Thursday, June 30, 2011

Advice from a fortune cookie....

The one good thing about repeating your mistakes is that you know when to cringe.

This was perhaps the truest thing I've ever read from a fortune cookie!

I am about to face my nemesis....the grocery store...and arm myself with whatever may be needed to feed an undetermined number of people this holiday weekend. The last time I did this, I bought for what felt like 40 people and had, at most, 4 guests at any given time.
No one was rude and stood us up or didn't RSVP. It wasn't that kind of weekend and this one won't be either. Winter holiday dinners aren't necessarily formal, but I do like to know how many to expect so that I can figure out seating and place settings. Summer is so much more casual....pull up a chair, go eat on the porch, grab a Chinet plate if the Corelle dishes are all in use and I have plastic forks for desserts over there on the hutch.

I have more to say on the subject of food and entertaining, but I'll save that for another post. I really need to get the shopping done. My goal is to have enough for the kids if they show up, but not so much that Bill and I will be forced to eat leftovers for an entire week.
Even summertime favorites like baked beans and corn on the cob can seem like a mistake and make a person cringe after the third day.

P.S.  It has been a busy week and I haven't been visiting blogs but I hope to remedy that over the next few days. Don't you hate when stuff-ya-gotta-do interferes with your fun?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ooooooh and Ahhhhhhhh

This is my favorite time of year! I never tire of watching fireworks nor of watching my son with my grandson.
For a small city, my hometown puts on a tremendous display each year thanks to corporate sponsors, private donations and nominal entrance fees to the park where all the activity originates.

Lucky me though, all of the photos in this collage were shot from my driveway. While we don't hear the music by not being at the park, we don't fight traffic when it is time to leave, we don't have to lug coolers in and out, and the best convenience of all...our own bathrooms are readily available!

Get your sparkle on people! Practice your ooohs and ahhhhs and celebrate the glory of the red, white and blue!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Reduced to rudeness

I think road rage probably begins in the grocery store.
After three and a half decades of grocery shopping, I would like to retire from this chore. Since that isn't likely to happen, I do try to avoid peak shopping hours so that the store won't be as crowded with frantic shoppers trying to get what they need as inexpensively (ha!) and quickly as possible.
Once upon a time we had a choice of grocery chains in this part of Michigan. Great Scott, A&P, Chatham, Farmer Jack and Kroger were all big names. One by one they began dropping off. Chatham and Great Scott disappeared a few decades ago. Farmer Jack bought out A&P and modernized some of the old locations and built new stores. Then they disappeared, some sites being bought by Kroger.
Kroger is the only large chain store remaining in SE Michigan. We do have Meijer stores (MI based, also in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky) but they are like Walmart Superstores, meaning they are huge and not convenient for a quick grocery shopping trip. Kroger stores are like Walgreen drugstores around here. Is this comforting or depressing? Remember corner drugstores and mom and pop groceries?
But I digress. My issue this morning was that Kroger was full of outsourced people stocking shelves and doing inventory. Many shoppers did not realize that the maroon shirts worn by the inventory people (there must have been at least 20 working at 10:00 am) were not Kroger employees. As the store has been recently reorganized, shoppers were asking where items were now located. Some of the inventory people politely explained that they didn't work for Kroger and didn't know where the items were stocked. Others must have been asked too many times and were pretty blunt about saying they didn't know where maraschino cherries are. (Baking supply aisle now, not by ice cream cones and chocolate syrup)
And then there was the man stocking snacks. He dropped a bag of chips and I teasingly said "aha! That's how the crumbs get into those bags" but he didn't have a sense of humor. Not only my voice but the smile on my face should have been indication that I was kidding. Oh well, maybe he was having a bad day.
As luck would have it, I ran into him and his supply cart (huge thing, not a shopping cart) three more times. The first two times I backed up out of his way because of my sense that he was having a lousy day. On the third encounter, when his cart was blocking the entrance to an aisle, I decided his bad day wasn't justification for inconveniencing anyone else. I moved his cart clear away from the aisle entrance as he glared at me. I glared right back. As my cart clipped one of the cartons on his cart, I reached out to steady it but dropped my hand once I saw it wasn't going to fall off.

Normally I wouldn't behave like this, and yes, I know it is a small thing to confess to anyway. It bothered me that he couldn't acknowledge shoppers like me who had backed out of his way. No "thanks" or even a nod of the head. I had noticed the looks of other shoppers who thought both he and some of the inventory people were rude. The assistant store manager was near the check-out and I mentioned this to her. I don't know what Kroger can do about it, but with many shoppers thinking everyone in the store is Kroger personnel, it reflects poorly on them.

