Friday, December 31, 2010


Here we go -- kicking off another New Year's Eve! I'm up in Chicago, getting ready to boot 2010 into history and greet a let's-be-spectacular 2011 wth one of my bestest friends, Brenda! A sushi dinner, some adult libations, girl talk, movies and a 2011 toast are part of our celebration.

Talk to you next year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I may have spoken too soon about getting my nook replaced! It's going to be another week or so.... And I'm not really pleased with the Barnes & Noble/nook customer service right now.

I emailed them about my issue with my nook (almost typed "crack issue" and thought better of it) on December 16 and got an automated response that basically said I would receive a response from a Customer Service Representative within 24 to 48 hours. In my email, I specifically told them that I am hearing-impaired and it's complicated to navigate their 1-800 system via Relay.

I finally got a response today -- five days later. That's quite a few hours over their 24-48 hour window. Unfortunately, they aren't going to help me via email, and I need to either go to a brick-and-mortar store or call them. Here's what they said:

"Thank you for contacting us. Because of the many things that need to be verified and processed, unfortunately NOOK replacements can only be performed over the phone. If you know anyone who can assist you, or if you have a local Barnes andNoble store, they may be able to help. We ask that you call us at 1-800-THE-BOOK (1-800-843-2665) and select option 2 for Digital Support. We are available Monday through Friday from 8AM to 11PM EST, Saturdays and Sundays 9AM to 11PM EST. Customers outside of the United States may contact us at 201-559-3882. Please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused and we look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely, Kenneth Customer Service Representative - Digital Support Barnes & Noble"

I detest making phone calls via the Missouri Relay Service. They're just slow, and my blood pressure goes up when people on the other line hang up on me because they think the Relay operator is a telemarketer. So I'm either going to have to ask someone to make the call for me or risk life and limb and go into B&N during the pre- and post-Christmas insanity.
It is a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things, but I'm just annoyed. Annoyed because I hate asking people to make phone calls for me. Annoyed because they waited five days to tell me that.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cracking Up

I love my nook! I've had it for almost a year, and it's still working great. You can't beat the convenience of being able to download books with just a few clicks on the computer. Considering the closest Barnes & Noble is nearly 40 miles away and that I'm a bookworm, it's saved me a lot of trips to "the city."

The prices of the new-release books have gone up $3 since the nook was released, but it's still a good value. I just did a comparision-shop and got the new Patricia Cornwell for $12.99 at -- the hardcover was almost $20 at WalMart. And I'll let you in on a little secret: Watch for the new releases, because if you pre-order them, you can often get them for $9.99.

I don't have a case for my nook -- I repurposed an old datebook that the nook fits in perfectly! It works great for traveling. But recently, I was wondering if maybe I didn't take good enough care of my e-reader. Two books ago, I got it out and noticed that the plastic case had developed a crack right on one of the buttons you use to turn the page.

I couldn't figure out what had happened...I think I would remember if I'd dropped the thing! I just wrote it off to wear and tear -- until today! I ran into a sideloading issue with my newest purchase, and was searching on the nook users forum for a solution. (Sideloading just means transferring the book's ePub file from the computer to the e-reader via a USB cord.)

Skimming the posts, an entry titled "nook case develops a crack" popped out at me. Turns out the crack in the case is due to a design flaw in the early editions of the nook. And--the best part--Barnes & Noble will supposedly replace nooks with cracks! I'm waiting to get an email back from B&N, so keep your fingers crossed that this is true. That would be pretty good customer service, if you ask me.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Getting Carded

Am I the only one who feels guilty when I encounter Salvation Army bellringers? Especially if I don't have spare cash or change to put in the kettle. And especially if they hold the door open for me.

Let's face it: I'm not going to put money in the kettle every time I go to the store. And I already have other donation commitments -- donations that are year-round, not just during the holidays.

I added up the amount of money I've spent on postage and shipping so far this month for Solier's Angels packages and cards. It adds up fast! I'm sure December is going to be the month that costs the most, due to the increased number of cards I am sending for the holidays. But you know what? It's so worth it because of the smiles it puts on people's faces! I sent out some birthday cards today:

I have a surplus of cards, cardmaking supplies and patterned paper for cards, so it seemed like a logical thing to do to join the Soldiers Angels Cards Plus Team. It's fun -- birthday, thank-you and encouragement cards. Plus it's an excuse to buy more patterned paper! I found a bunch of patriotic paper at Hobby Lobby today:

I already have a pile of cards waiting to be stamped. Now all I need is a big, fat roll of stamps in my Christmast stocking!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Camera Shy

Yes, I'm fully aware that I'm now "one of those people" who tortures her pets with wacky headgear on the holidays. I can't help it. I found this elf hat while going through my boxes of Christmas decorations and thought I'd try to snap a photo or two of Baxter.

