Conspicuous Consumption of Just Plain Odd?

These things are going for $40. Do we really need slippers with headlights? Can you imagine walking in these things? It would be like having the robot from Lost in Space leading the way with two flashlights while screaming, “Danger Will Robinson, Danger!”

And why is this thing necessary?

This is an automatic watch winder. Do we really need a machine to do this for us? If you do find watch-winding a chore, why aren’t you buying watches that take batteries? The cheapest one I saw was a hefty $65.

Of course, there are the multi-watch winders for the serious watch enthusiast. This guy here is made with burled walnut veneer.

Author Signing

The books are based on a private invesitgator named Kinsey Millhone. Each book is titled for a letter of the alphabet – A is for Alibi, B is for Burglar, and so on.

So, Mom calls me in mid November to tell me the new book is out – S is for Silence. I did some research and discovered it would not be out until December 6th, but I looked online for a large print edition to pre-order. My mother can no longer read the regular prints. I couldn’t find one anywhere.

I took it upon myself to send a letter to the author, Sue Grafton. The end of November, I got a letter back. The letter was inserted into a Christmas card and she mentioned she would be near my home town the day the book was released.

I trotted (like any good daughter should) over to the Books-A-Million at 8am on release day to get my line ticket. I went back at 7pm to stand in line for the author to autograph my copy.

She was really sweet, suggested a “Merry Christmas” to my Mom be inscribed, and posed for a photo with me. So, come Christmas gift exchange time, Mom will open the greatly-anticipated hardback, first edition, personally signed copy of S is for Silence in a type too small for her to see. Now where do I buy her a magnifying glass?


I don’t care for this particular trend and hope it goes away. When I go out to eat, I want to enjoy the food, the company, the clinking of dishes. I do not want to explain to my first grade daughter why Madonna is kissing Brittany on CNN.

But, the most curious case of this ever present television phenomenon is the one at McDonald’s. We don’t eat in a McDonald’s that often, but when we do, it’s family time. Our local Micky D’s has a TV in each corner of it’s dining room. When we arrive we have to turn the volume down so we aren’t subjected to the news while we eat. I don’t let my daughter watch the news since she’s only 8. Besides, there are far too many new words she’ll learn that I don’t want to define for her. But, the oddest part is the fact that these TVs only get news channels, (according to an employee). Only news channels in a restaurant that caters to the Happy Meal set! Is that intelligent decorating? Needless to say… I’m NOT lovin’ it.

Thanksgiving 2005

Now, you must realize that I don’t cook. We go to my Mother-in-law’s home for Thanksgiving dinner like we do every year.

So, this is all new to me. But, I was encouraged by a recent trip to a friend’s home when she was making pies and had me help her. It was fun and the pies were delicious in spite of my being involved.

So, with some encouragement and recent experience under my belt…. I announced that homemade pumpkin pie would be provided by myself and my daughter for Thanksgiving.

I bought ready-made pie crust (one new thing at a time) and all the ingredients for pumpkin pie. At least the ones listed on the back of the can of pumpkin. Like I said, one new thing at a time. After my daughter’s gymnastics class, we strapped on our aprons. She has a really cute one we got on our last trip to the Chicago American Girl Place and I have a Starbucks one that you may have seen on your local Barista. Don’t ask how I got it.

We preheated, measured and stirred and amazingly came up with two beautiful pies. How did they taste? Don’t know. We waited until the following day… Thanksgiving.

We took our best looking pie (the prettier crust) and went to my husband’s mother’s house early. We had previously agreed to help with dinner this year since my daughter had taken such an interest in cooking. She helped by putting the mixture back into the eggs for deviled eggs. I peeled potatoes. You can see how much confidence my Mother-in-law has in my abilities. But, three weeks and 10 hours later, dinner was served and it was yummy. So yummy in fact that I ate way too much. I know, I know, I never do that, but it is just once a year.