I thought I was over this until I reached the 4 way stop at the intersection close to my house. The woman across from me had reached the intersection first but wasn't moving. She didn't have a turn signal on. I began to turn right and she decided to turn left in front of me. Still no blinker going, but her mouth and hand were busy on her $%#& cell phone.
I handled this maturely. I ran her off the road, tied her wrists together with a Kroger bag and shoved a bag of potato chip crumbs in her mouth. 
See? I told you road rage begins in the grocery store.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Am I blue?

Am I blue?

No! I am Red, White and Blue!

I don't normally have much red, white and blue decor in my home, but I do love to bring it all out this time of year. There is blue almost everywhere so it isn't hard to incorporate the red and white. You should be able to click the collage to get a slightly larger view of the whole thing. The wall quilts and table runner are projects from past years. The resin Marine bear and the Marine Beanie Baby came into the family while son Chuck was active in the Corps. The lady resin bear with the flag is a Boyd's Bear named Eleanor Bearsevelt. When Boyd's Bears was a recurring feature on QVC, I was a pretty faithful viewer and frequent shopper.

My hometown isn't huge, but we put on a great fireworks display the last Friday in June. We are fortunate to be able to see the fireworks from our front yard. We might miss the local talent that performs before the pyrotechnics, but we don't have traffic to fight and we have the comfort of our lawn chairs and the convenience of a refrigerator and bathrooms just a few steps away. The more you visit that refrigerator or the cooler near the door, the more you might need that bathroom. Funny how that works, isn't it?

We'll have extended family and friends here as will our neighbors. We share bug spray when needed and choreograph our Ooohs and Ahhhs just to embarrass the older kids who secretly find this funny but are too cool to admit they still enjoy hokey family stuff.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I guess I like boring food

Ever wonder if people really like the food at some trendy places or are they afraid to say otherwise and have the cool, trendy people look at them like lepers?

I am not going to mention any names here because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. It isn't a matter of right or wrong anyway, just a matter of preferences, but I do suspect some people are sheepish when it comes to flocking to a place that is getting a lot of attention.
There is new burger place near me that is being talked about a lot. A friend and I went there for lunch where you order, pay, go sit down and wait for your burger or glorified hotdog to be be brought to you in cardboard and waxed paper. The fries were good but the burger reminded me of Burger King. That isn't an insult to BK, but why pay more elsewhere for a BK grilled meat patty? And then eat it on paper and bus your own table.
Last night my monthly dinner buddies and I went to a place that was written up in a magazine about where to dine, be seen, etc.  We can say BTDT (been there, done that) and move on without looking back. Pasta is an inexpensive dish. For the small amount of meat in the dish, the price was ridiculous. No soup, no bread, rolls or breadsticks accompanied the dish. We each had an iced tea but weren't offered a refill. Their signature dessert was a big disappointment to all three of us.
I'll be the first one to say that I am not a gourmet cook. I sometimes take short cuts, use some convenience products, and even worse...some days I hate the thought of cooking and we have...dare I say it? food burgers or pizza! I love watching the Food Network but I think it is has brought out an ugly trait in some people. I guess a person can be a snob about anything.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Old Persons

I know it is lazy to just cut and paste something from an email, but I don't think I could have said this any better. WWII was before me, but not so far before that families of childhood friends weren't affected by it. I love the last line and just wish it weren't so true!
Photobucket    Photobucket
I never really liked the terminology "Old Person" but this makes me feel better about it.
And if you ain't one, I bet ya know one! I got this from an "Old Personal friend of mine"!

I'm passing this on as I did not want to be the only old person receiving it. Actually, it's not a bad thing to be called, as you will see.
  • Old People are easy to spot at sporting events; during the playing of the National Anthem, Old People remove their caps and stand at attention and sing without embarrassment.  They know the words and believe in them.
  • Old People remember World War II, Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal , Normandy, and Hitler. They remember the Atomic Age, the Korean War, The Cold War, the Jet Age and the Moon Landing. They remember the 50 plus Peacekeeping Missions from 1945 to 2005, not to mention  Vietnam ..
  • If you bump into an Old Person on the sidewalk he/she will apologize. If you pass an Old Person on the street, he will nod or tip his cap to a lady. Old People trust strangers and are courtly to women.
  • Old People hold the door for the next person and always, when walking, make certain the lady is on the inside for protection.
  • Old People get embarrassed if someone curses in front of women and children and they don't like any filth or dirty language on TV or in movies.
  • Old People have moral courage and personal integrity. They seldom brag unless it's about their children or grandchildren.
  • It's the Old People who know our great country is protected, not by politicians, but by the young men and women in the military serving their country.

    This country needs Old People with their work ethic, sense of responsibility, pride in their country and decent values.

    We need them now more than ever.
    Thank God for Old People

Pass this on to all of the "Old People" you know.

