God grant you the light in Christmas, which is faith;
the warmth of Christmas, which is love;
the radiance of Christmas, which is purity;
the righteousness of Christmas, which is justice;
the belief in Christmas, which is truth;
& all of Christmas, which is Christ.
--Wilda English

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Teatime

I posted a couple days ago about discovering my Tea of the Month Collection which, for whatever reason, I thought was a Christmas collection of tea.  (You can read about it here if you missed it.)

I have been steadily working my way through the box & am having a cup of June's offering as I write this.  It occurred to me that my fellow tea lovers might be wondering what other teas were in the box & perhaps my thoughts about them as well, so here goes   : )

February - The Spice Is Right

This one held promise.  "This sweet & spicy green tea combines cinnamon, orange peel, cloves, & chili peppers for a zesty cup that warms you from the inside out."  I couldn't drink more than half a cup before pouring the rest down the sink & tossing away the little container of remaining tea. Not good at all.  

March - Hibiscus Punch

"This deep red tea is tart, fruity, & delicately spiced with the tropical flavors of hibiscus, mango, & cinnamon.  It's the ultimate iced tea."  The first few words seemed to describe me ... tart, fruity, & delicately spiced.  I didn't much care for it hot, but it was much better as it cooled. Definitely a good iced tea.  

April - Coconut Oolong

Does anything on this earth taste better than coconut???  The description says "Coconuts might be the most versatile food on the planet, but our favorite use has to be this blend.  Creamy, rich, sweet & fresh ... it's satisfying, comforting, & completely addictive."  No, it's not.  It's okay, but nothing to get excited about.  

May - Chocolate Macaroon

I almost pushed ahead the hands of time to get to this one!  Macaroons!  Chocolate!  Chocolate macaroons!  I was sure this would be the tea that the angels serve to Jesus at special times of the year.  "There's nothing quite like a classic coconut macaroon cookie ... & with black tea, toasted coconut, cacao ribs, & pecans, this rich nutty blend is just as good as the real thing."  As with the Coconut Oolong, no, it's not.  It's okay, but nothing to get excited about.

June - Hot Tropic

"Calling all beach bunnies!"  (Yeah, that's me.  Uh-huh.)  "This is a most excellent blend of tropical fruit, coconut, & spices.  It's sweet & mega creamy, just like a totally primo pina colada!  Cowabunga!" I've hopped a few bars in my past.  I remember the taste of a good pina colada.  This wasn't even close.  My thoughts?  Cowa-uh-uh!

While noodling around the internet this morning for a photo to go with this post, I found this one.
Doesn't she look comfy in her gray sweater?  She probably knit it herself.  I like to knit!  I like to wear gray sweaters!  And it must be delightfully cold outside because she's not only wearing that lovely gray sweater  ... she's wearing a beautiful green scarf which she also probably knit herself!  I like to wear green, & I'm in the process of knitting a green scarf-type thing!  And of course I LOVE cold weather!  She's drinking a nice hefty cup of tea.  I drink my tea from a nice hefty cup!  The similarities unfortunately end here.  She's a lovely woman, isn't she.  Serene, peaceful, content.

Here's me having my tea.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

What Is Truth?

This is going to be a lengthy post.  Grab yourself a cuppa & settle down in a comfy chair if you plan to read further.

Some people wouldn't recognize truth if it ran them down & then backed up over them.

On July 12, John & I went to a local furniture store & purchased a bedroom set, an end table, & a dining table & chairs.  I believe that I talked about the bedroom set in a prior post or two.  To briefly recap, we told the salesman (Brett) that we wanted solid wood furniture.  Brett said this bedroom set was solid cherry.  Based on the price of it & how beautiful it looked, we believed him.  After it was delivered, I looked up the manufacturer's website to see what their instructions were for taking care of it.  What I discovered was that the set was made in Vietnam using MDF.  MDF stands for Medium Density Fiberboard which is "an engineered wood product made by breaking down hardwood or softwood residuals into wood fibers, combining these fibers with wax & a resin binder, & forming panels by applying high temperature & pressure." The only parts of the furniture that were solid cherry were the drawer fronts.

