Holidays are fun.

Holidays are fun.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New YEAR! How about some New Year's Resolutions?



Hello everyone!

So by now it's already 2018 in several parts of world.  Happy New Year!

I don't have a full list of New Year's Resolutions set, but I think we can get a few out of the way, you know, the regular ones everyone makes.

1)  Eat better
2) Exercise more
3) Be nicer to pretty much everyone
4) Spend less money on junk.


Okay, so those are out of the way. Now, here are a few Sarah Specific resolutions I'm going to do my best to keep in the coming year.  And I tried to put together realistic goals, you know, stuff that's might actually happen if I put some effort in.

1)  Give up French Fries.

Yeah...I did it for Lent last year.  Not east.  But let's face it, the art of making a good French Fry is dying and really I'm only in it for the mayonaise or ketchup.  So...let's just give those up for a year.

2)  Increase daily step goal to 12,000.

Just means more marching at 11 PM while watching "The Tudors"...again.

3) Go to the gym more than I did in 2017.

Shouldn't be hard...since I'm pretty sure the number I have to beat is a single digit and we have 365 days for me to get it done.  On a related note, watch for me to really get my workouts going well about December 14.

4)  Drink more water.

This year I'm not going to count the ice I put in all my mixed beverages as water consumption.  I'm also pretty sure I can't count the water I use in coffee...since I also add creamer.  And I'm not giving up dairy.  We all know that's not going to work in my world.

5)  Take all my supplements every day.

2017 proved to my I can't just do a "catch up day" on Thursdays with one big giant, vomit inducing day of vitamins.  Not really getting the best benefit out of that, I think.


So there we go. And I'm kicking the year off with a physical, so watch for more resolutions (or doctor's instructions) to follow

Happy New Year Everyone!  Here's hoping 2018 is better to us all than 2017 was!

Friday, December 29, 2017

My 2017 Stats Prove: It Can ONLY Happen to Sarah!





WARNING!

This blog post deals specifically with a certain feminine issue and reading this post may be offensive, disturbing, or gross to anyone who is not an adult woman.

You know who you are, and you have been warned!



Okay, so I turned 50 this year. Granted, I JUST turned 50, so it's not like I was 50 all year...but still, I turned 50 this year. And with that age comes a certain expectation regarding my female punctuation.

Like, maybe, I'm going to start NOT HAVING IT?

Since my mother has always been pretty open about it, I know that by the time she turned 50 she was all but DONE with the whole punctuation thing.  AND, since I spend every Saturday half the year with my mom at my farmers market booth where she sells her art and I sell my books, I also know that she's very interested in how my biological slowdown is going.

Well, let's review the steps of early menopause, shall we?


Not to be too gross, but yeah...this fits. 

Including the irregular punctuation.

Except...ummm....there's this: 

I've been keeping track of my punctuation for the last two years because my mother, my close friends, my doctors, all seem to be really interested in what's going on with my system.  This past year I've had a number of medical tests done under the heading of "why is Sarah anemic?"  (Personally I think they just wanted a reason to poke at my uterine lining and draw blood endlessly, but that's just because after five months of really invasive testing they found nothing conclusive and wanted to do more invasive testing.)

Anyway, after tracking my punctuation very closely, guess what I realized about 2017?

Yes, yes, my punctuation was a bit different from previous years.

BECAUSE I HAD MORE OF THEM.

For those of you who don't know: typical women have 12 punctuation experiences a year.  One per calendar month.  I've had 12 like a clock since I was 13 with the exception of my two pregnancies.

But I, having turned 50 this year, and waiting for a slowdown...guess what I did?

I HAD 14 of them!

I know I felt like I was constantly punctuating this year, and I know Hubby thought this, although he's such a good guy, he didn't mention it.  But now that I look at my stats (carefully recorded in the notes section of my phone) I realize...yes...indeed...I HAVE BEEN CONSTANTLY PUNCTUATING.

WHAT THE #%@&* is going on here?

Every time I see my mother, she tells me how she was done with everything grammar related by the time she was 50.  

