Thursday, November 26, 2009

DOORBUSTERS

A year ago, on Black Friday we bought a Keurig coffee maker, at Doorbuster prices. The fact it was on sale, clinched the deal… but we mainly bought it for its versatility. I drink tea, spouse drinks coffee. It brews both, courtesy of K-cups. K-cups, for those that haven’t seen them… are cups six to eight times bigger than a small creamer cup. Inside they’re filled with tea or coffee. You pick the size mug you want… 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12 ounces. You pop ONE of your favorite flavor K-cups... inside the machine, and it pierces the top and bottom, as hot water washes through it… rendering a delicious mug of your desired brew. Yummy and ingenious, it has simplified the time it takes to make tea and coffee! Happy with the machine, we also noted it makes hot chocolate. So back then, when it was new… I decided to give that a try. Because our local stores didn’t carry the cocoa K-cups, I ordered them online. It took 1 ½ weeks for the box to arrive. Anxiously, I anticipated my first cup of Timothy’s White Chocolate. I shouldn’t have. It was terrible. It tasted like hot dish water. I was so disappointed. I thought perhaps, the K-cup was diluted, by the size I picked… so I tried making a smaller cup. Unfortunately, it didn’t matter. It still left a bad taste in my mouth. Frustrated, I gave up. Because K-cups are classified as food stuff, I couldn’t return them for a refund. So… I ended up tossing them in the garbage. What a waste of money. We stuck to tea or coffee, from then on. But as winter turned to spring, and spring turned to summer, and summer turned to autumn… the thought lingered, what about a cup of hot chocolate? It was time to try again. This time... I bought Gloria Jean’s Hot Chocolate K-cups. The result was just as bad as the first trial run... devastating. It tasted like hot water, with just a touch of chocolate flavoring. Again disappointment… so how do I get the Keurig coffemaker to make me a decent cup of hot chocolate? I'm convinced it can't. MAD… I was ready to complain to the company. But my husband started experimenting. He was determined, we wouldn’t throw these K-cups away. And so far, we haven’t. But... we’re NOT using them as intended. Instead, he has to OPEN... two or three K-cups, by hand, with a knife... and then dumps the contents into a mug. He then places the mug, on the designated spot, under the coffeemaker and plunges the knob, getting hot water. With a spoon, he stirs it up. And… at last, a decent cup of hot chocolate with a little help from Keurig. Unfortunately, the K-cups are being used up, twice as fast, because you need so many, to even taste the chocolate. It defeats the purpose. It would just be easier to buy regular cocoa. From now on, I’m sticking to... tea or coffee... with the Keurig Coffeemaker. BUT... if I should ever be in the mood for hot chocolate, again… I’m getting it from McDonalds, complete with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

THANKSGIVING

Pumpkins are still sitting out and about… a large LEAF wreath, greets visitors to my front door... a burnt orange tablecloth covers my dining room table, and a ceramic turkey sits on my countertop. I’m in Thanksgiving mode. Last year, our youngest daughter made the long trek home, from St. Louis… so we had a nice home cooked meal with her. Amazingly, she even helped me in the kitchen, with dinner preparations and it was great fun. We’ll miss her this year… she’s now living in Tacoma, Washington and won’t be here to celebrate the holiday. My folks popped in to visit us, back in October, from the East Coast, so they won’t be here, either. (Hopefully, we’ll see them again, in the spring.) And... since our older daughter always celebrates with her in-laws, that leaves the hubby and me, all alone for Thanksgiving, this year. My stove is still broken… so I have to buy a NEW one, and get it delivered here, in time for the holiday. BUT... since that’s probably NOT going to happen, alternative plans needed to be made for dinner. At first glance, it appeared all our local restaurants were going to be closed for Turkey Day, leaving us in a lurch. What to do? Fortunately, I bought a newspaper, last weekend... and in it, I saw a small ad for a local cafe, hosting Family Style dinners for Thanksgiving Day, from 11 am to 7 pm. The menu includes… Slow roasted Tom Turkey, Citrus Glazed Virginia Ham, Pecan Caramelized Sweet Potatoes, Traditional Celery Dressing, Fresh orange Zest Cranberry Salad, Steamed Green Beans with Slivered Almonds, Fresh Baked Pumpkin Pie and Apple Crisp. YUMMY! No cleanup either. I’d spend MORE money on groceries if I had a working kitchen. I made RESERVATIONS. We’ll get the new stove for Christmas.

