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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Good Soaking

Jonathan flew back to Ohio two days ago.  Mom and Ed left early this morning to fly back to Florida.  Bill has returned to work and has taken my daughter with him (he gave her a temporary work assignment during her college break).  And yes, Wrigley and me are home alone, watching the skies open and the rain pouring down.  It's a perfect day to end the Holidays!

In Arizona, it's really quite rare to get a whole day of rain, especially a steady flow like we have experienced today....this downpour.  I find it refreshing and quite soulful.  Perfect for killing time around the house...............................

I have spent the last hour looking at striped ties for Andy on the Internet.  I can waste so much time on this machine.  I rarely get bored skipping from site to site. Know of anyplace I should look for striped ties that have navy, pink and green colors?

Have a pleasant night, y'all!
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Shopping, Planning, in Empty Nester Style

I just have a few minutes before I am off to finish stimulating the economy with Christmas presents for family, friends and charities.  The last day of shopping always seems so strange to many gifts is too many?  If Billy gets 4 presents, must Susie get the same?  Or should you spend the exact amount on each person?  I hate thinking about these things.  I prefer impulse buying which can sometimes lead to an inequality of gift allocations.  Shame!

I am definitely stopping by Trader Joe's on the way home. They better have those sea salt chocolate caramels or I might just have a personal meltdown right there in the middle of their recycled floor.  I wrote a poem about these delicious morsels a few years back......yes, they are that good!  

I have become quite an efficient little empty nester when it comes to planning and preparing for the return of my household, even if it's just for a few days.  Most meals are planned, the house is ready and screw the Christmas cards for now; I'd rather get a picture of all the kids home for a picture and maybe send out cards later.  I know the time when everyone is here will fly by at record speed, so I am already prepared for the letdown when they leave.  I have scheduled an afternoon at the spa.  Truth is, I miss the flurry of activity that exists when children live with you.  The most I can get out of Bill these days is a 'harrumph' and Wrigley is only excited when his dog food comes out or just before we go on our daily walks on the golf course.  I am perhaps the most boring and blah one in the bunch, too.  But that is going to change after the new year.

The Arizona sky is clouding up with a 10% chance of rain tomorrow, not exactly a winter wonderland, but it'll just have to do.  At least it looks a little more like Christmas everywhere I look!
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Random Thoughts About My Hair

On this sunny Tuesday afternoon, Keely of the fun blog, The Un-Mom, has prompted me to spit out my random thoughts, so here goes:

What if I decided to drive down to the very fashionable Scottsdale Fashion Square mall without brushing my hair?  (The left side is standing at a 90% angle from my head and the bangs are slightly curly, so it's a really bad hair day).  Would people think I was a wayward, lost soul...stumbling around the mall in a haze?

Wouldn't it be hilarious if then I walked up to the counter at Barney's New York and asked to purchase a $3500 necklace.  (Certainly not to my husband, Bill)  Would they be weary to show and sell me the piece?

Tonight, some close girlfriends are getting together for a white elephant exchange party.  What if I went to the party with this hairdo, only added a festive 'half-hat' like Kate Middleton wears?  Would they be afraid that this empty nest lifestyle has finally gotten the best of me? 

In my "next life", will I actually have the long, thick mane of hair I always say I will have, when I am messing around?  Wouldn't it be sad if I had another life with pitiful looking hair? 

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Refer Friends and Get $10 Groupon Bucks!

Refer Friends and Get $10 Groupon Bucks!

Are you receiving your daily Groupon coupons yet? I am and I love them. My goal is to have 100 friends sign up today. Are you in? Come on, it's free and fun and the deals are really decent. More to follow............................

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Calling a Spade a Spade

I guess you could say I've got my pants in a bundle, and I have the Congress, the President and the media to thank.........................

Here are just a few of the thoughts of mine about taxes and unemployment benefits:

1) I  am really somewhat offended by the discussion on the "Bush-era tax cuts" and how it's so morally wrong to give this "cut to millionaires". 

