Tuesday, May 28, 2013

May Cara Box Swap: Regional

     In May I participated again in the Cara box exchange. The theme was regional and we were to send things to our new friend which are from our area. I got to give things to a fellow Ohioan, and was concerned she may not be as excited as someone would from another area. But Nicole is so sweet and happy with everything that it didn't matter. I did try to get things from my part of Ohio vs. the area where  she lives. 

     I got a fun box from my new friend Angie from Utah. She offered to send me a Morman (kidding) but when I asked for clarification on whether or not he would clean my house she realized it might not work out. She sent me some Salt Water Taffy, which I love. I almost sent some to Nicole, so that was funny to me. She also sent some green jello. Apparently people in Utah eat more green jello than anywhere else in the U.S. She sent some fry sauce which my kids thought was weird. Until they tasted it. They like it! Creamy honey was included, too. I love local honey from all over, so this was an exceptionally great gift. The only reason I have not opened it yet is I have a new honey I just opened last week. Once I finish more of it I will dive into this one. We are big honey eaters. And last, she sent root beer extract. I guess in rootbeer must go well with green jello. I look forward to trying the extract. I might make an ice cream or a freeze of some kind with it as the first trial with it. We also happen to be big fans of rootbeer. If I had to choose a favorite item from this box it would be a difficult 4-way tie. 

Cara Box Swap. Regional from Utah. Watermelon and bread box not included.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

God Bless America

Tomorrow is Memorial Day. I love every excuse to wave the flag, and this is no exception. I was excited when Decor Steals was selling these tea stained buntings the other day so I grabbed six to put on the front of the house. I  will tell you it was like waiting for Christmas waiting for these to arrive. They finally did yesterday! I ran to the store and bought fishing weights to try to help them stay down. Last year I had one and it kept flinging itself upwards with the wind. The fishing weights are applied to all but one now. I had to stop to take a crummy picture with my cell phone to show you the first idea which sprang to mind when I opened them yesterday.

Decor Steals Tea Stained U.S. Flag Bunting - Apron
I wish I had ordered twice as many as I did. It's either super clever, pretty weird, or both.

And then I put them on Audrey. (Yes, I've dubbed the house "Audrey") Doesn't she look lovely?

House with Bunting From Decor Steals

Sunday, May 19, 2013

O-Cedar, O-Duster, Oh What a Disapointment

     Like any good housewife with 1400+ sq feet of hardwood floors on the main level of her house, two shih tzus, and five kids I could use a little help keeping up with my floors. Can you say doggie tumbleweed? I knew you could! Imagine my excitement when I learned O-Cedar had come up with a little robot vac made for dust and doggie hair! I can turn it on every night and let it do what it does best.

     I ran out to the two local stores listed on the website as carrying it. Neither of them had it. So I waited and stalked the stores. Friday I was at Target, and what appears before me at the end of the isle with hangers and closet accessories? The O-Duster! I imagined we were in a field of wildflowers, just the O-Duster and I, running towards each other. I scooped it up with enthusiasm, and extra little cloths for it, too. I felt so triumphant loading this little housewife's helper of a miracle into my minivan! 

     My life a little bit more complete than when I woke up that day, I took it home and asked my daughter to plug it in and charge it for me. Yesterday I got up, swept the floors, and put the O-Duster down to see what it could do. I put it in the dining room, in the kitchen, at the bottom of the stairs, in the powder room, in the front room. I carried it all over. And this is what it did:

     Silly, silly me. Only now do I notice their own you-tube video is not a real video of a real product doing real moving and real cleaning, but a sort of cartoon. I'm glad I saved the box because O-Duster is going back to Target. I can not tell you how disappointed I am. I am tempted to trade it for another in case a second one would be better.

*In case you wondered, we did try nudging it a bit to see if it would take off, but it would not. It just spins.

Update: I went back today to exchange it for another one. I had posted to their facebook page and they told me to contact customer service, who offered to send new wheels to see if it helped as an option. Their other option was exchange it at the store. I am impatient so I exchanged it. It's charging overnight so I'll see how it behaves tomorrow. 

2nd Update: The second one seemed fine when I turned it on. In less than five minutes it was doing the same thing.  I did get it from the same place. The dented box I did not choose the first day was the one I had to choose when I did the exchange. I really wanted this to work.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Arcade: No Pennies

     The other night my daughter had concert tickets for Capital Cities at House of Blues in Cleveland and a car problem. So I told her we would give her a ride into the thriving metropolis of Cleveland and grab a bite and enjoy ourselves By pretending to be city folk for a night. She invited her sister to the concert so it was a foursome for dinner. Since their concert was at the House of Blues, we decided to eat there as well. We sat down and got our menus. They were changed, and a little selections were a little disappointing. After a minute I thought of suggesting we go somewhere else. Everyone else seemed okay with it, so I decided to just roll with it. The menu might have been disappointing, but the food itself was fantastic! This is so much better than a great menu with disappointing food.

