Sunday, January 14, 2018

Those Twins!

I grew up with twin sisters. They were two years younger than me. Hate is a rather strong word. But my feeling for them growing up came close!

Today is their birthday. I love them so much! I've come a long way since childhood! Janice and Jennifer---here's to you!!
I can still tell them apart: Jennifer and Janice. Mom said that when they were babies, she had to put an extra diaper pin on one of them to remind herself which one she held while feeding the last time. She had to prop the baby and hold the bottle while she cradled and fed the other.
Jennifer and Janice. I was only two when they came along. I don't really remember anything about them.
Jennifer and Janice.
 Jennifer and Janice---they really look like mirror images here.
 Jennifer and Janice. I guess mom always put Jennifer on the left for formal photos. This is how they still look at each other!
Janice and Jennifer
 Jennifer and Janice (this was Easter--we all got new Easter dresses including hat and purse. We also got a new dress at Christmas, but I don't recall get hats or purses then.)
Janice and Jennifer. This picture was taken in our front yard. You can see that we lived in the "country" of St. Louis. The road in front of our house was paved, but the side street and driveway were gravel.

We loved that no one outside the family could tell them apart. If they didn't know who was who, they just called them "twin."  Janice and Jennifer dressed alike all the time when they were little. I'm not sure when that ended, but they definitely dressed alike through most of grade school. They would still look identical if they wore their hair (and hair color) the same. They don't. 

Happy 64th you two!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Showtunes Saturday

I haven't done a showtunes post in ages. This week, Connie, Nancy and I saw Jersey Boys for the 3 maybe 4th time. I still love it. Who doesn't? Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons just for you:

Friday, January 12, 2018

Birthday Presents

American Eagle---15% off my entire purchase (haven't shopped here in years--it's where I took the girls)
Bonefish Grill---free Bang Bang Shrimp (yum!)
Christopher & Banks---15% off entire purchase (don't need any clothes)
Godiva Chocolates---a free chocolate (don't need it but might get it if I'm at the mall--unlikely)
Honey Baked Ham---the email said have lunch on them for my birthday, but in actuality, I have to buy one lunch to get one free! (not doing it---well, maybe I might)
Lipsense---10% off and free shipping (I'll be placing an order)
Macy's---free shipping on any purchase.
Panera Bread---free bagel every day this month (this might not be related to my birthday, but I'm claiming it!) Then I also got a free birthday pastry. I'm definitely getting these.
Pillsbury Dough Boy---(yes, that's right) 9 birthday treats recipes I can make for myself (I don't think so)
Red Lobster---free Tasting Plate (whatever that is)
Regal Cinema---free small popcorn (which I'll be using today as I see The Commuter)$5.00 off my next order (certainly don't need any scrapbooking supplies---plus this wouldn't even cover the shipping!)
Starbucks---free food or drink (they only give you two days to get it before it expires)
Sun Glass Hut---$50.00 off a $200.00 purchase (this is actually a good deal if you need sunglasses---which I don't)
Vera Bradley--25% off my entire purchase (don't need anything from VB)

Texts: 23
Emails: 9
Cards: 5
Calls: 3
Instagram posts: 1
Facebook well wishes: Oh my gosh---I can't even begin to count!
Messenger: 4 (I don't really understand this. It's just like a text, so I don't get the difference)
Well wishes at bridge: 8

Gifts: 7 (including those 2 inheritance checks from mom!) and 4 more on the way!
Gift to myself: not making my bed today (actually, I was running a little late due to a long phone call from Sandy)! Yeah, that's my story.
Gift I'm buying myself: That air fryer like I gave Justin for Christmas.
Gift I would love to buy for myself if I could fit in to it:
This adorable Kate Spade dress with little pink Chevy convertibles. It's hard to see, but it has "off we go" written here and there.
Of course I would have to have the matching purse too! OMGosh! I wouldn't care what it cost!! I love Kate Spade! (Trivia: did you know that Kate Spade is the sister-in-law of David Spade? She's married to his older brother.)

So, after I got ready and didn't make my bed, I went to Panera and got my free bagel and birthday pastry. I got the cranberry orange muffin. It was AMAZING!! I have never had a muffin there before and I cannot describe the flavor--okay, I guess it was orange and cranberry! It was just delicious. I also went by Starbucks and got the "snickerdoodle hot chocolate."
OMGosh! It was so good. I only drank half because with each sip, I kept thinking that it had to be a kazillion calories since it was so creamy and good! Plus, if I'm honest, it wasn't tea. When it comes to hot drinks, tea is my first choice. Since it was a free drink, I wanted to try something more expensive! It seemed less like a drink and more like a dessert. After the muffin, I just wasn't hungry.

I played bridge---but it wasn't a good day at the bridge table. We came in about 7th or 8th of 13 teams.

When I got home, I pulled in to the driveway to see Sara (my garden girl) and her son, hauling our gigantic, 125 lb. nutcracker around to the garage. She said that she didn't want me to have to help Butch with it. Then she wished me a happy birthday. Social media!

