Posts Tagged ‘ordering stuff’

A dilettante’s dither

Last Sunday morning, we had an unhappy surprise:  we discovered we were out of checks. Using up the last of our checks is not a bad thing, considering we moved back in May.  (We only write one, maybe two checks a week, so it took a while to whittle down the last of the old ones.  But somehow I missed the important REORDER NOW reminder when I snagged the last batch.  Oops.

Checks are fast becoming a throwback to the good old days.  Our adult children have checks, but they almost never have to write one.  Everything is swipe-and-go these days.  Except writing one on Sunday morning, and the occasional check to a friend for something-or-other.

But I still like checks – I always have.  At least I like picking out checks. Before it was de rigueur to personalize every. stinkin. thing. you own, your personal checks were one way to express something unique about you.  We have never had plain blue security checks.   I’ve always tried to take into consideration that Mr. Official has to use the checks, too and pick out something that was expressive but not too girly. Pre-internet I would hold onto the glossy Sunday newspaper inserts and pore over them until I found the “right” design for the next order – that was back in the day when I actually had to write a half-dozen checks each month to pay our bills.

The internet has made it simultaneously easier and more difficult to choose a design; there are dozens of places to order from, and they all have a plethora of designs to choose from.

This time, I vacillated between some gender-neutral graphic design, a landscape scene, or just a monogram.  But in my heart I really wanted something more “me.”  Like Twitter-page swirly branches.  Or owls.  Yes….owls.  But Mr. Official is not a lover of swirly branches or graphical owls.

And then I had an epiphany.  We have a joint account, but where is it written we have to have just one kind of check? Move over, “his ‘n hers” checks.  Make room for “his checks.” and “her checks.”

I  can’t believe it took me this long to reach that conclusion but it certainly opened up a whole world of wonderful possibilities. And so I dug around and found these checks:

Referee checks from checksadvantage.com

But after looking at the 2nd and 3rd checks, I knew were really too European and/or Canadian football-looking.

So I chose these instead for him:

Collegiate checks from currentcatalogchecks.com

And for me, I chose these:

challis and roos design from bradfordexchange.com

So no more dithering. The checks are in the mail and hopefully one set or the other will arrive by Saturday!

Happy self-expressions,

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Amazing Amazon

For a long time I’ve said if you can’t buy it at WalMart, you just don’t need it. I’ve been known to purchase paint and pastrami, makeup and motor oil, and who-knows-what-else together on a single trip to Sam Walton’s sprawling emporium.  A friend once joked about getting strange looks when he bought squirrel corn and shotgun pellets at WalMart.  (He should have gotten strange looks because he was buying them together for a reason…but that’s another story.)

In the past few years, Amazon has become like a virtual WalMart.  Appropriately named after the giant river, this once-small online book retailer has become my go-to source for just about anything I need or want and can’t buy locally, and they rush it right to my doorstep.

There’s a reason they call it Amazon…

It’s not just for cars anymore…

In the last year or so I’ve bought cookware and Wenol metal polish to clean my Fiestaware, bedding, drapes, toys and games for Bible classes, a new camera lens…even our new printer/copier and now toner cartridges for it.  It seems anytime I’m looking for an item, all paths lead to Amazon as the place with the best variety and price. And they still sell books, to boot.

I think just about the only things I can’t buy from Amazon are perishable groceries and my violet china.  And my beloved vintage Fiesta dishes.  Pretty amazing how the world of shopping has changed and continues to evolve.

Happy ordering,

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Not literally, although with our quasi-farmlife now, that is always a possibility.

No, this is about a skirmish in my never-ending quest for organization.

In the old house, I had a nice wall-mounted ironing board. Very handy and folded away when not in use. This laundry room is not configured in a way that lends itself to another one of those, so I’m back to a regular ironing board. I went so far as to haul my original one out of the shed, but it is almost 30 years old. The rubber leg covers are dry rotted and it’s rusty. Time for a new one.

So I bought one around the date we started moving in. And as I recently realized, it has sat unused – in its plastic wrap! – for a few weeks now. But I’m sure some day it will get used and in order to keep it neat, I really need (yes, need) one of those organizers that holds both the iron and the ironing board. (I’m sure my iron is on pins and needles, waiting for a new home, else it would have been over here weeks ago.)

I went looking for a wall-mounted holder, specifically one with a metal or silicone plate back so a still-hot iron can be placed in it without scorching the wall while it cools. What I found is that such a creature is nearly impossible to find locally.

I tried. I really tried. I went to four stores (three in one trip just for this object), and came home empty-handed:

WalMart – nope.
Home Depot – nada.
Lowe’s – had one but it was not worth the price.
Target – has one online, but locally, nothing.

