A blog about "nothing"!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

"Making Christmas......"

I've been debating all week on whether or not to start decorating.  In the past I've always decorated the weekend after Thanksgiving, but with the way the dates fell this year and the fact that I'm not working and not up against the clock has me thinking otherwise.  Maybe later today I will go down and dig around and see what I can do easily.   Ha ha!

One of the reporters from our local TV station's morning show has been doing a segment called "Pinterest Pass or Fail".  She takes a couple of the things that she has pinned and tries them out, then reports on whether they worked or not.  This week wasn't a good one, two of the three things she made failed, but the one that passed was really too cute--so cute that I had to try it myself.

It really was a simple idea, and truthfully as easy to do as it sounded.  Take a clear vase (I suppose you could use a colored one in red or green), put a rubber band around it (in my case I couldn't find a rubber band the right size, so I just used elastic) and tuck candy canes the whole way around under the elastic.  Once finished, tie a ribbon around it to disguise the elastic--voila!  The original idea looks like this:

 
I just happened to have a clear tall hurricane that I used, and instead of putting flowers in it, I put in a flameless candle with a timer.
 
 
I think it turned out great, and I will probably encourage my guests over Christmas and New Years to help themselves--it took almost 4 boxes of candy canes which turns out to about 36.  I suppose I could freeze them to save for NEXT Christmas and make peppermint bark.    One bit of advice I have is to put a plate underneath it, it is rather difficult to move in it's current state, I'm going to dig around and see what I have that will work under it.
 
Earlier this week I decided to make a run to Pittsburgh to Red White and Blue, I haven't been there since I found the wonderful argyle sweater.  I found a couple of really great items for both me and the hubby, I should be good until the spring thaw.  Afterwards I decided to go to the LLBean store at the Ross Park Mall--it's only been open for four years!  I just rarely go to that part of town anymore, but wanted to check out a couple of things.  I picked up some fun stuff:
 
 
I had been wanting some really good maple syrup and when I saw the bear, I couldn't resist.  He may be the extent of my holiday decorating in the kitchen! 
 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Let's talk about SOCKS

I hate buying socks.  I have large feet, size 10, and unfortunately live in a world where things are more geared towards people with a size 8.  I get tired of buying socks that are a wrestling match to get on, or wear out because they are stretched too far.  Luckily for the last 13 years I haven't had to have a lot of them because I wore mostly knee high type hose to work, socks were mostly a weekend thing, or when my feet were really cold.

My favorite socks developed a hole in them the last time I wore them, so I decided it was time to look for some new ones.  I happened to think of it while at TJMaxx, and figured they would have a good selection.  One thing I like in a pair of socks is a lot of stretch, I broke my ankle a few years ago and in the process of doing so I managed to tear the ligament as well, and the size of my foot can vary from day to day.  I don't like thick socks either, they tend to rub raw spots on my feet.  I probably looked at 10 or so different brands when I came across these:

 
 
They are made by Ralph Lauren and at $6.99 per two pair, not a bad price.  And they are wonderful!  Perfect amount of stretch, not sized itty bitty to begin with, and the fabric content is just right to keep your feet warm without making them sweat.  I liked them so much I went and bought another two pair in grey, one argyle and one plain.  I put these on my Christmas list as well, one can never have too many socks.  Perhaps you know someone on your Christmas list that would like them too!  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I can't believe tomorrow is Thanksgiving--where has the year gone?  I'm working on all my pre-turkey day cooking.  Last night after a discussion with my husband, I decided to make my stuffing today instead.  Truthfully, it is the most time consuming part of preparing thanksgiving dinner, even more so than the turkey.  We both agreed that stuffing is one of those things that is better the second day, so it just makes sense.  This afternoon I will be making desserts so tomorrow all I have to do is the turkey and all the last minute stuff.

Anyone heading out for Black Friday shopping?  Not me!  I spent too many years working in retail and it ruined the whole shopping experience for me.  I will be asleep in my nice warm bed instead of worrying about getting trampled.  I guess I'm just too practical.    As cheap as I am, I just am not in to it. 

To all of my friends, family and blog readers--HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Busy busy!

Thought I would share a couple of little things I was working on last week.  I feel good that I got some projects that have been sitting around off my "to do" list.

