A blog about "nothing"!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Winter Wonderland

We got dumped on overnight, they are saying about 10 inches.  I feel sorry for anyone trying to get anywhere for the Thanksgiving holiday, it's turning in to a "Planes Trains and Automobiles" scenario up and down the eastern seaboard.  I'm glad I don't have to be out in it!
The house across the street last night
Some of the utility lines are so loaded with snow they look like ribbon!
The tree in our front yard--the same one I shared the picture of when it was in bloom.

Some pictures of our back yard and the neighbors behind us.
Drive carefully if you are in an area affected by this band of storms!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Black Friday--no thanks!

I'm not afraid to admit it, I'm not a big fan of the whole Black Friday shopping phenomenon.  I think part of it comes from working in retail for a couple of years, and the rest of it is a matter of just not liking the whole crowd and the "herd" mentality.  There is nothing that I want so bad at a supposed great price to go out in it.  Just not my thing at all.  And now many of the US retailers are trying to push it back, opening their doors on Thanksgiving.  I think that is a bit much.  Have we lost all sight of what is important? 

The one thing that puzzles me is when did it turn in to a riot-inducing, traffic jam creating mess?  And why?  Truthfully, when I worked in retail back in the mid 1980's, it was a busier than normal business day, but not crazy busy like it is now.  I think we opened a whole half hour earlier!  I can also remember going to the nearby outlet mall with a couple of friends one year at 7 in the morning, only some of the stores were open and many of the employees were rolling their eyes with boredom, wondering why they bothered and figuring it probably cost them more in overhead than they made.  That was only about 15 years ago.  The same mall just 7 or so years ago decided to open at midnight and insanity prevailed, some people never even got there the traffic was so bad.  What changed?

So while all of these people are out there, dealing with crowds in search of the eternal bargain, where will I be?  At home, sleeping in, then when I do finally crawl out of bed I'll finish cleaning up from Thanksgiving dinner.  I'm hoping to start wrapping some of the presents I've already purchased, start working on Christmas card stuff and watch something good on TV.  I might even start doing some decorating.  I may venture out to the grocery store to grab a few things--I figure that will be a great time to go as that will be the last thing anyone will be thinking about the day after Thanksgiving!


No no, never never, uh uh uh!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I gave in..............

Remember a couple of months ago when I was contemplating what I wanted for my birthday?  One of those things was an Aran sweater.  I was hoping that I would come across one in my thrift store travels, but no such luck.  To make matters worse, I was shopping for Christmas gifts on one of my favorite Irish sites, only to discover that they were running a sale, then I found a $10 off coupon code online--I had to have it!  Do I regret it?  Absolutely not!  Truthfully, by the time I got all the discounts and so forth, it was cheaper than buying one on Ebay.  How often can you say that?

If you like wool sweaters (I know not everyone does) and you've never had a sweater made from Irish wool, you really don't know what you are missing.  It is the yummiest wool on the planet, soft, not scratchy and so so warm.  The biggest issue I had with buying this was trying to decide on a size, I probably could have gone a size smaller as the sleeves are rather long, but I'll live with it.  I'm happy with my splurge purchase, I've already worn it several times and probably will today as well.
I had actually looked at this particular style of sweater the last time we were in Ireland, but was out of room in my suitcase for anymore goodies.  I was very excited to see that Blarney Woollen Mills has a website where they sell several of my favorite items and with free shipping--whooohoooo!  The time to get it wasn't bad at all, took less than two weeks.  The only bad part is that now I get e-mails from them all the time telling me what sale is on, and this weekend it's all Aran style sweaters--yikes.  Look away....
The Aran sweater has a very interesting history behind it--click here if you would like to read more.  As for companies who make them, and who is the best--there are so many good companies out there, it's more a matter of preference in which color, style and pattern you would rather have.  This is my third sweater from Blarney (my previous two weren't Aran sweaters, but both held up beautifully), but I've also purchased Aran Craft, Carraig Donn, Glendalough Woolen Mills and I've been happy with all of those as well.  The key is to be certain it's Irish wool--there are companies out there making sweaters in the Aran style, but the wool may be from other sources.  I purchased one years ago that was of Scottish wool and while it was very pretty, it was itchy as all get out!  Good Irish wool wears like iron too, very little pilling (one of my pet peeves)--I have a pink Aran style sweater/coat that I've had for 7 or so years that still looks like new.  A trip now and then to the dry cleaners--some can even be machine washed on delicate--and you have a sweater that will last a very, very long time.   That's why I have a whole drawer full of Irish wool cardigans.............souvenirs, honest!  I don't have one in purple though, hmmmmmm......

