Friday, July 30, 2010

Perfect Night for a Concert by the Sea

Today was absolutely beautiful!!! The temps moderated to a normal range of the mid 80s and the humidity was reasonable. The sun was shining and there was just the slightest breeze. We knew the concert in the Park would be great as we're quite familiar with the band, Big Cam & the Lifters.I knew it would be a great day. Our saucer magnolia tree that normally blooms once in the early Spring is blooming again!!! Most years the blossoms burst forth over the course of two, maybe three, days in April, only to be hit by wind or cold rain or just very cold temps the next day or two and we only get 3 days to a week of beauty out of it. Thank goodness it is a pretty green tree for most of the year. Every year, we find two to three stray blooms from time to time in the off-season but nothing very interesting.
This year, the tree was gorgeous for about a whole week in April. (I think I posted a few pics back then.) Cold days appeared and the blossoms died off as usual. Well, lo and behold, after weeks of triple digit temps and very dry conditions, it is suddenly in bloom again. At least a third of the tree is in full bloom and there are still dozens of buds ready to open! This is so unusual that we've had neighbors calling to ask what we did to get it to bloom again!! (Absolutely nothing!)

So after an afternoon of enjoying my tree and my yard (It was actually comfortable to sit outside.), we headed off to the park by the marina for the concert. We always make a picnic of it so we go a little early. We were shocked at the crowd already gathered when we got there. It was the largest audience this year. I believe there had to be at least 1000 folks there!!
We always sit with the same people - a couple we've known for over 30 years. The Big Guy and I were both friends with these great folks since before we were a couple. Luckily, they had gotten there a little earlier and staked out our front and center location.
The band was fantastic, as usual and they really got the crowd on their feet. Couples of all ages took the floor (er, "the grass"). The view of the river and bay (they merge at this point) was beautiful tonight and there were plenty of sailboats floating by. What a night ! this is what summer is all about in these parts!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Please - play in my ketchup!

It's hot. It's sticky. Everybody's sweating. The kids are getting bored. You're running out of ideas to keep them occupied.

So, raid the pantry and refrigerator. Plop it down in front of them and tell them to "get creative."
Rachael Ray had a whole show devoted to playing with your food the other day. There were very elaborate pictures made with nothing but Jelly Belly jelly beans. (You've got to admit, they've got a great color pallet.) Jason Baalman presented Rachael with a detailed portrait done only in Cheetos and there was a guy who "painted" with used chewing gum!

The gum guy was a little gross to me. he didn't just use his own chewed gum but gives out quality gum (those that retain their colors when chewed) to others to chew provided they return the used wads to him. The artwork wasn't bad but I just couldn't embrace that particular concept.

Jason Baalman, however, was pretty fascinating. He's used pretty much everything you can think of to create works of art - Cheetos, chocolate, lipstick, mascara, even bbq ribs! He actually earns a living at it, selling only online. He recently used 1500 little toy soldiers to create a piece that was auctioned for a fundraiser for the U.S.O. Up close, one saw a battlefield. From a distance, it was a very detailed portrait of a soldier. Impressive!!

I Googled him and spent a good hour reading about his accomplishments and creations. I found his You Tube site the most informative but there are dozens of listings for him.

Jason demonstrated how to use anything around you to "draw". Since he was on a popular cook's program, he showed how to raid the kitchen for both "paints" and tools of the trade. They used ketchup, bbq sauce and mustard for Rachael's effort. She liked the squirt bottle for applying the ketchup but he also showed how to use a knife, fork or even chopsticks to create design texture. Shading can be accomplished by mixing "sauces" or thinning them down a bit for a lighter shade.

I decided to give it a try. I used ketchup and spicy brown mustard and painted on a foam plate. I didn't get too creative with the tools and just used some kids' paint brushes and a toothpick for details.

I need to practice with this new medium - or at least buy better, thicker ketchup.














However,

I do think the kids would find it appealing being able to play with the foods in the fridge. There's something wicked about playing with your food, even when Mom gives permission.

