Saturday, January 30, 2010

Uh oh. I'm getting more ideas.

(who needs new clothes?
god created raggedy sweatpants for a reason)

Hey, I've discovered another way to save money, thanks to They match up the weekly grocery store specials with online or newspaper coupons. Cool. Yesterday we saved $27, which is like $26.50 more than I usually save.

I also met Laura, a blogger who is Eating In For A Year, which I could totally do with one small exception. You'll be hearing more from Laura soon.

Next thing you know I'll be baking my own bread from shredded styrofoam plates which I no longer use never ever for my English muffins. Come to think of it, in the summer I could bake it outside on the sidewalk, without turning on the oven ...

I need to stop thinking for a while now. Have a great weekend!
Toodle oo!


Friday, January 29, 2010

How to lose weight by buying nothing new


Don't hate me, but I am a teeny tiny person. Always have been. I probably weigh about as much as a typical 4th grader, or a typical 4-year-old if we're talking about Texas children.

No offense, if you are a 4-year-old Texas child.

Even teeny tiny people tend to put on a little weight as the years go by. And sure enough, I tried to put on some old jeans last week and they were way too small. This is not good. After all, I'm not buying anything new this year - so I have to work with what I've already got.

What should I do? Here are my choices:

1. Cut back on potato chips, peanuts, and melted cheese, which believe it or not are my three favorite foods. I am living proof that weight and cholesterol are sometimes related to dumb luck, not diet.

2. Cut out the laziness and start exercising. I actually attempted this a few years ago. Hubby and I joined a gym, hired a personal trainer, and started working out 4 or 5 days a week. It was really fun until Hubby threw his back out, I developed sciatica, and American Idol Season 6 started up and I just had to find out whether Sanjaya really had a chance, whether Melinda Doolittle really had a neck and whether Blake Lewis was really a human being because really, how can he possibly make those noises and sing at the same time? Really. I had to know.

3. Cut off the waistbands of my too tight jeans and sew on an ultra-attractive elastic band, which would give me lots of leeway and would probably be pretty comfortable, as well. I'm kind of leaning towards this strategy.


P.S. - Thought you might like to see my latest eBay buys! These are both "Free People" sweaters, which I picked up for about 1/4 of the original price. Boo ya.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My blogging days are over

(if my brain was a box ...)

I am super-dee-duper excited about writing TWO guest posts on two fabulous blogs!

First, my quirkly little bloggy friend Amanda (she's from San Francisco. enough said.) asked for volunteers to write about random topics, which she then strung together to make a story. You can read it here, but just keep in mind, (a) Amanda's blog is sometimes rated R though thank God she does not include pictures and (b) I do NOT ogle myself in a tiny mirror at dinner parties. The part about my hair is true, though.

Second, I wrote a little story about my BNNY Year for Reduce Footprints, a terrific blog with information, activities and links to help us all be a little kinder to the earth.

So, the media blitz is on!

I'm all over the Internet!

I have some new followers - welcome, welcome!

I even got a comment in Japanese yesterday! Clearly the world is watching.

Y'all are sitting there with your morning coffee, waiting for me to say something funny.

And suddenly my brain is completely empty. I'm tongue-tied. Or I guess that would be finger-tied. I'm afraid my blog is doomed.

Go ahead.

Move along.

There's nothing to see here.

Of course, I haven't told you about my new weight-loss discovery, have I?

And I do need to fill you in on how I toured Italy with a choir that couldn't sing.

And Fran did a really funny post the other day that I am planning on stealing when she turns her back so if any of you live in England could you give her a call and ask her out for coffee?

Check back with me in a couple of days. I'm pretty sure I'll have something to talk about.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Changing the world, one Wednesday at a time

(hug a tree. you know you want to.)

I kind of enjoy change. Except when it involves pain, agonizing choices, or packing and unpacking boxes.

This year, for me, it's all about changing my perspective - especially when it comes to my buying habits. Not that long ago (just last month, in fact) if I needed something new to read I would simply go to, pull up my five-page Wish List, and select at least $25 worth of books so I could qualify for FREE Super Saver Shipping!!! (some restrictions apply)

Then I would browse through the helpful recommendations that Amazon compiled exclusively for me, replenish my Wish List for next time, skip over to the Toys & Games department to see if there are any new toys I must must must buy for the grandbaby, hunt around the Gourmet Food section just for the heck of it, and then look up recipes using Hawaiian Black Lava Salt, which sounds very intriguing but looks like little black pebbles in a jar.

It was all quite time-consuming.

But very easy.

