Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Still Hearing Christmas Music

It's been two days since Christmas ended.  I was looking forward to going to work on Monday with no more Christmas music playing over the intercom.  No such luck, the Christmas music is still playing, although intermittently, as it was before Thanksgiving.  But now that Christmas is over, it makes no sense to still be playing the stuff.  I'll admit I still have my tree and lights up, but I've heard enough Christmas music already.  And I'm not sure when I'll be putting my Christmas stuff away, but likely it will be by then end of this week.  But I cannot stand hearing anymore music as stores are starting to display Valentines stuff. At left is a quick shot of boxed valentines spotted today at Kmart.  And nowhere else I've been the last two days has been playing Christmas music after the fact.  At least I did not hear any as I went through Kmart and later Target and Safeway today.  Discounted Christmas merchandise is still in the stores of course, but that is to be expected.  And my store has inventory next week, so we will be keeping out the Christmas stuff for a while.

I won't be working for the rest of this week, because there will be more more shipments until after inventory, but I'm hoping the Christmas music will be gone entirely by next week.  A lot of the Christmas songs have been stuck in my head, something I didn't expect to be happening during the two days after Christmas. Enough already!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Quiz: The Christmas Sweater Test

You Are Fun During Christmas

You are affectionate yet mischievous. You have a warm, welcoming spirit - but you also like to spice things up.
You think Christmas is a time for cheer. You do your best to lift everyone's spirits.

You are super laid back and peaceful. Not much disturbs you.
You do your best to stay away from holiday drama, and you usually succeed.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Quiz: What Does Your Christmas Say About You?

Your Christmas is Modern

Your wish for the New Year is more happiness.

For you, Christmas is secular holiday. Religion doesn't play a big part in it.

You are a little impatient when it comes to Christmas. You can't wait to open your presents.

You like Christmas traditions, but you're not uptight about them. You do things your way.

You have some preferred ways of celebrating Christmas, but you're open to compromise.

You love Christmas. You enjoy almost every aspect and tradition of the holidays.

You give a big during the holidays but nowhere near as much as you'd like to.

Quiz: The Gingerbread Cookie Test

You Are Kind and Caring

You're the type of person who just naturally appreciates and respects others. You think ill of very few people.
You are naturally open minded and nonjudgmental. You're a good listener, and you end up hearing many secrets.

You reach out to everyone during the holidays, and your acts of kindness and generosity are remembered throughout the year.
You are easily touched this time of year. Even the right holiday card or little gift can move you.

Quiz: What Crappy Christmas Gift Are You?

You Are a Losing Lottery Ticket!

Full of hope and promise.
But in the end, a cheap letdown.

Quiz: What will Be in Your Christmas Stocking?

Your Christmas Stocking Will Be Filled With a Stuffed Animal

Either Santa got your Christmas wish many years late...
Or he secretly thinks you're a bit immature!

12 Days Till Christmas Countdown #12

Well, it's Christmas Eve and I'm just waiting to go to my family's Christmas Eve dinner and present game tonight.  Been home most of the day, Since the stores I usually browse on Saturday are either closed or crowded today.  I made sure to get everything I knew I needed yesterday afternoon so as not to face the crowds at the stores today.  In order to get out of the house for a while I walked across the street to the liquor store to pick up a holiday lottery ticket.  Just like the other day, I did not win, but it was fun. And unlike the other day, I did not even come close to winning anything this time.  But it was still fun to try.

Just want to wish everyone a Happy Christmas Eve and Merry Christmas tomorrow.

Friday, December 23, 2011

12 Days Till Christmas Countdown #11

Well, it's only two days till Christmas,  and what to say today.  Lots of stuff, actually; too hard to stick to just one thing today.

First of all, for those like me whose families celebrate on Christmas Eve,  today is the day to get stuff you need, in order to fight the crowds tomorrow.  But today seemed crowded.  I planned to look at Target today, but the parking lot was packed. Same was true at the Goodwill and Dollar Tree, which are next door to each other and have  two adjacent parking lots.  I didn't even bother with Kmart, but I bet their parking lot was packed as well.  I guess Christmas Eve Eve is the new day for getting last minute stuff, or could it be just for this year, since Christmas Eve is a Saturday this year.  Or it could be others who have diner on Christmas Eve, who don't want to be at Safeway or Target tomorrow.  Tomorrow won;t be like most Saturdays, no glancing at stuff at any of those stores or at the hospital thrift store which will be closed until January 3. It's only open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, and I almost always go to look on Saturdays.

I'd worked later than planned today, and the Mexican food our store manager had ordered for our Christmas potluck had arrived later than my lunch period, so I hung around after checking out for the day to enjoy some of the food.  We also had our Secret Santa gift exchange today.  Because I'd worked later, I did not get to the post office until about 2PM, then headed out to the stores.  Since tomorrow is Saturday, I'd decided ahead of time to make something for Christmas Eve dinner, something I've not had time to do the last few years.  But instead of baking something, I decided to get some fruit punch and 7Up for some holiday punch.  I knew I had to get to Safeway today, and I was just barely able to find a parking space.  I got the stuff and then took it to my mom's house, so I would not have to make two trips tomorrow, and  because her house is just a few roads up from Safeway.  Then I remembered I needed to get paper towels and wasn't sure how much milk I had, so before going home, I went to Savemart, and as always, they weren't crowded like Safeway gets.  I did not want o be one of those unfortunates who runs out of stuff like this on Christmas Eve,  so this trip was necessary. And I did not want to be look like a slacker either who puts off getting this stuff until that day.  So once the trip to Savemart was over, it was finally time to get home.

