Whew! We Made It!

Whew! We made it!

While it seems everyone is feeling like they “made it” through 2020, I’m feeling that and breathing a sigh of relief that I made it through the month of December. Sounds crazy, right?

Here’s what you don’t know: both my grandmothers died on December 26…in different years, but still, same day. Eerie, right? And then, my mother fell ill on Christmas Eve three years ago, in 2017, and was taken to the hospital. She lived a few hundred miles away from me, so I made it to her bedside the next day, Christmas Day. She wasn’t in great shape when I got there, but she was awake and communicative. My friend, Angela, brought me Christmas dinner to the hospital from her family’s gathering. I knew Mother was sick, but I didn’t realize just how sick she was till the doctor told me the next day that she was just getting worse. I understood what he was saying. I’d been through this before with my dad.

And then I realized it was December 26. I remember asking the doctor, “Is she likely to die today?” I explained to him that I was asking, because both my grandmothers had died on December 26, and if my mother died on that day, I would be curled up in the fetal position in my closet every year on that day. Call me selfish for thinking that way, but I’m just being honest. If every woman in my family died on the same day, I would be terrified every year as December 26 approached. Did I want to lose my mother? No way! I’d always known I had the best mother in the whole world, and I certainly didn’t want to lose her, but I really didn’t want to lose her that day.

Mother passed on December 30, 2017. She made it past the 26th, so now that day doesn’t scare me quite so much…but now I’m just terrified of the whole month of December. Does that mean I’m superstitious? Generally, I don’t think of myself as a superstitious person, but when I think about some of the silly things I do…maybe I am superstitious.

There are the New Year’s Day superstitions. Yes, every year, I eat black-eyed peas, greens of some kind, and pork of some kind. That comes from my parents. Every year, on New Year’s Day, we were required to eat at least one teeny tiny bite of each of those things. Black-eyed peas for prosperity. Greens are for wealth and health. Pork, from what I understand, is based on the fact that pigs root forward while foraging…by eating it we are embracing the challenges and adventures of the coming year. I’ve now learned I should also eat round cakes, pastries, or cookies…the round shape signifies that the old year has come to a close, and we have a promising new year. I’ve never done that, but I guess I’ll be making some cookies today. There are more superstitions for the new year, but those are mine…and now, of course, I’ve added the cookies. Ugh.

Other superstitions I’ve had in my life? When I’m driving and I drive under a yellow light, I “kiss the roof.” By kissing my fingers and quickly touching the ceiling inside the car, I’m supposed to make it through safely. When I was a kid, if we drove past a cemetery, we would hold our breath. We also didn’t step on cracks in the sidewalk, walk under ladders, or open an umbrella in the house…all bad luck. If a black cat crosses my path, I always say, “Damn that cat.” Supposedly, saying that will do away with the curse the cat put on you by crossing your path. Drive over railroad tracks? Lift your feet so you don’t have bad luck! I also use “knock wood” a lot…when I make a positive statement, I knock wood to avoid tempting fate or jinxing myself. I’ve been known to cross my fingers for luck, but generally speaking, I find that prayer works better. See a penny on the ground? “Find a penny, pick it up. All day long, you’ll have good luck!” Someone around me sneezes? I always say “bless you,” unless it’s a Spanish-speaking friend, to whom I say “Salud!” That’s supposed to keep their soul from escaping with the sneeze. (After a certain age, women aren’t worrying about their souls escaping when they sneeze…they’re worrying about pee escaping their bladders!) And here’s another one: don’t put your handbag on the floor…your money will go down.

So looking at that, I guess I am superstitious, even though I shouldn’t be. I’ve found several Bible verses that warn us against superstition, including 2 Kings 21:6, which says “And he burned his son as an offering and used fortune-telling and omens and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger.”

I guess that means I shouldn’t be worried about the month of December, and I shouldn’t feel the need to eat black-eyed peas, greens, and pork on New Year’s Day. I will try not to worry in December and say lots of prayers asking for help with that. But honestly, I just like black-eyed peas, greens, and pork, so I’ll keep eating those on New Year’s Day and any other chance I get!

This year, when I finally went to the grocery store, they were out of black-eyed peas, so I had to buy a mixture of dried beans/peas for soup. It contains black-eyed peas, so we are covered. I threw in a little spinach, some fatback, and some ham, so we’re covered, but I’m also going to have collard greens. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the ingredients to make cornbread, so we’ll be missing out on that.

All this is my long way of saying, “Welcome, January!” and “Happy New Year!”

Those Target Dresses, Though!

Those Target dresses, though!

Social media is going crazy making fun of some dresses Target is selling. Someone named Lorca Damon posted a photo/meme of dresses on display with the following caption: Target has decided if we’re gonna suffer a pandemic, we might as well look like we just lost the farm after the locusts ate our crops. To get a better understanding, here’s the photo:

Lots of people are making fun of these frocks, but I’m sure there are people who are actually buying them. Yes, some of them are purchasing them to make fun of them, but I’d be willing to bet there are people who are getting them because they really want to wear them in public. They think they’re cute.