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thanksgiving is next week?!?!?!

I don't know where November went, a few days ago it dawned on me that next week is the last week of the month and Thanksgiving is next Thursday.  What the heck?!  Luckily I have been buying stuff for dinner each time I went to the grocery store, so I'm not totally unprepared, just mentally not there yet.  I need to pick up a couple of things this week and I will be set.  I'm only cooking for 5 of us, not a huge deal, but there are certain things that have to be made--my nephew always tells me that I need to make a lot of mashed potatoes.  For me it's all about the turkey and the pumpkin mousse, my husband likes the stuffing.  My father-in-law is just glad he doesn't have to cook!

Have you ever gone out to a restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner?  I've only done it once, one year there were only going to be three of us, and it seemed kind of silly to cook a huge dinner for three people.  Dinner out was nice, we didn't have to clean up a mess afterwards.  But then panic set in--no leftovers!!!  Before it was over with, my mom and I bought a turkey and cooked it a couple of days later because we both wanted the left over turkey dinner, turkey salad, etc.  Kind of counterproductive, eh?

What do you like best about Thanksgiving dinner? 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Ebay find!!!

I don't do a ton of shopping on Ebay.  I've done more this year than I have in past years, probably because I'm on there selling quite a bit.  Most of what I've purchased are items that are no longer available at retail stores--a vintage Vera Bradley bag, a Barbour hat, the Sunshine Family dolls that I mentioned in a previous post.  Once in a while I will go looking for something just to see if I can get a deal, but not generally.  I have a couple of things I regularly look at just to see what's out there, and this time around it actually paid off.

I LOVE Lands End tote bags!  We have a rather large collection of them in a variety of sizes and colors.  They are so useful for so many things--an informal purse, toting groceries, carrying things back and forth to work--the list is endless.  I've had some other brands of this style of bag, and to me the Lands End one is the best made of the lot.  Laney even has her own that we use when we travel with her, or when she goes to the kennel to tote her dog food, toys, etc in.  I've gifted a few of these too because I think everyone needs to have one!  So it will come as no surprise that I regularly peruse these totes on Ebay.  Usually there aren't any great deals on them, especially if you are used to waiting for the sales at LE, but once in a while one shows up on there that is unique, perhaps a style or color that they no longer have on their website.  About a week ago I came across one that was different from anything I've ever seen:

First off, it's brown, a color you can't get in the regular retail section anymore.  (You can get it if you have a business account though, ?!?!)  The color caught my eye because I do like the combination, but look closely..............see the straps..............they are adjustable!  I have never seen that before on a Lands End tote, and I think it's an awesome idea.  I kept an eye on the auction and managed to snipe it for $17, yay. :)  It came yesterday and I love it, the idea of the adjustable straps is genius.  What is very interesting about it is it still has the tag on it.  I think it was sold at an outlet store, and what the tag says on it has me rather intrigued- "Sample Luggage".  So now I'm really curious, was this ever released to the public, or just an idea that never went any further?  Anyone else ever seen one like this? 
What am I going to use it for?  Good question!  Probably for the usual stuff, carrying odds and ends from here to there.  I am toying with the idea of making a padded insert for it to carry my camera in, wouldn't it make a great camera bag?  The canvas is a nice heavy weight, so it's not going to rip from the weight and will add just enough extra protection.  All I know for sure is I really like it and I'm tickled with my "find".  

