December 28, 2023

Dishwashing Habits

Living without a dishwasher has opened my eyes to the most trivial bits of our dishwashing habits.

In the normal course of life with a functioning dishwasher - a drying mat (this is new to us as we used to use a tea towel; but this works better) was placed to the right of the sink on a tiny slice of counterspace  about sixteen inches - and it worked fine.  Which was great because I usually hand wash dishes from the left (washing) to right (rinsing/drying).

In the normal course of life without a dishwasher, that tiny slice of counterspace wasn't cutting it.  So I had to switch up and go from right to left so the dishes ended up on the larger bit of counterspace to the left of the sink - do you know just how hard it is to make a switch like that after a lifetime of doing it one way?!

At first, I thought maybe I washed dishes from left to right because I am left handed.  But then, the more I thought about it (see what happens when I'm left to my own devices?  I overthink the most trivial things); I remember growing up we always washed from left to right...and my parents were right handed.  Although, recalling that kitchen set up, perhaps that's why we did it that way.

And that got me to wondering; does EVERYONE generally wash from left to right?  

And since Elisabeth and I are both on the same left/right page today, I'll also ask - are you right or left handed and do you think that has anything to do with the way you hand wash dishes?

December 26, 2023

Post Christmas 2023

Well, we did it.  We crossed the finish line.  Oh sure, some of us are a bit bedraggled and still have that crazy glint in our eyes - but we made it.  Now, it's time to rest and prepare to take on a new year. 

The run up to the holiday was a hectic one with much to be done - baking; cleaning; wrapping.  You all know the drill; as I assume most of you were doing the same.

But starting on Thursday, a couple of wrenches were thrown into the mix.

Despite the fact that I am on VACATION, there is a project going on at work that I must attend to weekly.  And up until last week, this has been fairly manageable on my end.  This project involves a government entity and tight deadlines.  So, when I get the news that I need to act on my part of the project, I need to act right then.  On Thursday, I got notice that I needed to send out over 100 emails.  Now, this can't be an email blast; it needed to be over 100 INDIVIDUAL emails that needed to go out with multiple, various people copied on each email.  Honestly, I thought my head was going to explode.  But, by some miracle, I got it done.

And on Friday, the Appliance Gods decided that the dishwasher needed to stop working.  Because, apparently in this house, it is illegal to have ALL the appliances working during any given holiday.  But, as I repeatedly reminded The Husband, at least we still had hot water (honestly three years later and I still have not recovered from THAT nightmare!) and I announced it would be All Hands on Deck for kitchen clean up for the holiday. 

From there everything else went wonderfully.  The Happy Couple came over early afternoon on Christmas Eve; we played Catch Phrase (I had forgotten just how much fun that game is), and had a lovely dinner.  They stayed the night and we opened our gifts on Christmas morning.  After a leisurely breakfast, they headed out for her parent's house.

We spent Christmas day putting the house back together (ish) and in the evening headed two doors down to have Christmas dinner and our gift exchange with our friends.

And Gerard ended up coming home with us...

Reading by the tree light

Back in May, I gifted my friend a gnome doing yoga for Mothers Day; which she loved so very much.  So much, according to her husband that she immediately fell down a gnome rabbit hole on the Internet.  Her husband opined that he figured he'd eventually have a whole army of gnomes in his front yard.  He's probably not wrong on that count as I feel that a gift giving tradition between the two of us has been sparked.  One that I will happily accept.

I hope that you all had a very Merry Christmas (if you celebrate) and look forward to stepping into 2024 with you all!


December 21, 2023

A Christmas (Cookie) Miracle...

On Tuesday, I took five batches of defrosted dough and made cookies.  But that is not the miracle.

No, yesterday I was determined to wrestle with the cookie press and make spritz cookies.  Why, you may ask, do I continue with that damned cookie press every year?  Because S (aka Man-Child) loves those cookies beyond reason.  In fact, he once wrote a story (a very well written, dark, and grim Christmas story - which is also a very un-Christmassy story) around those very cookies.

So, once again, I gritted my teeth and pulled out the cranky cookie press and re-visited the recipe.

Those that have been around here for any length of time know that I am not a very free spirited cook.  Hell, I don't cook at all.  But I like to bake.  But to me, baking usually means if I follow the "rules" (the recipe), I will be happy with the results.  Until it comes to this recipe.

But yesterday, when I looked at the recipe, I said to myself, "Oh hell no.  That is far too much flour and not enough butter!"  And I became a rebel for the first time in my baking life.  I cut down on the amount of flour (to be honest, I could have probably cut another half cup - but the "rule" follower in me pushed back a little) and added some melted butter to the finished product before inserting the dough into the press.

And finally!  The cookie press worked as it was intended (for the most part).  There were no tears.  No cursing.  And we ended up with more than one shape of cookie!  Were they perfect?  By no means.  But prior years we've ended up with one shape.  Anything else was a blob.

And even better?  These cookies are SO much better than the original.

Was it still a hot mess?  Yes.  Yes, it was.  You are still going to be covered in dough and greasy from head to toe; but the results are worth it for the pleasure these cookies bring S.  I think the only way around it (marginally) is to have three or four different presses loaded with different disks so you don't have to keep changing them out (if you want different shapes); but that seems extra ridiculous (not to mention, more to clean and store).  So I will press on (if you will) and continue to use the modified recipe that works so much better than the original.

December 12, 2023

Christmas Progress

I don't know how it is in your house; but in this house the wheels of time regarding Christmas seems to move at warp speed!*

The tree went up on the weekend of the second.  Well, I should say, the new tree.  The old tree went up on the first - only to discover that NONE of the lights were working.  I debated whether or not I should just throw some lights on it; but decided NOPE.  I bought a pre-lit tree and this tree was no longer pre-lit so away it went and a new pre-lit came in (I sincerely hope this tree lasts longer than the last one; we spent a bit more money on it so fingers crossed).

After decorating the tree, I turned my attention to ornament boxes.  We currently have four and most of the ornaments are never used.  I was (hopefully, we'll see after I undecorate the tree) able to get it down to two...fingers crossed.  But, even if we just get it down to three this year...that's better than nothing.

Despite me putting a reminder on my calendar to start shopping for Christmas back in October; I neglected to make any real progress.  Oh sure, I bought that one gift.  Luckily, I did have the foresight to take the week off AFTER Thanksgiving and the wedding (and let me tell you, this is THE best week to take off to make a serious dent in Christmas decorating/shopping; I will be doing this from now on).  It was then that I was able to make headway on my list.

My mother-in-law's gifts have all been purchased, wrapped and packaged.  Tomorrow it will land at the post office to be shipped off.  I think I have most of The Happy Couple's list done (administrative note: going forward they will most likely be known as S and A; at least when mentioned separately).

I want to give you a sneak peek at one of the gifts for S this year...

This was almost two years in the making, people.  I was a quarter of the way through The Shining when S casually mentioned that maybe The Shining wasn't his favorite Stephen King book after all; that maybe Doctor Sleep was (are you kidding me, son?!).  Then I *think* he accidently saw the work in progress a few months later; so despite finishing it in time for last Christmas, I just put it away thinking maybe he'd get it this Christmas.  And then toyed with the idea of making another one.  Quite honestly, knowing how much work went into the first one, I put it off.  But eventually caved.  These aren't quite finished as I still need to cut them out; baste (or Stitch Witchery it - most likely I will go this route) the edges and frame them.  

As of Wednesday I'm technically off for the rest of the year (oh sure, I'll still be checking email for my own sanity and making myself available "as necessary" - what can I say, business still needs to be dealt with even in my absence) and am prepared to Shop Like I Mean It to wrap up the rest of the list; much to The Husband's (and my bank account's) dismay.

* I started this post on Sunday; it's now Tuesday night.  The only thing that held up this post was taking the picture but, of course, in the run up to vacation work was so bonkers I only just now got around to taking the picture.

November 28, 2023

Wedding Recap

 Whew!  What a whirlwind weekend; what with Thanksgiving AND the wedding.