A couple of years ago I went to the LL Bean outlet that used to be at the Potomac Mills Mall in Virginia--I don't think it is there anymore.  It was a true outlet store, selling discontinued items and with a whole section of what I refer to as "oops!" kind of items.  They were mostly items that something had gone wrong in the monogramming process, but if you didn't mind something with someone else's initials on, you could save a ton of money.  And you might just luck out and find someone with your initials!

I bought this wonderful large tote when we were there.  I purposely dug around to find one with the least gawdy monogram.  I had very carefully picked out the monogram with a seam ripper, but there was still some damage to the area where it had been.  It has been sitting around for a while waiting for me to do something with it, and last week I decided to go to Joann's and see what I could come up with.  I found this beautiful iron on embroidered butterfly--perfect!  I think it looks really nice, unfortunately as I was getting it ready to iron, it moved a little, so it isn't perfectly centered, but oh well, it still looks tons better than it did before.

 
My next project was this tote that I got for all of $5 at DisneyWorld a few years ago.  It is really a nice tote, but I feel like a walking advertisement when I use it.....hmmmmm..........after thinking about it, I decided I would iron on some fabric and ribbon to cover up the logo.  I think it turned out really cute.
 
Last was a Healthy Back Bag that I got on the same trip to the LL Bean outlet that the other tote came from.  This one was a little bit more of a challenge, I couldn't use anything that was iron on since it was more of a nylon material and I was afraid it might melt.  All of a sudden the idea popped into my head--ribbon!  There is no shortage of ribbon at my house either, so I went to my crafting stash and found the perfect thing.  A few minutes at the sewing machine and voila!
 
Before picture of monogram--I had picked out most of it, but that last bit just wouldn't cooperate at all.
 
And afterwards:
 
 


I think it turned out really cute, and I used some of my massive ribbon stash :)
 
 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Spoiled Rotten!

Is this the face of a spoiled rotten dog???? YES!!!

This is what my living room looks like currently. 
 
In the hallway we have the skunk, a bunny and a hedgehog!  Oh, and a chewie!
 
She really has too many toys, and when we aren't paying enough attention to her (or at least when she thinks we aren't!) she drags them all out.  One time I think she had every toy out of her bin and in the living room.  She's not spoiled, not at all!
 
Yesterday she got a bath, she wasn't thrilled about it, but she put up with it.  We laugh when we give her a bath, she looks like she's a fat dog when dry, but when she's wet you find out how much hair it really is and she looks like a scrawny dog.  And she ends up with these wet dreadlocks all over her, Lee says she looks like an afghan hound when she is wet.  Here she is partially dried, but still kind of mangled.
 
"I'm not spoiled, I always smell that way!"
 
 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Frustration!

Yesterday was one of those days that just seemed doomed.  Fortunately it didn't start until after lunch, or I may have just gone back to bed.  I went to the grocery store to get milk--I only had $2 and some change on me and intended to use my ATM card to pay for it along with getting some extra cash--NOT!  When I approached the front door, I noticed a sign that said "CASH ONLY".  Apparently there was a large outage of the electronic payment systems in this area, not only was theirs not working but also the store next door and the girl told me that she had someone come in who had just been in Ohio earlier and had the same problem.  So I drove to the bank and got some money and went back to get my milk.  All this running around for a gallon of milk.

After I got home I wanted to watch a little TV and then I was going to get back to working on my Christmas card project.  The karma gods had different ideas.  The mail came early, and that probably wasn't a good thing.  I've never been so annoyed by an entire mail delivery in my whole life.  My Lands End order came--three of the four items didn't fit, one was too big, the other too small.  My missing credit card statement was there finally with black marker scratching out all kinds of bar codes which tells me it was yet another USPS error--don't get me started.  The check I have been looking for all week STILL wasn't there--time to make a phone call.  And then the explanation of benefits from our health insurance put me over the edge.  I'm sure my face was bright red by the time I was done with all of this.

The check that I haven't received is an insurance reimbursement which I submitted a week and a half ago.  I decided to call--apparently the fax didn't go through, even though the hubby had received confirmation it had.  Grrr.......  Easy enough to fix, I will resubmit.  The explanation of benefits though, I was furious about.  I had a doctors appointment earlier this month and they submitted it to the wrong insurance!  I called our insurance company and they can't help me, I have to call the doctors office and of course being Friday, they closed early.  I made a few comments about people not being able to do their jobs, blah blah blah.  The girl on the line agreed with me LOL!  If I hadn't gone over with the office that our insurance had changed and they hadn't made a copy of my card, I probably wouldn't be so annoyed, but good grief!  I know what I will be doing Monday morning, Grrrrr.........................

So it's Saturday and I'm just hanging out while Lee and Laney have a good sleep in session.  Laney is getting a bath today, I know she won't be happy about it, but she is way overdue.  I love it afterwards, she is so soft and fluffy and smells good too.  Today is the perfect day to do it too, not too cold so she won't get chilled if she needs to go outside, but not too warm so the furnace will run off and on and she should dry quickly.  With shelties you have to be careful to make sure they dry thoroughly, their hair can become matted when it is wet and mold--ewww!  Tonight we are going to a thanksgiving dinner at a local church and the rest of the day is up in the air.  At least today shouldn't be as frustrating as yesterday was!  Have a great weekend all!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

For The Love Of Chocolate

I love chocolate, not going to deny it.  I always have.  My mom used to tease me that if I got a cut, I would bleed chocolate.  To me there is nothing better than something chocolate with a glass of milk.  Mmmmmm!  I enjoy all kinds of chocolate—Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, Cello’s chocolate covered cherries, and mint/chocolate combinations are probably my favorites.  And most anything in the chocolate/caramel combination-yum!

One of the best Christmas gifts (and most memorable) that I ever received was a chocolate themed one.  My mom had taken a wicker waste basket (which I still have and use!) and filled it with all kinds of different chocolate bars—Caramello, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, giant Hershey Bars, you name it—and in the very bottom of the basket under all of that chocolate was one of my favorite movies—“Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”.  To give you some idea of how many years ago that was, the movie was on VHS ;)  I still have it. 
 
Over the years I’ve had the chance to sample many different kinds of chocolate from different countries as well.  I remember a store I used to frequent had these strange Israeli chocolates, they were filled with a fruit type cream/paste.  They were different, but good, and I made a regular habit of every time I went there of grabbing one or two.  The chocolate was an odd texture, more waxy than what we have here.  I have wondered since if perhaps they put more paraffin in it since it is so much hotter in the middle east?  I haven’t seen one of those since that store went out of business, and I don’t have a clue what the brand name was, so I can’t even go looking for them. 
My absolute favorite chocolate comes from England and Ireland.  England is home to the original Cadbury chocolate, and let me just say that what we have here in the states isn’t even close to tasting like English Cadbury.  The closest I’ve found here is when I’ve travelled to Canada, either they are importing it or at least using the same recipes.  Personal favorites are Wispa bars and Curly Wurly’s—the Wispa bar is basically all chocolate with air whipped in to it, Curly Wurly’s are reminiscent of a candy bar that they used to sell here in the US called a Marathon Bar.  I used to love those and often wondered why they quit making them.  Imagine how tickled I was one night while watching British sitcoms on PBS and noticing in the opening sequence of “Thin Blue Line” one of the characters eating one.  I did some research to figure out what the name was for them, and I was in business on our next trip across the pond!


Ireland carries most of the same chocolate that England/Wales does, but they also have a home grown Irish chocolate company that is divine.  Butler’s chocolates are really top notch, and while they tend to be pricey, well worth every penny.  I always make sure I have some money left and room in my carry on to grab some at the airport to take advantage of the duty free price!   For some reason they are rather difficult to find here in the US, the few that I have managed to get were in Irish specialty shops and at hugely inflated prices.
Several days ago my friend Gwen posted on her blog about her hubby bringing her some wonderful chocolate almond toffee on his recent trip to Colorado.  I teasingly posted that it was a shame that he didn’t have cause to go to Ireland because he could bring her some Butler’s chocolate.  After I posted it I was wishing I hadn’t, I found myself really wanting one of these candy bars, and no trips to Ireland planned anytime soon.  Waaaaaaa!   On Sunday I was bored and decided to make a run to TJMaxx, I hadn’t been there for quite sometime.  They have the coolest food section of any store, you never know what you might find, and as I was looking I noticed a familiar wrapper peering out from under a stack:
 

