a word about marti and liz, my favorite show outlet. the shoes are brought in from department stores - shoes with great name brands that have been tried on, even worn, maybe a little scuff here and there.
that adds up to super duper bargains. i mean 75 percent or more off the regular retail price.
remember these white blinged-out sandals by ivanka trump? priced well out of my budget in the regular stores, but oh so cheap at marti and liz.
but wait. what is it that these shoes are missing? scroll up and look closely.
yep. it's missing a bauble.
how did i not see that before?
will marti and liz take them back once you've worn them? no, they will not.
do they offer refunds under any circumstances? no they do not.
well sir, live and learn. i still love these sandals and hope no one will notice when i wear them that they are missing a jewel.
story no. 2. check out these sparkly gorgeous amazing shoes i bought while under the influence of whatever it is that takes over my body when i go into marti and liz.
they were $29.99. i put them on and felt like a million bucks. but then when i got home i wondered if i'd ever really wear them. i mean, come on. my social life is not such that i need sparkly shoes of this magnitude.
it's nice to dream. but the reality is that i will probably not ever get around to wearing them.
so, i took them back. yes, i took them back and got store credit (since i hadn't worn them out—wearing them when you're alone in your PJ's while watching TV doesn't count). i was disappointed, but felt like i did the right thing.
then, yesterday, i was wandering around macy's and saw these exact shoes displayed at full price for $139!!
for a moment, i kind of wished i hadn't returned them after all. you just hate to see a good bargain slip through your fingers. But lesson number one of bargain shopping is, no matter how cheap it is, if you don't need it, it's not a deal. let that be a lesson to us all.
PS yes, i still love marti and liz, and yes, i will still shop there, but will do my best to keep my wits about me.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Monday, May 20, 2013
Friday, May 17, 2013
my cable bill has got me down, but PBS always come through.
currently in the throes of downton abbey withdrawal, i've begun watching masterpiece theater's mr. selfridge, a lesser counterpart to abbey but enjoyable none the less.
jeremy piven is only sort of convincing as the retail magnate, but it's worth watching to see the sets and costumes alone.
the best part is if i get fed up and cancel my cable for good (and i'm tempted), i can still watch mr. selfridge for free online.
hurray for PBS!
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
millie. we loved each other well for more than 20 years.
you cheated death on numerous occasions—including the accidental ingestion of chemicals (more than once) and the avoidance of the snarling jaws of prowling coyotes. you out-ran randy tom cats in heat and warded off neighborhood dogs who launched raucous nighttime attacks with slobbering, malicious glee.
you stood your ground, all eight pounds of you, and defended yourself without fear. you backed down to no one. i don't think you ever forgot that rainy ditch you were rescued from so many years ago, abandoned without proper mothering, forced to fend for yourself.
we should have known you were trouble when your foster mother told us you were fond of conducting sneak attacks on her blind kittens. that fact has always made me secretly smile.
you were a wiry, bony thing with a howl to raise the dead. a born adventurer, you explored the world fearlessly, but always returned home, wailing on the doorstep after dark, offering gentle forehead-butts of apology for making us worry.
but then, a few days ago, you simply curled up snugly on your blanket, unmoving, your throaty yowl strangely silent.
we gathered you up and began the drive to the animal hospital, but before we could get there, you were gone. bereft, we took you far into the woods and found a quiet wooded glen awash in wildflowers. we dug your grave and laid you in it, as indigo buntings preened overhead and a family of deer looked on and the harpeth river hurtled past.
our hearts and rooms feel hollow now, and we struggle to accept that our beloved immortal creature has succumbed to the earth. we know that one day our sorrow will wane, but for now we choose not to think of you as gone. rather we imagine you prancing eternally in heaven's meadows, a contented purr in your belly and mischief in your eyes.
Friday, May 3, 2013
today i'm posting a short story i wrote at a recent gathering of my writing circle. let me know what you think!
The New Dress
by Joan Brasher
Enid crossed the kitchen in her new dotted dress, the morning air heavy and warm with the scent of bacon and biscuits and July.
Her frock, snug across the bodice and gathered at her tiny waist, flounced slightly as she moved. Organza over cotton, a Peter Pan collar high at her neck with cap sleeves and a sash: it was her first purchase as a working girl.
It had felt extravagant when she laid out the nine one-dollar bills for it at Sholls department store, the ripped lining of her pocketbook revealed as she pulled out the cash. Enid wondered if she only imagined that the cashier cast an eye of judgment upon her, deeming her unworthy of the dress.