So, our Thanksgiving was....

Oh, I know you aren't here for that.  You want to know about the wedding, don't you?  Read on.

It was perfect.  Well, except for the fact that my sister-in-law came down with food poisoning from something she ate on the way to get here and she ended up missing the wedding. 

But, other than that it was perfect.

Yes, I was in tears all day - but happy tears.  Seeing my husband in his suit and tie; teared up.  Seeing the broad, excited grin on my son's face just before the ceremony; teared up.  Watching as he walked up the aisle preceded by his best friends; teared up.  Seeing his face when he saw his bride for the first time; teared up.  Watching his bride walk up the aisle; teared up.  Seeing him wiping happy tears from his face; nearly lost it completely.

I'm telling you, there wasn't one moment when I didn't have tears leaking out of my eyes.

But this was another moment when I almost burst into sobs.

Her dress was absolutely stunning.

Look at how happy he looks.  A mother wants nothing more than to see her child this ridiculously happy.

Here's another that gives you a better look at the dress.

Stunning, I tell you.

Although, he did get a bit distracted from his beautiful bride for a minute...I caught him and most of his crew catching the final minutes of some silly football game.  Fortunately for him, his bride knew what she was getting into with this guy and football.

Seriously, guys?

This isn't the best picture of us - nor does it particularly show off my dress.  While I was okay with my (practically non-existent at this point) make up, I am not pleased with how my hair turned out.  But, you know what, I don't even care; because scroll back up to that first picture to see how happy he is. 

Other than the wedding, it was great to catch up with family.  Fun fact, we haven't been in the same room at the same time with both my husband's brother and sister's families since 2017!  And then, we were all staying in different places and didn't have many opportunities to catch up.

This time, as we were all staying in the same hotel; after the rehearsal dinner on Friday night, we all gathered in the lobby of the hotel and proceeded to catch up.  And then we were SHUSHED!  Now, in our defense it was only 9:00 pm on a Friday night (there were still young children in the lobby, for crying out loud) and it's not like we were rowdy; we were just laughing.  And is it our fault, that they decided to put the first floor guest rooms right next door to the lobby?  I mean, with a little forethought they could have made those rooms closest to the lobby store rooms instead of guest rooms.  Honestly, do I have to do all the thinking around here?

It was amazing; SO AMAZING...but I'm glad it is over (only because of how anxious it was making me; SO anxious).

And now we turn our attention to Christmas...

November 20, 2023

Duke Power - Doing What They Do Best; Mutilating Trees

Every year, about this time, Duke Power sends out their tree "experts" to mutilate "trim" the trees across the state.

And every year, about this time, I am reminded how much it infuriates me to see what they've done - all in the name of "trying to keep the power on if we get snow or, more likely, ice."

I'm also very thankful that the power lines in our neighborhood are under ground; because if they did this to my trees (minus the pines, after this happened TWICE; they can take down all the damn pines in my yard that they'd like) I would be raising such a fuss that I'm sure the cops would be called to take me away.

And they call themselves "experts"

They've ruined this tree and many, many others along this road and across the state.  

I mean I realize the "why" behind their reasoning, but honestly doing this to a tree should be illegal.  Seems to me that the money they spend mutilating trees would be better spent by putting the power lines underground; which coincidently would most likely stop this tree from toppling over into the road.

November 10, 2023

Christmas Pajamas

 I don't know about you but when I was a kid we had a Christmas tradition of being able to open one, VERY SPECIFIC, gift on Christmas Eve.

And that gift was Christmas pajamas.  Not the most exciting gift but we I loved it.  I have no idea whether my brother cared at all.

Later in life, the truth came out.  This tradition was born because my mother wanted to make sure we had nice pajamas for the inevitable opening gifts pictures on Christmas morning.

This was back in the day - before photo cards, Instagram and the internet were invented, obviously.  No, those photos were destined to be developed and placed lovingly into photo albums; even the ones that didn't turn out, were blurry or had a finger obscuring most of the picture.  My mother would have thought she'd died and gone to heaven if she had been handed a phone that she could take pictures with it - no developing necessary.  She would have never gone for the internet, Instagram, Facebook or texting.  But the ability to whip out her phone and just start taking pictures? Yes, please.  She would have been all over that!

All that to say, the official procurement of Christmas gifts has begun - I just ordered Christmas pajamas for the Happy Couple to open on Christmas Eve.  And this year, as usual, Man-Child will go through the charade of acting like he has NO IDEA what this gift might be. 

What can I say?  I have my traditions and he has his.

What about you?  Are Christmas pajamas a thing in your house?

November 4, 2023

Thinking Ahead and Crowd Sourcing a Solution

 As I vowed last year, I am beginning to prepare for Christmas early this year.

I promised myself that I would begin Christmas shopping in October.  And I did.  I bought TWO whole gifts.  So I'm still behind on that front.  Of course, it would be nice if people (ahem, my guys!) were giving me gift ideas, but they aren't.  In that case we will blame them for this failure.

Freezing cookie dough last year turned out to be SUCH a time saver and I've already started.  Currently, I have a batch of about 70 chocolate chip cookies and about 50 ginger snaps frozen and ready to go.  I had hoped to get around to testing out freezing the spritz cookie dough but never did.  So this year, I will still have to get those done at some point closer to Christmas; maybe this year I'll take some of the dough, freeze it and see how it does after Christmas.  This seems to be a sensible option.

Quick question for those of you that do freeze cookie dough - do you make a test batch before you start freezing?  Because I know myself, I do.  I'd rather find out now that I screwed something up than find out on the day I decide to actually make the cookies.

From here we will pivot away from Christmas for the rest of this post...because why not?

We are exactly THREE weeks away from the Big Day.  Eek!  How did that happen so quickly?

I have declined to have my hair and makeup done; mainly because who can say that this person can deal with this mop on my head?  Hell, I can barely deal with it.

So, I have decided that if, and only if, I am having a good hair day I will wear it down for the rehearsal dinner.  But it will definitely be up for the wedding.  I'm not taking any chances.  Plus, I know when I'm anxious (and I will most likely be anxious/nervous) I can't keep my hands out of my hair.  Which will lead to frizz.  So that is a no brainer decision.

What I need your help on (well, those of you that use makeup) is my makeup.  I'm fairly low-key when it comes to makeup. Maybe a bit of concealer, if needed.  Just the tiniest hint of eyeshadow in lieu of eyeliner, mascara, blush and lipstick.  I'd be shocked if it takes me five minutes to "do my face" on a normal day.

Obviously, I have to ramp it up a bit for the wedding and, more importantly, the pictures.

I think I have found a foundation that will work and hopefully act as an Instagram filter (I'm lying to myself; no foundation can do that.  Can it?). 

No, the conundrum I have yet to find a solution to are the bags under my eyes.  I have tried everything and so far nothing seems to work.  I've tried concealer, foundation, cool washcloths.  The only thing that seems to work is wearing glasses as they kinda sorta mask them.  Which, I don't plan to wear (but maybe I'll have to?).  

And that's where you come in.  Any ideas or suggestions?  Any must have products?  Any thoughts as to application of said products?  Am I just going to have to accept the fact that the bags are there and there they will stay; unhidden?  

November 1, 2023


How are we in November already?  HOW?!  This year is flying by - and honestly every year seems to fly by faster than the last.

Not much has been going on around here.  Just work, household chores and the like.  So nothing new or exciting to report.

Today it was "unseasonably" cold (no it wasn't; 50 degrees Fahrenheit is perfectly seasonable); which was a definite shock to my delicate system.  Today I had to don socks - but despite the socks, slippers and space heater my poor toes are frozen.  I expect they won't thaw out until May.  But despite this setback weather-wise, as I gaze out the window I notice my roses are still giving it their all.  I suppose I should cut some to bring in to enjoy before they die back.

