Panda #9

It’s no Mambo #5; it’s even better. It’s a panda. Pandas bring me, and billions of others, a lot of happiness. They’re cute and needy and they eat like this.

I hadn’t slept with a stuffed animal since I was a child, but in 2015, I found this little guy at IKEA and he’s been in my bed ever since. He is actually Bei Bei, who lives at the National Zoo, but also my actual son. It’s confusing, but makes sense to me. Just enjoy it. Whitney in Alexandria joins the Panda Mom club. 

TIP: You can watch pandas any time on various pandacams. National Zoo, San Diego, and Gengda,

Thing Eight

A few years ago, a coworker and I were discussing our love of salads. She remarked that she rarely to never used store bought dressing because making your own dressings just made things so much better. I think I scoffed and mentioned that I was tired. Reader, I married her. Not quite true, but I did soon marry her idea. Making your own dressing is so much more delicious and honestly not that much work.

Enter pomegranate molasses, and congrats to Thing awardee Megan in Lakewood, OH. A Mediterranean favorite, soon to be a favorite of yours. I use this in dressings, sauces, cocktails, and anything I see fit. A little goes a long way and a bottle will last you forever. You can find it in most large grocery stores in the so-called “International Foods” section. Just don’t look for it in central Italy. You can also make your own.

TIP: Hazelnut and grapeseed are great oil choices for dressings if you want to avoid the olive flavor for a particular salad. I make all dressings with an immersion blender (takes 2 seconds), and pretty much always use a bit of dijon mustard as an emulsifier.

Lucky Number Seven

I fly a lot. I’m also a double California almond: the thirstiest creature in the entire world. Sometimes the combo of these things is a bit of a struggle. Enter my favorite product for skin hydration: Kiehl’s Hydrating Mist. I originally came to today’s product when it was branded as In-Flight Refreshing Facial Mist, with a little airplane motif and everything! Sadly, it has been rebranded, but it’s the same formula, and luckily there’s still an air travel-friendly size.

Even when you’re flying on a 787 or an A350, lack of cabin humidity can wreck havoc on your skin. A quick spritz of this can perk your dry, tired face right up. Plus, you can do it at your seat without much disturbance. It’s a non-aersol spray, so there is no need to worry about cleaning your (probably) dirty hands to apply moisturizer, and a simple covering with a scarf or shirt will keep the spray entirely contained in your personal zone.  The smell is also very refreshing.

And you don’t have to limit the spray just to travel! Use whenever you need to top up your moisture levels, or just need a little essential oil pep talk.

Brian from NYC is the lucky recipient of today’s Thing! Happy, hydrated travels, Brian!

Six: The Toddy Brewing System

I didn’t like coffee until I was 26 years old. I cannot tell you how I started regularly drinking it, but I can tell you the first cup I drank. I was on a Delta airlines flight from ATL to LAX. Coming off a long day at work, and seriously dragging, I ordered a cup of coffee and hoped for the best. And it was something…the caffeine jolted my system until I crashed dramatically. But, unlike my previous mentality of “coffee tastes awful,” I kinda liked the stuff and decided to experiment.

LA is a great place to do just that. On this hunt for coffee truth, I discovered ice brew at what is still one of my favorite coffee shops. I drink everything now; hot, cold, espresso beverages, good, bad, whatever. But my favorite continues to be coffee that is not brewed with hot water. The lower acid content allows you to taste the individual notes of the beans and roast, and also makes it easier on the ever creeping heartburn of my aging esophagus.

At first, I would make small batches in a french press, but my household consumption forced me to grind too often. In comes the Toddy. This little wizard is perfection. It is easy to use, easy to clean, and easy to store. After you rinse the fiber filter, just throw it in a ziploc in the freezer. Pedro in Glendale, CA will be receiving a Toddy in the mail from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Yes, I used a coupon.

TIP: You can use your spent coffee grounds as plant fertilizer! 

Thing 5: Your Local Museum

Happy Small Business Saturday! Escape your family and go to a museum. As I remarked in my viral tweet earlier this year, I hate when we refer to visiting our local historical and cultural institutions as “playing tourist.” You should be visiting these places all the time! Sure, the decommissioned submarine at your City’s harbor may not warrant an annual visit (maybe it does!?), but plenty of museums and historical sites are changing up their exhibits and programs constantly. And sign-up for email newsletters or follow places on social media to watch out for special events and programs.

Go to lots of them, and go often! Become a member, if you have some money. Many memberships are tax deductible.  Check to see if your membership (or a slightly elevated membership level) will get you reciprocal benefits at other museums. I save several hundred dollars a year being a member of The Whitney.

If cost is an issue, lots of museums have free and reduced days monthly, just check their website or social media feed for information.  Or see if you can take advantage of Free Museum Day!

Kerri in Falls Church gets two tickets to visit the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

TIP: If you try and give everything in a museum equal viewing time, you are bound to be overwhelmed or disappointed. Give yourself permission to pass things over. Develop a strategy: stop at what catches your eye, stop at every third thing, only look at things with circles in them, or just skip entire galleries and wings you have no interest in. Let yourself really focus and absorb a few things instead of trying to do it all. Memberships can help with this, as it gives you a great excuse to drop in for an hour whenever. But do challenge yourself to see new things, especially if they are showcasing parts of history or the art that many museums have often ignored.