Friday, October 29, 2010

It came with everything but the thing I needed most

Hpprinter A couple of weeks ago, I bought a new printer.  I decided not to buy the most basic, El-Cheapo one because the time I did that it lasted a couple of weeks and poof!  Broken.  So this time, I bought a middle of the road one and paid (on sale) $129.99.

Low and behold I get this little printer home, go to set it up and -- hello!  There's no printer cord.  I spent $129 (plus 8% tax) to buy this sucker, and I can't use it until I go back to the store to buy a cord to hook it up to my computer.

Holy smoke--The prices were ridiculous!  It was $34 for a six foot cord.  I went for the three foot cord thinking that since the printer was going to be right next to the computer that it would do.  And it does--just barely.  The cost?  $24.99 plus tax.

That meant my $130 printer was really $155.  Grrrrrr!

And what has some cheapskate company gypped you out of lately?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Oops--lost another pair

I'm like an absent-minded professor (without the PhD, that is). I have a very bad habit of losing things.  Hubby calls it "the-drop-and-go" syndrome.  I'll be carrying something in my hand (glass of water, car keys, glasses, scissors, pens, pencils, camera, purse, and the list goes on and on and on) and because I'm thinking of something else, I'll set it down on my way to somewhere else . . . and forget where I put it.  This means I spend a lot of time looking for stuff.

One of the things I lose the most is reading glasses.  Now, if I only had one pair of them, it would be one thing.  But I have at LEAST six pairs of them around the house.  I keep them any place I like to plop down to read:  The dining room, the living room, my office, the bedroom, the enclosed porch, and the family room.  You'd think that with six pairs I would always have a pair available.

That would work if I didn't wear them on travels to the kitchen, to answer the door, or wandering around looking for something else.  So I take them off, drop them wherever and keep moving.

Cheaters To fight the syndrome, instead of becoming much more efficient I've bought four more pair of "cheaters" (reading glasses).  I have no idea where I'm going to put them (there are no safe places--I forget where I put stuff, remember), so it's a fair bet that I'll lose these in no time flat, too.  (I've found if I have a glasses case in a certain spot (like my office or the porch), I'm better at putting them away.

Guess I'd better go buy some more glasses cases.

How about you?  Do you have drop-and-go syndrome, too?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Broccoli & Cheese -- hate that combination

Yesterday was my 19th Wedding Anniversary.  To celebrate, Hubby and I went out to lunch at the wonderful little restaurant around the corner from us.  (They make a pretty mean martini there, too.)

Brocolli quiche Anyway, I've been hankering for a piece of quiche for quite some time and thought -- that's what I'll have.  Mr. Lorraine warned me that the quiche of the day would be broccoli and cheddar.  Why?  Because whenever there's a quiche of the day, no matter WHERE we go for lunch, it's ALWAYS broccoli and cheddar.

Now, I happen to like both broccoli AND cheddar, but for some reason, not in the same dish. Why or WHY do restaurants insist that this is the only quiche that people want to eat?

Is there a glut of broccoli?  If so, I hadn't heard about it (or seen it in the supermarket).  Has something happened to the cheese industry and now they're ONLY making cheddar?  (Hmm...maybe I should warn my friend Avery Aames, who writes the Cheese Shop Mysteries -- maybe her character can solve this mystery.)
As it happens, I had my back-up choice all picked out.  Mediterranean pasta, with artichoke hearts,  kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and a bunch of other good stuff.

Eventually our waitress asked the dreaded question:  "Ready to order?"

Brocolli quiche2 "What's the quiche of the day?"

"Broccoli and cheddar.  And it comes with a wonderful salad all studded with strawberries and melon."

(Did I mention that I absolutely LOATHE strawberries and melon?)
Then she paused and added as an afterthought, and in a much more quiet voice, like it was an embarrassment.  "Oh, and we also have quiche Lorraine."


It was de-lish!