She caught a glimpse of herself in the hall mirror: the dress, the pearl choker Chad had given her for their one-year wedding anniversary, just a week ago. She contemplated the side swept bangs, her brunette hair bouffant and stiff with hairspray, the way the hairdresser showed her. Yes, it all worked. Red lips, face powdered, cheeks dabbed with a bit of rouge. Were the lips too bright?
She reached for a tissue and leaned in to the mirror to blot, pressing her lips together slightly, leaving a perfect lip print behind. She straightened up and considered the young woman gazing back at her, serious but hopeful. She was almost unrecognizable, this professional girl, this modern woman. She looked terrific. Not at all like a little girl playing dress-up, as her mother would say if she could see her now.
The house was quiet. Chad had already left for the manufacturing plant where they both worked. He clocked in at 6 at the factory; while Enid, who worked in the typing pool in the front office, was required to arrive at half past seven.
Each day she boarded the city bus with the other powdered and lipsticked girls, crowded in to the vinyl seats, skirts swishing, crinolines crunching, having to wiggle to fit with their handbags and sack lunches clutched with white wrist-length gloves. When the bus heaved off, the girls settled into morning chatter or paged through the latest issue of Ladies Home Journal, their heads soon encircled with gray wisps of cigarette smoke.
Enid watched the little houses with their postage stamp yards and picket fences dissolve into a blur of colors, breathing in the smell of diesel fuel and Aqua Net. The houses gave way to long stretches of fluttering green fields—hearty tobacco leaves and neat rows of cotton, low and dry in the summer heat, brittle stems flecked with white.
Besides farming, Creech Manufacturing was the largest source of employment for the people of tiny Fray Lake, Kentucky.
Located in nearby Jericho, a bustling city resting on the Kentucky-Tennessee border, the sprawling new brick complex was built on Jericho’s highest elevation, meant to serve as the city’s grandest example of modernity and progress.
As the bus wheezed and lurched up the hill, the girls pulled out compacts and tubes of lipstick to touch up. Enid imagined Chad already at his station in the factory, hunched over what she imagined was a very complicated machine or assembly line. She wasn’t sure what he did, exactly, and he didn’t like talking about it.
Things went better if she didn’t ask. She simply ironed his shirts and dungarees and prepared a hot breakfast each morning, rollers still in her hair. She sent him off with his silver lunchbox packed with leftover fried chicken and apple pie and a thermos of hot percolated coffee. She did all this and did not ask any questions.
Chad and Enid worked all day within a few hundred yards of each other, but did not see one other until they returned home at supper time—she traveling by city bus, he in his sea foam Chevy sedan, a gift from his father for his 21st birthday.
The car meant everything to Chad. He had preened and polished it the morning of their wedding, swearing bodily harm to his brothers if they spelled out “Just Married” on the back windshield with shaving cream or soap.
They hadn’t dared. But they did manage to tie a few dozen empty soup cans to the tailpipe during the ceremony without the newlyweds realizing it until they were driving away from the church. As they dashed down the church steps, pelted by handfuls of rice, Chad had been so concerned about the rice marring the wax job, he hadn’t even noticed the cans.
But as soon as they were out of sight of the well-wishers, he had pulled over and cut them off with his pocketknife, shaking his head at the double and triple knots, cursing quietly to himself. Enid was disappointed but she kept her tongue. She had secretly looked forward to a jubilant ride through town, the clatter of cans and flutter of crepe paper drawing cheers and shouts for the newly pronounced man and wife. Instead, it was a relatively quiet drive to their honeymoon suite at the Champlain Inn in nearby Rockaway, Kentucky.
When they arrived at the hotel it was nearly nightfall. Chad caught hold of Enid’s hand and squeezed it, breaking the silence at last. “I’ll get those jerks back,” he said, chagrined, but smiling.
“I know,” she said, returning the smile, her heart skipping hard in her throat. She squeezed his hand tightly, and suddenly realized she still holding her wedding bouquet—in all the excitement she had forgotten to toss it.
A real honeymoon—a drive to the panhandle or Gulf Shores—would have to wait. Chad had been hired at the plant and they needed money to pay for the small yellow cottage they hadn’t been able to afford—his father had co-signed on the loan. So while Chad worked at the factory, Enid had taken on the role of housewife with vigor. She unpacked wedding gifts, wrote thank-you notes, organized the pantry and baked an abundance of cakes and pies. When she got lonely, she invited the neighborhood wives over for coffee, but didn’t particularly enjoy the gossip their talks always degenerated into.