Work has been work.  As it should be, I suppose.  Today was an exceptionally busy day - mainly, I expect because my boss is in a two day workshop that he has absolutely NO interest in being in as I received more emails and responses from him today than I normally do.

In other office news, apparently we are ditching actual telephones when we move.  Instead we will have something that ties into Teams.  Which is all well and good.  Until you remember we are going to have an "open floor plan."  So, we are to be receiving these special, noise cancelling headphones.  Are you freaking kidding me was the first thought out of my head.  The second was, "Oh my God, my hair!"  As I've mentioned before I NEVER have a good hair day at the office.  I think it was Nance who pointed out that office hair was a real thing.  Today, one of our "testers" mentioned to me that not only were the headphones ruining her hair, she couldn't wear earrings.  Now I am imagining that not only will my hair be one big, frizzy mess by the end of the day; I can't even pull the whole look together with my earrings.  Apparently Corporate America is trying to ruin my whole esthetic.  What's next, dull and drab uniforms for everyone?

Suzanne's post today has put my mind's wheels spinning.  And my husband probably just got a cold feeling wash over him after I typed that last sentence.  

If I were to move the guest room upstairs (which would require serious negotiation on my part because his un-used workout equipment currently resides up there) and turn this room into an actual office instead of a office/guest room I could have an entire wall of bookshelves...

I know one of my initial thoughts after moving here, however long ago it was now, was to keep this guest room and add another upstairs - but the fact is, at this point in time we have very few overnight guests; so this might make the most sense.  Of course, after I successfully talk him into ditching the un-used equipment.

Yes, this post has been all over the place.  What else is new?

October 21, 2023

Wedding Chatter - The Husband Edition

About a month ago, The Husband casually tossed out the fact that he would NOT be wearing a tie to the wedding.  I told him in no uncertain terms that he WOULD indeed be wearing a tie to the wedding; even if I had to wrestle him to the ground to put it on him myself.  

I mean, I don't care if he removes it at the reception but it will not kill him to wear a tie for the service and pictures.  What is he now - five?

At any rate, that conversation must have buried itself into my subconscious because the very next morning at 4:00 am, I sat straight up in bed and thought "His suit!!"

Unfortunately, for the both of us, his old suit no longer fits.  Same for most of his dress shirts. *sigh*

Belk, once again, saved the day and the suit fit perfectly.  But I have to took more than a week for my dress to even ship but yet his suit arrived within three days.  Why?!  I guess because they figure women are planning their outfits way earlier than men even start to think about it, so they rush the men's orders on the premise that the wives will kill their husbands if they aren't appropriately dressed for the occasion.

At least, that's my theory.  

Now I just need to find the perfect outfit (no tie necessary, I suppose) for him for the rehearsal dinner. 

Bit by bit, we are getting there.

October 3, 2023

Wedding Chatter - My Mother-In-Law Edition

Time really seems to be doing a number on me these days.  Apparently, it's been well over a month since I last posted.  Mea culpa.  What can I say?  Life has been zipping along at warp speed - although much of it hasn't been worth documenting...

Sometime in late August, Mom informed us that she would not be attending the wedding.  Needless to say, we were all devastated but understood.  She had been losing sleep over the mere thought of the travel and worrying about any of us having to look after her.  The relief in her voice after she told us her decision was palpable - and that alone told me she had made the right decision.

Of course, this necessitated us to revise our plans; or I should say, lack of plans.  Her birthday kicks off the round of birthdays/various celebrations from the end of September until the middle of January; but we had not planned a trip to Connecticut this year; assuming we would see her in November.

Thus a quick trip up was hastily thrown together to celebrate her 92nd birthday.  Which, most likely impinged on my brother and sister in law; as they had just returned from vacation days before we arrived.  As ever though, they were gracious hosts and even though they had to work, and a good time was still had by all.

As usual, before we left, I cleaned the house top to bottom because I HATE coming home to a house that needs to be cleaned (why yes, it appears I HAVE turned into my mother) after being in the car for what seems like weeks.  When I come home all I want to do is empty the car, unpack and immediately start a load of laundry.  That's it.

The trip up and back was fairly uneventful - except 30 minutes after we left the house I realized I'd forgotten the cord for my work laptop.  The Husband, ever my hero, without complaint turned the car around and headed home to retrieve it.  I know he was annoyed - most likely beyond annoyed - but never said a word.

About two hours later I realized I had forgotten to pack a robe.  He offered to pick one up for me once we reached Connecticut.  And right about then, I wondered if he had been replaced with an alien.  But no, it seems he had made a conscious decision to make this trip as smooth as possible while I, had inadvertently made the un-conscious decision to make this trip as difficult as possible.  I can confidently say we both succeeded.

It was lovely to spend a few days visiting with Mom.  Though she will be missed terribly at the wedding, we all think she made the right decision.

Of course, this trip coincided with The Fiancée's first bridal shower; which obviously, I had to miss.  I did make sure to give her mother my gift, so at least I was there in spirit.  I did find out after the fact that my friend two doors down DID attend to, as she said, "represent the family."  God, I love her.

August 20, 2023

Wedding Chatter - The Dress Edition

So, here we are at the tail end of August (HOW?!) already -- which means The Event is in about three months.

When I looked up and realized it was mid-August, I had a small panic attack as I had not done anything yet.  Absolutely nothing.

The panic set into motion the search for the elusive "mother of the groom dress."  You know, the one that fits well, flatters you in all the right places and, preferably, is on sale. 

I just knew that this was going to be long, drawn out process.  One that would have me scouring the internet.  Ordering dress after dress after dress; only to return them all when it was discovered they weren't "The One."

After scouring SO.MANY.sites with no luck - I finally landed on Belk.  I figured they had to have something.  Even if it wasn't The One; maybe I'd luck into something that would do in a pinch.  So, I took a deep breath and ordered one.

Friends - I found The Dress on the first try - who would have thunk it?  Certainly not I.

Not only does it fit; it also seems to flatter AND it was about fifty percent off - the Holy Grail, as it were.  Yes, it's a little longer than I would have liked (but this is perennial problem for me) but not enough to have it altered.  And yes, the "bling" is a little more "bling-y" than I was expecting.

I even already own the perfect pair of nude high heel sandals to match!  But am currently on the hunt for the perfect pair of nude flats for the reception - it's either that or go barefoot - and that is NOT happening.

And as that "bling" kept floating in my field of vision every time I wandered into my dressing room; I began to have doubts.  Is it TOO "bling-y," I wondered.  Particularly, since the ceremony will be around 4:00 pm, I think.

The Husband says it's not; that this is a wedding and I should be "bling-y" - but what does he know?  He's a guy.  All he has to do is put on a suit and show up.

Dress - it's navy; not black!

Close up of said bling

But I have determined to put all thoughts of bling out of my mind - I have a dress and shoes (or, at least one pair of shoes) - now I can turn my mind to other pressing hair and makeup.

August 13, 2023

House Projects - The Lighting Edition

 I know I've mentioned the dismal lighting situation in the kitchen before.  It has been rectified, thanks to The Husband.

Without my knowledge, he ordered a new light fixture - mainly because I couldn't find anything that I liked enough to purchase.  What was in the kitchen was a woefully inadequate track lighting fixture - which looked ridiculous, had four tiny lights that required expensive, specialty bulbs that burned out with alarming frequency, threw shadows all over the place and would heat the kitchen if left on for too long.  There was also a pendant fixture - the kind you would find over a table...except our kitchen can barely be described as an "eat in" kitchen - especially since the dining room is right there (waving my hand to the right).

That pendant also sported an Edison bulb - you know, those bulbs that look old fashioned and give out zero useful light.  And since it wasn't hanging over a table or island, many people just slightly taller than me have conked their noggins on it...repeatedly.

So I guess he was fed up and just ordered an 8 foot track lighting fixture.  Now track lighting is not my jam - at all.  But, I do have to give him credit - the one he ordered is white and unobtrusive and just kind of blends in with the ceiling when it's not on.  I don't hate it is what I am saying.  And it looks much better than a fluorescent light fixture or what was there before.