Might be good for an afternoon of activity. Give it a try.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Consignment deal gone bad? Take it to The People's Court!!!

When a consignment deal gone bad reached an impasse, a crafter and a shop owner took it to court - The People’s Court that is! I saw it myself this morning.

The crafter was a laid-back casual sort of old soul who truly enjoys the art of decorative painting. He claims to generally work on specially commissioned projects only. The shop owner was a polished, slick business type who seemed to put on a few airs, billing his shop as an upscale boutique offering “hearth products - home d├ęcor items.”

It seems the painter was an acquaintance of the shop owner’s mother-in-law who just happened to be the shop’s bookkeeper at one point in time. She suggested the shop carry some of the painter’s work “on consignment”. A verbal agreement was reached and the artist delivered the goods which were then displayed in the shop. It is unclear if this ever really resulted in any sales.

In time, there was some sort of family falling out and the mother-in-law left her position with the shop. The shop owner decided he no longer wanted to carry the painter’s merchandise and advised the mother-in-law to tell him to come and get his things. She did not want to do this as she wanted to spare her friend’s feelings. The shopkeeper removed the items from display and put them in storage.

The painter got wind of this and showed up to claim his merchandise since it was no longer on display. It was a “bad time” and the shop owner told him he would have to come back . After several attempts, the merchandise was picked up by the painter’s representative. The shop owner explained the delay as a “paperwork problem” and inferred that situation was due to his mother-in-law’s record keeping.

Had this been the whole dispute, the players would have taken their respective toys and simply agreed not to play together anymore.

Ahhhh, but there’s more…

At some point in this time period, the shop owner visited his mother “upstate”, where she either owned or worked for an antique shop. (Her role was a bit disputed but really not important here.) He returned with two antique milk cans which he wanted the painter to clean up and paint as room accents. He indicated to the artist that he had been given the cans but, in Court, maintained he paid $75 for each of them. The agreement between the two was such that the painter would paint the cans with whatever design he deemed appropriate and the shop owner would place them in the shop. When sold, at whatever price, they would split the profits. They actually had this agreement in writing!


The painted cans were placed in the shop but they did not sell . (We’re talking well in excess of two years later, here). At this point, the artist requested payment for the painting job. He demanded $250 for the work he’d done on each can as the shop owner had them priced at $500 a piece. (This was marked down from $700. Apparently, this shop is in a high rent district!) Funny, this particular dilemma had not been dealt with in the agreement. What would happen if they didn’t sell? Good question.

Judge Milian saw three possible solutions to this mess:

(1) The cans could remain in the shop waiting for a buyer to come along. (The shop owner blames the poor economy. He is convinced they will sell at that price when the economy improves.) Everybody would simply have to wait to make the profit. The Judge didn’t really feel this was an ideal solution.

(2) The shop owner could simply pay the artist outright. He didn’t like this solution.

(3)They could each take one of the cans and do with it what they will.

Since it seemed most equitable to all concerned, Judge Milian went with the third option. They actually reached easy agreement on which can each would take. No money exchanged hands as a result of this ruling.

However…

The artist took his can and left the courtroom. On his way down in the elevator, someone admired the can and, get this, bought it right then and there for $250!!!!
The moral of this story?

Make sure you take EVERY possibility into mind when entering a consignment agreement and get it ALL in WRITING!!!!

Of course, there is an underlying marketing lesson here, too. Take one of your best pieces and simply ride elevators all around town, who knows who might fall in love with the product!! LOL

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - "Bubbles All The Way"


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Here are my teasers for today:

"To think my career at the News-Times had been done in by hair extensions. Not by all the bigwig steel lawyers who had tried to cut me at the knees, but by latex and hair, the death knell rung in the women's room of a Masonic temple."
pg. 281, Bubbles All The Way, Sarah Strohmeyer

Picture Jamie Pressley's character on My Name is Earl as a hairdresser turned newspaper reporter who likes to investigate murders in her spare time (and on company time when possible) and you've got Bubbles Yablonsky. There are quite a few books in the Bubbles series. Who would've thought there was so much crime in the quiet Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania?!?