And if you were a girl in high school or college in the late 80s, don’t act like you’ve never seen this kind of “fashion” before. Come on. Yes, it’s hideous, but there was a time we actually thought it was cute. Yes, we did…admit it.

I even wore some dresses similar to these…on dates! What in Hell’s bells was I thinking?!? And why were boys asking me out at all when I was dressed like I lived in a place so remote that I didn’t even know television existed? Seriously…nothing says “please don’t kiss me on this date” like a dress that covers every inch of skin except your face! In my defense, I didn’t wear them a lot; I think I had one or two of the dresses that I wore maybe a couple of times, but I wore them!

I’m not kidding. I have a picture of myself wearing one of those Little House on the Prairie dresses at an Alabama football game when I was in college…I think it was 1986…with a date! It was a royal blue flannel dress with a black floral pattern, long sleeves, and a black velvet collar and cuffs. Ugh. On that particular day, I wore it with black pantyhose and black flat shoes. I can’t post the photo here, because I don’t want to make the poor guy look bad for having a date with someone dressed like Laura Ingalls Wilder. Honestly, I think anyone who wore a dress like that in the 80s needs to send notes of apology to all the guys we knew. Laugh if you want, but I wasn’t alone. All the girls were wearing them! And often, we were wearing them with…wait for it…Little House on the Prairie lace-up boots. Here are some pictures of various dresses from that era in the 1980s:

Those dresses above are real dresses from the 1980s. Those hideous dresses were so popular that the brand, Laura Ashley, had whole stores full of them in malls across the United States! And another brand called Gunne Sax too…two brands devoted entirely to making us look like Laura Ingalls. It was a terrible style then, and it’s a terrible style now…unless you never want to get a date…or you’re trying to repel all men. Even my parents made fun of them in the 1980s. Every time I wore one or they saw a photo of me or my friends in one, they made faces. They even suggested then that we looked like we didn’t want dates. And they were right that we looked like we didn’t want dates, but we wanted dates…and we got dates…even dressed like that! Poor guys had to look at us in those dresses and pretend we looked pretty…even when we were wearing boots like these with the dresses:

So yes, I love seeing the memes about the Target dresses. In fact, a woman named Laura Waters did a whole silly photo shoot in one of the dresses and posted the photos on Facebook. You have to see it to believe it…I shared it on the Facebook page for Kelly’s Favorite Things, so you can see it there, or you can see the original post here. And as hard as I have laughed at the dresses, I have to remember that I actually wore dresses like that…and I cringe. Did I mention we wore skirts down to our ankles with those lace-up boots too?

I have to ask myself why styles like this would catch on in modern times in the first place. I saw this coming, though. I noticed in the past year that necklines got higher on blouses. It’s a lot more difficult to find a v-neck dress or top than it used to be…even in spring and summer styles! Maybe the pandemic is making us look for safer fashions?!? I don’t know what the reason is, but it’s terrible.

Let’s just hope this doesn’t catch on as widely like it did in the 80s. I don’t want to see whole stores filled up with dresses Laura Ingalls Wilder would wear. We have to do better than that in 2021.

Early Christmas Mornings

Early Christmas mornings.

I wish I could say I remember when our daughter became aware of Santa Claus and Christmas…maybe when she was two or three? I know her first Christmas, when she was just two months old…she knew nothing. The next year, 2004, she woke up and had fun playing with all the new stuff, but I’m not sure she was really aware of Santa.

In 2005, when she was two, she was catching on. She wanted to visit Santa in SouthPark Mall constantly…so we did. It was something to do with a toddler, and I was always looking for fu n…because she was not a napper.

Once she caught on that Santa came on Christmas Eve, she went to bed excited…just like so many other kids. And she woke up early…like so many others. But when I say she woke up early I mean my head had barely hit the pillow when she called down from upstairs.

The first year it happened, my husband was not happy. He heard her call for me…it was likely around 2:00am…and he groaned, telling me, “Make her go back to sleep till 7:00 or 8:00.” How exactly was I supposed to do that???

It was easier to reason with a grown man than it was to reason with a toddler, so I said to him, “No. If we get up with her now and let her see what Santa brought, she will play for a while and go back to bed…we will get to sleep a little later in the morning. Otherwise, we will be getting up at 5:30 or 6:00 for the day. Get up.” And so we did.

And I was right. She played for an hour (or two), and I took her back to bed and got to sleep a little later than usual. The same thing happened for several years, and every year, I had to remind my husband that it was just easier to go ahead and get up.

Last night, I saw a Publix commercial that was released last year. It features a little girl walking into the kitchen on Christmas morning, asking Grandma if they can wake up the others. Grandma says she has a better idea and sets about making pastries with the little girl. The sentiment is sweet, but when I was a little girl, I’d have thought my grandmother was just torturing me! What kid wants to hang out in the kitchen making pastries when there are gifts from Santa waiting in the living room???

