Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I think I threw up a little bit in my mouth

I read a lot of blogs.  Of all the blogs I read, I know less than half of the people in real life.  And I think that is a problem.

I don't think I would actually like most of the people in real life.

But I am addicted to reading their blogs.

Is it just me, or do most people make you want to throw up?  At least just a little. 

Tonight, the thing that turned me off was a blogger who is a self-confessed tight-wad.  She has had window treatments in her living room that she does not like for the past three years because she hasn't found the "perfect" window treatments at Anthropologie.  But never fear...she broke down in a fit of desperation and bought a shower curtain at (does she dare say the word?) Target (I can only assume in her head it was Tarjay) and re-worked it to Anthro-it-up.

Gag!  Excuse me while I swallow.

First of all, I have only been to Anthropologie once, and it was more than enough.  I find the store to be pretentious and way over-priced.  And it pretends to sell "one-of-a-kind" items.  But if they have more than one of any item, how can it really be unique?  And if it is mass produced...well, just think about it.  Since EVERYBODY loves the place so much, don't you think you'll all start having houses that look identical?  It reminds me of Pottery Barn ten years ago.  And Phoebe on Friends and her hatred of the barn.

Everyone in blog-ville raves about Anthropologie's great prices--"Oh, I just bought the perfect shirt at Anthro!  And it was only $53!"  Or "Can you believe that I only paid $362 for this 8 x 10 (inch--not foot) mirror?"  Ack!  Come on!  I guess I am a true tight-wad since those prices will never be in my radar.

Their stuff is so ridiculous, I can barely keep the laughter from bursting out.

Here is a pared-down fixture crafted of warm copper; its timeless silhouette will earn a lush patina with age.

  • Professional hardwiring required
  • Copper
  • 60 watt max
  • 56" cord
  • 1.5"H, 5.25" diameter
  • Imported
Edison bulb sold separately

If I am going to spend $98 on what is really a lamp kit that can be purchased at Lowe's for $9.96, it better come with the light bulb.  But since it's Anthro and doesn't, the bulb will set you back (oh.my.hell!) $18.  And don't ask me how much a professional hardwire job will set you back.


Next up is the Farmer's Egg Crate



Store a dozen fresh eggs in an eye-catching - and reusable - stoneware crate.
  • Stoneware
  • Dishwasher safe
  • 5.5"L, 7.5"W
  • Imported" 
Seriously?  We can't leave our eggs in the cardboard crate they come in at the store?  Oh, you mean to tell me this was created especially for the people out there that have their own laying chickens?  You mean to tell me no one before Anthro thought of something to put their eggs in?  Like a basket?

It's good to know that this next items was found in the "Extras" section, rather than the "Essentials."  It totally makes me feel better.  'Cause I think I almost blew a gasket when I saw it.


Yes, you are looking at PAPER straws.  A set of sippers from Jack & Lulu, crafted of chlorine-free, biodegradable and compostable paper. Oh, I'm sorry...they aren't straws, they are SIPPERS.  Straws are so last year!  The good news is they are imported (so none of our un-employed brothers and sisters had to work to support your frivolous lifestyle) and biodegradable.  Hopefully they wait to degrade until you are done using the sipper.  Drink fast my friend, drink fast.  But not too fast!  You get 20 sippers for $10--that's fifty cents a sipper.  You can get 100 straws (and a dispenser) for $4 at Target.  I know.  It's so ghetto, though!

And if you are in the mood for some clothing and accessories, the good news is that you can also Anthro those.  I just saw that you can buy a headband, with two raffia flowers (you know, straw--the kind that grows and cows eat?) for only $88.



I think my entire summer wardrobe cost me $88. 



I've had it. 

I truly can't wait for the Anthro-craze to be done. 

Almost as much as I want the Cafe Rio salad freak-out bloggers have to pass.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Letters from home....

When I was on my mission, I always loved getting letters from home.  For two reasons. 
First, it was nice to have letters and feel loved by my family.
Second, my family is crazy and they all write pretty much anything.
I thought I would start a new series to showcase the writing talent in my family.