     The girls left through the magical door and we sat for a while talking about the things we talk about these days while my husband had his coffee. After that we walked down 4th street until we got to the point where the wind attacks, and turned around and walked back the other way. We decided to go to Chocolate Bar, which people say is fantastic. I ordered the chocolate lava cake and my husband ordered cocoa. I have to say, for all the hype about the Chocolate Bar, I was wholly underwhelmed. My chocolate lava cake was probably bought froze and prepared on site, it was served with half a strawberry, a chocolate straw with a few chocolate shavings, some whipped cream which may or may not have been from a can, and a little frozen chocolate eclair identical to the ones from the freezer at Sam's club. So basically, I think they make nothing themselves. I could have had the same stuff at home. I have a membership to Sam's club. My husband didn't finish his cocoa. It is difficult to disappoint us with chocolate, but I have had better desserts at Don Pablo's. 

     The best part about having had dessert in the Chocolate Bar was the little door leading into the Arcade. I told my husband we should walk around in there, where it would not be windy and cold. We thought we might find a comfortable place to sit, as well. The Arcade is pretty neat, as we were about to find out.

     The Arcade was opened on Memorial Day in 1890. It was financed By John D. Rockefeller, among others, as one of the earliest indoor shopping malls in the United States. Ladies and gentlemen, it is pretty awesome. 

The Arcade, Cleveland Ohio
The staircase is beautiful. The whole thing reminds me of being on a ship, somehow. Old fashioned, elegant, and full of razzle-dazzle!

Starbucks at night
Starbucks at The Arcade
 The Starbucks at night is not big and bright... deep in the heart of the Arcade.

John D. Rockefeller  early indoor shopping mall
The Arcade

     Isn't she lovely? We walked around for a good long time, inspecting, window shopping, and taking pictures. It's a good thing we stopped in at the Chocolate Bar, because the entrance to the Arcade is locked at night. As soon as we got outside we realized why. We stepped outside and were approached by a man, who sounded a lot like Gary Busey sometimes sounded on The Apprentice. He eventually got down to asking for money. Which, of course, we did  not have because we had given our last few dollars to the valet. Sorry, man, we just don't have any cash at all. I had even removed all the coins from my purse earlier in the day. On the walk to our valet stand we were intercepted two more times by people asking for money. It's such an uncomfortable thing sometimes, being a human being.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Pretend You're Normal

"Pretend you're normal!" I used to say to my kids often. When they were little, and driving me a bit more batty than I could take at the moment. Or when we were being goofy and needed to straighten up right away  for whatever door we were about to walk through. I wonder if they remember being told so often to pretend to be normal.

A few weeks ago my doctor told me to quit apologizing for who I am. Then she clarified, because she had to, that I needed to quit apologizing to myself for who I am. Since then, I have seen quite a few messages in my day-to-day life which remind me of what she said. They remind me I need to accept who I am, and how I am. Then I watched the finale and the reunion show for Survivor and I saw Cochran was going through the same thing. Embracing who he is instead of being ashamed of it. Instead of being afraid of judgement for being who he was, which, ironically, made him who he is now, which is different. Somehow letting go of the fear of judgement makes us able to be our pure selves. It's not just animals who can smell fear.

Yesterday, while out shopping at Home Goods, I saw this sign. So many thoughts ran though my head:
  • I can make that sign myself. 
  • The one I make will not look good enough, I should buy this one
  • realization of the ridiculousness of the sentiment of the sign vs. my previous thought
  • Remembering, after Victoria died, saying to someone "I'm just going to offer myself and my friendship. Here I am with all my flaws, loving you"
  • Remembering my cousin's response to me saying this
And now, remembering how I always thought Victoria's middle name should have been Grace, because she was full of it.  And how when I first met her and asked her about her beliefs she told me "I'm saved by grace"

Yes, now this sign is on my ever-growing list of things I am going to make myself. It will not be perfect. It will make me perfectly happy.

There are still times when I contend it is good to pretend your are normal. But we should all learn to embrace what makes us who we are. Maybe I need to blast "Take Me As I am" from some speakers today, as a reminder to embrace myself. (Nod to young punk #4)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Police On Broadway

Sting is not impressed
     I was walking around the store the other day... When the speakers overhead started pushing out King of Pain by The Police. Every time King of Pain starts I initially think it's going to be On Broadway and I'm in my head already feeling the magic in my air against the inside of my throat. I'm giving myself such an intimate concert while pushing my cart I can't believe a crowd hasn't encircled me, beating on cowbells and dancing. Then I hear it, the voice of Sting himself, relating the sunspot situation, and I'm always a little crushed. But I've been there before, inside the pouring rain, so I just sing along to the song by The Police, and curse myself for not knowing better by now. "Bye, Broadway," I wave sadly with a sniffle. 

     Somewhere out there, I know there has to be at least one other person like me, right?  

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Hometalk Meetup at Luckett's Market!

     I have always wanted to go to Luckett's when they have a big to-do. They are having one this year on May 19th. That is next weekend! And I just found this way to win a trip to Luckett's Market, so I'm asking for your help
I will definitely SMILE a lot if I win.

     In order to be entered to win I need ten people to sign up for a new account (it's free, of course) at Hometalk and follow me here: Tammi on Hometalk

     I know it's asking a lot, but then again, it will only take a minute of your time and think about how good you'll feel about yourself if I win! I mean, your own selfless act will be the only way I have a chance. So really, they should send you too. But life isn't fair that way. If you want a chance to win then you have to blog about it and get ten people to sign up for you. Then I will be home because you won. And that is not fair either. So really, the whole thing is no fair, but it could be so great!

After all that smiling I might find a place to sit, still smiling. 

     I really want to go to Luckett's, like for real. I got to see it once. Sort of. We had gone to Washington D.C. and on the way home we took an extended detour to Luckett's. Except by the time we got there it was closing in a few minutes. I did get to see Miss Mustard Seed's room upstairs, while she had a room, so that was cool. Now I would L-O-V-E to go and see her in person, and that is the main #1 reason I would love to win!  It's not just at Luckett's (so cool) but Marion (Miss Mustard Seed) will be there AND Donna, from Funky Junk Interiors (swoon!)  So much amazing all bunched up together! Oh, and did I mention The Graphics Fairy will be there, too? No? Well, yes, Karen will also be at the Hometalk Meetup!
If you know me well, you know this is my kind of place!
     Now, a whole day (at least) at Luckett's, Marion, Donna, Karen, probably lots of other awesome people, and I'm also betting on learning a lot. What better way to spend a weekend? I can't think of one.
Can you spot the treasure you would want?

     Hometalk is the largest online home & garden knowledge hub. It’s fueled by the firsthand experience & advice of hundreds of thousands of home enthusiasts and professionals. (taken right from the horses' mouth, so to speak) And this is what makes it so great. It's sort of like Pinterest, but better, when it comes to home stuff. Whether you are looking for inspiration or you need guidance, you can find it at Hometalk.

     So, yes, this is where I beg. Please, please, pretty please with sugar on top go sign up at Hometalk and follow me:  Tammi on Hometalk.

     Don't worry about being new on Homtalk, I'm kind of new there myself. I signed up a while ago, and had not used it much yet. But that's okay, there's plenty of time for me to use Hometalk. And I like it because it feels a bit more intimate than pinterest. People are really there to find new things and answer questions, give advice, and be supportive. Who doesn't appreciate all of those things?

     Sorry if I seem fidgety. It's because I am fidgety. I was, just yesterday, routing the trip to Luckett's for the Big Spring Market and maybe I was checking out Priceline to see what hotels deals were near Luckett's. Then I decided that since I just boogied on down to Louisville to see Leonard, maybe, just maybe it was not cool of me to even want to do this. (It still does not stop me from wanting to do it, though!)

     Did you already sign up and follow me on Hometalk? Did you? Huh? If you already did, give yourself a huge hug from me. And allow yourself an extra treat, because being nice burns calories.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

I Raised My Kids, Now What?

     My first job, while I was in high school, was at a place called "Barker's Jubilation" at the Mall. It was a restaurant, game room, and bar with a dance floor. I was hired to keep control of the game room. Keep the machines clean, make popcorn, deal with whatever issues came up, and clean up the popcorn everyone spilled all over the floor. Pretty simple job. My boss would usually find me, game room ship-shape, popcorn popped, reading a book. He decided I was bored and under-tasked, so he moved me out to the cash register to be a greeter/hostess/cashier/game room attendant. Now I realize I should have asked for a raise! It was a cool job but one of the managers was always in the office with one of the other managers in a "Do not disturb" kind of way. One night after closing, cleaning up, and counting out my drawer they never came out to check it and tell me I could go. When I finally went to ask them about it they told me they needed privacy and sent me away. 

     I went downstairs to the payphone to call home. I couldn't be out past my allotted time and I knew this was going to blow it for me. On the other end of the phone I was told to just get home. So I went upstairs, got my stuff, and left.  I went the next day and got a job somewhere else. 

     After high school I worked at the I.R.S. in a very non-glamorous job in the refiles annex. Right up until the morning I went to the hospital to have my first baby. I stayed home with her, mostly. I mean, when money got more pinchy than usual I would deliver pizzas or sell Tupperware, but mostly I was home with her, and then the rest of the kids. 

     Three or four years ago, now that the kids are all big, I applied for a job as a glorified receptionist with an accounting firm. For the first time in my life I did not get the job. It was humiliating. It still is! But in that interview the guy said to me "Why don't you just babysit?" What? Because I un-apologetically  said I did not regret for a minute the choice I made to stay home with my kids? So I'm not 'good enough' to enter your work force since stayed home raising my kids and giving up luxuries which other people don't consider luxuries?

     We all decide. I know people who say they  couldn't take it if they had to stay home with their kids. They decide to work because it helps them stay sane, they say. I have a difficult time trusting people and I could have never been sane leaving my kids with strangers. There's no car on the road which could have justified that in my mind. Because all day, every day, I would have been wondering what was happening with my kids. Were they happy? Sad? Playing? Crying? Napping? Eating like they should? And when my kids were little I did a lot of babysitting for people who did want to work, so hopefully they could feel comfortable about their own kids while they were away. 

     But here I am, with great big kids, no grandchildren yet. So what am I supposed to do at this stage of life? Hobbies? I like to paint stuff (not walls) and I do, but there's only so much of that I want to do. I do not have enough energy to do what I want to do on any given day, so lots of things need to be done around my house. Even if I had energy, my husband works from home. Babysitting is out, even if I wanted to do it. 

     What do you do when you're done raising kids but there's nothing new on the horizon? Should I sit around and turn into one of those meddling mothers who is always looking for a husband for her daughter and a wife for her sons and complain about not having grandchildren yet? Do I start reading romance novels? Do I garden? None of these things seem like something I want to do. Who has been here? Who knows how to point me in the right direction? Surely I can not be the only one. But it sure feels like it. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Cara Box: Let's Go Green For April


Cara Box

     I tried something new this month. I joined in with some bloggers doing a Cara box. You make a couple new friends, send gifts based on a theme, and share encouragement. The person you send a box to is not the same person who sends a box to you. (This is how it's a couple new friends, instead of just one) The theme for April was "Go Green" since April contains Earth Day. Well, Go Green was proving pretty difficult for me, considering your box is supposed to have at least 5 items and be around $15. Five thoughtful, eco-friendly gifts at an average of $3 each? Luckily, I found out I wasn't the only one who found it difficult. When I threw the $15 idea out the door, it got a bit easier. For May the theme is: Let's Get Regional. You send things from your area. Well, I have a lot of Amish close by me, and Smucker's headquarters & gift shop is a few minutes from my house.  It sounds like fun.

Here is what I got in my Go Green Box from Sweet Ashlee:

     She sent me a double-walled plastic mason jar with a lid & straw combo! Can you see by the wooden box I made (in the background) full of heritage Ball mason jars that I'm a fan of mason jars? (By the way, you can buy those 1 quart jars from Amazon right now for a limited time, if that's your kind of thing.

     She also included a sweet note plus another card with the contents listed. There is a soy candle, which will go by my bathtub. I love long soaks by candlelight. There's a little pot with wildflower seeds, (really a great idea!) organic lip balm, 2 all natural face masks, (I can't wait to try those!) and some Yardley soap, which is always popular in our house. She even included some All natural granola dog treats for my two little dogs! I think Ashlee did a great job with the April theme and with things our family will actually use.

     It was so much fun getting to know Mandi,  too. After I got over the "This is difficult" roadblock I think I found a silly thing, a local thing, and a few girly things for her. I'm pretty happy with what I sent her, even though there are only 5 items in the box.

     Now for the confession. I sent my Cara box to Mandi late. And I had reasons, all valid. But I think I'm going to get kicked out of the clubhouse because the rules are really set and if you don't send the box by the 20th you're out. It's even more embarrassing because my theme was chosen for May. So I'll be digging my hole right over there. Drop by with a shovel and help me if you feel like it.