Since she's my only female relative who 1) is still alive and 2) made it to menopause without surgical intervention, I've got no one else I can ask whether or not I'm just some throwback to an ancestor who continued punctuating deep into their senior years.

So, to my mom, I'm some sort of zoo animal science oddity and my punctuations need to be commented on.

And now...now I get to tell her that not only am I not slowing down...I'm ACTUALLY HAVING MORE of them!

I'd like to think my body is just going through some kind of fire sale/clearing house thing and in another six months everything will just go from full ON to full STOP like some sort of magic trick.  

But, knowing how my life goes, I think we can all expect this particular source of annoyance to continue forever.

OH GREAT!




At least...until next month.

Happy new year everyone!  Here's hoping 2018 treats us all well!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Flashback Friday! Happy Holidays!

Good morning and happy holidays my friends!

I'm going to be away from the computer for the next several days, but I thought I'd share this gem from 2015.  Enjoy and hey, be good to each other!  See you in 2018!






Good morning!

So it's Christmas Eve Eve.  It's that weird day before the day before the day many of us have driven ourselves to madness over.  (My college creative writing prof would hate that sentence!)  My presents are wrapped.  My dough for the final round of baked goodies is currently chilling, and my house will smell fantastic in a couple hours.  I have gathering with work folk later this evening and much cleaning to do because people with cat allergies are braving my house.

But mostly today is quiet. I'm off work early...it's pouring rain...and my hands are in screaming pain thanks to the damp weather and the wearing off of the cortisone shot earlier this week.  (There was no wearing off. There was a cliff.  I felt no pain...and then fell off the cliff and now I have PAIN!)  The quiet gives me a little time to reflect on some of the fun I've had this holiday season.  I made a huge effort this year to look outside myself and try to give back, try to be more patient, try to see joy in even the small things. Big change from the endless case of everything rage I had last year, right?

I found myself seeing humor where I used to get angry. I found more energy to do things, instead of hiding on my couch the minute I got home from work.  And you know what?  This is a very, very funny world we live in. I have had a BLAST laughing in stores at over heard conversations and general silliness that last year would have sent me into a rant.  And I'd like to share some of this with you.

"And the benefits of exercise are what, again?"

Most of you know I joined a gym back in September and didn't use it until November. But since I'm out to prove P-Aaron the personal trainer wrong, Hubby and I have been dragging ourselves out of bed early every weekday morning and getting a good sweat going at the gym long before our brains and bodies have a chance to realize what we're doing and figure a way to stop us.  I've run into some interesting characters in the last few weeks, for sure.  But I have noticed that my body is a bit more sore lately, a fact I was sharing with Hubby last night. And here's how this went"

Me:  My lower back/upper butt is sore tonight.

Hubby:  Do stretches.

Me:  I know, I know.

Hubby:  See, you're sore from working out.  So you have to do stretches so you're not as sore.

Me: (Realizing this conversation is about to get silly)  So because I'm exercising now I have to...exercise more?

Hubby: (Perfectly straight face, not realizing we are in silliness now) Yes.

Me:  So exercising means more work for me then.

Hubby:  Yes.

Me:  So why bother with any of it?

Hubby:  So you feel better.

Me:  I feel lousy. I'm in pain.

Hubby:  But you're healthier.

Me:  Being in pain is healthier than not being in pain?

Hubby:  Sure.  It means you're working.

Me:  But before I wasn't working...and I wasn't in pain.

Hubby: Well it's cheaper anyway.

Me:  How? I wasn't paying for a gym before, now I am.  

Hubby:  On your healthcare.  You're healthier so you feel better so you have less healthcare.

Me:  But I feel like crap and you keep telling me to get all the stuff the hurts looked at.

End conversation. I think I won!


Senior citizens spell out new technology.

This conversation was overheard a couple weeks ago at a Blaines Farm and Fleet. I was in the Christmas aisle looking for ornaments when I heard two lovely old ladies discussing Christmas lights.

Old lady 1:  there, you want those.

Old lady 2:  What, those L. E. D. lights?

Old lady 1:  Yes,  But they're called LEEEEEEED lights.

Old lady2:  But it's spelled LED.

Old lady 1:  Right, but they're called LEEEEEEEEED lights. They burn cooler and brighter. LEEED lights.

