Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tricks-n-Treats

Happy Halloween Weekend, Y’all!

This is a picture my Husband texted me early last week:


Wonder who could have done such a horrible thing to an innocent pumpkin?

Could it be this little man?


Yep.  Guilty as charged.  Don’t let his “Who?  Me?” face fool you.

Henry now has a new nickname:

Peter, Peter, the Pumpkin Eater

I think it suits him quite well.

In the spirit of all things punkin’, I thought I would share a de-fright-fully (tee hee hee) delicious recipe I discovered last week.  I made it this morning.  It’s definitely one of the quintessential FALL recipes you should have in your repertoire.  Y’all, try this soon.  I think it would be extra yummy on Turkey Day morning.

Bon appetit!

Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze

Image and Recipe via Tasty Kitchen

Ingredients:

cups Water
1 can Pureed Pumpkin (15 ounces)
2 Eggs
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 box Yellow Cake Mix
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 cup Brown Sugar, divided
½ cups Flour
cups Walnuts, chopped
4 Tablespoons Butter, melted
¼ cups Granulated Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
¼ cups Heavy Whipping Cream

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together the water, pumpkin, eggs, 1 Tablespoon of vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice.  Add the cake mix and baking soda and mix until just combined.

Grease a 9×13 pan with butter and pour in the batter.

In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour, walnuts, and melted butter.  Use fingers to sprinkle over the top of the cake.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

For the glaze, combine the other 1/2 cup brown sugar, granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and heavy cream in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Remove from heat and stir until all sugar is dissolved.

When cake is finished baking, poke holes in the top with a toothpick.  Pour glaze over the cake, making sure to cover all surfaces.

Serve cake warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rhode Trip

I think I’ve finally recovered enough from our trip to Rhode Island to share a few highlights and observations. The full story will take about four installments over the next three or so weeks. (Hey, now listen, at least this isn’t the 50s or 60s—where I would invite you to my house on the pretense of fixing you dinner, but instead give you a few snacks and make you watch three hours of 8mm “home” movies.)

I’ve revealed some “issues” Hubby and I have had on past trips. (Click on the link!) This time we had five months (and over 33 years of marriage) to prepare for the longest-distanced trip we would make in our life together. Until we left on October 5th, the fartherest (a new ELC word denoting even farther than farther—feel free to use) we’d driven had been to the top of Montana—Glacier National Park—from our home in Texas. Worth every single mile.

Here’s the way it works at our house (see if you can relate):

We make a decision to go somewhere (could be four hours away—or over 1800 miles). I sit back and wait for the time to draw near. I’m responsible for getting all laundry washed and dry cleaning taken and picked up. I straighten the house (on the slight chance something unforeseen happens and someone—TLC?—has to come in—wouldn't want the word to get around I’m actually not The World’s Most Incredible Hazel). I do half of my packing the night before. The remainder? Next morning. (Or as Hubby likes to call it: The Last Minute.) If it’s a short trip (3 nights or less), I pack the day we’re leaving. Even if it means getting up at It’s the way I roll. I’m not saying it’s smart. I’m saying it works for me because I know I can—and will—sleep in the car. Believe me.

Hubby, on the other hand, talks about an upcoming trip for days (or weeks—depending on where we’re going). If our destination is somewhere we’ve never been, he orders maps, individual State “books” and TripTiks from AAA (AAA = one of the best investments you’ll ever make—and I get no compensation for promoting them, darnnit!) well in advance. He goes on-line and looks up "stuff"—from hotels and restaurants to what the weather is and/or will be like at our destination. He reads a bazillion “reviews and comments.” He starts planning what he’ll pack (except for coats—he never, ever, ever wants to take any kind of coat—or gloves—or any kind of hat other than a ballcap—even in the winter—because this VERY smart man forgets the places we’re traveling to may not have weather like Texas—sheesh). At least three days before the trip, he’ll get his bags out to start fillin’ ‘em up. He'll be packed and ready (except for a few items that will be put in his dob kit) the night before. Done. In bed and asleep by 9:00 p.m.

Two days before we leave, he’ll start questioning me with major intensity. Like he’s a detective and I’ve committed a crime. All he needs are those bright lights to shine in my eyes while asking: “When are you going to pack? Do you have your bags ready? What time will you be getting all your clothes together? Do you know we’re leaving at (fill-in-the-blank time) o’clock in two days (or "in the morning")? Why haven’t you started putting your clothes in your bags? Is all your laundry done? Why do you always put this off until the last minute?” He’s a silly one, that Man O’ Mine.

Am I ungrateful to be married to an organized man? NO. Not at all. Quite the opposite. I am EXTREMELY appreciative of the fact he’s a “detail” person—dependable, energetic, enthusiastic, concerned, and responsible. I’m just along for the ride! We (and when I say "we" I mean "I") embrace our differences and make them work—for us. (It occurs to me that my descriptions may be the opposite for you and your significant other. Usually one is organized—the other not so much. Yin and Yang. It’s all about balance. It's all okay.)

This Rhode Island Road Trip seemed like a FABULOUS idea last April. Hubby had a meeting to attend in Newport for two days. In discussing possible flight scenarios, I became a teensy bit… ummm… worried. I was willing to fly non-stop to New York and then get a rental car for the trip to Newport. I was NOT willing to go on three different planes to get to our destination. A long story for a later date, perhaps. Suffice it to say I have become uninterested in flying—unless completely necessary. Somehow we came to the conclusion it’d be fun and/or interesting to drive. We’d take our time on the way up. We’d go through states we’d never been to before. It’d be memorable. We had faith we could do it—and live to tell about it.

The day before we were to leave, Hubby informed me he’d be at his office in our Barn apartment "for awhile." Downloading some info for his GPS. Oh, Lordy. That “Nina” woman. (Click on the link!) For ten days. Instead of throwing a hissy-fit, I decided to wait for her to drive me to The Edge of Insanity. Then I'd kindly request she be terminated.

I made Hubby happy happy (and possibly suspicious) by having most of my packing done by the time we went to bed the night before our departure. We left at on a Wednesday. (I reminded him to get his coat—as we walked out the door—a coat, by the way, he never used.) Our first goal was to get to Nashville at a reasonable hour that night. If possible. And without pushing so hard we would be totally exhausted. Oh, and cranky. As we drove away from our gate, I noticed it. The GPS. (Primarily because he was engrossed in pushing buttons as we headed down the road. Evidently he had forgotten how to get to Dallas. A trip he’s made one zillion times in his 67 years.) I became transfixed with it. Why did it look different? It finally hit me.

“Is that the GPS you’ve always had?” I sweetly asked.

Then came the look. That look that says: Uh-oh. My purchase has been discovered. That look men have been giving to their mothers, grandmothers, teachers, girlfriends and wives since time began. That look of sheer and utter innocense (or fear, if applicable).

“You know it’s not. I told you I ordered a new GPS for this trip. I couldn’t update all the new technology to the older one. You don’t remember that discussion?”

No, no I didn’t. Because I’m pretty sure it never occurred. And, guess what? The new model might have cutting-age (yes, not “edge”—this is also an ELC term to be used by Us Geezers trying to keep up with You Younguns) technology, but Scary Nina is still in that little box. Why couldn’t they have at least used a man’s voice this time—someone, oh, I don’t know, like Sean Connery? I politely (yep, stickin’ with that) asked him to be ready to turn her voice off at a second’s notice. He agreed. Actually, he only ended up listening to the hideously annoying woman (not me) a couple of times during our entire trip. Bless his heart. I will confess she was helpful—for a few minutes. In a couple of states. However, coming home she messed us up royally. Took us 45 minutes out of our way—in spine-tinglingly (ELC's way to convey extraordinary tinglingness. And the bonus? It sounds tres Halloween-y.) hideous Connecticut traffic. I won’t tell you what I called Evil Nina. It's not ladylike.

Stay tuned for Rhode Trip—Part 2 or ELC’s Whiskey and Chocolate Tour! It gets more exciting by the day. Or not. You be the Judge.

p.s. For other cute thoughts on packing, please enjoy The Piggy Lounge’s Kacy and her funny On My Mind! (Click on the link!)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Everybody’s Workin’ For The Weekend

In keeping with ELC’s song title theme, I thought I might give y’all a little weekend recap.  Well, actually a little Saturday recap.  The rest of our weekend was spent watching the Texas Rangers, doing laundry, playing with the pups, and preparing for Just Another Manic Monday.  Tee hee hee.  I’m on a roll, aren’t I?  Okay.  I’ll stop.

The highlights:

1.  Cheesecake Factory (our favourite) now has a “Skinnylicious Menu.”  This might seem really exciting, but ELC and I couldn’t stop ourselves from giggling when several of the dishes featured were said to have less than 590 calories.  Hmmm.  LOL.  We each ended up with the "Skinny" Chopped Salad that was out-of-this-world yummy.  AND, since we had saved so many calories, we decided we could splurge on a piece of their incredible Pumpkin Cheesecake.  Oh, yes.  We did.  That's completely logical, right?  No?  We heart Cheesecake Factory.

(P.S. Pumpkin is a veggie.  Therefore, we’re fairly certain Dr. Dukan would have approved of this treat.)

2.  We found the most precious PINK GLITTER TOMS for the youngest of my sweet nieces.  Y’all – you cannot believe the adorableness of these teeny tiny shoes.  They are beyond. We heart TOMS.  In fact, we finished all seven of the grandkids’ Christmas shopping.  We are totally those chicks that start in September.  We can't help ourselves.

3.  As we were leaving Nordstrom, I was drawn, mysteriously and (almost) magnetically, to the shoes.  I tried desperately to walk away.  (Did that sound convincing?)  ELC did her best to wisk me out of the store. However, this particular pair kept calling my name.  I know it’s hard to tell from the picture, but they are chocolate brown and, quite possibly, the most divine shoes in the whole world.  Amen.  I heart Nordstrom.


In addition to lots of power shopping, pedicures, and pumpkin cheesecake, we shared an endless amount of laughs and pure merriment.  I love every second I get to spend with my sweet ELC.  She’s my very best friend.  She positively rocks.  I just wish I could see her and my Dad more often.  Darn the distance. 

I hope all of y’all had a lovely weekend, as well!

Don’t forget:  GO RANGERS!

Friday, October 21, 2011

T-T-T Teddy and the Cats

{After Hubby read this, I said: "Did you get the title?" This is a man who has loved Elton John's music, including Bennie and the Jets, for as long as I've known him. That's getting close to 35 years. He just stared at me. I could almost see the little wheels in his brain searching frantically for an answer. I patiently (yes, I'm going with that) cued: "Elton's song, B-B-B Bennie and the Jets?" "Ohhh... right...," he slowly answered. No. He still didn't get it. I know him. Hope y'all did.}

Before I begin my “Stories of the Road” (Island! Ha!), I wanted to back up a bit and fill y’all in on our Teddy Buddy Boo Bear. You’ve seen a few pictures of him, but I haven’t shared how he came to live with us. Hope you don’t mind humoring me. Once again.

We adopted a funny/precious/awesome-year-old Basset Hound named Junior soon after Hubby and I married. We loved and cared for him until he was twelve. He got very sick and we were forced to have him put to sleep. With broken hearts, we buried him in the backyard of the home we lived in for twenty-two years. When we moved to the country eleven years ago, it was not only hard to drive away from all those memories, but also from Junior. We made the decision to stick exclusively with cats about fifteen years ago, after having a couple of difficult post-Junior dog experiences.

Our first cat (who Hubby alleged was under a bush in our front yard early one morning as he left for work—I never was completely convinced about that tale)—was named, by 4-year-old TLC, Crystal. We had Crystal for eight years. When she died, we got a cat from one of TLC’s school friends that became Keegan (after Andrew). Keegan was a 6-toed female cat with an interesting personality. Five years later, as we prepared to move Out to the Sticks, we got another kitten, this time a male, from, yep, one of TLC’s friends. She named him Cobbler. We didn’t want Keegan to be alone at a totally new, and possibly scary, place. Keegan was somewhat annoyed that she had to put up with this brash and energetic little fella. Eventually, she grew accustomed to Cobbler—even kind of loved him, in her own way.

Keegan passed away about seven years ago, leaving Cobbler as our only cat/pet. Although my Hubby believed Cobbler had enough entertainment from mice, birds, bugs, raccoons, possums, deer, and bobcats, I always felt he was lonely.

Cobbler circa 2011

I started praying for a dog to find us about four years ago—not the other way around. My Hubby has wanted a Lab for at least that long. I was fairly certain I was never going to agree to a puppy. Last Summer, Mortimer, the cRaZy cat, came to live with us. Compliments of TLC and her Hubby. It was a wise and wonderful decision that all of us have embraced. I knew Cobbler was happy for the company. But when TLC and her Hubby got Henry, my Hubby amped-up the pressure to get a puppy just like him. (Henry is sooo charming!) I had no doubt as to who would be doing the majority of “puppy work.” I am talking about moi. So my prayers for an older dog increased to a minimum of ten a day.

Then the fateful call came in late July. From our friend, Kit. She’d heard of a 4-year-old Chocolate Lab that needed a new home. The young man he belonged to had graduated from college and taken a job out West. He’d be living in an apartment and traveling a lot. His Mom wasn’t going to be able to keep Buddy Bear because of her work schedule. The afternoon we met him, we fell in love. I added two more names—to make him feel more like our own! (And, yes, I usually call him all four names.)

TBBB and Hubby—a nightly Guyfest!
Hubby promises those headphones are for hearing the TV better...
Not to tune me out.
Hmmm.  Suurrreeee.

Soon after adopting TBBB, we took him to our Vet for neutering. It was then that heartworms were discovered. We’d never dealt with a scare like this before. We knew it wasn’t good. Maybe fatal. Since we’d planned to board him and our cats for ten days while we went on our Road Trip, we arranged to have him treated the week before we left. He'd be at the Clinic for seventeen days.

Well, no wonder he was too tired to stand and eat… Bless his heart…

Now that we’re all home (and we truly treasure our Vets and their assistants more than ever!), we have a little less than three weeks left on his six-week recovery time. He seems to be doing great! He goes back for a “day” follow-up treatment next week. We’re optimistic they’ll find he’s healing fabulously. We’re praying that soon he’ll be able to have more of a normal “dog’s life.”

Every Monday through Friday you can find TBBB,
chin on the windowsill, in my office,
 waiting for Hubby to come home. 
He can see his car when he drives up.
Tres touching, yes?

In the meantime, we’re committed to keeping him “quiet,” on a short leash, not allowing him to run, jump or bark excessively. We wish we could make him understand what’s happening. He looks at us with those sad, amber eyes like he’s wondering why we don’t throw him a ball. Or let him chase the cats. Sigh.

Silly Mortimer thinks he needs to climb a tree when TBBB is around.

Although our cats live over at our Barn and are put up every night for their safety, they roam around the top of our hill during the day. I’ll catch them both looking in our windows at TBBB—annoyed expressions on their faces. I know they’re thinking: “What the heck is this? That dog is in that comfortable house? So not fair, People.” (Believe me—they have a hugely fine life.)

TBBB is already immensely loyal to both of us. I think he loves Hubby more. Hubby thinks he loves me more. Hubby usually goes to bed at night before me—at least during the week. Occasionally, TBBB stays in the Great Room with me, watching Grey’s or The Biggest Loser. Two nights ago, TBBB became torn and confused. Then he proved he loves us exactly the same. (I think he totally understands when we’re talking about our ridiculous “competition” of who he likes the best. His eyes are so wise and knowing.) He literally layed across the threshold of the door between our Great Room and our Master Bedroom. As if to say, “I love you both. Period. End of Story and DONE. Sheesh.” I think I’ll start telling people he was born in Switzerland! (Since we don’t know his exact birthdate, we’ve made it our anniversary. We know that has to be very close. All together now: AWWW.)

Besides being incredibly gentle and kind, he’s super smart. I tried to get a picture of him watching The Texas Rangers winning Game 2 last night! (He watches TV all the time. He especially likes National Geographic shows.) By the time I got enough lights on, he’d become more interested in me and my phone.

If you'd told me and Hubby even six months ago we'd have a dog sleeping in our bedroom every night, we would've laughed and said, "Uh, no. Not us. Not happenin'." But there you go. Life is full of surprises, twists and turns. Thank you to Kit! We heart you!!! And thank y'all for your time and patience during The Story of TBBB!

GO TEXAS RANGERS!!! Win the World Series!!!

Please.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Snapshots from Santa Fe

My husband and I spent the loveliest Columbus Day weekend in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We’d never been before. Well, ELC tells me I was there when I was 4-ish. I don’t remember a thing.

It has to be one of the most charming towns anywhere on Earth. We spent 75% of our time eating at scrumptious restaurants, 20% walking around while enjoying the crisp weather and beautiful scenery, and 5% driving. (Either to Taos or in search of an air pump for an annoyingly low rental car tire. Long story. Apparently SF was out of air. I’m totally serious.) It was the perfect way to unwind from a long, hot, Texas summer.

If you go, you must frequent any or all of my Top Five Santa Fe Finds:

1. Lunch at The Pink Adobe.
We ate here our first afternoon in SF. They have delicious French Onion Soup, a World Famous Apple Pie, and the most eclectically awesome ambiance. Bonus: They serve you freshly popped popcorn while you wait for your food! YUM.


Look!  The popcorn machine!

2. The Loretto Chapel. It has a beautiful and miraculous staircase. Do consider Googling it. The story of its history is fascinating. I also thought the stained glass windows were breathtakingly exquisite. It was very crowded, yet surprisingly peaceful as we entered and walked around.


3. The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and The O'Keeffe Cafe. Admission into the museum is FREE (HOLLA!) the first Friday of every month from 5-7pm. You can bet your bottom dollar Hubs and I took them up on this offer. And even though he's not typically interested in abstract art, I could tell he did appreciate the impact and legacy Ms. O’Keeffe left on this World. Afterwards, we had dinner next door at The O'Keeffe Cafe. This was, by far, my favourite evening. The restaurant was cozy and quaint. The service was outstanding. The food and wine list were BEYOND. They even sent us on our way with two homemade truffles to enjoy. Remarkably phenomenal.

4. Lunch at The Shed and shopping at The Rose’s, a sweet little store next door, while you wait for a table. Because you will wait if you don’t have a reservation. (Oops. My bad.) The Shed has traditional Santa Fe fare. Their green chili is divine. I highly recommend their chicken enchiladas. I also made my most memorable purchase of the trip at The Rose’s. It's a unique, vintage turquoise ring. The nicest lady behind the counter was such a pleasure to chat with while browsing. She definitely helped our 45-minute wait fly by.


Thank goodness my dream isn't to become a hand model. 
I never realized my zoomed-in fingers were so scary.

5. Breakfast at Cafe Pasqual's. Oh, my gosh. Y'all. Their food is knock-your-socks-off yummy. However, the restaurant itself is TEENY. Itty-bitty. Get there early. Their homemade chorizo is life changing.

While in SF, we stayed at The Inn on the Alameda. It was pretty, quiet and comfortable, with great service. They must burn piñon wood 24/7, too. It constantly smelled Heavenly
. I wish I could’ve bottled that fragrance up. I've since added a chiminea and piñon wood to my 2011 Christmas Wish List, ELC. Hint. Hint.

Don't you just L-O-V-E adobe?

We also drove to Taos on Sunday. The drive was relaxing, interesting and gorgeous. At one point, the road is parallel to the Rio Grande River. It was nature at its finest. WOWZER.
The Rio Grande Gorge outside of Taos.

I'm deeply grateful we were able to get away for a long weekend. I can't say enough about Santa Fe and all of its magic. We hope to be able to return someday – soon!

P.S. This is what happens when you wrangle your husband into taking a picture of you next to an odd, yet intriguing, wooden statue. He’s such a little hoot.



P.P.S. GO RANGERS!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

100

How much one or both of us weighs now? The total number of cupcakes the two of us would like to eat in a month? The number of Louboutins TLC owns? How many pints of non-fat greek yogurt the two of us have consumed in the past three months? (No. Yes. Ha—funny. Probably.)

This is our one-hundredth post. 100. Ciento. Honderd. Centum. Mia moja. Hundra. Cent. Hundert. Isang daang. Sto.

We don’t know about y’all, but we find this incredible. We thought sixty was a lot. Eighty = Really? With the speed of passing hours, days, weeks, and months, time has zoomed by, causing us to be amazed at where we find ourselves today. Now. At this moment. It sort of tickles us that we’re still attempting to keep up these shenanigans. That we continue loving to work together—as a team. Team Leighton. Tee Hee Hee. We’ve actually been quite surprised at the lack of conflict and crankiness between us. (We’d venture to guess our Hubbies are equally shocked.)

We want to thank everyone who has told us they’ve enjoyed our bantering/thoughts/observations/memories/cRaZiNeSs. We hand-counted—took us one hundred non-stop hours—and there are ONE HUNDRED ZILLION blogs/websites out there to entertain/educate/challenge us all. Exactly that many. Trust us. For those of you who have loyally stuck with us—week after week—from not only Texas and California and other equally fabulous places in the U. S. of A., but also from several countries around the World—we want you to know how much we deeply appreciate YOUR time and interest. Consider yourselves officially HUGGED.

We especially send out heartfelt gratitude—through cyber-space—to Autumn and Kacy. For their funny/sweet/clever comments/encouragement! Y’all ROCK. We hope you’ll always remember how much we adore you!

Stay tuned… We’re pretty sure we have at least one hundred more posts in us! Maybe one thousand. (Oops, we can sense that really scared y’all. Sorry.) We’ve got some tricks up our sleeves we hope will give y’all a giggle or two. Or, at the very least, make y’all smile. As we keep skippin’ down our own paths, we think we need as many giggles as we each can find.

Cheers and Merci, doux amis! Grazie, amici Dolce. Obrigado, Amigos Doce. Diolch i chi, Sweet Ffrindian. Gracias, amigos Dulce. Dankie, Sweet Vriende. Hvala, slathke prijatelji. Tirima kasih, Teman Manis.

Cheers and Thank You, Sweet Friends!

p.s. We Heart The Texas Rangers! Wow!!!
American League Champs! Next Stop:
The World Series. YIPPEE!!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

On A Break

Remember, Friends’ fans, the “break” Rachel and Ross took? For how long—a couple of seasons?

Well, we’re not taking a “break” from each other—technically. Just from our individual schedules (if you’d like, you could have fun and say this in a British accent—shehshules—we often do—but, then, we are of English heritage—the Leightons—of Leeds). LOL.

We’ll be out-of-pocket until Sunday, October 16th-ish. Look for our next post that day—definitely no later than Tuesday, the 18th. Cross our breakin’ hearts.

To keep you amused until then, we have some suggestions:

Check out our “eye candy” to the right—underneath our goofy-and-possibly-scary pictures—and look at their websites! It is getting frighteningly close to Christmas, yes? They all have fabulous gift items to check out. Chop-Chop, though.

Also consider going back through our Yummies and Yeehaws—for other gift, Etsy and unique ideas.

Or, if you’ve missed some of our posts in the past, this would be a GREAT time to catch up! Tee Hee Hee.

Five of ELC’S Favourite Posts Written by TLC:

An Ode To Bathing Suits—in January
Would It be Weird If I Wore Automotive Air Freshener?—in February
27 Random Facts About Moi—in March
My Own “I Felt Like A Princess” Kind-of-Royal-Wedding—in April
Where the Sun Don’t Shine—in May

Five of TLC’s Favourite Posts Written by ELC:

The Next-to-the-Last Diet Book—in January
Fridge Philosophy—Part One—in February
33 Unsolicited Facts About ELC—in March
Fake?—in April
Miracles and Mama Bears—in May

Most of you know the song “Happy Trails,” don’t you? Please say YES. And PLEASE sing it now, to yourself (well, sing the last line, as set out below—unless you know all the words). Picture (and hear) us singing it with you, okay? BTW: ELC sounds very much like Celine Dion and TLC sounds eerily like Adele—just to help you get the audio part of this little exercise as close to reality as possible.

Actually, this could make it even better: If you know who Dale and Roy Rogers are, picture—and hear—them singing with all of us (in fact, why don’t you buy this awesome/vintage/Americana Cowboy song off iTunes?):

HAPPY TRAILS to you, until we meet again…

p.s. We can’t get over what fabulous singers we really are—WOW. NLOL. Not. YYWAS. Yes, Yes We Are, Sillies. But y’all are amazingly FABULOUS singers yourselves. Close your eyes and visualize us applauding and giving all y’all a standing ovation!

p.p.s. Go Texas Rangers!!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Yeehaw for Y’all!

We all have those catalogues we look forward to receiving in the mail, right? (Hubby swears we get every one published in the World.) I browse through each—turning down pages, telling myself to wait a few days and then decide if I really, truly need that item. Keeping them the requisite three-ish months, then, finally, throwing them away. Proud I was frugal. Sad for the trees that died in vain.

One of my all-time most favourite (fancy spelling) catalogues is Ballard Designs. I can’t remember how many years I’ve been enjoying it. Twenty? At least.

TLC and I’ve ordered furniture, rugs, trinkets, and gifts from Ballard’s (is it wrong that some of the “gifts” were for us?). She has a cute Parson’s chair with black and white houndstooth fabric we purchased for her first “Yippee-I’m-Outta-College!” apartment. Here is their Newport Demilune Table in Rubbed Black:

This was in our Great Room for several years.
Now it happily resides in our bedroom!

Ballard Designs’ products are unique, fun, pretty, and of good quality. Their prices seem quite fair and they often have free shipping and/or on-line specials. Possibly the very best thing about Ballard’s? Their Customer Service. It’s awesome.

Here’s my confession about just how superb these peeps are:

TLC and I were both looking for a bedskirt. She needed one for her guest bedroom (aka: ELC’s room—tee hee hee!). I needed one for our Barn Apartment. As I was flippin’ through my catalogue in June, there it was—the perfect bedskirt. A fringed burlap little number that was not only charming, but also a reasonable price. I got on-line and ordered two—having TLC’s sent to her home.

Less than a week later, mine arrived. It was everything I hoped it’d be—and more. TLC couldn’t wait to get hers. BUT… another week went by and it hadn’t shown up. Hmmm.

On July 13th (just found all my “paperwork” while cleaning my desk), I called the company. Talked to a nice young man named Greg. {At this point, I’d like to say I never asked for the spelling of anyone’s name—so what I’ve typed is my best guess.} He said his records were showing it’d been delivered. I sweetly said: “Uh, no, Greg. That’s not possible. Unless it’s been delivered today. Or it was delivered and someone stole it off my daughter's porch. (Old peeps like me think the worst too often. Yes, yes—that’s sad.) Greg suggested we give it a couple more days.

After hanging up, I, got, well, frustrated. I called back. This time I talked to Lindsey. Explained I’d just talked to Greg. Asked for a tracking number. She was also very nice, patiently stating she couldn’t give me any more information than Greg had. Sheesh—and sigh—with some ELC eye-rollin’.

Ten minutes later I called again. Clearly, I was becoming a teensy-bit stressed/obsessed. This time Thelma helped me. She gave me a tracking number and said the bedskirt had actually been delivered to a Post Office on July 9th. This might have made me cRaZy nUtS. I got, well, an edge to my otherwise charming Southern voice. “So what do we do when it never shows up?” I asked. Thelma answered, tres kindly: “No problem. We’ll give you a credit, re-charge your card and mail another one out.”

Upon hanging up, I discovered, via the tracking number, it had been delivered to a Post Office—in a town 100 miles from TLC’s home. I Googled for a phone number. When I told the woman who answered what I was looking for, she said I’d actually called the wrong number, but she’d be happy to help me. Three minutes later, she came back and said: “Yes. Your package was delivered to the Main Post Office several days ago.” I told her I couldn’t understand why it had been delivered there—because that wasn’t my daughter’s zip code. At the exact moment I was saying those words—it hit me. Well, well, what do you know? I, ELC, had put the wrong zip code on my original order.  

Now I had to face the COLD HARD TRUTH: it was ALL MY FAULT.

I profusely thanked this Nice Woman for her help and called the number she gave me. I told a Nice Man my story—for the fifth time—confessing MY error—and ending with my hope that the package was there. I’d come pick it up that afternoon! Easy breezy. Done and done. The man burst my happy, albeit guilty, bubble.  “Well, first, even if you had put the wrong zip code, it shouldn’t have come here. You had the address and city right. It should’ve been caught—by someone. Second, it’s gone. We sent it to your daughter’s Post Office this morning. Check with them.”

I tried to do that. It took me three days to get someone to answer the phone. At a big Post Office. They have a voicemail that assures the caller they will get back to you—please leave a message. No one ever did. Shocking, right? In my dogged determination not to have to call Ballard’s and own up to my failure, I did catch a man on the third day—around 4:30 p.m. I went through My Tale of Woe—for the sixth time. Without ever asking me for the tracking number or TLC’s name or address—he rudely said the package could not be there. Huh? Oh, Geez. “Could it be on her Mail-Person’s Truck?” I inquired. Nope. He dismissed me. It was quittin’ time.

I officially quit, too. I dialed Ballard’s and poured my heart out to a Rep named Rebecca. Told her I’d caused all the problems/confusion/Hell. She was downright precious. I even admitted I had been “slightly unfriendly” to two of their Reps. She laughed and said it was okay—they could/should have caught the wrong zip code and called me to straighten out the discrepancy. Not to worry any more.