SQUEEL!”  Unfortunately they only had three of them, but they all came home with me.  I just ate the last one today, I did a very good job of making them last.  They did have some of another flavor, but they were all ones with hazelnuts in them so I had to leave them behind—they are probably good, but not worth a trip to the hospital over.  Hopefully that will hold me over for a while……..I think I need to go check out the new Irish shop Heather told me about last week that is about 30 minutes from here…………or buy a plane ticket to Ireland! (yeah right)

Photos of Wispa and Curly Wurly courtesty of www.englishteastore.com

Sunday, November 11, 2012

"It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year"

And I'm not talking Christmas!  We are thick into fall now, only about 6 weeks of it left.  Unfortunately we missed the prettiest part of it in Western Pennsylvania since we were in New Mexico.  And then the hurricane came through and pretty much stripped the leaves that were hangers on off the trees.  So now everyone is busy cleaning up their yards of leaves and getting that last mowing in for the season.  We had several heavy frosts this past week, so we should be done watching grass grow for a while now.  We were also blessed the past few days to get another dose of "Indian Summer" with temperatures in the 60's and 70's, I noticed a couple of people taking advantage of the beautiful weather to get their Christmas lights hung.  We took Laney for her last trip to Jerry's Curb Service for lunch yesterday, she was happy. 

I planted my marigold seeds late, and I wasn't sure I was going to get anything.  All of a sudden they took off, and the one advantage is I've had them late into the season.  One day when I came home I noticed a bunch of insects enjoying them, so I ran in and grabbed the camera. 




 
It had been a while since I'd had any cooperative "models" from the insect world, I'd forgotten how much fun (and what a challenge!) they are to photograph--when they cooperate ;)
 
Another thing I love about this time of year is it is when Lands End starts running their phenomenal sales.  Last year I did really well, this year I didn't need quite so much since I'm not working, but I did order 4 shirts that would normally have been $145 for $37--yay!  My best bargain last year were the Christmas stockings I bought, I had been admiring those for years and 9 days before Christmas they were reduced enough for me to bite--$5.99 each with free monogramming.  And they made it here for Christmas, I was totally impressed!  I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that they keep running sales right up to Christmas like they did last year, I really want a new pair of corduroy pants, but I'm feeling cheap. 


Friday, November 9, 2012

Completely Addicted!

I am usually hesitant to jump on the bandwagon with every new social website on the internet--I still don't have a Twitter or Facebook account.  Just not my thing, and really wasn't a good idea with the job I had anyhow.  However, I have to admit to being totally addicted to Pinterest.  A friend of mine casually mentioned it one day and a group of ladies on a bulletin board I'm a regular on kept talking about it.  Of course I had to check it out and see what the fuss was about..............

Here I am, several months later, and completely hooked!  I have to admit that I'm guilty of getting Heather hooked as well.  I think she is actually worse than me.  But truthfully, I have found a lot of very useful things on Pinterest as well.  I've pinned some awesome craft ideas, sewing projects, a bunch of Renaissance fest costumes, and lots of recipes.  I've probably done more with the recipe pins than any other category, and I've only had one true clunker, a crockpot mac-n-cheese recipe that turned out more like wallpaper paste.  My favorites have been a gluten free peach crisp (YUM!) and the worlds best pulled pork recipe that is super simple.  My crock pot hasn't had a work out like this in years.  I even bought a fancy baking dish off QVC with nothing more intended than using it to bake the peach crisp or apple crisp recipe in--eek! 

Yesterday I made a pulled pork taco recipe that I was afraid was going to turn in to another flop, as it was cooking I wasn't wild about the smell, really spicy.  However, once I shredded it, something happened and it was delicious!!  I have a lot of holiday type recipes pinned so I am sure I will be trying those out in the coming weeks.

Another thing I found was a beautiful photograph that led me to an awesome blog that I am totally enjoying--The Daily Prep--a blog written by a woman who epitomizes the preppy lifestyle.  Her accounts are fun to read, and the photography really makes the blog, in particular the black and white photos from her father's collection.  Check it out, there is a link to it on the bottom of the page.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Back to Normal....whatever that is!

