Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Black Friday

Love it or hate it?

Black Friday? The day after Thanksgiving (in the USA) where you can find fantastic bargins?  What's not to love?

I have gone out on Black Friday for years. Thursday mornings I go buy a newspaper.  which is packed with sales papers from all the stores advertising special deals on everything - from toys and electronics, to clothes and jewlery, to tires and home appliances. 

When I go out for Black Friday shopping, I am shopping only for myself.  I am usually done shopping for everyone else by then.  Call it Christmas gift-buying for "me."  Last year I bought a vacuum cleaner (the old one finally died), a portable dvd player, 19" flatscreen tv (for the guest room/office), blu-ray disc player, a small electric food chopper to replace the one I broke last year and a couple of dvds.  Total cost, $325.00 plus change.  Not bad eh?

Usually my experiences shopping on Black Friday are always good. This year was a dissappointing one.  I wanted a new flatscreen tv for the livingroom but when I got to the store at 4:00 a.m. there was already a line for the tv and all of the tickets were given out meaning they were sold out.  Wal-mart had a 32" on sale for $198.00.   I was so heart-broken. That was all I wanted this year (other than a new Gucci handbag).  So I was back home and back in bed before 5:00.  Usually after leaving Walmart my mom and I would go have breakfast at IHOP, then hit a few other stores before heading home.  I just wasn't in the mood for it this time.

Wal-mart is the first store I always hit first on Black Friday.  Don't know why but it is.  We have a lot of Walmarts but there are only three I frequently go to and one is a super Wal-mart.  I especially love the super Wal-mart because it is open 24 hours. 

Last year the store was well orchestrated. They taped off certain isles and formed lines throughout the entire store for the different major products.  For instance, the line for the blu-ray players was set up in the hardware section and the line for laptops was in the pharmacy section.  I thought this was a great idea, keeping the electronic section a little less hectic and overcrowding with people.  For items that they had a few in quantity they handed out numbered tickets to customers, so it was first come, first serve.

To keep the flow of traffic moving throughout the store, they set up cones and taped down the center of walkways to keep customers flowing in one direction.  The sales people had maps on hand to help direct customers looking for particular items. Plus they either had walkie talkies or headsets so that they could to talk to other staff.

Though I was dissappointed that I didn't get what I wanted the experience was still pleasant.  Dispite the crowds, it was very calm throughout the store.  It was almost like a normal trip to the store.  Plus the fact that county police were everywhere. 

Maybe next year I'll shop online.  It depends if it's a big ticket item I'm trying to get. Then again I'm sure I'll be back out there next year. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

I'm Back

Sorry I've been away so long.  I am recovering from a Broncitis (sp?).  My mini vacation started last Wednesday, however the night before my vacation starts I come down with something.  I wasn't sure what was going on because I didn't feel sick really.  I just couldn't talk.  As the week progressed I started having trouble breathing, no voice and some other gross stuff I won't bother you with. 
So I'm on antibiotics and drinking lots of tea.  I can go back to work Wednesday.  My voice still hasn't come back yet but I feel 90% better.

Despite being home, sick, I still managed to put up Christmas decorations.  I'm usually done decorating the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, but with this cold I took a lot of breaks inbetween.  I still have to finish the kitchen, guest room and balcony.  I hope to be done by tomorrow evening. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gift Giving

Are you a practical or creative gift giver?

I'm mostly practical but sometimes I can get a little creative.  I like to give out the basics like clothing, gift certificates/cards, and toys for the kids.  But I also make various baskets and baked goods for gifts as well. 

For instance I like to make bedtime baskets for the smaller kiddies.  In the basket I put a pair of pajamas, a children's dvd,  bedtime bubble bath and lotion, a couple of toys & a few pieces of candy and other things like toothbrushes, puppet washcloths, bedroom slippers - that sort of thing.  I even put in some snowman soup for the little older kids who can handle drinking it.  Other baskets I've done were filled with lots of crafts, various games and treats - like making candies/chocolates.

