Thursday, December 31, 2009

From the small to the tall

My three great-granddaughters are staying with me this week. We went to my grandson's basketball game and this was a totally new experience for the girls. Afterward, we took some pictures of the cool girls and the wet and shiny BB player.

Yesterday we went over to a nearby school that has an excellent sliding hill. The girls had a grand time sledding. When we got done, we headed back home to find that the power had gone out in the whole area. Since my place is totally electric, that means no heat, no lights and no cooking. We got out the candles and lit up the place but it was really nerve-wracking having all those fire sources around!

By suppertime, it was getting cold in the house and the girls were hungry. So, much as I loathe MacDonalds, I took them over there for an evening at the PlayPlace. We stayed until 9:00! This was not a good evening for me. I ate a lukewarm, soggy fish sandwich and listened to screaming kids for over two hours.

Adding to the general frustration was a man who was there with two women, a pair of toddlers and a baby. While all the other parents sat back and let the kids have fun, this guy was jumping up every 15 minutes and yelling very loudly at the two toddlers up in the "habitrail" for no reason. He was shabbily dressed and held up his droopy pants by the crotch to keep them from falling off. The two women ignored the kids. At one point, the guy decided he had to find the one of the kids and proceeded to climb up inside the trail where all the little kids were!

I was upset about this wildly inappropriate behavior but none of the other adults seemed to object. A few moments later, he emerged at the other end with the child. He took the little boy back to the table, set him down and the kid ran right back and went up in the trail again! This erratic behavior occurred a number of times over the evening.
Moral of the story: NEVER AGAIN will I take kids to that place!

Anyway, when we got home the lights and heat were back on. The girls were tired and went right to sleep when I put them to bed.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Looking forward to the demise of 2009

This has not been a good year for anyone I know. About all we can say is that we got another year older (and deeper in debt...remember Tennesee Ernie Ford's Sixteen Tons?)

My three great-granddaughters are here for the week. I took them to my grandson's basketball game this morning. This afternoon we have to get groceries because we are totally out of fruit. The girls consume large amounts of fresh fruit every day so I have to restock my supply. I also need to get more "kid food" like hotdogs, Dora soup (chicken noodle), chicken nuggets etc. They love going to Cub Foods because there are shopping carts with a "car" in front that the two youngest can ride in and little "customer in training" carts for the oldest girl to push. It's a dandy experience that they find special when they come to see me in St Paul.

I'm taking pictures so I'll post some this week.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Bah Humbug

Our family Christmas was called off today because of icy roads and travel warnings. This is the first time we have ever had to cancel our get-together and needless to say, I'm really bummed.
Several of my adult grandsons were home for Christmas and now I won't get to see them before they leave. I'm really disappointed about that.

But, there must be hundreds of thousands of bummed-out folks around the country. On TV they showed hordes of miserable people trapped for days in airports with no hope of reaching their destination. At least I was snug in my home with lots and lots of food. We had the neighbors over to share some of it and that has helped ward off "cabin fever".

Now we get to enjoy the contented lull between Christmas and New Years.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A slightly askew Christmas

Our Christmas plans are on hold due to the dastardly weather moving into Minnesota. The plan was that we would all meet at Sauk Centre which sorta midway for all of us from around the state. The location was reserved, the menu decided, the date and time all we need is for all of us to get there. Ding, Dang, Darn!
(Well, at least I'm not stranded in an airport!)

Here's wishing all of you a safe, snug and warm Christmas tomorrow, wherever you may be.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Does belief in Santa Claus matter?

I love pictures of Santa Claus, they're are so colorful, bright and cheery. However, I never believed in Santa Claus as a child. My parents didn't encourage it and since there wasn't any TV in the 40's, we had little exposure to Santa. In addition, the prevalence of Santa images was waaay less prominant than today. So, Santa was just a cartoon character like Bugs Bunny or Porky Pig.

A friend posted that her 7-year-old son recently told her he knew there really wasn't a Santa. In her motherly wisdom, she told the boy it was true but that his older sister still believed in Santa so they should keep that a secret from her. Of course, big sister is in on the whole thing, so little brother is keeping his sweet secret--and loving it.

Now that is the spirit of Christmas! Even though the boy has lost his Santa image he still has the essence of what Santa means.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Quick little post

I love the candy cane colors of this graphic.

There's not much of anything on TV tonight so we went to a Red Box movie machine at Cub Foods. The movies cost $1 a day and are charged on a credit card. There are three or four Red Boxes in the neighborhood--two at Cub, one outside on the corner at Walgreen's and another a few blocks down at MacDonalds. The movie can be returned at any Red Box so it's really handy.

The Blockbuster in the neighborhood charges over $3 to rent a movie, so I only go there when I'm looking to buy a used movie. However, when buying used movies, we've found that pawn shops are the cheapest place to get them. Pawn shops also offer boxed sets of old TV shows and movies at bargain prices. I recently got a boxed set of Cagney and Lacy shows for a song!