Is there something you like to order at restaurants but they never seem to have?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rest In Peace, little mouse

Dr. McCoy  There's an old saying, "You don't know what you've got until you lose it."

I have lost my pink wireless mouse.

Well, lost isn't exactly true.  It's sitting here on my desk.  The little red light underneath shines brightly when I pick it up, but ... to quote Star Trek's Dr. McCoy, "It's dead, Jim."

I was out of town and working on the laptop when it happened.  I do not like the mouse device/pad they give you on a laptop.  For one thing, I can never highlight anything with it.  The idea of approaching the Microsoft pink mouse day's work without my wireless mouse was daunting.  But I was out in the sticks.  Where was I going to find another wireless mouse?  The nearest Walmart was at least a half an hour's drive (if not more).

I had another mouse in my laptop case, but even with new batteries it didn't want to work, either.

Someone on Facebook told me that dropping a mouse (which I seem to do a lot, thanks to my cute but tiny desk) will kill it.  Um...I think I dropped it three times the day before it died.  But I was working along and it just stopped dead.  So I changed the battery (which I'd had to do about every three weeks during the summer).

RIP tombstone Dead, dead, dead.

Oh well, glad I had gassed up the car the day before, because it looked like Walmart here I come.  Except . . . I think I'm done with wireless mice.  I decided to get one with a wire.

They seem to live longer.

Monday, October 25, 2010

If you love it, they will change it

Counry woman mag A couple of weeks ago, I hit pay dirt at a yard sale.  An entire paper box of old Taste of Home magazines and Country Woman magazines for $5.  (We're talking less than 5 cents each.)

I first found Taste of Home on a magazine rack in Lewiston, NY.  I was on my way to England via Toronto and wanted something to read on the plane.  Wee, this was fun!  A magazine with no advertising that was all about food. It had lots of cornball--but fun--sidebars, like "My Most Embarrassing Moment In The Kitchen," stuff kids got wrong (like saying a teacher's name was Miss Salad Bar instead of Miss Salazar), ridiculous menus that could "feed your family for $1.35 a plate" (yeah, if you had most of the spices in stock and had a family of 6-8).

Every issue was good for at least an hour or two of pure reading pleasure.
And the recipes were easy, with only a few ingredients.  (And they always featured a page or two of cooking for one or two, which is great if that's the size of your family.)

Tasteofhomelogo We ended up subscribing to a bunch of these Reiman Magazines.  And on a business trip, we even stopped and checked out the home base in Greendale, Wisconsin.

And then, as always happens when something is successful and bucks the trends, they got offered a big pile of money and got bought out.  In this case, to Readers Digest.  It wasn't long before Taste of Home went right down the toilet--IMNSHO.

All the cute, fun, cornball stuff was gone.  Gone were My Mom's Best Meal, and the like.  Everything that made the magazine(s) charming and unique was gone.  They decided to aim at a bigger demographic than just farm wives.  (Hey, I wasn't a farm wife, and I enjoyed it.) It became just another slick magazine and I stopped renewing.  That's why I buy up every old issue of the magazine I can find at yard sales.  Okay,  I now own three copies of some issues, but when you buy them for pennies a copy, what's the difference?

New coke This whole situation reminds me of how Coca-Cola miscalculated when they decided to dump their successful Coke for New Coke.  Consumers let them know in a hurry what a big mistake that was.  Only so far it seems like Readers Digest won this round.  They may have found new readers, but I'll bet they lost a heck of a lot of their reader base, too.

What have you enjoyed that was ruined by improvements?

Friday, October 22, 2010

The great idea I forgot

Postitnotes I'm a listmaker.  I have lists all around me.  Or at least I have Post-It notes here there and everywhere to remind me of things I want to remember.  Why?  Because I'm a scatterbrain.  My Dad used to say my head was filled with Tommyrot.  It's been proven that multi-tasking is a big waste of time and that you get less done when you're trying to do too many things at once.  Well, my brain likes to multitask and then I forget stuff.