True to form, off to Amazon I went. Found this model by Brabantia.  (I have two of their stainless steel trashcans, and love them. Here’s hoping this is as well-designed and sturdy.)

Who knew this would be so difficult to find?

Question:  Why is it so hard to find a selection of ironing board holders these days?

Possible answers:
A. More people using the built-in or over-the-door ironing boards, and don’t need them.
B. When it comes to ironing, more of us are opting for wrinkle releaser whenever possible.
C. More of us just don’t iron at all.


Happy chasing those wild geese,

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Everything old is new again?

Recently, my mother-in-law regaled us with stories about a rolling store, a peddler in a converted bus that traveled through rural areas, bringing staples and what-nots to those living in remote areas.  With a twinkle in her eye she sheepishly bragged that she was a little miserly  with the gum she was able to buy from that rolling store, only giving half a piece to classmates who asked her to share.  Times were tough and money was scarce; I’m sure she didn’t get “gum money” very often, so it was a precious commodity on the playground.

Back when personal transportation was extremely limited, mail order was another way to obtain things you needed or wanted but couldn’t get locally.  My grandparents’ generation treasured the Sears-Roebuck catalogs (and recycled them when rolled toilet paper was a luxury few could indulge in.)

1966: Bet I had this dogeared

As a child, I remember anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Sears Wishbook catalog each fall, poring over it to make a list for Santa.  It mattered little if I got any of the specific items I picked out…it was indeed a book for inspiring wishes and dreams.

With our first home, I fearlessly forayed into gardening.  But I quickly realized the local stores’ selection of plants and seeds was pretty limited.  So I visited the Tulsa Garden Center Library and jotted down addresses to send away for catalogs.  Ever since, I have been rewarded with a steady stream of gardening catalogs in my mailbox. Like the old wish books, they’re filled with photos and tantalizing descriptions that inspire hopes and dreams, especially in the dead of winter.

When we prepared to move into this home, one of the first to-do’s involved removing old carpet and replacing it with hard flooring.  I had researched hard wood vs. laminate, and given our budget and age of kids, I opted for laminate flooring.

The only sources of laminate available were flooring showrooms and big box stores with a limited selection of pricey laminate.  And…I had the Internet.  My husband’s family thought I was crazy, but I happily hopped online and ordered hundreds of square feet of discount flooring, going on nothing more than a description and a website picture.  I’m happy to report that ten years later, the floors have withstood traffic from skidding kids, cats, dogs and daily living, and look great.   If you think that my purchase was crazy, let me introduce you to my better half, who has bought BMWs and a hot tub on eBay!

Ten years later, I still love ordering stuff, and it keeps getting easier.  Boxes with books, plants, dishes, purses, pots and pans show up on my doorstep.  The mail carrier might wonder what I do with all that stuff from Oriental Trading.   (I teach 3rd grade Bible class – do you really need more explanation than that?)  This method of buying is really nothing new; the concept is at least as old as those old mail order catalogs and peddling buses.  It’s just a little easier nowadays to search to the ends of the earth for what your heart desires and have it delivered right to your door.

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Words we love to hear

On this side of “Well done, good and faithful servant,” there are some phrases that are guaranteed to bring joy to our hearts and a smile to our faces.  A few come to mind, arranged in no particular order:

“Happy birthday!”
“Breakfast is ready!”
“Can I have your phone number?”
“You have a new text message.”
“Congratulations, graduate!”
“You’re hired!”
“I’m going to let you off with a warning instead of writing you a ticket.”
“Your table is ready.”
“I love you.”
“I do.”
“Sure we can bump you to first class for this flight.”
“Your loan was approved.”
“It’s a healthy baby [girl] or [boy].”
“Nothing serious – no sign of concussion” (or “no broken bones,” or “it was only a baby tooth.”)
“We’re home!”
“You’re in luck:  it’s the last one in stock and it’s your size.”
“Let’s meet for lunch – my treat!” 
“Can I have your recipe?”
“Happy anniversary!” 

“Your order has shipped.”
If anybody is looking for me today, I’ll be busy washing and putting away my new favorite cooking things and whipping up some cinnamon roll dough for a special breakfast this weekend.

But I do have time for a photo update of the pooches.  Here’s little dog in one of her calmer moments. 

And here’s big dog, sweet as always.

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A few of my favorite things

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Ahhh yes.  Bright copper kettles and brown paper packages…a few of my favorite things, too.