When the fixture arrived last weekend, he enlisted me to help him hang the track.  Until he got frustrated that I wasn't tall enough (even on a ladder) to be of any use to him.  I was then relegated to handing him tools.  Until he got frustrated that I wasn't clear on what he needed.  At that point, I told him I was sorry but I don't work in construction.  Then I removed myself from the situation and hid out in my office.

How he finally got that thing up there by himself is anyone's guess; but he did.  He started around 9:30 am last Saturday and didn't finish until around 4:00 pm.  It was a long day is what I am saying.

Last Sunday he put up the actual lights - which, luckily did not require any assistance from me.  

Friends...when I say the light this thing puts out is bright; that is an understatement.  We could preform surgeries in the kitchen now.  This doesn't concern me that much because since I am practically blind I prefer as much light as I can get. But I figured we would need to tone down the lighting in most instances; so he installed a dimmer.

Installing that dimmer also had it's own frustrations but it was done without my assistance and only minimal cursing from him.

Then, after looking at the fixture and the pendant (remember the head conking fixture); I determined that we didn't need that pendant anymore.  And he promised to take it down.

Yesterday was the day that the pendant came down.  This was supposed to be an easy, peasy project - just a zip zip with the drill - it was not - because of course it wasn't.  Apparently, one of the screws was stripped and this necessitated all kinds of work arounds while I stood there holding the pendant above my head and out of the way as he worked on it.

Perseverance eventually won the day and my aching arms rejoiced.

But he wasn't done.  

No, not even close.  

Because that stupid pendant put out what he likes to call "ambient lighting" (i.e., lighting that inhibits my ability to SEE) in the evening; he ordered lights for our glass fronted cabinet in the corner of the kitchen.  This is where we store extra wine glasses, vases, and other glass/crystal pieces (which, quite honestly, rarely get used).

Today was the day he planned to install those lights.  And the only help that was required from me was to help remove and replace all the pieces.  Which we did in short order.

Apparently, the installation was a snap.  (FINALLY!)

The issue that caused me to threaten a punch in the nose for him?  Putting everything back where it belonged...including the cabinet itself (which had to be moved to plug in the lights).  At every step, he argued with me about what went where.  Finally, I looked at him and stated very clearly, "I KNOW how this house is set up because *I* set it up in the first place." 

At any rate, we are still married.  I haven't punched him in the nose.  And we finally have decent light in the kitchen.  And the "ambient light" that he apparently adores SO much has been installed.

Next up?  The pendants over the bar.  He thinks they either need to be replaced or somehow raised.

Pray for him.


August 5, 2023

84, Charing Cross Road - A Book Review

 I  have absolutely NO idea where I stumbled across this little gem, 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff - was it Suzanne, Nicole or just some obscure corner of the Internet?  I guess we will never know.  But I did and I loved it.

Sometimes, I will come across a title that just sounds intriguing and I will place a hold at the library with barest of information about what the book might be about.  This was one of those titles.

When this book finally made it's way to me, I discovered it was a novel comprised of business letters between a free-lance writer living in New York and a used book dealer located in London beginning in 1945.  Which, at first blush, had me wondering if this would be of any interest at all to me.

What I discovered in between the pages was so sweet and utterly charming - as the relationship between the two letter writers blossomed into a friendship over the years that eventually led to a friendship between the family of the businessman in London and the writer and then grew again to include others in the businessman's orbit as the letters crossed the ocean - including business correspondence along with the sharing of personal, happy news and also of sad news.

It's a very short - and satisfying read (most of you know, I generally prefer longer novels); clocking in at about 100 pages; I read it in one sitting and loved every single page and all of the characters.

July 21, 2023

Office News

 I don't think I've mentioned it here on the blog; but the company has sold our building and we will be moving - most likely, sometime this fall.

As you might imagine, this has caused quite a bit of angst among the rank and file employees.  Wondering how much our commute might change (not much, we are moving two buildings down), the thought of moving to another building that we (as a company) don't own, learning that we will only have two floors instead of the four we currently enjoy, so how will we all fit?, parking (this lot is going to be a challenge for sure) etc.  Not to mention, the mere thought of having to deal with all the stuff (not to mention all the paper files) that has accumulated throughout this building in the last twenty-six years.  And it's a LOT, and I'm just speaking about our tiny department.  I know the amount of stuff that has accumulated at my desk alone in the past twenty-one years I've been with the company is hefty.

The news came down that once we are out the new owners plan to demolish the building.  This was kind of shocking to me.  I never really admired our building's architecture but, this building has been here since we moved to North Carolina (fun fact, this building was finished and the company moved into it the exact same year that we moved here), so it will be sad to see it reduced to rubble.

But I understand, the property is valuable and the cost of renovating a twenty-six year old building would be outrageous.

At any rate, I have been boxing up files (SO.MANY.FILES!) to be sent to retention; as I have been informed, that we will not have the same storage capacity in the new space (my poor arms are covered in bruises from assembling the boxes and carrying loads of files).  Lucky for our department, because of the merger/buyout/transaction (whatever you want to call it) back in 2015 most of our files, not counting contract files, were already gone.  And even though we have a group that has come in to assist with this arduous chore, I asked that they let me deal with the contract files; simply because I want to know exactly what the box numbers are for each of the files; in the event I need to have something brought out of storage...and I know that having that in my back pocket will come in handy someday in the not too distant future.

Earlier this week, the powers that be, sent out a couple of short videos giving us a sneak peek into our new space.  And while it looks very nice and modern, it is also very open.  And, if that rendering was true to life, it seems we may be sitting right on top of each other; I am already hearing concerns about privacy and confidentiality.  But, as management rushes to say, every time these concerns are brought up, there will be "phone booths" and meeting rooms.  I have a feeling those "phone booths" and meeting rooms will always be booked, and then poor Debbie, who needs to have a private conversation with her doctor, is out of luck.

In addition to the short video renderings, a link to an article about adapting to an open office floor plan was included.  And I have to say, whoever thought that linking that particular article was a good idea, obviously didn't read it.

The first half of the article discussed how much employees (the rank and file that don't merit offices, of course) hate it and how much productivity was lost; the second half of the article discussed ways to work around the obstacles that come with an open office concept; all of which were ridiculous.  So, yeah - that was soothing (not).

We shall see how this all works out, I suppose.  In the meantime, I'll be over here boxing up files and sifting through years of stuff.

July 8, 2023

Book Review: The Girl on the Porch by Richard Chizmar

 The basic premise of this novel intrigued me - a doorbell rings insistently in the middle of the night.  By the time the homeowner gets to the door; whoever rang the bell is gone.  Meanwhile next door, the Tucker's, sleep blissfully and unaware of the events unfolding.  

Until the next morning, when they learn about what happened next door and decide to look at the security camera they had installed a while back.  It seems a terrified young woman with a shackle hanging from her wrist had also been at their door that night...but their doorbell has been broken for months.

I really enjoyed this book, and I think you might too.  The writing is well done, the plot is solid, etc.  My only nit?  It clocks in at only 150 pages.  I read this book in just under two hours.  I am adding it to my Books I Love Enough to Tell You About list is because I wanted to love it - and would have if  had the story been drawn out just a little bit more; which I think could have been easily done as it left a few questions unanswered - which would have been perfect for fleshing out the story.

That being said, if you are looking for a quick and easy suspense novel, this one is solid.  I just wish it were a bit longer.

July 2, 2023

I Love My Husband But...

Why do we live in the same house as our spouse?  Whoever thought THAT was a good idea?

Oh sure, at first it's an ideal arrangement but after 30 plus years?  Not such a good idea.

I will admit upfront that I've been crabby this weekend before he even started to get on my very last nerve.  I am blaming the heat; that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

As with most incidents between spouses it all started in the kitchen.  Or, more specifically, in the kitchen regarding the dishwasher.

Yesterday, as I was loading the dishwasher after lunch The Husband piped up that he would put the food away and I happily (well, not really - remember I was already crabby) agreed that he should.  And then left for a quick errand.