Didn't go so well. He's not a huge fan of having "stuff" on his head. Or having his photo taken with something on his head:
After some coaxing and then some bullying, this is the best I can do:
Yep, that's a stink-eye if I ever saw one. He's since forgotten and forgiven me. It's a good thing I make my own Christmas cards and don't rely on a cool Christmas photo for cards, because this one wouldn't be too festive!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Home Remedies

I'm not big on home remedies to cure what ails you. They often seem like too much work when you're not feeling well. (One of the worst things about living alone -- nobody to take care of you. Although I have to say that Baxter is a great cuddler.)

But when I get a cold/sore throat, I do tend to reach for the whiskey bottle. Not the whole bottle, mind you! Just a shot, mixed with some hot water, sugar or honey and lemon. Add a dash of clove, cinnamon or nutmeg and you should be good for a nap on the couch.

I've been nursing a cold since Saturday afternoon. "It" is going around and it's not much fun, and I don't think it's avoidable, no matter how sanitary you are or how much rest you get. It will get you right out of the blue. At least that's what i tell myself. It's almost as good as Nyquil.

I made the mistake of going to Rogers, Arkansas, to run a few errands and hit up the bookstore on a holiday weekend. I have no idea why I thought this was a good idea -- the traffic was nuts, lines were long. Now I remember why I prefer to do my shopping in the middle of the weekday. By the time i was on the way home with a caramel brulee latte, I started feeling kinda grungy. You know I'm sick when I miss watching the Vikings play!

On a brighter note: personalized Christmas gift No. 2 arrived today and I am beyond excited! I can't wait to give it to its new owner.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Lighten up!

I didn't decorate for Christmas last year. But I had a good reason not to -- I was in Arizona. So my Christmas decorations have been sitting in storage boxes since after Christmas 2008. I couldn't even remember *what* I had in the boxes. Or how little my white Norway pine is. Yes, that is a wrapped box under the tree to give it another foot in height. I need a tree skirt. Or some gifts under the tree! Now the tree is up, lights are on, warming up the house, a pine candle is going. Although I probably don't need the pine candle, due to a not-so-bright moment with a Wallflower from Bath & Body Works. (Those things are NOT idiot-proof or blonde-proof. Sigh. At least I like the pine scent.) Can you tell I like white lights?

Ahhh, Christmas. Hard to believe it's only a few weeks away. I got one of the two personalized Christmas gifts I ordered today. Ummm. It didn't quite turn out the way I planned. Dangit. Errors in judgment seem to be the prevailing theme this week. Hopefully gift no. 2 will turn out better.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pay it Forward

I'm doing something new this year to pay it forward.
Combining my love of baking, crafting and shopping, I've adopted a soldier through This organization pairs up deployed U.S. soldiers with people in the United States who want to help make a difference. Many soldiers overseas do not receive even a letter from home. When I signed up, there were more than 1,300 soldiers waiting for adoption. You can sign up for a variety of volunteer things, from sending cards, one-time care packages and other one-time deals.
As a Soldier's Angel, my commitment is one letter or card per week and one care package per month while the soldier is deployed. Although it felt a little odd sending a letter to a perfect stranger, I sent my letter out last week. I'm not sure if I will hear from "my" soldier or not -- we'll see! It would definitely help me fill up the care packages if I could learn what he needs or wants in the sandbox.

Letters to APO addresses (Army/Air Post Office) don't cost any more than a letter that is sent anywhere in the U.S. A large flat rate APO/FPO box, which is free from the Post Office and measures about 12x12x6, costs $12.50 to ship.

I sent out a my first package, a Christmas care package, today! I am a little nervous about it -- I hope the soldier likes it, that the cookies I included make it without turning stale or to complete crumbs, and that I filled out the Customs Declaration form correctly.

I sure didn't have much help with the form at the Post Office. The advantage of living in small-town Missouri means you rarely have to wait in line to mail packages. The disadvantage? Sometimes the worker behind the counter doesn't quite know what to do with you and your "foreign" package (nevermind my foreign-ish accent)!

I was vaguely familiar with what had to go on the customs form, and that it HAD to be included on the package. However, the postal lady, who I hope wasn't the postmaster, tried to tell me it wasn't necessary. I told her it was, because the packages were going out of the United States. She finally got on the phone with her supervisor, who confirmed that a form was needed and helped her find the forms, which were finally located in a cabinet at the back of the room. Apparently not very many people in this neck of the woods send packages overseas.

I filled it out the best I could. It is intimidating! Once I got home, I found out that I could have done the whole thing online with much less hassle.
I'm already thinking about January's care package. Ideas and tips -- and a stand mixer and vacuum sealer--are more than welcome!