I was taught to respect my elders. It's just getting harder to find them!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Backup your bookmarks!

Don't assume things like I did. Remember that old adage about "assume" making an "ass" of "u" and "me"? Well worse than that, it is darn frustrating when you lose all your bookmarks/favorites because you mistakenly thought your backup system was including them.
I use Mozilla Firefox and it is easy enough to export them as a HTML file. Thankfully I did that on my laptop so my most frequently used bookmarks are back. Unfortunately, my desktop is where I do most of my work and shopping and some bookmarks were only on this computer. Next time we need the source for dishwasher parts or the obscure manual for one of Bill's old power tools, it will take time searching again.
I'm just so darned happy to have my main computer back, this is only mildly irritating me. The man who takes care of my computer is Ron. When I told him about the voices coming from my speaker even without a browser or email open, he did give me that questioning look (are you nuts?) that Bill used to give me. Ron and I don't have 35 years together yet so I let that look pass. I would have loved to have seen his face though when the voices came through his speaker days later!

The problem turned out to be a faulty internal modem that isn't even necessary any longer. It was from dial up days. Figuring out that this was the problem wasn't an easy discovery. He had to go all the way back to bare bones, just a clean hard drive and a processor, before the traitorous modem showed its ugliness. Strong words for an inanimate object? Not when said object keeps me from my addiction!

Now that I've done my good deed for the day and reminded everyone to do their backup homework, I am off to find some sites and save them again.

Happy weekend everyone!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Clothing donation request

I just had a call from a charity asking me to donate some of my clothes to the starving people throughout the world. 
I told them to kiss my ass. 
Anybody who fits into my clothes isn't starving. 

Happy Friday everyone! May your weekend be as peaceful, as productive, or as fun as you hope it will be. Be greedy like me...hope for all three!

Note to my friend Skippy: This joke seems apropos to my jeans/butt size pondering!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mystery Shawlette and a life lesson

What the heck is a Mystery Shawlette? It was a project in an online mystery knit-along. What? That didn't clear things up for you?   Photobucket

Wendy Johnson of Wendy Knits is a knitting designer with a blog, a few books, and many gorgeous projects to her credit. Most of the socks that I've made have been her patterns. When she presented the idea of a mystery shawlette, I was immediately intrigued. I've done mystery quilts before so I understood the concept. You do not see the finished project in advance. Instructions are given bit by bit so even an experienced knitter or quilter doesn't guess the outcome in the first few pattern segments.

In this case, Wendy made some yarn recommendations, told us how many stitches to cast on, and to knit two rows while waiting for the first portion of pattern. If you're wondering about the term 'shawlette', it refers to a small shawl, usually worn for decorative purposes rather than warmth.

Pattern directions were given on May 17, 22, 26 and June 2.  The shawlette was knitted from the widest part down to the smallest, so the slower part of knitting was in the beginning when the excitement of a new project is highest. I used a cotton yarn, Siena by Rowan. Here is the shawlette fresh off the needles and not blocked (pinned into shape while damp and left to dry). The straight edge measured 38" unblocked.
Here it is drying on the blocking tiles. The straight edge is now 55 inches and length of the center from straight edge to point is 25 inches.

I enjoyed the process and finished project so much, I think I will make this again, adding more stitches at the onset to make a full size shawl.

Time for a life lesson:

Everyone is familiar with the phrase "don't bite off more than you can chew", right? I'm betting that some knitters, especially those who have shied away from lacy patterns, are thinking that they couldn't do this, that it would be too hard. The beauty of a mystery knit-along is that you only have 12-24 rows of printed pattern in front of you at any given time. That isn't overwhelming. Break it down further, and each row is composed of individual stitches that you can handle. If you already knit, you know how to knit, to purl, to slip a stitch, to do a decrease and a yarn over. This pattern is definitely "chewable".

So is life. We aren't born walking and talking. We learn that and much more, and we learn in stages. We realize this without thinking about it the whole time we are engaged in formal education. We learn addition before algebra. The majority of us, barring medical problems, never lose the ability to learn.

Don't look at anything and talk yourself out of it attempting it before you give it a shot. It doesn't have to be knitting. I won't force you to knit if you don't force me to skydive or golf. Yes, I've tried golf and no, I don't ever intend to skydive unless I'm in a burning plane. I'm talking about trying things you think you'd like but don't think you have enough talent, endurance or knowledge to complete. Practice, be patient and ask for help along the way.

When something is tough, cut it into smaller pieces before you chew it. It might be the most savory or sweetest bit of life you'll ever chew.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Oh, oh, oh, O-R-E-O

My great niece Allison (great both genealogically and otherwise) turned the ripe ole age of 9 a few days ago. Today is the family party. Allison thinks I can make anything. I dread the day she discovers otherwise. This year she wanted a cake that looked just like an Oreo. If she forgives the fact that it doesn't say "Oreo" on top, I think she'll be happy.