My plan upon returning home was to mop the living and dining room while he was out; so that the floor would be dry before he came home from his errand.

Now, I don't know about you - but I mistakenly assumed that by offering to put away the food (silly me, I should know better by now) he would also put the said pots/pans/etc. INTO the perfectly near empty dishwasher - which conveniently resides right next to the sink.

Can you guess what I found when I came home ready to mop the floor?  A sink full of dishes - again the sink is RIGHT NEXT to the dishwasher.  Cue crabbiness escalating to pure, white hot rage.  (Why no, I don't think that was extreme - after thirty years of marriage this is completely warranted as he should know by now that however poorly he may load the dishwasher, I still expect that dirty dishes need to be put into the dishwasher when it isn't in use).

So I tidied the kitchen, started the dishwasher and then channeled that rage into mopping the floor.  Then I took a deep breath and told myself that we would have this discussion AGAIN when I wasn't in a crabby mood.

Later that evening, I emptied the dishwasher.  He actually watched me do it and thanked me for doing so (because this is a chore that he despises).  And then I watched him place his empty salad bowl into the sink that sits RIGHT NEXT TO THE DAMN DISHWASHER.

In all honesty?  He's lucky to be alive right about now.

June 11, 2023

A Cautionary Tale of Amazon Hacking

The Husband was looking over our bank statement last week and noticed a bunch of small-ish Amazon purchases.  Each line item mentioned Movie as the purchase.

He first went to Man-Child; which is understandable because back when MC was in college he would occasionally rent a movie.  But he hasn't done this in AGES; mainly because he has his own account now.  The Husband then came to me and showed me the charges.

I certainly hadn't rented any movies.

I searched my previous orders and did not see any movie rentals; which I figured would be the case because whenever I order anything, whether a physical item to be delivered or a video, I always get a confirmation email.  I had no confirmation emails for any of the dates on the bank statement.

First step was to change my password.  The next step was to hit the bank to cancel my debit card and dispute the charges.

Then I sgot a random email from Amazon asking me to update my payment information for such and such subscription service.  I assumed it was spam and ignored it.

In the meantime, we received notification from the bank denying the dispute; saying they found no evidence of fraud.  Irritating?  Yes.  But luckily, it wasn't that much that we were forced to eat.

And then another email came in for a different subscription service; and then another; and then another, etc.

I went back to my account and started looking around and discovered that Amazon DOES offer these various subscription services for Cinemax and other movie streaming sites.  Well, color me shocked.  I had NO idea that these services existed from Amazon.  When I clicked over to see what subscription services were linked to my account, I found that *I* had subscribed to all these channels.  Friends, I can assure you, I did NOT subscribe to anything other than Prime.  I immediately canceled all the subscriptions; except Prime.

I surmised that was the reason I hadn't received any confirmation emails and why there was no history in my previous purchases and why the bank refused to fund any of the money; because it LOOKED like I had subscribed to these services.

So, I figure someone, somehow, got a hold of my email address, did some basic online research and was able to guess the old password to get into my account.

Luckily, whoever got into the account never actually bought anything...but I feel sure that would have been the next step had we not noticed those initial charges fairly quickly.

I have set calendar reminders to change that password (and others) more frequently and will be checking on the subscription page often also.

Since I had never heard of this particular scam (nor of any of those subscription services) before now; I figured I'd sound the alarm so that you, hopefully, won't fall victim to the latest scam.

June 4, 2023

Three Game Changers for Me

Hair dryers, lighting and shower caddies - these are the game changers that are up for discussion today.

First up, hair dryers - for the longest time since I quit straightening my hair, I would simply let it air dry (mainly because I was lazy...why do you think I quit straightening my hair in the first place?).  This wasn't as uncomfortable as you would think since my hair is quite fine and generally dries pretty quickly.  But recently, somewhere along the way, I heard that using a hair dryer would give me more volume; particularly on top of my head.  Well, okay then.  So, I pulled out my old hair dryer and started experimenting.  And then the darn thing up and died.

I recalled seeing something on Instagram (I think?) about the Dyson Supersonic and people were raving about it. So I opened a new browser tab, ran a search, and promptly said "Nope!"

Friends, even if I had a gazillion dollars in the bank, there is NO way I will EVER spend nearly $600 dollars for a hair dryer!  I don't care how wonderful it is. There is no justification at all to spend that much.

So I looked at other options that offered the same type of "benefits" as the Dyson and ended up with this one; at a significantly better price point.  And for a brand that I've never heard of, the reviews were all pretty positive.  Although, I do recall seeing one review, which while still very positive, did note that hers caught fire.  If a review like that doesn't catch your attention, I don't know what will.

But since no one else mentioned their dryer catching fire, I figured she must have just gotten a defective one - so I crossed my fingers and hit the buy button.

Y'all.  I love this hair dryer as much as one can love a hair dryer.  I will say that the high speed/heat is extraordinarily HIGH heat.  So I don't use that setting.  But it does have a high speed, cool setting which is perfect for my needs.  It also has a medium heat/speed setting and a cool shot button.
I do have to admit, the more I played around with technique, heat settings, etc. it  really does seem to help with volume and because of the high speed it does seem to dry the hair much faster than my old one ever did.  And, overall, I'm pretty happy with the results...although, can anyone explain to me why my hair is consistently not at it's best when I'm at the office? Seriously, those days are usually my bad hair days for some reason.

At any rate, if you are in the market for a hair dryer, I would definitely recommend this one.

Have I ever told you just how bad the lighting is in our kitchen?  No?  Well, it is seriously the worst lighting situation I've ever seen.  Not long after we moved in, The Husband added under the cabinet lighting that used batteries and it helped.  A little.  But the batteries never lasted long and the light, while it helped to see what you were doing still wasn't as bright as I would have liked.

Then I saw a post on Instagram (I think it was @TheFoldingLady) about these rechargeable lights.  I clicked on that link so fast and I am really glad I did.  

Y'all - I love these things - but The Husband loves them even more since the kitchen is his domain.  These lights are bright, the charge holds for a long time, the time it takes to re-charge them is minimal.  They are magnetic, so easy to remove to recharge. 

They are excellent and worth every penny (which, honestly, they aren't that expensive).  

Although I may have never mentioned the awful lighting situation in the kitchen, I'm almost positive I have mentioned how much I despise our narrow, upright, coffin-like structure shower situation a time or two.

Immediately upon moving in, I added a shower caddy that is suspended from the shower head.  Y'all, this was not ideal for many reasons.  The top shelf was too high for me, so all my shower products were relegated to the bottom shelf...where they simply didn't fit.  Particularly, if it was a large bottle of conditioner or if there was a product with a pump.  Not to mention the fact that the hand held shower want wouldn't fit in its notch on the shower head so it was relegated to being shoved into the bottom shelf.  It was a mess.

A few weeks ago, I finally had enough and went in search of a better solution.  My initial thought was there might be a shower caddy out there that had more space in between the shelves.  This shower caddy does not seem to exist - or if it does, I never found it.

And then, I stumbled over these shelves.  Complete and total game changer for my showering experience, let me tell you.  According to The Husband, no caddy has a perfect spot in this particular shower - but let's keep in mind he is quite taller and broader than me.  So his experience does not count.  Although, he does agree this is way better than what we had.

My initial thought was to place them on the wall underneath the shower head - but then I decided they would work best on the back wall.  And not stacked but instead sit along side of each other.

They are perfect.  We haven't had them long - but that tiny, coffin-like structure seemed to have just a few more blissful inches when I showered this morning - and that is saying something.

If you are in need of a game changer in any of these three areas of your life; maybe these will help.  I know they've made my life a little better.

*as always, not a paid advertisement/sponsorship - these links are for your convenience only.

May 14, 2023


The greatest gift the pandemic gave me (other than a hybrid work schedule) was the ability to watch my garden come to life right before my eyes when Spring rolls around.