The first letter highlighted is from my brother Todd.  He was 17 when he wrote this letter:

Dear Stephanie,
Mom is making me write this because she wants to make it look like I care.  I'm writing on the cover sheet of the note book paper so I don't actually waste paper.  Emily is grumpy and pretending to be in a coma (ignoring us).  Did you hear about Regis?  Probably not.  He had a nervous breakdown on the air Wednesday.  Ugly sight.  Started hitting Kathie Lee, but little did he realize Kathie Lee was taking self-defense Ninjitsu class-yep beat him straight into Fair condition.  {musical notes drawn here} Be a drug user-and a drug abuser. {musical notes drawn here, too} Speaking of drugs Emily's pot use did escalate to crack & heroin like I told her.  But did she listen-no.  What kind of noise annoys an oyster? (Say it aloud) A noisy noise annoys an oyster. Did you know if you dug a hole straight through the center of the Earth and each opening was at the same elevation you could jump in and come up at the other end like an elevator because the speed you gained going down ya'd lose coming up.  True science fact.
YOU'RE GONNA BURN
Gonna burn-in the Disco Inferno!
Today Mom & I were going to Mark Peterson's baptism and were stopped at B'way and Pantano.  In the station wagon ahead of us were two small children facing us, one boy and one girl (with three eyes)!  So I started making faces at them and they began to laugh.  Then they started telling everyone else in the car that a crazy boy was making faces at them.  Then I noticed the boy was wearing a white shirt and tie.  I said, "I bet they're going to the baptism."  So we followed them there.  We park in an area of a closer vicinity to the door and got to the baptismal area first.  W had been sitting in our seats for approximately 2 minutes when the children previously mentioned walked in and it was the Gibsons.  Ha ha. Well, I have to go.  Maybe (if Mom makes me) I'll write again

He did not sign it (or even punctuate the last sentences).

I remember laughing and laughing.  Even today, it cracks me up.  Quite the stream of consciousness Todd has!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I'm a sucker for free stuff

Back in the day, when I had business cards, I carried them all the time. Just so I could put them in the gigantic fish bowl to win a free lunch at the sandwich shop to which I had a frequent eater card, which entitled me to a free 3-inch standard sandwich after eating fifty-seven 6-inch premium sandwiches.

So, needless to say, I have registered on more websites to receive daily email updates about offers that I will never really be interested in.

In my inbox right now, I find emails from:

Bob's Red Mill
Costco
Papa John's
Napster
Pillsbury
Very Best Baking (Nestle)
Overstock
salemail (that tells me who is having sales where)
wishpot
Discovery Health
Dove
World Market
Lunch Club
Hungry Girl

And that's just from today.

So, when I received an email from some company advertising their latest and greatest product, and offering a free sample in the mail, I jumped. High.

That was about six weeks ago.

I had almost forgotten about my request, when I got the mail a couple of days ago. But there, in the mail was my free sample of:

Purex Complete 3-in-1 Laundry Sheets



I figured that it behooves me (I have always wanted to say that word, and you don't get the opportunity very often--take advantage when you can) to perform a public service by telling you about my experience.

Maybe we can call this a Consumer Review. Remember, I am sort of being compensated for this review. I received two free sheets and a coupon to save $1 off my next purchase.

The sheets are just about 4x6 (inches, not feet or centimeters) and are pretty thick and heavier than you would think. I guess they have to be, since they contain detergent, fabric softener, and anti-static stuff. They are touted as "powerful" sheets.

They smell like a cross between a dryer sheet and scent-free detergent. (I know it sounds funny that scent-free detergent has a scent, but it does--soap.). I just noticed this is the "Spring Oasis" scented variety.

The directions say to use one for a regular load and two for an extra large load. You put it in the washing machine with your clothes and then transfer it, along with your clothes, to the dryer.

I did a load of dark colored clothes, including jeans. It appears that the clothes got clean. But, really, I think most of the time, with adult clothes, just putting them through a washing cycle with water only, would clean the clothes. I don't typically roll around in the mud.

They don't have static, even the non-natural fibered work out clothes. (Don't laugh...I have work out clothes.). (I just don't use them to work out).

They don't smell particularly "April fresh," but I don't necessarily think that is a bad thing. I probably have enough other scents (soap, shampoo, deodorant, perfume, etc), that I don't need my clothes to have much scent. I would say that the clothes smell clean, but not scented.

So, this is the part that you are all waiting for: Would I buy this product? I would seriously think about it. I think it would depend on the price of this product vs. the price of my current detergent (Costco's unscented liquid) and dryer sheets (whatever is cheapest at the store). I like the idea that I wouldn't be wasting a big plastic container (I do recycle them, though). But, I also don't know what kind of packaging the new product comes in.

In the interest of full disclosure, the real reason behind this posting was purely selfish. I am hoping that marketers pick up my review and contact me to become a professional reviewer. You know, having companies send me things to try out (and keep) to see if their products work in the "real world."

