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Posts Tagged ‘Shopping’

Where does it all come from? How do I accumulate so much paper while living in a techy society? Even with so much still being accomplished online, we get paper, paper, and more paper in the mail, in packages that contain products we’ve ordered online, magazines (although I hope to change that when I pick up my color Nook someday) and advertising.  And receipts.  Holy cow!  I really need an industrial shredder for all of the things that need to be shredded around here.  And I need to create a better plan for separating the recycle.  I was so impressed by the Germans when we lived there.  They had large bins in town for glass recycling (separated by color of glass) and they actually fined people who threw away something that could be recycled or burned.  When we threw out our trash, we only had one very small bag a month…about the size of 1 gallon of milk.  Everything else was recycled, reused or burned in our stove.  The stove kept our apartment warm.  During the summer, we stock-piled cardboard and paper until fall and then we’d burn the stuff for heat, which then kept our utilities lower. 

Americans could learn a lot from the citizens of Germany and their stringent recycling processes.  And it would be great if “going green” could progress to the point that we didn’t get so much junk mail and stuffing in boxes that were made of paper.  Or maybe I just need to quit shopping.  My dear hubby would love that!!  Then I wouldn’t have to recycle all of those cardboard boxes and the paper stuffing. 

Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. ~ New England proverb

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Luckenbach Texas post office

Sunday…what to do??? Let’s take a drive!  Beau and I headed north on 281 out of San Antonio and enjoyed the drive through part of the hill country. The sky was a beautiful blue, the recent rains (floods) had left the trees green and the humidity high, so the windows were up and the air conditioning was cranked. But the view was great. We stopped in Johnson City (yes, that town right next to LBJ’s ranch and home of Lyndon Bain Johnson himself) for lunch at a little place that had caught my eye last time we were through there. It never fails to amuse me when a small Mom & Pop place has a funny sign. This one was advertising their chicken fried steaks (Almost 3 Dozen Sold). I had to laugh. Let’s just be self-deprecating and poke fun at Mickey D’s all in one statement.

The chicken fried steak was pretty good! Not greasy and the breading was very light and crunchy. Just outside the restaurant was a fruit and veggie stand, so I stopped and picked up some zucchini squash. Then we hit the road again, headed toward Fredericksburg, a quaint little town with a German history and some great shops, along with the museum for the U.S.S. Nimitz (Nimitz himself was from Fredericksburg). The museum has recently been renamed the National Museum of the Pacific War. We stopped at a little shop outside Fredericksburg to pick up a wine rack I had purchased when shopping with a friend yesterday (yes, that was two road trips in two days for me) and then decided to head away from Fredericksburg and toward one of my favorite little pitstops…Luckenbach, Texas, of Waylon, Willie and the Boys fame. Luckenbach is a small post office/gift shop/bar, a dance hall, a snack shack, an outdoor music venue and small camp ground. We stopped in the post office/gift shop/bar combo and mailed a letter to my mother (they postmarked it from Luckenbach) and then I picked up a bottle of wine from them with the Luckenbach label. Then we headed to one of my favorite wineries (Sister Creek) and picked up two bottles of their EXCELLENT muscat canelli reserve (you can only buy that particular one at the winery). I usually buy their regular muscat canelli here in San Antonio, but prefer the reserve. Then we cruised on down the road, cut through little Boerne, one of my favorite haunts for weekend shopping with the girls, and back into San Antonio. About 150 miles of road trip on a nice, sunny Sunday afternoon. I do feel refreshed and relaxed!

“To sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.” ~ Jane Austen

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Everyone has something they do for themselves that makes them feel pampered. And I think women have truly mastered the art of finding those little luxuries that make us feel special. And it doesn’t need to be big diamonds or traveling to extravagant places or living in a mansion. Usually, these pampering luxuries are found at home…or right in your own back yard. It is usually something quite simple, like a cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer day, while sitting under a huge shade tree or dangling your feet into a cold pool. It could be the smell of fresh baked bread in the morning or a big mug of hot chocolate while curled up in front of a fireplace, while your cat is curled up next to you.

I have friends who can’t go two weeks without a manicure. That’s their luxury. And I’m happy for them that they give themselves that treat. I, on the other hand, (no pun intended there) like a nice manicure, but it isn’t the be-all, end-all for me. Pedicures are pretty terrific. I like them much better. But for me, there is nothing as wonderful as a bubble bath in a deep, deep tub, reading a good book, sipping a nice glass of wine and nibbling on some dark chocolate. (HEAVY SIGH!!) Just thinking about that sensation of sliding into the steamy, frothy, softened, scented water, leaning back and getting lost in the world of make believe, sipping a cool glass of my favorite wine and letting the bittersweet chocolate contrast with the sweetness of the grape. True luxury for me! I can remember days of apartment living and only having a shower stall…that’s right…no tub at all. I can’t believe I survived living there for more than a few months, much less a couple of years. The loss of bubbles in my life is not something I care to relive. So, you may understand why I can rack up a huge bill at Bath and Body Works. That is one of my luxuries.

