December 22, 2017

Christmas Dessert - help me out here

Usually, at this point in the Christmas season, I would have had at least one request for a particular dessert for Christmas dinner.  This year, no requests and I'm at a loss as to what to make.  And, I need to make whatever it is fairly soon because I know that The Husband will have commandeered the kitchen by Sunday afternoon.

So today I asked my family if they had any particular desire for one treat or another.  Even Man-Child, the one with a major sweet tooth, the one that loves to be home when I'm baking so he can lick the batter bowl clean, had nothing.  So I asked my friend, whose family will be joining us, she couldn't think of anything - but then again, she's got a lot going on in her life right now.  Too much to be thinking of desserts.  I do know that her middle son would be over the moon if I made a coconut cake - but to my mind that is more of a spring/summer kind of treat.

So here's where you come in.  Tell me what dessert makes you think of Christmas.  Perhaps it's something that is always on your table for Christmas.  Or maybe a childhood favorite.  Or something your mother or grandmother always made.

If you guys can't help me out or give me something overly complicated, I'll probably fall back on the Lemon Pound cake - but that also strikes me as a "summer" dessert.

December 18, 2017

Jeans report...

I have been on the hunt for new jeans now for about six months; basically ever since our company announced that we could wear jeans to work on Fridays.  Yes, this very old-fashioned company is slowly, but surely, being dragged into the 21st century.  The guys are still rejoicing that they don't have to wear ties everyday.

So for the past six months or so, whenever I was out and about, I'd look at the jeans.  And, inevitably, they'd all be far too long for my short, little legs.  I just knew the solution would be to head to the Levis outlet because I recall the last time I was there, many moons ago, I saw that they did offer jeans in various inseams.  Something that isn't offered at Kohl's or wherever, apparently.

Today was the day.  I had The Husband wake me up before dawn as he was leaving for work.  My plan was to be out the door by 8:30, as the outlet stores open at 9:00 am.  I had to revise my plan after my day started and I got a little distracted.  Instead I was out the door by 9:00.  Semi-success.  Now, why was I so determined to get such an early start?  Because the outlet stores are about an hour away AND it is Christmas time.  I figured, if I got there early it wouldn't be too crowded.  Plus, I was banking on the fact that most people aren't off work yet.

My plan worked until I walked into the Levis store.  That's kind of where everything fell apart.  Yes, they did have some of the style of jeans (high waist, skinny jeans, if you must know - with these short legs bootcut; just doesn't work!) I wanted with the shorter inseam...but the saleswoman told me, after questioning why I couldn't find my size with the shorter inseam, that they only offer the shorter inseam on the "smaller" sizes. Seriously?!

What's up with that Levis?  Not ALL short women are toothpick thin, thank you very much!  You might want to re-think that whole strategy.

Needless to say, I walked out of the Levis store empty-handed but undeterred.

I found myself at The Gap - same problem.  Nothing in my size with the shorter inseam.  Although, they did have a pair of khaki-type pants that worked perfectly - so at least they got a sale out of me.

I continued my quest and eventually landed in the J. Crew outlet.  And lo and behold!  THEY had the skinny jeans I was after IN my size and with a short inseam!!  I was beside myself...until I looked at the price tag.  I had seen a sign that some jeans were on sale - these were not under that sign.  But I took a chance, before trying them on I asked the saleswoman if these happened to be on sale.  She replied that everything in the store was 50% off.  Given that assurance, I headed toward the fitting room.  Not only did they fit perfectly, the length was excellent AND there were real pockets - not full size front pockets, but pockets nonetheless!  Yes, this is huge because I have been tricked into buying jeans in the past that did not have real pockets which has led to me having trust issues when it comes to jeans.

Considering that they were on sale, I snapped up two pairs.  As I was checking out, I mentioned to the saleswoman that they apparently were the only store that carried shorter inseams in my size.  She commiserated with me and then mentioned that these jeans are great in that they hold their shape and don't sag as the day wears on.  I was stunned - every single pair of jeans I have bought in recent years always, always sag by the end of the day.

Upon arriving home, I immediately put on one of the new pairs of jeans and have been wearing them all day.  Not only have they not sagged, they are extremely comfortable.  Now, to be clear, I love these jeans - but I would not have bought them at full price.  The price point is just a little too dear - but at half off?  In the style I wanted?  Yes.

This is not a sponsored post - but if you are in the need for jeans with a short inseam - head to J. Crew outlet - they can hook you up since Levis, the iconic brand for jeans, cannot if you aren't a toothpick.

December 16, 2017

From our home to yours...Merry Christmas.

My friend, DJan, shared a sweet card with her followers and is the inspiration behind this post.  Thanks, DJan!