Now that I'm done posting about our trip, I'm able to get back to my usual ramblings about what is going on around here.  We've been trying to get back in to a routine since we came home, easier said than done.  I'm still getting used to being home all the time, and throw in a week of rain/hurricane, a time change and all sorts of other things going on--routine, yeah right!  October was literally a blur, so I'm hoping November will be a bit more normal. 

Last week I was working on some sewing projects for Christmas presents.  I can't say exactly what they are because I never know who might be reading my blog, but I'm happy to report that they are finished :)  Next on my agenda is making my Christmas cards, I think I've decided on a design, now I just need to sit down and actually work on them.  I made a resolution about two years ago not to buy ANY Christmas cards until my papercrafting supplies were significantly reduced--still working on it.  I do have to say that a serious organization spurt last year has really helped me use up a number of the items taking up space, going to try and keep that thought process moving forward!

Had a most awesome shopping day yesterday--yay!  I met my friend Heather for breakfast and my friend Chrisy for lunch and decided to run a bunch of errands in between.  One of the things I really wanted to get was a new pair of clogs.  I killed my Clarks clogs a week ago and was really bummed.  Not that it was a horrible crime, I had owned them for at least 8 years, but it was just the idea of having to actually go and get another pair, they aren't cheap.  But I LOVE Clarks shoes, particularly their clogs, so I just accepted the fact that I was going to have to fork out some money if I wanted another pair.  When I left my job, a group of my co-workers gave me a Visa gift card for a gift--I had used some of it, but still had a balance of $51.16.  I tossed it in my purse just before I left, and boy was I glad.  I found a great pair of clogs at the Clarks outlet for $49.99--whoohoo!!!  It was like it was meant to be.  I then went to get some kitchen items and spent all of $23, they were running a sale, and got some new "unmentionables" for $11.  Met Chrisy for lunch and she handed me an envelope with $29, the item I had ordered from her daughters 31 party wasn't available so I got a refund.  So my little shopping excursion cost me all of $5 out of pocket LOL.  Why couldn't every shopping day be that way?

Decided I haven't posted a recent picture of Laney for a while--here is a shot of her I took towards the end of September.  She is still getting used to me being home every day, but I think she is enjoying not being cooped up all the time.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day Five--Canyon Road in Santa Fe and more of the Turquoise Trail

Our last day was completely open, we had deliberately not overplanned what we were going to do just in case the weather didn't cooperate.  We lucked out, so we decided it would be a good day to go to Santa Fe and check out the art galleries on Canyon Road.  As we headed north out of Albuquerque, this was our view:


The biggest groups of balloons are on the weekends, but there is still a good bit of activity through the week if the weather is right.  This particular morning (and the next) created a bit of a problem as the winds had shifted and instead of blowing them north it blew them south right over the city.  I laughed as I was listening to the news--"this is one of those mornings where you could be enjoying your morning coffee and look out and see a balloon landing in the cul-de-sac!"

Santa Fe is home to the biggest per-capita group of artists, and also home to some phenomenal art galleries.  Canyon Road is a fantastic place to go check out art if that's your thing.  I found it of particular interest that many of these galleries don't even represent local artists, but artists from all over the world.  We had a nice chat with two of the ladies at one gallery and they advised us not to try and see all of them, that it can be overwhelming--they were right.  Fortunately (I guess!) my knee was really bugging me after wandering around for a while, so we decided to end our tour there, but I have to say that I am really glad that we did, what we did see really "stuck" with me. 

These are a few of my favorite pieces:




 
I limited my photos in the galleries as it is kind of frowned upon, and was horrified to learn that one of the reasons is unauthorized reproductions are being made!  I was told that it is especially bad with paintings and drawings, the digital age has made it very easy for artwork to be photographed and reproduced in mass quanitites.  I was very sad to hear this, both the artist and the owner of so-called art are being ripped off. 
 
We decided to head back towards Albuquerque via the Turquoise Trail and see if there was anything we had missed the day before.  We stopped and got some pictures of this cool rock formation:

 


 
We also saw a lot of small churches throughout our travels and we stopped at this one to check it out.  When I say small, I mean small!!!

