Friday, December 31, 2010

The new year list of tweaking.

I actually did fairly well on last year's list.  I have another new year post of listish things.

1.  Cook more.  I love to cook.  There are times I've held back on cooking particular things because Hubs can't eat it.  He's fine with having something different, so we'll just have to ride that one a bit.  I made my very first pan of lasagna the other evening and it is lovely.  Actually, I made two loaf pans and froze one.
2.  To go with number 1.  Menu plan.  Don't just pick things up that are on sale.  I have a pretty great shelf in the basement where I have extras.  (My house is too small for an actual pantry in the kitchen.  Someday I'll have the steps enclosed and we'll be able to build my dream pantry under there.)  Have solid things in mind.
3.  It's okay if the grape tomatoes are $1.79.   K- loves them and don't hold back because they cost more than usual. 
4.  Now that the studio is bailed out, make things.  It would be nice if I could get my act together and start earning more money to be able to put some cash away for college.  We have a savings of sorts, but not nearly what it should be. 
ETA:  I did the budget, we're good for saving for college there, so I'll be able to use any money made from the sale of my work towards purchasing a new set of dishes.  (Fiesta Ware, if you were wondering.)
5.  Exercise.  I hate it and look like a skating cow when I do it, but it must be done. 
6.  Budget more.  Spend less.  We always give the budget a re-do in January and June, but we need to pull that in even a bit more.  We'll need to buy Hubs a truck in about a year and a half and my goal is to be able to pay half down.  I have a savings, but I promise that it is not currently even close to half down. 
7.  Say no to flying through the drive thru.  I won't start and neither will K-.  A couple of bucks here and there do add up.
8.  Look at the gardens.  What works?  What doesn't?  Plant tomatoes, but not 4 plants.  Growing beautiful plants that give pounds of tomatoes is lovely, but having them fall all over the ground and waste away isn't mindful of what we have.  Plant only grape tomatoes (Sun Golds) and don't fiddle with the others.  Thin out some plants in the butterfly gardens.  Register the yard as a Monarch Waystation.
9.  Thin through the things that we have.  Use what we have.  The bed bug thing has really kept me from visiting the thrift store, so that has helped. 
10.  Continue to think about how we can be more environmental.  I would love a rain barrel.  Perhaps that would be a nice birthday gift suggestion. 

That is my list of goals for the year.  I'm hoping for good things.  Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Family time and my friend that won a car.

I surprised K- this evening with a McD's play date with her family.  We exchanged gifts for birthday or Christmas, the kids played for a couple of hours and we enjoyed hearing about how H-


Yes, she won a car from Oprah on one of the Favorite Things show this past fall.  Can I tell you how extremely thrilled we are for her?  H- was nominated as a hometown hero for her work with adoption.  She's great at what she does.  We have K- because of her and her husband.  That alone deserves a car as a reward!

She scored some pretty fancy earrings, sparkly Ugg boots that make her giggle every time she wears them, an iPad (I played with it a little, but McD's had no WiFi!), a $500.00 gift card to Nordstrom's, a Coach bag, something about pot pie but I didn't get details.  How can you really go wrong with pot pie, though?  There's a set of brand new pans.  A good set of brand new pans.  I've seen H-'s pans.  I may very well have helped to cook with them.  Girlfriend needs a new set-- bad.  She's been sharing a $150.00 tin of popcorn.  K- has a very expensive snack awaiting her tomorrow. 

H- deserves it.  She deserves all of it. 

The new car?  Her current car has the window duct taped because the motor is broken and it is a $700.00 repair.  She has a 22 mile drive to work.  The little VW bug that she'll be getting will get great gas mileage. 

K-?  Her prize was her family.  To her, that was worth more than the gifties that H- scored from Oprah. 

Smiles in my day:
-  Surprising K-.
-  My work week is done.  I'm not a fan of working sale.  People have been very well behaved this year, though. 
-  Getting a resolution to the Saga of the Sauce (post below.)  Though I'll be pitching the jar, perhaps the e-mail discussion that I had opened the owner's eyes to being a little kinder next time. 

Have a great day! 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Saucy Ending.

---------- Original Message ----------

Subject: RE: A gift box question

Date: Wed, 29 Dec 2010 09:18:36 -0500 (EST)

Actually Amy, I am a manager of sorts; I own [ - - - .]

[ - - - ] no longer prints expirations on their jar lids and they haven't had that shape of jar or style lid for awhile; we don't have any on the shelf. That's why I thought you were intrepreting our pricing sticker as an expiration date. That happens.

I am glad that you are familiar with [ - - - ] and you must realize then that our product guarantee policies are simple. Whether you were re-gifted or wherever your jar came from, we'll replace it. We're not beyond human error here, and it may well have been our error, but I don't know where the jar came from. Regardless, bring it in and we'll replace it, or we can mail you a rplacement jar.