I got a box of four Benji movies but it didn't have the one I really wanted--Benji the Hunted. That's the one where the little dog is lost on an island and takes care of a litter of cougar kittens. I'm still looking for that one. I don't know if my three great-granddaughters will love it as much as I did, but that's OK.

I virtually never buy anything new. I buy my clothes (except undies) at second hand thrift stores like Unique and Savers. I frequent the Dollar Tree store for household items and buy groceries at Mike's Discount Foods, the Tastee Bread Thrift Store and Walmart or Cub.

I don't mean to bore you with my thrifty habits, but maybe my suggestions will help you save a buck now and then.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Of dogs and Christmas cookies

It turns out that the dog in the Snuggie is named Carmella and she has her very own blog! Daughter Number Three kindly forwarded the link to me and it's really worth checking out. It's at

I have totally avoided doing any Christmas baking this year. Although I miss the fun of decorating cookies and the way the oven warms up the house, my doctor has cracked down on me about my blood sugar.

Now, I am a sweets freak--it I see 'um, I eat 'um; cookies, candies, fruitcakes, bars, Christmas breads, chocolates, pies...I have to stop, I'm making myself drool!

I've been eating lots of veggies and cutting back on carbs. Astoundingly, I have lost ten pounds! Of course, I still have the hurdle of Christmas to get past. Our family of 22 will be getting together for a celebration at my youngest daughter's on Saturday. We decided to do a "baked potato bar" to accommodate everyone's food preferences. The toppings will include bacon bits, cheese sauce, broccoli, vegetarian chili made with Boca Crumbles, sour cream etc. The sides will include meat balls, smokies, salads, veggie tray, fruit plate and of course, desserts.

I'm not so much concerned about what I might eat that day, it's about the next day. Past experience has taught me whenever I splurge on a large meal it triggers my appetite to turn into a monster. And since the previous day's excess usually produces scrumptuous leftovers, there I am with a raging appetite and half a pumpkin pie..the last pumpkin pie I'll make until next Thanksgiving. What's a gal to do?!

OK, OK, I'm getting myself wound up over something that hasn't happened yet. Courage, Sparrow!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Hot Item this Christmas

I admit I stole this off another blog. I have a weakness for dogs in people poses. And who wouldn't want a Snuggie for Christmas, whether man or beast?

It seems like every store is selling them this season. You find them in big box stores, clothing stores, grocery stores, online and on TV. In fact, I bought one at a Snyder's Drug Store recently in the UM Gopher's colors and logo. (But don't tell anyone because it's a Chrismas present!)

I still have to chuckle at the name because my kids used to inflict a kind of underwear torture on each other that they called a snuggie.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Help! I goofed up again!

I made a few simple changes to my sidebar and the entire contents sank to the bottom of my blog. I have fiddled around trying everything (except the correct thing) to get it back the way it should be. Anybody know what I need to do? Please?

Favorite Christmas albums

I'm an old fogie when it comes to Christmas music (but not so bad that I listen to Bing Crosby records). Still, I'm old enough that I remember when I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus first played on the radio and when Gene Autry first sang Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

I remember saying my "piece" in front of the church on Christmas Eve and feeling so special because my mom had fixed my hair in Shirley Temple ringlets. And to top it off, every kid was handed a brown paper bag of goodies as we left the church afterward. Inside the bag was a bunch of peanuts-in-the-shell, an apple, some old-fashioned Christmas hard candies and best of all--chocolate covered vanilla creme drops! (Some stores still carry them this time of the year.)

I love a lot of the Christmas candies that are sold only at this time of year. I'm nuts for chocolate covered sponge candy, peanut brittle and nut brittle, those tiny little pillow mints, almond bark and divinity! Actually, divinity with nuts is the ultimate candy as far as I'm concerned. I think it reminds me of licking the beaters when my mom made 7-minute icing for birthday cakes when I was a kid.

So many happy memories are tied to foods, it's no wonder we overeat at Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cat Lover's Christmas

This kitty has such an intelligent expression on its face, it makes me wonder if the artist used a child's face as a model.

Most of the wonderful graphics that I use are from Olde Dame Penniwig's blog. She provides oodles of nostalgic seasonal images for free. She's a dear and generous old soul and worth checking out.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Coffee House

I don't often frequent coffee houses, mainly because I'm too cheap to pay $2 to $3 for a cup of coffee. I don't care for sweetened hot drinks (like hot chocolate or apple cider etc.) and that goes double for coffee. I tell myself I'm a purist because I don't like anything degrading the coffee flavor.

In spite of this, I was at a coffee house last night drinking a $2 cup of de-caff. My friend S was reading from her recently published book, Ssylka about a Russian woman who follows her exiled husband when he's sent to Siberia. Eight people turned out for the event even though it was bitchin' cold (as we say in Minnesota). It was cozy and warm inside, however, and it was nice to be together with a group like that.