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your 2 ‘teasers’ in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Where did the weekend go?

Another busy weekend has simply whizzed by as we quickly approach the end of July and what I consider the "downside" of summer.
Although the sweltering record temperatures of this summer of 2010 have been a bit much, summer remains my favorite season. It depresses me to think it's speeding by so quickly. So, I desperately try to squeeze more into each day - to get "it all" done. All those things that are summer to me - outdoor music and festivals, walks on the boardwalk, enjoying the smells and sounds of the beach, corn on the cob, fresh tomatoes,just sitting along the shoreline enjoying the long days and evenings, and so much more.
We did our best to do it all this weekend. Friday evening found us at the park above the marina listening to a band we've been trying to catch up with for over two years, Bottle of Blues. Believe me, they did not disappoint us!! The heat was stifling in our front yard as we left for the concert but in the park along the river only a few miles away, a gentle breeze blew and we were actually comfortable. What a beautiful evening!!! As the full moon rose and reflected on the water, it was absolutely mesmerizing.
The same band was also playing at another outdoor event on Saturday and we had planned to see them again for a longer show but the morning dawned with miserable, sickening heat and humidity. The heat index reached 110 in the afternoon. It did not seem healthy to be out in it if given a choice. We didn't venture out until late evening when we met friends for dinner at a restaurant in the local casino. It turned into a very late night for us. The temp had actually cooled to a very sticky 86 by 2:30 a.m. It is extremely rare for us to be out that late these days!!

Obviously, we didn't get a very early start on Sunday. Instead of going out for our usual weekend breakfast outing, we did lunch. (It actually turned out to be an early dinner as we never did eat another meal that day.) We had planned to catch some outdoor music again in the afternoon but by the time we finished eating, it was actually too late to go! Instead we made a grocery run and stopped at a local farm for produce which pretty much shot the rest of the day. The Big Guy's regular crowd shuffled in for their weekly pinochle game soon thereafter.

Suddenly, the weekend was over!!!

Hope you had a good one.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Love In His Eyes

I saw true love personified tonight.

It didn’t have the exact image I thought it would. Oh yeah, it appeared to be male, too.

He took me by surprise. He was about 65 and a bit weathered looking. He definitely looked a little tired. Of course, it was almost midnight. He had a plastic cup of beer in one hand and a Marlboro in the other. He spoke in plain, straight forward language and he didn’t care who knew he loved his wife with all he’s got - and then some. While he chatted, it dawned on me, he was beautiful. I hope she knows how he feels. What’s more, I hope she appreciates what she’s got.

Seriously, we were at our local casino and I’d reached my limit for the night and was somewhat tired. My man begged for another half hour to play and I advised I’d be waiting in the smoking lounge. I don’t smoke but there are fairly comfortable seats and tables there and you don’t need to be playing a slot just to sit and kill time in the lounge.

Since it was late, there weren’t many of us killing time there. Another woman about my age and this gentleman were the only folks there when I entered. It’s funny, we each staked out a seat in opposite corners but it is a small area and conversation began easily among us. The other lady soon finished her smoke and reentered the casino. My ale friend and I were left to chat among ourselves.

Like me, he was waiting for his spouse. He’d lost all he wanted but did not want to rush her as she was “having a good time.” He said he loves to see her enjoy herself and she really does deserve a good evening out as she’s “a good woman.” He went on to describe how hard she works and all she does for the family without complaint. While he has already retired, she’s still going off to a job each day. He claims to keep the house tidy and says he does a little cooking, too. She has recently lost a fair amount of weight and he has dutifully helped by keeping her supplied with the foods she needed for her diet. Though he loved her in her larger form, he is truly proud of her accomplishment in taking off the weight. (She’s lost about 45 pounds.)
He punctuated every other thought or two with the words, “I love her dearly.” Confessions that he knows he hasn’t always been the easiest person to live with and the fact that they have definitely faced disagreements (mostly over the kids) came up in the conversation, but were quickly seasoned with statements of “but nobody could ask for a better woman.”