I remember the first year I started doing baskets I gave a family member- who had just moved into their new place - a kitchen basket with pots, kitchen towels, pot holders, etc.  She was very excited when she opened to see what all was inside.  I used a large pot as the basket to hold everything. 

I've also done popcorn baskets, pampering baskets, sports baskets and pizza making baskets, to name a few. 

I start my gift list immediately after the holidays because I already have some ideas of what to get a person next Christmas. Everytime I get a gift idea, I right it down in my trusty notebook which I carry in my purse 365 days of the year.  Then transfer my notes to my holiday planner when I get home.

I like to think that I do very well when selecting gifts for people.  Many of the ideas come from knowing the person's interest and what they like.  For instance I have a few family members and friends (who are just like family) that are real sports fanatics.  One person in particular eats and breaths Washington Redskins.  I look for gifts that I know they don't have that is Redskins related.  This year I got them a set of car mats with the Redskins logo on them.  They are truly going to lose their mind when they open this gift.  This may even top the scarf.

Sometimes people will tell me what they want.   At a memorial Day cookout I attended this year one of my closets friends told me she would like more make-up as the ones I bought her a couple of years ago are almost gone.  This is what I found for her.

This set is really nice.  I wouldn't mind receiving this myself.  But I already have way too much make-up as it is and don't need any more.

Other ways I come up with gift ideas are by being observant and picking up on certain things through everyday conversations with people.  Like one day back in the spring my cousin, her 9 year old daughter and I were out shopping. I don't remember what store we were in but the daughter noticed a Hello kitty clock.  She really liked it but knew her mom wasn't going to buy it.  Her mother began telling me how the daughter loves and wants a Hello Kitty room.  Unbeknowns to them, I made a note in my little notebook that her favorite character was Hello Kitty and maybe I would get her the clock or something else. 

And remember the person who loves Redskins?  A couple of years ago I had an oversized scarf made for them.  They were watching a game on tv and saw a woman in the stands wearing a really nice Redskins scarf and they just could not stop talking about it.  Every so often they would bring it up so I thought it would be really nice if I could get one for them.  After doing a lot of searching on the internet, I found out someone on my job is a very great knitter and I had her make me one.  Plus the price couldn't be beat.

Sometimes if I'm not sure what to get the kids in my family, I ask their parents.  I always have my nieces and nephews write me a list.  Since I myself don't have kids, I never really know what kids are in to and I know their fascination about things change over the year.  What was popular in February is no longer popular in September.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Workout Saturday

What a day!  From 7:30 this morning until about 45 minutes ago, I have been going non-stop.  First I did some checking on my Christmas decorations, checking what I have and what I need.  Then I updated my holiday budget - staying on track with this (very good).  I also updated my gift and master shopping lists - checking off and crossing out people who are finished and items that have been purchased.  The lists are getting shorter and shorter.  My master shopping list is now down from three pages to half a page.  Whoohoo!  "I'm so excited! And I just can't hide it!" (singing and snapping my fingers)

Next, I held my own personal wrapping party. I put on some Christmas music, sat in the middle of the floor of the guest bedroom and wrapped gifts until I couldn't wrap anymore. I just finished grouping the gifts by families for easy tracking.  I still have a few more to wrap but that will wait until tomorrow. 

There are a few pajama sets I need to exchange.  I don't know what I was thinking when I bought them.  After taking a second look, I realized that they are way too big for the recipients.  So back they go Monday.  I hope I can find the right sizes. 

Tommorow, after wrapping the remaining gifts, I hope to get started on making the cookie doughs to freeze.  I would like to get that done so when I'm ready to bake all I will have to do is pull the dough from the freezer and into the oven.

Right now I am going to jump in the bath, put on some warm pj's as it has gotten very chilly after having such beautiful warm days since Thursday.  Pop a big bowl of popcorn, lie on the sofa and watch some Christmas movies.

Happy trails!!!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy Wednesday

Today has been a really good day.  Quite honestly this week, so far, has been very productive.  I started gift shopping late in the game and now I have 3/4 of my list done.  I will still make my yearly deadline to be finished by the end of November. 