Old Lady 2:  I'm so glad you're up on this stuff.

And cut to me stuffing Christmas stockings into my mouth to keep from laughing out loud.


How do you say, "Idiot" in Chinese?

Proof that I'm not the only one who runs into trouble at local big box stores, I got this story from the lovely lady at my favorite Chinese take out place. (Spring Garden on Delafield and East Moreland in Waukesha.  I don't know what they put in their Beef Chow Mei Fun, but it's AWESOME!)  Anyway, here's her story.

"I sent my father to Target last year two days before Black Friday. I wanted to find out if there was going to be a big sale on this one TV.  he came back after three hours, and he was very angry.  No one in the store would talk to him. They said they couldn't understand him and they told him to go away.  So I went to Target to ask the same question. My father told me I was wasting my time.  It took me a long time, but I finally got someone to stop and talk to me. I asked him about the deal on the TV.  I had heard there was going to be a big sale on this one TV, but I didn't have a flier.  He told me he didn't know anything about any sales on Black Friday, he only knew about prices today. (two days before) I asked if there was a flier around that he could find for me.  He said no, there were no fliers, there were never fliers with Black Friday prices and if I wanted to know what the sale was going to be on something I would have to come back on Black Friday."

Now, sure, this lady has a pretty heavy Chinese accent. Still, she speaks English correctly and slowly enough that I understood her. But I was cheered by the fact that I'm not the only one who gets ignored and talked down to at stores. I wonder how she does at pharmacies.


And finally, don't leave this up to the children!


Just before Thanksgiving I was in line at Hobby Lobby.  The lines there can be slow sometimes, and in this case I was behind a young mother who apparently was buying ALL of the boxes of ornaments in the store.  Her two young children, a boy and a girl, maybe 5 and 6, were amusing themselves at the rack of candy near the register.

Boy: Mom, can we have this?

Mom: No.

Girl:  Can we have this?

Mom: No

Boy:  How about this?

Mom: No.

At this point the children have built quite the little pile of candy on the floor, all of which mom has said no to.  I should note, the girl has a sucker in her mouth.

Mom:  Put the candy back. We have all kinds of candy at home from Halloween.

Boy:  But can't we have some candy now?"

Mom: When we get home, you can have a piece of Halloween candy.

Girl: So we can have this?  (She holds up a candy bar.)

Mom: NO. You can have a piece of candy from your Halloween candy.

Boy:  Okay, so can I this?  (He holds up a candy bar)

Mom:  (Looking at the children for the first time.) NO. Put that away. You can have candy from your Halloween bags when we get home.

Boy to girl:  So what should we have?

Girl:  I don't know.  

Boy:  I think I want chocolate.

Girl: how about if I pick out your piece and you pick out mine?

Boy:  No.  You'll just pick out a big piece for you and a little one for me.

Girl:  No I won't.

Boy:  Yes you will.

Mom:  I'm almost done here.  (No she's not. She's got like ten more boxes of ornaments.)  Come stand by me.

Boy:  But wait, I want to look at one thing.  (He touches a bag of candy on the display)  Can I have this?

Mom:  I told you ten times, no.  You can have one piece of your Halloween candy when we get home.

Girl: but he wants chocolate.  (But he's pointing to Skittles.)

Boy: Yeah, I want chocolate, like these coins. (He starts poking at a bag of chocolate coins...which are not as securely in the bag as they should be...and which fall to the floor.)

Mom:  PICK THOSE UP!

Boy:  Can we get them?

Girl:  Yes, can we?  I haven't had candy in a long time!  (Her sucker isn't even half gone.)

Mom:  No, pick that up, and come on!  ( She leaves half a dozen boxes on the counter and stomps out of the store.)

Ah yes, the holidays....

So my friends, as you make your way through the next few days, try and find some joy in your holidays...and if you can't, try and find something to laugh at. Because humor is all around us, even this time of the year!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Reposting a fan fave: 5 Holiday movies that get it right!

Good morning!