When I didn't need this cake pan, every store around here had them. Now that I wanted one...ha! After four failed attempts to locate one, I let my fingers do the walking online, ready to order one if necessary. Aha! Bed, Bath and Beyond had them and that was a store I hadn't visited yet. Armed with a $5 off coupon, I headed to the store. They not only had the pan, it was on sale for $9.99 from the original price of $19.99! In order to use the coupon, my purchase had to total $15. Two birthday cards took care of that. Don't you love a good deal?

The cake isn't really cake like, it is a brownie, but don't let that stop you from grabbing a fork. I tested the cake a few weeks ago and it was a hit. The only drawback is that I didn't want to write on it so I have a small plastic sign on a pick to stick in the cake later that gives Alli the proper birthday greeting.
The cake/brownie is very rich so smaller than normal sized cake servings work and make this large enough to feed the clan. I have some dark cocoa that I used when dusting the greased pans which gave the cake a more Oreo-like appearance. Some of the indentations didn't get much of the dark cocoa and you can see the difference in color here.
I did that on purpose you know, just so I could show you how effective the dark cocoa is on this cake. Photobucket

I covered Oreo cookies in chocolate too, using molds from Wilton and Wilton's candy melts. The cookies didn't release as easily as molded chocolate. I don't know if the cookie was the cause of that or if I should have set them in the freezer rather than the refrigerator to set. I did get them all unmolded which is all that matters in the end.
Some of the cookies with a white background are actually speckled. This is a new candy melt option to me. I had wanted to outline the heart in red and fill in the center with white chocolate but my food-safe paintbrushes have disappeared. I fully expect they will show up tonight, snickering at me because I no longer need them.
We'll be celebrating Alli's birthday, then belatedly wishing her uncle a happy birthday, and then stopping at a surprise birthday party for our neighbor who is turning 40. I remember when 40 was old. Thank goodness that isn't the case anymore! 40 is practically just teenage now! Photobucket

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cranky questions

When did shopping become tiresome?
Why don't they make summer weight slacks in summery colors for women who don't always want capris?
When is the weather going to stabilize so that the furnace and air conditioner aren't both running within a few days' time?
Why is a social calendar blank for weeks, then 3 parties occur on the same day?

I have plenty more questions, but I doubt there are answers to any of them.

Some are gravely serious questions that we all ponder from time to time, but others just fall in the "what the heck" category where your expression is somewhere between confused and angry. Would you like an example?

Southeast Michigan doesn't have a plethora of furniture stores. I can't say that Art Van has a monopoly, but that chain is the prevalent store in this area. Hubby and I went there last Monday to look at a mattress, box spring and frame for our bedroom at the cottage. The cottage isn't that far from here, but it is on an island. Deliveries to the island aren't scheduled there as frequently (by any store) as they would be to our home in suburbia. We know and understand that.

Our first question was about a possible delivery date. We were hoping to find a store that could deliver the goods by Friday of last week. We were told a delivery wasn't possible until a date later in June. Ok, thank you for your time. But wait! As soon as the salesperson sensed she was losing a possible sale, we could miraculously be squeezed into Friday's schedule.

We tried out a few mattresses. It may have been nice to discuss something privately but the salesperson hovered over us like a 16 year old who anticipates getting the car keys. We liked a mattress that wasn't marked as being on sale. She was sorry about that. Ok, thank you for your time. But wait....she disappeared and quickly returned, assuring us she could give us a sale price on this set. Another miracle!

We began the write up process with me giving her our billing address, the delivery address, a contact number, etc. Hubby stepped out of the store to take a phone call. While he was outside, the saleswoman and I headed to the back of the store to pay for the purchase at a cashier's window. I had my driver's license and credit card out of my wallet, ready to go.

Are you ready for this?

They were going to need hubby there to close the deal. Why? I have my credit card right here. "They" had been doing business with him. Huh? What "they"? It was one salesperson and I gave her all the info! I am normally a quiet person but I'm pretty sure my volume was turned up as I explained that this (holding my card) was MY credit card in MY name and they could charge the purchase to me or rip up all the paperwork.

Lo and behold, the third miracle of the day! They charged the bed to my credit card.

The bed was delivered and assembled in record time Friday afternoon. It is comfortable and we are happy with it. When we returned home this week, there was thank you from our salesperson for the "sleep solution" we purchased. When did a mattress and box spring become a sleep solution? And guess how the thank you was addressed? Yep, it came in hubby's name.

This isn't my first disappointing experience with Art Van, but it is my last. I will fly to Timbuktu and hand carry furniture home before I'll ever step inside any one of their 30+ stores again.