It took a while for Chad to warm up to the idea of Enid going to work. But the truth was, they needed the money. Chad’s father expected him to take over the car payments, and then there was the house, and all the other expenses that came with it. When they’d needed a push mower, they’d put it on credit, and Enid worried that they would run out of money. Or that they already had.
Chad had resisted Enid’s suggestion that she find work, but relented in the end. He drove her to Jericho and sulked quietly in the car while she took the typing test, his arms folded across his chest like a pouting child. The next Tuesday she got a telephone call from the human resources department at Creech, notifying her she’d gotten the job. Her hands shook as she put the receiver back in the cradle. Chad looked up at her over the newspaper, his water-blue eyes trying to gauge from her expression whether or not it was good news.
“Well?” he said.
“I got the job,” she said, smoothing her apron, careful to keep a casual tone. “But it’s just for now, just until we get on our feet. A year at the most and I’m sure I’ll run screaming from the building.” She forced a laugh.
His expression darkened but then the smile returned. “Sure, honeybun, whatever you say. I imagine I can still expect three meals a day—Or do working girls let their husbands starve?”
“No, of course not!” She slapped his arm playfully with a wooden spoon. “I can keep up the housework and laundry, and you won’t go hungry—I can promise you that.”
Enid’s voice was betraying her now. He had to know she was thrilled with the news, but his handsome face remained unchanged. She smiled at him and went back to the stove to tend to supper: a simmering pot of soup that was on the verge of bubbling over.
“I guess we’ll be waiting on starting a family, then,” he said quietly, this time not looking up.
She kept stirring the soup, pretending she didn’t hear.
Enid stepped off the bus and filed in to the side entrance of the building. She pulled her time card from her cubby and slid it into the machine until she heard the chunk-chunk sound of the gears inside, stamping the date and time of her arrival on the long narrow manila card with her name on top.
In the typing pool there were rows and rows of lacquered wooden desks, each with its own typewriter and lamp. She took her place at the one nearest the window and settled in to an armless chair with with squeaky casters, her dress fanning out around her on the leather seat.
As the desks filled, the clack of keys took over. The room came to life and Enid with it. She breathed in the smells—ribbons of ink, reams of paper, hot coffee, cigarettes and freshly waxed floors—and released a sigh.
She crossed her ankles and began to type, forgetting who she was supposed to be.
(c) Joan Brasher
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
if you've taken your child, niece, nephew or grandchild to build-a-bear workshop, you know. it's pricey. you can never really forget the first time you get to the counter and the ever-smiling cashier hands you your "birth certificate" and an obscenely whopping bill.
$75 bucks for a teddy bear? well, yes. if you add an adorable leather jacket, tiny ray-ban sunglasses, a real beating heart and a chamo backpack, then yes.
the whole set-up is genius. it's designed to rip the money right out of your pocketbook.
so that brings me to mr. fluffypants. that's the little guy you see now. he's a frisky little shar pei we rescued from the plastic tub-o-animals at goodwill. i think he cost 50 cents.
anyhoo, he was virtually new, and we washed him in the washing machine, and he got a lot of love. but one day we realized he was not so fluffy any more. his belly was caved in and he had a torn seam.
so we took him to build-a-bear and got him stuffed and fluffed, and loaded up with a heart that goes boom-boom when you squeeze him.
it was quite the make-over. and it cost about $11 with tax. and the boy was thrilled.
so, when the boy says he's dying to go to build-a-bear, i explain that it's a once-a-year kind of place if you want the full treatment. But taking in well-loved creatures (he has hundreds) for the occasional facelift is absolutely doable.
in the end, everyone's happy, including my check book.
and an ironic addendum: he never actually plays with his $75 build-a-bear teddy, with its tiny baseball uniform, hat, glove, bat, surfboard, etc. just sayin.
Monday, April 29, 2013
i found this image on my iPhone and thought it was pretty, no filter required. but i had to look closely to recall what it was and where it was taken. it was the boy—he had taken my phone and shot something he found beautiful: ants on a brick walkway.
Labels: beauty is everywhere
Thursday, April 25, 2013
|that's me on the right, with twinnie Jean!|
but what about the other important recurring dates in your life that if neglected cost you big bucks?
like what? well ...