His pride glowed as he spoke of her. He described her as a great beauty and exclaimed he wasn’t sure what he’d ever done to deserve her. I was beginning to picture a youthful, perky “trophy wife.” Then, he boasted they were quickly approaching their 44th anniversary and he wished he’d hit the lottery so he could give her the country mansion she deserved. Alas, he figured they’d have to make due with a “nice dinner out.”

About that time, his “fine lady” came out to check on him. She was a cheerful lady with a neat appearance and a twinkle in her eye. She admitted she’d gone through her allotted cash and at that point would have to call it a night. He admitted to having a few more bucks stashed in a pocket and gave it to her to go back and play with. She gave him a quick peck on the cheek and hurried back to the machines. He smiled proudly and said, “See what I mean?”

You know, I did see it.

My husband appeared about that time and a we rose to go, my new friend lit another cigarette and mused he should have held back enough money for another beer but then said, “She’s enjoying it more than I would.”

I felt good having had such a chat and seen such a happy pair. I think it made me appreciate my man a little more, too. I hope we’re that happy when we reach 44 years together. As we headed for our car, I reached over and held his hand. I think we were happy. I know I love him.

May we all see that type of love in our mate's eyes.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

We were hostages in our own home, today!

We decided yesterday we'd have a date night tonight with dinner and a movie, something we hadn't done in a while.

Well, things went along fairly well until mid-day when we noticed a lot of police activity in the apartment complex across the street from us. It was hard to tell what was happening but there were a lot of police cars, unmarked cars and dozens of uniformed officers just standing around one of the buildings and parking lot. We hid inside and watched from behind our curtains.

After several hours, the SWAT team and other tactical units came on the scene. Dozens more police vehicles filled our street and blocked all access in and out of the community. We couldn't get out at all. Time for us to head off to dinner came and went and we were still blocked from leaving the community. Neighbors that had gone out early in this action were now stuck on the outside. Some parked several blocks away and walked in to their homes when they came home from work.

Finally, the officers came out of the building, congregated in our court and began taking off their armor. Someone finally gave us a hint of what was happening. It seems they thought a suspect from a murder in a neighboring community on Sunday was holed up in that building. Turns out, he wasn't. Kind of makes you wonder why it took at least 6 1/2 hours to figure that out!


We finally set off for dinner over 2 1/2 hours later than originally planned. We ended up waiting for 40 minutes for our table! (When we arrive before 6 there's almost never a wait.) We had a great meal and then waddled our full bellies across the street to the movies. At that point, we had to settle for whatever movie was starting near that time, not necessarily what we set out for. So, for our romantic date night, we saw Karate Kid!! (When you've been together as long as us, just being out together qualifies as romantic.)

It's a good movie but, like the other Karate Kid movies, there is a lot of violence (Hey, it is "karate".) Although I am a Jackie Chan fan, I'm still partial to the original with Pat Morito. Jaden Smith (Will and Jada's son) does do a fantastic job as the kid and shows the great depth of acting talent he has at such a young age. He's also adorable!! That kid'll certainly break some hearts along the way! While it won't be in the running for an Oscar, I do recommend it. I'll give it 4 out of 5 stars!!!

Hope you had a little calmer afternoon than I did!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Perfect July Day !!!!

Music!! Music!! Music!! Summertime heat and fantastic food at a terrific venue = Great Day!!We headed for Westminster, Maryland today to the Summertime Festival at the Carroll County Farm Museum. This use to be known as the Surf & Turf Festival and featured lots of seafood, beef and other tantalizing treats. Last year, they decided to expand the image a bit and changed the name to encourage more family participation.

In addition to great food, the event is known for some of the best music in the region. Today was no exception. They featured three bands, all of which gave super performances.

Big Cam and the Lifters, the first on today's lineup has been around this end of the world for over 30 years and we've followed them for about the last 22 years. They're known for everything from Doo Wop up through 60's rock and roll with a few 70s thrown in. Their lead singer (a man who helped form the original Del Vikings but was shipped overseas just weeks before their first recording session thanks to the draft), passed away in September. They are still extremely good but just not quite what they were in the past. I believe they're experiencing some adjustment pains and I see them regaining their edge in the near future.


Poison Whiskey followed them giving a rocking, driving performance of solid rock hits from the 70s and 80s. This is, in my opinion, one of the best the Mid-Atlantic has to offer and we've heard most. All we could say was "Wow!!" They made you forget you were sitting outdoors in 95+ heat.




Bringing up the rear was Never Never, yet another of the best bands in the Baltimore area. They're known for their Led Zeppelin covers and they do them almost better than Zeppelin! We stayed through to the last note and enjoyed every minute of it. (Originally, we'd planned to leave early to catch up with some family and friends at another music event being held at one of the local wineries this evening but we were just enjoying this one way too much to leave!)






Along with the terrific entertainment and tasty food choices, this is a beautiful venue. Easy close parking , real bathrooms, lots of shade trees and picnic tables and so much more. The event featured lots of activities for the kids, a small craft sale area, a huge classic car show, a burger grilling contest, corn cannons, a politicians' crab picking contest and lots more. We just sat back and enjoyed the music, some food and a fantastic breeze under the trees.



***Oh, yeah, one more fashion rule based on another day of observing festival folks. If the top of your tube top is only about an inch or so above your elbow joint and you are NOT baring more of your breasts than is generally acceptable, you're a bit too old and droopy for a braless tube top, no matter how good the rest of your figure is !! Also, if you're wearing a tube top and dancing vigorously, you should check it's positioning occasionally! Just sayin'.



What a fantastic summer day!!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

It's a computer miracle!!!

It's been a tough week!! We had internet connection problems again!!

After four days of dealing with Tech Assistance at Verizon and finally giving up in frustration, I spent most of yesterday pricing out other providers. Then, this afternoon, the system completely fixed itself!! Magically, without human intervention on our end!! It's a miracle!!!

Tech Assistance insisted in the end the other day that we had hardware problems. My husband is an Instrument Technician, though not trained on small home computer systems, he has some knowledge in the field. Even I, untechnically trained as I am, felt their answers made no sense and did not jive with what the problem appeared to be.

We insisted it had to be something Verizon was doing on their end - basically a coding problem. We could access the internet but we could only access Verizon websites and e-mail. All other sites brought up a message stating access was being denied by verizon.online. Another term used was "walled garden". Everything indicated they were intentionally blocking access to other sites. The techs (Yes, we went through several.) stated that was not possible.

First they were convinced our modem had died and overnighted us a new one. Apparently, when they don't have any other answer they replace your modem. The new one arrived but does not work at all. We reinstalled the old "outdated" one. Our original is so old, they simply advised us to pitch it as opposed to turning it in. Their third (or 4th, 5th or whatever) guess was that our browser had stopped working and was denying access. (Funny, it worked for Verizon owned sites.) Since we have multiple browsers installed, we switched to a different one.

After Verizon gave up on us and advised we needed to contact their "advanced" tech support department where we would be charged for assistance, The Big Guy took a breather and debated about simply switching carriers. I began playing around, blindly changing some settings within the control panel. In an earlier two-hour phone session, one of the techs had talked me through changes on just about every setting. (I already admitted I'm not technical.) I did something right as I got our Firefox system up and running, although it had a few limitations. It would work for a bit and then the Verizon blocked access image would appear and require rebooting the computer to get around it.

Suddenly, today, it began working perfectly again. In fact, the other browser works well, too. Our service is actually better and faster than it has been in months. We're still using the old modem and we made no hardware changes since yesterday. Apparently, whatever the problem with Verizon's access codes was there, has been fixed.