Oh sure, I'd come home and maybe be surprised that something had bloomed because I wasn't here to notice when the buds started appearing.

But during lockdown, I was able to look up from my work to notice that buds were forming on the rose bushes.  Or that the iris was getting ready to push out their beautiful blooms.  Or that the peonies were on the cusp of sharing their beauty.

Quick aside - how do you pronounce peony?  I (and Merriam Webster) pronounce it pee-UH-nee; but others in my circle insist on pee-OH-nee.  Just curious.  You can say it however you want; but I maintain that mine (and Merriam's) pronouncement is the correct one

Last week, I vented my frustration to my husband at the fact I needed to go into the office at all that week because my favorite peony was THIS close to blooming.  Geez, you would think that alone would be a valid excuse to stay home.  Not according to HR, sadly.

Though one bloom did open before I got home on Thursday, it wasn't fully open.  But I clipped it and brought it in for me to admire every time I walked by the kitchen counter.

I then kept an eye out the back window until this morning; when I noticed several very LARGE blooms were laying in grass.  Apparently, the bloom were too heavy to be held up by the stalks.  I raced outside with clippers in hand and found this...

It literally takes my breath away.

I am pleased to report there are even more blooms just waiting to burst out and share their beauty with me.  And it's official, I AM OBSESSED with this plant.

On another note, Happy Mother's Day!

April 23, 2023

Block Party Shenanigans

 You know it's been a successful cul-de-sac block party when you wake up and find a half-full jar of moonshine and a random, but very pretty, serving bowl on your kitchen counter.  The bowl wasn't quite as mysterious as the moonshine.  I think we all ended up with random serving bowls, utensils, etc. finding their way into our homes last night.  Apparently, a good majority of our kitchenware ended up at the neighbor's house three doors down.

How and why moonshine ended up on my kitchen counter is a complete mystery.  Although, I know for a fact that I did not partake; I stuck to wine all night.  In fact, I don't remember anyone drinking said moonshine or even discussing it.

To be clear, it was not a wild night of debauchery; although, I must admit, that the random, and unexplained, appearance of moonshine seems to refute that fact.

The same neighbor that ended up with our kitchenware started this "tradition" (it's not yet a tradition, but seeing as this was our third such get together in the past year, it's well on it's way to becoming one.) and it is nice to get to know the people behind those front doors.  

For the most part, on this street people keep to themselves.  So much so, that I never even laid eyes on the lady next door for YEARS.  In fact, I didn't even know she existed until the first time we had one of these parties.  I only knew that her husband lived there because I would see him mowing the grass.

So, last night my friend from two doors asked me what the "invisible" lady's name was - I said, "I'm not quite sure but I think it's Jennifer...but I'm bad at remembering names of people I rarely see."  My very extroverted friend called out, "Hi Jennifer!"  

Friends...her name is NOT Jennifer.  It's something else that does not even remotely sound like Jennifer.  My friend turned to me and said, "You ARE really bad at this."  Hey, I warned her; she's the one that decided to jump in with both feet.  Now let's see if I can remember this lady's name the next time I see her...

The owner of the moonshine has just been revealed via a group text...although, we still don't know how it ended up here. I believe that will be an eternal mystery.

April 18, 2023

A Book Review: Defending Jacob by William Landay

 Attention all crime novel aficionados - you HAVE to read this book!  Honestly, that's it.  That's pretty much the entire review; it's that good.

I'm trying to recall how I ever even stumbled over this book.  I *think* I saw a Twitter exchange between Linwood Barclay and Stephen King about this author and this was the first book that popped up in my search.  And it did not disappoint.

"Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years.  He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and their son, Jacob.  But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next.  His fourteen-year old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student."

That is the first paragraph on the inside cover synopsis.  And that's just the beginning.  And with that one paragraph, I knew I was going to enjoy this one immensely.

I don't even know how to go forward without dropping some spoilers - but let's just say I did NOT see that ending coming.  At all.  In fact, even though I recalled the exact ending the next morning, I had to go back to read the last bit to make sure I remembered it right - I did, for the most part, with only one tiny exception, which explained everything clearly. (This is the problem with staying up too late to finish a good book...that tiny bit that explains everything can get lost in the exhaustion...such is the life of a reader, I suppose).

The final blurb said, "Award winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis - a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control."

Yes, I agree that is EXACTLY what William Landay has written.  Before this book, I had never heard of this author (and this genre calls to me!).  But after this book?  I will definitely be seeking out more of his work.


Well, color me shocked - FOUR blog posts in the month of April?  Let's hope this trend continues.

April 15, 2023


 Quick - name what famous book/movie that had the above paraphrased line in it?  I have a feeling you will all know that answer.

This post is brought to you courtesy of Kari, who mentioned in the comments of my last post that her pantry has wire shelving and hinted at the fact she didn't like it. Me too, Kari, me too.  I hate it.

I imagine a great majority of us have that wire shelving tucked away into our pantries, closets and garages.  I also imagine that a great majority of us despise that wire shelving for many reasons.

Things fall through the slats, clothes that are stacked on them get "dents," most of the organizers sold are also wire shelving and they can't sit properly ON wire shelving, etc. - the list is endless.  But, here's why we all have them - they are cheaper than using wood.

A couple of years ago - not quite back at the beginning of the pandemic - I must have been cleaning out that stupid pantry once again and got fed up with the whole wire shelves experience and went about finding a solution.  My first thought was wood shelves.  That idea was quickly discarded.  Then I wondered about having planks cut to sit on top of the wire shelves.  But that idea was also quickly tossed.  The expense, and figuring out how to cut the wood to fit, etc.

After much pondering (yes, I spend quite a bit of my time pondering on little annoyances and how to fix them, if you were wondering), I finally hit upon the perfect solution (which I meant to blog about back then; goes on and it must have slipped my mind).  I ordered some foam board and extra blades for the box cutter for curbside delivery.  I figured if this makeshift "fix" didn't work at least I wasn't out of a ton of money.

(As an aside - I LOVE curbside delivery and I hope it never, ever goes away.)

Once I got the board home, I set about measuring each shelf and cutting the foam board to fit.  And yes, those extra blades for the box cutter are necessary because that foam board will dull the blade a lot sooner than you think.  I know this because I ended up needing to order more blades.

Because of the length of the shelves, I used packing tape to keep the panels together and everything fit snugly in the "lip" of the shelves.  So nothing could shift.

And it all worked perfectly.  And, shockingly, that makeshift "fix" is still holding up a couple of years later.  And every time I have to reorganize that pantry (which is like laundry; never ending), I am so pleased that I have a steady, sturdy surface to work with.

So there you go - an easy and inexpensive fix to those dumb wire shelves.  Do you spend as much time as I do trying to figure out how to fix those nagging, little issues that plague you as much as I do?  (I doubt it)

April 10, 2023

Pantry Organizing

 I suppose we can file this under "My Exciting Life" because I mean, obviously this is how I CHOSE to spend 2.5 hours of my day off this morning...

My husband, God love him, seemingly cannot help himself when it comes to over-buying dry goods and recognizing that our storage space for such items is finite.  I shouldn't complain as he does all the grocery shopping and cooking.  And I appreciate every single bit of that; I do.


The state of our pantry was deplorable.  It was dark and crowded with stuff crammed in everywhere.

Well, the only reason it was dark is because there was so much stuff crammed in there that we couldn't reach the light switch.  The one we keep forgetting we have because there is just SO MUCH stuffed into this little closet.

A good blogger would have had a "before picture" - I am not a good blogger.  Instead, I grabbed the step stool and jumped in head first.

I surmised that some of the "systems" I set in place were not being used properly and were just taking up valuable real estate.  So I removed the organizer for the freezer bags, foil, cling wrap, etc.  I also removed the cute, little container that was supposed to hold his tea bags.  He never used the cute, little container.  Instead, he would just set a box of tea ON TOP of said container. *sigh*

I set about re-organizing what I could and making notes for possible solutions.  And now, here is where I introduce the evidence, if you will, of just how much this pantry is over-stocked, while cautioning you to keep in mind that there are only TWO of us living in this house.