One thing I'll be glad about when I return to work on Monday is that the Christmas music will be gone until next year.  I don't totally hate it, but hearing Christmas music all day long since the day after Thanksgiving can get tiring, especially hearing three or more different versions of the same song in one day.  And then going into other stores and hearing more of the same.   Well, actually there were some instances where I heard something on a store intercom that wasn't Christmas music.  Sometime last week the Clash's "Rock the Casbah" was playing in the middle of December, at Safeway, of all places. Seemed weird hearing such a song when everyone was probably expecting to hear Christmas music.  And just yesterday I went into McDonald's  for lunch and when I entered the restaurant, some Christmas song was playing.  I don't remember what it was, and don't really care, but I know it was one I'd heard a million times at work.   However, when I sat down to eat my meal, something non-Christmas began playing over the intercom: Christopher Cross's "Never Be the Same."  It sounds like the kind of song that would turn up on an intercom at a store or fast-food restaurant,  but it's the last thing I'd expect to hear this close to Christmas.  And it's been years since I've heard this song.   I didn't seem to hear what was playing on the Safeway intercom today.  And I'm sure I remember hearing Christmas music at Savemart today.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

12 Days Till Christmas Countdown #10

An outside tree covered in lights.

Santa and reindeer on the roof.
Inflatable Snowman with the camera flash off.
Inflatable snowman with flash on.

Last night after dark I went out to see some of my neighbors's Christmas displays.  Unfortunately I did not get to all of the units in the trailer park since there are over 200 of them and since it was a little cold.  And needless to say, they only turn on the lights when it's dark.  So here are the ones I got a chance to shoot before getting too cold and worrying about walking around in the dark.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

12 Days Till Christmas Countdown #9

Today I decided to check out the Christmas lottery scratchers for this year so I walked across the street to the Quik Stop and picked up the ticket seen in the photo.  As you can see, I did not win, just missing getting $100 by one spot.  But you know how these things go.  It's always about taking a chance.   I'd though of getting another ticket at the liquor store a block away from the Quik Stop, but decided against it, at least for today.  If I feel lucky enough in the next days before Christmas, then maybe.

After getting town after work today I went to Safeway to get some cookie dough to make cookies to take to out potluck at work on Friday.   I will be baking them tomorrow once I get home from work.  I'm almost always too busy to do anything like this, but I'm going to find time.  I'm also going to try to make something to take to my family's house on Christmas Eve. Since it's on Saturday this year and I'm off work, I'll have plenty of time then, since I don't want to be looking at or running through stores on Christmas Eve, because we all know what a madhouse they will be then.  I often go to the thrift store run by the town's hospital on Saturdays, but it will be closed for Christmas Eve. I will need to get to the store on Friday afternoon to avoid the madness, and before then, decide what I need to get then.  Present shopping and laundry are all done, so there will be more time for baking and Christmas Eve being on Saturday will make it easier to do.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

12 Days Till Christmas Countdown #6

Not a lot to say today except that it's still one week till Christmas.  I'm trying to determine what I should get at the grocery store this week, and to get to the store before Christmas Eve.  I just know Safeway will be the busiest on Christmas Eve as opposed to the other stores in town.  But since Christmas Eve is on Saturday, I likely will get to the store on Friday, if getting there earlier proves to be a problem.

But just how busy will the stores be during this week?  Just last night, as I was coming out of the parking lot of Safeway, there were many cars on the road coming from Target. And over the the last two days, the parking lots at Kmart and Target were quite full, if not completely packed.  And today there were two long lines at Dollar Tree.  So what can I expect this week?  I'm just glad I'm done getting presents, as I did  not need to get a lot of them.  But I plan to bring something for the potluck at work on Friday and possibly something for the family on Christmas Eve.  With Christmas Eve on Saturday, I will have more time to make something for that night, but will have to find time to make something for work after work one day.  I know I can do that.

And one more week of hearing Christmas music over the work intercom.  Somehow they've skipped playing Elton John's  "Step Into Christmas" one christmas song I actually like.  And they've also skipped over the Eagles' rendition of "Please Come Home For Christmas," never mind the version by Bon Jovi.  And of course numerous versions of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," etc., etc.  I'm always glad when this is over.

And before the year is up I'm planning to see "New Year's Eve."   Presumably before that date.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

12 Days Till Christmas Countdown #5

Christmas ornaments today

holiday pretzel beer.jpgIt used to be that Christmas tree ornaments were simple stuff like green glass balls, colored lights, stars, snowmen, angels and other stuff associated with the holiday.  But now it seems that just about anything is passable for a tree trimming. Why is this?  

Cell phones, for instance.  They are part of everyone's life now, but does that really mean they should be a Christmas ornament?  
We use cell phones everyday, but do they really need to be Christmas ornaments?  Toys, such as bears, and blocks seem all right as ornaments, but cell phones, laptops, cameras, and iPods are just too crazy for adorning a Christmas tree, just because they are the "toys" of today.
holiday burger and fries.jpg
holiday diet coke.jpg

Food ornaments
This website looks at some of the weirdest food ornaments.  Food just seems to bizarre to decorate a tree with.   The pretzel, beer can and chips bag arrangement seems more like a Super Bowl celebration decoration than one for a Christmas tree.  And the author of the website says "Why leave Santa milk and cookies when you can leave him a value meal?" Yeah, and add a Diet Coke while you're at it.   Tacos and pizza slices are also available. 

