Friday, November 29, 2019

Where "What I'm Reading #48" Should Be

I know it's weird to do a weekend recap before the start of the next one, but it's a holiday and a bit of a travel week, so I didn't read much.   I'm sure no one is here on Black Friday anyway but still.  So last Friday we went to Toronto for the Mr's big birthday present from me, An Evening with Bruce Dickinson.  He's the vocalist of Iron Maiden, and while I'm not a fan of their music, I've seen enough interviews with Bruce to know this would be a fun evening.  Plus, I dragged him to that theatre a year or so ago for the show with Gene Kelly's wife, so I figured I owed him one.  😉

When we arrived in Toronto, it was dark, and we'd been in some crappy traffic, so we were more than happy to kick back in our room at the Intercontinental.  Not a bad view...

The next morning we walked up to the St. Lawrence Market and navigated through the masses.  It's always nice to see all they have to offer though.

We had a pleasant day to explore, so we walked the city.

I say that casually as though we didn't end up accidentally walking 8 1/2 miles by the time we were done.  I had to do some serious work on the legs if I wasn't going to cramp up mid-performance.  I needed it more than I'd know.  Queen Elizabeth Theatre is between two other massive venues, and they all share various parking lots with major events happening at them all and ZERO people directing traffic.  It was a cluster of epic proportions.  Before we knew it from following the signs, we were going AWAY from the theatre and over the freeway.  There was no time to go back and fight that crap again, or we would've been late.  We parked in a sketchy neighborhood in municipal parking, said a prayer, and started hoping we'd find a way over.  Thankfully, a kind stranger told us we could go down the train station, under the tracks, and back up.  We never would've known to do that, and it saved our bacon.  I was making notes of landmarks on the way and taking pics in case I needed them close to midnight.  Finally, we got there.

They are seriously militant about pics there and will kick you out, so I was unable to get any which sucked.  I have to say, I loved it almost as much as the Mr!  Bruce was quite animated and a wonderful storyteller complete with grand movements and funny voices.  Here's a clip of the headmaster story from a similar show in Malta where they had a much less strict media policy.  He drops an f-bomb so, fair warning.   I found myself laughing and tearing up.  He did a Q&A on the second half, and I have to say we felt like some of the questions asked were dumb, and that's not because ours weren't asked.  He did tell a hilarious story about their drummer on a puddle jumper and how they all had to lean forward to take off and hope they didn't go off of a cliff when the runway ended.  He also dropped a bomb about a major childhood event in our youth.  I won't repeat all of it because I feel like he's setting himself up for potential legal issues.  I will say that allegedly, he heard from the horse's mouth on a night of drinking that Live Aid didn't do what it proclaimed to do.  Allegedly.  You could kind of hear the air leave the room on that one.  No clue how true that is, but when we saw an 80s puzzle later that weekend with Live Aid on it, we couldn't look at it the same.  Thanks for pissing on our youth, Bruce!  Anyway, he ended the show singing this verse from the song Revelations, it's worth the watch.  He actually sang it even better at ours.  We were both tearing up his voice is so beautiful acapella and I had tears streaming down my face as we beelined our way back to the car with my Spencer Reid like memory.  It was amazing, and I'm so glad we did it!

The next day we drove to Niagara on the Lake to stay at the Prince of Wales hotel again, exact same room.  After being in the congestion of Toronto, you need a place to breathe and unwind.  I wanted to see it (and the town) decked out for Christmas, and they didn't disappoint.  The lobby is so welcoming anytime, but especially Christmas.

We poked around some shops after lunch and found some cute stuff.

I wanted to wait until 8pm to walk the town lit up without the masses irritating both of us.  It was gorgeous, just as I knew it would be.

We walked the dark side streets and came upon someone who decked out their house right.

We went back to the room and chilled the rest of the night with some charcuterie, ice wine, and jazz.  Then we just fell asleep, which was perfect.

Then the next morning, we went to this little place called The Budapest Bakery that makes chimney cakes on site.

The wood rods on top are how they proof, then they're basically on a bread rotisserie for lack of a better term, and when the rod is removed, it steams like a chimney.

Then it was time to hit the road, cross the border, and head home.  It was such a wonderful weekend, and then I had to dive headfirst into holiday prep the next day.

I hope my American friends had a great Thanksgiving!  Now its time for college ball season to wrap up and we'll get the new tree decorated.

What are you up to this weekend and how was your holiday?

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Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving full of your favorite people, special food that we only seem to eat once a year for some weird reason and enough wine and earplugs to block out the rest.

Eat what you want, don't feel guilty or let someone else food police you then get back on track tomorrow.  Amen!

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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

We are heading into soup season, and since we're diving into all things hygge, soups are definitely part of it.   I've been trying to dig us out of a food rut since we got back from New England, and this was one of the recipes that helped.