My Take: Downton Abbey, S4, E8 (No Spoilers!)

The last episode for the season (the Christmas episode doesn’t count) was not a let down, it did tie up some loose ends and left just enough hanging that you want to watch more.  There are a few things though that bothered me with this season.  1) too many new characters.  A couple would have been sufficient to tell most of the story line, but Julian Fellowes introduced character upon character.  To the point that 2)character development/continuation of several interesting and key characters from previous seasons was pretty much non-existent.  I hope that the next season will bring back these older character storylines.  I was happy to see an increase in the appearances of both Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Moseley, they are two characters that previously were “wallpaper” who emerged as interesting characters as the story progressed.  Keeping my fingers crossed that next season doesn’t end up with them relegated to the background again (as happened this season with several of the major players from prior seasons).  The one thing I was very happy to see was the development of Lady Mary now that she is facing life without Matthew.  She has suitors, but she's not quick to make any decisions, becoming a bit of an independent woman.  I picture my grandmother (who would have been about the same age as Lady Mary) and her unconventional choices for the era--I'm hopeful that they won't relinquish Mary's newfound confidence/independence just to have a big wedding episode in the next season. 

I’ve also come to the conclusion that Julian Fellowes was a huge fan of the popular American prime-time soap operas that were popular during the 1980’s—Dallas, Dynasty, Falcon Crest and Knots Landing all seem to be “represented”.  I thought it would be fun to share some of the characters of those shows and their Downton “counterpart”:

1)      Dowager Countess:  Angela Channing (Falcon Crest)

2)      Rose MacClare:  Lucy Ewing (Dallas)

3)      Lady Mary:  Pamela Barnes Ewing (Dallas)

4)      Thomas Barrow:  Steven Carrington (Dynasty)

5)      Isobel Crawley:  Miss Ellie Ewing (Dallas)

6)      Tom Branson:  Michael Culhan (Dynasty)

7)      Sybil Crawley Branson:  Fallon Carrington (Dynasty)

8)      Matthew Crawley:  Chase Gioberty (Falcon Crest)

9)      Edith Crawley:  Julia Cumson (Falcon Crest)

10)   Lord Robert:  Bobby Ewing (Dallas)

We’ve even had a “whodunit” a’la “Who Shot JR”.  All that’s missing are shoulder pads and a good catfight!!! 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Playing Catch Up

I feel like I'm lagging behind lately, and I hate it.  I'm still kind of run down from that cold/flu crud I had over a month ago, it really hit me hard.  It doesn't help that Mother Nature can't decide what to do with the weather, one day it's warm, the next cold.  We had no fall to speak of, and now it's cold--it even snowed yesterday, yuck!  All that up and down with the temperatures is wreaking havoc with my arthritis, I don't remember the last time I hurt this much, and that's even with my pain medications.  It makes it hard to keep up with things when you can hardly move.  I did manage over the weekend to get our bedroom cleaned from top to bottom, one of those take down the curtains and move the furniture kind of cleanings, so that made me feel a little better.  Look out living room, you're next!

Ebay has gone bananas lately, I've sold a ton of stuff which is terrific!  It doesn't look like it though, my house still has too much stuff LOL.  Someday I'll meet my goal.  I laugh when I think about last year at this time, I thought I would be able to keep this up for about a year--I've got at least another year or two's worth of stuff to sell.  The other thing is the more stuff you sell, the more you look at the other items in your house with an objective eye--"I could really do without that" or "it served it's purpose when I bought it, time to go!"  Unfortunately there are only so many hours in a day.  I did manage to clear out almost an entire set of dishes, just a few bowls left to sell.  We're getting there.