Today I picked up my Kmart layaway.   That's another three people crossed off my list.  Plus I got a pleasant surprise. The video game I bought my newphew a few weeks ago: Medal of Honor is on sale this week from $59.99 to $39.99.  So I showed them my receipt and got the difference back - $21.00 plus change.  Can you say, "You the woman."  LOL

My boss had these cool pencils with the Baltimore Ravens' logo on them.  He said he doesn't use pencils so he gave them to me.

One of the erasers even has the Raven on the helmet.  I have a little cousin who is a die-hard Ravens' fan.  This will go with the little gift I got for him.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Under the Mistletoe

I'm glad someone has been kissed under the mistletoe.  I have never been kissed under one rather it be real or fake. LOL

I have never hung the stuff in my home.  Never thought about it.  Come to think of it I don't think anyone in my family has ever used mistletoe. I'm thinking maybe I might give it a try this year.  Maybe I'll get kissed and then I can join all the others and say, "Yes, I've been kissed under the mistletoe."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Got to work a little early than normal today.  Had my breakfast and dranked a cup of tea.  About an hour later I put on my coat and left.  Why, you ask?  Because today is Tuesday.  What's so special about it being Tuesday? Well I had to get to the store before they opened.  See, one of my nephews has been talking for months about this new video game called Call of Duty: Black Ops.

 I'm not sure what the hoopla is all about but it seems to be a very sought after game.
So much so that some idiots robbed a Game Stop store in a certain part of this area and took all the copies as well as some gaming systems over the weekend.  I tell you, some people can really make it bad for others.  I don't know how they expect to sell them on the streets when the theft has been blasted all over the tv news and in the papers.

Anyway... I saw the commercial for the first time last night.  I must say the commercial is really cool.  I like how they used celebraties to promote the game.  Colby Bryant (sp?), Jimmy Kimmel (sp?) and a few others I couldn't recognize.  I see how it can get people anxious to grab this game.  I'm not a gamer myself.  The last game system I ever owned was the original Nintendo and my brother bought me that when I was home recovering from a life-threatening car accident (That was the year '96).  So that should tell you how much I know about today's video games.  Whatever happend to Frogger, Donkey Kong, Galaga?  Now those were my games. Heehee

My nephew is going to go nuts when he opens this gift.  I also got him the new Medal of Honor video game.  Another person crossed off my list.

Now you know I couldn't just leave the store and not buy something for myself.  I picked up Home Alone on DVD.  I can't believe I did not have this movie in my collection.

Well looks like it's going to be another early night for me as I am very sleepy.  I tell you, this time changing thing is throwing me for a loop.  Good night all.

Monday, November 8, 2010

My Adventures of the Day

I don't know what's going on with me but I am on a roll.  Today I went shopping during my break at the shopping center behind my job and found three more gifts that I could cross off my list.  Whoohoo!  Then later after work, my mom and I hooked up to do more shopping.  I bought everything I need to do my holiday baking.  The only thing I couldn't find was a bottle of the lighter molasses for the gingerbread men cookies.  All I could find was the darker molasses and I don't like the way my cookies taste when I use it.  If anyone has a suggestion of what I can substitute for the molasses, please let me know!

Well that's it for tonight.  I'm going to finish my cookies and milk, then I'm going to hit the hay.  Nite-nite all.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Holiday Decorating Style

Is it traditional, country, whimsical, north-woodsy,  or child-like:?

I guess my style would be traditional with a little whimsy.

I have always decorated with the classic Christmas colors of green, red and gold. I guess it's because I have these colors throughout my home all year long (or variations of these colors).  I love using using lots of  ornaments on the trees.  And you can find almost anywhere around my home Santas and snowmen, nutcrackers, villages pieces, nativity scenes and lots and lots of candles.  Oh let's not forget comfy throws and plush pillows for relaxing and keeping warm.

Every room in my home gets decorated for Christmas, including the bathroom, and every room has a Christmas tree.  An old childhood friend visited me last year during Christmas for the first time and remarked, "It looks like you threw-up Christmas in here,"  I guess she's right.