It's a computer miracle!!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Back on line and finally cooling off!

Well, I'm finally back on line. At least for the moment. I approach the computer with caution each day as our internet service has been extremely fickle. I think I was going through withdrawal today!! Late this evening, we finally got connected again. Service went out part way through me working on this post on Sunday night and, while we regained pieces of service, I could not access Blogger at all dince then. Keep your fingers crossed for us, that we'll stay connected from here on in.

I hope y'all have had a good week. For numerous reasons, I just haven't been able to post quite as often as I want to lately. Life keeps getting in the way and it has been really frustrating. This is a new week and I hope to get back on my old schedule of about 5 posts a week. Please wish me luck!
The Big Guy has found some unique ways of keeping cool!
(That's the freezer pack from a cooler.)

We've all just been trying to stay cool lately. The heat here has finally broken some. We're still hotter than normal but at least we're down below 100 on a daily basis although the humidity has been very high so it's still somewhat oppressive outside. Our temps are still running about 10 degrees above normal and this has gone on for over three weeks now. I wonder if we ever will get used to this sort of weather.

While holed up inside, I've done some creating.

This is one of my newest designs and has already proven to be a popular shower gift!! In fact, I've even had a tween request a special design based on this for herself. I'm calling it the "Babe of the Month" and it can be ordered for any month. It's in my Etsy shop now.





I've actually been producing quite a bit of merchandise for the last week or so. Some were for specific orders, some were gifts I needed and there's been lots of leftover pieces that have found their way into my etsy shop. I had neglected the shop for a few weeks and it seems
happy to get some attention. I've still got quite a few to add in the next few days, too. Won't be too long and it will be time to get busy adding holiday merchandise. Christmas is, actually, just a little over 5 months away!!


The hot weather did prove inspirational and gave me a few ideas for some summery outfits. This onesie is now in my Etsy shop. (You'll have to come up with your own bottoms, though. these are just plain red shorts.)




We've got a new addition to the family coming soon and she's already being called a priness so I designed a special outfit for her. The pants are plain in front but have the word "princess" across the bum!



I showed it to a few folks who liked it so much, I've also added this item to the shop.






This onesie has been in my shop for a while, but a customer wanted to expand on the theme for a more complete shower gift, so i added a matching hat and some socks to complete the look. I'm always open to such ideas and concepts. Many folks have requested extras to match a particular item. The onesie is still available in the shop.





This is just a small sampling of all the new items I've been working on. there are still more that are now in the shop and more to be added each day. Please stop by and see what's new!



Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hot !!! Hot !!! Hot !!!

They say ladies don't sweat they glow. Well my glow is rather drippy today!Baby, it's hot out there. Not just HOT, but really HOT. I mean, really really HOT !!!!

It's just too warm to do much of anything but loll around in front of the air conditioner vents and drink cold beverages. Not lucky enough to have AC? Find the coolest shady spot you can. Pray for a breeze and slurp something cold.
I'd try splashing some water on me, but then I'm haunted by images of the Wicked Witch of the East crying, "I'm melting!!!" Besides, I'm already pretty damp.

Yep! That's about how I felt after venturing out on an errand today - like a wet spot on the floor!

This heat wave began Sunday and hasn't let up yet. Night time temps have only dropped into the 80s so there really hasn't been much cooling at night.(It's almost midnight and we are still at 91 degrees!) Tonight they're hoping we will actually dive into the 70s and may only reach a high in the mid-90s tomorrow. One can only hope.

I fully expected to post here on Sunday night after a busy, very full weekend, but I dealt with the sweltering temps that day with frozen margaritas consumed at an 8-hour long party. I wasn't much into writing that evening! (I wasn't really noticing the heat so much though!)

Monday was another full day of celebrating and by then the heat was really getting to us. I really haven't done much. The heat has simply zapped all of my energy even indoors.

We're keeping our fingers crossed for tomorrow. I'd love to be able to cook for dinner again. It's just been too hot to generate any heat in the kitchen and waaay too hot to bother with the grill outside. Even when we do get the meal prepared, it's simply too hot to eat.

