Melting Mystical Fairyland

January is usually the worst month of winter season in Fairfield, Iowa. Ice storm is not unusual at this time of year. In fact, we were hit by two days of ice storms last week.

Some tree branches couldn’t stand the weight of the ice and broke. Some of them landed on the roof and some made a mess on the road. The city will come and pick up these branches, which is nice.

My house lost power a few times. That was when I really wish I had a wood stove, which will guarantee heat in the house no matter what.

Despite of the cold weather, I try to appreciate the beauty of January – the fresh snow, the ice crystals, the fog and many wonders of nature.

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broken branches in front of my house

Thank goodness ice started to melt yesterday. I had taken some frozen land photos in 2005, so the same frozen ice subject doesn’t excite me. But how about melting ice + the fog? Hmm… I decided to take an hour off, roamed around my house and the nearby streets to appreciate nature. Nothing is the same old same old, that’s the beauty of nature. You’ll discover something new, if you choose to see with an open heart.

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Foggy 2nd Street

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Ice hockey time. You can count on kids to find fun things to do in winter.

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Warmer weather melts the ice that accumulated on the branches which sends ice cubes to the ground (tree next to my garage).

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bricks in ice water

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Ice layer on tree. There's water running between the tree stem and the ice layer.

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Bubbly

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Sign of life

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Broken branch (no staging, all organic)

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all iced up - heavy branches

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broken branches

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mystical landscape (Country Club Golf Course)

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foggy

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broken

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broken

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broken, a different angle

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heart

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another melting heart

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melting ice layer - it's so thin!

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ice layers

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crystal-like ice

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treasure?

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bubbly

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drip

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cracking

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melting away

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mystical landscape

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Another Overeating Day

To cope with winter depression, I lost my control over food. :kebored: Or am I just obsessed with chow? I have been overeating almost daily, piling on whipped cream desserts and tons of carbohydrates. As a result of excessive food consumption and the lack of exercise, my body feels heavy and my mind feels dull. I really miss the feeling of starving empty stomach during the juice detox program.

Last night, I made an effort to prepare raw salad for dinner. I warned Karan in advance not to tempt me with any other goodies.

Raw Salad

Raw Salad

When I was preparing the salad, Karan popped a frozen pizza into the oven. &$%$$%#$# :ohbeatit:

Garlic Chicken Pizza in the Oven... hmm... smells so good

Garlic Chicken Pizza in the Oven... hmm... smells so good

Finishing off the pizza with fresh avocado slices, red pepper flakes, goat cheese and drizzled extra virgin olive oil all over.

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Since I have trouble resisting any tasty food, even my dog could guess what happened next. Oh well, I did skip the dessert. :)

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Iowa Winter Essential: Rain Boots

I like to wear my sheepskin boots when the weather is dry in fall, winter and spring . When the weather is wet and filled with slushy snow, like today, forget about heels, sheepskin boots, or whatever…

“Mayday, mayday, we are going down, please send some help!”

Freezing Rain

Freezing rain

CAPTAIN SPERRY, where are you?

Sperry rain boots keep my feet dry

Ta.. ta... ta! Captain Sperry sweetheart comes to my rescue, keeping my feet dry

Hunter, Sperry & Emu

I heart my winter troop: Hunter, Sperry & Emu

Sperry Top-sider Pelican and Emu Welly Plain are furry inside, wool-lined that is. Sperry has more fitted footbeds. They provide me with equal comfort.

Emu has been working for me for two winters now and it still performs like a charm. These winter soldiers are my best hire. Pair them with skinny jeans or leggings, with Smartwool socks; they keep my feet feeling comfy and dry all day!

Hunter is my new hire that comes with a manly rubbery smell.  Although I love its rugged look, I am waiting for the smell to subside (sorry, Hunter). It has the skinniest shaft of all three boots.

If you want a little comfort in Iowa winter, do invest in some good rain boots. They will keep you happy for many slushy wet winters to come.

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Return and Forget – Oh No!

I shop a lot, online. Clothes, teas, shampoos, dinnerware, makeup, jewelry, shoes, books, electronics, luggage, handbags, furniture, and the list goes on.

After years of online shopping experience, I am pretty good at picking the items that would please me, at good value. However, once in a while, there are misses :ohgraycloud: . Thanks to the satisfaction guarantee offered at most shops, I always make an effort to return the items (mostly unused) that are unsatisfactory. There’s no point keeping things that I don’t like and will not use.

I never checked the status of the my returns though; simply return and forget. I always assume that I just need to mail the box and the merchants will take care of the rest. Not quite!

Although I hate to audit my credit card statements, I did it today just out of curiosity to see if the returns over the past few months have been processed.

To my surprise, two perfumes (bought in December and August) that I’ve returned to the same company were never refunded to my account. Another company charged me $9.95 for return postage even though I didn’t use their return shipping label. :ohscold:

OMG!!!!

I am pretty disorganized, but luckily I managed to dig out the order details and the return delivery confirmations (it’s good to keep these records!!) and emailed the info to the merchants (big pat on my back).

At the end, both merchants have agreed to refund my $ back.

Perfume 1 Refund: $46 (after minus a % of restocking fee)

Perfume 2 Refund: $41 (after minus a % of restocking fee)

Shipping Refund: $9.95

Grand total refund = $96.95

Hooray! I am $96.95 richer just for being a smarter consumer.

What if, just what if I didn’t audit my account?

IMPORTANT: I have to remember to check my statements two weeks from now to make sure the merchants do what they’ve promised me!!

Not all eCommerce systems are perfect and there are human errors. So, be aware and always check audit your credit card statements.

I feeeeeel SO smarrrrrt! Grrrrrr….! :kehappy:

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Floating Sauna for the Sauna Tribe

If you’ve built a sauna in your backyard from scratch just so you can enjoy the sauna anytime you want, and the way you want it; chances are you’re a sauna diehard!

While such individuals may be common in Finland, I didn’t expect to find any in Iowa, well, maybe with the exception of a unique community – Fairfield. We have two great sauna lovers residing here who have hand-built their own private saunas in their backyards.

These sauna masters are: Bill (see Blissed Out on a Blizzard Night) and John.

They always send out sauna invitations graciously, religiously every week to their sauna tribe.

Sauna tribe weeds out the cry babies because they can’t take the heat.

@ John’s floating sauna retreat

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May 12, 2008

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A short walk to the sauna from John's house (January 11th, 2010)

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When there's hot sauna, there's happy Bill

The pond that the sauna is sitting on is frozen. John made a hole in the ice for the polar bears.

Max going in the ice hole

From the sauna room to the ice hole next to the sauna (Max is going in...)

Okay... we haven't lost you yet

Okay... we haven't lost you yet

Oh well...

After the plunge ...

Going in

Dora's turn

Dora is a sauna regular

Dora is a sauna regular

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Me - taking a break from the sauna

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Jasper: Can you throw me the frisbee?

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Karan walking back to the house after the sauna.

Whenever possible, John would invite his sauna tribe to stay for some warm soup. Sometimes it turns out to be a feast if each sauna member contributes a dish.

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Nourishing salad with secret ingredient: goji berries

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Avocado in fruit salad? It worked!

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John: If sauna hasn't cleared your sinuses yet, try one of these Wasabi Peanuts.

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Eggplant lasagna

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Sauna Tribe + V!

It’s always a great experience to share stories around the table.

I would like to say a big “THANK YOU” to both sauna masters for their generosity in spreading the sauna love.