I found the original recipe on and tweaked it a bit to our tastes and dietary preferences.  The fact that it's a crockpot recipe makes it that much better.  Who doesn't want to come home from work, especially this time of year, and have dinner made?  Better yet, since I'm posting this the day before Thanksgiving, this is the perfect way to use any turkey leftovers!

Here's what you'll need for my version.

(This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.  Should you buy through them, I may get a few cents commission for blog expenses.)

Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup (adapted from

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts (or leftover turkey)

1 15-oz. no salt added can black beans, rinsed

1 cup frozen corn

2 red peppers, chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 15-oz. can Rotel chipotle diced tomatoes

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp. cumin

1 tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp chipotle pepper, ground

1 tsp liquid smoke

1/2 tsp. sea salt

4 cups chicken bone broth

1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

4 small corn tortillas, cut into strips

Scallions, for garnish

Taco sauce, for garnish

(Optional) Cilantro, for garnish


In a large slow cooker, add all ingredients except for cheese, tortillas, scallions, and taco sauce.

Cover and cook on low until chicken is cooked and falling apart (around 5 to 6 hours), then shred chicken with a fork.

Make the tortilla crisps by heating your oven to 425 degrees, cut 4 small corn tortillas into strips and bake until crispy.

Ladle soup into bowl, add tortilla strips and top with pepper jack cheese allowing to melt.

Garnish with taco sauce and chopped scallions.

I'm sure you're going to love it as much as we did.  It's even better the next day!

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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Will It Ever NOT Affect Me?

**This post contains general spoilers about last weeks This Is Us fall finale.  If you haven't already discerned some hints about older Rebecca's health, don't read further.**

I read a fan theory by accident after the previous year's finale episode that horrified me because it made perfect sense.  I can tell you that it altered the way I watch the show, and I think they were spot on given what's been unfolding.   I'm going to share it here, so skip to the next paragraph if you don't want to read that kind of thing.  They said they think that this whole show has basically been the Big Three at her deathbed reading a memory book called This Is Us because she can't remember them anymore due to Alzheimer's.  I'm in blubbery tears just typing that.  Gutting thought, isn't it?  Don't blame me if you chose to read that!!  LOL

The whole season, I've been bracing, and the past few episodes have hit far too close to home for me.  I feel like it confirms the fan theory, though how they figured that out so far ahead is beyond me if it is true.  I remember those times of Grandma searching for her words.  The incident where she drove to the same hairdresser she had for 15 years and was suddenly lost and couldn't tell anyone where she was because she didn't know.  (Thank God that scared her enough to give up her keys and never wanted to drive again.  We were dreading the talk about giving up the car.)  The times when even despite being treated for dementia, she was still in denial, she was sick and resented anyone saying anything to the contrary.

Seeing the beginnings of this scenario, starting to play out on one of my favorite shows has taken every joy out of watching it for me.  Instead, I sit there with a pit in my stomach, wondering what they're going to portray this time and how bad the ugly cry will be.  I always tell myself it's coming and to not get upset, but it is just too raw.  It happened all the time when she was still here too as far as seeing a depiction on TV.  I know that it can bring some awareness to those who haven't personally been touched by it. Still, for many of us who have, it reopens the pain every time, at least for the Mr and I.  I remember getting very upset at some TV portrayals as we were in the throes of it because some of it was so inaccurate too depending on the show.  One was on Parenthood when a grandpa came over for a holiday dinner, and they said he had "severe dementia" however, he was carrying on conversations one could only have in early stages.  In 9-1-1 (hey, both of them were Peter Krause shows...interesting), Connie Britton's mom had dementia.  She, too, was considered "late stage" and was bed-bound yet was having conversations that would not be possible in that stage.  This may sound like splitting hairs to those who haven't been through it, but it is imperative that these stages are portrayed accurately or it sets up false expectations.  It's like they don't want to show too much of the reality because it's just more than many can handle or even fathom.  It does no one any good to inaccurately portray it either, though, because many think "oh, they're just forgetful."  If only.  They don't know how to eat.  How to go to the bathroom.  They don't know what lunch is or what food they like.  They don't remember they have children or grandchildren.  Some get very angry or even violent.  My grandma never got to the violent stage, but she did get very belligerent sometimes and got to a point in the last 6 months where she was grinding her teeth so loud my mom said it sounded like she was chewing rocks.

I hoped that theory about the show was wrong, and it could be, but I think it's either spot on or really close.  I know they plan on one or two more seasons once this one wraps up, but I can't look forward to it anymore.  I'll still watch, but I know it will only get worse, cut deeper, induce more gut-wrenching sobs of empathy and emotional PTSD that will never fully heal.  I foolishly thought once she was free of this disease, I would be too, but I'm not.  Even a hint of it in a commercial can make me a little teary.  I'm sure it will eventually get better, but for now, I get to relive it all over again along with many others in the same boat.