I've sent out a ridiculous number of Christmas cards for years - until The Husband was laid off several years ago.  That put an end to that practice fairly quickly.  Having just one income makes you re-think your priorities.  Once he found another job after a couple of years and I felt a little more stable, I was ready to start sending cards again - but this time I culled that list down; WAY down.

Also, back in the day, I would make a point of having a picture taken of us or just Man-Child to either include in the card or to be the card.  Then, all of a sudden, one day Man-Child grew up and never seemed to be around anymore for picture taking.  So I would spend hours (or so it seemed) trying to find the perfect card to send to those nearest and dearest.

This year, inspiration struck after an extra early snowfall.  And after creating the card, having CVS print them, stuffing envelopes, etc.  I went back and made one especially for you.

Yes, this is our house.  On the back reads like this post's title.
Whether you celebrate Christmas or another holiday - I wish you nothing but peace, joy and love in this season.

December 13, 2017

The Husband and his "date" and other random bits of information

Tonight is The Husband's Christmas party - and I'm going to be honest, I was dreading it.  He, of course, was looking forward to it.  About 3 or 4 hours prior, I kind of mentioned that I really didn't want to go.  Strangers, small talk, etc.  Not one thing about it appealed to me.  I take that back, the venue appealed to me, but not enough to overcome everything else.

The Husband, knowing how I am, told me I didn't need to go.  But I felt torn because I knew I should go and didn't want him to go alone.  So I floated the idea that he take Man-Child with him and he loved the idea.  Now, Man-Child wasn't home when we had this conversation so we had no way of knowing if he would even want to go.  But I figured, he's been having a tough time of it lately and that it wouldn't hurt for him to get out and have some fun - because yes, I realize that socializing should be fun but for me it's hard unless it is people I know.

Luckily, Man-Child readily agreed to go in my stead (which tells me he really needed to get out!)  So, I dressed them up, took a picture and sent them on their way.

Sorry for the weird cropping - the table is COVERED in stuff,
but I liked the Christmas tree reflection on the left side...

Now on to the other random bits...

Back at the end of October, we upgraded to U-verse (and, for the record, no, I still haven't dealt with the modem/box thing) and since then my phone has constantly dropped the Wi-Fi connection.  I've gone back and forth with AT&T over Twitter and they finally told me it had to be a problem with Verizon.  So I tweeted back and forth with Verizon and they told me it had to be a problem with AT&T since the phone will stay on Wi-Fi with other connections.  While not a serious issue, it was making me crazy.  But, I do have to say, tweeting with customer service at both companies was an awesome experience.  Yes, I said it.  Usually, when dealing with customer service over the phone they make me crazy.  Either the customer service is getting better overall or the tweeting customer service reps are just better.  Who knows.  I'm hoping the former.

While at the Verizon store the other day to upgrade Man-Child's ancient phone, I casually mentioned to the lady helping us my problem.  Her first response?  This an AT&T problem.  But then she thought for a minute and said, "Have you tried removing the battery or re-starting the phone?"  I had re-started it and "forgot" the connection and re-entered the password several times, to no avail.  I held off removing the battery because removing the phone from the Otterbox is an ordeal.  So after the guys left tonight, I sat down and went to work removing the phone from it's case.  I had forgotten how pretty and slim my phone really is!  But, I know me, it needs to live in the Otterbox or it wouldn't last a day.  I freed the phone, removed the battery, waited a few minutes, put it back in and turned the phone on.  Hot damn, if that phone hasn't stayed connected to the Wi-Fi for the last 30 minutes.  So hopefully, that is the fix. 

And, it's not.  The phone just now started randomly giving me notifications that the network disconnected again - of course AFTER I put it back in its case. *sigh*  Any tech gurus out there with an idea?  I'm so tired of these little, nitpicky things irritating me.

As for my car...OMG.  My car.  We really do have the worst luck with cars, it seems.  Triple A picked up the car and took it to the dealership.  We were told that if the first garage's diagnoses was correct the job should only take a couple of hours.  We never heard from them.  Finally, I asked The Husband to call so we would at least know where we were in terms of getting it back.

When The Husband finally was connected to the service manager he was told, "They couldn't find it."  Horrified, I said, "They can't find my car?!"  But no, they couldn't find the problem.  Are you flipping kidding me?  So where did all my antifreeze or whatever it is that keeps a car from overheating go?  They were supposed to call back when they found the problem.  But seeing as it's after 6:30 pm, I don't think we are going to hear back tonight.

So, in all probability, I will be car-less tomorrow too.  The only good thing?  I don't have to go to work.  But I'm behind on Christmas list buying and am beginning to fill the pinch; so I need that car to be fixed soon.  And?  I'm kinda tired of being house-bound and dependent on others to drive me around. 

Fascinating blog material, wouldn't you say? #yawn

December 12, 2017

Really, nationwide garage chain people? Did you think I was dumb enough not to look at other options?