I know everyone won’t agree with me, but when I was a kid, when we got up, we woke up our parents and ran to see what Santa had brought. I don’t think anyone could have stopped us if they had tried! But my parents never tried to stop us. I’m sure they thought the same way I did…”let them play now, and we can get more sleep.”

At around 7:30 or 8:00, Daddy would cook a big breakfast on Christmas mornings, but Mother always made the biscuits…her special recipe. We would hang around, talking about Christmas, and then we would all have a big Christmas lunch before we went outside to play with neighborhood friends in the afternoon…or as we got older, we settled in with the family (and likely a few friends) and watched football.

Our daughter is 17, so she knows the deal about Santa and no longer gets up before the crack of dawn to see what Santa brought. In fact, this year, she picked out most of what he will bring, but Santa tries to have a few surprises for her too. Christmas morning is not as exciting as it was when she was a little girl, but she gets the true meaning of Christmas now.

This year, at Christmas, it’s likely we will sleep in a little before we open gifts. We will have a little birthday cake for breakfast…it has become a tradition at our house. When our daughter was one, she asked Santa for a birthday cake, so we always have birthday cake for breakfast on Christmas Day. And after lunch, our daughter will figure out if any of her friends are available to hang out. My husband and I will likely watch football…any game that is on…just give us football.

Sure, as our daughter gets older, Christmas becomes different, but we enjoy being together. Is it as exciting as it was ten years ago? No, but it is more meaningful.

This year, we won’t get to see my brother and his children during the holidays, because of COVID, but we will make up for it in 2021…surely, the vaccine will make that possible. I haven’t left my house since Thanksgiving, except to pick up food…both my grandmothers died on December 26 (different years, and my mother died on December 30…I don’t need to get COVID and join them this year. The days between Christmas and New Year’s Day make me nervous every year.

So we will celebrate Christmas with our little family. Our daughter will likely spend some time with friends who had the virus a month ago, so I don’t have to worry about her. But no matter what…if she daughter wakes up at 3am and wants to open gifts, you can bet your sweet bippy that’s what we will do.

Let’s Sparkle! (My Favorite Sparkly Gifts 2020)

Let’s sparkle!

What better time than the holidays to find ways to sparkle?! Sparkles make everything seem like a celebration, and the holidays are one big celebration. No, there won’t be holiday parties this year, but that’s OK. Life is a party! We should celebrate every day!

I’m like a kid, because I’ve always like sparkly gifts. At the holidays, I put all my sparkles to good use…even my 10-yr-old sequined Christmas Ugg boots (pictured above). I feel sure I could get a lot for them on eBay, but they’re mine, all mine! And in this depressing pandemic, I’m wearing them daily to make myself smile! I’m also looking for sparkly gifts for friends and family…just to add some extra cheer to the holidays.

Here is what I have found that sparkles in 2020:

Champagne, Prosecco, or any sparkling wine or cider. Come on. Nothing says “celebration” like a sparkling drink. Personally, I prefer Prosecco. Yes, it’s Champagne’s little brother, but it’s lighter, and I never get a headache from Prosecco. My personal favorite is La Marca, which I can purchase in my grocery store for under $30. Even sitting in my garage with a friend during the pandemic feels like a celebration with a glass (or two) of Prosecco! If you’re wondering about giving it as a gift…yes!

Sparkly champagne flutes/wine glasses. If you want to make it a real celebration, drink it from a sparkly flute! Portmeirion offers the beautiful Sara Miller Champagne Flutes, Sara Miller Wine Glasses, and Sara Miller Stemless Wing Glasses at Neiman Marcus. Right now, the champagne flutes are priced under $54 for a set of four! That’s a great price! They’re the perfect sparkly gift for the champagne or prosecco drinker in your life (hint, hint!). Get them from Neiman Marcus here.

Elephant/Bulldog Clutch. If you have a Bama or Georgia fan in your life, this glittery clutch could be the perfect gift. Or maybe you have a friend who just likes elephants or bulldogs? I found these cuties at The Buttercup in Charlotte, and they’re priced right at just $12.99! I’m partial to the elephant clutch, but that’s just me. Purchase at The Buttercup here.

Sparkly shoes. Not gonna lie…I love sparkly shoes. And I’ve found two pairs this year…one for home and one for outside the home…that I have to have. I think they’ll make great gifts. All my friends know I believe a little sparkle can go a long way in changing a mood. When I’m feeling a little down, I can put on some of my sparkly shoes, and they put a smile on my face. They’re fun! And they make other people smile too! The two pairs I found this year are the Ugg Scuffette II Stellar Sequin for home ($99.95), and the Linea Paolo Felicia Wedge Sneaker ($117.95)…both found at Nordstrom. I say the Ugg Scuffettes are for home, but my teenage daughter breaks all the rules and wears hers everywhere (except school). Purchase the Uggs here and the Linea Paolos here.