I apologize that you misintrepreted the motive of my explanation below.

- - - - - - -

My response back:

Thank you so much for your response. Since you haven't had that style of jar in quite some time, it isn't up to you to replace product that has perhaps been passed on. I do appreciate your getting back to me and telling me about the change of style of jar. That does make a heap of difference.

I'm sorry for whatever time that you've had invested in trying to help me.


- - - - -

I admit that I was a bit more apologetic and wordier, but Hubs made me simplify. The original response back irritated him, too.

So there we have it folks. The sauce will hit the round file and we'll be dining on some lovely noodles with Italian dipping sauce on the side.

The end.

So, I received this wonderful gift for Christmas.

The neighbors sent over a beautiful box from a high-end, specialty grocer in the area.  To get a product from this particular grocer as a gift gives warm fuzzies inside. 

I was so excited.

We received it on Christmas and I decided to prepare the product for dinner on Sunday.  I'm a stickler for dates on products, so I dug in to check everything out before making it. 

Italian dipping oil?  Good through 2012.  Great!

Noodles?  No expiration, but noodles probably don't generally go bad.

Mushroom pasta sauce?  Expired in August.  Actually, the lid says:
Knowing all that, I decided to contact the store. 

-----Original Message-----

Sent: Sunday, December 26, 2010 5:08pm
Subject: A gift box question

To Whom it May Concern:

Imagine my surprise yesterday when my neighbors delivered a beautiful box from your store
to us for Christmas. Oh, what an incredible treat!

I decided to take advantage of the gorgeous box today and use the items for dinner. I untied the red and green organza ribbon, placed the fresh sprig of pine in a pot to make the house smell of Christmas pine and cut into the cellophane wrap. In the box was [ - - - ] Italian dipping oil, [ - - - ] penne ziti rigate and [ - - - ] Pasta Mushroom Sauce. Because I'm a stickler about food and expiration dates, I did a check.

The oil? It expires in 2012. The noodles are without expiration, but they do have a [ - - - ] sticker with white out over the price and then there is the [ - - - ] Pasta Mushroom Sauce. Expiration? 8/28/2010.

At first, I thought that we had been re-gifted. My husband and I kind of giggled about it. But then I started thinking. It was undoubtedly a [ - - - ] made box, had the red and green organza and the sprig of fresh white pine.

There is no way that I would discuss the expiration of goods with my neighbors. They would be absolutely mortified.

It brings me to this question. Did you sell pre-packed holiday gift boxes in the description I gave (in a white half box with [ - - - ] stamped in gold on both sides with white shredded paper inside and including the three items) and if so, is there any way that you would consider rectifying the expiration situation? [ - - - ] is synonymous with quality and I was very shocked when I discovered the terribly expired item in my Christmas gift box.

Thank you in advance for your time.


---------- Original Message ----------

Subject: RE: A gift box question
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 2010 09:43:12 -0500 (EST)

Thank you for your question.

Unlike the grocery store, we still put pricing stickers on containers for the benefit of our customers. The date on the pricing stickers is the day we put it on the shelf; it's not an expiration date. It helps us rotate product on the shelf, as many of the manufacturer's dates are cumbersome to read without considerable study. Your pasta sauce was priced on 8/28/2010 and placed on the shelf on that date.

[ - - - ] doesn't have a best by date printed on their containers; I suspect it's because they are a tiny company in [ - - - ] OH with sales small enough that they aren't required to. However, we have good movement on all the [ - - - ] products. Normally a pasta sauce will have a 2-year shelf life, so your sauce should be good for at least another year.

My follow-up e-mail:

I understand the size and pricing of your store. Believe me, I've been to [ - - - ] in the past. I'm also apt to believe that given the photo evidence that I have now attached to this e-mail, you did not take the time to investigate my complaint beyond your expired knowledge.

The jar does say "BEST BY 082810" and it is printed on the lid of the jar.

That is NOT a shelf date. That is an expiration.

It is sad that your company would be willing to sell and defend selling expired goods in gift boxes purchased by customers thrilled to pass your products on for gifts. I tried to be understanding. Mistakes happen. I work at a locally owned, non-chain store myself. I understand that when there is a customer complaint, we resolve it. We don't excuse it away. We also walk away from our counter to do hands-on investigation.

Please pass this on to a manager. I would like to have a resolution to this matter from staff that roams the floor and is more familiar with the product.

- - - - - - - -

The jar of pasta sauce in question? It is a $7.00 jar of sauce. Given that I tend to buy sauce that is $1.39 at the local discounter, it seems kind of spendy to me. It's worth it for good, non-expired sauce, but a little rich for me. That is probably precisely why the neighbors bought it for us. They knew that we wouldn't.

