Better Than Fruitcake

One of my favorite stores to waste some time is Big Lots, a place that sells some discontinued and overstock items. Bunch of junk really, but I like going there.

Last spring I found a case of Illy cappuccino drinks (cans, for the fridge) for about 75 cents each. Amazing drinks, way better than the Starbucks brand. After we ran out, I looked at every grocery store for them, even looked on the internet to see where I could buy more.

No luck.

A couple of months later we were in Italy and they were everywhere for about $3 a can. Totally got hooked on those damn things.

Since then I peek in every one of those glass fridges by the checkout of every store I shop looking for Illy.

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from Illy (I buy their whole beans), they are selling these drinks on their website now. The price is excellent, 12 cans for $20, so I stocked up. The shipping isn’t as bad as you’d think.

They make great gifts, I think, especially for those out of town people on our list. I hope they like coffee. Ho ho hooooooooooooo.

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Gifts that leave me speechless

Back when we were in school, I used to make almost all of my gifts. I’d paint, sew, cross stitch, bake, you name it, do whatever I had to do to ghetto a gift. Seems as if things were simpler then, people didn’t expect much and they ended up way pleased with whatever I had to give.

I wish I still had that creative spirit in me, handmade gifts are my favorite things to give and receive. Money complicates and uglifies gift giving. So I’m going to shut up about that.

Here’s something Kara’s boyfriend made for her birthday. Brilliant, isn’t it? He bought a pair of white canvas sneakers and drew her favorite Alice in Wonderland characters on them.

Click on photo to enlarge for detail

They are not identical, each is half of a continuous scene.

Spanky is working like a mad dog on her Christmas presents. See this necklace? She did not buy that chain, she made it, link by link with some little metal O’s.

It took her four hours to create this one. She knows it is easier to just go out and buy a chain, but this is a special pattern Spanky created especially for this person.

I don’t even know how to end this post because I’m overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness of these gifts. Oh, wait, Rassles is making a quilt out of her late grandfather’s old suits to give to her dad.

I have no more words. Just watery eyes.

The Gift

Every time I go into the grocery store I bring in one of the shopping carts from the parking lot. I get the kids to do it too, if they’re with me.

It’s not that we’re a bunch of do-gooders. It’s that I owe it. When my kids were little, I was one of those people who always left the cart in the lot. I felt bad about it, but I didn’t want to leave my kids alone in the car while I brought it back into the store.

Yesterday we went Christmas shopping at the Hell Hole Mall. They always have those Salvation Army people ringing bells at the entries this time of year and since I’m not a cash and carry type person, all I ever have to offer is a smile. I feel twice as bad if it’s cold out.

I did happen to have a few dollars on me, and as it dropped the money into the bucket I asked the lady how long she had been out there.

She said, “Eight hours.”

It wasn’t cold out, but it was a dark, grey day with a seeping sky. A little more than a mist, but not quite a rain. Just enough to keep you uncomfortably soggy.

I asked her if she would like me to go get her some food. Her face lit up as she said, “A Chick-fil-A would be nice.”

So we ran all the way across the mall and back to bring this lady some food (yay credit card).

It woke us up. We’d been having trouble getting in and out of the car because of the comfy seat warmers. I don’t know whether to praise or curse the inventor of that thing.
I can totally understand someone falling asleep at the wheel with that on.

Anyway, of all the things I bought yesterday and I haven’t even put much of a dent in the list, that bag of food was my favorite “gift.” Had I not done that, I would’ve felt as if I wasted my day.

Birthday IOU

That’s what I got from Blane a couple of days ago for my birthday, an IOU. Oh, and a candy bar. One. Cadbury. Chocolate. Bar. WTF was that supposed to mean? At first I thought, Oh, the cheap bastard had to pay more for the Cadbury, so I just got one. Doesn’t mean he thinks they’ll go to my ass or anything like that.

Still, I had to investigate the matter. I ran over to his secret candy stash drawer and saw what he got for himself. A bag of M&Ms, Milk Duds, and huh, a Cadbury bar. Being my mean and vengeful self, I stole all of his M&Ms.

I do not even like Cadbury, he should know that from years and years of marriage or at least by reading my mind. He should know I am sentimental about candy, dammit, I go to the ghetto side of town just to buy his favorite, Jolly Joe’s and when I do, I come back with a case. It doesn’t even have to be his birthday, either.

I’m not asking for Godiva or Ferraro Rocher, just a crate of Hershey’s with almonds would do.

Okay, upon further investigation, Spanky was with him at the store and she said she liked Cadbury, so he thought I might like it too.

He also made me a cake and this time it looked like a cake and not an asshole like the one last year. He even allowed the girls to put sprinkles on it. Blane hates sprinkles because they end up all over the place. They managed to keep them all on the cake and he was so proud of them. When I blew out the candles? Whoa, I blew sprinkles into every corner of the entire kitchen. That was even funnier than Sweetpea coughing all over her cake when she blew out her candles at her mega-birthday bash at the age of four.

Here’s why I got the IOU. Blane asked me two days before my birthday which tablet I wanted for editing photos. I told him I changed my mind, that I must have the iPhone and although he hates all things Apple, he was just going to have to bend because it’s my birthday.

I am also finally free of the shackles of Sprint Mobile after five long years of being put under new contracts just for changing little things about my plan. I have not been able to get a new phone credit in five years and my phone just sucks. It is a family plan, however, which means the girls must also switch to AT&T and choose new phones. Maybe by the time I actually get the phone the next gen iPhone will be for sale.

Also, Blane gets a discount on AT&T services through his employer and my birthday was over the weekend. I thought he still should have just gone to the Apple Store and just gotten the thing to show me a sign that he capitulated to my wishes. I wonder if he thinks I’ll change my mind? I won’t, I’ve been wanting that thing since before it even hit he market last summer. He knows this. He didn’t even need to ask what I wanted. He just didn’t want me to have it because he has Mac envy.

The girls gave me hand-made birthday cards. Those are absolutely my favorite things to receive.

Thanks again to all of you who wished me a happy one.

Presents For Everyone!

Merry Christmas!

While I am cooking the big Christmas feast I’m thinking, what could I give you for Christmas? I would like to thank you for reading, what can I do? Hmmm…

Okay, I have a few things.

Look under my blog tree.

Choose one present and click on it. What did you get? [edited note: the presents were all taken home, so the photo links are no longer active, come back next year.]

If you are reading this in a feed, you have to click on my blog so you can see the snow. The cool dude at WordPress made a snow widget. Come see.

Now have yourself a Merry Christmas and thanks for stopping by.

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Cheap Bastard

My husband is so well known for being a tightwad that a co-worker framed a dollar he won from him in a bet. Spanky and Blane II inherited this “illness.” I’ve always had to force those two to buy new clothes, with my money.

Sweetpea is quite the opposite, she could easily blow $40 on t-shirt. Funny thing about her, though, if she can haggle over the price, watch out vendor. This is a skill she got from her dad and her older brother. Last year she brought a dude to his knees over a lamp at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. It’s a game, a challenge. It has nothing to do with how much money she actually has. It’s about how far back she she can get someone to bend. She’s also all about making money too.

A couple of weeks ago she came home, slammed her keys on the counter and scurried out the back door mumbling, “I’m going get that stuff.”

Cue the Sanford and Son theme song…

She bustled back in with an armload of someone else’s junk she found in the neighbor’s trash. Claimed she would either take it to the consignment shop or sell it on EBay during the holiday break.

Now back to the Cheap Bastard. He refuses to go Christmas shopping with me because he can’t stand to see me spend money. See, I don’t listen to his “Don’t spend any money,” and I continue to buy “As Seen On TV” trash (can’t help it, it’s a disease).

Spanky agrees to come. So we’re looking around in Target and she hauls off somewhere with my shopping cart. I finally find her, place the goods I’d been forced to hand-carry into the cart and scold her for running off like that. When we get home, I notice some things aren’t in my shopping bags.