So now, since I'm buying nothing new this year, I simply printed out my Wish List. I carry it in my purse in case my car is magnetically drawn to either the library or Half Price Books (a local book resale shop).

That's easy too!

"But what does this have to do with Wednesdays" you may be wondering, if you even remember the title of my post after all this rambling. Well, I'll tell you. I discovered a terrific website called Reduce Footprints that issues a weekly challenge called Change The World Wednesdays.

This week's challenge is to only use reusable mugs/coffee cups/glasses. That's super easy for me, since I have no life and rarely leave the house. I'll bring a travel mug to church on Sunday (our church has a fabulous coffee bar - I love a church that smells like coffee!!).


In fact, I'll also stop using styrofoam plates for my English muffin in the mornings. Awful habit, I know. Sorry.

I'll do better - one baby footprint at a time.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Hit Parade

(are they adorable or WHAT??)

Back in the days when the cave drawings were just beginning to dry, popular music was going through a revolution.

popular music? like hip hop?

Not exactly. In those days, if you said "hip hop" to a friend, they would say "mother may I?". No, I'm talking about the early, early days of rock and roll.

you mean you were alive back then? how old ARE you, anyway?

Never you mind. But yes, I was there. I remember watching The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. They were so cute, and their music was so unique.

yeah, like elevator music

And their hair was so long! We all thought it was scandalous.

oh my lord. you ARE old. so you rushed to itunes to download their songs?

Well, no. We didn't have iTunes back then.

you rushed to the store to buy their cd's?

Nope. No CDs either.

so how did you listen to their music then?

We bought records. You know, 78's or 45's or 33's.


Round. Black. Hard plastic. Put them on a turntable and lower the needle. But you had to be careful to lower it gently, or the record would scratch and then it would skip in the same spot over and over, like our Amahl And The Night Visitors record that had the three kings singing "We must not lose sight of our, not lose sight of our, not lose sight of our -

right! okay! records. got it. um, i need to go floss my teeth now. but thanks for the music history lesson.

No problem. I think I'll go check the value of my Beatles collection on eBay. Maybe one of these days I'll be able to retire after all.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

How to learn Italian without buying anything new

(italy: land of a thousand hideous statues)

I went to Italy twelve years ago, with a choir (I was the accompanist). It was a very funny choir, and a very funny trip. I'll be sure and tell you about it some time!

While I was there, I became quite fluent in Italian. I knew how to say "good morning" and "how much does this cost" and "more wine please." Impressive, I know.

Unfortunately, that was a long time ago and my brain has deleted all of my vast Italian vocabulary to make room for more important information such as Smokey The Bear's new slogan, my new address, and the PIN number for the new ATM card I had to get because my husband's identity was stolen. Another story I'll be sure to tell you about.

So, anyway, I bring up all this because I have always wanted to really know how to speak Italian. Since I am not buying anything new this year, I went to eBay to see if I could find a used instructional CD. Nolo lucko.

So THEN, and I completely realize that this post is getting way too long for a subject that is totally irrelevant to anyone's life except my own, I got the bright idea of going to the library!

And guess what?

The librarian told me I didn't even need to search their shelves, I could just go to their website and download an audio book on How To Speak Italian!

How cool is that?

They have this entire online downloadable section with tons and tons of stuff available including audio books, ebooks, videos (the top ten list, believe it or not, includes The Adventures of Long John Silver and Old Texas & The Trail Drivers) and music.

All free!

So the moral of this long and boring story is, if you want to be sure you order peach ice cream and not fish ice cream the next time you visit Italy, because I don't remember what the Italian words are for "peach" and "fish" but I'm pretty sure they are very similar, go to your local library's website!

Let me know what you find. I'll be here listening to Learn Italian In Forty-Seven Easy Lessons You Lazy American It's About Time You Learned Our Language Since You Expect Us All To Know Yours.



Friday, January 15, 2010

How to eBay shop till you drop

Ebay shopping is super fun! Here is how it works:

1. Log on to and browse around the clothing sections for hours and hours. And hours.

2. Find something you like.

3. Wait until shortly before the auction is up, so you can swoop in and score a bargain.

4. Try to buy your item, and succeed only in bumping up the price without actually bidding high enough to win the auction.

5. Worry briefly that the other bidders will be mad about your swooping and bumping since they have been patiently bidding for the past 5 days.

6. Continue swooping, bumping and aggravating the other bidders until you finally win an item! Woo hoo! You won! When was the last time you went shopping and WON something at the same time?? This is fun!

