Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Shopping as a blood sport

I am just about the biggest fan of shopping you will ever meet. I hate to admit it, but I get this high from spending money - this buzzing feeling in my chest. Seriously - it's like a super opiate for me. I also LOVE saving money and finding deals. That is why the day after Thanksgiving - aka Black Friday is one of my favorite days of the year. You wake up well before it gets light out, and chug down some coffee - then go out and warm up the car (because you KNOW it's going to be F-r-eeeeeezing out there) - and then head out to stores - most of them open at 5:00 - but at Best Buy, they're starting to give away tickets for the high-demand-super-low-price items at 3:00 am.

In years past I've had shopping carts rammed into my ankles - I've been a part of the human swell that rushes into the store - I've had to pee for HOURS, but been unwilling to lose my place in line - I've had my cart and items from it stolen, etc. And I've loved every minute of it. The day after Thanksgiving at any major retailer is no place for the weak of heart. I remember sitting at my mother's feet listening to her tales of buying cabbage patch kids back in the mid-eighties. I don't want anything that horribly bad this year - none of the big ticket items - but I'm excited to go regardless. Honestly, I'd be psyched if all I was looking for was a pack of underwear - as I'm positive I could find them for a mere fraction of their original cost.

This year, going out shopping on Black Friday has more significance than it has in the past - we've got the whole economic slowdown thing happening, and retailers everywhere are DESPERATE for us to spend some of our money (especially with creditors rapidly pulling in the purse strings) on the things we don't need for the ones we love. I'm eying some dvds and a $25 microwave at Walmart - along with some super fuzzy socks for Azi. This makes me happy because every penny I spend is just me doing my part to help the country - yay me!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Paring Knives and Subtitles

This weekend was the last one I'll have off between now and Christmas, and I had grand plans to do lots o' baking. I did not, in fact, do lots o' baking. On Saturday we pretty much just laid low around the house, and I planned on starting my barrage of baked goods when I took Azi to a birthday party at 4:30 - but I decided to swing by and drop off all of Sarah's mail that's been accidentally forwarded to my new house and we ended up playing Monopoly and watching True Blood (which I'd never seen and is absolutely laden with sexy, sexy, sexy vampires and non-vampires - good stuff). I finally made the pumpkin cheesecake streudel squares when I got home around 10:00 - they were QUITE yummy.

Sunday was a pretty lazy day - I finally watched Persepolis, which I've been waiting to see since the Oscars last year - it was as good as, if not better than, I expected - I totally give it many, many thumbs up - it was incredibly well done and I love the fact that it's from a woman's memoirs and that even though it's an animated movie, they kept the original voices and went with subtitles. My second subtitled movie of the weekend was Mongol - I'd started it on Saturday night after I finished making the cheesecake squares, and had fallen asleep. It's never good to watch a movie with subtitles as you're going to sleep - there's just no way to keep up unless you speak the language. Mongol does not get two thumbs up from me. It was an okay movie - but I was expecting more from it - and wasn't impressed. The costumes and visuals and everything were INCREDIBLE, but I just wasn't in love with the story.

Last night, Dad came over to eat some of the fish chowder I'd made earlier in the day - this is where my paring knife comes in - my nice, new, little pampered chef paring knife - while I was cutting up the last piece of pollock for my chowder, I sliced into the end of my thumb instead of the fish - or maybe in addition to the fish. Of course, the first aid kit I keep in my kitchen for just such a situation is in some unknown box (probably in the storage room) - so I went the fancy paper towel route for staunching the bleeding. I raided the first aid kit at work this morning and bandaged it up nicely (don't tell the director, we're facing big budget cuts and I did take a couple of bandaids home with me so I can replace them after I take a shower tomorrow - shhhhhh). That's my big life threatening injury story (okay - not life threatening, but my fingerprint on my left thumb will never be the same).

Dad and I got to talking about Night Watch and Day Watch - a couple of crazy russian movies. I gave him Night Watch for christmas a couple of years ago and was telling him that Day Watch is available on Netflix to watch on the computer. I decided I needed to watch Night Watch again before I could see the sequal - so after he left last night, I settled down and watched it - once again with the subtitles. That's when it hit me that it seems as though I've seen an extraordinary amount of subtitles in the past few days - weird, right? I might watch Day Watch tonight, but, I'm thinking I should probably - instead - go to bed at a reasonable hour because I've got both jobs tomorrow - YUCKO. At least I have a couple of hours between them, that's good - Azi and I can actually spend a little time together.

I'm starting to make my battle plan for Black Friday. According to my old landlord, I should be getting my security deposit back on Wednesday - which might allow for a wee shopping budget - we can only hope!