I think all of this selling and cleaning has kind of squelched my urge to shop much--both regular retail and thrift store.  We don't need anything, as long as I go to the grocery store on a regular basis, we are good.  Yesterday I caved though.  For some reason unbeknownst to me at the moment, I felt the need to go in our local Goodwill.  I had been contemplating a day of thrift store hopping, and yesterday was it.  Because I am being much pickier lately I only came out with one thing--but it was so worth it.  I really think it was sending me a telepathic message that lured me in:
A Longaberger tissue basket!!!  I've been wanting one of these for ages, but just couldn't see the ridiculous price for one.  (I'm thinking they were $50 - $60, they are now retired in this size).  $3.99 though and in perfect condition, I can do that.  Longaberger baskets are one of my favorites, but the prices are just more than I can justify.  I have quite a few Longaberger baskets, but I've bought them either from Ebay or from a local rep when she clears out her samples at significantly reduced prices.   It made my whole day to find this--the wood on the top is perfect, not a scratch on it.  I wonder if it was even used, although the bottom has some very minor wear on it.  It was very well cared for if it was used.
I stopped at a couple of other thrift stores in the area and didn't see anything I really wanted.  That's okay, Heather and I have a trip planned to go to Pittsburgh for a "Red White and Blue Tour" in a couple of weeks.  So today I'm just going to take it easy, get some more Ebay stuff shipped, catch up on Downton Abbey and (fingers crossed) enjoy the French Onion Soup I have cooking in the crock pot for dinner.  I hope it works, I've never made it that way before--I'll let you know how it turns out. 
Hope you are all having a great week.  I'm just wishing that we have no more snow.  At least for a while...............

Friday, November 8, 2013

My Take: Downton Abbey, S4, E7 (No spoilers!)

This episode had a lot going on, I'm sure leading up to the next episode which is the last for the season (not counting the Christmas episode).  Some crazy stuff going on for sure!  Should be an interesting finale if they address all the things that started over the last few episodes.

1)  "I've been married, I know everything!"

2)  Be careful Moseley, be very, very careful.

3)  "You're quite the plotter when you want to be."

4)  I really don't like the clothes from the 20's, especially the shoes--blech!

5)  Mud.   Lots and lots of mud.

6)  Mrs. Hughes--you go girl!!!

7)  Not enough of Thomas this episode (or the whole season for that matter).  I'm sure Rob James-Collier and Hugh Bonneville wondered why they showed up for work for this episode.

Till next time......................

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Look At How Pretty!!!

Laney went to the groomers today for a good bath and a haircut.  Doesn't she look pretty?

I love the bandana they gave her with the autumn leaves on it.  She also got a toy and a treat, talk about making out like a bandit!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Wool Overs Nordic Crew Neck Sweater

I didn't do much thrift store shopping in October, in fact, next to nothing.  I bought a red buffalo plaid throw, that's it!  I did do a bit of shopping for some new stuff for a change.  I also tried out a new to me company in the process.

I had never heard of Wool Overs until last year when Muffy over at The Daily Prep purchased some of their sweaters and wrote about her experience.  Based in the UK, they specialize in wool sweaters in all sorts of styles and colors.  I've been curious ever since, and a couple of weeks ago I decided to go for it.  I think the hardest part for me was trying to decide which sweater I liked the best.  I don't have a lot of wool sweaters anymore, the office I worked in was too warm to wear them in, so after some debate, I finally decided to get the Nordic Crew Neck Sweater.  It is very similar in appearance to the ones sold by LL Bean, but a fraction of the price, so I was very excited to see what the quality was like.

My sweater arrived in less than two weeks, not too bad considering their products are shipped from the UK.  I couldn't wait to rip the bag open to check it out and I was not disappointed.  The quality was very good, the color was great--unfortunately I had to wait about a week before it was cool enough for me to wear it.  Overall, it is a typical wool sweater in the itch/scratch department--not horrible, I was able to wear it without anything under, but I think I will prefer it with a turtleneck under it.  Sizing was good, my only complaint is that this sweater only comes as a Unisex size.  As a result curvier women like myself will find that it tends to be a bit snug around the hips, while baggy at the shoulders.  I could have ordered a size larger, but I'm afraid it would have looked really sloppy.  Hopefully if I lose a couple of more pounds it will look better.  I chose the French Navy/Cream color scheme and was thrilled with it, I had read the reviews and noticed that several people who had purchased it in the traditional Navy were critical of the fact that it was so dark, almost black. 

The price was MORE than reasonable for a sweater of this type--with shipping I ended up with a total of just under $43.  A sweater like this is $80 at it's cheapest from LL Bean, and not made of 100% wool anymore.  I lucked out, they were running this sweater on a special for $40 and Muffy had a link to get 10% off a first order, bringing the price down to $36.  Shipping to the US for this item was $6.95--definitely reasonable. 

Would I buy from this company again--more than likely.  I don't need a lot of wool sweaters, so it might be a while, but I can see myself at some point purchasing something else.  Now that I have purchased from them I get regular e-mails telling me what the special deals are, they frequently run free shipping specials or percent discounts.  Many times they run 2fer specials too.  You just have to keep an eye out as they change about once a week.  Another plus--many of their sweaters are machine washable on delicate in cold water.  Not something you find very often.  I also noticed after wearing the sweater for several hours, absolutely no pilling--yay!!  It will be interesting to see how it holds up in the long haul.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Well that sucked!

It was a crappy Halloween here, it rained.  Nothing worse than trick or treat in the rain.  I think we had all of seven kids show up at the door.  I took the leftover candy and made up two goodie bags for the little boys across the street and I guess we will be eating the rest in lunches and snacks.  At least I bought things we like.  So much for the diet!

Halloween has always been one of my favorite times of year, for as long as I can remember.  I have fond memories of some awesome costumes, parties, and "tricks" in our neighborhood.  My mom always looked forward to the toilet paper trees in bloom.  Most of the tricks were harmless enough, the usual window soaping and throwing corn at windows to scare people.  The funniest one was the time my mom snuck out and joined them, the kids didn't realize they had picked up an extra participant until they had walked about 1/2 mile into the neighborhood!  She laughed about that for years.

As time passed, the kids who came dressed became fewer and fewer, mostly because they all grew up and we had fewer kids in the neighborhood.  But also because of fear--kids being abducted, razor blades in candy, etc--it took a lot of the fun out of it.  Our last year living at the other house yielded a couple of kids and that was it.  So I was excited when we moved in to town.  I was looking forward to seeing kids in costume again.  Fortunately I didn't go overboard because it was a huge let down.  Very few people in our neighborhood participate for whatever reason, and the time that they have trick or treat is kind of stupid too, most people are still at work if October 31st falls on a weekday.  As a result, we don't get all that many kids, throw in bad weather, and well, we all know how that turned out.

I didn't decorate at all this year.  Not only did I not have a lot of time to do it, but my heart just wasn't in it.  We don't have any little persons coming to our house on a regular basis anymore, and trick or treat has been such a let down, it kind of took the wind out of my sails.  The extent of my Halloween decorating was the banner I made and the basket that the candy was in, that's it.  I used to go all out, I had multiple bins of decorations that ended up all over the house.  I probably should go through what I still have and put it on Ebay next year and let someone else enjoy it.  Maybe I'll get out of my Halloween funk, but not counting on it.

One thing I won't get rid of is my Dept 56 Halloween farm.  I started the collection about 10 or more years ago on a visit to Vermont.  I fell in love with the haunted house and over the years kept adding to it.  I haven't set it up since we moved, perhaps next year I should make it a point to put it up on my birthday and then leave it up until Halloween?

Here's hoping you had a better Halloween than we did in the Northeast US!  We have had high winds since last night and lots and lots of rain (although it is sunny out at the moment).  You would think it was March 1st, not November 1st! 
Have a great weekend!