So my car dinged at me today.  It took me a little while, but I finally figured out why - the car was overheating.  I pulled over immediately to mull my options.  I knew I didn't feel confident to drive the car any length of time, so I pulled into a nearby large, nationwide garage. 

They told me that they could look at the car, but that it would be a couple of hours.  I called The Husband to come pick me up.

Several hours later, I got a call from the shop.  They told me it would be over $700 to fix the car.  AND they suggested that the tires be rotated and aligned.  Oh really?  Why were they even looking at the tires?  That had absolutely nothing to do with why I brought the car in.

We informed them that we wanted to see if our warranty covered this repair and to not do anything until we determined that.  Then we called our friend who is car guy to get his opinion.  He determined that the car part was only $80.  So basically, this company was going to charge me $620 for labor.  I realize that car mechanics are experts and deserve to be paid for their labor but $620 dollars worth for two hours?  Really?  Who were they going to have working on my car?

We then called the dealership.  They couldn't tell us if the repair was under warranty; we'd need to call the warranty people but they told The Husband that if the repair wasn't covered it would only cost...wait for it...$200.  Which makes me wonder what the nationwide garage people would have quoted The Husband had he brought the car in?

After talking to the warranty people, it appears the repair is covered - thank goodness because, hello, Christmas time! 

Generally, I like to think the best of people but this has just left a really nasty taste in my mouth.  If I didn't have these options to turn to, I would have been taken advantage of; basically I would have been royally screwed over.  How can these people live with themselves?  I am utterly disgusted.

December 9, 2017

First snow of the season!

Here in North Carolina we are experiencing our first snow of the's definitely early for around here.

After the harrowing ride home yesterday - no; not due to slippery conditions but more to do with overly cautious drivers (which isn't a bad thing, really) - which took me well over an hour and a half, I was pretty much done with matter how pretty it is...and it IS pretty, I'll give you that...

My yard this morning

Then I saw on the news that it was snowing in Houston (what?!)  I immediately texted my oldest and dearest friend.  She confirmed, they had snow.  She even sent pictorial proof...

Seriously?!  This is a LOT of snow for Texas!

I assume hell must have frozen over. And dusted the palm trees.

Then we chatted about the improbability of us both having snow at the same time.

I remember the first time I actually saw it snowing after we moved here.  I was SO very excited.  Having come from Texas, this was a dream come true.  Dragging my New York born husband from the shower, I exclaimed over how pretty it was - he, soaking wet, wasn't as enthusiastic as I.

But today, as the snow continued to come down, I grumbled a little, "I've got far to much to do for this inconvenience..." but deep down inside, I marveled at how the world looked like a snow globe.  And realized, I have reached that point where I can still revel in the beauty and at the same time carp about the inconvenience.

But's awfully pretty.

And, with any luck, the sun will come out tomorrow and the streets will be clear.

December 6, 2017

I'm almost ready to give it all up and go live off the grid...almost.

Earlier this week, The Husband asked me about a charge on our bank statement.  I had absolutely no idea what that charge could be and told him so.

It appears the company is legit and is some kind of magazine/subscription service - the catch is, we don't receive any magazines or subscriptions.  Apparently, we've been dinged for $30 every month since February...obviously, we need to keep a closer eye on our account.  The bank has promised to reimburse us - we've yet to see any evidence of this.

But they've cut off my debit card - because OF COURSE it was my card that was compromised.  So while I wait for the new card I can't access cash.  Cash which would be nice to have access to at this time of year if for nothing else than to drop into the Salvation Army buckets.

In a funny twist of fate, my co-worker friend that I mentioned all this to told me that all of a sudden she started receiving a magazine that she hadn't ordered or paid for - which has me wondering if somehow the cosmos are messing with us and I'm paying for the magazine she's receiving and doesn't want.  Somehow that would be my luck.

Then today - The Husband informs me when I get home that somehow Office Depot/Max (just what is the official name these days?) was paid.  But that he didn't have any paperwork suggesting that he needed to pay it.  And he didn't remember paying it.  He wanted to know if I paid it.  Here's the thing, I don't pay the bills.  I reminded him of this and threw in the fact that he thought I wasn't up to the task - he denied that part. But more vehemently denied that he physically pushed the button to pay Office Depot/Max.

Then he dragged me into the obstacle course of trying to log in to our Office Depot/Max account.  Despite the fact that we have that information written down, we were unable to do so.  Which then necessitated me having an online chat with an Office Depot representative - a representative who could not even find evidence of us having an account - all the while The Husband was nattering on about how he COULDN'T have paid that bill.

To the Office Depot/Max representative - I'm sorry I hung up in mid-chat (do you call it "hanging up" when you close out of a window mid-conversation?) but he was driving me crazy.  Basically, it was a him, not you, situation.

Finally, I told The Husband that it's obvious he paid it.  And then walked away.