Well, that and shoes. That’s the other luxury…great shoes. I don’t care if they are designer or not, inexpensive or costly. As long as they are comfy or fabulous to look at. (Please note, I didn’t say AND, I said OR…hence the emphasis with color, etc.) I don’t expect to find a comfy, beautiful shoe. So, in the rare instance when I do, I HAVE to buy them…in at least two colors, preferably. Yes, I have become the Imelda of my family. I love shoes. I believe I own approximately 8 pairs of Birkenstocks alone. Then there are the eelskin shoes, the Clarks, the sandals, the clogs, the…oh, well, you get the picture. I can’t tell you how many cowboy boot mules I have…I’m too embarrassed to admit it. I may have to break down and start getting rid of some of my older shoes to make room for the new ones. It’s just so hard to let them go! And my most recent acquisitions have been Crocs. I have to say, they are the ugliest comfy shoes, but when your feet are that happy, who cares how they look??? These are so comfy, they make walking fun! Yes, me, the exercise avoider, saying that walking can be fun. I have even bought a pair of hot pink crocs to match my new hot pink Ralph Lauren rain coat (purchased on the clearance rack, mind you…who’d pay full price if they can get it for 75% off??). And they are too cute together! My closet full of shoes is such a luxury!!! (And isn’t it strange that my closet full of shoes is right next to that wonderful tub that fills so full of hot water and bubble bath?)

So, folks, what are your luxuries? How do you pamper yourself?

“…if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with!” ~ Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz

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What more could a person ask for than a relaxing, fun-filled weekend with two great friends and gorgeous weather to make the setting spectacular??? I can’t think of anything (except a wonderful weekend with Beau instead). Since Beau was traveling for work, this was a great way to spend my time. My friend BJ and I met early Saturday morning and loaded up the car for our road trip. First, though, we made a detour to Gruene, Texas, for Market Days. After browsing the stalls and sipping hot tea while we wandered, we stopped for lunch at the Gristmill, a restaurant in a historic old mill that hangs over the Guadelupe River. We sat on one of the terraces overlooking the water. It was a beautiful day and we had their award-winning chicken tortilla soup and we each had a dinner salad with their awesome creamy balsamic dressing. Yummmmmmmmm! It was great! Then we hit the road…over 3 hours to Houston to visit our friend Jennifer. We arrived and got great directions to her apartment. It was so cute! She and her dog Maverick greated us and we unloaded the entire car into her place. Then we sat around, drinking wine, while Jennifer finished putting together some Cuban sandwiches for our picnic. Then we loaded everything up and headed for the park. We found a good parking spot and walked to the amphitheater to watch the opera. Great food, great wine, great friends and a glorious night weatherwise added to the fun of seeing Hansel and Gretel. The sets were amazing and the puppets (the guardian angels, birds and cat) were done by the Jim Hensen Puppet Company. Wow! The witch was frighteningly talented and intriguing and scary.

After the opera was over, we went back to Jennifer’s apartment and drank some more wine and talked and talked. Then we headed to bed. I got the futon in the living room and BJ had the aero bed. Neither of us had the dog. 🙂 Jennifer kept him to herself in her room. So, the next morning we woke up, showered, ate Jennifer’s “from scratch” cinnamon rolls and then went shopping. I got two pairs of shoes and a Ralph Lauren silk blend sweater for under $75! Love that Dillard’s clearance center. After that, we went to Central Market (it’s a tradition for us on Girls’ Weekend. Central Market, for those not familiar with it, is a gourmet grocery store and many of them have a wonderful indoor/outdoor cafe with live music on the weekends. It’s a great relaxing way to shop, snack your way around the store (samples) and look for interesting things you can’t find other places. Then we had lunch at a local Cajun restaurant. After that, we went back to Jennifer’s apartment and loaded the car and headed home. We got back to San Antonio around 7pm and went our separate ways. But we have great memories of the time we spent with good friends!

“It’s the friends you can call up at four a.m. that matter.” ~ Marlene Dietrich

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Christmas is fast approaching and I’m swamped with overtime at work, trying to get ready for the holidays, looking forward to time off and yet not able to fully realize that another year is almost over. I recently turned 47 and yet still feel 18 (mentally, at least). I don’t feel 47. In thinking about that age, I have realized that I am now over the age I used to think of as “Ancient”! I’m older than my father was when he died. I have lived almost half a century. And I don’t feel old!

Then I look at my mother who is, obviously, older than 60. In fact, she is proud of her age, I think, because she doesn’t look her age or act it. She’s approaching 70 and most people would never guess. I have been fortunate to inherit that “youthful appearance” gene. And my grandmother was the same way. I guess in looking back, it really seems that I never looked on my grandmother as “ancient”, just old. She never looked her age to me.

