Monday, December 30, 2013


There was a time when I loved shopping.  I could spend hours in stores looking at everything, touching the
fabrics, slipping on clothes in the dressing rooms.  There was a time when salespeople were abundant, helpful and attentive.  I never could afford the really high end retailers, but Nordstom was so service oriented it was my favorite place to shop even if I couldn't buy much.  I always hoped that all the stores would see their example and follow it - but instead, it seemed to slide the other way.

Before there was even online shopping, I shopped catalogs.  It started when I was pregnant with the twins in late 1987.  I tried shopping in a mall when I was 7-8 months pregnant; my doctor forbade me anymore trips to the mall when he saw what was going on with the monitor I was required to wear to detect early labor.

After they were born, well, try shopping with a double wide stroller - I was the entertainment for half the shoppers at the mall.  It was still a bit unusual to have twins back then and the sight of those two babies drew a crowd.  I am not kidding.  My sister can attest that people literally grabbed the stroller to stop and take a look and comment.

So the catalog shopping continued.  As we all know, if you get on a list for one or two of them, the mailbox fills up really fast after that.  And then when stores started having websites and I could safely shop online - well, let's just say that years went by without trips to the mall even without the excuse of  pregnancies, babies, toddlers, kids and, later,  full time employment.  I'd say about 98% of my holiday shopping is done online.

There has been much discussion about the malls being empty this holiday season and the online retailers raking it in.  Wonder if the brick and mortar stores will pay attention now?

I went to the mall on December 1 and couldn't find a single salesperson at Macy's to ask about  stock or a style I was looking for. The aisles were crowded with racks, clothes were on the floor and heaped on the shelves, it was hard to figure out the organization of the merchandise or to find sizes. I did find a couple of things I liked and after lunch with my sisters (and I had birthday money in my pocket) we went back.  They approved the sweater so we got in line.  It didn't seem to be moving so we walked around and found another register and another line.  There was a woman who was returning 2 bags of things she had previously purchased and re-buying them with coupons.  It was ridiculous.

Rather than try to find another register, I dug deep for my patience and waited to make my purchase.  That is when I realized I would rather shop online than wait in line. The former love of seeing all the merchandise, touching the fabrics and trying things on just pales in comparison with the irritation I experienced.

Anyone in the business of customer service knows the axiom "Your lack of planning does not constitute an emergency on my part."  Yet there has been a week of news reports over the failure of Fed Ex and UPS to make all their Christmas deliveries "ruining" the holiday for people all across the country.

If these folks didn't care enough to get their shopping done in the 11 and 3/4 months before Christmas - how is it the fault of the delivery service that their holiday was spoiled?

And now I hear that recycling centers are "overwhelmed" with cardboard boxes following this online shopping frenzy.  It's always something - isn't it?

I will now remove my cranky pants and get ready to go do a couple of errands, including making a return to a real store..

Sunday, December 29, 2013


Tom's holiday gift to me was a turbo kit for my bike.

It's not really called that - it's an E Bike conversion.  Tom calls it an assist.  There is a battery and a little button to push which activates the motor and zooom, off I go.  It is a bit of an old lady gift - but with my knees, I'll take it!

It also allows us to expand our ride locales and terrains.  And I admit I have gotten a bit bored with our usual routes. It is especially useful for hill climbing, but was also put to use at the end of the day when I was getting tired and my knees were hurting.  We were able to use a route which had 10% grades as opposed to our usual 1-3% grade rides on the trails.  It is a little bizarre to use the assist.  When I start to bog down I hit the button and the motor just takes off as if am on a moped rather than a bike!

I knew exactly where Tom would take me on our first "assisted ride" and I was right.  He loves going up Dougherty Road through Dublin, San Ramon and into Danville.  The Iron Horse Trail we usually take goes around the hills - we went up and over.  Our 35 + mile ride lasted about 5 hours (with a stop at the Farmer's Market and a couple of drink and snack breaks.)

My gift to him was getting a hitch on my car and a new, smaller bike rack for our 2 bikes so we can travel light when we want to go ride out of the area.  He already has a whole list of new adventures for 2014 lined up!

Friday, December 27, 2013


 We had the pleasure of Maggie's company for almost 2 weeks!   We enjoyed going out to dinner...

bike riding and trying to harvest mistletoe!

Then all 3 kids were home and we had some family photos taken.

We had Christmas Eve dinner with my sister's family and played Cards Against Humanity with much laughter - the cousins enjoyed  each other's company.