The neighbors don't know and won't know.

This is the day that I go to you. Would you have tossed it or would you have gone further with it. I admit that when I got the response back this morning, I was ticked.

Oh internet, what would you do?

Smiles in my day:
- The childcare shuffle continued, but mom is off today so K- will be going to hang out with my nephews for a bit this AM and hanging out with my mom for the day. Hooray!
- K- doesn't realize it, but we'll be going to have dinner with her siblings AKA her "bamily" tonight.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


First, I want to thank each and everyone of you for your kind words and prayers.  It isn't very often that I hit bottom, but this time was like taking a ride down an elevator shaft with no way to stop.  Thanks to all of you and your sympathetic reading eyes, I have bounced from the bottom of the shaft and am back up again.  Whew.  It was a down yo weeks in the making and when the bottom fell out, it was kind of ugly.  Thanks for being there.  :)

On to much more fun things. 

Hubs does it every year.  Each and every year, I work hard on finding a perfect gift combo for K-.  Since instituting the 3 only gift rule regarding Santa's offerings, K- and I both need to zero in and focus on something instead of having Hanukkah style Christmas.  (Believe me, it happened.)  K- belted out some things that she wished for, but I told her that when she says things that she's hoping for, it is just a suggestion and not a list of demands.  I told her that Santa doesn't work that way and he keeps in close touch with me anyhow.  Her response was something to the effect of, "I always love whatever Santa brings me." 

K- asked for a Nintendo DS.  I had done some price checking, ended up getting it online and paid $59.00 plus tax and $4.00 in shipping for the DSi.  Cool!  I had a necklace made for her from a lovely woman on Etsy.  I told her that Mrs. Claus made it especially for her.  We had the DSi, Hubs bought a skin and a few games for it.  The pile was tiny for Christmas this year.  We got something she wanted, though.

There's the stocking.  I tend to be an over-purchaser for the stocking.  I try, but I find books and things.  This year, I had it on the money.  Everything was good.  Everything fit.  I didn't go terribly overboard.  Then Hubs decided to go to Walgreen's for a DS accessory kit. 

He bought a set of noise magnets.

He bought Flarp noise putty.

He bought a "farter" AKA the Whoopee cushion. 

Oh. my. heavens. 

He trumped me on the stocking.  All my hard work down the drain with one self-inflated, scentless, noise-making fart balloon. 

She took it to Christmas and bless my in-law's hearts, she put it under all of our chairs, flooped it all day long and we still laughed.  Really, it is right up my father-in-law's alley.  My mother-in-law, notsomuch, but even she was cracking some hilarious laughs about it.  I think that it was K-'s enthusiasm and need to perfect the ability to make a truly realistic fart sound minus the noxious fumes. 

Good times, I tell you. 

Smiles in my day:
-  K- downstairs in the basement rolling along on her razor scooter with helmet and knee pads in shorts and short sleeves and slippers when I arrived home.  I should add that outside it is about 20 degrees.  Obviously, our home is well heated.
-  The fact that Hubs cleaned the basement and that K- can roll along on her razor scooter with helmet and knee pads in shorts and short sleeves and slippers. 
-  That it didn't matter that I didn't wake to my alarm today.  I always do, but Hubs took it upon himself to turn it down because he said it was too loud.  Well, it may have been too loud to listen to, but it was loud enough to wake me up.  I woke up with more than enough time to read the paper, have breakfast, pack a lunch and go forth to the retail public.  Yes, I did turn it back up.
-  A friend that can bail me out on child care for the next two days. 

Have a great day!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Losing Bailey.

Most of my regular readers are familiar with our loss of our first daughter Bailey.  Yes, it was nearly 8 years ago.  There are times when it comes back up. 

Don't get me wrong, her loss is always in a way right at the surface.  It can creep below the scab for a really long time.  It's just when there are occasions that come up that remind of her loss, like this past week, it's like the scab has been ripped clean and the sore begins to weep once again.

First, I'm surrounded by pregnant woman.  Don't get me wrong, I love babies.  L. O. V. E. babies.  The women, the bellies, the pregnancy complaints, the comparative stories and the birth details.  [breathing deeply]  It's an exercise of keeping me from doing the duck and run.  It's not a jealousy thing.  Oh, I would never in a million years want to see anyone lose a child.  How it hurts.  I can't truly explain.  [insert welling tears]  I just wished that people could be pregnant and magically give birth in one fell swoop.

Frankly, I think that many of the pregnant ladies would agree.  (Not all, I know.) 