Metallic Fingerless Mittens. At Neiman Marcus, I found these cute metallic fingerless mittens from Jocelyn. They come in silver and gold with faux fur trim on the back. They are cute and festive…way different than those plain old black knit mittens. Stick these in your coat pockets, and every time you go out, you’ll put them on and feel a little festive! They make great gifts, priced at the sweet spot of $41.25 right now. Purchase at Neiman Marcus here.

Metallic Ombre Scarf. Also from Jocelyn, this fun metallic ombre scarf will keep your friends and family warm and cheerful…all at the same time! This is one of those “one for you, one for me” gifts, because I’ll be purchasing one for a friend and one for me. Get this beauty at Neiman Marcus here.

Sparkly Bag and Bag Strap. I only recently discovered Be Clear Handbags, sellers of clear handbags, some of which have some pretty sparkly adornments. Bag prices start at $58. They certainly stand out in a crowd. And to top it off, they offer some bag straps that I love. Their Bee Fabulous strap, priced at $54 is my favorite. You can attach them to the Be Clear bags or breathe new life into some of your old handbags by adding a fabulous new strap! I love these. Check them all out here.

Bee Fabulous Strap,

Crystal Hair Accessories. What’s more festive than sparkles in your hair? Ettika makes some lovely hair accessories…crystal barrettes and even a crystal headband! You can find a 3-pack of Ettika Crystal Barrettes at Neiman Marcus for $40, or get the gorgeous crystal headband for $80 (I prefer this!). Even without holiday parties this year, everyday life will feel like a party if you wear these! Don’t save them for special occasions! Purchase here.

Ettika Crystal Headband, Nordstrom

Glitter socks. Uniqlo makes some cute glitter socks, and the price is right at $12.90 for a pack of three. You can add a subtle pizzazz to a friend or family member’s wardrobe by gifting these at Christmas. Added bonus? These socks have a deodorizing feature that prevents odor even after you sweat! I have quite a few friends and family who would enjoy these. They’re not particularly exciting, but they have a little sparkle, and they’re very practical. They also make great stocking stuffers! Purchase at Uniqlo here.

Glam candle. I love receiving candles as gifts. I almost always have a candle burning in my kitchen, and I found the Frosted Fire Signature Glam Jar Candle at Swoozie’s, and it comes in three different sizes…with prices starting at $29.95. It smells like winter…smoked cedar, crackling pine, and peppermint…in a silver glitter jar. Your friend or family member’s home will smell like winter and look festive! Get it at Swoozie’s here.

There you have some sparkly selections to brighten the days of your friends and family this holiday season! Can’t we all use a little sparkle in 2020?

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Shop Local for the Holidays

Shop local for the holidays.

The pandemic and shutdowns have done a number on small, locally-owned businesses. Sure, lots of them were able to get some government relief, but 2020 has been a tough year. Don’t get me wrong. It has been tough for the big businesses too, but small ones? For the most part, I think they have been hit harder.

Because of that, I plan to shop local and buy lots of local gift cards for friends and family this holiday season. Sure, there are some specially-requested items I’ll have to get at big box stores, but I’ll buy anything I can from local boutiques and businesses.

I don’t know how things will be by the time Black Friday rolls around this year. We have ten more days till it’s here, and I’m wondering if there are going to be some quick shutdowns or new government restrictions before it gets here, so I’m trying to get some of my local shopping done now. Because I’m leaving town for the week of Thanksgiving, I’m ordering gift cards and gifts online from local businesses and either picking up with curbside service or having them delivered/shipped.

Here are some ideas for gift cards, if you are considering gifting from local businesses:

  • Restaurants. Locally-owned restaurants and coffee shops have been hit especially hard this year, because of the pandemic. Because restrictions on indoor dining have lasted a lot longer than restrictions on retail shopping, they’ve had to get creative to make money. Many of them went to curbside pickup, delivery, and takeout at the beginning of the shutdowns, and they’ve continued it even after dining rooms have been allowed to reopen, because they are operating at 50% capacity or less. Some have added outdoor dining patios or even constructed outdoor dining areas that weren’t there before. Necessity is the mother of invention. While I hate that they’ve had to do it, I have loved watching the creativity. Most of those mom-and-pop restaurants are selling gift cards, and I’d love to get a gift card to any of my favorite locally-owned restaurants for Christmas! I can use it for dine-in or takeout! Restaurant gift cards are great gifts for anyone! Maybe you want a gift for the person who has everything? A gift card to a locally-owned restaurant is the gift of a night out.
  • Gift shops. I’ve checked with several gift shops in my area, and they say they are offering gift cards or gift certificates this holiday season. Some of our locally owned gift shops in Charlotte offer jewelry, personalized items, and even apparel! A gift card or certificate for a Charlotte gift shop would make a lovely gift for female friends or family.
  • Boutiques. Most cities have a nice selection of locally-owned boutiques. Charlotte certainly has quite a few, and even some of the surrounding small towns in the metropolitan area have some good ones. Just consider the age/style of the recipient when buying. Some boutiques cater to the younger set, while others have more mature clientele. There are a couple of boutiques where my teenage daughter and I can find both find items, but for the most part, we look for different styles. She’s 17, and I’m 53. That’s a pretty big age gap, and our fashion choices reflect that. She wears short skirts and fashionable white booties that I would never put on myself. I wear lots of things she wouldn’t be seen in.
  • Bookstores. If you have any locally-owned bookstores in your area, please try to support them. These stores have struggled to remain open over the last 20 or 30 years. When Amazon started, they sold books…and they, along with the big box book sellers, ran the small bookstores out of business. You can even support local authors! I know some local authors whose books are featured at Park Road Books in Charlotte. Purchase a book by a local author and a gift card to the bookstore, and you’re really helping the local economy.
  • Hardware stores. My husband loves a hardware store. Sure, there are the big stores, but often, you can find a locally-owned store in your area. Those mom-and-pop hardware stores used to be the norm, but then the big-box stores moved in. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for capitalism, but I love locally-owned businesses…and the old-school hardware store is special. There are quite a few in the Charlotte metropolitan area, and some of them are fun to browse. My husband has a favorite, so he’ll be getting a gift card to shop there.

