Friday, October 23, 2009

An Award-Winning Costume!!

I found a sombrero at a garage sale a couple of months ago and bought it, with the idea of trying to make a jellyfish costume, just to see how it looked. I went to Hobby Lobby and picked up a remnant of a light blue chiffon and some small rolls of ribbon and sequins. Here is the final result:

My youngest LOVED it!! So she became a jellyfish for Halloween. Tonight, we took the kids to a "Fright Night" event at Park University. They did some trick or treating, played games, painted pumpkins, and had some fun. We were about to leave when the girls decided they might want to be in the upcoming costume contest. The older one backed out, but my little one had gotten so many compliments on her costume that she wanted to participate. She was in the 6-8 age group, as she is 7.

The kids all paraded across the stage and then gathered for the judging. A Dorothy (from Oz) costume took third place, and then a child in a hideous monster mask was given second. I heard a few people in the crowd chanting "jellyfish, jellyfish" and was surprised by this. Then, the announcer said, "And first place goes to our COOL jellyfish!" There was actually a cheer that went up in the audience! She was SOOO excited! She couldn't stop talking about it. :-) They gave her a Connect Four game and a very large bag full of mini candy bars....she's set! That made our night.

I think it's so funny that a simple costume that I created myself won a costume contest over several expensive store-bought ensembles. Now my girls are arguing over which one gets to be the jellyfish next year....I might have to make another one! Anyone have a sombrero???? LOL

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Great Deal at Hobby Lobby

I wanted to share a truly great deal I got this morning at Hobby Lobby! I was looking at the clearance area and noticed some very nice scrapbooks. They are the Generations Memory Album in Luxurious Leather with 100 pages with sheet protectors. The price on these gorgeous albums is $39.99. They were clearanced at $5.00!! The cashier told me that they just got the markdown last night on their sheets, so they had only been on the shelf at this price a very short time when I found them. She said they knew they would go fast.

If you're near a Hobby Lobby, it's definitely worth checking for this deal. If you scrapbook, these are beautiful archival albums. If you know a scrapbooker, what an awesome Christmas gift!!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

What?? No Pumpkin???

So the word is that we are in the midst of a canned pumpkin shortage. Libby's has reported that bad weather conditions LAST year are resulting in very low production of canned pumpkin right now. Apparently there was a bit of a panic recently on Twitter and people are afraid they will have no pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. The horror!

I'm actually not participating in the uproar. I haven't even looked for canned pumpkin at any of my grocery stores, though I might start, just out of curiousity to see if I can find it. But every time I've gone to the store lately, I've seen huge boxes absolutely overflowing with lovely, round, bright orange pumpkins. So why worry???

I know, some people look at the garden produce and see only porch decorations or a future Halloween Jack-o-Lantern. But guess what? You can actually take one of the pumpkins from your local grocer and probably get enough pumpkin to keep you in bread, pies, and bars until the end of the season! It isn't even difficult!

I usually keep my pumpkins out for decoration until Halloween; I do pull them in when it freezes overnight, though. Then, I bring them inside and straight to the kitchen. I give them a good washing, remove the stems, and then cut them in half. I scrape out the seeds into a colander and get a cookie sheet out of the cabinet and spray it with a little oil. I place my pumpkin halves on the cookie sheet and pop them into a 375° oven until they are nice and soft.

Once the squash is softened, I pull them out and let them cool for a bit, until I can pull off the outer skin. It usually comes off with very little effort once the pumpkin is good and cooked. Then I put the pumpkin flesh in a large bowl and puree it down a bit with my hand blender. Once it's nice and mashed, I measure one-cup amounts into zip-top bags and prepare them for the freezer. I generally have cooked pumpkin year-round because those big ones result in a LOT!!!

Just today I pulled out 2 bags and made a big batch of pumpkin bars. A few days ago I made pumpkin cheesecake bars. The fresh (frozen) pumpkin truly makes delightful treats, and I don't miss the canned variety at ALL!