And how was the pie? Wonderful. It had a great texture and perfectly spiced flavor. I’m even more encouraged. Is it my skills that are improving or just my daughter’s?

The Day After

I haven’t been shopping the day after Thanksgiving. This year I decided to give it a try. I consulted a counselor after attempting to shop the day after Christmas one year. She told me it might be therapeutic.

My daughter and I headed out after the early morning rushes would be over. Since there’s a Starbucks inside the new local Target store, we started there. I had recently bought a coat which had gone on sale. Don’t you love that? I needed to get a refund of the difference, so we got in line at the customer service desk. I think it was a line, anyway. We stood there amusing ourselves by bumping hips together and humming whatever Christmas carol had been on in the car when we parked behind the building. Yes, behind the building. It isn’t just Mary and Joseph who couldn’t find any room this time of year.

We picked up some cat litter (not very Christmasy, I know, but necessary all the same), some new garland and a new ornament for our tree. We didn’t stand in line when it was time to check out and our cashier was quite friendly. All things considered, a successful trip.

We made our way to the mall next. We found a spot in back near a seldom-used entrance to Dillard’s. Seldom-used because it is nearest the men’s section. We browsed the girls clothing and found a perfect Christmas dress for my daughter. She loves dresses. It was red plaid with a black velvet collar trimmed in white lace. It looked so nice on her too. And it was marked down already to $30. Again… don’t you love that?

I also picked up a little something for my horse-loving sister.

Farther out into the mall we stopped by Victoria’s (how can you keep anything secret dressed like that?) Secret. I needed to return something. I won’t mention what.

My daughter was hungry and we got her something at Chick-Fil-A. She loves their chicken, waffle fries and new fruit cup. And they don’t cut the peelings off the apples. We sat near the front entrance of the mall and the Angel Tree while she ate her lunch and I had a soda.

From there we stopped in at Bath & Body. Now, this place was hopping. Very busy, barely walking room. And they were giving away a free item with every $10 purchase of American Girl products. I got something for each of my daughter’s friends and something cool for a girlfriend of mine. I was waited on by a young woman who told me she appreciated my patience with her since it was her first day. I was shocked that they would put someone so new out on the register on their first day on the busiest shopping day of the year. I asked her if the stress was overwhelming, but she indicated she was in the Army so this was nothing compared to her usual day. She was really sweet and helpful. The Army is very lucky.

My daughter was exhausted already, so we made a final stop at Meijer for eggnog and headed home to decorate the tree.

My final thought is “What’s the fuss?” It might have been crowded earlier in the day, but my daughter and I had a great time. The lines weren’t really long and the clerks at stores were friendly and happy to assist. I found some great deals and bought some things I would have bought no matter the price. I suppose many people get out really early for those “doorbuster” items. I guess if saving a few bucks is worth the hassle and the stress… then more power to you. I prefer a fun, holiday spirit-filled shopping experience with my daughter to saving any amount of money.

Off We Go to the Livestock Expo

Yes, Livestock Expo. We were invited by homeschooling friends. Since we were studying farming and cattle in class, it sounded like an excellent field trip. This time, though, Rob said he couldn’t make it. I’m not sure why. We watched some cowboys rope steers, checked out the baby chicks pecking their way out of their shells, and caught the Border Collie driving show. No, not driving a car! Anyone would pay to see that. Driving sheep like in the movie “Babe”. And driving ducks. If you get the chance to go next year, be sure to stay for the duck washing machine. It’s hilarious.

Chicago Trip 2005


Allyson and I went with our friends, Valerie and Kim, to the American Girl Place in Chicago. Our trip was planned around their 1st Anniversary event for the American Girl Club. We left for Chicago on a Friday morning, stopping briefly for coffee before hitting the highway. You can see me here with the brew! The drive was long, but we were so excited about our “girl’s road trip” that we hardly noticed. We got into Chicago around 4:00 Friday afternoon. We checked into our hotel, the Holiday Inn Downtown, and freshened up. We were on the 17th floor and the view was awesome! Val had promised an authentic Italian restaurant. We had to walk, which excited Allyson no end. We mingled olive oil, parmesan, and ground pepper to our liking and nearly stuffed ourselves on the crusty Italian loaf. Everything was delicious. We all had a wonderful dinner.

The following day we had brunch scheduled at the American Girl Cafe. Brunch was delicious. If you’ve never been to the Cafe at the American Girl Place, you would not understand how adorable the whole thing is. They have the tables set with white linens. The napkins are held by ponytail holders of black and white stripes. The chairs are hot pink polka dots on a black background and tied in the back with a huge hot pink button. The lamps above the tables are covered in hot pink daisies. There are doll-sized chairs that attach to the tables and doll-sized dishes are brought out for each doll guest. It is just too cute to describe. It’s like the ultimate little girl tea party.

After we ate, they gave away prizes. Allyson and Kim both won a new American Girl game. They got to have their picture taken with one of the stars of the American Girl live show that is performed in the theater. After eating came shopping. We shopped ‘til we couldn’t carry any more. Then we had to carry it back to the hotel. After dropping off our bags of goodies, we headed out to see the city. We took in the sights, the shops, the Starbucks.

We took a horse and carriage ride downtown near the lake. It was very relaxing. The horses name was Big Al. While shopping in the Hershey Store, Allyson got the opportunity to be an official Hershey Worker. She got a badge, worker hat, and got to use the candy machine. It was lots of fun. Before heading home, we had dinner at the Rainforest Cafe and then (again) stopped for coffee before hitting the highway. We didn’t get in until nearly 2:00 in the morning, but it was a whirlwind trip full of fun just for us girls!

Did You Know Squire was Related to Daniel?

We got the chance to tour Squire Boone Cave with our homeschool group recently. They sometimes arrange field trips and get special rates for members of the group. We stopped for

lunch first on our way to avoid brown-bagging it. When we got there, we checked out the gift shop until time to line up with our guide. She met us just outside in a clearing and discussed the cave rules and such. Then, the oddest thing, we went through the gift shop to a small wooden door in the back corner. Through that door was a 74-step spiral staircase leading down into the ground. It felt like the Twilight Zone.

What can you say about the cave? Uh… it’s 52 degrees, damp and dark except where lights have been installed. There’s the usual formations – fun at first, but then redundant. Still, we had a great time and actually learned a few things about Squire Boone and his brother, Daniel. Cool.

Panning for Pyrite

Once the tour of the cave was over, we all gathered to try our luck at panning for fossils, cave rocks, gemstones and “gold.” Everyone got a can of sand which they poured into a wooden sifter. You can see Allyson using hers in the picture to the left. The sand quickly melts away to leave behind a dizzying array of quality “gold” nuggets and other treasures. We all got rich our first time out. If real life were so simple.

Waxing Poetic

After panning for gold,
To the candles we went.
We could feel intense heat,
And smell a sharp scent.
Every one got a chance,
To choose a small wick.
Dip in melted hot wax.
Blowing helps it to stick.
Our creations once done,
Were wrapped up with care,
To take home for keeps,
Of the fun we had there.

Aloha! Allyson Turns 8

This year Allyson wanted to do something cool (or hot). We invited all her friends and their American Girl dolls to a Luau Party. We passed out leis at the door and everyone made their own grass skirts. We danced to music from Lilo & Stitch, the movie, and decorated cupcakes in either sand (tan icing and a beach umbrella) or surf (blue icing and a shark fin). Pizza was served and games were played. We even pinned the coconut on the palm tree. Eventually, gifts were opened…

Uh… Did she open something? I can’t see for all the girls. Amid the prairie dog popping up and down of 6 little giggling girls, I took pictures of American Girl doll clothes, My Scene Barbies with all their accessories, handmade cards and Fur Real Bunnies.