Here's hoping y'all are staying cool!!!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bring back my old Woolworth's - PLEASE!!

I'm quite bummed, today.
Yep, I went shopping again and I really miss my old stores. You know, those treasure troves like Woolworth's, Murphy's, Kresgee's, and especially a little local joint known as the "Dixie 5 and 10".

Oh, I realize things would be more like $10 and $20 these days but, maybe, just maybe, they'd actually have what I went for. Oh, and maybe the item would even be easy to find within the store and, if not, there'd be a smiling clerk who'd be glad to show you where to find it. Heck, I'd even settle for an old Ames or Murphy Mart, even with their slow check outs and grumpy help!

Once again, I was forced to visit Walmart in search of a few items that just aren't easy to get elsewhere. Surprise! Surprise! They didn't have three out of the five items! (Yes, I AM being sarcastic.) In their effort to be all things to all people, they have greatly cut back in a number of areas in order to expand in others. I know they were revamping their product line to accommodate those who had "stepped down" to the Walmart level due to the economy but some of those folks have either recovered and gone back to Macy's or simply accepted their current lot in life. They're learning to be satisfied with the same mediocrity that us regular Walmart shoppers are used to.

They no longer carry the individual dose packs of natural tears I used to buy. I liked their brand but they now only have the name brands. Those cost twice as much. I'll have to stop at CVS or Walgreen's for the store brands. They've cut their "new" craft department yet again so they also didn't have the ribbon I needed. (They had it last week.) Nor did they have the thread I needed. The clerk told me they are eliminating the fabric department completely within the next week or two and will then only carry 12 colors of sewing thread in the craft section. This is a Super Walmart. In the last year or so, they eliminated all the fabric departments in the regular Wlamarts here but had left them in the Supers. So much for that! On the up side, all of the notions they did have were 50% off today!

This has been one of those weeks. I went to my AC Moore on Tuesday as they were carrying Hanes onesies with the T-shirts for painting and other adornment. They've discontinued that practice. They've also stopped carrying the fabric paints I use. Another wasted trip! The Michaels around the corner only carries Gerbers and my customer had specifically requested I NOT use Gerbers! Okay, so I'd go to Target and pick up a Circo brand. No problem.

That Target recently remodeled to become a Target Greatland (these fall between regular Targets and Super Targets). It's the first time I've been in since the remodel was finished. I hate the new store!! They've tried to go more upscale and it just doesn't look like it works. They've squeezed way too much into way too little space. You can't pass another shopper in an aisle. What's worse is what they've done to the baby department! They've eliminated most of the Circo baby items and switched to, you guessed it, Gerbers! (I could get them at Walmart!) I was soooo depressed. I've always loved the unique designs and color combinations they offered in onesies, sleepers, gowns, etc. for babies. Again, on the upside - what Circo items they had left were greatly discounted and I bought a few things for an upcoming arrival in the family!

They've eliminated their old snack bar, too. Now there's a Pizza Hut Express and a Starbucks in its place. Guess I won't be grabbing lunch there anymore. (Walmart is down to just a Dunkin' Donuts!) I just can't believe, the neighborhood can support four Starbucks in two neighboring shopping centers!! Two of them are less than 500 yards apart!

We no longer have any K-marts in our area. Shopko doesn't exist East of the Mississippi and we've never had Hobby Lobbys in the Mid-Atlantic. I finally found the clothing I was looking for at Kohl's. It was on sale, so I got it for a Walmart type price.

I still miss my all-purpose dime-stores or discount markets. Dollar Tree just doesn't cut it!

Please, Mr. Merchant, stop making "improvements." I loved you just the way you were.

Note to Mr. Walton: Let's not even discuss what you've done to "remodel" the parking lots!! I know you figure if the store is a maze, folks'll buy more as they wander around looking for the check out. Personally, if the parking lot is a maze, I simply go out the first exit I come to and don't buy anything!