1. your cell phone contract.
if you don’t call to re-negotiate with your cellular provider before your contract runs out, you could end up getting re-signed for another two years without your knowledge. it’s happened to me. not good: because you need to evaluate if this is the best carrier for you and if you’re getting the best deal. also, at the end of the contract, you should be eligible for an upgrade or special deal (i got a free iPhone when i traded in my blackberry.) if you neglect to ask for it, the company's not going to call and remind you. So mark your calendar!
2. your cell phone usage.
if you don’t know what day your cell phone billing cycle ends each month, you could go over your minutes, data or texting, and that costs big bucks. i have verizon, and i have email alerts that let me know when i’m getting close to my usage limits. but i also keep record of when my billing cycle ends, so if i do get low on minutes, i know how long i’ll have to watch my usage before the new cycle begins. take that, verizon!
3. your cable TV promotion.
did you sign up for a great discount promotion on your cable? when it runs out (usually in six months), it automatically bumps up to a higher amount. mine’s going up $35 bucks a month in august, and i'm not happy about it. also, that “free” HBO they gave me? it will now start showing up on my bill ($10/month) if i don’t verbally cancel it before august 1. so tricky. grrrrr....
4. your annual fee credit card.
does your credit card have an annual fee? if so, be sure you make note of when that’s going to hit. before it does, move your debt balance to a zero percent, no annual fee card, and pay the heck out of that debt! if it's zero percent for just a year, mark your calendar, and move the debt to a different zero interest card before that deadline. you can transfer debt easily online—just watch out for transfer fees.
5. your monthly bills.
what day are your bills due? if you pay through your bank, like I do, it can take an extra few days for your payment to process (or your check to arrive if you pay by check. seriously, does anybody still use checks?) and that means late fees. so mark your calendar with all the dates your bills are due, and stay ahead of the late-fee game.
I put everything on my Outlook calendar, which reminds me of everything from little league games to the electric bill. Couldn't live without it.
finally, here's a bonus tip i learned the hard way. look at your phone bills. i downloaded a ringtone, and unbeknownst to me, i was signed up for a $10/month fee for unlimited ringtones, which i did not want or need. i don't know how many months i paid for that service before i realized it was there and cancelled. that was one expensive download.
knowledge is power. go forth and save!
PS I did this and it took about 30 minutes.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
|art and soul is an inspiring place. Attend workshops here, or rent a space to paint and create.|
this is my only photo. i was tempted to take more, but it really was a rare experience in which you simply want to experience it, and you can't do that if you're tweeting, facebooking and instagramming. yep, right off the bat, it was iphone = off.
the gathering was held at art and soul in 12 South. if you ever get the chance to do one of these (whether an experienced writer or neophyte) please do. it's life changing.
the theme of the event was "rites of spring."
we began in the muddy earth of our souls, in which we wrote to our hearts content as phil madeira (from emmylou harris' band) played awesome gritty blues guitar tunes.
we wrote and shared our pieces and it was like therapy, yoga and church all wrapped in one.
later, we moved from our muddy blues into the fresh, new beginnings of spring.
while treated to the live musical stylings of the great molly felder, we were prompted to approach spring in our own way. here was mine:
spring has come
are melting fast
beckoned by the wily breeze
i join the dance above the trees
on leaves take flight
all fears releasing
soaring wild on blue jay's wings
no longer safe from spring
this is just a tiny glimpse into the many pieces i've been able to write as a result of this amazing program (workshops and bi-weekly gatherings), led by the fantastic and beautiful merrill farnsworth.
in the future, i hope to publish a series of short stories and then a novella or novel.
my writing has improved and grown so much, and writer's block is banished. huzzah!
|restaurant leftovers are good for freezing too.|
instead of putting leftovers in the fridge (or the trash), i zip them up in ziplocks and save them in the freezer for a rainy day.
the freezer gives me options. on a good day, i have individual patties of beef, single servings of spaghetti or lasagna, soups, and more.
when there's a bit of salsa or tomato sauce leftover in the jar, i freeze that too. it's great to unthaw when you want to throw together a meal without having to go to the grocery store after work.
i also stock up on and freeze tortillas, because we eat a lot of them, and you can always pull one out and steam it in the microwave for a quick bean burrito.
even shredded cheese lives in my freezer. it thaws easily.
so there you have it. one step closer to getting a picky kid to eat without spending a lot of time in the kitchen.
and many of these frozen items end up being good lunches for me at the office. everybody wins.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Thursday, April 18, 2013
but can i stay on budget for this formal affair? stay tuned and find out!