  • 11 cans of artichoke hearts
  • 7 unopened boxes of rice
  • 2 boxes of opened rice
  • 5 unopened jars of peanut butter; 2 of which expire this year
  • 2 jars of peanut butter (to be fair, one is crunchy and one is creamy)
  • 13 cans of tuna
  • 16 cans of clams - 5 are minced and 11 are baby clams
  • 3 opened bags of corn meal
  • Too many cans of tomatoes (diced, crushed, paste, whatever) to count
  • Ditto for the pasta, bagged rice and beans
  • Far too many bags of chips/snacks.  Most of which just held stale crumbles (those were tossed)

I have seen nary an artichoke make an appearance in any meals since...I can't remember when. 

I do love peanut butter but even I can't possibly be expected to eat 2 extra jars before the year is up.  I have decided to whip up a BUNCH of peanut butter cookie batter to freeze and request that chicken dish he makes with some peanut sauce to fix that problem. 

As for the tuna - which we haven't had in forever - I guess we need to start having tuna salad for lunch more often.

He likes to claim that "in the event of an emergency, we won't go hungry."  And he's right; we won't.  But we are sure going to get tired of eating pasta, peanut butter, clams, tuna and artichoke hearts in a hurry.

Here's the "after" photos; which still look like a hot mess.

Top half

Bottom half

I think I am going to buy a couple of lazy susans - I think it would be easier to sort through my baking ingredients on the bottom shelf and maybe a couple for that tippy-top shelf where, "theoretically" the "extra" items are stored.

I'm also re-thinking the current use of bins.  I thought about getting one of those can organizer things, but ultimately tossed that idea as I can't see him using one and it would end up just taking up more space.  The same thought with those can "riser" things...there are just too many cans of whatever in there for that to work.

So spill the tea - is your pantry spotless and perfect?  If so, what organizers work best for your family?

April 7, 2023

The IT Girl / The Escape Room - Book Reviews

There are many aspects about blogging that I love so very much.  But I think seeing what everyone else is reading and recommending is probably in the top 10.

And while all of our tastes in reading material may differ - and that's fine! - it also opens your eyes to something new that *might* draw you into a different genre.

But, for some of us, we find ourselves on the same page (sorry, not sorry - I couldn't resist) regarding reading material. 

This is why I am happy to present my review of The IT Girl by Ruth Ware; which Suzanne so kindly sent my way.  Because Suzanne and I, it seems, are on the same page when it comes to reading material.

I recall reading The Death of Mrs. Westaway by the same author; which I thoroughly enjoyed (but most likely did not post about for the simple reason that if I don't post about it immediately, I will completely forget to do so - no matter how much I enjoyed it - as I have moved on to something else.  Yes, this means I probably have a lot of "holes" in my Books I Love Enough to Tell You About list) and was looking forward to reading this novel.

Friends, it did not disappoint.  I loved it.

It all began when Alice Clarke-Cliveden and Hannah Jones met each other as roommates for their first term at Oxford.  From there they created an inseparable group of friends.  Alice was dead by the end of the first term.

A decade later, the porter who was convicted for the death, died in prison.  Hannah, whose key testimony convicted him, is relieved that this bit of her past is finally completely behind her.  So imagine her shock when a journalist contacts her to present new evidence that he may have been innocent.  As she begins to doubt her testimony, she reconnects with the old group of friends only to discover that they, the people she thought she knew best, all had something to hide.

This novel jumps back and forth between the past and the present, which can sometimes be annoying for me, but worked perfectly in this story.  There were lots of twists to this story and ended with a surprise to me.  I admit, I'm usually not looking to "solve the puzzle" while reading but I usually figure out who did it; that was not the case with this book.

It's a solid read and I heartily recommend it.  Thank you, Suzanne!

Next up, we have The Escape Room by Megan Goldin.

As you might surmise (correctly) that title alone forced the book to jump from the wall of books I was perusing right into my hands.  And it did not disappoint; not one little bit.

I was shocked to discover this was a debut novel.  Every novelist must dream of writing such a book.  She succeeded.  I have since discovered that she has authored four other books since this one came out in 2018.  I am putting them ALL on my To Be Read List; particularly after Suzanne responded to my comment on her most recent post on A Novel Project that she read Stay Awake and couldn't put it down - so it seems Megan Goldin is not a one hit wonder.

Five books in five years?  Is she the female equivalent of Stephen King?  Perhaps.

This story takes place in the very lucrative and very cutthroat world of finance.  Our main characters have swallowed the Kool-Aid and are very focused on closing each and every deal...and despite the fact that they are a "team" they are looking out for their own interests; always first and foremost.

They are all "invited" (read commanded) to participate in an escape room challenge as a "team building" exercise. 

As an aside, can we all agree that team building exercises need to be eliminated from the corporate world?  No?  Just me?  Well, after this book I will be finding a reason to be excused from any and all team building exercises from here on out.

At any rate, they all show up (the fools) and crowd into the elevator - not realizing the elevator IS the escape room...until the lights go out and, as the hour grinds on - and is then exceeded, they begin to realize this is no ordinary escape room.  And that only one of them might make it out alive.

I put my seal of approval on this debut novel - I loved it.

So what are you reading these days?

March 21, 2023

Not Quite Done...But Getting There.

The great Christmas stocking project is almost to the finish line but hasn't quite made it there yet.


Because someone was in SUCH a hurry to start this project they neglected to read a very important part of the instructions (yes, that someone would be me) - and now I'm faced with a difficult decision - finish it as is or figure out a way to finish off the personalization bit - the whole point of this project to begin with - (hopefully without pulling out any stitches - I realize this is a pipe dream).

When I started this project (counts on fingers) seven months ago at the end of August, I naively thought I'd be done in PLENTY of time for Christmas 2022 - as we all know, that did not happen.  I also thought, at that time, that I'd make stockings for ALL of us.  HAHAHAHAHA.  No, that will not be happening.

Well, maybe...but only if I can find a kit that isn't quite as elaborate as this one was.  The Husband, half kidding, said he couldn't believe I had the patience to finish this...insinuating that I might be a tad bit impatient at times.  Well, he's not wrong there but, he neglected to remember just how stubborn I can be...which is really probably the only reason this project has gotten this far.

So here's where we are with this project - all the stitches are done.  All that's left is to figure out if I want to deal with personalization (once I realized that I'd, in all probability, never make another - I thought about just using the family name and using it as a Christmas decoration) and to actually put the stocking together.  

Knowing that if/when I personalize the darn thing I won't post it without a redaction of said name, I figured I'd share the almost done piece.

Honestly, the picture doesn't do it justice.

Despite the fact that I messed up the whole personalization of the thing, I'm pretty pleased with the results.

Even after I complained about how much I despised doing detail stitches, these weren't terribly tedious as some others I've done.

And, as you can see from the next two photos - the (tedious) detail stitches ARE pretty important to a project.

Without detail - the rabbits, the doll and the bear look
positively creepy.

With detail - although, the doll...still a bit creepy.

And with that - I'm hanging up my needle for a bit; after seven months I think I need a break.

February 18, 2023

Saturday Chatter

 Everyone settle in with your preferred beverage because this will, most likely, be a post that meanders from topic to topic - you've been warned.

Like most of you (I assume), when something new in the world of drug store mascara pops up on my radar I immediately want to try it.  A couple of weeks ago, as I was scrolling through Instagram, I saw a post about L'Oréal Telescopic Lift mascara and how much the poster loved it - so on my next trip to the drug store, I bought it.

I am here to tell you - don't waste your time or your money.  Well, I guess it's up to you but, for me, this mascara was an epic fail for a couple of reasons.  One, it seemed a bit pricey for drug store mascara; strike one.  Despite the interesting brush - which seemingly SHOULD have worked to separate the lashes (it didn't) the product was very gloppy; strike two.  Finally, whenever I buy mascara, I triple check to make sure I don't buy accidently buy waterproof - so when I went to remove it that night I was shocked to discover that even with cold cream this stuff did not want to come off my lashes; strike three.