If any of you have been affected by dementia and are This Is Us fans, feel free to shoot me a message if you need to talk after a show.  Those of us in the club need to stick together and remember we're not alone.  It's okay to still be raw no matter how many years have passed.  It can bring back some bad memories, and I've got your back.

Is anyone else affected by the storyline from personal experience?

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Monday, November 25, 2019

Christmas Trees for Small Spaces

I bought our Christmas tree on clearance in 1995 for $57.  We were going to be getting married the following year and we were both making under $20K/year so we needed to be frugal.  I think paying $2.48 per year for joyful Christmases was a good bargain.  When last year came and I dreaded putting up the tree, I wondered what was wrong with me.  When it happened again this year, I think I realized it was because I wasn't looking forward to our tree engulfing our living room again.  I don't feel like it's that big but boy were my eyes opened when I started glancing at new trees.  At 42" diameter, that is now considered "narrow."  NARROW.  That is 3 1/2' of space taking up your space and it's narrow.  We thought we decided on a tree and then saw it would be almost the exact same circumference as the other one.  Also, trying to find a 6 1/2' unlit tree is like trying to find the Lucky Charms leprechaun.  We have zero desire to have prelit because we don't want to fight with a company to replace a branch that goes out or have to chuck the whole tree in less time than we planned to use it because it's out of warranty.  (Man have I read some stories.)

(This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.  Should you buy through them, I may receive a few cents commission toward blog expenses.)

We finally decided on this tree from Wayfair for our space for just over $100.

It's a 34" circumference so it'll give us around an extra 8" or so of living room space that we desperately need.  I hate that we can't see it in person but the ones we do see in person seem to look really sad.  That's not to say once we get it, this might not be sad too but I like to at least see reviews.  I've read more dang reviews in the past month on so many things that my eyes are strained.  So fingers crossed this works out.  In case anyone else is looking to downsize their tree and doesn't want to look through a zillion reviews, I've done some of the legwork for you!

This Balsam Hill Red Spruce Slim at $269 is the one we were looking at but was the same diameter as our current tree at 41".

(Credit: Balsam

This National Tree 6.5' Unlit North Valley Pencil Slim Spruce runs $88.

This gets 4 stars at the time of publishing.  There are customer pics available in the reviews which I like to see ones in imperfect light and such.  The ones that got the tree nice and full said you need to take some time on the fluffing process and I'm used to it.  It's the perfect fit for an apartment or condo at 30" diameter.

This King of Christmas 6.5 Foot King Fraser Fir Slim Quick-Shape Christmas Tree is $166 at the time of posting.

The diameter is 34".  There aren't any customer pics but hopefully, this pic will give you a good idea of what to expect.  As with all Christmas trees, be prepared to fluff for that fullness.

If you're more a fan of flocked trees, this 6 Ft. Pencil Snow Flocked Tree with Pine Cones at $80 at the time of publishing might be the ticket for you.


This is a super slim tree if you need a little tree for a lesser used room or are in a tiny apartment.  This is a 26" diameter so it'll fit almost anywhere!

Whether you want to downsize your main tree or add a tree specifically for travel or family ornaments, I hope these have given you a place to start so you don't have to strain your eyes and spend time you don't have going down the internet rabbit hole like I did!

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Friday, November 22, 2019

What I'm Reading #47

Wow...#47 means there's like five weeks left of the year.  Yeesh!!  Time marches quickly, doesn't she?  I was pretty productive this week even if I didn't get things done quite as fast as I thought I should've.  I made my mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving and froze them.  I dried the bread for homemade stuffing (sweet bread and sourdough) and got my pie crusts made.  I got my Christmas cards addressed and stamped this week which feels like a huge load off.  

Anyhoo...let's load up on...

8 Types of Headaches—and How to Get Rid of Them  (Good info to know the next time you've got a pain in the melon.)

23 Subtle Ways Your House Might Be Making You Sick  (I'm just going to keep the vacuum in front of me all the time.  It'll probably end up being a clothes hanger but my intent would be to turn it on from time to time.)

8 Toning Band Exercises You Can Do Anywhere  (I'm going to do these in an elevator, like the Hancock Tower.)

What Really Causes Cracked Heels—and How to Get Rid of Them  (Basically a whole lotta work you know you're not going to put in.)

7 Tips To Have A Productive Disagreement With Intimidating People  (Holiday survival prep. Just so you know, saying "you're wrong" while putting your hand in their face isn't on the list.)

I Tried an Acupressure Mat For Sleep (I've been hearing great things about these.)

10 Expert Strategies for Surviving Christmas Stress  (Spiced Wine?  Mimosas?  Earplugs?)

Tired of the Daily Din? It’s Time for the Quiet Diet  (Good luck finding some.  Actually Vermont has it.  Bye!)

New Study Finds Deep Sleep Washes Your Brain & May Prevent Alzheimer's   (Now if I could only get some deep sleep!)

When Young Waffle House Worker Was Left Alone to Run Entire Restaurant, Empathetic Customers Jump In to Help (Humanity does still exist.)

Doobie Brothers Surprise Sold-Out Crowd with Michael McDonald and a Reunion Tour Announcement  (I am all over that!  Hurt me silver fox)

The Mr's gotten pounded at work this week so we're going to try to find something fun to get into this weekend.

What fun do you have on the agenda? 

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Thursday, November 21, 2019

Keeping Stains Away When You're a Coffee/Tea Drinker

If there is one significant downside to drinking tea all of the time, it's the potential for stains.  This applies to coffee drinkers too.  It's not just your teeth it can stain but also your mugs.  I actually gave someone toothpaste as a stocking stuffer one year, touting we tried it, loved it and were giving it to everyone because I didn't have the heart to tell them "brush yo brown @ss teeth!"  They drink as much tea as I do, and I don't know if they were a once a day brusher, but that doesn't fly in a regular coffee or tea drinker's life.  Unless you like looking like you have tootsie rolls for teeth.

These are a few of the things I use to keep my whites pearly and my mugs not looking like a horror show.  (This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.  Should you buy through them, I may receive a few cents commission toward blog expenses.)

Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 5100 Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush


The dentist told the Mr he should get an electric toothbrush some years ago and we've never looked back.  I truly noticed a difference after we got it and this one is our favorite.  It has a travel case and we take it on all of our trips with us.  If we're going for under two weeks we don't need to take the base charger.  Ours typically last for 4-7 years and it's totally worth it if you're looking to make the switch from manual.  It goes a long way to help remove stains.

Arm & Hammer Bright & Strong Truly Radiant Toothpaste

When people ask what I like most about myself, I always say my smile.  I have perfectly straight teeth without ever having had braces.  The last thing I want my tea obsession to do is to make them look dingy and brown.  We've tried our fair share of toothpaste, and this is the only one that keeps my teeth truly white by brushing twice a day.  I will tell you a secret about all whitening toothpaste, you NEED to brush off any residue afterward with water on the brush.  If you just swish and any is left in your mouth, it will actually yellow your teeth!  I suspected this after noticing my teeth weren't getting whiter, and the top base of our electric toothbrush had dark yellow almost tartar like build up on it even though we both rinse it off after using it.  I scraped it with my fingernails, and it came off!  So I started rinsing off the brush, then brush my whole mouth again and my tongue to get any residue out of the crevices and noticed a difference within a week!

Crest White Strips


Don't groan!  I know these get a bad rap for sensitivity issues, and even I had them when I used them a few days in a row initially years ago.  Once I started using that toothpaste above, I found I only needed to use 2-3 strips over a one to two week period every 8 months or so to brighten my smile.  They also have a sensitive formula.  I am not a fan of fake white smiles that many celebs or influencers sport these days.  This helps me maintain an "I take care of my teeth, and there's no way I drink tea" look that looks natural.  If you prefer something else, this AuraGlow gets good results from what I've heard, I just can't vouch for it myself.

Colgate Mini Disposable Toothbrushes

If it's been a tea heavy day or I've had a lot of green tea, I will notice my teeth getting visibly dull during the day.  I don't want that to set in, so I keep a bag of these babies handy where I work.  I don't use them every day, but with certain teas or a lot more than usual, a brush with these helps to keep the staining from becoming more stubborn to get off.  Also great to keep in your desk drawer for after that tuna fish sandwich or something else that no one else wants to smell.  They are part of a special recycling program, too, so read the info on the bag if you're worried about environmental issues.

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Sheets

Your teeth aren't the only thing stained by your tea or coffee, your mugs are put through their paces.  If you think even a go-round in the sanitize cycle of your dishwasher is going to make your mugs sparkle, denial ain't just a river in Egypt!  This mug was run through on such a cycle:

Yeah, that's gross.  A diner we used to go to always served my tea in mugs like that, and even though I know they were probably clean, I stopped ordering tea there because it was so gross.  One swipe of these Magic Eraser sheets before running them through the dishwasher, and those babies are sparkling clean!

This is something you'll have to do regularly with every other cycle unless you refill the same mug all day, then it'll be every time you use it.  It's worth it, though, because imagine your mugs looking like that as you serve someone at your house this holiday season.  Don't nobody wanna drink outta that!!  I like to cut the sheets into three, use it once, rinse well then one more time before tossing that strip.  Frugal is sometimes my middle name.

Finally, if you have an electric tea kettle that is glass, you may notice a brown ring from the heating element on the bottom.  I use this long bottle cleaning brush and some baking soda with warm water to get it off.  It actually seems to protect it for much longer.  It's been about 8 days since I did that and no ring has come back at all and that's with prolonged warming on.

You can avoid deeper stains by using straws or adding a splash of cream to your tea as well, but it'll creep up on you.  You can also swish your mouth with a drink of water and kind of "brush" your teeth with your tongue.  It's a temporary solution to not have all of that crap sitting on your enamel until you can brush.

How do you keep your pearly whites white, especially if you're a coffee/tea drinker?

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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

When Do You Do It? Hump Day Poll

I realize that title sounds super dirty but I was actually referring to holiday decorating, you perv.

Since recent studies show decorating for the holidays makes you happier, so people really seemed to have embraced that this year in our area.  Not the stores, they're always early but people have been blaring Christmas decorations for a good 10 days now.  I'm usually on that bandwagon but I'm giving my vintage turkey platter a long ride into its holiday this year instead of never even pulling him out. 

Typically, this past weekend would've been when we got the outside lights up and maybe most of our shelves done up but that didn't happen.  We're busy this weekend so I don't think it's actually happening until the week after...if I feel like it.  Who am I!?!?

So where are you at on the decorating front this year?  All decorated?  Decorate little by little after Halloween?  Christmas is after Thanksgiving!  I wait dammit!

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Gifts for the Tea Lover

I am a tea fiend.  I really love afternoon tea when I can find one or feel like putting one together.  I can always count on having at least 40 ounces of tea per day, if not a full 64 ounces, especially with the colder weather upon us.  The Mr used to hate tea, and now he actually buys it on vacation.  We just had mugs of blueberry tea the other night from Bar Harbor, ME.  We've got ice wine tea from Niagara on the Lake, Canada, and some loose leaf teas from Mystic, CT, Bozeman, MT, and Rockingham, VT that all make me smile when I drink them.

If you have a tea lover in your life and need some gift ideas, below are some of my favorite tea products.  They make thoughtful gifts for family, friends, co-workers, or your Secret Santa recipient!

(This post contains affiliate links.  Should you buy through them, I may receive a few cents toward blog expenses.)

Electric Tea Kettle


As someone who has minimal counter space, I swore I'd never get one of these because why use this when I have a microwave?  Then for some reason, I bought one out of the blue, and I wonder where it's been all of my life.  We had one in our rental in Montana, and it was awesome, so I got the one above that had the tea temperatures by type (white, oolong, green, black, etc.) and a keep-warm function.  You can obviously get a smaller, less fancy one like this for around $20.

Harney and Sons Tea Sampler


We went to the Harney and Sons Tea Shop in Millerton, NY in October, and it was an excellent experience.  It was the first time I ever had Harney and Sons tea, and I was thoroughly impressed.  We came home with 3 tins of tea!  This sampler is fantastic and has all types of flavors to enjoy.  Hot Cinnamon Spice, English Breakfast, Lemon Herbal, Egyptian Chamomile, Decaf Earl Grey, Organic Peppermint, Earl Grey, Raspberry Herbal, Decaf Ceylon, Organic Green with Citrus and Ginkgo, Ceylon & India, Organic Citron Green, Paris, and Japanese Sencha.  Yes, please!

Loose Leaf Tea Infuser


When I'm feeling fancy pants, I break out my loose leaf tea, and we have these to steep the goodness.  I fill it about a quarter up on one side, and I can get one mug out of it, and if I fill it halfway, I can get two cups from it.  There are a lot of great tea shops these days, and doing loose leaf feels like a luxurious self-care ritual.

Savannah Bee Tupelo Honey

There is seriously nothing better than Savannah Bee's Tupelo Honey.  It's rich, buttery and is the perfect complement for any flavor tea.  I love Beekman 1802's cinnamon honey as well, but sometimes you don't want a cinnamon island floating in your tea.  This Tupelo honey tastes perfect from the most robust black tea to green to the pale of white.  It is worth a little extra, and for a tea lover, they would totally appreciate it!

Make Your Own Tea Blend Kit


This awesome sampler kit, coupled with the mesh infusers above, would make the perfect gift.  A pinch of this, a dash of that, and they can experiment making their own blends.  They can be their own tea master.  How fun is that?

Tea for One-Pot and Mug


This gift is ideal for the person who doesn't have a ton of room but still wants to make a little ritual out of tea time.  The pot has an infuser, so they can use loose or bagged tea.  Two mugs later and they're all cozy, and there is a myriad of colors to choose from.  There are other more traditional styles you can search for as well or with a fancy pattern too.

Tea Time Spoon


How cute is this?  You can really make tea an event tied with a piece of twine to a tea sampler box.  Look how creative you are!

Teabag Coaster


No one wants to sit their tea bag or infuser on the counter and let tea leak everywhere.  Help prevent spills and stains with these adorable teapot shaped tea coasters!  I have one of these and love it!  This is a set of four, so if you have two tea lovin' friends, you can break up the set and gift two each.

Danish Butter Cookies


Shortbread cookies are the quintessential complement to hot tea.  A few of these babies dunked in their favorite brew is a little slice of heaven that will make them feel fancy.  Yes, your grandma probably had these and for good reason!  (Wasn't that a bummer when you'd think granny had cookies and you open it and the tin is now her junk or sewing tin?)

English Tea Shop Holiday Tea Advent Calendar


Finally, if you have a Christmas and/or advent calendar loving friend, there's no better gift for Thanksgiving (or at least before December) than this tea advent calendar!  How lovely would it be to start or end their day thinking of you every time as they enjoy a new flavor?  Or better yet, treat yo'self!!  You deserve it.

I hope this has given you some good ideas for the tea lover in your life.  I don't know any tea-loving fool like myself who wouldn't love one or more of these.  Many of them are small enough to not contribute to clutter, and every time they're used, your thoughtful gift will make them smile!

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Monday, November 18, 2019

Back to the Rocking Horse Weekend Recap

We've made it to another Monday.  I hope you're rarin' to go!  (Me either...err, I mean... me too!)  

Friday night we got Trader Joe's and Target out of the way, and I grabbed two kinds of eucalyptus while we were there.  I don't know why, but I just love the way it looks in this carafe.

I also put a little bit in a pint mason jar and have it on the TV armoire with some faux candles behind it, and it looks so pretty lit up at night.

Friday, we started getting our vinyls in.  The Mr found me some sealed ones from my youth.

I'm listening to the Oak Ridge Boys as we type.  This is when country artists crossed over to the pop charts while still actually being country.  Not country stars that sound like pop stars like they do now.  That is called "selling out" to appeal to a broader audience base.  I'll step off of my cousin's soapbox who is very passionate about that point.  Welcome to almost middle age, my boy.

The Mr is getting up to flip over the LP.  Vinyl is the non-lazy way to listen to music.

We went to a flooring store that's close to us to see if there was anything good since we had ours redone.  When we had ours done four and a half years ago, we got some cheap crap, and our friend who installed it took shortcuts where sub floor prep is concerned.  Now we're left with somewhat "spongy" floors that creak in spots and drive us nuts.  The other lesson we learned is you get what you pay for and that cheap floor we got at Lowe's outgassed so highly, the Mr and I had eye problems that the eye doctor was like "the only thing you can do is warm compresses."  It was kind of hell for a while, and a formaldehyde test revealed we were just over "acceptable" levels.  So if we do replace it at any point, it's going to have to be natural wood or something certified low VOC's.


We kind of liked that but saw another one we really liked, and it was $9.25/sq ft.  Yikes.  It would end up being about $6500 installed, which made me drop a load in the britches.  Then I looked them up, and they get HORRIBLE installation reviews.  We may get a quote from a father/son business that does installs and see what they'd charge if we just bought the wood and had it delivered.  I'm not gonna lie, the thought of doing that crap makes us both want to retch.  Then we walk to the kitchen and that floor squeaks, and I want to put a bullet through it like Elvis and his TV's.  (Can you imagine how many he'd shoot up these days?)

We did a little shopping.  Even though my friend and I said no gifts, I still grabbed a few little things for her and her fiance to open because it's not in my DNA to not give.  I got a trashcan on Amazon to replace our broken one, and my Lord, it wasn't going to work at all.  The Mr dropped it off at Kohl's for me while I got ready, and we went and got another one while I got a box for Santa stuff.  Then we went next door, and I love all of the places all decked out for the holidays.

I'm not going to lie though, we are nowhere near ready to put up the tree.  The first floor still looks like a poop-fest.  Sigh. 

When I was making brunch Sunday, we saw two little girls had parked their bikes on the hill in our backyard.  Then they started riding down the hill and what's at the end of the hill?  The fence to our patio.  The desire to be the dude who yelled at Dennis the Menace was strong in us both.  But we so rarely see children outside playing anymore that we decided to instead watch them and remember what it was like to do stupid invincible crap as a kid.

They probably rode down the hill about six or seven times with big smiles on their faces.  They were so cute.  Little daredevils!

We rounded out our evening with finishing up our grocery shopping then listening to the Christmas vinyl for any skips or scratches.  There shouldn't be any since they're sealed but my audiophile bestie says it can happen.  We already had to send back Rumours and The Best of the Doobies.  That was a shame because the sleeve and insert on the Fleetwood Mac were pristine.  But you can't list it for near mint and have The Chain skip in the first chorus.  I laughed because I told the Mr, "when we were kids and the record skipped, you might be like "aww man!" but as an adult, it's like...and he said: "ANXIETY!!!"  I cracked up and said "yep!  You can't even relax until the whole thing is over."  He listened to his Pink Floyd The Wall and it was thankfully skip-free. 

Now we're doused in candlelight with vinyl Christmas goodness to round out our weekend.  Well, that and I've got about an hour before my turkey for us is done.  I see a nap in my future before I have to rip that bird up and FoodSave it today.  I also sold a lady on the FoodSaver (affiliate link) while talking turkey at the turkeys and gave her my mashed potato recipe that I'm making today and thawing next week.  According to her, I "saved Thanksgiving!"  Well, at least her sanity!

How was your weekend, you fine foxes?

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Friday, November 15, 2019

What I'm Reading This Week #46

It's Friday!  WOO HOO!!  A short week always feels long when you get them.  I have been super unproductive this week.  You ever look at a room, don't know where to start, and get so overwhelmed you do nothing?  That was me this week.  The only good thing I can report is we started our workouts back up .  We didn't start until Wednesday, but something told me not to dive headfirst back in when we came back, and I think it did a lot to extend my vacation chill which I appreciated.  This week was far from chill mentally, so exercise was needed.  I think I'm changing my mind on the living room update (or rather it was kind of changed for me) so a new lamp and rug it is, which we have, and we'll call it done.  My friend and I decided to not exchange gifts this year.  I felt like I was trying to pull ideas out of her, and then she'd have to figure out how to stuff everything in her suitcase to head home.  So our gift to each other this year is a long overdue visit.  (Obviously, I'll make them a tin of cookies to take on the plane, I'm not an animal.)   I think I just have to get some candy for two people this weekend if I remember, and I can call myself done, so I'm excited about that.

Now let's get to...

The essential comparison guide to every streaming service  (I'm convinced they all suck.  We finally cut the friggin' cord, and Sony Vue decides to tank.  Thanks a lot.  I'm not impressed with ANY of our options.  Past me is super disappointed in this whole "streaming will change your life" crap.  Oh, and I don't know how people survive on Netflix, we get it twice a year, and even then we can blow through everything in 2 weeks.)

10 Simple Productivity Hacks to Get Through a Bad Day  (Literally read this to try to motivate myself and when I read "go at your own pace," a snail popped into my head.  I cleaned the couch 50% off...phew, pass the hot toddy!)

The Guide to Strong Boundaries  (Be the year you set 'em and stick to 'em.  Or maybe someone needs to set them for you!  ROFL)

The Ultimate Injury Solution: Stretching Your Fascia  (If you don't, you will be in a world of hurt!)

This is the best answer I ever received to ‘Tell me about yourself’—after 20 years of interviewing  (Great answer however it applies to you)

TikTok And Other Trends That Make Me Feel Old As Dirt   (Reason #94,778 we're glad we didn't have kids.  No tech to keep up with.)

Joy and Gratitude in Difficult Times  (I think I throw the strawberry at the mouse and keep climbing.)

Tips for driving in snow without being a dangerous jerk  (I swear people act like they either have never driven in it before or they act like it's not there and still drive 15 over the speed limit.)

Interview with Tom Mison  (My God the pics in this are jaw-dropping, especially the one in the vest toward the end in the chair...not that I paid attention.)

Oprah's 2019 Favorite Things List Is Here! Shop the 79 Extraordinary Gift Ideas Now  (A few good ones on there but some stuff it's like "for real, O?")

Biltmore Estate at Christmas Is Something Everyone Should Witness in Their Lifetime  (Yes, please!)

It's Operation Kevin time  (How did I miss this last year!?!?!  Oh wait, we don't watch live TV anymore.)

I need to get the mish-mash Christmas cards made out since our address labels arrived.  I went to do it earlier in the week and found I had no labels from last year, either.  Oy.  Other than that, I don't think we have anything major planned.

What do you have on your agenda?

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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Mental Mantel Meltdown

Happy Friday eve, all!

It's been a kind of mentally exhausting week.  We're looking to switch out a few things up in the living room, and we weren't able to get some of the stuff we wanted in time for the holidays.  We're looking to do a mantel switch out, and it's quite nerve-wracking with the logistics.  I got a quote from a general contractor about how much it would cost to remove our current mantel, do any potential drywall repair then install the new one.  We were told $130 just to show up then $85/hr for each hour after.  I feel like we could get the mantel down ourselves.  This is what we're dealing with.

It used to be this horrible 90's beige-ish color to match the "blonde oak" that was everywhere, and about 6 years ago, I painted it white, which looks fine, but it's builder grade and doesn't make much of an impact.  There's a small bead of caulk going around the edges, so I think it's attached by keyhole screw holes with construction adhesive around the edges.  My thought is to score the caulk, use a hammer and either putty knife or chisel lightly tapping to loosen any adhesive then gingerly tap underneath on the shelf until it pops off and pray it doesn't take drywall with it.  Not really something I want to tackle with the holidays coming up, though.  If anyone has any thoughts on getting it down, feel free to suggest in the comments.  It would've been so nice to have a new mantel hanging up for Santa, but we'll see.  I see the beads of sweat on the Mr's forehead when I mention removing the mantel ourselves.

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I cleaned out our armoire and got rid of a bunch of crap that I hadn't used or was expired.  We've got a little extra room for storage that we need.  The Mr cleaned out the other TV armoire that had some stereo components we hadn't used in years, including a DVD/VCR combo.  We still have some VCR tapes from back in the day (stuff from high school, etc.) and have a VCR in the closet upstairs, so we didn't need the one down here, especially since the tape in the machine wouldn't play.  It was kind of sad because the stereo was a Kenwood and I got it for the Mr in 1994 after we were engaged.  He said it's how he knew we were serious...because you know, the ring wasn't the clue.   But I guess I forget their tagline from the 90's Christmas campaign...

Our time at the MA house inspired us to get a turntable.  Our little soundbar wasn't cutting it, so the next thing I knew, the Mr was ordering a new soundbar.  I'm hoping it makes the vinyl sound like I was picturing.

Last night, we rented Good Boys and man, that was hilarious.  If you are not a fan of language and dildos, maybe skip it, but otherwise, that shizz was fuuuunny!  Those kids are hilarious and so adorable.  It sure takes you back to that time when you started cursing and trying to act like an adult as a tween.  It was a sailor mouthed squishy inducing film we just loved, and the ending was hilarious.
We also rented Stuber on vacation and could not stop laughing, highly recommended.

Seen any good movies lately?

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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Menu Planning Hump Day Poll

My mom was solidifying the Thanksgiving menu over the weekend.  I don't know why they ask me.  I bring the same friggin' things for 10 years now.  Mashed potatoes, stuffing and 2-3 pies.  (At this point, I just need the bird and I'm basically hosting.)

I know if I don't bring the stuffing, no one will make it because Grandma used to do a side of it (from the box) and it's not Thanksgiving to me without it.

What's the one dish that it isn't Thanksgiving to you if you don't have it even if the rest of the family doesn't care for it?

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Embracing the Year of the Christmas Mish Mash

As I told you guys last week, I wasn't much feeling the holiday cheer yet.  A lot of it, I suspect, is the expectation I put on myself to have things "perfect."  Blame the type A and Virgo in me.  A sure recipe for tension headaches.

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I like to wrap my presents with one roll dedicated to someone.  I don't have to use name tags unless we're taking it somewhere where it'll be mixed with a bunch of other people's presents and it's pretty easy.  I went to wrap my mom's presents and didn't realize that while Home Goods does have pretty paper for cheap, it's also because they don't give you that much.  I wrapped all of her presents in one paper last year and didn't have a duplicate roll for this year.  Since they don't carry the same paper year to year, I knew I'd have to go to another roll.  (There's my consumer tip for you Home Goods shoppers, if you like a wrapping paper there, get it ALL, you will likely never see it again, especially seasonal.)   So I went to another roll, same thing.  Another roll, same thing.  My mom's gifts are a Type A's worst nightmare.

(FIVE different wrapping papers for one person.)

Inside I know once those are under the tree, I will probably put a blanket on them to hide it so I'm not tempted to go out and buy a big roll and re-wrap.  I'm mulling over buying some kraft paper both plain and printed for next year and doing the whole "brown paper packages tied up with strings" thing.

Then I went to pull out the Christmas cards for this year since I always buy at the end of the previous year for the following year on sale.  Nothing.  I vaguely remember shopping for them at Hallmark and being utterly disappointed and World Market was cleaned out so I didn't buy any.  I pulled out three boxes from the armoire that had a mish-mash of leftovers from years past.  Some really good ones, others middle of the lines and some that were "oh crap, I ran out of good cards and got one from these to the drugstore."  I counted how many I had and sadly I have two fewer people to send to this year so I think I have enough to cover.

I like to have everyone getting the same cards but I am not paying full price to go out and buy matching ones when I have a perfect amount of mix and match at my disposal this year.  No one is going around comparing Christmas cards from me and if they are, they're @ssholes.

I am focusing my attention on other things that matter to me more right now than being obsessed if everything is all nicey-nicey to standards only I give a crap about.  I'll keep my eye out for deals on cards since I won't have that luxury next year.   I'll pick up wrapping paper as I see it since it's my FAVORITE thing-- for real- it's an addiction.  I even have the Mr wrap my birthday gifts in Christmas paper.  I know I'm at the end of one Snoopy roll so the next two will take up the slack next year.  It's so funny because I have this one mondo roll of red paper with little snowmen all over it that has wrapped my grandpa's wife's gifts for 8 years now.  It's like Aggie's bag in Halloweentown... neverending.

Look, I don't expect people to get it.  This isn't a big deal to most people but it's a control thing.  I like things a certain way and I do have control over this but I'm just not up for it this year.  That's kind of a big deal.  That doesn't mean it'll be this way every year because I'm not a fan but this year I'm choosing not to let it be a thing that everything isn't the way I usually like it.

What are you embracing going into the holiday season?

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