I haven't posted this top five list of holiday movies that get it right.  (Note, not my favorite holiday movies, just movies that capture the sense and sensibilities of the holiday season.)  So I thought I'd run this by you as you put the final touches on the Christmas weekend.

Enjoy!





Merry Christmas to all!

And if you celebrate something other than Christmas, then happy holidays to you!

Today I'm rerunning one of my favorite (and yours) holiday posts.  Not because I'm too lazy to write a new one, that's coming, but because once the presents are opened, the food is eaten and the carols are sung, what's really left of your Christmas celebration?  I'll tell you what...staring at relatives.  So this post is to help alleviate that uncomfortable time of "well now what?" at your Christmas gathering!  



It's the holiday season, and regardless of what you celebrate, this is the time of year when everyone loses their minds.  Need proof?  Head on over to 1029thehog and listen to Bob and Brianread their listener's holiday horror stories.

Personally, this is the time of year when I really just want to sit in my comfy chair, stair at the Christmas Tree and watch holiday movies.  I'm not going to be allowed to do that because, you know, work holiday parties, family holiday parties, extra church services, social gatherings,  all of that.  And oh yeah, get the novel in some sort of shape so that I have a prayer of getting it out before the end of 2015.  LOL!

You can lose yourself in holiday classics that "It's a Wonderful Life" or "White Christmas"  (My favorite of all time.)  Or maybe you like the funny family fantasies like "Elf" or "The Santa Claus" films. But there's a whole genre of holiday films that look at the other side of this time of year...the darker side of things, and they are hilarious, heartbreaking, and spot on truthful.  These are my top five favorite because I identify so completely with what's going on.

5) Christmas with the Kranks (2004)

Based on a very short, not read enough novel by John Grisham (Skipping Christmas), "Kranks" looks at Christmas from a different point of view:  That of a man who has ceased to understand the point of all the traditions and MONEY shelled out for the holiday when all he really wants to do is spend time with his wife.  But hey, it's the holidays and there is no law in the land stronger than the bind chain of traditions.  Frantic, non stop, hilarious and touching.  Sure, the book is better...but not by much.
  
4)  Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. (1987)

This is a Thanksgiving movie...sort of.  Steve Martin, John Candy team up for the buddy road trip picture gone horribly, horribly wrong.  Written and directed by the late, great John Hughes, this one hits all the marks in hellish American travel.  While the
technology might not hold up...much of the problems could be solved today with a smart phone, the frustrated panic that is a natural by product of holiday travel is spot on and eternal.

3) Home Alone (1990)

I know, I know.  Everyone loves this film.  Yes, well, take away the cute kid battling stupid thieves and what do you still have?  That's right...you still have a horrifying amount of family dysfunction and holiday travel.  Again, written by John Hughes, which means it's going to be awesome, and directed by Chris Columbus, which means it's going to be very pretty, "Home Alone" gets it so right in so many ways when it comes to big families, airports, holiday travel, creepy neighbors, and skeevy Santas.  

2)  National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)

I'm going to argue that this is the best movie in the Vacation collection.  Clark Griswold, determined
to have the PERFECT Christmas?  Both sets of grandparents visiting?  Crazy relatives?  Too many Christmas lights? (As if there is something like that.)  And, of course, the stress of waiting for a work bonus that may, or may not show up.  Any Christmas party that involves chain saws and police is going to be winner.

1)  Home for the Holidays (1995)

I've said it before and I'll say it again, and I'll say it until I die...this is the best holiday movie ever made.  Sure, it's technically a Thanksgiving movie.  But for any of us who have had to go home for the holidays...and live under our parents' roof for
more than ten hours while we're still trying to keep a grip on our own lives as they spin...we know.  We just know.

One movie I wanted to add to the list, but simply can't, thanks to TBS's 24 hour run every Christmas Day..."Christmas Story."  There is so much very, very right about that movie, from the cursing father to the frazzled mother to the younger brother who won't eat...it's a classic, but unfortunately is so omnipresent in the US that to put it on any
list with would seem pointless because we are all going to tune in on Christmas Day and just let it run all day.  We know we are, don't deny it.  
So that's my list of must see movies.  Oh sure, I'll pop in "White Christmas" because it's beautiful and the music is great and I spend days this time of year humming "Sisters."  But when I need to know there are others who feel the way I do when it comes to the insanity of the holidays, these are the films I find hilarious and comforting.