And other bizarre ornaments have popped up. Today at Target I snapped a few photos of some ornaments.  Pardon the focus, but one time when I was shooting photos inside Target, I was told not taking pictures in the store.  So I had to shoot these quickly before possibly getting caught (I wasn't).  Anyhow, in the photo on the right we see ornaments (on the left side of the pic) shaped like pliers. Seriously?  Pliers.  I also happened to see wrench ornament behind the pliers one (wasn't able to get it in the picture, sorry).  Tools as Christmas decorations?  On the left of the photo is a checkered flag ornament.  Seems appropriate to put alongside the beer can, pretzel and chips bag for a NASCAR celebration.  Maybe this is how sports- and tools-obsessed person decorate their Christmas trees?

Above are more decorations from Target.  Pinks shoes and a purple snail.  I'm not sure just what to say about these.  Neither would ever go on a tree by me.  Just too weird.  At right are pink ballet slipper. Very pretty and elegant, but I'm not sure I'd ever put these on a Christmas tree either.

And one more shot from Target is a snowman ornament .  Snowmen are associated with Christmas, yes, but look carefully and you will see he has a USA hat, like those worn on the Fourth of July.  It's as if two holidays are being mixed here.  This has happened a bit often, such as gingerbread houses for Halloween, and candy
corn for holidays besides Halloween (in color schemes associated with each holiday).  Don't get em wrong, I rather think this ornament is cute, but can we please have one holiday theme at a time? And next to the snowman is a shamrock ornament--is it St. Patrick's day already?

ep4901.jpgElvis may have sung about a "Blue Christmas,"  but is this what he meant?   Sure, Elvis was king of rock music, but in the in 1950s, did please have ornaments with his face on them?   And apparently putting Elvis's face on a Christmas ball wasn't enough because someone went so far as to put Elvis's face on M&M ornaments and a dancing cow one as well.  See pictures on this website. 

Can it get any worse?  Apparently.

"Jersey Shore" characters as Christmas ornaments?  Just totally awful.  And take a look at this link.

I think I've only barely scratched the surface here.   There must be other awful, weird ornaments around.  I think  sticking with the traditional angels, stars and lights is much better and simpler.  Do people have themed trees, for example, one with food ornaments, or one with TV characters, or one with tools or sports?  I have a feeling that this is not true.  So why do we need these bizarre ornaments that have very little if anything, to do with Christmas? Don' get me wrong, they're not all that bad, and some are kind of cute,  but most of them are just too weird for Christmas.

Friday, December 16, 2011

12 Days Till Christmas Countdown #4

 The Worst Gift Ever?

What's the worst Christmas present you've ever received? For me it has to be one I received 10 years ago--a dinky little picture frame for which I had absolutely no use. JUST AWFUL!  This  happened right after I got everyone something from the Dollar Tree, when I began working there that year.  This was on my dad's side.  Long story short:  My uncle's then 9-year  got a gift card from Borders, which was what I wanted. And I overheard one of my paternal aunts saying that she was burning her CDs of Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan, for a 9-year old kid in 2001? She and his then 6-year old boy just a lot of stuff  since they were just kids then.  Luckily my uncle on my mom's side all gave the grandkids on that side $50 dollar checks or I might never have gotten the CD the group Yes put out that year.   A better way of spending a gift card for a bookstore/music retailer rather than wasting it on crap like Brittney Spears CDs, which someone her age was likely to do in 2001. I believe my paternal uncle got this frame as a free sample from the dealership where he'd gotten his then-new car. An example of bad gift giving, per this article:

5. Anything that looks like you got it as a free sample. I’ve gotten these gifts before, and believe me I’ve been able to tell. Oddly enough, when you give someone who hardly ever wears makeup Clinique cover up it’s kind of a clue that you didn’t buy the gift for that person. Oh, hey, is that a complimentary tote you’ve got there on your arm?
I just chucked the frame eventually.  For god sakes, if you get these free samples, don't try to give them as Christmas presents!  If you don't want them, donate them to the frigging Goodwill!  And apparently I'm not the only person who says a picture frame is the worst gift you could ever receive.  

Thankfully, I've never been given a Chia Pet or an "As Seen On TV" gadget.   Although on my mom's side of the family since about 1996 has been doing a present game. All of us have to buy something, up to $20, that anyone can use.  We then place numbers at the dinner table under the plates.  After dinner we play the present game.  We draw numbers and when each person's number comes up, that person picks one of the presents up for grabs.  They can steal a gift from another person.  Each item can be stolen up to three times.   This is a sort of a "white elephant" kind of game.   Among the items that have been bought over the years for the present game there have been bottles of Heinekin and Jagermeister, DVDs,  funny toys, and some "As Seen on TV" gadgets (I bought the George Foreman grill  for the game one year) but so far no Chia Pets, as far as I can recall.   Who knows if someone in the family will ever get one for the game, though? In the end everyone winds up with something, which may or may not be useful to them, but at least it's not something deliberately or directly given to them.  I didn't particularly like the one I ended up with 10 years ago, but it was nothing compared to what happened the following day (my mom's family celebrates on Christmas Eve).  

I now have to get a Secret Santa gift for work. I'm considering a gift card since those are a good idea 
when you don't really know what that person likes.  And I cannot wait to see what I get from this next Friday.  I'm also eager to see what silly gifts the family has for the game.  Maybe a Sponge Bob DVD,  a board game, a barking stuffed dog, who knows? Anything goes, but no one ever, to my knowledge, ever bothered with a boring old picture frame, which come to think of it, is often less than 20 dollars.  And another thing they've managed to avoid is the ever-dreaded fruit cake.  From this link:

4. Fruit cake. Yes, people still give these. And yes, the cliché is still very, very true. No one wants a fruit cake, even if it is homemade, because chances are, it’s not very good. As for a peanut butter cup cheesecake….that’s a dessert I can get behind.
I have never gotten one of these things, and I hope that fact never changes!  I cannot even imagine how upset and angry I will be over seeing something as dreadful and awful as this thing known as fruit cake. Many have asked over the years, "Does anyone really like fruit cake?"  Yeah, really do they?  Does anyone ever eat the stuff? On second thought, I don't want to know the answer to that one.  Give me a gingerbread cookie over fruit cake any Christmas season!  Candy canes, Christmas Funfetti cake, sugar cookies, anything but fruit cake!