The thing I seem to forget about the most is blog topics.  Oooh...I had a beauty all planned for today.  I thought about it while I was cutting up a cold roast chicken yesterday morning--to make chicken salad.  (I LOVE chicken salad.)  But my hands were all greasy, and then I had to wash Chicken salad them, and get out the Mayo, and I figured I'd write it down as soon as I did that.

Well, I was also listening to a book on tape, so when I finished with the chicken and the mayo, I was so caught up in the story that I forgot to write down the blog topic.

And so today I'm writing about forgetting about what I wanted to write about.

I also leap out of my chair several times a day, charge across the house to do or get something, and then, because I'm thinking about three other things at the same time, get to my destination and wonder what the heck I wanted to do.

Multitasking?  Forgetaboutit.

How about you?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Could my house be haunted?

Haunted-house After living in the here for 17 years, I'm beginning to wonder if my house is haunted.  Or maybe it's just my office.

Sometimes I get up earlier than my husband.  (Okay, I ALWAYS get up earlier than him.)  And I'll be sitting here in the office and it's deadly quiet.  And then the noises start.  Things bumping around.  It'll sound like someone is taking the pool tools (which hang on the side of the house) off and putting them back up again.  Every so often there's a really loud CRACK that seems to come from around the window that overlooks the (postage-sized) back yard.

I've given it a LOT of thought and ... I'm pretty sure that I'm afraid of ghosts.  Can they harm you?  I don't know.  Do they want to communicate?  Maybe that's why all the noises?  We have a farm behind us--no people--so don't have drapes on that side of the house.  But Ghostie sometimes I get nervous and wish we did.  When the noises start, will there be a ghostie hovering outside my window or just a plain old burglar?  (Burglars usually don't want to be caught so are QUIET. So who's making all this noise?)

I used to babysit for a couple who had a noisy house.  "Don't worry, the house is just settling," the lady would say every time they left me in charge of their kids.  Well, it sure settled a lot when I was there.  There were all kinds of bumps and noises.  I did not like babysitting for them and was glad when I finally just stopped babysitting altogether.

So where do you think all these noises in my office are coming from?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I love my cats, I love my cats, I love my cats . . .

Duvet Way back in 1995, Hubby and I took a trip to England and learned the joys of sleeping under a duvet.  My mother had been telling me for years I would like it, but being an obstinate daughter, I didn't listen.

Whoa!  I'm not too proud to say I was wrong.

I was WRONG.  She was right. I loved it.  No more heavy blankets. Just one light and fluffy down comforter to keep you toasty warm on the coldest winter night, and not overly hot on a summer's eve.

I've got two of them and alternate them on the bed.  I must say that the old one, which is pretty lightweight, is still the better of the two comforters.  But they both have the same problem:  the feathers get jammed in the baffles on one area of the bed.  The middle.

George Why is it that a couple buys a king-sized bed because they want to sleep in comfort and then allow their pets to sleep with them?  It wasn't my idea.  For the first half of our marriage we were happily pet free at night.  But then we got George the tiny terrorist, who beat up all the older bigger cats and the next thing you know, the cat he beat up the most was in bed with us, because that's the only way he was safe.

Sadly, George was my one cat failure.  No matter what we tried, he would NOT fit in.  So we found him a forever home with a wonderful lady and her resident cat, who George has not attacked in the six years they've lived together.  Go figure!

Cats on duvet But now that Chester was ensconced, we left the door open at night should he hear the call of nature.  And now we have THREE cats sleeping with us.  Here we two humans are forced to cling to the edges of the bed while three cats sprawl out wherever they please.  And since all the feathers in the duvet seem to end up in the middle, that's where they are most comfortable.

So, come winter, I tend to bring a big beach towel to bed with me, because at least 1/4 of me is not going to have any of that warm and (somewhat) fluffy Popscicle duvet and what I do have does not have any feathers and I feel like a Popsicle.

