Saturday, December 31, 2016

What do you do about the island of unwanted Christmas gifts?

Each Christmas well-meaning friends and relatives purchase a vast amount of gifts that are neither wanted or used.  Where do these unwanted Christmas gifts end up?  Well, in my house they end up in a pile in the basement.  I call it the island of lost and unwanted gifts.  Every so often I re-gift.  Yeah I know re-gifting is tacky.  And I would never re-gift a gaudy faux jewel encrusted box to someone who I knew wouldn't like it.  So I occasionally take a trip to the local Goodwill store.  After all you can take it off your taxes and donating feels good.

Gift cards are easy.  There are a ton of websites where a non-athletic person can trade a sporting goods gift card for, say, a Starbucks.  Another option is to sell gift cards you will never use.  Sure you get less than the face value, but it's better than sitting in a drawer for all eternity.  Be careful, however, and make sure the website is legitimate.

This year my husband received a virtual reality viewer.  He's in his 60's.  People in their sixties aren't interested in sitting in a room with a pendulous contraption strapped to their heads to look at scenery and such.  Although television commercials would have you believe otherwise, people of that age are more into real reality.  They go outside.  They ride roller coasters.  They experience real life.

I received a 1-inch square tile to attach to anything so that I can locate it via my phone.  Granted I lose things.  I get it.  I'm a ditz.  The thing I lose the most, however, is my phone.  The second thing I lose are my glasses and a tile hanging from them would be annoying at the very least.  And if I was the sort of person who wore those chains to keep them near at all times (which I don't) the problem of loss would be solved for $1.49.

I know gift giving is hard.  But you would think it would be easier for adult children.  So what follows is a gift giving guide for adult children-- for all occasions.

1.  Don't give knick-knacks or other dust catchers.  If they are old enough to be your parents, they have more than enough of those.

2.  Don't give them something you would like.  They are not in their 20's anymore.

3.  Clothing is a big NO.  Sizing is variable and do you really want to give your dad a jacket meant for a teenager in size XXL and have it still not fit?

4.  Don't give food.  Maybe you are unaware that dad had a heart issue and you gave him a membership to a bacon of the month club.

5.  Jewelry is governed by taste and style.  Stud earring for someone who only wears french hooks won't be worn.  And a monogram bracelet for a dad who wouldn't be caught dead in anything other than a wedding band is not a great idea.

6. Talk amongst your siblings if possible so your parents don't end up with 7 bird feeders.

7.  T-shirts with funny sayings or pictures.  Enough said!

8.  Gift cards to places the intended recipient would never go. Steer clear of a cute gift shop 60 miles away.  I don't like to tout stores, but Amazon can be used for many things and you can shop while you are in your pajamas.

9.  Restaurant cards are also not a super choice unless you are sure they love that restaurant.  A seafood restaurant isn't cool for someone allergic to sea food and a burger joint would be in bad taste for a vegetarian.

10.  Details!  Pay attention.  If you mom hates pink don't buy her a pink scarf even if it is cashmere.

So in conclusion it is really quite simple.  If you want a great idea of what you can get your parents any time of the year, think outside the wrapped box.  Memories are a great gift.  Smiles and laughter go a long way to enliven the soul.  Offers to help put away Christmas decorations or even help put them up before is so much more appreciated than skis.  Take them out to dinner and enjoy time together.  Spend time with them and call them often.  Gift a gift of yourself.  That is the best gift of all!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Where is the happy and jubilant Christmas magic?

Christmas magic
Drinking coffee off the counter

It’s almost Christmas and I’m wondering where or where is the happy and jubilant Christmas magic? The stores are crowded, the roads are jammed, and we all have a list a mile long before Christmas. 

Actually I’m feeling a little guilty that I never appreciated all the things my parents did to make Christmases so special.  Now that I am a parent and my kids are adults that just take everything for granted I’m feeling unappreciated.

Does anyone even notice that my husband and I work non-stop?  Do they realize that we spent days and days bringing boxes of Christmas stuff up from the basement?  Do they see we decorate 2 large trees and two small ones?  Would they even notice if we didn’t do it?

Does anyone see that I spent an entire evening addressing my Christmas cards in calligraphy?

Baking cookies loses it’s homey magic at about midnight after you spill an entire bottle of vanilla and look like a flour covered yeti.

Christmas shopping becomes a chore instead of a labor of love after you search for a parking space for an hour and then find one only to have someone zip in before you.

And lets not forget the lines where children are definitely not watching out, but crying and pouting no matter who is coming to town.

And on Christmas day everyone just shows up and expects a big dinner.  They bring their dogs and if that dog has an accident—well, it wasn’t fluffy.  Geez I’m living in a rendition of a Christmas vacation movie.

This morning after little sleep I got up and proceeded to brew a cup of coffee in the Kuerig coffee maker.  Oops, forgot to put the cup under it before I pressed brew.  Ever rush around looking for a vacant cup while coffee is spilling all over the counter?  Well, I can tell you it’s not fun.

So, I soldier on and swear next year it will be different. 

And just when I am about to chuck the turkey on the front lawn, I hear that someone received my Christmas card and loved the calligraphy so much that they are keeping the envelope.  It made them smile. It made them happy.

So I guess the jubilant Christmas magic is not in the big things.  It’s not in the lights and work and the gifts.  It’s in the smiles.  It’s there; it’s just not as obvious anymore.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Do you like your Virginia winter weather cold or hot?

So, I got my hubby a new alarm clock.  It projects the temperature and time on the ceiling of the bedroom.  Lying in bed you just look up and you know how you should dress in the morning.  This is a very important thing living in Virginia.