I’ve heard people say they don’t like to give gift cards, because they don’t seem like personal gifts. What?!?! A gift card to my favorite locally-owned restaurant or boutique would thrill me! If you feel like it’s no fun to open, you can always make it more exciting by wrapping it in numerous boxes. Or maybe you roll it up in the center of a plastic wrap gift ball. Just wrap it in plastic wrap, and make layers of plastic wrap with candy or small trinkets inside. You can see how to make it here. Some folks do it as a game, but every year, I wrap some gifts for our daughter in a gift ball, and it’s exciting for her!

There are lots of options for “shopping small” this holiday season, and I plan to support those small businesses as much as possible. Shopping locally-owned businesses this year can be your gift to the person on your list and your local economy.

Give the Gift of Happiness

Give the gift of happiness.

Sounds promising, right? Just hearing the word “happiness” in 2020 sounds promising. I will be the first to admit the product I’m about to introduce is not actual happiness, but it sure can help keep someone out of seasonal depression…and who doesn’t need a little help with that this year???

If you have someone on your list who has had the blues, the Verilux HappyLight Boxes and Lamps might be the perfect gift!

I love sunshine. No doubt about it. I love summer, because I can spend extra time outdoors, gardening, hanging out in the pool, or just visiting with friends. I feel like I load up on lots of sunshine during the summer to try to keep my Vitamin D levels at a maximum throughout the year…keeping my mood in check and improving my immune system. But things don’t always go as planned.

Once the days start getting shorter (like now), I always feel a mood shift. Sure, I love football season more than just about anyone, but I really love longer, sunnier days. Fall and winter just seem so gray and depressing. And there’s a reason they seem that way: we aren’t getting as much sunlight, which triggers a change in mood.

Years ago, a doctor friend told me about the use of lights to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder…yes, SAD. This type of depression starts and ends at about the same times every year, as it is related to the changes in seasons. People feel moody, hopeless, sluggish, and lost interest in activities they normally enjoy. And the timing coincides with the change from summer to fall, lasting through the winter months. I live in a pretty mild climate in North Carolina, and even I get a little Seasonal Affective Disorder. I can’t even begin to imagine how sad I’d be if I lived farther north.

Fortunately, Verilux has the solution for folks who are suffering. While some might require treatment with medication or deeper psychiatric treatment, some people notice a change in how they feel simply by using HappyLight Lamps and Boxes. HappyLights range in size, and they are priced between $29.99 and $69.99, depending on the size/type you choose. They are lightweight and portable, so if you want to carry it to different rooms, it’s no big deal. I have a HappyLight Full Size, which is priced at $59.99. It offers tilt and high/low light intensity controls with a broad surface area, so you can provide more light over a shorter time. The more expensive Luxe model offers timer controls, but I knew I didn’t need that, and I didn’t get a smaller one, because I wanted to get the most controlled light I could in the shortest time. I keep mine in the kitchen, and when I sit down to read or knit, I turn on the HappyLight next to me. I’ve noticed that just 15 minutes a day can help improve my mood and energy levels…making me happier throughout the gloomy fall and winter months.

I remember when our now-teenage daughter was a toddler. She was always happiest if she spent a little time outdoors in the afternoon, and she always slept better if she got some afternoon sunlight. Since then, I’ve noticed the same holds true for me. It’s just more difficult to get enough natural light in the all and winter months, but HappyLight can help solve that problem.

I know. It sounds like a strange gift, but everyone I know who has one loves it. I will be giving them to a couple of family members this Christmas, and I feel sure they will thank me heartily after they try it a few times. Who wouldn’t love the gift of happiness?

Order soon while supplies last! 2020 has been a bear of a year, and I think lots of folks are looking for some added happiness this holiday season! See the Verilux HappyLight website here.