After a little reading (having a tough time with our book club book--A Gentleman from Moscow--highly rated, but most of us are struggling) and a brief nap, Butch and I went to Home Depot to look at side-by-side refrigerators. He made reservations at the Bonefish Grill. We used our coupon for the Bang Bang Shrimp. I got the sangria as I always do. It's homemade and the best I've ever had anywhere! I ordered the lobster stuffed shrimp with spinach and au gratin potatoes (brought most of that home---too full). We shared the key lime pie for dessert. I'm not a huge key lime pie lover, but I do love theirs. It has a pecan crust. Butch loves key lime pie and even agrees that this is the best ever---anywhere!

Back home, in to my jammies and chilling in front of the tv! It was a  pretty perfect birthday!

Thanks to all for the well wishes! It was a great day!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

It's My Birthday! It's My Birthday!

I started to think about my past birthdays. I don't remember many of them. The earliest one I recall---and probably only because of the pictures---I think I was about 6 or 7. I was sick. We were all around the table and I was in my pajamas. I didn't blow out candles that time. Still, I had a birthday cake. (Side note: 6 of us had birthdays in January and February. We loved having so many birthday cakes!)

Next would be this one:
I'm 8 here. I had my first birthday party with school friends. I got this really cool Mickey Mouse pencil box---you know the one with the snaps and a drawer that contained colored pencils, little ruler, pencil sharpener, scissors and little flag stamps? It looked something like this.
Well, I loved that little pencil box. I think I actually had it for about 5 minutes. My brother, Ronnie liked it too. He blackmailed me. He said if I didn't give him the pencil box, he was going to tell dad all the stuff he had on me. I gave him the box. When my dad asked about it, I told him that I didn't want it and gave it to Ronnie! I'll have to ask him if he remembers that!
Next would be when I was 17. (I'm not 17 here, but it's a good picture of Ronnie and I). He threw me a surprise party. Here's the thing. He told everyone that I liked the Mamas and the Papas. I didn't. I got him back later in the month on his birthday. I told our friends that he liked the Temptations.
He didn't. We traded and all was well.

I remember my 21st birthday because I wanted to go dancing and all the places you had to be 21. I ended up getting mad because it was my birthday and we ended up bar hopping! I never really liked the bar scene.
I'm a little older here, but the next birthday I remember was my 31st. Who gets a surprise party for their 31st birthday? I saw Yentl with my, then, best friend, Caryn. When we got home, I was really surprised! Butch planned it and made all the food. But then he served it in Tupperware rather than my good bowls. Still, it was a great party. Sandy and Stephanie helped him.
These little cuties played a key roll on my 35th birthday. They are 3 here. I was babysitting Mindy's friend, Leigh. They were playing with our cat---Astro. Apparently they were fighting over her---tugging and pulling on her. She got away and let's just say, she had an accident all over the kitchen! As I was on my knees cleaning and retching due to the stench, I was crying, feeling sorry for myself, "I can't believe I'm cleaning up s**t on my birthday!" That was definitely memorable!
And then there was my surprise 40th birthday party that Connie threw for me. All of our friends were there and we played games all night!

I've had plenty of birthday celebrations and many great gifts. But these are the ones that stand out in my mind!

What birthdays do you remember?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A Few Things

This little guy is just starting pre-school. Ever since his brother, Travis, started kindergarten, he's been at loose ends. He asks all day if they can go to the bus stop. Nathan misses him! Now it's his turn.
Word has it that he liked his first day more than he let on!
OMGosh y'all! I got this for Christmas (upon Stephanie's recommendation) and I love it! It's a steam cleaner for your floors---even hardwood. Personally, I don't think my floors have been perfectly clean since 1985---when I used to do them myself on my hands and knees. In my opinion, that's the only way to clean a floor. Unfortunately, hired help doesn't agree! With this, I feel like my floors are really clean. I will say, the pad wasn't too dirty when Butch did it the first time. Still, there's just a level of satisfaction to me to know my floors are really clean!
So, Ive been visiting this Italian store in Cottleville, MO often when I go to St. Louis. Now that Jeanne's moved, it's pretty far away. While visiting Chris (who also just moved---really far out!!!), we found out there was this one about 10 minutes from her house in Wentzville. I brought home provel cheese (only found in St. Louis), Italian bread--like only St. Louis knows how to make it and olive salad. 

