A blog about "nothing"!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The best 25 cents I've spent in a long time!

Let's be honest here: in this day and age, 25 cents isn't going to get you much.  You can't even buy a candy bar for that anymore. (unless you happen to find a clearance sale)  About the only way you are going to find anything that cheap that's worth buying is in a thrift store.  You see where this is going!
 
I haven't been doing as much thrift store shopping recently for a number of reasons.  I need nothing, I've been busy and being sick made it difficult.  A couple of weeks ago I was really itching to go, so I checked out my favorite Pittsburgh haunts.  I found some doll stuff and a few personal/household items: a tie for hubby, a summery shirt for me and a coffee mug to replace the one I broke a couple of weeks earlier.  Nothing very exciting though.
 
Last week I decided to go again, this time sticking a little closer to home.  About 20 minutes away we have a placed called "Easter Seals Yard Sale".  It's all donated items and the proceeds go to the Easter Seals organization (they work with a variety of special needs folks).  They have a space in an abandoned mall storefront which is only opened several times a month.  I hadn't been there for a while, so I decided that it sounded like a good place to start.
 
I found a few cute doll sized things which I was excited about.  The last thing I picked up was something I've been curious about for quite some time.  I'd never bought one because quite frankly, I never needed one before and I was skeptical about how well it would work.  The crazy part is I almost missed it because it was brand new, still in the box, and I picked up the box to read what was in it.  So glad I decided to do that!  Are you curious as to what it is?  A brown sugar disc.  I know some of you are saying "what?!"  Maybe you've never heard of one, so here is what they look like:
 
Basically it's a formed piece of terra cotta that is placed in a container of brown sugar to keep it from getting too hard to use.  I'd never had an issue with my brown sugar doing this because I generally kept it in a bag, but the last time I bought a bag, I decided to place it in a storage container I had to make it easier to get to.  BIG mistake.  I don't use a lot of it, so it takes a while to use up a bag of it, and my bag had progressively gone from being a nice, soft sugar to a solid lump that resembled a brick.  The last time I needed to use it, I literally had to chisel it out of the container.  When I saw this disc for 25 cents, I figured it was worth a try.
 
After I got it home, I took it out of the box.  No instructions, but something told me that you didn't just go and plop it in and hope for the best.  I was right, and after poking around on the trusty internet, I found instructions.  All you needed to do was place it in a bowl with water for 15 minutes, then pat the outside dry and place it in the container.  At this point I was still skeptical, but what did I have to lose.  It didn't help that I asked a friend if she had ever used one, to which she replied "I had one, but I don't anymore.  I don't remember, but I assume because I don't have it now, it wasn't impressive."  Hmmm...
 
That was on Thursday.  Yesterday (2 days later) I decided to check and see if anything happened.  I was not at all prepared for what I was going to experience.  I opened the container and looked inside.  The sugar appeared to be softer, so I got a fork and poked it.  WOW!!!  It really worked!!!  I now have a container of brown sugar that looks like brown sugar again.  No using it for construction purposes! I was impressed.  :)
The online instructions I found said that it lasts for about 3 months per soaking, so sometime in late summer I will need to get it out and do the process over again.  So worth it in my opinion.  And I'm so glad I decided to take a chance with my quarter.  Probably a better payoff than if I'd put it in a slot machine!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Sorry, but no, your screaming/misbehaving child is NOT cute!

Recently a fellow Twitter user posted her frustration involving her wedding and her decision to make it an adults only affair.  Apparently someone invited is all upset because she isn't allowed to take her children to the wedding.  So much so that she's refusing to come.  While the bride is hurt, she is not letting this bullying affect her decision.  Good for her!  As she explained, she is getting married in a place that is not suited for children and as she put it "had to sign my life away" when she booked the place.  She doesn't want children "running around breaking things".  I totally get it.
 
She isn't alone.  It seems as though every time this subject comes up, there is always someone who falls in the "well, that isn't fair" camp.  Life isn't fair.  Suck it up.  I personally don't understand the need to drag your children everywhere with you, especially to something that A)they are more than likely going to be bored stiff with and drive you bananas and B)won't remember anyhow.  I personally would look forward to having an adults night out for something like that.  Perhaps I should start dragging my dog to things like this and see how people react?  There are plenty of times I've left her at home, even though I know that the place is dog friendly.  While I think she's cute as a button, she has some personality traits that I'm well aware would drive other people nuts.  I'm not about to inflict that on anyone else.
 
 
This brings me to my point:  while you think your child is adorable, I hate to tell you this, not everyone else does.  Parents need to realize this.  Many do not.  And they tend to turn a blind eye/ear to a misbehaving child instead of doing something about it.  I've never forgotten a Christmas eve service I went to several years ago.  It was a packed house, and seated near me was a woman with an infant.  Part way through the service, the child started crying, very loudly.  The mother DID NOTHING.  She just let the baby scream, to the point that we couldn't hear the service.  An intelligent and courteous person would have gotten up with said child and left the sanctuary in order to allow the other people there the ability to hear, and perhaps investigate why the child was screaming.  Not her.  The sad fact is that this woman is not alone in her rudeness, I've seen it at so many functions and public places, it's almost epidemic. 
 
Let me just tell you folks, allowing your child to misbehave is not doing it any favors.  You may be doing more harm than you realize.  I know of someone who let her child do whatever she wanted and made no effort to discipline her.  Several years later I learned of multiple instances where the child was not invited to various things (parties, clubs, etc) because of this.  It wasn't the child's fault, it was the parent's.  Unfortunately because of this child's continued bad behavior and lack of any guidance, she was excluded. 
 
I grew up as one of 5 children, and we were taught at an early age how to behave in public.  Keyword in that sentence is "taught".  I guess that has all gone out the window!  My parents weren't abusive, but we were told "if you misbehave, you won't get to go again."  I have friends and family who fall on both sides of the fence on this, some have kids who are holy terrors and others have children who can be taken anywhere.  The funny part is that the ones with the well behaved children think their kids are "bad" at times.  They don't know what bad children are!  I'm a firm believer in letting kids be kids, but there is a time and place for that.  Just like you can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater, running around, screaming like a banshee at an event where the majority of the guests are adults is also not appropriate. There is a fine line between cute and annoying.  We as adults need to guide children into what is appropriate behavior.  They don't naturally know this.  Remember, they are kids!! 
 
To those parents who continue to let your children run around like wild animals at inappropriate times and places, perhaps I should lock you in a room with my dog and let her bark for 15 minutes.  Then you'll get what I'm talking about.  It's not cute, it's not amusing, it's downright annoying.  Be a parent.  And those people who smile and then turn their heads...hate to tell you, but they are just being polite.  Been there, done that.
 
 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Walmart.com

I'll start this out by saying that I'm not a huge fan of Walmart.  I have issues with how they treat employees as well as some of their merchandising methods.  But I live in a medium sized community with only a few shopping options, and on certain things, Walmart not only has the best price, but sometimes it's the only place I can find some of these items. 
 
Unfortunately, our Walmart is what they call a SuperWalmart.  Not only is the store huge, but so is the parking lot, and it can take you almost as long to get in the store from the parking lot as it does to do your shopping!  Ridiculous.  For that reason, I only go there about once a month because not only is it hard on my poor, wonky knee, but I hate wasting that much time for shopping.  Plus it is clear on the other side of town, so it can take me as long as 15 minutes to get there, depending on traffic.  I remember many years ago someone I know saying that she shopped in the grocery store that was closest to her home even though it was more expensive because "my time is worth something too."  I have to agree.
 
Last year we had the winter from hell.  Again, thanks to my bad knee, I worry about falling.  If I injure it any further, I'm more than likely looking at surgery, and not only do I not relish that thought, because of several factors, neither does my doctor.  So I'll do whatever it takes to keep from doing that!  I try to time my shopping around the weather forecasts at that time of year, but sometimes even that isn't always foolproof.  Enter Walmart.com
 
I'd ordered things online from Walmart before, but when their site first started, it wasn't a full offering of everything (or almost everything) they sold.  Now you can get just about anything they sell in the store through their website.  I decided to give it a try, making sure that I met their $50 minimum to get free shipping.  About a week later, my order arrived on my doorstep.  Talk about convenient!  I was hooked.  Now I order from them about once a month.  So far this year, I haven't set foot in their store since early January.
 
So, what do I order you ask?  I have a list of staple items that I regularly order.  Breakfast cereal, gluten free pasta, tissues, toiletries, you name it.  And I almost always order a large package of toilet paper because that quickly adds $13 to my cart, and let's face it, you ALWAYS need toilet paper.  It's not like it's going to go bad either.  Periodically I order something that isn't grocery either, recently I ordered a bunch of nightshirts because I needed them and the price was good.  It's not difficult to come up with $50 worth of stuff.
Just because...
 
Any caveats?  Yes, there are a few.  Not everything is available on their website.  I'm not sure why, but I suspect it's perhaps because some items are more difficult to ship than others.  Obviously, perishable items like milk, vegetables, meat, etc. aren't available.  They sometimes have stock issues, with items being out of stock for extended periods of time.  You also have to pay attention to make sure that the item is actually being sold by Walmart and not by another outfit because that can result in additional shipping fees.  And you also need to know what you have been paying for an item at your local stores, once in a while I'll see an item turn up on the website for way more than what it would be if I just went to the store and bought it.  Fortunately for me, most of the items I buy are fairly stable in their pricing.
 
The benefits:  saves a ton of time (driving to the store, wandering around to find things), saves you money because you aren't as likely to put impulse items into your cart and it's delivered to your front door! Sometimes it's interesting trying to juggle that box into the house if it is a large one, but it still beats having to push the cart to your car, loading multiple bags into your car and then having to carry them all into the house.  And the boxes--wow!  They aren't flimsy cardboard, they are super sturdy and are great boxes to reuse for storing things or shipping items that might need extra protection.  At the moment I have one sitting in my dining room that I am saving for a craft project once I get to feeling better.
 
Over the past few weeks, shopping online has been a godsend.  I haven't felt well enough to go much of anywhere.  It's also my husband's busiest time of year, so I hate to make him run to the store to get things when he is already kind of frazzled.  Point and click has made it possible for me to get a lot of our essentials (and a few not essentials LOL)  and not have to bother him.  He just has to pick up perishable items and the rest turns up on our doorstep. 
 
I have shopped online since the 1990's, but I have to say that sites like this have definitely changed the way I shop in recent years.  Statistics show that traditional brick and mortar stores are seeing a decline in business due to online shopping, and I can see why.  I don't necessarily see that as a bad thing though.  To me, online shopping can be a tremendous time saver, allowing someone to spend more time on more important things.  To those who may have problems with mobility it gives them the ability to shop without fear of injury, or better yet, avoiding the frustration.  If you have ever had to shop from a wheelchair or assisted someone with a wheelchair, you know exactly what I'm talking about!  I don't know that online shopping will ever completely replace traditional shopping in a store, but I think it will absolutely continue to change how we shop in the coming years. 
 
Do you shop much online?  And if you do, what do you shop for and what are some of your favorite sites?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Stay home dammit!!!

I'm still recovering from my bout with the flu, and today I am grumpy.  Very grumpy in fact.  I had a major sleepless night recently because I couldn't stop coughing.  Earlier today I got a phone call from the state health department, because I tested positive for Type A flu.  They have to collect information to report to the CDC.  So they got information from me, but what about the person who I got this from???  Not only do I feel like crap, but I'm not very happy about the monetary expense involved with this whole ordeal.  I dread getting the bills from the hospital because I swear they did every test known to man.

This brings me to a VERY sore subject.  People who are sick who choose to continue about their business, infecting the rest of us.  Before you go all "well, there are shots for some of that" on me, that isn't an option.  The majority of vaccinations are in an egg base and I am HIGHLY allergic to eggs.  We're not just talking a tummy ache or a rash here, we're talking full out, anaphylactic reaction.  So it's not possible.  As a result, I've had to get everything the hard way, including all of the childhood illnesses.  Grrr...  Let me just tell you that having chicken pox when you are 39 isn't much fun and horribly dangerous.  Thanks so much for whoever passed that one on. 

Yes, I realize that some people don't have sick time where they work, and have to go to work or fear for losing their jobs.  That is just awful and something that needs to be addressed.  But what about people who just flat out refuse to admit they are sick or that they are too "important" to their job to take the day off?  STAY HOME! 

I used to work with a woman who came to work sick every time you turned around.  Inevitably it would result in me getting it and I would miss a couple of days of work.  I wasn't sorry when she finally left.  When I had the aforementioned chicken pox, I couldn't believe the number of people who thought it was ridiculous that I didn't go out in public.  Excuse me???  As I said to several people, how would I feel if I accidentally exposed a pregnant woman who also couldn't have the vaccine to it and she ended up not only getting them from me, but ended up giving birth to a child with birth defects because of it? 

I've never forgotten an incident at one of my first jobs.  A woman who worked in the same department as I did came to work with a dreadful sore throat.  She thought it was no big deal.  Glad she did because it was a big deal, I ended up with strep throat and missed 3 days of work as a result.  Thanks a lot.  I had no sick time at this job and ended up having to borrow money from a family member so that I could pay my car payment.  The kicker of it is this woman had no financial obligations to speak of, she could have easily taken the day or two off necessary for her to recover, but instead, I ended up paying the price, both health-wise and moneywise.  It shouldn't have been that way. 

So, in short, if you are sick or starting to get sick and it's not going to break the bank, STAY HOME!  Think about others who you may be exposing to whatever germ it is you are incubating.  You don't know if they may have underlying health issues that could make what seems like no big deal to you a serious health threat.  Right about now I'd like to get my hands on the guy who was on the plane with us, hacking his head off and choke him to death.  Or send him a bill...

Monday, March 14, 2016

"Rampart...this is Squad 51..."

If you recognize the title of this post, chances are you were probably a fan of the television series "Emergency" back in the 1970's.   The series focused on the paramedics and firefighters from the fictional Squad 51 in Los Angeles, back when paramedics were a new idea.  The show was immensely popular during it's run, and recently I discovered it was being rerun on a local channel.  I was thrilled, I was a huge fan as a kid, I can remember my friends and I pretending to be Squad 51.  What I never realized is just how important this show was to how first responders were perceived and how the job evolved.
 
 
When "Emergency" premiered in the US back in 1972, there were only 12 such paramedic units in the entire country!!!  10 years later, more than half of the people in the country were within 10 minutes of a paramedic or ambulance unit.  Imagine the number of lives saved just from that improvement.  Response times under certain circumstances can be crucial and this increase improved chances considerably.
 
What I also found very interesting is that several of the actors who played some of the parts were firefighters in real life!  Those that weren't went through training sessions to make what they were doing on screen look accurate.  Actor Randolph Mantooth, who played Fireman/Paramedic John Gage throughout the run of the series continued speaking on behalf of various firefighting organizations and has educated/influenced many young people in pursuing careers in these fields long after the show ended.  I don't know of too many television shows that can say that they were such a positive influence in the health and well being of so many.
 
I recently had my own experience with first responders, and I just have to say thank you to this show for changing the face of medicine.  We came home from Mexico last week and I was sick with the flu, so sick that before it was over with, I was having major medical issues and my husband had to call for help.  There was absolutely no way he could have gotten me to an emergency room without assistance.  I was amazed at the speed in which the paramedics showed up, assessed my situation and helped me out.  It made what could have been an incredibly stressful situation much easier to deal with, and I have to thank these guys for their professionalism.  I spent 3 days in the hospital, but I can't help but wonder how much longer it might have been had it not been for the knowledge they had and their quick response. 
 
So, now when I watch one of my favorite old shows from my childhood, I will most definitely see it from a completely different angle.  Thank you to the creators, writers, actors and all who helped make it a success.  What a tremendous contribution this show has been to the paramedic field and the lives of those who benefitted.  I bow to you all.
 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A Break From the Winter Weather

We had a nice little get away weekend last week, we went to Cancun, Mexico!  The company that my husband works for sponsored a contest for their sales force and that was the prize, so about 80 employees and their guests flew down last Thursday, we all came back on Sunday.  We had never been to Mexico before, it was interesting to say the least!  I didn't take a ton of photos, but here are some of the resort we stayed at, just to get you in a warm weather state of mind!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The best part is we came back to much warmer temperatures at home too, we like to think we brought the warm weather with us.  Spring is just around the corner!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Moving Right Along

Here we are, halfway through February.  I can't believe it, a month and a half of a new year already gone.  What has everyone been doing?

I for one have been trying to clean out some stuff.  I say trying because at the moment, Ebay is moving at a snails pace.  I've had a few things go, but other things that I thought would go flying out the door are still sitting in the pile in my dining room.  Ugh.  I'm hoping that it's winter doldrums and the fact that all those folks who got their credit card statements from Christmas are still recovering.  I know many years ago when I worked in retail, January and February were always slow, but once income tax season got underway, we started to see business improve.  Fingers crossed that it will work that way.  In the meantime, I'm still plugging away.

My current project is my kitchen.  Over the past few months I've been paying closer attention when I'm getting into a cupboard and drawer at what is in there that hasn't been used.  We moved just over 5 years ago and I'm looking at things from the "if it hasn't been used since we moved in, it definitely has to go!"  Anything under the 5 year mark has to be evaluated.  I've gone through 3 cupboards and 4 drawers and I already have a large box full of stuff to go to charity.  Collanders I didn't like, a set of pots that the handles get hot on (and burnt me, grrr!), a few kitchen gadgets that didn't work all that well-gone.  I'm probably close to halfway, and I know of a number of other items that will be gone when it's over with.  I think I'm going to need more boxes.

It used to be hard for me to get rid of things, I will admit it.  As I've gotten older though, I tend to look at things from a much more practical angle.  Last year a friend of mine got on a purge kick and she said something that really resonated with me.  If you haven't used it, get rid of it.  Don't keep it with the idea you might need it.  Get rid of it with the thought that if you never need it again, look at the space you gained.  Worst case scenario is that you might have to go buy another one if by chance you did need it.  Chances are you won't!

In the spirit of the title of this post, I thought I'd share a video.  Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMR5JVo21wQ