7. Wait for your item to arrive in the mail, hoping all the while that (a) it will fit, (b) you will like it, and (c) you won't discover that another bidder has won the same item in another auction for a lower price which would definitely take some of the glory out of your thunderous swoopy bumpy win.

8. Go back to step 1 and repeat the process ... until you drop! Or until your husband threatens to put your little yellow laptop on eBay. Whichever comes first.


So far, as you can see in the side bar, I have saved $40 on clothing by shopping eBay instead of WillowBend Only Shop Here If You Drive A Mercedes Mall. Hubby and I also bought a used set of french doors for our TV room instead of buying new ones. I'll tell you about that next week!

So far so good.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

This isn't supposed to happen

Usually the weather in Dallas looks like this:

Which makes me smile, like this:

But lately, the temperature has done this:

Which made our pool get all icy on top, like this!

Which made me feel like this:

But which, I must admit, is still a heckuvalot better than this, which is the view from my office window when we lived in Michigan:

So I guess I can't complain. Too much.


Friday, January 8, 2010

How to shop till you drop without buying anything new

(little shopper in training ...
remember, darlin' - never pay full price!)

As you may already know, my New Year's resolution is to go a whole year without buying anything new.

Why would I do that? Well, it's sort of an experiment to see, first of all, what types of challenges that will present, and second, how much money I spend mindlessly on a regular basis.

I have always used shopping as a recreational activity. In fact, over the years I developed a variety of shopping techniques:

Therapy Shopping - Y'all know what this is. Come on, admit it.

Inventory Assessment - Some call this window shopping. My title makes it sound more worthwhile, don't you think?

Stealth Shopping - This technique is for the periods just before the really super duper sales begin, such as late January when the Stealth Shopper knows the stores will soon be desperate to clear out the winter stuff. She scours the sale racks for cute items, hides them amongst items of a different size, and returns in a week or so to score a big bargain. Not that *I* would ever do this.

Full Price Shopping - Don't do this! Ever! You will regret it immediately, because the next day, guaranteed, you will see a sales ad in the paper with the item you just bought marked down 50%. Then when you go back to the store, full-price item in hand, to demand your 50% refund, you will realize that you accidentally brought the wrong receipt and the snooty saleswoman will inform you that she cannot issue a refund if all you have is a crinkled receipt from Target for three bargain bin movies, a can of coffee and two bottles of wine. So sorry.

And now, this week, I've been working on perfecting a whole new category of shopping! (drum roll please) ....

Ebay Shopping - This is surprisingly fun! I will tell you all about it next week. Hopefully I will have actually succeeding in buying something by then. In the meantime, I am very busy shopping. But not buying. And definitely not buying anything new. Of course, the year is young.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

and then she was gone ... conclusion

She came home at the end of the summer, though it was definitely a good news/bad news kind of thing.

The good news, of course, was that Mom was home and we could stop making agonizing trips to New Haven with plastic smiles on our faces, sitting around tables for "family therapy" sessions which gave us absolutely zero insight into what the heck was going on.

The bad news was that the manic-depression thing came home with her. And after months of flying high, she had crashed to earth.

She did bring pills with her, which might have been helpful if she wasn't so suspicious of them.


Me: Mom? Whatcha doing?

Mom: An experiment.

Me: What's in the coffee cup?

Mom: I'm just going to try something.

Me: Um, why are you pouring that into the spider plant?

Mom: You just wait. In a few days that plant will be dead. Mark my words.


This was the beginning of the new "normal" for our family.

Everyone has a story. If you simply ask who they are, or what their life has been like, that story will come to mind. They may choose not to tell it. Usually it's not easy to tell. But it's their story.

I wish I could end this story by telling you how that strange summer so long ago made me a better person, and taught me some profound life lessons. But mostly we all just got through it, and did the best that we could, and learned that you never know what life has in store. You could be calling the President one day, and poisoning your spider plant the next. You could bumble along thinking that you know your loved ones, and turn around to discover that they have suddenly disappeared.

You never know.

Everyone has a story. This is mine.

Thanks for listening.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

and then she was gone ... part two

Where had she gone? I really had no idea.

One minute Mom was outside talking to her piano student's mom, getting more and more agitated about something or other, and the next thing we all knew she was whisked away. What the heck?

Looking back on it, maybe we should have known something was up.

Mom was always passionately involved with one thing or another: the PTA, the League of Women Voters, faculty dinner parties, Dad's concerts. But lately she had been passionately, fervently, feverishly working on a proposal for an Institute Of The Arts.


Me: Hi Mom. Whatcha doing?