M and S met afterward and found they had many things in common. Except for one big thing--M still has PTSD from living through the WWII bombing of London. (When the local weather warning sirens are tested on the first Wednesday of every month, M has a moment of panic.) S says she remembers the hardships after the war more vividly than the actual war. Both women have written memoirs about those years and are looking forward to getting together to talk about it.

I was living in California during the war years when my dad worked at the Lockheed Aircraft plant. Even so, I have an affinity for those who endured the terror of nightly bombings--of being a little girl in a world where strange men in airplanes are trying to kill you. How do you fathom such insanity!?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Counting down

It snowed again last night. I went out shopping today and got the last calendars bought. Woohoo!

A friend is having a book reading of her new novel tonight at a local coffee house. S is an English lady in her 70's from my small writer's group.

I belong to another larger writer's group and the leader is also an English lady in her 70's. M has been wanting to meet S because they both lived through the WWII bombing of London as children.

I'm going to facilitate introductions for the two of them tonight. It's sure to be very interesting. They each have read excerpts of their memoirs at the individual writer's groups so I know they must have much in common.

I feel so lucky to know both of these fine writers!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Gifting your kitty, NOT!

I found this on a site called Top 10 Dumbest Pet Products. It's marketed as being a massager that "relaxes pets and strengthens bonds with them".

I can just picture the innocent kitty lying on your lap purring with contentment. You turn on the vibrating mitt that sounds like a vacuum cleaner. As you try to stroke the terrified pet, it's already down the hall and diving under the bed.

Merry Christmas, Fluffy. (Hope you forgive me by New Year's Eve!)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas decorating on a budget

Well, I've got the majority of my Christmas calendars bought. Thank goodness for Half-Price Books stores. They sell new calendars at half price so I saved a lot of money. There are a few more that I will probably need to get at the Mall but that's the only thing I need to get at the Mall! (I consider it a successful shopping season if I can avoid the Malls.)

We just got out our little monofiliment tree again this year. It's great because the four cats ignore it. I shudder to thing what they would do to a real tree!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sharing my favorites

I give calendars to everybody at Christmas. I simply love calendar art and have a great time picking out special ones for all those on my list. They're also easy to wrap. Since I've been doing this for 15 to 20 years, all my family and friends have come to expect a calendar.

Some of my personal favorites are the Lang Graphics line which includes the Herrero cat calendars. They also have folk art and nostalgia calendars that seem to resonate with my daughters (and me). I have stacks of old ones on the closet shelf.

Sorry if I sound like a commercial today, but I really do love calendars!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Here it comes again!!

Stores have been playing Christmas music for over a month already. The decorations have been up for ages and merchandise is so blatantly displayed you practically stumble over it.

Is anyone else as fed up with this "In Your Face" marketing of the shopaholic holiday as I am?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Holding a good thought

I start out many days like this. Full of ideas and enthusiasm but most of the time, things get in the way. I decide I want to start a project, but then decide I have to do something else first which leads me off in a whole different direction. I become mired down and the original project goes out the window.

This is the story of my life. I'm an easy-going gal and my motto is "Whatever works!" As a result I never accomplish much of anything. This makes me feel frustrated and useless.

What's a gal to do!?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Butter-Nut Conspiracy

I'm a nut for Butter-Nut Coffee. I love the stuff and start every day with a couple cups along with my Star Tribune newspaper.

Now, I don't have many bad habits: I don't drink, smoke, gamble (other than an occasional lottery ticket) or even have any expensive hobbies. Just give me by Butter-Nut Coffee, my daily paper and my computer and I'm a contented gal.

So why is the Folger's Coffee Company messing with me?

I grew up in a Butter-Nut household. My folks drank it and my aunts and uncles drank it. (My cousin said that when her mom died some years ago, they hauled 40 empty Butter-Nut Coffee cans out of her basement.) It's a family tradition, for crying out loud!

Several years back, the Folger's Coffee Co. bought the Butter-Nut brand and has been marketing it under the "Maryland Club Butter-Nut" label. But--they are packaging it in Folger's red plastic canisters with the Folger's name on the can, the lid and the liner. I see an evil plot here!

Add to this the fact that Butter-Nut is getting harder and harder to find plus it keeps getting more expensive. They are trying to phase-out the best coffee I can buy!

Last week, several local grocery chains had really good specials on Folger's so (in a moment of weakness) I broke down and bought a can. I thought that if I combined the Folger's with the Butter-Nut, maybe I couldn't tell the difference. I was so wrong! Even when combined, the bitter Folger's flavor is overwhelming. UGH!

Right now, there's only one remaining grocery store selling my coffee. Wal-Mart used to carry it but no longer does. It's a conspiracy I tell you! If anyone knows of a campaign to get Folger's to preserve the Butter-Nut brand, please let me know. I may have to mount a campaign myself!