I have been officially in the market for a few new pieces of cookware for a while now.  My current set is almost 15 years old and I’ve had to toss a few pieces along the way. The remaining pieces consist of a large saute pan (it’s held up well to constant use, but the non-stick coating is starting to get scruffy) and a couple of saucepans and stockpot, also starting to show their age.  My favorite stockpot is a hand-me-down stainless number; it has lost one of its handles.  My lone skillet (a gift from younger son a few years ago) is also starting to show signs of wear and tear.  I think it’s time.  And I’m ready to graduate to stainless.

Yesterday, I spotted and began immediately coveting a big All-Clad saute pan at Williams-Sonoma.  (Okay, yes. To be honest, I heart almost everything W-S sells.  Doesn’t everybody?)   Fortunately I had the girl along and she dragged me out of the store before I did anything rash and foolish.

Here’s where my current infatuation with beautiful cookware meets reality:  just how many saute pans and skillets do I really need, and how big do they really need to be?  It’s one thing to lust after a full cadre of skillets and saute pans, but let’s be serious.  I’ve managed to cook for my crew with just 2 or 3 skillets, a handful of saucepans and one big saute pan over the years.  Does it really make sense to expand my ensemble when I’m scaling back the quantity of food I’m serving?  Will my cooking improve if I use these pans?  Quite frankly, that single All-Clad saute pan retails for more than I’ve spent on skillets and saucepans our entire married life.

Practicality took over: I’ve read reviews and compared several high-end cookware lines against each other.  I scoped out eBay and several cooking sites to figure out the going rate for All-Clad, Caphalon, and Cuisinart.   

And…then I marched over to Amazon and placed an order for this Cuisinart 5.5 quart saute pan.  I’ve had a Cuisinart saucepan for a couple years, and it is my favorite saucepan ever.  The Multiclad line got good reviews, even when stacked up against All-Clad.

But then Amazon did what Amazon does best:  it immediately began showing me additional items I “might” like, including a set of Cuisinart Multiclad skillets, saucepans and a new stockpot with steamer insert, plus lids.  All for a very low price – about 60% off list.  (About the same price as one full-price All-Clad from Williams-Sonoma.)  AND free shipping.

Soooo…of course I caved into temptation.  There is more than a little irony here:  I will have the best and biggest set of cookware I have ever possessed, and use it to cook for an ever-dwindling crowd of regular diners.

I can rationalize this purchase in two ways:  one, today is our “when we met” anniversary.  Exactly 28 years ago, I laid my eyes on the cutest boy I had ever seen.  He made my heart go pitter-pat, and my pitter-pat go booga-wooga.  (He still does.)  I figure my well-timed purchase lets him off the hook for a gift – I couldn’t be more delighted with my gift and he didn’t have to worry about what to get me.  I’ll be giddy with excitement (if not surprise) when the UPS guy drops it off next week. 

And since I had a gob of Amazon rewards points, it cost me $6 and change.  I think I’ll be humming “Favorite Things” until my brown paper packages show up next week.

P.S. To a couple of my favorite people in the whole world: I hope the cruise was wonderful and you have a safe trip home! Can’t wait to see the pictures!!!

Seattle:  60 and rainy.  KC 94 and dry.

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The Lodge dutch oven is here!

As I was working at my desk today, I heard the familiar rumble of the UPS truck starting up and pulling away. (I didn’t hear him pull up, but I was pretty engrossed in my work.) I knew what that sound meant, though – a package was here, and sure enough, it was my new Lodge dutch oven, in what can only be described as R E A L L Y (really) G R E E N. I think it’s the most gorgeous piece of cookware I’ve ever seen.

So what to try for her “maiden voyage” into the oven? I know I’m not ready to delve into Coq au Vin or Boeuf Bourguinon, but maybe a humble pork roast or even ribs and sauerkraut…

And of course, there’s always the no-knead bread recipe that needs a dutch oven to bake. This could be a very good week for bread, as cold as it is. Cold and snowy. A front is moving through, dropping a snowfall on us tonight. It was coming down hard enough that I didn’t feel comfortable driving across town to Bible Bowl, so we stayed in and I whipped up a hearty sausage/rice bean dish, along with coleslaw and fresh fruit on the side. After dinner, DD and DH made a dash outside to make a snowman. Of course, he has to wear a UT scarf ;o)

This week’s menu is going to necessitate some reshuffling from last week, since we wound up out on the town Friday night – the Grand Ole Opry was too much fun. Everyone should go at least once – twice if Josh Turner is there. That boy can sing. This week includes another treat: DH made reservations for dinner at The Acorn on Saturday – an early Valentine’s Day dinner. (Yes, I’m totally spoiled.)

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