Yes I love Christmas.  I start decorating the day after Thanksgiving.  I crank up the Christmas music and decorate til my hearts content.  I spend the entire weekend turning my little palace into a cozy holiday home.  Some of the rooms even have a theme.

The kitchen is a gingerbread theme.  The bathroom is poinsettia, the diningroom is Santa Claus, the guest room is toyland.  The living doesn't have a theme.  Neither does my bedroom.  Despite the different looks, every room coordinates with each other.

The First Sunday!

It's the first Sunday of November.  Thanksgiving in the USA is only three weeks away. Time for talking turkey - gobble, gobble, gobble.

Today I had plans to spend the entire day indoors but it was not to be.  My mom has been having trouble with her truck and finally was able to get it fixed.  Her catalytic (sp?) converter had to be replaced. 

So while her truck was being worked on we had breakfast at IHOP and then went shopping at the nearby shopping center.  We had loads of fun.  First we went in to Marshall's where I picked out three nice outfits for gifts.  And I saw the cutest little baby bib that said, "Baby's First Thanksgiving."  I may have to go back and get that for my great-niece. 

Then we went in to Dollar Tree where I found two Christmas movies on VHS: "Veggie Tales The Toy That Saved Christmas" and "Surviving Christmas."  (Yes I still own a VHS player - lol)  I am going to watch them tonight.

Daylight Savings

Hello everyone.  Did you remember to turn your clocks back 1 hour?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Gift Wrapping Today

Due to the elections going on today across the USA, my office is closed.  Now that I've got the voting out of the way, I am spending some time wrapping gifts.  Actually it's the advent gifts for my 11 year old niece.  Some of the items can't be hidden inside the stockings. So I need to wrap them so that she can't see what they are.

Entertaining At Christmas

I love entertaining at Christmas.  Every Christmas Eve, I invite my entire family and family friends over for an evening of good food and good times.  It's also the only time when everyone gets to see each other as everyday life tends to keep some away throughout the rest of the year. 

I started this tradition about 8 years ago.  It was something that my grandmother used to do but as she got older the tradition sort of fell by the waist side. So I thought I would bring it back.  What started out as a small group of 16 people sitting down at dinner has now grown to 40 plus buffet dinner.

Christmas Eve is the perfect time for me to have family dinner because Christmas day is busy for folks.  Some family members may have plans to spend Christmas with their spouse's family or those with little ones would rather stay at home so that the kids could enjoy playing with their presents.  I remember being a little girl and my parents dragging me and my brother out the house to go visit my grandfather's sister for Christmas dinner.  It always made my brother and I so mad because we would rather stay home and play with our toys. Selfish I know, but we were kids and that's how some kids are.  Plus it was so boring. Dear great auntie did give us some cool gifts though.

I spend months getting ready for this day - all thanks to Organized Christmas and Magical Holiday Home. I design a budget, plan a menu, make guest list, send out invitations... I go all out.  Guests usually start arriving about 6 in the evening.  We say the blessing before dinner.  After dinner we mingle a bit - the kids hang out in the guest room where I have games out for them and the tv set up for watching movies.  Later we open gifts. After the gifts we mingle some more and eat more.  Like I've said before, some of the family don't get to see each other much throughout the year so on this night there's a lot of catching up going on.  There's also lots of memories being captured by yours truly.  The house is usually empty by midnight.  My guests are full and happy and I am giddy like a little kid.  So happy that once again, the holidays with family was a success.

My family has come to expect being at my house Christmas Eve.  When asked, I tell them that as long as I'm physically able to and have the passion, it will continue.  I doubt that the passion will ever go away.  As far as being physically able, that remains to be seen. 

Today Is Election Day!

In the USA, people all over the country are voting.  Here in Maryland they held early voting last last Monday - Thursday but I was unable to get to the voting office.  I made sure I got there today.  Lucky for me, I have the day off so I was able to hit the polls early this morning. 

If you haven't done so already, GET OUT THERE AND VOTE!