Who Wants A Jetpack for Christmas?

Who wants a jetpack for Christmas?

Yes, it’s a little early to be thinking about Christmas. However, I remember how I would start making my Christmas list for the next year as soon as it was over. I don’t do that now, but there are some things I’ve always wanted that were far out of reach. I’d love to hear other people’s wish lists.

-Jetpack. On the news recently, there was a story about two airline pilots reporting someone flying near them with a jetpack on their approach for landing at Los Angeles International Airport. I was intrigued. I have always wanted a jetpack…since seeing one in the opening credits of the short-lived 1970s Saturday morning live-action show called Ark II as a child. If you don’t remember the show, I’m not surprised. I have mentioned it to various people over the years, and not one other person has ever remembered it. It’s a Mad Max-type show that was aimed at kids during the CBS Saturday morning lineup, and I must have been the only kid who enjoyed it. (You can watch an episode on YouTube here.) But like I said, in the opening credits, there is a guy flying with a jetpack. In fact, the lead actor, who is the captain of the ark, is the guy who portrayed the original Jack Abbott on The Young and The Restless. His name was Terry Lester. Unfortunately, he died in 2003 from a heart attack at the age of 53. But back to Ark II. Yes, people can fly in jetpacks, but there aren’t that many of them out there, and according to a company in Australia, you can purchase them for $250,000. As unbelievable as it seems for people to be flying around today, imagine how unbelievable it was in 1976! I wanted one then (I was nine years old), and I still want one now. How incredible would it be to just put on a jetpack and go where you want to go? I could get errands done a lot faster! Or I could just fly over the city. I have regular dreams about that, but we won’t get into the Freudian meaning there. Years ago, my friend, Mary Ann, called me telling me her young son was trying to tell her what he wanted for Christmas, but she couldn’t understand him. He had endured lots of ear infections, so he didn’t always pronounce words clearly. I asked, “What is he saying?” She was standing beside him and asked him to tell me what he wanted. He said, “Et pat.” She put the phone back to her ear, and I said, “He wants a jet pack.” She turned to him and asked, “Are you saying you want a jet pack?” He got excited, because finally she got it! He is a teenager now and speaks as clearly as anyone else, but at the time, Mary Ann couldn’t believe I knew what he had said. “How did you get ‘jet pack’ from ‘et pat’?” I said, “Because I always wanted a jet pack when I was a kid too.” In fact, I still want one.

-Flying Car. You’re likely beginning to see a theme here, but my flying car is not like what you see on The Jetsons. Mine is more of a short-distance, low-flying car that can get over traffic. I’ve thought it all out when I’ve been behind a slow car in the passing lane (that’s the left lane, for those who don’t know it), wishing I could pull back on my steering wheel like an airplane throttle. I have actually thought this through. The flying cars wouldn’t be long distance flyers. The flying ability would be for only short distances, enabling the car to get over slower cars. In my mind, these flying cars would require operators to obtain a special license issued by the FAA. Part of the license testing, aside from normal operations, would include safety…knowing how to look for overpasses and power lines ahead. So, if you ever see me stuck behind a slow car in the left lane, you can know that, at that very moment, I am dreaming of my flying car. I don’t think Santa can help me with this.

Vaccine. Of course, I want a safe vaccine for this stupid coronavirus! I want us all to be able to resume life as we know it. I want to be able to hang out with friends. I want my daughter to be able to play sports. I want college students to be able to enjoy the college experience…going to classes instead of remote learning, going to football games, socializing. I’m thinking I should move “vaccine” to the top of my wish list. I actually created a meme about this a while back showing Cindy Brady from The Brady Bunch on Santa’s lap. Remember the episode? Carol Brady had laryngitis, but she was supposed to sing a solo at church on Christmas. Cindy was brokenhearted that her mother might now be able to sing and told Santa all she wanted for Christmas was for her mother to get her voice back. Long story short…it was a Christmas miracle! OK, so it wasn’t a miracle, but Carol’s voice returned in time for the solo, and Santa got all the credit. Maybe we should all take the time to go sit on Santa’s lap and ask for a vaccine?

Obviously, I’d love to have cures for lots of diseases. I’d love to have world peace. Those are obvious. I’m sure there are more things I’ve thought about over the years, but for today, they’ve slipped my mind. Maybe you have some of your own “interesting” things on your wish list?

If you’d like to see a cool “flying people” video, click here.

A New Obsession

A new obsession…

I have a new obsession. I have always liked mid-century modern architecture and noted it in passing. But recently, after learning some types of mid-century modern architecture are called Googie architecture, I have become obsessed.

Think Mad Men or even The Jetsons. If you ever watched Mad Men, you remember some of the cool building designs of the era. I’ve seen examples of them throughout my life, but I never had a name for them until now…Googie, which is defined on Wikipedia (not a great source, but fine for this use) as “a type of futurist architecture influenced by car culture, jets, the Space Age, and the Atomic Age.” It started in Southern California in the 1930s and spread throughout the nation through the 1970s. I have always been fascinated by Googie architecture, but I just didn’t know what it was called! Now that I know, I’m searching for Googie influences everywhere!