Stephanie asked for Legos for Christmas. When I found this one I HAD to get it for her! My girls didn't play with Legos growing up---I think they were for boys back then. Now everyone loves them.
 Turns out, she was very selfish with it and wouldn't let Nicky help!
The girls bought Butch this Patagonia fleece with trout all over it. I sent this picture to them so they could see he likes it!
 OH NO! Can it be true?? I was sure this was a love for the ages!
I had no idea that Episcopals were related to the Catholics! I guess that means the Potters are family! Oh wait, they are! Okay, I had to look it up. Episcopal means bishop. This is the reply card to our new bishop's ordination. Butch will be going without me. I'll be in St. Louis for my brother, Ronnie's 65th birthday.
 We got Justin an air fryer for Christmas. He and Mindy said it's amazing.
 I don't understand it--how does it fry with air? Here's the product description:
Air is the new oil, and now with the Philips Airfryer you can fry more healthfully with up to 75%* less fat. 
With the Philips Airfryer you can fry your favorite foods with a tablespoon of oil or less. The unique and patented starfish design circulates hot air around the entire unit, ensuring all food is cooked evenly. Food comes out crispy on the outside and perfectly tender on the inside.
More importantly, does the food really taste fried? Mindy said this chicken and zucchini did! I'm skeptical. I'll have to taste it for myself. If it does, I'll be getting one for the new kitchen! But I have to admit---66% of 900 reviewers gave it 5 stars! This review alone has sold me!
"I purchased this air fryer because Gordon Ramsay endorses this model. It arrived and at first I was a little intimidated by it then I thought I'll start with potatoes. I used some gold potatoes I had at home for baking and cut them into identical sized French fries, soaked them in water for 30 minutes before air frying, sprayed the basket with cooking spray, placed the soaked potatoes in the air fryer and 22 minutes later had the best French fries of my life!!!"
These were obviously meant for me. Maybe if I use that air fryer these jeans can become a reality!

Monday, January 8, 2018

New Year's

Many of my siblings went up to South Bend for New Year's. They sent me these pictures:
 Ronnie is alway cold. He wears flannel and jeans even in the heat of summer!
Janice was in St. Louis from Texas for a couple of weeks before. South Bend is about 6 hours from St. Louis. It wouldn't be bad, but you have to go through Chicago. There's never a good time for that.
 Jeanne and Joyce.
 Janice, Joyce, Ronnie and Jeanne. Jennifer, Matt and I are missing! Obviously, we didn't go.
 Jim and Scott. Looks like they really "yukked" it up!
Of course there would be lots of poker games. It was frigid---and they had lots of snow!

I'm glad they had such a good time. We don't get together often enough. And it's rare that we're all together at the same time! I love these "guys!"

Year End Reports

Getting my books from the Library
So in a previous post, I mentioned that I read 68 books this year. That is probably the most books I've read in a year since I was a kid. Part of the blame goes to the fact that I was new to the whole library "thing." It's way different than when I was a kid and you went to the bookmobile and checked out 6 or 8 books. Now, I do it all online. The problem is that there is a bit of a learning curve. You can have as many as 15 books "on hold" which basically means you are on the waiting list for them. What ended up happening---before I realized you could "suspend" a hold, is the books were coming in faster than I could read them. That caused me to read MORE! At times I was frantic! Now that I've got it figured out, I won't have that pressure. I can pretty much control the speed of the books coming in easily.

My biggest motivation for using the library this year was to save money. And save money I did! $568.18 worth of books! Plus, now that you buy books electronically, you can't share them (although some older books are shareable---one time). You can share books only with all the people that share your account. In hindsight, we should have set up one account for the whole family. We didn't. Butch and I are on the same account. He's able to read the books that I've purchased for about the last 6 or 8 years now. I'm getting all of mine from the library except the few I have to purchase for book club. I don't always have time to wait for a book club book to come in. I spent $51.37 on book club books. All in all, it was a great year in the savings department. Well, until I received the year end letter from my library asking me for a donation. I felt like I needed to do that since I'm relying on the library. So actually, I guess you need to cut my savings in half after my donation! Still worth it!

You might recall that after I broke my ankle I heard about OsteoStrong. They make some pretty lofty claims about improving bone density.  I decided that I was going to have a bone density test done and then another at the end of a year. The year end report is that my bone density did NOT improve---in fact it's a little worse---but still normal for a woman my age. So here I've "wasted" $105. a month or $1260 for the year. My balance has improved, so that's something. I can't really put a dollar amount to that so I won't.

Movie Pass
Okay, so it hasn't been a year yet, but I'm paid up through December of 2018. I've already seen 14 movies since October and have completely gotten my money's worth for the entire year. I'm already in the black by 3 movies or $30.00.

Vanguard inherited IRA
When my mom died in 2010, my siblings and I inherited her IRA. We could have cashed it out. I decided to keep it. We each have a mandatory distribution every year based on our own age---not my mom's. My brother, Ronnie mentioned that a good time to take the distribution would be on our birthdays---sort of a birthday present from mom. I just got the year end report. Even with taking that withdrawal, the investment has increased by an average of 9.9% per year. My mom was really smart about finances. This one investment is worth way more than what we inherited! I'm so glad I kept it! So that's another plus for the year!

All in all, I'm pretty happy with the amount of money I've managed to save this year. Of course it won't mean "jack" once we start the kitchen renovation!