OH! The most important thing of all - we had our first real snowfall on Saturday - don't worry - I took pictures!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Would you like a warm, fuzzy feeling?

Who wouldn't? I just discovered the coolest website for those of us out there who love love love to buy presents for people, but who feel a little bit guilty about the blatant materialism all of these gifts represent - it's the Oxfam America Unwrapped - for specific amounts of money you can buy things in another person's name (they receive a personalized card with the details of your gift to them). It's not your traditional "$50 has been donated in your name to the Salvation Army" (not that I'm saying that it's bad to donate to the Salvation Army - I'm a big fan!!) - but you can buy specific items like:
For $150 you could purchase a Farmer's Flock - which includes one cow and two sheep to a traditional herder - which in turn provides nutrition to their family - pretty cool, right?
Now, if you're a really big spender (this would not be me, although I wish it could be) - you can spend $1500 to Rebuild a Primary School: Back to school! For many of the world's children, going to school is a dream. For kids living in war zones or conflict-ridden areas, their access to schools—even if families can afford costly fees and supplies—can be slim. During conflicts, schools are often looted and badly vandalized. With your gift, you replace broken windows and doors and supply new desks, blackboards, and books. Rebuilding a community school gives children the opportunity for an education, a safe haven, and a focal point for community peace building.
However, if that's way beyond your budget area, they do have a section of the website that only has gifts under $25, including: Beaded Jewelry, A pair of school uniforms, you can even Irrigate a farmer's land for two months, and a lot of other things.
I'm not normally all about advertising and things like that - but I think this is a really right on way to give gifts. I'm not saying we should keep our children from all the plastic junk they crave - but I can't imagine your brother-in-law enjoying anything more than an Emergency Toilet!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

At least I don't work at the stock exchange

Just in case you hadn't noticed - the country isn't doing very well economically. I hate to be the bearer of bad news - but I have a hunch you might have seen something on the news about this recently. I've been watching my retirement fund dwindling down (I've lost $305 in the last week alone) and thinking about the future. I wouldn't say it's bleak or anything depressing like that - let's just say it's a much thriftier picture than I had previously envisioned. I've always had this little pipe dream that eventually I would join that elite group known as the upper middle class. I've heard talk that the middle class is disappearing, and as I know that to be a richie rich is not anywhere in my future (no matter how cloudy your crystal ball) - I think I'll have to be happy where I am.

Asrai and I had a big talk about the big guy - no, not that one - SANTA!! She knows the reason I'm working two jobs is not so we can have "the most awesome Christmas EVER" - it's so that we can afford to be in our beautiful new house and I can (try) to put some money in savings. She said that she was just going to ask Santa for all the expensive stuff she wanted for Christmas. Now, I admit, I'm very lucky - my daughter is an intelligent little gal - and she's been following the news and everything lately - I made the point to her that with so many people having lost their jobs lately, probably Santa was going to need to pick up the slack for parents who had NO money for presents. She understood. Of course, I'm going to figure out some way to do amazing things for Christmas, and will doubtlessly spend more than I should on her presents - as I always have done, and to be honest, I think I enjoy it more than she does. But, I was very toned down with her birthday - so we'll see if I can keep that up for Christmas.

Speaking of which, I'm very excited - Kathryn and I are going to be going down to the LLBean Employee store on 12/5 - I am THRILLED at the prospect of 5 for a dollar shirts and new leather boots for $6 - I will be sure to take loads of pictures.

Okay - I've got to get ready to head to job number two - I guess with things the way they are, and unemployment rates soaring - I should feel extremely lucky to have not just one, but TWO jobs!! Go me!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wrapping Paper and Christmas Dinner

I love wrapping paper. In fact, I love wrapping paper so much that when Azi and I go shopping and we come upon a holiday paper display, she takes me by the hand (none too gently) and pulls me in another direction. Unfortunately, the internet has provided me with plenty of websites to keep me in wrapping paper for decades to come - check this out.

Maybe I should go to therapy to treat my wrapping paper addiction - I probably have enough rolls to wrap gifts for the next twenty-to-thirty years - I just can't help myself - it's all soooooo beautiful. Maybe I should get a new hobby. But when it comes time to wrap all my Christmas presents and I have dozens and dozens of choices - that makes me smile; and when I see all those beautiful packages under the tree - I smile a little more (my cheeks hurt a lot in December). I told Faith while she was visiting that the best present anyone could give me would be a big box full of wrapping paper (beautifully wrapped up, of course). I've already bought a few presents and am resisting the urge to wrap them before we get the tree - I want to do a whole big weekend around it.