Brett never admitted to lying or apologized for giving us incorrect information.  Instead he tried several times to tell us how wonderful this manufacturer is & how great the furniture is.  The store finally agreed to take back the bedroom set as well as the end table which also turned out to be made using MDF, & to refund our full purchase price.  

As for the dining table & chairs, Brett told us it was made of solid maple, by the Amish, & was therefore made to order.  He said we could expect delivery in 6-8 weeks, the latest delivery date being September 6.  We weren't too thrilled with this, but we really liked the set so we decided to wait.  On August 10 I wondered if it was too late to make a change in the color of stain we picked out.  After talking with the furniture rep, Brett said I had caught them "just in time."  He said the set was "almost finished, but not yet stained."  After making the color change, Brett said we did not lose our place in line & that "no production time would be lost."  Since the furniture only needed to be stained, I assumed it would be delivered in the not too distant future ... but August was almost over & I had heard nothing more about it.  I contacted Brett to ask for an update & he said there was a backlog at the factory & delivery wouldn't be until sometime in October.  I was not happy.  When I asked him how furniture that was "almost complete" on August 10 would now not be delivered until "sometime in October," he ignored the question. When I pointed out that he told me "no production time was lost," he said that he guessed making the change must have moved us back to the end of the line.  I said I wanted to cancel the order.  He said I couldn't do that because special orders cannot be canceled.  When I persisted, he said he asked the store owner & then the furniture rep who both said special orders cannot be canceled.  I was now beyond upset.  I spent hours on the internet trying to find out what, if anything, I could do.  I found a furniture manufacturer whistle blowing sort of forum, posted my dilemma, & found out that this furniture company making the table & chairs isn't even Amish!  I was given some suggestions, none of which panned out, so I ended up just having to accept the whole miserable situation & hope that (A) the furniture truly would be delivered sometime in October, & (B) that it would be nicely made.

You could have knocked me over with a feather when yesterday I received a phone call saying my table & chairs were ready & would delivery sometime today be convenient for me.  I said it would, & I then began to shift boxes around to make room for it.  The delivery guys brought it this morning, & here it is.

You are probably thinking "What an odd dining set ... 3 chairs, & that table pedestal looks suspiciously like a moving box."  Well, the delivery guys brought each piece in separately, & I looked them over closely.  One of the chairs had a large chip on the side, & the pedestal had one leg that looked like it had been painted & then someone touched their fingers to the paint in several areas before it had dried.  The delivery guys said "The store can send someone over here to repair that."  I said "I don't want to accept delivery & take the chance that it won't be repaired adequately."  They were rather miffed & called the store, then gave me the phone. The person on the other end asked me what was wrong.  I told him.  He said no problem ... that when they had ordered my set, they ordered 2 others exactly like it.  All I needed to do was come into the store & they would exchange the bad chair & the bad pedestal with ones from the other 2 sets.  I said that was acceptable.  When I asked who I was talking with, he answered "Brett." I should have known what I was in for.  

The delivery guys put the bad chair & the bad pedestal back on the truck & drove off to their next delivery.  I drove to the store to pick out replacements.  Brett took me to the back of the store where he had already had someone from the warehouse bring out another pedestal.  It looked worse than the one I had sent back, & it also seemed a tad off color.  Brett then asked for someone to bring out the other pedestal.  I reminded him that I needed a replacement chair as well.  

The second pedestal looked better, but there was an area where it looked like someone had dripped a big blob of paint on one of the legs but hadn't noticed, & the paint blob sort of ran down the leg a bit & pooled.  I pointed this out to Brett & said neither pedestal was acceptable.  He tried telling me that I ordered a "distressed" set & that this was part of the distressing.  I told him no ... the edges being sanded was distressing; fingerprints in the finish & paint blobs were not.  By this time the warehouse guy had brought out 2 chairs for me to take a look at.  They were both nice, but they also seemed to be a tad off color.    