I’ve seen examples in the Los Angeles area, where the style can be seen in lots of places, most notably at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). One of the most iconic examples of Googie is well-known, the Theme Building, that futuristic building at the airport that looks a bit like a space ship. (See featured photo at top.) I remember seeing it the first time I visited LA in 1989, and every time I go now, I take a picture of it as soon as I see it. If you’ve ever flown into LA, you’ve likely seen it. If not, you’ve probably seen it in movies and TV shows like California Suite and Mad Men. When you see it in a show or movie, you know the location is LA.

There are lots of other easy-to-find examples in the LA area: the Union 76 station at the corner of South Santa Monica Boulevard and North Crescent Drive (another favorite); Pann’s Restaurant on La Tijera Boulevard; Norm’s Restaurant on La Cienega; and Mel’s Drive-In in West Hollywood. And another favorite in the area is the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills. Originally, it was the Beverly Carlton, but was rebranded as the Avalon a few years ago. See photos:

When I was a little girl and lived on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay in Alabama, there was a place nearby that was an interesting example of Googie. It was called Pineda Island Recreation Center, and by the time I came along, it was defunct, but the Googie “ruins” are still standing. It was a recreation area built around two pools, an Olympic pool and a diving pool. The pools were encircled by Googie covered areas that created shade for guests. It opened in 1960 but closed soon thereafter, due to financial issues, from what I understand. When I lived near there in the 1970s, I found the area fascinating, because of its futuristic look. In fact, I still find it fascinating. The slideshow below (from arctic.edu) shows the rendering by the architect, Bertrand Goldberg. It also shows shots from the center of the structure, one when it was open and another current one of the “ruins.” You can also see a current shot from above the area from Google Earth.

Also, in the 1970s in downtown Mobile on Government Street, there was the Admiral Semmes Motor Hotel, another building I admired. It has long since been demolished to make way for progress, but back in the day, it was a cool building. Of course, motor hotels are now a thing of the past. Chances are, if you can remember the old Howard Johnson’s motels and restaurants, you saw an example of Googie-style architecture there too.

Fast food restaurants had a Googie thing going on back in the the day too. Remember the McDonald’s fast food restaurants that had the golden arches in the facade of the building? And maybe you remember Burger Chef? See photos below.

Yes, I’m completely obsessed now. Everywhere I drive, I’m looking for examples of Googie. Feel free to share your photos with me and tell me where I might see some interesting Googie architecture.

Weird (or Disgusting?) Canned Foods

Weird (or disgusting?) canned foods.

Recently, a friend invited me to join a Facebook group dedicated to weird foods and recipes. Honestly, I am totally addicted to it…the page, not the weird foods…because there are so many crazy posts. Every day…heck, several times a day…I see something posted there that just blows my mind. So many times, I’ve thought, “Who would eat that?!?!”

Yesterday, I shared a picture of Sweet Sue Canned Whole Chicken on my personal Facebook page, and it got quite a reaction. Here’s the photo:

Most of the comments were right in line with my own thinking. “What the heck?!?!” “How disgusting!” “Why????” Seriously, I can’t understand why someone would want to purchase a whole cooked chicken in a can, but to each his own. If you’ve ever used one for a recipe or just eaten it straight out of the can, please let me know…blech!!!

And that made me start thinking about other canned foods. I’ve eaten some pretty disgusting canned foods…Vienna sausages would be at the top of the list. When I was little, I loved Vienna sausages. Back then, lots of southerners called them “Vi-een-a” sausages, but even with a fancy name, they’re nothing short of disgusting. Spam? You betcha. I ate it when I was a little girl. I didn’t love it then, and I can’t even imagine eating it now.

I’ve made tuna salad with canned tuna and chicken salad with canned chicken (not the whole one, mind you), but for whatever reason, I don’t think those are disgusting…maybe because I know other people use them for salads too? As a child, I ate salmon patties made by my mother from canned salmon. Yuck. My brother ate canned sardines any time he went fishing with my uncle or grandfather. I don’t know why that seemed like a good idea, but they did it. Personally, I would have just taken a peanut butter sandwich with me if I needed protein…but they took sardines.

A year or two ago, I watched a video of a man eating a can of seal meat. I don’t remember exactly what the circumstances were…either he lost a bet or he was going to win a lot of money if he ate it without vomiting. He did it, but not without gagging. Ugh. It was disgusting and funny at the same time. Fortunately, since it was just a video, I couldn’t get the aroma from the canned seal meat, but it was clearly a bad odor.