So, as the year draws to a close, I realize that I’m approaching my fifth wedding anniversary with Beau and we are both fast approaching the legal “senior citizen” classification. I actually look forward to it. It may sound odd for a woman to say that. But I can’t wait for those discounts (as I’m all about shopping and finding bargains) and I also can’t wait for those surprised looks and being carded again (I hope). Okay, so it really is the shocked looks (and maybe even the laughs until the clerk realizes I’m serious about wanting the senior discount). Then, as happened to my mother on one of her first outings as a senior, when the girl laughed and then stopped to explain to my mother the minimum age for the discount, I hope I too will be carded! The last time I was carded, I was 42 and it was to enter a riverboat casino that had a policy of carding anyone who looked 30 or under. I WAS THRILLED!!! Image

Now, for Christmas, I hope to be finished with my Christmas shopping by next Sunday. I have to buy some extras for Beau and I still need to finish shopping for a Secret Santa at work and for my Secret Santa on a cooking website I belong to. I will also need to finish shopping for my Salvation Army Angels (from the Angel Tree) – a boy and a girl. I thought it was cute that the boy wanted an Etch a Sketch and a CD Player. The little girl wants a doll stroller and a doll with a rattle. How cute is that??? I’m also helping raise money for a needy co-worker and trying to help another co-worker help a family that is starting all over again (from scratch) – no furniture, no dishes, no anything! How sad to be in that situation at this time of year. So, I’m pulling together some things for that family. Beau is donating his old bed to the mother and I’m pulling together some kitchen supplies (utensils, pots and pans/glasses/etc.) and some throw pillows, a blanket, etc.

So, at this time of year, I find myself doing what everyone is doing. Reflecting, looking to the future, racing around shopping, and trying to help those around me who need it. I guess that’s all we can hope for…an opportunity to enjoy life at all stages and to be in a situation where we are less needy than we could be, so we are able to help others.

“The secret of a good life is to have the right loyalties and hold them in the right scale of values.” ~ Norman Thomas

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Treaty Oak, BJ and Jennifer

Sunday morning, we rose and got ready for our last day of fun in Austin. But, first…breakfast again. Another feast. This morning, it was granola and fresh fruit again, coffee and tea and OJ. Then we were served cinnamon rolls, a yummy frittata and banana walnut pancakes. I was so stuffed! After we ate, we packed, loaded the car and went shopping. We went straight to the Arboretum, an outdoor mall that wasn’t far from the B&B. Then we visited the flagship store of Whole Foods, another amazing gourmet grocery store. I grabbed a bagel with lox and cream cheese while my friends held out for Einstein Bros. Bagels. Unfortunately, they were closed when we got there. After that, we made a trek to Lockhart, Texas about an hour or so away. Lockhart is supposed to be the BBQ capital of Texas, so we stopped for dinner. I also picked up some for Beau. Then we drove back to San Antonio and I dropped off my friends. By 7:30, I was home, relaxing and getting ready to go back to work for the week, refreshed and VERY overfed!

 

“Eating is not merely a material pleasure. Eating well gives a spectacular joy to life and contributes immensely to goodwill and happy companionship. It is of great importance to the morale.” ~ Elsa Schiaparelli

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Beau and I are looking forward to this week. It IS hard to realize that November is almost over and Christmas is just around the corner. Yesterday, I spent time with a friend at the Market Days in Gruene, a small town near New Braunfels, Texas. Each third weekend, they have a great Market Days. I picked up several presents for people for Christmas. After that, we stopped at the Grist Mill for lunch and then went to a local winery. Then, we made a quick trip to New Braunfels for the WeihnachtsMarkt. It was great. They had obviously been very selective about what types of vendors they had allowed to sell their things. Everything was of such good quality.

The last few weeks have been filled with activity, overtime and more overtime. In the first three days of this week, I had 5 1/2 hours of overtime. NOT fun! I took Thursday and Friday off work, since I had friends coming over for a Pampered Chef party on Thursday evening and Friday I wanted to clean up the mess! Thursday, I cleaned house and cooked. I ended up making Butternut Squash Soup, Bacon and Cheddar quiche, salad and some snacks. For the party, the PC rep made Spinach Artichoke Dip and she made a microwave Pumpkin Spice Cake. Mmmmm! It was good! Now I’m getting the menu put together for Thanksgiving. We’ve requested to be a host family for two soldiers from Lackland Air Force Base for the day and are looking forward to thanking them for their service. So, we’re thankful for our home, our ability to host friends and strangers under our roof, feed them well and enjoy our lives in a free country that allows for these opportunities.

“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” ~ Henri Frederic Amiel

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