As I was looking at the chairs, I turned at one point & there stood Brett with another man he introduced as the store owner, David.  David asked me what was wrong.  I told him about the delivery, then told him about the problems with the 2 replacement pedestals.  He looked at both of them, telling me he didn't see any problems. When I showed him, he tried to pass them off as being part of the distressing.  I told him I have a lot of distressed furniture in my home, & that sanded edges that have been stained, uneven edges, wormholes, certain gouges, etc ... yes, those are part of the distressing process ... but blobs of paint & fingerprints in the finish are not.  He then started telling me about how this furniture is hand made by the Amish (!) & that hand made things aren't perfect & that in all his life owning a furniture store he has never met anyone as picky as me.  He suggested that I choose the most acceptable of the 2 pedestals & take it home along with a replacement chair.  I told him I was a bit concerned about them being a bit different in color than what I sent back.  It turns out that I wasn't imagining this.  The two other dining sets ordered at the same time I ordered mine were not exactly the same as mine as Brett had stated. Mine was a maple set, the other two were cherry. David then said that the color was close enough & that no one would know that a maple table top was sitting on a cherry pedestal.  I told him I would know.  He then said he was giving up ... we could just part ways as friends & not let this get ugly.  He would send the delivery guys to pick up the pieces left in my home, & when I called & told Brett that they were on the truck, our money would be refunded.  I said that was acceptable to me.
  
The guys came & got the furniture.  I called Brett to tell him this & to give him our CC number for the refund.  He then told me that the store owner wanted to see the furniture first & that I should call back later this afternoon, around 4 o'clock. Now I've got a big knot in my stomach wondering what sort of wrench is going to be thrown into the works here.

Although we don't have the table & chairs we hoped to have, at least we didn't get rid of the set we've been using.
Addendum:  Our refund has been processed.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pondering

I've been pondering a lot of things lately.  Perhaps this is because every time I turn around I find another medical issue slapping me in the face ... or perhaps all the stress I've been under (which seems to be never-ending!) is getting to me ... or maybe it's because I'm nearing the age of 62 & pondering just steamrolls itself into your life at this juncture.  Then again, maybe the advent of fall just makes one ponder things.  I only know that some changes need to be made ... & while pondering about life & changes & anything else really, a cup of hot tea helps soothe the troubled soul.

BEINGS THAT CHRISTMAS EVE IS JUST 3 MONTHS AWAY FROM TODAY!!! (yes, I had to write that all in caps with exclamation points ... & you can't see it but you probably know that there's a big smile on my face as well!) ... I decided to be a little wild & crazy & break out the Christmas teas this morning.  I opened the tea cupboard where I have them stored.

I actually have 2 cupboards full of teas!
I put on my kettle.  I used to have a pretty red Le Creuset tea kettle that looked like this.
Two of them actually.  The first one was destroyed when, while I became occupied elsewhere while waiting for it to boil, all the water boiled out but the kettle remained on high heat. The same thing sort of happened with the replacement kettle just a few days after it was purchased.  With that kettle, I put it on the stove & turned on the high heat but forgot to put water in it   : (   I had gone out on the porch to talk with John for few minutes, then went inside & was greeted with ... well, you can imagine.  John & I decided it was maybe best for me not to have any more of these pretty kettles, so now I've got this Hamilton Beach electric one.
It boils water quickly & then shuts itself off.  And if you forget to put water in it in the first place (yes, it's happened) it just gets a little warm & then shuts itself off.  

After putting on the kettle, I set out my tea cup (a mug really).  
Then I chose a box of what I thought was assorted Christmas teas, but surprise!  It was actually a Tea of the Month Collection!  
I put it away after we opened gifts last Christmas thinking it was a Christmas assortment! I'm going to have a lot of catching up to do before I can get to the real Christmas teas, but for today I chose the September offering ... Cinnaberry.  You might not be able to read the description below, so here's what it says.

"Blueberry & cinnamon is a classic combo for a reason - the blend of sweet, juicy berries & warm spice is cozy, comforting, & just plain nostalgic.  It's like a hug in a cup."

I don't particularly like fruity teas, but I do like hugs.  This tea sounded good to me.


As it was brewing in my mug, it smelled quite good.
Did you happen to notice my teaspoon?  Here's a closer look.
Yes, I have a set of snowmen flatware.  
I've had it for about 20 years & have used it every day.  I do love snowmen   : )

The tea finished brewing & I took a sip.  Would it taste as good as it smelled?  (Please ignore the lack of makeup & the gnarled twisted hand ... this is my first selfie.)
Yes!  It's a good tea!  I give it my thumb's up! 
Hmmmm ... perhaps I need to ponder how to make better use of my time other than taking photos of myself making tea   : )

Friday, September 18, 2015

Hairstylists ... A Poll

Before I begin writing this blog post, let me ask you to take this short poll.  Choose the answer that you feel completes the statement most truthfully.