What the worst gift could you ever possibly receive? 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

12 Days Till Christmas Countdown #3

With all apologies to this blogger,  I'm still using the fiber-optic Christmas I got in 2001.  It still works even after 10 years and is easy to store in the shed when then the Christmas season is over.   I would love to get a  real one one day, but I see no reason to get rid of this one until and unless it stops working.  In some ways, I miss going to the Christmas tree lot and picking out a tree, but I'm also glad to not have to find a way to get rid of the tree after the holiday.  I'm guessing I could leave it in my green waste bucket on my garbage pickup day?

Above is a video I just now shot of my rotating fiber-optic tree, while I had the 12 o'clock news on.  You can hear the commercials on the TV.   I did this as I was waiting for a job interview later  this afternoon.

Actually, I keep forgetting I got a small tree for Christmas in 2000, the first year I lived in my mobile home.  I got the small, planter-sized tree at a grocery store that year, and saved the small strand of lights and the ornaments that came on the tree.  I've been hanging the ornaments on the fiber-optic, though they're not quite noticeable.  Look carefully in the video to see them.  I also have some green baubles I got at a Goodwill around June of 2004 on the tree as well. 

Decorating a tree is one thing I miss about having a real tree.  But I like my fiber-optic tree and intend to keep it for as long as it shall keep on working.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

12 Days Till Christmas Countdown #2

Here are some videos I shot of Christmas decorations at Kmart.   Since these are motion decorations, I knew that taking still shots just wouldn't do them justice, so I used the video capture on my camera.  I did not get caught nor do I know if this is not allowed at the store (since no one caught me).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

12 Days Till Christmas Countdown #1

Today is now only 12 days till Christmas and Christmas merchandise has been in stores since as early as September.  Does anyone agree that September seems to early for Christmas, especially since it's a month before Halloween?  I'm just dreading in a few weeks when stores start putting up Valentines stuff.  Really, that's two months away (from tomorrow).  Why must this all be so soon?  And I have yet to find out when Easter is next year, even though I've already gotten a calendar for 2012, a leap year and presidential election year.  That's another merchandise-driven holiday.

But let's get back to Christmas.  It's only 12 days away and I plan to blog each day as a sort of mini-countdown to Christmas.  I've been slacking on blogging since this month began by posting Christmas quiz results.   I'm going to try to find Christmas stuff to wrote about as Christmas approaches.

So for Day One, I present this photo I actually shot the night after Thanksgiving at the Save Mart store.  Similar to the Halloween displays seen in this entry from October,  here is a similar display for Christmas made of empty Coca-Cola 12-pack cases.  Diet Coke packs for the snowman, a Fanta Orange pack for the carrot nose, and Coca-Coal packs for the red scarf.  Very clever.  I  went to the store across from my house (where the pumpkin display in October was) to see if they had a Christmas display like this, but they did not.  A Christmas tree made form empty cases is the window at Safeway, though I have not had a chance to take a picture of that one.  It's in the window at Safeway right in front of the checkstands, making it difficult to photograph, anyway.  This one at Save Mart was in front of the frozen-food aisle, making it easier to shoot a picture of it.  I rarely go to Nob Hill, so I have yet to see if they have any such displays.

I loved this display and think it's a great idea, though it must take a lot of empty cases to put it together. I'd say it really decorates the store.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Share Your Holiday

Here is a video I shot last Friday at the annual "Share Your Holiday" drive at KSBW, the NBC station in Salinas, CA.  This is the location in my town, Hollister. I always bring a toy or something to this drive since it will help someone less fortunate this holiday season.  Everyone should do the same for such drives in your neighborhood. Every little thing helps!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Present Wrapping Oracle

You Are Sophisticated

You are a sneaky gift giver. You're good at throwing people off the trail of what you're really giving them.

You are spontaneous and impulsive. You tend to do things quickly, and you're quite impatient.

You are very organized and together. No one would ever accuse you of being a slob.

Your style of dress is whimsical and inspired. You love to play around with different looks.

Quiz: What Color Christmas Lights Are You?

You Are Red Lights

Your holidays are a time of warmth and sharing.
No one epitomizes the spirit of giving as much as you do.

You enjoy all of the tastes, sounds, smells, and sights of the holidays.
You usually have the best decorations, music, and food.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Quiz: What Holiday Drink Are You?

You Are Eggnog

Your holiday personality is indulgent.
The holidays are when you enjoy your favorite treats without abandon.

And while you're a bit greedy for your favorite goodies, you aren't selfish.
You're the type who makes a whole bunch of holiday treats and gives them to everyone you know.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Quiz: The Christmas Snow Globe Test

You Are Complete

You're one of those few people who is the total package. You are very well rounded and balanced.
You aren't prone to extremism. You always choose the middle path, and you try to keep things simple.

You are dependable and responsible. You like to be as ahead in life as possible.
You are loyal to your friends, and you never forget them around the holidays!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Quiz: Are You An iPhone or a Blackberry?

You Are an iPhone

You are one of those early adopter, super geek chic types.
You like a gadget that has a ton of features to fuel your tech obsessions.

You tend to know the inner workings of every toy, phone, and computer you own. You’re always exploring and learning.
You want the most leading edge phone you can find, at almost any cost. You’re usually the first one in line for the latest iPhone!

I must confess I sometimes, but not too heavily, wish for  a smartphone. What, you ask?   Of course, I have a cell phone, but it's just a small one for calling and texting.   But everywhere I look, everyone seems to have a smartphone, an iPhone or Blackberry.  Only one or two people have just a regular cell phone, I've noticed.   Sometimes I get a little envious of this and sometimes I suspect  others will think I'm behind the times without a phone with all those endless apps for this or that.  I don't mind not being able to update my Facebook or Twitter status while away from home, but it might be fun to do so once in a while.  Maybe just one day, though such devices are quite expensive.  And I'm aware that they keep coming out with new versions of the iPhone and the Blackberry, but what if those become the only cell phone options available?

And I still have a desktop computer, no laptop or tablet computer?  Am I the only one?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Black Friday

I must confess to something I felt tempted to do on Thursday night.  Upon learning that some stores, including Target, would be open at midnight, I felt tempted just to drive by Target to see how full the parking lot would get as result of this.  I did not work on Friday morning so I could have stayed up to do such a thing.  Unfortunately, after getting home around 7PM after the movies and dinner, I watched "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,"  and took a nap shortly after that show as over.  I thought if I was going to even drive past the parking lot I would need to rest just a little.  But when I woke up, I was just too tired to even think of getting out so late.  I seriously don't think I missed anything.  I watched the news at 11PM that night  and saw coverage of Black Friday Eve (I guess we can call it that?)  The Outlets in Gilroy were open at 9PM. Kmart in my town was open all day on Thanksgiving.  My place of work, Home Goods (I was off Friday),  opened at 7AM.  Sadly our same store in San Carlos, CA, is in the same strip as Best Buy, meaning they had to open at midnight or whenever their Best Buy opened for Black Friday.  Speaking of Best Buy, there were tents outside the Gilroy, CA branch of the popular electronics store.  I spotted these while at lunch at work on Wednesday, having gone to eat at the Subway near Best Buy.

I just could not handle going to shop so late at night.  Having to be on morning mode for work (though I'm barely a morning person) I easily fall asleep (though not completely) around 7PM, except on nights when I don't work the following day.  Since Friday is normally a  workday for me, my body automatically went into early sleep mode on Thursday night, even though I woke up around 9PM and went back to bed, deciding not to try to see how crowded the Target parking lot would be.

On Friday, I did not get into town till around noon making trips to Safeway to get a cell phone card and to Ace Hardware to get a light bulb for the front porch light, then to lunch at McDonald's.  I then began my laundry which I finished today, then headed off to see "The Muppets."   I left the house about half an hour before the movie began, so  I stooped at Target before going to the cinema.  It was somewhat crowded, but I was able to get  a parking space, get into the bathroom and walk briefly through the store without literally bumping into anyone (no colloquially "bumping into anyone" either). No pushing or shoving occurred. After the movie was over,  I headed over to Kmart and saw only a small crowd of customers.  Again, no pushing or shoving and no bumping  into anyone(in either sense).  I did not buy anything yesterday other than the light bulb and the phone card.

Today I went to these stores again and still have not bought anything, except some food today at Safeway while finishing my laundry.   Tonight I got out my fiber-optic Christmas tree (that I got 10 years ago) and strung my Christmas lights over the kitchen window.  I wanted my decorations up before December 1 (next Thursday) so I decided tonight was the night to do it.  Monday I'll be back at work, so I have to be in bed early tomorrow night.  Today was extremely busy with finishing the  laundry, taking out the recyclables, and getting groceries, so I'm amazed I still had energy to get out the Christmas stuff, but I was determined.  Now I just have to endure four weeks at work dealing with the holiday rush and the all-day stream of Christmas music over the intercom (so far it's only been intermittent Christmas music).  But I will get my shopping done, since I have very little to do.  Just not on a day when everyone is rushing and staying outside overnight.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What I'm Doing for Thanksgiving

Tomorrow some family and I are going to see "Breaking Dawn, Part 1" then going out to dinner.  We did the same last year with the movie "Burlesque."  I also plan to see "The Muppets" before this weekend is over.

As I've said, I don't hate Thanksgiving but it's just not my favorite time of the year.  November has always seemed like that slow, dreary month between the Halloween madness of October and the Christmas frenzy that's supposed to begin in December but which actually begins as early as September.   I have to admit since the loud speaker at wrk has been playing Christmas songs intermittently since the beginning of last week, I pulled some of my Christmas music then as well.  I've already heard many songs  on our loud speaker as well as those at other stores.  And there is still a week left in November.  I'm not planning on decorating until this weekend so I can have my Christmas stuff by December 1.  I have the weekend off so I should be able to accomplish this as well as getting my laundry done.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

How do you sell Thanksgiving?

I've been seeing this cartoon a lot in the last week or so.  It depicts how many seem to skip over the holiday of Thanksgiving which is next Thursday.  Many have noted how Thanksgiving seems overshadowed by Halloween and Christmas in stores.

Every year someone always complains that Thanksgiving gets forgotten by stores, that Christmas gets focused on once Halloween ends.  Actually, Christmas comes to stores even earlier than that, as early as September, before Halloween is even over, before the calendar even switches to October.  Halloween merchandise comes in as early as August, sometimes in July.  The Spirit Store in Gilroy, CA had its banner up the last Friday in July on the empty building it chose to occupy this year, and the store didn't even open till Labor Day weekend in September.  

I must admit I've don't hate Thanksgiving, but that last few times I went to a family gathering  on this holiday, everyone just sat around gabbing and watching football while waiting for the dinner to be ready.  And no one went around saying they're thankful for this or that.  Do very many people take that idea seriously?   Last year, my mom and a friends and I went to a movie and then to dinner at a restaurant and we may just do the same this year.  It's just not my favorite holiday. 

Why so many decorations for Halloween and Christmas but very few for Thanksgiving? It seems so few people decorate for Thanksgiving.  People will go to great lengths to create a fake graveyard on their lawn for Halloween and a Santa's Village on the lawn for Christmas, but how often do you see a re-creation of Plymouth Rock on someone's lawn?   My answer: never, as far as I can recall.  And I rarely see an inflatable turkey, unlike the inflatable pumpkins or Santa Clauses.  And sometimes it's just a few jack-o-lanterns and a Christmas tree, but Thanksgiving has no real comparable decorations.  The famous cornucopia decoration has seemed to disappeared from store shelves.  I'm not into Thanksgiving decor, but I don't bother with Christmas decorating until at least the weekend after Thanksgiving.   My Halloween decorations went up the night of September 30. I always put them up as close to October 1 as possible, and always get them down on November 1.   

When I arrived at work on Monday, the music system that plays over the intercom started playing Christmas music intermittently among the music it normally plays.  After Thanksgiving is over next week, we can expect to hear Christmas music all day long until Christmas is over.  Already it's getting overdone.  And some stores were already playing Christmas music before ours was.   I heard some on the intercom at Kmart about a week or so ago.  And I could not resist listening to samples of the Christmas music CDs at Target on the kiosk.  And some radio stations begin playing all Christmas music sometime in November like this one from San Francisco.  It's been years since I've listened to that station and  I probably never will listen again.  And since Christmas music has turned up at stores, I coud not help listening to my own Christmas music this week, including the "Twisted Christmas" music by Bob Rivers.   

Many have noted that Thanksgiving is not a "sellable" holiday.  Halloween is sellable in that people always buy costumes and candy and even decorations.  And of course Christmas is all about selling presents, trees, and decorations.   Halloween is mostly about the costumes, everyone wanting to be a witch, a clown or a celebrity-du-jour.  Websites selling costumes more than likely make their most sales at Halloween, but a few Santa suits might get bought by people wanting to play Santa for their kids or by those taking seasonal jobs as Santas in malls.  But how many people are going to buy Thanksgiving costumes, unless they're participating in a play at school or in a community theater group? It's like the only stores that really "sell" Thanksgiving are the food stores, since it's more of a food-centered holiday than a decoration-centered one and even less of a costume-centered one.  Thanksgiving-themed candy seems rare, although the Indian Corn variety of Candy Corn comes closest.  And just last week at Safeway, I saw some of those Holiday Shape cookies, for Thanksgiving, with turkey images.  So the holiday isn't totally ignored, but Thanksgiving seems to be mostly about food.

I'm still not certain about trying to make any Christmas decoration to try to sell on Etsy (I made no sells with my papier mache Halloween decorations) and I may not have a lot of time.  If I didn't put them up till December, would anyone buy them? Do I have to have them up before even November, like retail stores do with their Christmas merchandise?  I opened my Etsy shop at the end of August and began listing my Halloween decorations on  the first weekend of September.  Plenty of views, but no sales, and no shop "favoriters" as of yet.  Currently I have no items for sale, but am thinking I will put up some boxes I made last spring of rolled-up pieces of store circulars.  These might make good Christmas presents. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Safeway Gingerbread Cookie Ice Cream

It seems a lot of products come up with some seasonal variant, like holiday-themed M&Ms, Peeps, and even candy corn has ventured into other holidays besides Halloween.  Apparently even ice cream gets into this act as well.  Last night while making a run to Safeway, I felt like having some ice cream so I went into the frozen-foods aisle and looked at what brands and varieties were on hand. I was planning to get one of the standard flavors such as cookies and cream, rocky road or cookie dough (all favorites of mine). However upon seeing the Safeway store brand Gingerbread Cookie ice cream and that it was a limited edition, I decided to give this one a try.  Since it was a limited edition, it won't be around after Christmas season and who knows how many others will be  buying it as the Christmas holiday looms, even though it's still November.

I must say I loved the illustration on the carton, with the gingerbread houses and cookies in the snow.   And I'm sitting here laughing about how the package of Alka Seltzer showed up in the background of this photo, on the counter to the right of my stove top.

So after dinner last night, I spooned out a few scoops of the ice cream into a bowl.  Must say, not too bad.  Something definitely different, as I'd never tried this before and, to the best of my knowledge, had never noticed this variety of ice cream until now. I had some more of the stuff this afternoon as well.

For the record, chunks of gingerbread cookies are in the ice cream which looks rather brown-ish from the cookie chunks.   Sorry for for no illustrations, but didn't get around to taking any pictures of the ice cream in the bowl.

Overall, it's a pretty good flavor.  But it's a seasonal one, so if you're hankering for some of this stuff, get some soon before the Christmas season is over!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November begins

Yes, it's November now and stores are now concentrating on Christmas.  Actually have  been since September, my store included.  But I'm not yet ready to think about Christmas, are you?  I barely got my Halloween decorations down today and will not be decorating for Christmas until at least the first of December, or on the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Speaking of which, I have no idea what my family and I will be doing for that holiday. We haven't done much in the last few years.  Last year, my mom and I and a family friend (who had nothing to do that day) went out to the movies and then out to dinner.  If we do that again, that would be all right with me.

None of my papier mache Halloween decorations I put up in Etsy were sold, so I plan on unlisting them until next year, and re-listing them next year around July or August.  I now want to try making some Christmas stuff to try to sell.  Not sure what I'll make, but the idea of making a papier mache gingerbread house seems like a fun idea.  I could use Sculpey to make the "frosting" and "candies" to decorate the houses.  Or try making bread dough.   Again, not really ready to think about Christmas, but if I want to try to make Christmas stuff to sell, I will need to get on it soon.  I'm still not decided on this yet.

I went into the Spirit store today to see all the Halloween stuff that is now 50% off.  I saw people taking things off the racks and walls, including one girl who grabbed the Katy Perry dress I'd gotten from that store.  I did not buy anything, as I don't want to think about Halloween next year just yet.  Though I know that one year, I want to do a '20s costume (as two people I know from the local bar did this year) and another year I want to do a '50s one. Oddly enough the poodle skirt we had at my store is now discounted to $17, though I did not buy that one either.  None of the costumes seemed to sell before Halloween and all but two were left today.  Again, not yet sure about next year.  A lot can change in one year.  Though I'm certain I may just do one of those ideas next year.

To me, November has always been that dreary period that follows the Halloween madness of October and precedes the holiday madness of December.  Of course we have Thanksgiving, but many people over the years have called it "the forgotten holiday."  Not many people decorate for this holiday like they do for Halloween or Christmas.  I for one,  have seen many inflatable ghost and pumpkins on lawns during Halloween and inflatable Santas and snowmen during Christmas season. But how often do see an inflatable turkey?  I don't dislike Thanksgiving,  but have found it boring just sitting around  gabbing and watching football (I don't watch sports) while waiting to consume turkey and stuffing.  My family and I will likely see the next "Twilight" movie the weekend before Thanksgiving.

And even though it's fall season, the weather in my neck of the woods has been a bit warm.  Last month we had weather in the 70s and 80s, something we didn't seem to have over the summer.

And the next presidential election is a year away, meaning that the election will be a hot topic all next year.

What to do all this month.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Hi, not much left to say.  I was so out of blogging mode on the weekend and a bit busy. I thus missed  few days of the countdown, but there really wasn't much left to say.   I saw "Puss In Boots" in 3D on Sunday.   I waited until today to get candy for the kids who come to my door tonight, so that I would not eat all the candy myself.  After work, I changed into my Katy Parry costume and ran around town.  Not one person seemed to know who I was.  At one point I was mistaken for Lady Gaga.  Here I ma in the photo on the left with the bar tender and a bar regular at a Halloween celebration at local bar last Friday night.   I was thought by some to be a candy princess or candy fairy or something like that!

I felt like getting a lotto ticket today and picked one up at the Quik Stop across the street and won $13.

Once again, participating in the Halloween blog countdown was quite fun and I plan to do so again in 2012.  Here's hoping things will be different next year.   Till then, everyone have a safe holiday tonight.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Three Days Till Halloween

Not much to say today, as the spooky day nears.   Just a few random thoughts of the day.

Tonight's the Halloween karaoke contest at one of my local bars.  I've been going for three years now and can't wait for tonight.

After work I wandered over to the Spirit Store and saw someone looking a the Charlie Sheen accessories. I now wonder how many people will be doing this one, and will I actually see any of them.  I never saw anyone as Michael Jackson or the Oxi Clean guy in 2009, and will I be seeing anyone as Charlie Sheen this year?  How about Angry Birds?  Amy Winehouse?

Today I noticed at Kmart about seven of the Dorothy dresses I got from them last year.  I guess he wasn't too popular this year.  Then again, I seemed to be the only wearing it last year, as far as I could  see.  At least one of the medieval princess dresses I saw the other day was left on the rack near the store entrance.  I still wonder abut those last-minute shoppers.

I still haven't bought any candy for the trick-or-treaters, but will not do so till at least Monday afternoon. I have to keep it away from me as long as possible to avoid eating all of it myself.

That's all for today.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween Funfetti cake

Since we're having a Halloween potluck at work tomorrow, I decided to make one of these cakes after seeing the Pilsbury Halloween Funfetti cake and frosting at Target the other day.  I bought these and began working on the cake when I got home today.  I'd worked longer than expected, but had to make time to make the cake for tomorrow.  

I have a bundt cake pan,  two muffin tins,  two round pans, and pan for making a sheet cake.  Since I'd bought the stuff two days ago, I had two days to decide which kind of cake to make.  I'd thought of making cupcakes, but did not get around to buying any cupcake liners, so before I began making the cake, I chose to use the two round pans and make a two-layer cake. I then followed the baking instructions on the box.

One thing I must admit is that I like making cakes, but only every so often.  I'm no expert, so I only do what I can.  Just carefully reading and following the instructions should keep from messing up the cake.   But whenever I do make a cake or cookies, they turn out fine in the end by following instructions.

After the cakes were done baking, I left them on the stove to cool before frosting them.  Then placed one of them on the base of  the plastic cake-saver and proceeded to frost that half, for the bottom layer of the cake, then placed the other half and frosted the remainder of the cake. Frosting the side of the
cake was somewhat difficult.  I then opened the Funfetti candy bits and  spread them across the top of the cake.  The sides looked bare, so I put on some of the candy corns I got at the store yesterday.  I wasn't sure  how to add the spread the candy bits on the sides without the bits spilling all over.

The cakes cooling after baking.
The bottom layer frosted. 
A distant shot of the cake.
The Candy Corn on the sides
The candy bits on the top of the cake.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Candy Corn Treat

On top of the bag, just before consumption.
This was something we had for sale at work, in the displays near the cash registers.  As the title says,  it's a candy treat, actually one of those treats made from Rice Krispies or similar cereals with marshmallows, made to look like a piece of candy corn.

I took a photo of this before eating it, which was actually about two weeks ago.   I didn't get around to blogging about it till now, since I had some much else to put for the countdown.  But I took the pictures since I knew I was going to mention this eventually.

Before removing the treat from the bag.
The characteristic candy corn tri-color design is made from white and orange frosting, with tiny yellow sprinkles.  I have never really known what those things are called.  I guess there was no yellow frosting. Either that or the person who made it liked the yellow sprinkles.

In the package
Pumpkin treat unwrapped before eating
Also there was this pumpkin treat, also made from Rice Krispies, with orange frosting and orange sprinkles, and green sprinkles for the pumpkin stem.

Needless to say there was a lot of sugar with the frosting on top of the cereal and melted marshmallows that were used to make the treats.   Rice Krispies treats are often just eaten as is, without frosting.  But the frosting was needed in this instance to make the pumpkin and candy corn look like a pumpkin and candy corn.

And while I'm on the subject of pumpkins, I got one at the party I attended last Saturday. It's still sitting in my house, as I have not yet decided what to do with it.  It's been so long since I've carved a pumpkin.  I'm not sure if I'll do that, but I sure don't want an uncarved pumpkin sitting around after Halloween.  I wouldn't know what to do with it then.  So I may just try to carve a simple face.

And speaking of candy corn, I got some of that today at Safeway as their generic brand is on sale this week.   Candy corn is most popular around Halloween, though it's also sold for other holidays. I know I'll be seeing the Christmas version soon, the green, red and white version called "Reindeer Corn."  This coming Sunday is what as known as National Candy Corn Day. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Just six more days till Halloween

Today at Kmart I saw that Halloween stuff is now 50% off. Makes sense.  I also could not help noticing what costumes were leftover. At least seven burgundy medieval princess dresses, and about five Grim Reaper costumes, and about two or three sorceress costumes, among a few other things.  I could not help wondering how many last-minute shoppers are going to want these.  And if they need something at the last minute, these are what their choices are going to be.  It seems these aren't very popular this year.   This sounds like a gag on a  TV show, kind of?   "I'm sorry, but that's all that was left."  Of course, in TV world, it would be something very undesirable, whatever that could be. But if I'd waited till now to find something, I wouldn't have minded the medieval princess, not too sure about the sorceress, and definitely not the Grim Reaper.  Makes me glad I try to decide on something early on so I'm not faced with few choices.

But these were just those on racks near the front entrance of the store.  There are still costumes, capes, makeup, wigs and such in the aisle were the stuff as initially placed when it began coming in.  So there are other choices for those still in need of a costume.  As I passed these aisles to get to the bathroom,  I overheard someone saying, "You should be ketchup and he should be mustard."  I guess all the ads for the mustard and ketchup bottles costumes have the guy as ketchup and the girl as mustard.  Ridiculous.  It's fine to decide to do just the opposite. And on the way back, a woman was showing her child (I could not see if it was a boy or girl) costumes, including an orange clownfish and a duck, saying "You could be a Nemo or a duck..."

Later, at Target, I picked up a CD of Halloween music, that I'd seen the other day.  And the I bought the Halloween Funfetti cake mix and frosting to make for our pot luck on Friday at work.  I've wanted to try this stuff, but barely ever have time to bake, but will have to find time on Thursday after work.   SInce the shipment for today was cancelled, I didn't have to work today and am off gain tomorrow, so I'm getting jump on doing my laundry and will be making a run to Safeway tomorrow, so all this will be done before the weekend.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hottest Celebrity Costumes of 2011?

Here I am as Katy Perry from a  party put on my my county's Democrats last Saturday.  The invite through Facebook said that costumes were optional and I was the only one in costume, except those who performed in the haunted house.

I've never been a celebrity for Halloween before and am now wondering if I will see others disguised as a celebrity.  In 2009, I'd hoped to see  a lot of Michael Jackson and Billy Mays, but not one of either. No Farrah Fawcett either. No Lady Gaga last year.  I must not be in the right places for these costumes.

Charlie Sheen MaskIt is now being said that Charlie Sheen is the top costume for 2011.  I've already seen the Sheen accessories at the Spirit Halloween store.  The one I've been to has the Sheen accessories on an endcap with a life-size cut-out of the actor, referred to as "Sheen's Korner." I first spotted these in September after the store opened and Tweeted this info to my followers on Twitter and one follower declared that he's got his costume for this year.  I'm now wondering how many Charlie Sheen impersonators I will see, but I now suspect I won't be in the right place for these costumes.  But there must be some people going as Sheen as several websites have said the Sheen mask (pictured at right) is sold out.

The above link also says:
In a growing trend toward pop-culture references, top choices for women include Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Snooki (or any member of the gang from the "Jersey Shore" cast). ...
Katy Perry - California Gurl Adult CostumeI now wonder if I'll see another Katy Perry this year.  I actually though of getting the cupcake bra or even attempting to make one myself like this.  I decided it would be too for this one, though, and went
with the candy dress, which I bought at the Spirit store, where I also got the lavender wig.  I added the candy necklace, which I had a hard time finding till I looked at Safeway.  A premade cupcake bra costume is available but only sold on Spirit's website.  The website BuyCostumes.com also has it for
Katy Perry - Whipped Cream Adult Costumesale.  BuyCostumes also has the whipped cream costume from the "California Gurls" video.  What are the chances I'll see one of these or another girl in the candy dress?

Amy Winehouse is also expected to be popular.  It seems every year a recently deceased celebrity inspires costumes for Halloween, but once again I wonder if I will miss seeing anyone was Winehouse the way I missed seeing any Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett or Billy Mays two years ago.  Pictured is an Amy Winehouse costume from Amazon.

The Spirit store devoted an endcap to "Jersey Shore."  Though I've heard all the hype over the show, I've never seen it since I don't have cable and therefore won't know if I see someone as one of the characters. They will probably think I'm weird not to know, but they will have to understand I have no cable.

Who else can you expect to see?