And that's why I'm almost ready to close my bank account and close all my online accounts and live off the grid.  The only reason I won't?  Because I know that even though those frustrations will go away there will be other ones - harder ones - to take their place.

December 3, 2017

It's the most busiest time of the year...

I swear this is the first time that I've actually sat down today - not that I'm complaining...much.  I DO love Christmas.

But I love it even more once I'm on vacation; or as The Husband calls it, my sabbatical.  As most of you know, I hoard most of my vacation time to take at the end of the year.  It all started when Man-Child was tiny - I hoarded it mainly for random snow days back then.  Now, I squirrel those precious vacation days away and take a huge chunk of December off.

This year, I have been extra miserly with my vacation time, because it appears my last "official" day at the office will be this coming Friday.  And I can't wait.

This weekend has been an extra busy one.  I had two main goals this weekend.  To get a tree and to make a bunch of treats as we are having Holiday Treats at work tomorrow - which if the turn out is as great as last year it will morph into Holiday Treats week.

When making treats, I always make far too much - but this time it's not my fault.  I kept getting requests.  "Oh, can you make that cheese spread again?  I LOVED it." "I would die happy if you could make those Oreo truffles again." "You will be making that peanut butter fudge, won't you?" "Almond bark, please?"

And, I obliged.  And spent all day Saturday making candy.  I refrained from making spritz cookies, only because I had made them the week before when I was testing my new cookie press.  These people I work with are spoiled, spoiled, spoiled.  I hope they appreciate me.

Today found us up and out early.  We headed out to Garden Ridge At Home (whatever, I still maintain that is a stupid name for a store) as we had decided to go with a pre-lit artificial tree this year.  Years ago, we had an artificial tree when an ice storm ruined all the real trees and loved it.  We tossed that tree when we moved into the condo a few years ago because the lights  had quit working and it was looking quite ratty.  Since then, we've gone back to real trees.  Until now.  Artificial trees are just so much easier.  And the older I get, the easier I want my life to be.

The tree  is up - kind of.  It's standing the foyer but it's not fluffed or decorated or even lit.  The chair needs to be moved first so the tree can move into it's proper position and other things took precedence.

Like decorating the front porch.  And driving the majority of those treats to work so I won't have to schlep them all at once tomorrow. And wrapping the gifts I have bought so far.  Which led to this tweet earlier...

And it's true.  As I did last year, the majority of presents will be wrapped in white paper with colorful ribbons.  Except for those that must be shipped.  I usually don't put ribbon on those presents because they just get crushed in shipping.  So for those presents, I use colorful paper.  So I grabbed some paper from my stash and set to wrapping - all the while thinking, "Gee, I remember using this paper when Man-Child was small."  And right about the time I was cutting the paper, I realized.  This was cheap, poorly made paper that ripped without provocation - which explained why this paper had been around so long.  I promptly trashed all of it.  Wasteful? Yes.  But it will save me headaches next year.

All this to say - I've been a tad busy.  In between treat making, tree buying, porch decorating, gift wrapping, paper trashing, treat delivery I've also had to deal with the laundry - because oh my God, laundry never stops.  Speaking of laundry, I bought myself this sign.

When The Husband saw it he laughed.  And then said, "Actually, you have a laundry closet, not a room.  And who's going to see it?"  ME.  I will see it.  And it will make me smile.  And eventually, I'll get around to making it hang straight.

And since it appears, I've never posted either the cheese spread recipe or the almond bark recipe, here you go.  I have absolutely no idea where they originated from - but it certainly wasn't my ideas - I do know they were pre-Internet days though - so apparently, they've stood the test of time.

Almond Bark

6 squares (1 pkg) semi-sweet chocolate
6 squares (1 pkg) white chocolate
1 cup toasted almonds

Microwave chocolates in separate bowls on high for 2 minutes or until almost melted, be sure to check often - you don't want to burn the chocolate!  Be sure to keep checking and stirring until completely melted. Stir half the almonds into the semi-sweet and half into the white.  Alternately spoons melted chocolates onto a wax paper-lined cookie sheet.  Swirl chocolates together with a knife to marbelize.  Refrigerate one hour or until firm.  Break into pieces.  Share.  Everyone will think you are a genius...I promise.

Vermont Chedder Spread

1 (3 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups coarsely grated sharp white cheddar
3 tsbs chopped fresh chives
1/2 tsp dried mustard
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Mix cream cheese and butter till blended.  Add everything else and beat till fluffy.  Refrigerate.  Use to spread on bread, crackers, etc.

The perfect savory treat to counter-act the sweet.  Generally, I will also stuff some Pillsbury french bread rolls into some old Pampered Chef bread tubes to go along with the cheese spread.

So with all that done, and a post posted, I imagine that darn tree will stand in the foyer until next weekend.  Maybe then, I'll have the energy to decorate it.