Then we cozied up at home and opened presents and had our traditional breakfast, watched movies and made a nice dinner together.

As of today, Maggie is back in Philly and Zac in Monterey.  Ally is camped on the couch getting over a cold and checking the internet obsessively for her grades.  I am cleaning up the detritus room by room and happy to have 5 more days until I go back to work!

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Welcome to my Holiday Home!  I have enjoyed joining Jen's tour for the past several years - this year my daughter Maggie was home from Philadelphia and helped me decorate,  Her aesthetic is more toward the simple and natural than mine. ( I tend to go crazy with color.)  We think we blended our styles pretty well!

This is our entry, I placed some of my Christmas collection with some candles next to my card tree - not a single card yet!!

This is our newly reconfigured great room - Maggie and I found this lovely wreath with eucalyptus at a crafts fair as our starting inspiration then added some sparkle.

 We took the usual stuff off the shelves and placed some shiny gold and silver things in their place.

We kept my favorite ceramic piece "The Cheeseburger Lovers" in place.

The dining room is festive in red, silver and gold.

These reindeer candle holders have been around for nearly 30 years - one broke last year and now they are too fragile to hold candles... still pretty though!

The tree!  Room for more presents...

My chubby new Santa joins the collection.

Our stockings are hung and ready to be filled with goodies.

Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season and a healthy, happy 2014!

Monday, December 16, 2013


I know I am not alone in this - just too much to get done this week to post.  I a almost done decorating so I will be participating in Jen's annual Holiday Homes Tour on Friday - Maggie has been helping me change things up this year.  See you Friday!!

Sunday, December 8, 2013


It was 38 degrees at 9 a.m. this morning.  I declared it too cold to ride my bike. I rode last week when it was around 50 degrees and my biking capri's, 3 layers of jackets, gloves and earmuffs were not enough - so 38 degrees?  Hell no.  Cold weather biking togs are  on my wish list...

I settled for doing laundry, hitting the grocery stores, ironing and setting up my gift wrapping station.  Maggie is coming home this Wednesday and wrapping needed to be done. (Not that I am saying she would snoop.) The big game (Seattle v. SF) started at 1:25 and so did my wrapping.

 Most of my shopping has been done online so I have boxes inside of boxes to manage.  I am so glad I didn't get any "peanuts" because I hate trying to bag them up to recycle  Instead, I had one package which took the prize for most ridiculous amount of waste:

The box for this one calendar (I'm not revealing any big secret, I always give the kids a calendar...) was 48 inches by 28 inches.  The calendar was just bouncing around in the big box.  Maybe someone screwed up and ordered these big weird sized boxes?

I managed to get most of my wrapping done, the stocking stuffers sorted and the laundry folded.  Next up - cookie dough!

And Seahawks?  You'll get 'em next time.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

RIP Mr. Mandela

One of the truest leaders of all time - may he rest in peace and continue to inspire, always.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


I have been trying to write about my big week but Blogger kept doing weird stuff -  seems to be working tonight so no one has to miss my boring holiday recap!

This year, in order to spare our retail working son the long drive home,  we went out to dinner at a place we
like near him.  First we went to a movie and strolled the shopping area in Santa Cruz and then had a lot of drinks and  dinner and spent the night at a little inn on the coast.

Ally had her wisdom teeth (she only had 2 of them) out on Monday and had a little trouble eating, but a good time was had.  Zac made it to work at REI at dawn on Black Friday. Tom and I woke hours before we knew we could rouse Ally so we walked the beach and had breakfast before driving home.

The rest of the holiday weekend Tom and I enjoyed the amazingly warm weather and went on a couple of bike rides.  Ally and I had some quality time together and on Sunday I had lunch and did a little shopping with my sisters.

So on Thursday when we went to a movie (Delivery Man which was quite good) Tom and I were offered the Senior Discount.  Tom turned 60 last year so he took them up on it.  I protested that I had 3 more days until I was a "senior" and insisted on paying full price!

Then on Sunday I turned 60.  It is the first birthday in a very long time that I am having a little trouble with and it's that whole senior citizen thing bothering me.  I have been walking around with silver hair for 13 years and occasionally have been asked if I wanted a discount - but now I am actually old enough to take them up on it.

I suppose I'll get used to it and we all know that 60 is the new...what?  Fifty?  Geez. I know - better than the alternative and age is just a number.  Guess I will learn to embrace the new label of "senior" along with whatever perks it brings!