All hairstylists are ...

A.  Blind
B.  Almost blind
C.  Deaf
D.  Almost deaf
E.  Evil
F.  Mentally impaired
G.  All of the above

I shut off my alarm at 3:45 this morning.  I set it for that time because John was going to be traveling to the Cincinnati area for a Half Price Book Store Clearance Sale at the Sharonville Convention Center.  The doors of the convention center wouldn't open until 9 o'clock, & Cincinnati is only an hour & a half away, but he wanted to get there to be one of the first in line.  (His appetite was still whetted from his visit to the HPBSCS at the Louisville Expo Center last week.)  He decided to rent a hotel room so he could spend a few hours at the sale, then check in at the hotel, then go back to the sale, then out for something to eat, then back to the sale, & then back to the hotel to spend a restful night before getting up early tomorrow morning & checking in on the sale one more time before heading home.

I intended to go with him to keep him company. Not at the sale though.  My plan was to just sit in the car adding stitches to my crocheted blanket while he foraged for CDs & whatever else might call to him.  Weather.com, however, predicted the temp in Sharonville today to reach 87 degrees. We decided it would be ridiculous for me to sit in a hot car with a partially crocheted blanket on my lap for several hours until we could check in at the hotel, so he is there & I am here.  

After he left at 5 a.m., I closed & locked the door & thought about all the things I could accomplish today.  I promised him that I wouldn't lift anything heavier than half a gallon of milk, so rearranging boxes here in the townhouse or at either of the storage units was out.  I had some eBay sales to mail at the post office, so I knew I'd be making a trip there.  I then thought about how it would probably be the perfect day to maybe go back to the nearby furniture store & finally order a sofa.  I saw one there two weeks ago that was kind of what we've been looking for.  We were hoping to find another navy blue one like we had in the Devil's Playground, but this one only comes in brown or cream.  We were hoping for an all-leather sofa, but this one only has leather where your body touches it.  Otherwise it's a "leather blend."  We were hoping for a plain, simple, standard sofa, but have you gone to furniture stores to shop for sofas lately?  90% of all the sofas we have seen in all the furniture stores in this & the surrounding area have been reclining sofas.  They are the rage now apparently.  We don't like them, but we've given in.  

It didn't take me very long to think about the things I just told you about, so it was too early for me to go either to the post office or to the furniture store.  I decided to putz on the computer for a while.  Three hours later ... approximately 8:15 ... I looked at the clock, then wondered what I had been so engrossed in all that time.  I went downstairs to take my mass of morning pills & happened to glance at the mirror as I passed by.  John warns me repeatedly to not look at mirrors, but I never listen.
Take away the studded jacket, the black leather glove, & the microphone, & me & ol' Alice could've been twins.

I hadn't had my hair cut for several months ... not since the last fiasco where I told the stylist "I like my bangs long, below my eyebrows," & what she heard was "I want bangs like Mamie Eisenhower had." 
You can see why since that time I have been shy of returning to that or any other stylist, but even I couldn't stand my bangs ... or the rest of my hair ... any longer.  My hair was a tad below my shoulders.  My bangs were almost touching my top lip.  It was time. 

Before heading out the door, I decided to look on the computer for photos of the type of hairstyle I wanted.  I made sure to search for photos of women who were in my age bracket.  I've seen the look on the faces of stylists when I've showed them photos of 20-somethings, as if I were expecting them to remove a few inches of hair & a few decades from my age at the same time.  I wasn't having much luck, but I finally found a photo of Jane Curtin in her younger days, closely sporting the hairstyle I was striving for.  
With my printed photo in hand, I decided to visit a hair salon a short distance away in a nice strip mall.  I noticed that whenever John & I passed by in the car, they always looked busy.  I took that to be a good sign.  I got there about half an hour after the shop opened & just as one stylist was finishing up with a customer whose hair, I must say, looked delightful, & the customer looked delighted with it.  "I'll see you again next month," she said with a smile as she left the counter & headed for the door.  A returning customer!  I smiled, feeling confident that I would soon be calling out those words as well!  