A) Call it the "Bush era" tax percentages used or the income tax level voted by Congress in 2001 and in 2003 instead.  Because, for the past 9 years or so, my family has been paying to the Federal government at the Bush-era tax level, at the 35% tax level.  That's a little over a third of all we earn working very hard at our jobs.  Add in what the State of Arizona takes from us and we have been roughly at a 50% level.....yes, that's right.....for every hard earned dollar we make, we get to hand over 50 cents for the state and federal governments to run.  I personally think the even the lower level is a lot of money to give away and wonder why we continue to work so hard.  If anything, the change in level will be a tax increase for me and my family.  Call it what it really is, please.  Why are we always looking back?  Just call it what it is: the "Obama-era tax increases" for goodness sakes!  Better yet, the "Obama-era" tax levels. 

B) Why is it morally wrong for to tax millionaires at the 35% tax level instead of moving it to the 39%?   When exactly does morality jump in?............37%, 40%, 99%? Why do people who work hard (as the majority of millionaires do), invest smartly (as most millionaires do) need to pay more?  Do we need to penalize these people for hard work and success?  I am not a millionaire but I know quite a few of them.  They have been my bosses, or people I have met doing charity work, and I have observed how they work and think over the years.  First, when my bosses had extra money, they tended to hire more staff to help out with projects, thus allowing me to go home earlier at night, to be with my family.  At year's end, instead of everyone on staff getting a Holiday Turkey, we got the Turkey and a card with $500 or $1,000 in cash inside.  I was happy, my administrative assistant was ecstatic and the receptionist would be crying for joy!  It trickled down just as some economists describe it would. 

I have volunteered with many millionaires on charities for those less fortunate and the sad news is this......... most of us give a set amount to these charities; for example, 20% of our disposable income goes to the Weldon House, the Sojourner Center, the Animal Humane Society...whatever.  The more money the millionaires have, the more is given to these important organizations.  I cannot be upset with millionaires for job growth, job benefits and security or giving lots of money to support people in need through the various charities!

2) The problem with extending unemployment benefits even longer than we already have is that history/studies tells us without a question of doubt, that it doesn't help people gets jobs.  It only allows them to sit home longer with a little cash.  That sounds so harsh, I know, no one likes to talk about it in these terms.  And while many people are diligently searching for work on a daily basis, the facts tells us what happens to out-of-work people after 6 months and longer.  It probably has to do with human nature.

Of course, the problem with NOT extending unemployment benefits is a totally political problem: you look like an uncaring SOB, especially right now, during the Holiday season!  So sorry, my little (future) grandchildren... you are just going to have to buck up and pay for all of our neediness and compassion with a heavy load of debt!

All this ranting has made me hungry.  But the apple I am about to sink my teeth in will be a little harder to swallow....just like all the recent political nonsense discussed above!

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Step Away From the Glue Gun

A glue gun. Picture by Luke Surl I hearby rele...Image via Wikipedia

Why is it that every Christmas, we feel the need to visit our 'inner craft child' and attempt to decorate the house with homemade items?  The whole year can go by where I have not created one original or handmade item, but come the first Christmas tune on the radio, my head fills with new wreath designs or a clever design for napkin rings made with tiny little beads.  This year is no exception.

Having little disposable income for new wreaths, I decided to re-purpose the two large wreaths that adorn the outside of my home.  I bought them about nine years ago from Berridge Nurseries, one of the best in town.  They once were brightly lit, and had hundreds of balls and ribbon running through them.  When I brought them out of the garage this week, the ribbons were torn, the balls have all faded (nasty Arizona sun!) and some of the strings of lights were burnt out.

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...."  That's it!  I will remake these wreaths and bring them back to their original splendor!  Off to the store I flew....................

Finding big plastic balls or shiny metal but inexpensive balls turned out to be quite the task.  Lowe's probably had the best selection, which I only found out after visiting about 15 boutique and Holiday shops in town!  Great ribbon was everywhere, all with a hefty price tag.  But I was on a roll (or four), so I chose a red plaid 3" ribbon .  Getting the lights was the easiest item to purchase, (but probably the hardest part of this particular project). I head home ready to begin my project.