She suggested we wait one more week. We did. It never landed on TLC’s porch. Then Rebecca did her CSM (Customer Service Magic) and I received the second beautiful bedskirt in less than a week. With a 15% discount coupon on my next order! I emailed Ballard’s that day, assuming full responsibility for the mistake and thanking them, again, praising every Rep for their professional, classy and positive attitudes.

SOOO many lessons learned by me. First and foremost? It never, EVER, EVER pays to be even a little snippish to people you don’t even know. At least not until you are one thousand percent certain you aren’t the one who’s made the mistake.

But the most significant lesson I believe I learned from this unnecessary nightmare? Ballard Designs is a TOP-NOTCH company with top-notchier employees.

Gotta scoot—have a new BD catalogue to peruse and a coupon burning a hole on the top of my desk!

p.s. Go Texas Rangers!!!!!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

OOG (Oh Our Gosh)! It's October!!!

Praise the Lord. Seriously, who doesn’t love October? If you aren’t cRaZy about Halloween, aren’t you OBSESSED with the OBVIOUSLY OFFICIAL beginning of the holiday season? We’d like to take this OPPORTUNITY to OVERWHELM y’all with “Os!”

Don’t be: OBSOLETE; OBDURATE (OKAY—so you don’t have to look it up—it means stubborn and unyielding); overaggressive; OPPRESSIVE; OBSCENE (this is for you Googlers of “nude Indian leg wrestling”—and you know who you are); offensive; ORDINARY;  ornery; OUT-OF-DATE; opaque (you can wear opaque tights, though); OSTENTATIOUS (that’s OBNOXIOUS—seriously obnoxious); overanxious; OPPOSITIONAL; overtired; OVERCAUTIOUS; OBSEQUIOUS (go ahead and look that up); or OBSTREPEROUS (while you’re there, look this up, too). Seriously, don’t be obstreperous (hard to say six times in a row—fast—just try it). It’s obstructive.

Do be: OUTSTANDING; openminded; ORDERLY (when necessary); ORIGINAL (OF course!); OUTRAGEOUS (when appropriate!); optimistic; OBEDIENT (occasionally); and outspoken (especially when you feel passionate about an injustice).

Go ON-LINE and find out everything you can about: OKLAHOMA; the Orient; OREGON; Ontario; OUIJA boards; The Wizard of OZ; Dr. Oz; the ocean; and the OZONE layer. Couldn’t hurt to learn more about: OCELOTS; owls (TLC’s favorite bird and OPRAH and those Three Little Piggies like ‘em, too!); OCTOPUSES—OCTOPI?; ostriches; OPPOSUMS; OTTERS; and all things OINKY!

Eat: ORGANIC OAT BRAN (Dr. Dukan would be proud!); okra (Paula’s fried—YUMMO. BTW: Dr. Dukan would not be proud.); ONIONS (be ready to brush your teeth); and ORANGES that come straight from the ORCHARD (sooo good for you).

Put on a fancy ORGANZA dress and attend the OPERA. Listen, specifically, for the OBOE in the ORCHESTRA. Learn ORIGAMI. You really OUGHT to make your own Christmas ORNAMENTS so you won’t OVERSPEND or OVERINDULGE on OPULENT OBJECTS. Take an OATH to go OUTDOORS, in a cute little camo OUTFIT. Get some OXYGEN, climb an OAK tree, and be OBLIVIOUS to OTHERS’ OUTBURSTS.

OKAY… this isn’t just OPEN-AND-SHUT. It may be an ORDEAL to read our ONGOING OPINIONS, but one of us is OLD, so please OPEN your minds to this OCULAR OVERLOAD.

Let’s move ONWARD: OPT to OVERCOME hardships, unpleasant ODORS, and OBSCURE and ODD OFF-Broadway actors who sing OFFKEY and lack OOMPH (we aren’t implying anyone in particular.) Don’t OVERWORK, OVERSLEEP or OVERESTIMATE your OPPONENTS. You might have to OBLITERATE them to OBLIVION. (OOPS—OVERDOING and getting a little OUTLAW-ish.)

Push aside OBSTACLES and OWN the space you OCCUPY on this Earth.

It’s 7-ish—in the a.m. Time for all OCTOGENARIANS to eat that obligatory oatmeal and say:

OVER and OUT.