing where we were going was fairly easy with a bit of convoluted subterfuge on my part. Hiding the golf clubs and goodie bags were more problematic, but I managed.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

The invitation sent out along with directions to the golf course attached on the back with a golf tee.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Each player’s goodie bag (seen in the photo held by my husband): a homemade blueberry muffin (I was baking at 5 a.m.), carton of Goldfish crackers, and the following....

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

… a golf ball sleeve made out of cardstock using an idea from Vale Designs. I used her template to trace out the boxes on heavy-weight cardstock. Coolers with ice and bottled water were loaded on the carts (with the golf club’s permission)—survival tools for Arizona’s heat. After their game, Jim (one of my husband's golf buddies) kindly treated the group to lunch which bought me some more prep time for the poker event.

Surprise Poker Night

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

The front and back of the poker party invitation I made using cardstock and then laminating. The end result looks like a real playing card, just oversized (each is 4½-by-6½ inches).

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Cardstock sleeves held the invitation. On the outside is a poker chip label I made identifying the guest.

My oblivious husband played on his computer upstairs while I started “his” dinner: grilled rib-eye steaks, baked potatoes, giant Portobello mushrooms with onions, salad, and lobsters. The guys showed up promptly at 6—surprise! Let’s eat.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

I had the guys eat outside by the pool, so I could get the poker stuff ready. Until they came inside, my husband still didn’t know about the poker game. Here’s my recipe for the Portobello mushrooms, I just made it up on the fly, so to speak:

Portobello Mushrooms and Onions

Pre-heat oven to 350°

  • 6 whole Portobello mushrooms, rinsed and gently patted dry with a towel.
  • 1 large Vidalia onion, sliced thin
  • 6 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
  • Olive oil
  • 1 minced garlic
In a sauté pan, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the sliced onions, and the garlic. Sauté until the onions are translucent and just about to get golden brown in color.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Brush the foil with olive oil and then do the same with each side of the mushrooms. Place the mushrooms gill-side up on the baking sheet.

Top each mushroom with the onion mixture. Bake at 350° for approximately 20 minutes.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

The cake I made while everyone was on the golf course in the morning came out of hiding after dinner before I escaped for the evening. It was meant to look like two stacked poker chips but merely looked strange. Ah well, it was delicious. The filling between the two layers is a mixture of blueberries (my husband’s favorite) and whipped cream.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Guys don’t care about things like take-home favor bags, but my final offering was left by the front door for each of them when leaving at the end of the night. I used glassine bags with a card thank-you label I made, and sealed with a paper poker chip personalized with each player’s name.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Inside is a laminated cheat sheet made using a free printable poker hand rankings from here and a dice poker game bought at the game store at Park Mall.

It’s amazing that all the guys involved, their wives, and I managed to keep all the preparations and arrangements secret from my husband. My husband was thrilled with his day and that’s what it’s all about.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Blessings Friday: Park Patty

We’ve all seen gnomes, stuffed rabbits, Flat Stanley, and other assorted interesting characters in photos documenting their adventures all over the world.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved. Park Patty

I have Park Patty, a National Parks Ranger doll purchased last year at one of the national parks. Park Patty is not really her official name; she was named by my husband. She visits every national park we explore and poses for photos in front of park entrance signs and inside visitor centers where we get our National Parks Passport booklet stamped.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved. Park Patty at the Grand Canyon

Here she’s being held by two rangers at the Grand Canyon National Park. The dolls are not available in every park’s gift shop and I was surprised by the enthusiastic interest of rangers at the Grand Canyon and some other large parks. They all wanted to hold her, even the men, and examine her little ranger badge and binoculars. It’s a lot of fun.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved. Park Patty at Zion

Here she is at Zion National Park, resting after an exhaustive hike. There are more pictures of this tiny traveling ranger, but I won’t bore you with them all. I may, however, have to start a photo album just for Park Patty’s adventures.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Summer Walking Program

All the cooking, partying, and vacationing going on this summer are not helping me meet my health goal set at the beginning of the year. It’s my own fault. More active movement is needed in my life, plain and simple.

Since I’m not young and am definitely out of any semblance of shape, walking is a good activity with which to start. Following advice from, I’m trying their beginner Summer Walking Program.

Summer is deadly here in Tucson, so I’ll have to go out very early in the morning. That’s a good idea anyway as there’s something motivating about a fresh new day ahead.

While picking up a prescription at Albertson’s recently, I saw a walking program card on their counter as a giveaway which contains a number of helpful tips. Click on each picture to enlarge and print if you’d like to use their program.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved (from September 2007 post)

I can track my progress with this fitness calendar printed from HP Creative

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Here’s another great tool recently featured on One Pretty Thing, a free printable Healthy Living Goals List created by Baca Creative.

I’ve got to figure out how to keep this stuff on my computer to avoid actually handling paper considering my allergy issue. Some things can’t be avoided, I guess.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

An active person is supposed to be able to walk 10,000 steps per day. Doesn’t that sound daunting? Sitting here writing about it isn’t going to get me anywhere, so I’m clipping on my little pedometer and heading out the door.


  • Healthy Living Goals List from Baca Creative
  • HP Creative Studio printable fitness calendar
  • Summer Walking Program from
  • “Your Anti-Aging Checklist” from Oprah
  • Zen Habits blog offers health tips on Fridays