I have two cousins due within a week or so of each other.  They are due next month.  Christmas Eve dinner was the typical comparative pregnant women talk.  Nothing was meant as offensive.  When we drove home, Hubs had asked me about it.  I'm hoping that I hid my emotions better with everyone else or that he was just better in tune to me.  He said, "How thoughtless!"  "[Hubs], they are pregnant.  They truly meant nothing thoughtless or wrong.  Bailey has been gone for almost 8 years.  They probably didn't think about it.  I do all the time, but I doubt that they even gave it a thought."  (Neither one did anything wrong.  My cousins would be beside themselves if they knew of my sadness.)

"Well, I did." 

So there I am, doing the cringe on my own (silently, of course) and there is Hubs, in the same big Titanicish boat with me.  How thoughtless of me not to consider that either.

A couple of days ago, my aunt's health aide came down and they were telling me about how her granddaughter had given early birth to her twin babies.  They were at 4 1/2 months along, were born despite efforts to keep them on the bake, they stayed alive for 3 1/2 hours and were gone.  Their funeral is tomorrow.  She was talking about getting dog tags made with the babies foot prints on them.  I was talking with her about having Bailey's foot prints hanging on our bedroom wall.  I gave her the name of the memorial company who, when we told them that we were looking to purchase a stone for a baby, told us that they provide those stones at no cost.  They had a selection of maybe 10-12 and the gentleman apologized for not having more.  I told her that people were giving me a hard time about not having a stone earlier.  (It took us about 6 months after she passed to go.)  It's just not something that you snap right up and say, "I'm going grave stone shopping today!"

She was telling me about the beautiful photos that the hospital had taken of the babies.  Hands and feet, all taken in detail.  I told her that we had been provided with a roll of film that I've yet to develop.  They were living in the world of pinkish babies.  To skip detail, I can tell you that I was not.  No thank you, Baby Bailey will be in my memory forever and I can't do the photos.  Period.

We talked about how my mom went on the hunt for a dress for bitty Baily to wear.  In the end, I do recall that she was buried in a blue flowered dress.  I think that it may have been a doll dress and I know that it was provided by someone or something of the hospital or funeral home nature.

I sat in church this morning in tears.  It's not often that the loss of Bailey hits me so hard.   The water in the church has been tainted with major pregnancy hormones that have three ladies due within a month of each other this coming May.  We just had two babies born in the past week.  One pregnant mom was a part of the Christmas tea and gave full detail about how she wanted another baby, her husband wasn't on board, she prayed and had a bunch of other people praying about it and last Christmas he gave her a baby name book, they were having a baby and it's all good.  (I would want it no other way.)

So I'm in a funk.  Rachael would call it a down yo.  It's not that Christmas was bad.  We had a lovely time.  We spent time with family.  Christmas was very good.  I've just been working up to this funk. 

Smiles in my sparsely blogged week:
-  K- running from house to house delivering baked goods.
-  The true meaning of Christmas, of course!  (Not to be trumped by the baked good bit.)
-  Being able to get together with family on Christmas Eve and having it be like it was when we were kids. 
-  My parents getting our white elephant offering and being really thrilled.  It was a plug-in mini fridge for the car that we gave them, they decided that they weren't using it, they gave it to Hubs, we weren't using it, I tried to unload it at the yard sale, it didn't go and it was white elephanted.  My mom was so thrilled, as my father has said on numerous occasions how they wished that they had it back!
-  My father received the owl pellets.  Apparently, that will be a passable thing every year now.
-  We got the gingerbread house done on Friday.  Or was it Thursday?  Either way, it is upright and standing firm.  See, having Hubs build the structure is a very good thing.  No use in it looking like a forgotten foreclosure with candy stuck to it.
-  Hubs asked what I wanted for Christmas.  I'm in need of nothing, but told him a camera.  Mine is old and the delay is just awful.  Because I fancy myself as a budding photographer of sorts, he bought me a Nikon. We're generally Kodak people, but since the model that he was looking at was falling apart (FYI Kodak), he bought a lovely Nikon on sale and now I have a spiffy new camera that can apparently hold 10,000 shots or so.  Wow.  Now if I can just figure out how to work it . . .
-  The neighbor replaced my old and gigantic monitor with a new flat screen!  It's lovely and he didn't even know that the old one was ailing.  He bought Hubs an impact drill set and a few DS games for K-. 
-  K- is going to play in the snow.  I was thinking today.  We've had snow continuously covering the ground in some level of measurement for a month.  Colds and flus are flying around everywhere and I may very well have to suck it up and open all the windows and doors with the temp only being 39 or so at the end of the week.  I need to get us some clean, fresh air to keep us all well. 
-  The Baker Creek catalog is here and I'll have to be getting with Rachael to see what we'll be swapping this year.  (We are swapping, right?)

I've dumped.  I feel better.  How therapeutic it is to let it out.  Thanks!