The kitchen becomes Beth's workshop.  No dinner tonight, as I need all the counter space for the wreaths.  " With a corncob pipe and a button nose and two eyes made out of coal"

Next, I bring out my prized, state-of-the-art Task Force Glue Gun.  I got this sucker about four Christmases ago.  The large gun features a "trigger-feed clutch, large heating chamber and includes a safety stand".  120V/40W..... But my motto is "120, 121....whatever it takes", so I pull this black and red baby out of its plastic container and plug it in.    

First, I cram the new set of lights into the plastic branches and attempt to mimic the way the nursery had created it years ago.  It's too hard to remove the old strands as they have been glued in tightly.  The ribbon is a pain in the neck to do, so I decide not to pull the ribbon threw and just make nice, big bows for the wreaths.  The ribbon part is way above my craft skill level to do and make it look decent.  On to the balls....

"Santa hurry down the chimney tonight...."  I singing to the songs that are playing loudly now on the television channel.  I should have poured myself a nice glass of wine, but the busy little elf was just too focused on her wreath creation.

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 25:  Task Force Co-Chair ...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeThe old balls have been removed and the glue gun is hot to trot, so to speak.  It takes about eight minutes before the glue is gooey and ready to spew out of it's nozzle.  I place the hot glue on the first ball and press it into the open area and hold for about 15 seconds and WALLAH... the ball is permanently stuck on the wreath!

(Excuse me for a moment, but I have to share this random note with you...Okay, so as I type, my Zemanta is updating relevant pictures and stories for my blog post, that I can add if I so chose.  The last sentence in the post brought up.....Alice Rivkin, task force co-chair during the new conference on the budget and spending!  How bizarre!  She did remind me of a little ELF sitting so small in stature next to the other task force members, in her little red jacket......and the glue gun is a Task Force Glue Gun....hmmm......).

Anyway, I'm in full craft mode and Holiday spirit at this time.

"I want a F_ _KING Hippopotamus for Christmas!"  (The "F" word slipped out!). Then, I let out the loudest, blood-curdling scream as the hot glue has touched the end of the finger and the skin bubbled up into a huge blister before the end of the song's next line!  Seriously, I have never seen anything like it.  It was like a scene out of an old B-rated science fiction show where the aliens burn the skin right off your body.  So painful!  If you have kids around, do not let them by this skin-eating machine.  No matter fun it is to use! Or wear heavy gloves, which I used to complete my project. 

The wreaths are up and they look quite beautiful.  My finger is recovering from the third-degree burn.  And I have the Task Force Glue Gun to thank, as I have no further craft plans planned for this Holiday season.  It has cured this empty nest Mom from her 'inner craft child' for now.  It's just too scary!

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Little Red Velvet Coin Purse

I was cleaning a small chest of drawers this morning when I came upon my old red velvet coin purse in the top drawer.  It's about 3.5 inches by 2 inches in size and has a delicate chain handle.  The opening clasp is two simple metal balls that click shut.  I open the little bag and discover an odd collection of old coins from foreign countries given to me by my parents and grandparents.  I was always fascinated with how the coins varied in size and design from the coins from the United States.  (Our coins were only special when they were brand new...... and super shiny).

A £2 coin showing the head of Elizabeth IIImage via WikipediaI remember opening up my purse and pulling out one coin at a time and studying the design.  I remember showing my best friend my collection.  And I remember when Mommom and Granddaddy visited for the Christmas Holidays, and how he would sit down with my sister and me and divvy out coins from their latest trips.  It was a big deal in my family.

Today, the little purse is filled with 14 coins mostly from European countries.  I still love the coins from England prominently displaying the Queen's face. 

The coins are tarnished and dull now, sort of like, its owner.  They represent a bygone era and remind me of a pleasant childhood memory. 

And it makes me wonder what my children will hold dear from their childhoods?         
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