Then I see Cheap Bastard high-five Spanky. Getting to the bottom of things, I find out Spanky has been working for her dad. She gets 10 cents for everything she sneaks out of my shopping cart. Things she decides I don’t need. I also discover this has been going on for a long time. Finally I know why the kid takes off with the cart while I’m shopping. It is to limit what I buy to what I can carry by hand.

This is good enough reason to give out some Christmas coal. Thing is, that’s exactly what they want. Ain’t gonna happen, and if I have to steal Sweetpea’s junk and sell it to buy presents, that’s what I’ll do. The way I see it, people’s jobs depend on mass spending this time of year. I’m not encouraging you to go into debt, don’t spend money you don’t have. If you do have it? Spend some, get those dollars circulating. It is, after all, how it got into your pocket. Right?

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The Nightmare Song on Rock Band

So we get the game, Rock Band for XBox 360 on the very first day it comes out. We were going to get the one for the PS3 because those instruments are wireless, but Capone (my nephew) said he was getting it for his XBox 360. We go with that system so we can play him online. Blane II gets a setup at his house also.

Day one, the girls challenge Blane II to an online drum battle. They are certain he is cheating, that he has Angela working the pedal for him. He wasn’t that good and suddenly he was beating them. More battles later, Angela and Blane II accuse Blane I of cheating in a guitar battle. They are certain it is really Spanky playing.

On Thanksgiving, we all go to Blane II’s and have a “jam session” on this game. There’s lead guitar, bass guitar, drums, and singing. The way it works is there are multiple levels of difficulty, easy to expert. Your band starts out with a beat up piece of shit van and if you get really good, your band gets a jet plane. The more points you score, the more fans you get, and more songs you can unlock.

That’s where we were, the band had just gotten a jet plane. We call ourselves “The Lucky Charms” and our name is in lights. We unlock this new song and swear it is the last one, we’ll call it a night after we beat this song.

Everyone’s playing on the “hard” or difficult level. Sweetpea’s on lead guitar, Spanky on bass, Blane I on drums, and Angela on vocals. The song is by Deep Purple. Now you’d think the song would be “Smoke on the Water,” right, that is THE song EVERY kid plays when they get their first electric guitar.

But it’s not. It’s “Highway Star.”

And talk about a bitch to play. To sing. To beat.

Everyone switches instruments, different people try vocals, even me, to try to beat this damn thing. Every time we fail, we lose fans. We are losing fans by the thousands. We HAVE to beat this song.

And this song, the lyrics, they are hilarious.

Nobody gonna take my car
Im gonna race it to the ground

I love it and I need it
I bleed it yeah its a wild hurricane

Finally after a looong night of crazy laughter and singing (I never knew my hubby could sing like that!), we beat the thing. As we’re shutting things down, we make up our own lyrics to that Deep Purple tune stuck in our head.

Nobody gonna sing my song, I’m gonna run you to the gro-hound.
Nobody gonna beat my game, gonna run you outta to-hound.

Since that day, we’ve been joking around about that nightmare jam session, singing that song to each other when we least expect it. And then I just saw the commercial for Rock Band. I almost hit the floor.

THAT SONG!

Check it out.

If you are thinking about getting a game for Christmas, for yourself or for a family member, I’d definitely recommend this one. It’s a ton of fun, especially if you have a crowd.

I’d say this counts as a post towards Pooks musical meme. It has a video, some lyrics, and it inspires me to write (blogging is writing, shullup).

But first, tagging: Anita Marie, Jen, Daily, Michele, and AJ.

Here’s the plan:

So here is your assignment for today, dear readers. Find a song that inspires you to write something, whether it gives you an idea for a script or just puts you into a better frame of mind. AND/OR (don’t you love choices) peek into the lyrics and find a stanza that sums up the theme of whatever script you’re working on. It’s quite uncanny how the two circumstances go together.

If possible, post a video of the song to really get people into the mood. (Yep, I’m aware of the irony of using Internet clips during the pissing contest. I like irony as much as bitchiness.)Then, send the assignment (by e-mail or posting to one of their blog entries) to 5 other writers to do.