Friday, November 13, 2009

CARS

My car doesn’t define me. It is beige and boring… but I LIKE it. It’s a good solid, stable piece of machinery, that I use for transportation. It has a nice stereo system, too. When I was much younger, I owned an orange mustang… previously owned by an actress. I thought I was cool and hip… even with two children to drive around. The car lasted into their teens… when they increasingly, became embarrassed by the color. Too wild a ride, for a mom-mobile, they thought. But… they changed their minds, when young teenage boys, they knew… found it awesome. I think that’s when I realized I had outgrown it. So, I moved on to something more mature. No more fun and flirty for me… forget high maintenance… dependable, became my middle name. I now live in a household of minivans and one mid-size STRATUS car, and that’s that. Unless something is wrong with the vehicle… I don’t give much thought to it, that is, until the other day. Sitting in my non descript car, in the Wal-Mart parking lot, I got a chance to look around. Cars, trucks and SUV’s of every shape, color and size surrounded me… but only one really caught my eye. It was a new VW Beetle. Bright Cherry Red… with black circles, all over it. It took a minute or two, for the significance of that to set in… then it HIT me. It was a LADYBUG. The car was a giant LADYBUG. A smile spread across my face, cheek to cheek. Innovative and cute, this BUG stood out in a crowd. And it made me, a little jealous. Nothing BORING about it. Talk about a conversation starter. I longed for the attention, such a car would bring. I wondered WHO was driving it? My imagination ran wild. A teacher, senior, business owner or student? Content to guess, rather than actually know… I thought about myself, and my reaction to this sporty little car. It was like a spark, setting my heart, a flutter... stirring something, deep within. The question is… what? How do I scratch this itch? Truth is, I don’t need a new car. BESIDES… Who can top a LADYBUG?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

IT'S BIGGER THAN...

Guess what I got? An early Christmas present. It’s bigger than a PDA or cell phone and smaller than a laptop. I bought an Acer Aspire Net Book with Windows 7, Starter. It is a great little computer. It is PURPLE… and I got a matching Microsoft PURPLE wireless mouse. How cool is that? The money I used, had been accumulating, in my SOCK IT AWAY FUND, for the past two years. Personally, I think the price point on this Net Book is a little too high because of the software it lacks. In my opinion, they could afford to drop it to $199 and sell a lot more of them. I’m sure they’ll be better deals at Thanksgiving… but I wanted mine now, so I paid for it. Still got it cheaper at Wal-Mart, here in town, than online, at Amazon... So I’m happy. The plan is to use this Net Book as a word processing unit. My laptop is too big and bulky, so I’m used to carrying around, composition notebooks… to write in, when the mood strikes. Now… I’ll use this, instead. It’s portable, compact and just perfect for my writing needs. Had a little trouble getting it to connect to the Internet in the preliminary tests. But it was due to network glitches here at home. Now that it’s fixed, no more problems. I just LOVE it. The next issue is finding a proper case to store it in. Already hit two stores today and came up empty handed. Right now… the only thing I can find, to fit this 10 inch size, is a BLACK neoprene sleeve. I want something with handles, and inner and outer zippered pouches. Looks like it’s going to turn into a science project, to find a case, much less one, with my criteria. I wonder… is it too much to ask, for all of that, in the color PURPLE?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

LEAVES & AUTUMN

Autumn is here… winter is edging closer. The crisp cool air has a bite to it. The leaves on the trees are painting the fall sky with spectacular colors. And the leaves on the ground are providing a delightful crunch, as you walk. My neighbors, meanwhile… are driving me crazy. Everyday I hear the endless drone of lawnmowers. Mind you, they aren’t cutting the grass. It has stopped growing. No… they are attempting to rid the world of fallen leaves. With trees all around, they think they can beat nature at it’s own game. It’s not going to happen, folks. I gave up a long time ago. Let them fall. But, onward they trudge… plowing their way through the leaves, either cutting them up or picking them up, one day at a time. This is an impossible task. There is no way to keep up with it. But each day, they do battle with the trees in their yards, trying to. To them the downed leaves are a nuisance. To me, they’re a gift. At some point you’d think logic would win out. The trees are going to continue to drop their leaves… and, there is no way you’re going to get them all, until they‘re done. So… give it up, until the branches are EMPTY… then, tackle this chore. That’s what I do, and I don‘t lose any sleep over it. Sometimes, even Mother Nature helps, by providing a couple days, of gusty wind… to sweep them away. I embrace the season and all the wonders of it, including falling leaves… don’t you?