The stylist greeted me & asked what I wanted her to do.  I showed her the photo & said, "I'd like my hair cut just like this, but parted in the middle. And I want my bangs long, just like these ... below my eyebrows, & longer on the sides (pointing to Jane's bangs)."  She took a look at the photo, then asked if I just wanted a cut or did I want a shampoo as well.  I thought hey, how often do I get my hair cut?  I'll spring for the shampoo too.  

She wasn't a chatty stylist.  I don't know about you, but I like a chatty stylist.  I'm not really very chatty myself.  I know my blog posts & emails often make me look the opposite, but I'm truly a rather reserved & quiet person.  But I like a chatty stylist, & if one isn't chatty, I try to engage her to be so.  When she took me back to shampoo my hair, I asked her how long she had been working at the salon.  "Thirteen years," she said.  I waited.  She didn't offer more.  I then said "You must really like it here!"  She said "Yes, I do."  Then silence.  I tried again ... "Is that how long you've been a stylist?  Thirteen years?"  She said "No, longer."  I gave up.  

When we got back to her station, she combed out my hair & sectioned off my bangs.  She cut off a bit, then asked if I wanted them shorter.  I said I wanted them just like the ones I showed her in the photo.  She said "Well, the woman in that photo is wearing sunglasses, & sunglasses can push up the bangs to make them shorter, so it's hard to tell how long they really are."  

Take another look ...
Do you see any sunglasses here?  

A more ballsy woman would have gotten up out of the chair, retrieved her purse, taken out the photo, showed it to the stylist, & asked "What sunglasses?"  But I felt kind of bad for her ... what with her being blind, or almost blind, or deaf, or almost deaf, or evil, or mentally impaired, or all those things ... so I simply said "Just a tad shorter," & she complied.  

She then asked me if I wanted her to layer my hair.  I said "I don't know, what do you think?"  She said "It's up to you."  I said "Is there any benefit to having it layered or not layered?"  She said "It's really up to you."  So I told her no, no layers.  She then took hold of a section of my hair with her left hand, & using her scissors to indicate a space about half an inch above my shoulders, asked  "How short do you want it?  About here?"  I saw her reflection in the mirror & noticed her own hair, the exact same length as Jane's in her photo. "Your hair is a nice length," I said brightly with a smile.  Then in my mind I congratulated myself on being such a darling customer, complimenting her & hereby having her want to go the extra mile in doing a good job of cutting my hair.    

Once again, the stylist's disability(ies) sadly interfered with her understanding.  I had hoped to surprise John when he comes home tomorrow looking somewhat like this.   
This is what he will see greeting him instead   : (

Sunday, September 13, 2015

eBay Stuff


I usually don't like to hawk my wares ... is that the term?  But a couple people asked me to post when I listed my tatting things for sale on eBay, so here's the post.

I've also listed some cross stitch stuff including some threads.  No, I'm not giving up on stitching ... just downsizing   : )

My eBay ID is lv2stitch53.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

I Should Be Proud, Right?

For the past couple of weeks, life decided to send me a a big bunch of stressful things ... one right after the other ... rather than spread them out over a few months or even a few years.  A lot of pesky little gnat-type things.  I rolled with the punches ... sometimes being knocked down but never knocked out.  Then today something occurred & I am just so proud of myself!!!

First, a little backstory.  I went to bed last night with a blanket!!!  Yes, a blanket!!!  What a wonderful word!  Ranks right up there with sweatshirt, mittens, & the Holy Grail of them all ... snow pants.  When I woke up this morning, the sky was gray & cloudy.  Leaves were blowing past the window.  A truly beautiful morning promising a truly beautiful day.  John stated that he was planning to head to the mall.  I said that I would come along.