Last week the clock projected the temps in the teens and not 3 days later we almost broke 70 degrees!  That’s Virginia weather.  There is truth in the saying, “if you don’t like the weather in Virginia, stick around fro 24 hours. 

It’s hard to believe that the temps can fluctuate so drastically.  One day you are grabbing your heaviest sweater, gloves, hats and coats, and the next you are looking for tank tops and flip-flops!  Last Christmas we had to turn the air conditioner on, and two days later the fireplace was blazing and we were pulling out the fleece sheets.

Let me be clear, this is not Florida and Mother Nature better get on the ball here.  So she just needs to pick a temperature range and stick to it. 

Maybe this is happening because of the complainers.  Mother nature is simply trying to make everyone happy.  As soon as the temps reach the 30’s everybody from the TV newscasters to everyman on the street starts complaining about the cold.  These same people rant and rave about the awful the heat and humidity when summer rolls around.  Mother nature needs to realize that you cannot please everyone.

So, my suggestion to this Mother Nature is to just give it up.  Let the seasons be what they are meant to be.  Summers, hot, winters, cold, and spring and fall temperate.  Will that please everyone?  Nope.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Are you prepared for Christmas blister package accidents?

Christmas blister package accidents

Yes, it wasn’t a misprint.  I did ask you if you were prepared for Christmas blister package accidents?  Every year we buy presents for our friends and loved ones in hard clamshell blister packages.  So it is one rip and tear away from a Christmas blister package accident!

Gifts, especially for children are so exciting and they dive in headfirst ripping off the paper, then alas, struggle with the blister packages.  The thing is, blister packages don’t rip.  They are steel trap strong.  And personally I don’t understand why small toys need to be locked fort Knox-like.  I mean you’ve already bought them for the kiddies.

So you offer to help.  You rip, twist, and tear.  And even with your gym membership superman strength, nothing happens but frustration.  Your next step is to grab the scissors but that only makes the plastic sharper.  Pretty soon you will become a statistic of a Christmas blister package accident.

“Geez, Dad, your bleeding on my super hero figures.”

“Will the blood hurt the batteries Dad?”

“Daddy, Mommy says you need to put some money in the swear jar.”

So what to do about Christmas blister package accidents?  Stuff your stockings with plastic bandage strips.  I know, I know, it’s an odd stocking stuffer, but honestly you will be happy when you don’t need to run out to a convenience store on Christmas day to buy some. 

Just wanted to say that I’ve been busy with other websites of late and have been a little lax on this my first blog.  This blog I raised from a tiny tot, or should I say Giga-tot.  Anyway a friend pointed it out to me (not giving out names, Fred) that I have let my little blog sit unloved.  Hope you enjoy my insights or outsights however you may view them.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Far from the madding raccoon


As noted from the title of this post, I wish I were far from that madding raccoon! 

I’ve been a bit preoccupied of late, dealing with a very annoying raccoon.  He has been my nemesis for two years now, and doesn’t show any signs of moving on. 

He tore up our trash until we used bungee cords to keep him out.  He has raided the bird feeders of their seeds nightly, and drank all the hummingbird nectar.  So we take the feeders in at dusk (sometimes he comes even earlier) but when we get home a little late…we’ve already had a visit and empty feeders.  And please don’t think me a wuss but I am honestly afraid to go out on my back deck at night fearing that I will run into the little devil.

The worse thing he has done is when he climbed a tree and reached in a birdhouse and (eek) ate the baby birds.

He ambles across my deck at dusk like he owns the place and isn’t afraid of anyone.  I can open the door and yell and he just stares and gives me the stink eye.  If I yell loud enough to look like a fool to anyone who is watching, he dives off the deck but is back in 2 minutes daring me to do it again.  One night I chased him no less than ten times before I gave up and just went to bed.  Why didn’t I just go out and take in those feeders?  See above. (Afraid to go on my back deck at night)

I’ve scoured the Internet to figure out ways to deter this very tenacious creature.  One site said that raccoons dislike mint.  So I set out pots of mint all over the deck.  He just knocked some over and basically ignored the stuff—epic fail.

It is illegal to relocate animals so that is not an option.  It is perfectly legal to trap and kill raccoons, but since I can’t even squash a bug, that is also not a viable option for me.

So as my last resort I heard about predator urine.  Yes, I did say urine.  I bet you didn’t know that they sell everything from coyote to mountain lion urine. Predator urine gives the illusion that there is a predator in the area. Supposedly the animal or animals you are trying to deter will move on if they fear a predator. 

I never thought I would buy water, but I did.  And I really never thought I would buy urine, but, I, did!  I didn’t buy the liquid but the pelleted version of coyote urine.  Actually instead of pellets it looks like the contents of litter box.  It’s a container of foul smelling dirt.  Resist the temptation to smell it or you will never be able to forget that odor.  I swear it burns the sinuses.

Anyway I sprinkled the stuff liberally all around the hummingbird feeder and left it out for the night.  Come morning (after lots of raccoon nightmares) I looked out and the feeder was empty of the nectar.  This raccoon stepped all in the predator urine soaked dirt without a care in the world. (Probably dancing in the moonlight) So what do I do from here?  Stop feeding the birds?  Never go out on my deck at night?  Take down birdhouses?  Or…I can still keep spreading the urine stuff all around and hope he takes a hint.  The bottle says sometimes it takes 2-3 weeks to take effect so I’ll keep it up for a couple weeks and we’ll see how it goes.  I’ll continue to update this post till I’m far from the madding raccoon or raise the white flag.  Has anyone used predator urine successfully? If you have any other suggestions, I’d love to hear your comments. 


Raccoon giving me the eye

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