Mom: Just outlining some ideas.

Me: Did you want some breakfast?

Mom: No no I need to keep this train of thought going, I've been up all night writing this down exactly the way God is revealing it to me, it's a seamless idea I don't know why it hasn't been synthesized by anyone before this but it's truly the only natural, organic, artistic, comprehensible way for children to learn. I need to go call the President now.

Me: Um, sure. Go for it. See you after school.


Like I said, maybe we should have had a clue. But she was very much herself, just kind of wound up a little too tight. And then she was gone.

Turns out Dad had pulled some strings, and checked her into a Yale New Haven Hospital ward called T-One. Over the next few months we would come to hate the sound of it.


It was a mental health ward for crazy people, and we all knew it.

Mom had slipped over the edge from eccentric-but-you-have-to-excuse-her-because-she's-a-musician into the world of pretty-much-completely-out-of-her-mind.

She told me much later that while we were all at home scratching our heads and going "what the heck happened to mom?" she was standing in a hospital room trying to comply with the doctor's simple request to count backwards from 100. She couldn't do it.

Her mind was racing a mile a minute.

She was convinced that God was directing her to do something big, something colossal, something that would change the world.

She couldn't sleep, eat, or sit still for more than a few seconds at a time.

She was in a locked ward with cold linoleum floors, sterile white walls and a bewildering diagnosis: manic-depression.

She was gone, but surely the doctors would cure her. Surely there were pills that would help. Surely she would be back, and everything would go back to normal.


(one more installment to come ... )

Monday, January 4, 2010

and then she was gone ... part one

It was a lovely Spring afternoon, a long long time ago. How long ago? Let's see ... I had recently turned 16, and I am now so totally old, my childhood toys are listed on eBay under "Antiquities," my favorite elementary school lunchbox is a collector's item, and my husband and I recently set up an estate plan. That's how long ago it was.

My sisters and I were all home from school, hiding away upstairs while Mom gave piano lessons. Argh. Excruciating half-hour segments, with hopeless little musical hacks playing "The Bear Dance" and "Soaring" and "Pretty Ballerinas" over and over and over.


Mom: "That should be a G-sharp, dear."

Hopeless Little Hack: "G-sharp? What's a G-sharp?"

Mom: "Right here, sweetheart."

HLH: "Are we done yet? Mummy says we can go get ice cream when we're done."

Mom: "Not yet. Twenty-nine and a half minutes to go. Let's try it again!"


God. We all rolled our eyes and slammed our doors and swore we would do ANYthing to avoid EVER becoming a piano teacher.

When the last lesson was over, Mom went out to talk with Little Hack's mother. The usual conversation would go something like this:

LHMom: "How is she doing?"

Mom: "Oh, just fine! A little more practice, and she'll be on her way!"

LHMom: "Well, good! We're off to get ice cream!"

Mom: "Toodle-oo!"

But on this strange Spring morning, the conversation was more like this:

LHMom: "How is she doing?"

Mom: "I'm a little concerned. Children in general just are not realizing the full potential of the global vision of the artistic generalization that should be fully blossoming in their lives if they only had the potentialization of the globality of that artistic visionalization. Don't you agree? Don't you? Don't you?"

It was right around the third "don't you" when dad sent Sister # 1 out to get her.

... and then she was gone

(to be continued) ...


Friday, January 1, 2010

BNNY Year Resolutions

(i love making new year's resolutions. especially for other people.)

Texas drivers really need to be nicer to me in 2010. Our politicians need to get along and get something done, for Pete's sake. And my hubby needs to resolve to be more patient when we play Scrabble, especially when I get both the blanks plus "s-t-i-n-g" and he has "a-a-o-u-i-c-v" which happens quite often but is clearly not my fault, even if I do gloat and brag and snicker about it.

In fairness, I suppose I should make some resolutions for myself. So what would I like to accomplish during this special Buy-Nothing-New Year?

1. I resolve to think, however briefly, about each purchase I make this year. Is there a way to buy this item used? Could I make do with what I already have? Can I simplify my life and reduce my carbon footprint? Will this drive me absolutely crazy by the end of January? Will anyone notice that I am crazier than before? Will I ever get to resolution # 2?

2. (Whew. Finally got here.) I resolve to think less about my blogging "audience" and more about what I really want to say.

3. I resolve to write a chapter of a book. Writing a whole entire book is way too overwhelming. But I think I could write one chapter.

And 4. I resolve to continue beating my hubby at Scrabble every chance I get. It's my little way of helping him become a better person. (you're welcome, hun!)

Happy New Year!



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