Speaking of Christmas, I'm going to do a big family dinner at our new place. Conni, Dan and their kiddos will all be in Florida, and in all honesty, I'm pretty sure the whole family wouldn't fit in our house at one time -but I think I can squish Mom, Dad, Jeanne and Sarah's crew in. I can't WAIT to roast a turkey and do all the fixings. It'll be my first time hosting the holiday dinner. How very special!! I've already started looking for interesting recipes online - I got a recipe for artichoke puffs that sound super yummy. I'll probably do as much of it as I can on Christmas Eve when Azi goes to bed - we'll see!! I'll enlist Dad's help too, of course.

I shall keep all of my rabid readers (that would you be you, Sara) informed on my culinary decisions.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Some Reviews

So - I went and saw the Full Monty with my sisters and Janice and a couple of other gals - and I just realized that I hadn't reviewed it. We saw it at the Waterville Opera House, which is a really nice theatre - I was suprised, Waterville's actually quite a cute little town. The show was fantastic - I really can't even explain how fantastic it was. I had seen the show done by a professional group in 2006 and it was wonderful - but the fact that all of the actors/singers in this show were local was really awesome - we got to experience some wonderful local accents. And the most important part - at the end where they go the full monty - they totally did - and I totally saw some junk. Good times were had by all. Before we went to the show, we had dinner at this awesome little pizza place called the Grand Central Cafe - the food was totally delicious - it was a good night all around.

Then Faith cut my hair afterwards and I feel a bit more like a normal human being now.

Azi just got her school pictures back. I've noticed something about school pictures - if you pay for the big package, you end up with not very nice pictures, but if you only go with the cheap little package, you end up with great photos you want lots and lots of copies of. I went with the cheap package and love the picture - she hates it - such is life, right?

I am so happy that it's Friday - even though this was a choppy week (Tuesday off, that is a good thing) - it still feels like I've been sitting at my desk for decades without reprieve. Unfortunately, I've got to work at LLBean on Saturday and Sunday - hopefully that won't wear me down and make me feel like I haven't gotten a real weekend - you need to have a real weekend, right?

I think I'm going to try making something new on Sunday - I don't have to work until 5:30 and Azi  ill be at Mom and Jeanne's house - I'm not sure what to make - I've never made fudge before and really want to try out the recipe I've got for eggnog fudge - man that stuff is goooooood. Just a reminder that I have no need/desire to be skinny and hungry for yummy stuff.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ooooh - Christmas!

I'm in a holiday mood right now. I just called in and qualified for a contest through the local "easy listening" station. I feel a little bad because Mary has been listening to the station and calling in and trying to get entered into the drawing - and Angela came out and said it was time to call (she listens to the station during the day) - and I seem to have some sort of a knack for being the right caller on the radio. I made sure I knew the name of the station first too. I'd LOVE to win - because Azi and I could go to the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular - and stay in a hotel in NYC. So - they do the drawing the day before Thanksgiving - that means it won't be too long until I know if I won or not. I'm not quite as lucky when it comes to having my name drawn from a bunch of others, but someone has to win, so it might as well be me, right?

Each day I'm loving my new house a little bit more. We had Tuesday off for Veteran's day - Azi had Sam over for the day, and I tried out a recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies with a sweet cream cheese filling. They were obscenely good. But the recipe made so many that I was handing them out willy nilly, only to discover that we didn't end up with many at home! (not necessarily a bad thing if I don't want to have to purchase an entire new wardrobe. I love my lovely house - coming home after work and making dinner, and sitting down with Azi - I've been sewing a lot lately, making her different things for her American Girl Doll.

I do think it's a little scary to think that I enjoy going right home after work to hang out with my 10-year-old and sew and cook, and pet my cats. It's scary in a "jessy is a big old loser" kind of way - but I'm very happy - so I will accept the metaphorical "L" on my forehead.

Tonight I might make zucchini bread! I bet you're jealous!!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Karaoke, Slippers, and Being a Bad Neighbor

I am a very nice girl. I really am - I'm not a big ol' party animal or anything - if I'm staying up late, it's most likely because I'm reading a book. These are a few of the things I told my new landlords before I moved in. And I was speaking the truth - I'm just not wild and crazy (anymore).

By now you've probably figured out that the subject of this blog is going to be how I blew that whole idea less than two weeks before moving in.

Today is Dad's birthday (56 - Jeepers Creepers!!), and last night, Faith and I invited him to come over after he got out of work at Border's for his birthday presents. Earlier in the evening, I'd been talking to the landlord (they live next door) - she was putting my neighbor's cat upstairs because it was raining and Cindy (the upstairs neighbor) was going to be working all night (she's a nurse that works nights).