For a less disgusting canned food option, this summer I tried canned bread. Apparently, it’s pretty common in New England, but I had never heard of it till May or June of this year. I don’t even know where I read about it, but as soon as I did, I ordered some on Amazon. The brand? B&M. Honestly, when I first saw what brand it was, I was a little taken aback. Why would anyone put a giant B with a giant M on a can? My mind went straight to “bowel movement,” but I was able to get past it. When the cans arrived, I packed them in my luggage to take to the beach, where we were meeting friends. I thought it would be a fun treat. And it was actually pretty darn good! Ours was raisin bread, and we toasted it and buttered it…if I’d had a little cinnamon sugar, I would have topped it with that too, but it wasn’t bad without it. If I were stuck somewhere and needed food, I could definitely survive on canned bread.

A friend says she grew up eating Dromedary Canned Date Nut Bread and loved it with cream cheese. I looked online to see if I could buy it, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. I found several recipes, and on Vermont Country Store, I found a loaf of date nut bread. I remember the Drapers on Mad Men having it on special occasions…I definitely need to try it. I’ll be ordering from Vermont Country Store here.

There are lots of other canned foods I haven’t tried. I’ve seen canned macaroni & cheese and canned potato salad in my local grocery store. I’ll be buying them soon, just to see what it’s like. As a kid, I ate Chef Boyardee canned spaghetti and canned ravioli…both of which sound absolutely disgusting to me now. I remember seeing jars (does that count as canned?) of pickled pigs’ feet in gas stations, and I’ve heard you can buy canned bacon and canned hot dogs. Not sure I need to try either of those, but maybe I should just so I can say I’ve had the experience? I’ll be scouring the shelves of my local grocery store…and after I’ve tried them, I’ll post about them.

Till then, I’ll be trying to recover from the stomach ache I have from thinking of these various canned items. Ick.

Canned Cocktails

Canned cocktails.

This past weekend, I had cocktails with a friend and her husband. My friend’s husband asked me what I was drinking, and when I told him I was having Tito’s and soda with lime, he asked me if I had tried High Noon..

High Noon? When I told him I had no idea what he was talking about, he explained, “It’s vodka and soda in a can.” He then went on to tell me that it’s so popular that stores have trouble keeping it in stock. Wow! It must be good! And now that I know it’s hard to find, I have a mission! I’m one of those people who loves a good challenge…and now my challenge is to find High Noon somewhere in the Charlotte area.

And that conversation made me think about other canned cocktails I’ve heard about recently. The whole “cocktails in a can” thing is a new to me. I know people have been drinking “hard seltzer” for a while, and maybe there have been others out there for a while. I’ve tried “hard seltzer,” and it’s definitely not for me. Lots of folks love them, I know, but Im not one of those people. So now I’m looking for different canned cocktails to try, and here are some I have found:

Jim Beam Cola. This is one I’ve actually tried. When I was at the beach at the end of July, my friend purchased some of these. We chilled them and decided to try them before dinner. As soon as I took my first sip, I said to her, “Holy smokes! It tastes like a college football game!” She laughed and agreed. We went to college together in the 80s, and back in the day, we would sneak bottles or flasks of bourbon into the stadium to mix with sodas purchased at the game. Often we mixed it with Coca Cola, because that’s what was being sold by vendors walking through the stands. I could drink all that sweetness when I was in college, but no more. If you’re into sugary cocktails, this one might be for you. Or maybe if you just want to think about football games. See the website here.

Spa Girl Vodka Cocktails. This is one I want to try soon. Spa Girl offers flavored vodka canned cocktails with only 48 calories per serving! Honestly, though, I can’t tell exactly what these are. Do you drink them straight from the can? It just says “flavored vodka,” but I’m guessing there is club soda in there too (maybe?), because it’s only 33 proof. No self-respecting vodka would be just 16.5 percent alcohol, so I’m guessing it’s mixed with soda in the can. They offer three flavors: cucumber, pear, and peach. I really want to try the peach flavor. The website offers some great-looking recipes too…you can see that here.

Bartles and Jaymes Premium Wine Coolers. OK, this one takes me back…straight to the 80s. When I was young, I enjoyed Bartles and Jaymes Wine Coolers. It was an easy way to have a lighter drink. I haven’t had them in years, but now that I know they are making them, I’m excited to try them again. Back in “the day,” they only came in bottles, but now that they come in cans, you can drink them at more places. No one wants to take bottles anywhere, and often, they aren’t allowed around pools or beaches. Sure, we will be moving into fall soon, but I live in the south, so we likely can keep sitting by the pool through September…and maybe into October. I hope to get some of these and share them with my neighbor by the pool this week. See the website here.

And there are more! Bluemarble offers a Bloody Mary in a can! Who knew? Conniption American Dry offers a canned Gin & Tonic…I have a friend who will be happy to hear that! And Malibu (the rum company) is now offering Malibu Smash canned cocktails…doesn’t a passion fruit and coconut rum cocktail sound fabulous??? Sign me up!

While some things about life seem to get more and more difficult (wearing masks everywhere we go, social distancing, more traffic everywhere we go), at least our cocktails are becoming easier! We don’t even have to mix them anymore!

BYOB and meet me by the pool!