(ALSO, just in case you're looking for more movies, my fellow author, Linda Schmalz, and I have just released our first in a series of movie review books!  


Available in paper back now on Amazon, and coming soon as an e-book!)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

My whole life is a Holiday Horror Story!

Good morning friends!

Many of you know my favorite radio program has been, for the last twenty five years the Bob & Brian Show on 1029 The Hog here in Milwaukee.  My favorite thing they do on the show is read listener letters for various themes, the crowning theme being "Holiday Horror Stories."  

I've submitted stories to them over the years, and yesterday, as they read my entry, I realized I have several instances of holiday horror that I should share with you.  I mean, the holidays are stressful. What's a better cure for stress than laughing at someone else's holiday awfulness?

To that end, I'm giving you, today, my most recent "Holiday Horror Story" and I hope to share more as the week moves closer to Christmas Day. That said, this is a stressful time of year, so if I don't get to it...well...it just didn't happen!

But, as with everything else I write here, this is a true story.

Enjoy!


‘Twas the week before Christmas 1973 and I was six. I wanted to help clean the house.  My father thought it would be fun to put me on the 2x3 square of counter top between the refrigerator and the stove in our galley kitchen and let me dust the top of the fridge.  I loved doing this so much that the next day, Sunday, after church, I wanted to do it again. My mother told me no, since she’d started Sunday dinner.  My mother, however, was never what you’d call an attentive cook, and once she had the pressure cooker and pot of boiling potatoes going on the stove, she went to the living room to play piano.  I used this gap in parental guidance to shimmy onto that tiny patch of counter and again.  I finished the act of dusting with great flourish and stepped back to admire my work.  In doing so I kicked the boiling potatoes off stove and planted my heal squarely on the red hot electric burner. In a vivid slow motion memory, even now I see myself falling off the counter onto the floor before the potatoes did. I curled in a ball as hot spuds rained down on me.
My father carried me to the bathroom where I sat on the counter and soaked my foot in the sink. We had to call our pastor’s wife, who was a nurse, to come and try and peel the melted fragments of nylon/cotton ankle sock embedded in my heel.  The burn was so detailed, you could see the word “general” (as in “General Electric) branded on my skin.
My foot swelled tremendously and I had to wear a furry pink bedroom slipper to school and Christmas events for the next week.   44 years later I still have a pronounced scar on my heel.
It should be noted that my parents never did take me to a doctor for this and my mother still to plays piano while food cooks unattended.  

Monday, December 18, 2017

My Gift to You this Holiday Season.






Hello all!

It's been a wild year and I'm on the verge of releasing my newest Nora Hill novel, "Warning in Waukesha." (Many delays, but it's coming out soon!) 

To celebrate the holidays and the imminent release of "Warning"  I'm doing something I've never done before:  I'm giving everyone a chance to get ALL OF MY BOOKS FOR FREE!

That's right, this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (December 22, 23, 24) ALL OF MY BOOKS (excluding the movie review collections) ARE FREE DOWNLOADS ON AMAZON!

Click here!  I WANT FREE BOOKS!

All Elsie W titles, all Rock Harbor Titles, and all NORA HILL TITLES are FREE for three solid days! 

December 22, 23, 24  Get them all by clicking here:  SERIOUSLY I WANT FREE BOOKS!


My gift to you!  Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The difference between a Meijer employee and a heart attack? Not much.



Good afternoon everyone and Happy Holidays!

When I was little I lived in Michigan, home to a wonderful store called Meijer's Thrifty Acres.  I loved going to that store back in the pre-Walmart-big-box-everything-all-the-time days of shopping.  My parents would take us there to wander acres and acres (So it seemed to me in my seven year old brain) of food, clothing, and house goods.  That store was so wonderful, they even had a play area in the very center of the store where kids could romp while their parents shopped. Of course, my parents never actually let us play in there, but you know, it was nice to walk by and see other kids having fun.

Flash forward more than 40 years and Meijer is spreading out all over, even to the wilderness of Wisconsin!  