So, for now, I'll stick with one of my three current favorites.  

And speaking of drug stores...I don't know if it's just my local CVS or if it's this way across the board.  But our CVS has to be the most boring drug store ever.  Never mind the fact, that whole shelves are just sitting empty for whatever reason.  When possible, I love to poke around in a drug store to see what they have - but ours has absolutely nothing that appeals to me.  It has the basics and that's it - which, I suppose, is good for my bank account as there are rarely any impulse purchases when I visit.  But the other day, I wandered into Walgreens when I was on that side of town and it was a delight.  And yes, impulse purchases were made.

Including a planner - as per usual, I am optimistic that THIS planner will be the one that keeps me on track and organized.  The only difference is this year, I waited until we were halfway through February before buying one (instead of ordering the wrong year AGAIN in December).  We shall see if this planner works magic (doubtful).

You can all rest easy now because The Hoarder Husband has finally gone through his closet and he now has extra hangers in his closet.  We shall all offer up a prayer of thanksgiving that it never occurred to him that he could go buy more hangers.  I was pleased - particularly since he took it upon himself after he finally realized that I meant business - until I went into his closet to put away laundry and happened to look up.  Apparently, since he didn't have hangers or space in his drawers, at some point he started squirrelling away random pieces of clothing on the upper shelves. *sigh*

I finished that challenging puzzle (featured in the link in the previous paragraph) 

but much to my dismay... I somehow lost a piece.

For anyone keeping a record (and that would be me) this is the SECOND puzzle this year where I have somehow managed to lose a piece (HOW?!  There are no pets or small children in this house to blame).  I've searched high and low - the piece(s) are no where to be found.  Very frustrating.  I'm very tempted to order another one just to see if I can somehow keep all the pieces from disappearing.

But puzzling will need to wait because I'm still working on that Christmas stocking.  By my best guess, there are about 1,500 stitches left - not counting all the detail stitches (I hate detail stitches - but that's what "makes" the project...) so I'm guessing we can count on this finally being done in, I don't know...April?

February 7, 2023

A Noise Downstairs: A Novel - Book Review

I picked up A Noise Downstairs: A Novel by Linwood Barclay from the library this past weekend and devoured this book.

In fact, I ended up staying up far too late last night trying to finish it.

The story revolves around a college professor, Paul Davis.  Late one evening, he notices a colleague's car driving erratically and, out of concern, follows him to see if he can offer assistance.  Instead, he stumbles into a horrifying event where he very nearly lost his own life.

After which he suffers from PTSD.  While trying to recover both mentally and physically, he becomes inspired to write about the incident; thinking that if he looked at it head on, he could begin to actually recover from the horror.

In attempt to cheer him up and support his decision his wife, Charlotte, gives him an old fashioned typewriter.

And that's when the trouble really begins...

If you are looking for a book that pulls you in from page one with suspense, a couple of twists (that I didn't see coming) and thrills; I heartily recommend that you read this one.

February 5, 2023


 Good gravy - it's been a month since I last posted?!  I guess it's a good thing this is a hobby and not a job!

What's been keeping me busy.

It all started with a puzzle received at Christmas.  This is the fourth puzzle and this one is giving me fits in that I can't seem to find all the edge pieces.  Ah well, it'll get solved eventually.


The dryer has been making a low-key odd noise for about a week or so.  I've been ignoring it - hoping it would go away.  As you may have surmised, it has not.  And today it decided to turn up the volume on the odd noise.  I have no choice now but to get someone out here to look at it.  Luckily, I can do this online - but there is the whole "We'll be there between 8 am and 5 pm" nonsense that I'll have to work into my schedule somehow.


On Friday morning, I could not get my work computer to wake up for love or money.  I tried everything I could think of - while trying to avoid calling the "global help desk."  Finally, I had to cave and call.  This is what vexes me the most about the help desk - every single time - WITHOUT FAIL - they ask me the basic questions (all of which I had already tried) and then tell me they will open a ticket and have someone local call me.  Ummm...then why do we need the global help desk?  And sure enough, once a local IT person called, she had a very easy fix - which I would have assumed the people at the help desk could have suggested first.

Honestly, what aggravates me the most is that I know for a fact that our local IT is pretty great and I also know that this department is going to be a victim of a massive downsizing in the future.  What will the global help desk do then?  


The Happy Couple are doing their level best to drive me out of my mind.  How, you ask - well, they have secured a venue for the wedding...TWO days after Thanksgiving.  I'm guessing they went with this date because that's when the venue was available.  I realize I wasn't thrilled when they announced the original date of November 18 (the weekend prior to Thanksgiving)  - but now I'd be DELIGHTED if it were the 18th.

I have not - and will not - say a word about it.  But I had hoped the loud mouth love of my life, The Husband, would.  He has not and, shockingly, has no plans to do so  (which is shocking in that, nine times out of ten, he has no problem opening his mouth and letting words fall out) Then I figured surely her mother would - as far as I know, she hasn't.  Or maybe she has and has been ignored.

I understand that The Fiancée wants a "fall" wedding (although this date is actually veering into the "winter" timeline, I think.) and Man-Child refuses to have the wedding until after the high school football season is over.  But Thanksgiving weekend?  One of the busiest travel weekends of the year?  None of it makes sense to me; at all.

I'm sure the venue they've selected is beautiful - but it's in the middle of nowhere in the mountains.  And she keeps mentioning maybe having the wedding outside.  Two days after Thanksgiving, in the mountains, on the verge of winter.  So now we are asking people to travel here - then get in a car and drive nearly two hours (or four depending on which airport they fly into) to arrive at the venue/hotel and then (maybe) subject them to the cold for the service?  

I doubt they've even given any thought to the fact that this date may actually deter people from attending.

As I've said - I am not going to say a word, it is their wedding - not ours.  That's why I am here telling you. It will all work out fine in the end, I am sure.  But TWO days after Thanksgiving?!  Have they lost their minds?

I wonder just how much it would take to convince them to elope.  But with my luck, I'd pay them off, they'd elope and then want the reception two days before Christmas.


In his own way, The Husband is also doing his level best to drive me crazy.

I made a very firm rule several years ago.  I determined that I would not buy any more hangers.  Ever.

Yes, I realize that this sounds like a ridiculous and insane rule - but hear me out - this rule keeps my closet in order.  Generally, I have extra hangers in my closet - but if for whatever reason I don't; that means it's time to purge.  New things had come in via Christmas, and I needed to have a clear out.  Which is exactly what I did the other night when I couldn't sleep.

This rule though is a problem for The Hoarder Husband.  After I finished laundry the other afternoon, I couldn't find a hanger in his closet for a pair of his jeans (a pair of jeans that are so ratty I've forbidden him from wearing them out of the house) - so I left them on the bed.  When asked about it (while I was brushing my teeth), I reminded him of the rule and mentioned that he needed to go through the closet the next day and get rid of some things - before I could even finish the sentence he said that he had to go *insert random place here* the next day.  So I said that he could do it when he came home.  He immediately replied, "I'm not coming home." (imagine a petulant five year old saying it; because that's exactly what he sounded like) I almost choked on the toothpaste, I was laughing so hard.

I laughed again when he came home the following day and the first words out his mouth were, "I'm not really here."

I haven't yet forced him to do that clear out yet; but it IS coming.

In theory, I should just go through everything and toss/recycle - but these are not MY clothes, so this isn't a job for ME.  His thought process is this - yes, those pants don't fit but "one day" they MIGHT.  Or, "this is my FAVORITE shirt!" Never mind that it is falling apart at the seams.

Maybe we can compromise and I will lay out what I think needs to go and he can have the final say.  It might be the only way to get this task completed.  I guess it would be a good use of our time as we wait for the dryer repair person to show up...