Companies like Mercedes. And British Airways. And the Fiji Chamber of Commerce. And Fulton Homes.

A girl can dream, can't she?

PS-The directions contain a warning label that tells you what to do in case you accidentally swallow the laundry sheet. I think if you could swallow a laundry sheet loaded with enough detergent to clean a whole load of dirty clothes, the glass full of water that is suggested may not do the trick. That would probably only cause the remaining soap to foam in your mouth. Which could result in a series of rabies shots. And a nickname of Old Yeller.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

Stephanie, P.I.

I like to think that I am a private investigator.

It all started in about 1979. My sister Jennilyn and I played Charlie's Angels. All.The.Time. Especially while roller-skating in the neighborhood. With our steel skates. Ksk ksk ksk ksk.



She was always Kelly (Jaclyn Smith) and I was Chris (Cheryl Ladd). We were on super secret missions. We carried cap guns in our purses. We freaked out every time we went to the airport (probably twice) to pick up my dad from TDY (temporary duty in the Air Force, aka business trips). It was back in the olden days when you could meet your party at the gate, rather than at the not-so-invisible line known as the TSA. Oh, don't be fooled. You still had to go through the metal detector and put your belongings on the scanner. But you could keep your shoes on. In fact, the security officials would have become mighty suspicious if you took your shoes off and put them through the X-ray machine. We freaked out, since we were sure that we had forgotten to remove our guns from our purses. Never mind that most of the time we picked my dad up curbside and didn't get out of the car, much less within eyesight of the dreaded x-ray machine.

Later, I became detective by virtue of watching every episode of Remington Steele. I partially had a crush on Remington and partially wished I was as smart as Laura Holt. And I wanted her white convertible VW rabbit.



I grew up. And got a job in the "real world." No fun investigating for me.

Then along came google. You could google all sorts of things and look really smart. You could easily find out:

  • Where your long-lost roommate was working (in China as a head-liaison for Chinese-American adoptions).
  • Where your brother placed in a bicycle race (ok...I used to be able to find this, but can't anymore).
  • And even that you are listed on the "Missing Graduates" list for your high school (Never mind that your parents live in the same house they did when you graduated).

Next was facebook. I joined in its "infancy." I had about eight friends, mostly members of my family and friends of theirs I had met, for about a year. No one I knew wanted to be on facebook. It was talked about in the same hushed breaths as myspace. Little by little, friends I knew in town joined. Then friends I hadn't seen in years. Then friends I hadn't seen in decades. I "spied" on people--you know you do it too! I would check their photos, boxes, notes, info, and profiles to see what had become of them. I loved it when I found someone that I didn't really want to re-connect with, but who had a very public profile. So I could be incognito in my spying. Or when one of my friends was friends with them and commented on a photo, so I could then see the photos. Yeah. I guess I am a little bit stalker-ish.

One of the clinchers in my quest to be a private detective was when I got my current job. I am a consultant with a company that contracts with insurance companies to complete forensic audits of (mostly) mortgage loan applications. I basically go through the documents in the loan files to ensure that they are authentic, unaltered, and accurate. I use the skills I have honed for the last thirty-one years.

So, when one of my favorite bloggers was in need and called out to the blogging community for help, I knew I was the right one for the job. Long-ish story short-ish. She had gone to London for work, pleasure, a little of both, and had visited (shopped at) Harrod's. She went to the loo (you know, the Ladies' room) and found that the fancy water closets throughout Europe have collections of perfume that would rival the longest perfume counters in the US available for your pleasure. She found a perfume that smelled divine and misted herself with it. She loved the scent, but could not remember for the life of her the name of it. Shortly after leaving the store, she was in a nearby garden and her friend told her the perfume with which she was mesmerized smelled just like the flower they walked past. But they did not know the name of the flower. She took a picture of the flower to investigate further.

This is where I come in.

I read her blog with the above story and immediately went to work. I, being extremely bad with identifying flora (and fauna--which is which?), guessed that it looked like a peony since I do know they are similar-ish to a full and open rose found in old lady gardens. I googled peonies and the flower does, in fact, look a little like the flower on her blog.

Next I googled "perfumes that smell like peonies" and the top hit was Flora by Gucci. Clearly, this was too easy to be correct. But I decided that sometimes the most obvious answer is the correct one (Like, am I beautiful? Yes. Well, that happens to be true!).

I went to Harrod's website (it's almost like taking a trip to London for free) and clicked on their "Beauty" tab. Lo and behold, Flora by Gucci was the perfume featured on the "Beauty" tab. Coincidence? I think not!

I left a comment on Aunt Spicy's posting and kept my fingers crossed.

Well, about four months later, she was flipping through a magazine and flipped right past the perfume ads. What was that? The part of her brain that is responsible for putting shapes of bottles together with light scents was sparked. She flipped back and thought it may just be what she was looking for. And what was it?


Flora by Gucci.

Mystery solved. She emailed me and told me she would make me something for my "trouble." Sort of a finder's fee. Well, I am on cloud nine! I love everything she makes (or at least everything that she has featured on her blog). I have friends who will be jealous since I know they read her blog too. And I think this makes me a professional private detective.

Thanks, Aunt Spicy!

PS-My cell phone ring tone is the theme from Charlie's Angels. I think of it as the theme song of my life.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Idle (The Rabbit Song)....by Hem

So periodically I choose a totally random song from my music library and post about it.

It makes me use my stream of consciousness many times, since the titles can be a little "out there."

Have you ever known someone who absolutely cannot, for the life of them, sit and do only one thing? Or, especially, nothing?

I have known people like that.

I, however, am not one of those people.

I can sit, unfortunately, for hours and do next to nothing. Especially when I have a long list of things to accomplish.

I seem to function best when I am moments away from a deadline. In school, I was the one who would start researching my essays the night before they were due. I would take a lower grade, even, and so I could turn them in late.

I am constantly running late because I wait as long as possible to get ready to leave. That, and my talent for grossly underestimating the amount of time it takes me to get ready for my day.

One night, a roommate and I were talking about the "Mysteries of the Universe" and how she could spend hours contemplating the unanswerable questions of life. She asked my opinion, to which I responded, "Hmmm...I don't really think about that stuff." She was aghast! How could I not think of such imponderables?! She asked what I could possibly be thinking during my idle time. I told her I really didn't know....that my mind must be blank. I think she almost decided that I was entirely too shallow for words, since I didn't even know whether I had thoughts.

I sometimes try really hard to do more than one thing at a time--to multi-task with the best of them. The most I can do is listen to music and do another task. An easy task. Like dishes. Watch TV and work out? Nope! Laundry and TV? No way! TV and listen to my husband? Yep! Unless I'm supposed to retain what we talk about. I guess the problem here is TV. I spend way too much of my idle time with it and I am addicted. I have way too many shows that I DVR. We have actually run out of DVR space before. On several occasions. But it's my crack and I'm not ready to give it up.

It is, after all, the way I discovered Hem. I kept seeing a commercial for Liberty Mutual insurance about "paying it forward." It had a great message and the song was beautiful. I would listen to a bit, pause the DVR, write down some of the words, listen to more, and so on. I googled the phrases and came to discover Hem. They are one of my favorite bands.



And so you see, a little Idle-ness can bring some happy-ness.

*PS-I usually link to the song that inspired the post. But, unfortunately, after I wrote this post, I realized I couldn't find a link to the song. So I posted the song that inspired my search for Hem.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Date from (and in) Hell

So, as part of my attempt to help you feel better about your dating life, whether it is past or present, I bring you part three in my "Dates from Hell" (can you hear it echoing?) series.

This particular date was just a few months after the date in "Dates from Hell, Part I."

I was just a month or two shy of 21. I was semi-attending community college (I think by this time, I had either dropped or just stopped going to all my classes, except at the Institute) and worked about 4 hours a week as an administrative assistant at the home of a contractor/Amway rep. Basically, I compiled the Amway orders and mailed (this was when fax machines were really expensive and no one had them at their houses--and I don't think Al Gore had invented the internet yet) them to my employer's "upline" and wrote payroll checks to myself and one other employee. So, yeah, I had a lot going for me.

But I had a swimming personality that made up for it.

I was a member of Lambda Delta Sigma--the LDS sorority that was basically Young Women's for the college crowd. I joined at Ricks College and when I moved to Tucson, I joined the chapter at the University of Arizona. There was also an LDS fraternity--Sigma Gamma Chi. The thing about the sorority was that it was fun and there were always great girls in it. The thing about the fraternity was that it was full of dorks. Date number one was a member, if that gives you any idea of the quality.

One of the members of Sigma Gamma Chi was "Stu." Stu was someone who always sat on the side lines and never said much. One of my fellow Lambda Delts liked him at one point, but gave up on it since he never talked. And she was the type of girl who talked so much that she didn't ever notice when someone else didn't.

Stu and I had "talked" a few times. Basically, I would say hi. He would say hi and then nod his head, with a silly grin on his face, but say nothing else. I think in the nearly year I knew him prior to our date, we had talked less than six minutes combined.

As I've said before, I never learned the art of just saying no when asked out. I think mainly since I got asked out so infrequently, I jumped at any opportunity. Or I was so caught off guard, I could not figure out any response other than yes.

So, when Stu asked me out, I said yes. But I think it was also a little bit associated with the activity he had in mind.

You see, Stu was getting ready to graduate from the University of Arizona. Apparently, he was a mining engineering student (whatever that was--the gold rush of 1849 was over about 150 years earlier, so what was the need for miners?). As a mining engineer student, he had joined the mining engineering club. Since there were so few people in the club, he was the vice-president. Just outside of Tucson are several mines, mainly copper, and one of them was going to bestow a monetary gift upon the mining engineering club at the University at a "Black-Tie Gala"--his words, exactly. The club president could not attend, so the vice-president, aka Stu, needed to show up and accept the endowment.

Long story short (yeah, right), I heard "Gala" and my mind was aflutter thinking of all the fancy clothes. So I said yes.

Then I remembered I earned less than $25 a week. Which meant, "No new dress."

That's okay, though, I had my black velvet formal dress I had sewn a year earlier.

It was a lovely thing. Yep...it was a pioneer-style dress with a white lacy collar that was so huge, one of my friends asked if I used a tablecloth.

Stu picked me up and gave me a gerbera daisy, with which I was unsure of what to do. It had a card that said, "Beautiful flowers are for beautiful ladies." I think I threw up in my mouth a little because, 1-It was a little bit dorky sounding; and b-Did this mean he liked me? 'Cause I didn't like him!

The Gala was being held 25 miles away at a resort outside of Tucson. Since there are not really freeways running through town, 25 miles is at least an hour's drive. Imagine driving for an hour and saying about 17 words. Between the two of us. Just a little awkward.

We arrived at the resort, a little ahead of schedule and made our way to the room holding the event. We were among the first people to arrive. The schedule of events was posted outside the room and I was able to see that we would be attending the "Gala" being held on the last evening of an annual convention. Hmmm...maybe not so bad.

So we waited in the large, nearly empty room. About ten minutes later, the bar opened for the cocktail hour. I don't think I mentioned this earlier, but I was about 2 months shy of my 21st birthday. Not that it mattered, since I wasn't going to drink.

There still weren't many people, so I looked a little more closely at the convention itinerary. Apparently the event scheduled immediately before the gala was a golf tournament. It must have run late, since everyone who was at the cocktail hour was wearing golf shorts and shirts. Either that, or the "Gala" wasn't "Black Tie." I think it was more likely option two.

As I look around, which is about all I can do since Stu doesn't have anything to say, I notice that not only am I EXTREMELY overdressed, but I am EASILY the youngest person by about 20 years.

The hell of cocktail hour finally ends and we are seated to dinner. It seems like we ate some really dry chicken with steamed vegetables of some sort and a dessert that looked about 30 times better than it tasted.

After dinner, which again had little to no talking, we sat through an excruciatingly long awards ceremony. It must have been a sales convention and just about everyone there received some type of award. At the very end, they announced the gift they were endowing upon the mining club. It must have been at that point that everyone else in the room figured out why there were two practical teenagers who were overdressed.

I think we left shortly after the award was presented. We made the long drive with very little conversation.

I'm sure we "talked" a few times after the date, but we never mentioned the hell of the evening.

Friday, March 5, 2010

March forth!

My friend, Jamie (Post) Melin, has celebrated March 4th as March Forth.

She learned about it from its founder, Geo (who I totally don't know and hope she doesn't mind me linking to her blog).

Geo "invented" the holiday as her New Year's Day. The day to move forward and either do the things you have been putting off or do something that re-invigorates you. Or both.

Every year, Jamie writes a little something about her March Forth and I am always jealous that she remembers and I don't.

This year I decided to celebrate it on the Sixth. For two reasons:
A--I forgot about it. Again.
2--I needed to wait until Saturday, when I didn't have to go to work and could devote the day to me. Sound selfish? Ok, maybe a little.

But, I decided that next year, I will NOT procrastinate (one of my biggest weaknesses!). I added March Forth to my Outlook calendar. So even though next year's March Forth is a Friday, I will celebrate it on the fourth.

And maybe the fifth, too!