No yogi gave me a mantra, but I have one anyway:  I love my cats.  I love my cats.  I love my cats . . .

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Don't fall on me!

Piles of paper Why is it that paper seems to breed in my office?  I've been avoiding my office easy chair for some time because the little table next to it was so piled full of papers they'd spilled over onto the chair (which also houses a bunch of other stuff making it unfit to sit in).

Over the weekend I'd had it.  I decided it was time to tackle that pile.  And I tossed more than half of it.  But now I have to figure out where to put the papers I saved.

They consist of:  recipes, magazine articles, old invoices, receipts, manuscript formatting instructions, newsletters, software instructions, newspaper clippings, and other odd things.
So, once I have them all sorted into the appropriate piles (Um, that hasn't happened quite yet), what do I do with them?

File cabinet I have a nice oak four-drawer file cabinet . . . which also happens to be stuffed to bursting.  It's time to lighten that load, too.  But here comes the problem:  no time.  Not between my "day job" and taking care of a house and cats.  I can't even stuff it in the closet (which I sorted through the week before, because it's now crammed full again).

I'm starting to think the best thing might be to just toss this stuff in the recycle bin and start all over again.  I mean, I haven't missed it so far, right?

But ... I won't do that either.

I need a black hole to hide the stuff in.

Do papers breed in your house, too?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Unnecessary ingredients

Lean cuisine I kvetch about processed food, but unfortunately, it's still a part of my life.  The grocery store had Lean Cuisine entrees on sale and I though I'd stock up on a few because some nights who wants to cook?

Last night was one of those "I can't be bothered" nights and I went to the freezer and picked out a couple of boxes:  Stuffed cabbage for Mr. L and turkey, stuffing and apples for me.

When I asked Mr. L how his dinner was, he grunted and said, "Not like Mary made."  (Mary is his Polish mother.)  Mine ... eeew!  First of all, I am not a gravy fan and the stuffing was covered with it.  The turkey was a tough as shoe leather, and the apples ...

Stick your tongue out Why do food manufactures always think they have to improve on nature?  Apples are usually pretty sweet.  I always buy unsweetened applesauce and am amazed at why anybody would buy them sweetened.  You actually taste the apple in unsweetened applesauce, but when it's sweetened, all you taste is high-fructose corn syrup.

The apples in my entree were like that.  Dreadful.  I won't be buying that Lean Cuisine entree ever again.

Simple fact:  if food manufactures didn't put so much salt in their products, there'd be a lot less people taking pills for hypertension.  If food manufacturers didn't put so much corn syrup in everything we eat, there'd be less obesity.

End of ran.

Friday, October 15, 2010

All that work and no sale, either

I am a sucker for most of the shows on HGTV.  It's a good thing my cable package doesn't include it, because I'd never get anything done.  I mean, I'd sit there 24/7 with toothpicks holding my eyes open.  My mother does get HGTV and darned if it isn't on when I go to visit just about every day.
Sabrina-Soto-updated-bio_al One of the shows I love to watch is GET IT SOLD.  Every episode, home staging expert Sabrina Soto (that's how she introduces herself) strips a home of any personality it has, and makes it as bland as possible so that people can (theoretically) sell their hard-to-move houses and usually does it for a grand or less.

Often, the homes do need to be stripped of all personality.  Garish paint colors, floor to ceiling clutter, crammed full of kid toys, and wall-to-wall religious pictures on the walls--those places need staging help.  But I was particularly offended on an episode yesterday where Sabrina made the homeowner pack up every single book and put them in storage.  I will admit that the bookcase was in the dining room, which is kind of an odd place to put it, but apparently the family liked to read while they ate.