Dad finally got there a little before 11:00 - we did presents, hung out, and I told them Cindy wasn't home, so we should play some SingStar (because Azi could sleep through gunfire an inch from her head - the girl is a deep sleeper). We were playing at a reasonable volume, but then Faith wanted to make a video of it - so we cranked up the TV so you could hear it better. About 1 1/2 minutes into Dad and my battle/duet, we hear a knock on my door - by now it's 1:00 in the morning (on a Thursday).

It was my upstairs neighbor - I made Faith answer it because I was freaking out about it a little. Sometimes I don't quite thrive under pressure. Apparently she was not working last night, and was, in fact, trying to sleep when we started roaring away at karaoke. Not a very good thing.
I left her a very nice apologetic note this morning, and was thinking maybe I'll bake some bread this weekend and give her a loaf. I am just the girl who does silly things to get herself in trouble. If names in our culture were based on our character - that would be mine.

I'm trying to think of other ways to make up for the whole horrible karaoke at 1am on a weeknight thing.
Oh - and Azi is sick now too. I figured it would happen, but yesterday I told her she didn't get to be sick because I had to work. Unfortunately that didn't work today, as i could see how raw her throat was when I poked her tongue down with a chopstick and held a lamp inches from her face (who needs flashlights and tongue depressors???). She's with Faith today at the house, but I've got to take her to the doctor's at 11:05 - they don't just trust me enough to call in antibiotics - or maybe they just want me to have to pay them $20. Who knows. I do appreciate that they're getting me in right away though.
Tonight is the Full Monty - we're driving down to Waterville for it. I'm quite excited - so that makes up for all the ridiculousness that's happened in the last 12 hours, right????

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Presidential Mints

It's been a long past couple of weeks - the moving - the birthday party - the presidential election - and I've been sick - yucko!
Azi's birthday party should be the topic of an entire new blog - I am so pissed off at the people at the pottery place we went to - Paper and Clay - they had this horrible woman running our party - and she "jokingly" told the kids they couldn't play or talk or have fun - unfortunately, she was really nasty about it and none of the kids got that it was a joke - she argued with one of the guest-moms - and made a snide comment about her - she made countless mistakes, and was super rude - needless to say, we won't be going back.
The party itself, other than unusually quiet for a child's bday party - was a good time - I got to see Mylissa - I hadn't since the early summer - that was fantastico - and Azi got to have Lexi spend the night - the girls were great - we played several board games, and they played SingStar - which is officially the coolest game EVER.

Faith is still here which is WONDERFUL. Both of us started feeling a bit sore-throaty this weekend, and when I still felt cruddy Monday, I made a doctor appointment (as our little family seems to get Strep Throat monthly) - Faith made fun of me for being such a wuss, but I faithfully went to my appointment - the doctor didn't even do a strep test (weird, right?), he just looked in my throat and took my temperature, and explained that i had an infection in my throat (called Pharyngitis - like laryngitis - but it affects your Pharynx instead of your larynx) it could be strep, or it could be something else, whatever it is, it needs antibiotics. I had to work at LLBean that night, but didn't last very long there, I was cruddy, and the whole talking thing wasn't working very well.

I stayed home from work yesterday, as I didn't know if i was contagious, and was still feeling under the weather. I did get out to vote though!! And I must say I'm ridiculously happy that Obama was elected - waaaaaaaay happy.
Faith took me out to lunch, she was quite convinced that us eating Thai food would help my throat. Then I got to follow her to the grasshopper shop. Funny thing - they had these little tins of candies called "presidential mints" (cute name) - and they had five tins of republican mints left, and only one tin of democrat mints. I figured that was a sure sign that the Dems would come out on top (not like there was much question, but I'm trying not to be cocky like I have mistakenly been in past election years). Looks like the mints were correct.

Last night I tried to stay up to watch all the election coverage, but whatever Pharyngitis is - it looks like it's made me super duper tired. I fell asleep sometime between 9:00 - 10:00 - I kept waking up and watching for a minute then falling back asleep. Eventually i realized it was a losing battle and just went to bed. Azi woke me up at 6:00 this morning and asked who had won, and I had to admit I didn't know. So - we watched the news this morning, and then did a happy dance when we saw the Obama victory.
I'm completely disgusted with the majority of California's voters for having said no to Gay Marriage. What bullshit. Grrrrr. But then again, maybe I should be more disgusted with Maine because we didn't even have the question on the ballot.
Seriously - although there were sucky setbacks like the California vote, and some local issues that piss me off around here - I can't help but be excited about what's going to happen in the next years! Hooray!!