We got to the mall just as it opened.  I stopped by the Godiva counter to treat myself to an open oyster freebie.  I paused in front of a few clothing stores, eyeing the wooly fall fashions, then not being able to eye my feet because of my belly being in the way, then eyeing the half-eaten open oyster freebie in my hand, then popping the rest of it into my mouth & moving on.  Of course I had to visit Williams-Sonoma.  Such a fun store!  I came home with a pasta pot.  Always wanted one of those, & how fortuitous!  I planned to make pasta today!

When we arrived home, I washed & readied my pasta pot, then started warming up the pasta sauce (yes, homemade ... by me) that had been thawing in the refrigerator.  I prepared some garlic bread to toast in the oven.  The sky was still gray & cloudy.  The leaves were still blowing past the window.  I thought about what a wonderful wife & person I am ... making my own pasta sauce, making my own garlic bread, buying a pasta pot. Then things started to head south.  Never having used the pasta pot before, I didn't know how long it would take for it to boil, or really how much water to put into it without running the risk of it boiling out all over the top of the stove when I added the pasta.  When the water finally did boil & I placed the pasta insert inside the pot, the water barely covered the pasta.  Not wanting to add more water & thereby wreak havoc with the delicate balance of boiling vs. nonboiling temperature, I stood at the pot with a wooden spoon, kind of tossing the pasta every which way through the breaking bubbles of water with the hope of getting it all to cook evenly.  Meanwhile, the sauce was bubbling up & escaping out of the tiny crack I had left between the lid & the pot, flinging itself onto the stove top & nearby counter. I discovered that it had also flung itself onto the floor when I stepped in something hot & wet that traveled through my sock to the bottom of my left foot.  At that point, the phone rang.  I looked at the Caller ID & saw that it was our son, Matt.  I thought about not answering it ... about how I could tell him next time "Oh, you called on Saturday afternoon?  We mustn't have been home!"  Then I thought about burning in hell & I picked up the phone.  John joined us on the extension upstairs.  I was chatty & upbeat ... an all around wonderful mother that any son would be delighted to have a conversation with on a Saturday afternoon ... all the while balancing the phone receiver on my shoulder, keeping an eye on the not-so-much-doneness of the pasta in the pasta pot & the ever escaping sauce in the sauce pot.  Our conversation ended & I placed the garlic bread in the oven.

I always bake my garlic bread slices for a few minutes, then crisp them under the broiler.  Today is the first day I used the broiler in this oven that is ours for the next 10 months.  Turns out half of it heats to a high degree, the other half to a lesser degree.  The only thing I could do at this point was reach into the oven to turn the pan around so the slices of garlic bread on the not-so-hot side would be on the hot side for their turn & all would be well with the world.  When I did this, I inadvertently twisted the Reynolds Wrap Heavy-Duty Tin Foil layer I always place on the bottom of ovens to help keep them clean.  Not being able to ignore much of anything askew, I reached back into the oven with the potholder to put the tin foil layer back in its place, at which time the skin of my left forearm met with the 425-plus degree metal oven shelf.  A long stripe of searing pain resulted.

I called John, mentioned that I had burned myself (he said something helpful like "you should be more careful"), removed the garlic bread from the oven, warmed the plates, rinsed the pasta, stirred the sauce, & we had a surprisingly delicious dinner!

After washing the dishes, I thought "I should probably put something on this burn."  I had some medicinal wash, but no burn ointment that I could see.  I did find some herbal cream which was indicated to be "soothing for burns."  The directions said to wash the area, apply the cream, & then cover with gauze.  I was pretty sure that we didn't have any gauze, & I was right. No first aid tape either.  The Band-Aids remaining in the box were too small.  Then Ingenuity entered the day!  I spied my box of Always Panti-Liners. Snipping off a bit of an end, I applied it over my wound & secured it with 3 of the too-small Band-Aids, & voila!

Aunt Vera Update

My thanks to all of you who have been in prayer for my Aunt Vera.  She came home from the hospital on Thursday & is feeling good.  The fluid retention was controlled with intravenous Lasix & then the same med in pill form which she will continue to take indefinitely.  She was also found to have a leaky heart valve or two, & whatever medication they are giving her for that problem is likewise working well.  She is in good spirits.  She goes to her oncologist's office for another dose of chemo in 2 weeks, & then at the end of October she will see him for an appointment & is hoping that he will say "no need for any more chemo."  I am hoping the same.