Buyers hate this Some of the changes are quick fixes that make me cringe.  A kitchen had a "dated" border, so they sanded them down (ruining them forever) and painted them black.  This looked pretty good on a TV screen, but I'll bet in person it looked like what it was:  a cheap fix that did more harm than good. The new homeowner is going to have to do something about that, and it won't be a cheap fix to undo.  (I've taken off a tile backsplash before and it destroyed the plasterboard behind it.)

What's worse, in nearly all cases, they check back with the family between two and four weeks after the staging and the house still hasn't sold.  What does that tell me?  Well, this is a tough market, but that most people don't give a hoot what the furniture looks like.

Before we bought our house, we looked at 84 houses.  We'd make the rounds every Sunday week after week, month after month.  We told our agent we wanted a ranch, she showed us everything BUT ranch homes.  In fact, we asked her to take us through the house we bought, and she wouldn't.  "It's only got a bath and a half."  So I waited until they had an open house.  The house was perfect for us.

John Denver Today, it wouldn't have passed muster.  You see, the homeowner's personalities were right on show.  The lady of the house quilted.  The man wasn't a professional photographer, but took portraits as a hobby.  John Denver came to town and darned if he didn't talk him into posing for him.  (There were a couple of other celebrity photographs on the wall, but 17 years later, I've forgotten who they were.)

One thing that really struck me was the blend of antiques and contemporary furniture.  They had a marble topped commode.  For the past 17 years I've pined for something with a marble top (just never found anything I liked enough).  Of course, after 17 years, there's very little of their personalities left in the house.  We've changed the landscaping (back and front), we've totally redone the entryway and the bathroom, and our decorating taste is totally different.  This is our house now.

HGTV So maybe those shows do have it right.  Maybe the buyers need to see a bland backdrop and try to imagine where they'll put their chairs and tables and bookcases (if they have any).  But I'm still not convinced staging sells homes.  Not when every show seems to end with the words, "They have confidence they'll get an offer soon."  Funny.  Those homeowners don't look very confident.

What's your favorite HGTV program?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Is it just a gold ball?

Sherwood Inn Recently, hubby took me out to lunch at the Sherwood Inn in beautiful Skaneateles, NY.  It's a picturesque little village on the shores of Skaneateles Lake.  Although it was a dull, gray day, we still had a good time, and a lovely meal.  (I had the wonderful potato-leek soup, and then the ham, swiss cheese and leek quiche.  Divine!)

While wandering around the village, we visited the local bookstore (all the books were face out.  Hmmm), were disappointed to see that the ice cream shop was gone, as was the Christmas store (unless they moved way down the block).  But the little thrift shop in the basement of a huge old home (now a real estate office) was still there, and of course I had to buy something.  In fact, I bought three things.  The first two were Syracuse China (restaurant china) soup cups.  And as I was waiting to check out, something else caught my eye.

A gold ball.

Gold_ball I don't know what made me grab it.  Maybe it was the price:  $1.25.  I'd considered buying witch balls before, but was always put off by the expensive (to this junker--$10+) prices.  So when I saw this little beauty, I just had to have it.

Later that evening, we were watching Star Trek Voyager.  A very nasty virus had contaminated the ship and Captain Janeway stripped down to her skivvies and was blasting them with a phaser rifle.  (Go, Kathryn!)

While we were watching, I'd taken the gold ball out of the bag and was rolling it around on the couch (which is a bit difficult as it's weighted--probably so it doesn't roll away).  Captain Janeway had just blasted one of the aliens when hubby says:  "I'll bet there's an alien squirreled away in that gold ball."

Oh, dear. My lovely new toy might be a sinister death trap.

Suddenly I had a terrible decision to make:  should I toss it in the trash and hope that when the aliens emerged they'd do it at the landfill, or should I be brave and hope to battle it out with them myself--sans phaser rifle.
Instead, I put it on my shelf and admire it's beauty whenever I walk by.

(But I'm still watching--just in case it does explode with a bunch of alien critters bent on destruction.  Can't be too careful, you know.)