 
After this we headed back to Albuquerque, primarily to check out a small museum I had found out about.  The Turquoise Museum is a very interesting place, and not at all what you would expect--it is in a strip mall which seems kind of odd, but it does not disappoint.  We learned all about different colors of turquoise, where all the different places around the world are that it comes from and how to tell real turquoise from fake.  It's hard to tell!!!!   I was also VERY surprised to learn that the majority of the turquoise currently sold in the southwest is not native turquoise, it comes from Mexico and China.  The mines in the southwest aren't totally tapped out, but because the amount available in them is so small now, it isn't financially feasible to keep most of them open.  If you want a piece of turquoise jewelry totally made in the southwest, you will have to find someone who deals in estate jewelry and has older pieces.
 
Day 6--not a good day as we were SUPPOSED to be flying home.  We did agree that for as many miles as we have logged in an airplane, we have been really lucky not to have ever had a flight cancelled up to this point.  American did put us up in a hotel not far from the airport and gave us some food vouchers--only problem was that the food vouchers were only good at the airport and Albuquerque Sunport is a SMALL airport--lucky for us the New Mexican restaurant we fell in love with had a restaurant there :)  Just talking about it is making me hungry for a really good taco......dinner isn't cooked yet......hmmmmm...............   We also did some shopping there and found some neat little things to take home, so it wasn't a complete and total loss.  We were definitely happy campers though when our plane took off right on schedule the following day and we were able to get home.  The only real drawback was that we had to fly through Chicago O'Hare instead of Dallas and I HATE O'HARE!!!!  Oh well.
 
Another little tidbit of info--I did send an "official" e-mail to Budget about our cigarette smelling car, and was very pleased to get a response.  They credited our account for $73.24 for our trouble.  How in the world they came up with that dollar amount is beyond me, but I'm not going to argue!  I just hope they cleaned the car thoroughly so someone else doesn't have to smell it. 
 
 
 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day Four--The Turquoise Trail, Madrid and The Tinkertown Museum

On day four of our trip we decided we would drive the Turquoise Trail which is a road that runs from the outskirts of Albuquerque to Santa Fe.  There are a lot of things to do and see off the Turquoise Trail, and the town of Cerrilos is where the turquoise mined is more of a green color that the traditional color most of us think of.  The actual route number is 14, and the total distance from Albuquerque to Santa Fe is 50 miles, so it makes a great day trip.

One of the little towns along the way is Madrid--some of you may recognize it from the movie "Wild Hogs", in particular this diner:

 
We didn't eat there, but they sold all sorts of t-shirts and such with sayings from the movie.  It was definitely a busy place!  Madrid also had a lot of neat little shops selling a wide variety of items ranging from jewelry to art and all sorts of other fun things.
 
We got a kick out of these metal sculptures on the way out of town:
 

 
Another fun stop just off the Turquoise Trail is the Tinkertown Museum.  A very odd little museum that ranks right up there with a place in Wisconsin called House On The Rock for just plain unusual!  A lot of the stuff displayed was hand carved by the owner, the walls in part of it are old bottles and there is just so much to see, I think you could go there once a month and still see a bunch of things you didn't notice the last time you were there.
 


 
I think this sign kind of sums it all up!
 
As we were walking through the museum, Lee noticed a sign that said "Sing the 50 Nifty State Song and win a prize!"  Well, I just happen to know the 50 Nifty song, so on our way out I sang some of it (they didn't make me sing the whole thing!) and I won a bumper sticker.  They also logged my name in a book along with what state I was from, my current age, and what grade I was in when I learned it.  I was surprised at the number of people who had actually stopped to sing it!  We learned it for the bicentennial in chorus, and knowing the states in alphabetical order comes in very handy every once in a while.  I've only ever met one person who knew it that I didn't go to school with. 

Before we headed back to our hotel for the day, we decided to check out the Hard Rock Casino in Albuquerque.  Let me just say that it was a HUGE disappointment--they have no true Hard Rock cafe, so there is very little in the way of items displayed, and the casino is not a non-smoking casino.  We didn't stay very long, we got our Hard Rock pins and hat for our collection, grabbed a quick meal, played $20 each (and lost) and got out.....I was very glad we hadn't planned a big day around it!