I'll admit, as much as I love Woodman's for my groceries, Meijer is way less cramped, it's cleaner, the produce is better, and, while the selection isn't as broad or as funky, I do know if I go there and remember that I need socks or motor oil, I'm going to find it.  

(Unfortunately, there's no play area.)

Anyway around here it's almost Christmas which means the stores have ramped up the volume to way beyond 11.  I, of course, have done about 80% of my holiday shopping online, much like everyone else, but there are some things you just can't buy online.  Like hard liquor.

So a couple Saturdays ago, Hubby and I went to our local Meijer to pick up the week's groceries and a couple really cute candy canes stuffed with tiny bottles of vodka.  (Normally they have candy in them...but this was vodka and it was cute and I was getting it for the adult kids, and DON'T JUDGE ME!)

Our first stop, once inside the magical place that is Meijer, was the meat department.  All I wanted was a small pack of skinless, boneless, chicken thighs.  They sell skinless, boneless breasts all day long, in all sizes of packages and all cuts of chicken breast.  (Tenders?  Whole breast?  Loin?  Nuggets?  Stir fry?)  BUT, what about those of us who don't LIKE white meat? 

Nope, no, you must buy the family pack of chicken thighs. Find room in your freezer for 20 pounds because that's the smallest package you're getting!

I gave up the search, remembering that I probably had some thighs buried in my freezer from the last time I bought them.  Hubby, on the other hand, either didn't realize I had given up or he was so focused on winning the prize for me he didn't notice me wander off to look at bakery items.  (Sooooo yummy...)

Anyway, as I walked away I noticed a short, slight fellow in a white lab coat walking up to hubby. Well, "Up to" isn't quite the right word, since Hubby was face first in a meat cooler and this guy was walking up on Hubby's blind side.

The next thing I heard was Hubby's startled exclamation as Lab Coat Guy turned out to actually be Meat Department Guy, and, while attempting to be helpful, he basically scared Hubby out a year of his life.

That's sort of funny.  No, wait, it's hilarious!  See, normally I'm the one who startles at stuff.  It took me a while to get used to having Peaches back in the house and she's so quiet compared to the guys, that every time she came up the steps or around a corner she startled me.  It's become a joke...in fact, NOW she tries to find ways to scare me in my own house. And the guys laugh and laugh.

So yeah, I laughed a little at the fact that little Lab Coat Meat Guy startled Hubby.

But as as you know, if this is where the story ended, there would not be a blog.

Nope, the last thing on my list was the vodka candy cane.    Now the liquor department at Meijer is a little different. It's not a separate store, like many grocery places have.  It's a separate section, but no doors that close.  You walk through an arch and you're in. The rule is, you can pay for wine and beer anywhere in the store, but spirits must be payed for between the arches of the liquor department.

So I head over the the arch and I'm around two steps from entering the magical kingdom of booze when a short, elfish looking dude jumps out of nowhere and yells "CAN I HELP YOU FIND SOMETHING?"

I'm not exaggerating here.  Hubby was three rows away in another department and he heard the guy yelling and knew he was yelling at me and knew I was FREAKING OUT.

Here's what's really funny.  As I was regaining my wits I noted that in order to leap around a corner as he did, Liquor ELF  had to have pushed a man in a motorized scooter OUT OF THE WAY.  

That's right.  In order to give me a heart attack, Liquor ELF had to displace a disabled shopped.

AND THEN, Liquor ELF followed me up and down the rows of bottles as if I were going to stick something in my purse and run away.  I stopped at the rack of vodka candy canes...and that's when he yelled again (and scared me...again)

"YOU NEED TO PAY FOR THOSE HERE!"

I don't like being stalked when I'm shopping. I don't like being shouted at. I don't like being told the rules that I already know when I haven't even done anything but touch something on a rack.

Oh, and I really don't like going into heart failure twice in five minutes.

So no, I did NOT buy the vodka candy canes. Sorry kids.



Happy New YEAR! How about some New Year's Resolutions?

Hello everyone! So by now it's already 2018 in several parts of world.  Happy New Year! I don't have a full list of New Year...