Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Hero!

My Front Porch

It is officially 3 days since the blizzard and my road is STILL not plowed! Around 8:30pm I caught a glimpse of the amber flashing light of the plow and got sooooooooo excited, but alas my road was not on his list. Shucks! I wonder if they will return? 2 blocks in each direction is plowed, but for some inexplicable reason they skipped my little corner of the world.
My Hero! Hoo-Ray!!!
Late afternoon my knight in shining armor... OK, actually... my hero in jeans... arrived via snowblower to help dig out at least one car. Come to think of it... it is actually his car. Hmmmm. No seriously, he's letting me drive it until I get insurance on mine again (another story for another time, I promise). He carved a deep path from his house to mine... on the road. I can't even begin to tell you how appreciative the neighbors were. They could FINALLY leave their houses and walk around. Dogs could 'do their business', everyone without a lake view could come down and see the snow... and lament the road isn't plowed yet.

Sooooooo... what have I been doing for the past 2 days??? I napped a little, cleaned a little, did some paperwork, found places for some boxes that were thrown in my bedroom during the move, threw out a bunch of old papers, and.... made some paper beads.

I joined a YAHOO GROUP called ART CHARMS. Once a month they host a swap with a theme... all have to be homemade mixed media art charms. January 25th is the deadline to have 30 charms shipped to the hostess for a Valentine's themed swap. I haven't designed my charm yet... but have decided to start by making these paper beads. There are thousands of tutorials on YOU TUBE on how to make them, however I felt compelled to take pictures of the process in case you were interested.

Step 1: Tear out a magazine page with colors you like. Mark the page along one edge in 1/2" increments. Mark the opposite edge in 1/2" increments also, but start 1/4" in. Connect the markings to draw long triangles and cut. I use a paper cutter to make it easier, but scissors work well too.

Step 2: Using a toothpick (or a piece of spaghetti) begin wrapping the strip, starting with the wide end. To start, roll the top edge around the toothpick and gently tuck the edge in using your thumb nail. Keep the tension steady as you roll. Roll up to the last inch or so.

Step 3: Place glue on the last inch and finish rolling. I use a product called Mod Podge as glue, just because that is all I could find. A glue stick, Elmer's, or any craft glue that dries clear would work just as well.

Step 4: Gently slide finished bead off of toothpick.

Step 5: Pick bead up with a pin (or another toothpick), brush on a glossy sealer, like Diamond Glaze (found at Michael's and Jo-Ann's) then stick in a piece of styrofoam to dry.

Use these as you would any other bead. The narrower and longer you cut your triangle, the rounder the bead will be.

Don't worry... I'll post a photo of the finished charms before I send them out. I'm thinking of using an old page of sheet music to paper-mache a small heart to dangle from the paper bead, but you never know... these things have a way of designing themselves and maybe the charm doesn't want to go in that direction :-)

I'll leave you with a few pictures of my first Christmas in my new home.

Tin Man from Wizard of Oz

Peanut Stone Fireplace

Monday, December 27, 2010


I thought I parked my car in the driveway???

YIKES! Speak about being SNOWED IN... I really am. We got hit with a blizzard yesterday and it didn't stop until all of the doors and windows were covered half way.

It started innocently enough around 10:00am on the 26th. A few snow flakes fluttered to the ground. I went outside and took a detailed look at my driveway. A friend and neighbor has a snow blower and said I should note where things are and to pick up any rocks so he wouldn't break a window when he came to blow the snow away. 

Later that day I walked a few houses down the block to spend the day with a friend cooking... our Sunday tradition. Black Bean Salsa Soup and Hungarian Goulash were the items to make this week. We cooked all day... and watched football... as the snow kept falling and the wind kept blowing. Silly me was waiting for the weather to calm down a bit before heading home. By 10:00pm I realized it was 'now or never'... so I bundled up, slapped on some chap stick, pulled on my boots and gloves and headed in to the storm. The only part of me assaulted by the elements was my nose.

Going down the walkway wasn't too difficult as he had shoveled the walk twice that day. However, once I hit the snow drifts on the side by the street, I was in snow up to my knees. Half way home a huge gust of wind knocked me down. I couldn't get up! I was laughing so hard. Every time I put a hand on the ground to help push me up, it went right through the snow, straight down in to nothingness. Here I was, outside in a blizzard, in the dark, all by myself, rolling around in the snow laughing my head off. I finally got under control and used my downhill skiing skills and got to my feet. At this point I am totally covered head to toe in snow.

I continue to stomp my way home. What a workout!!! I'm lifting my legs so high to clear the snow... I feel like a marching soldier. Finally I get to my house and turn in to the driveway. I have to go in the back door because the front has a deadbolt with no key. So around I go. Uh oh!! The snow drift between the car and the house is deeper than my waist. Now what??? Well... I've come this far... I'm not stopping now. I grab on to the car door handle and pull myself through the drift. 

AAAAACCCCKKKKK!!!! The back door is WIDE OPEN and the kitchen is filled with SNOW!!! O!M!G! Where's the dog??? No one has been home since 2pm... it is now 10:30. The door has been open all day by the looks of it. 

"Darla, where are you?" "Where are you sweetie pie?"

I stomp through the snow in the kitchen and race up the stairs, "No, not in Lauren's room." 
"There you are!" Darla is all cozy and comfy wrapped in my comforter in the middle of my bed. Her sleepy eyes look up at me wondering what is wrong.

I go back downstairs and when I look at the kitchen again I begin to giggle. It is so out of context to see 6 inches of snow on the floor... then I begin to laugh again. My phone rings... it's Lauren wanting me to come help her. She is one block from home and can't get any further. She asks me to come help push her car to the side of the road so she can leave it there and walk the rest of the way home. Instead... a kindly neighbor is there and offers his help. I unlock the front door (so she doesn't have to wade through the waist high drift) and wait for her to come around the corner. 

Heeeee!  Heeee! Ha! Ha! Ha! Lauren is covered in snow and her bar makeup has gotten wet and is dripping down her face. Hysterical!!! She looks like she is melting!!!

I clean the snow out of the kitchen. Realizing I have a problem with the backdoor lock... I use my Kitchen Aid mixer as a door stop to keep the door shut. We both change out of our sopping wet clothes and hang them to dry. 

My bed is snugly warm thanks to Darla. It's been a wild adventure this evening... and I'm exhausted. ZZZZZZzzzzzz.....

This morning I woke up to find my bedroom window blocked with snow. I'm on the second floor for heaven's sake!!! The wind blew the snow up between the houses and I guess my screen caught the flakes. The three windows at the front of my room are clear. I jump out of bed and take a look. WOW!!!! You can no longer see the street. The snow glistens from my front door straight to the lake.

Icicles drip from the gutters, all the animals are quiet. Until the plows come through no one can shovel their driveways. Lauren and I call out of work... even though a State of Emergency has been called. Whoopie!!! A snow day!!! I love snow days!!!!

Well, it's almost 8:30pm... and the plows haven't been through yet. I wonder if we will be snowed in for another day???? It wouldn't bother me if we were. I enjoy the peaceful quiet... and an excuse provided by Mother Nature to not have to go out.

I wish you all a peaceful New Year filled with laughter and joy.
Mother Nature's Winter Jewelry


Happy Holidays!!!

Stephanie showed me a picture of a yellow ribbon wreath she fell in love with. I bought a bunch of ribbon and a wire wreath form then 'went at it'. After a few false starts I figured it out and came up with this fluffy Christmas wreath. I can't wait to make it in tons of fun colors for all different occasions. Can't you just see it in pastels for a baby shower? White and Silver for a wedding or anniversary? School colors for a graduation? The combinations are ENDLESS!! Keep an eye on my ETSY store for them. In a few weeks I'll post a tutorial to make them your self.

Christmas has come and gone. It was fun, busy, crazy and fantastic.  Actually... The Hathaway/Hunter Christmas was held on Christmas Eve to free up the 25th for visiting other relatives and friends. In a way that makes it harder on me... having a retail store means I'm busy with the last minute frantic shoppers. However, on the other hand it make the 25th easier and stress free.

I forgot to take a picture of the dinner... Macaroni and Cheese with Lobster. Again I used an Ina Garten recipe and was not disappointed. Creamy goodness with chunks of lobster... YUM!
Oh... that reminds me.... I MUST tell you about my shopping troubles the day before!!!

I stopped in Trader Joe's to pick up some delicious pfeffernuse (German spice cookies) that are just to die for! I purchased a few other items including 2 bottles of wine. Next stop was Costco to buy the lobster... and a few other items (how can anyone go to Costco and NOT pick up a few more things?). Last stop for the night was Wegman's to finish the food shopping. My tired, aching feet were happy to be home... at 10:30pm.

As I emptied the car... in the freezing cold wind... I was wondering where all of this stuff was going to fit in my teeny, tiny kitchen with a minuscule refrigerator.  The cookies went on top of the fridge... the macaroni could stay on the counter, cheese in the cheese drawer, wine should be chilled... hmmmm... I could have sworn I purchased two bottles of wine, not one. Oh well... and the lobster should go in the fridge too... the lobster.... where in the heck is the lobster??? Ugh! I must have left it in the car. I trudge back out and take a look. Hmmm... it's too dark, I can't really see in the back seat. I go back and get a flashlight. Hmmm... no lobster, no where. I can't even smell it. Uh-Oh! Where is the lobster???? Ack!!!! I just spent $30 on lobster and I can't find it!!! Where could it possibly have gone????

It was too late in the evening to call the store. I would have to wait 'til morning. I checked my receipt just to make sure I paid for it. Yes... I did. Then I decided to check the other receipt to see how many bottles of wine I purchased. Yup... just as I thought... two bottles. What's going on?

Just as I was falling in to that peaceful slumber mode my eyes flicked open. I know where the lobster is!!! Still in the cart at Costco!!! For some strange reason I remember seeing a bunch of wadded up plastic bags in my cart. I even commented to myself about it. It wasn't wadded up plastic bags at all... it was my $30 worth of lobster!!! AAAAHHHHHH!

Early next morning I drove back to Costco to check the carts. Darn... they bring all of the carts in overnight so no one steals them. I won't bore you with the few hours I spent on the phone with a couple of rude Costco employees... but I stopped by Costco on my way home from work to ask 'face-to-face' if my lobster showed up at all. The answer was No, but the customer service person looked up my account, saw that I really did purchase lobster the night before, and replaced the missing product. Costco really didn't have to do that, but I am very happy they did otherwise I was going to serve plain ol' mac and cheese on Christmas Eve. Somewhere here in town some family is dining on my lobster this holiday season. I hope they enjoyed it.

And the wine??? Trader Joe's had the bottle up at the customer service desk waiting for the owner (me) to claim it. The cashier forgot to put it in my bag... and I didn't notice.

All's well that ends well. A great time was had by all... and the dinner was DELICIOUS!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Thank heavens I have an hour drive home from the store. That is my 'decompression' time. My mind wanders to the events of the day and tries to put it all in perspective. It's a time to slow down and reflect on what actually transpired that day. Who said what... why they said it... what promises did I make to customers that I need to act on... what change do I need to get at the bank the next morning for the registers... does the Post Office have enough stamps to start the day... what time do I have to get up in the morning and what is the first thing I have to do at work the next day. On and on it goes. Sometimes an hour just isn't enough.

Welcome to the wonderful world of retail... during the holiday season. Chicklet Books is closing at the end of the month so we have the added stress of selling all of the fixtures and figuring out what to do with the left over inventory... all while keeping the store fresh looking... answering 100 questions... listening to customer's laments at us going... and keeping that gracious smile on our face. Not to mention that I just closed on my new house this week... which is also a major life stressor.

My store is a mess... my house is a wreck... I only have ONE Christmas decoration up... I'm going crazy. So what else is new?? Take a breath, I remind myself... keep smiling... don't let them see you sweat.

Finally I'm home. My bladder is screaming to be emptied of it's coffee and Coke, my mouth is yearning for the fresh minty taste of toothpaste, but my tired bones win the battle as I flop on the air mattress which has been my bed for the past 6 months. It is 8:02pm... I am dead to the world by 8:04... fully clothed.

Sometimes I cry all the way home. Sometimes I am just so dazed I can't even think. Sometimes I replay conversations in my head and wish I could have answered in a different way. To the customer that wanted a bulk discount for 28 books...and slyly mentioned that she would purchase a whole lot more if I charged her .50 a book... I should have screamed, "Are you 'f''-ing nuts? The books are already marked down to a dollar! Do you understand that I'm already losing money on your purchase? Do you understand that I could have... and SHOULD have returned the book to the publisher for a credit? But nooooooo.... I decided to be nice and give you all a bargain instead... and you want to only pay .50??? You un-greatful bitch." Instead I put a smile on my face and repeat my stock reply for this very question, "Sorry... no further discounts, unless perhaps you want to purchase a tractor trailer full?" She purchased all 28 :-)

To the man that waddled up to the counter, arms so loaded with all the top selling children's books that I could barely see his face and commented, "Now we'll see if you are really selling all of these books for $2 each."... I so desperately wanted to say... "Yeah you stupid moron, this sale has been going on for 2 weeks now and YOU were the ONLY one smart enough to choose all of the top sellers at a bargain price". Instead I pasted that never ending smile on my face and replied, "Perhaps you didn't understand the signs... the $1 and $2 books are on the BARGAIN WALL (as I pointed to the opposite side of the store where the signs CLEARLY mark the wall). The books you chose are discounted 30%". He huffed and puffed and left all of the books on the counter and stomped away... for me to put back on the shelves.

To the woman who watched as I added books to the BARGAIN WALL and asked, "If all the books are sold, why are you adding more?" I looked at her puzzled. She pointed to the small 'sold' sticker on the very tippy top of the bookcase... I wanted to say,'Look around you lady... we are going out of business. Did you miss all of the neon orange signs? All of the fixtures are for sale... this one is sold, but we need some way to display all of the books 'til the end of the month and instead of just throwing them on the floor for a 'free for all' we thought it best to just mark this bookcase sold and continue to use it". Instead... you guessed it... I smiled and replied, "That sticker means the BOOKCASE is sold... you may still purchase the books"... as everyone around is grabbing books to buy.

"Could you please suggest a book for my 10 year old niece off the Bargain Wall?" "Is there an Art Section... this wall is a mess I can't find anything." "Why did you mark all the books with a black marker on the bottom... now I can't give it as a gift". "Do you have 25 copies of this title?" "I was in earlier today and I bought this book off the Bargain Wall... it has a bent corner... can you find me another?" "Where are you moving to?" "What about the Post Office... we just can't live without the Post Office!" "Listen up folks! It's called a BARGAIN WALL for a reason. For $1 a book you don't get a fully qualified staff member to help you. We don't have nice orderly sections... It started out all in order, I can't control where everyone else moves the books to... besides, it's a WALL!  Search... enjoy the excitement of it all..." I wanted to say. Instead... yup... I smiled and answered their questions politely.

Happy Holidays everyone!!!

Friday, December 10, 2010


There are Keys to success, map keys, Francis Scott Key, Key West, and the key to my heart (which apparently got lost)... but I have recently learned that the most important key of all is the key to the house!!!

I see so many people with huge key rings. They jingle and jangle as they sway from side to side.  The person with so many keys is a trusted soul. Think about it... would you give your house key to someone you didn't trust??? I'm trustworthy... just not organized. I got locked out of my house AGAIN the other night. This is the 3rd time in only 6 weeks.

Let me explain... for 25 years I lived in a house where we NEVER locked the door. There was no need to. It's not that the area I lived in didn't have crime... in fact there was plenty of crime in Hillsborough. Between stealing for drug money and local gangs living in the area there was good reason to be cautious... however no one knew our little street was there, plus the only way out was the same way the police would come in. A sweet safe haven.

The last 2 years in that house we DID have a lock... but only because Chase (Scott's smarty pants dog) figured out how to open the door and escape. The lock was only installed to keep Chase in, not to keep potential intruders out. In my son-in-law's infinite wisdom... knowing I can't be trusted to keep track of a key... he installed a keyless entry. Heaven on Earth! We all had our own 4 digit code that could be changed at will if someone you didn't want in the house knew it. Yes... that was me... I gave the code to someone and then had to block them... another story for another time.

Now... in the new house I have a key. I gave a neighbor/friend a copy in case I got locked out (or should I say for WHEN I got locked out?). The second time I called him to get the key he mentioned that I was lucky he was on his way home. He asked if I had given any thought to what would happen if he wasn't in the area?

Well... that got me thinking. He's right. I should plant the key somewhere on the property so I can get to it anytime I need. So I held on to his copy and slipped it in to my purse.

The other night when leaving the store I took a personal inventory before I closed and locked up for the night. Car key... check, computer... check, cell phone... check. OK... ready to go. Hop in to the car, start it up, put it in drive, SHIT! Purse... NOT CHECKED!!! It's locked in the store... with the store key, my house key, AND the copy. UGH!!! Now what???

Lauren has a key, but she works until 2am. I considered all of my options. I guess I could break the window and then pay to fix it the next day. I could spend the night with my high school friend, but the dog needed to be walked. Hmmm... so I guess I'm eating dinner at Applebee's to have Lauren wait on me and then ask nicely for the key... or I won't tip her. Ah... that sounds like a winner :-)

What is the lesson I learned from all of this???? Keep my house key on the ring with the car key... and purchase a keyless entry lock as soon as I can afford one.