So don't fret about the "Great Pumpkin Shortage of 2009." Besides the fact that Libby's also now reports that they are currently processing the current year's harvest and it will be shipping to stores in plenty of time for holiday baking, you can definitely enjoy everything pumpkin and never open a single can! Try will be amazed at how easy and delicious fresh pumpkin really is.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lowe's Needs a Lesson in Customer Service

I am so completely disenchanted with Lowe's. I *thought* they were a reputable and reliable company, but the way they handle customer service has forced me to re-evaluate that idea. In the last year or so, we've purchased 3 major appliances from them - washer, dryer, and dishwasher. The delivery of the washer and dryer was a nightmare. Twice they scheduled delivery and then didn't show up. I had to call the store and find out that the dryer wasn't in yet, so they couldn't deliver. Excuse me? Maybe you should actually CALL me and let me know this so I am not sitting around all day waiting??? A month after I was supposed to receive the set, they finally delivered it to me. Not too impressive, eh?

Well, now we fast forward to today. My dishwasher (it's a Samsung - NEVER NEVER NEVER buy anything they make as they are JUNK!!!!!) broke down on Sunday. I called Lowe's because we have their "Service Advantage" (HA!) program. It took forever to get everything set up because they apparently don't keep any record of you unless you have this one specific number from your receipt from purchase. If you don't have that, don't bother calling. I did finally locate all the information and they told me that I had an appointment on Tuesday between 8 and 5. I was assured of the confirmation of this date.

Today, being Tuesday, I have arranged my entire schedule so that I can be home all day. I decided to contact the servicing company to inquire if they could possibly narrow down the time to maybe morning or afternoon. After being on hold awhile, they told me they had no record of me. Huh???? So I called Lowe's back. After some "research" (and more hold time), she tells me that there wasn't any availability for today. I asked her when they learned this, and she told me yesterday. So I asked her, don't you think that you might have wanted to let ME know this information?????? They never bothered to reschedule or contact me or do ANYTHING at all! They just left it there, and there was no follow up scheduled in any way. What the flip kind of customer service is that????

After a few more times on hold and being assured that "this never happens," (gosh - why do I truly doubt that?) she told me that I would have service on Thursday. So I'm hand-washing dishes even longer because of the stupidity and lack of service at Lowe's. Hmmm....maybe if they had any inkling of how to take care of their customers, they could have called me yesterday and scheduled something for tomorrow??

I am just plain disgusted with Lowe's at this point. They have no follow-up at all and really don't seem to care at all if their customers receive any service. And do they offer anything for their blatant error? Of course not! Just....well, we got you scheduled for Thursday, and so what if you have to change your entire schedule for another full day? I think they should at least send someone here to wash my dishes! Yeah, that's not going to happen, but seriously, after this experience, I will never buy another major appliance from Lowe's. There are many other companies out there that might actually contact their customers if there is a problem. I'll be giving someone else a try. Lowe's doesn't get a third chance to make a good impression.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Too Cute to Not Share

I had the most adorable conversation with my daughter earlier tonight. She was asking me about Columbus Day and why it was something to celebrate. I was a little surprised she had not discussed Columbus in school, so I joked that it was my friend Christy's birthday.

This answer didn't suit her, so she pressed a bit more, saying that she knew Columbus had sailed around, but didn't know what he had done worth a day on the calender. "Well, he discovered America," I told her. She thought about that a moment and said, "That's worth something." Then she continued, "But I thought the Pilgrims discovered America....was Columbus their driver???"

How cute is that??? It's funny how kids grasp things, including history and life in the past. And there are so many times that I think I will remember something that one of the said, but sadly, I do forget. This one is now recorded here, so I can't forget it! :-)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Deliciously Easy Fruit Dip

I'm the Box Tops Coordinator for my girls' school and we recently had a classroom contest. With over 8,000 Box Tops submitted, I needed some help trimming, sorting, and counting. Of course, this meant I had to have food for everyone! I had some fruit, but I wanted a dip to go with it. Every dip I found online required marshmallow creme, which I did not have, so I ended up creating my own dip, and we LOVED it! So I thought I would share the simple recipe. It's a little strangely written, but I am NOT a measuring cook - I just put it together till I like it!

1 1/2 - 2 cups yogurt (I used vanilla, but plain would be fine)
1/2 - 3/4 package instant pudding (I used pumpkin - YUM!)
1/4 - 1/2 c. sour cream

Put the yogurt in a bowl and pour in the pudding mix. Start with about half the package, and add more if needed - the amount of yogurt you use will affect how much pudding mix you need. Stir in the pudding mix until smooth. Stir in the sour cream to cut the sweet a bit. Taste as you go to see where you need more or less of something.

It sounds a little weird, I know, but it is SO good! I bought more yogurt today to make it again as an apple dip. The kids thought it was fantastic, and the pumpkin was ideal for fall.

For more great recipe ideas, visit the Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap!