Category Archives: Shopping

Best Laid Plans

Sometimes the best-laid plans go awry, as mine did this very day. I had planned to spend it writing: first my post for OTBF, then the remainder of the day working on my novel. The morning started out well until the phone rang. It was my doctor’s surgery calling to rearrange my regular blood check. As here in the UK we are plunged into a booster jab panic I was fully expecting this call informing me the scheduled appointment for this Friday coming, was cancelled. Instead, it was moved to today. This morning. In an hour’s time. Fine. The test had to be done, so be it. As my day was now disrupted, I decided to afterwards drive to a different supermarket, hoping to find a few things needed that our usual shop had been out of stock of for some weeks, and thus write my blog post this afternoon.

Walking swiftly around the supermarket, glasses steaming up because of my mask, I literally bumped into a work colleague I hadn’t seen for what proved to be 25 years! We had a lot to catch up on, so we agreed to go for a coffee in a nearby coffee shop. Coffee turned into lunch, and I didn’t arrive back home until 3.30 this afternoon (you know how it goes!). After sinking a cup of tea made by Dave upon my return, I confess I fell asleep in the armchair. So here I am now, at 7pm writing this in a sprint session. But what to write?

Other than today, it has been a quiet four weeks, with little going on here, no gardening to do, art group closed for the holiday until 7th January. I have managed to complete the painting I had started at the group. It turned out well, I think. Called “L’Etang Bleu”, I hope you like it, it’s the last I shall be painting this year.

“L’Etang Bleu”

Talking of Christmas… for the past 22 years, since my father passed away, my mother has always joined us for a week over the Christmas periods. She’s always enjoyed it with us as we don’t make a fuss for the simple reason neither Mum nor my husband enjoy the festivities and it is always quiet and calm here. This year and in future she will not be coming as although she’s okay and quite independent for 96 years old, she can no longer manage our stairs and we have no downstairs bathroom. Last year was difficult for her, so this year it will be just Dave and I.

As it will be only the two of us, last Friday we agreed we wouldn’t bother getting the tree out of the loft. The next morning a gift arrived for us by post. We had no idea whom it was from as the included card simply said “Love from Santa”. It was a real tree, complete with baubles, decorations and lights. I had an idea it was from our daughter who, a few days later confirmed it was, bless her. A lovely, thoughtful choice. After the holiday, we will pot it up in the garden for next Christmas.

This season, sad to say I have found the Christmas adverts on TV rather poor, most are boring and unimaginative, with the majority repeats from last year. There has been only one we’ve liked, an amusing one from Aldi supermarkets. It’s a play on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Here’s the link.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OW-PhgjyNSs&ab

This weekend, I am driving to Reading to spend a girlie weekend with Mum and my two sisters. These get-togethers are always enjoyable and it will be good to see them. Some of the shopping today was for supplies for this including the wine and cheese.

And because it’s Christmas, we must have a carol. Someone asked me the other day what my favourite one was. My two all-time favourites I’m sure you already know: Silent Night (sung in German) and an old German carol I’ve posted in previous years. There is another one I love, Little Drummer Boy, though I’m not sure whether it is classed a Christmas carol or purely a Christmas song. I do love it and always feel a little blubbery whenever I hear it.

https://youtu.be/Jotjc_U4rwY

My next post will be in the New Year. Let us all hope 2022 will be so much better than the last two and we can all get back to real normality. Whatever you are doing over the holiday season, enjoy, have fun, and most of all, stay safe.

Merry Christmas from Kit.

Kit Domino’s website and blogs

Tree Topper- A Cherished Keepsake

Jillian here. Happy December. I thought I’d share about my tree topper today since I don’t have much else to say exciting — been having some stress at the day job and it’s time to put that aside and talk about something less legally intense. 🙂

In the fall of 1986, I was twenty-five and pregnant with my first child and had been a lawyer for a bit over two years. Back then, salaries weren’t that great. A beginning lawyer made from $18,000-$20,000 a year (which translates to around $43,000- 47,000.00 now with inflation). I had just started a new job with a firm (had previously done overflow work from another lawyer and did okay with that financially, but since I was pregnant, I wanted a more steady salary and benefits). I was making $24,000.00 a year there (about $58,000.00 in today’s money. I’m telling you all this to say that $35.00 for a tree topper was a lot of money in that time ($88.00 with inflation). 🙂

There was a cute shop down the street from the law firm where I worked that sold a variety of items. It’s now a lamp and lighting showroom, but back then, they carried lots of knick-knacks, household furnishings, soft goods and, at the holiday season, it was a wonderland of goodies.

In the first years of our marriage, we had an el-cheapo topper that was a circle with lights and shiny greenery around them. It flashed on and off and was a fun thing on our tree. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it. 🙂

One day, on my lunch hour, I walked around this store and found this lovely Father Christmas who absolutely spoke to me. He looked nothing like our traditional Coca-Cola Santa Claus here in the USA, but he was beautiful and absolutely stole my heart. He’s wearing a silk coat with fur attached and his face, beard, and hands are beautiful porcelain. The toys in his pack are lovely, too–even a little Christmas tree peeking out. I fell in love at first sight. But he was $35.00. It seemed like too much to pay at the time, so I left.

But he was still speaking to me. He was calling my name down the highway and into my office… he was relentless…. so, there was nothing I could do. I had to go back the next day to buy him. He was happy, I was happy, and even the baby I was carrying seemed to approve. 🙂

Now, 35 years later, I still relish getting him out of the Christmas box every year and getting him on the tree. He still makes my heart happy–and at $1.00 per year net cost (so far), he’s been a great investment, right?

Life Is Expanding

This year feels good when I think of where we were last year at this time.  With restrictions relaxing, and more business’s opening, Karen and I took advantage of the great weather last week and ran out to a nursery we heard about in Adna. 

It’s a bit of drive from here but the trip was part of the lure. Beautiful country out that way. I clipped the photo from “Adna Floral” website.  This is a nursery I’ll be visiting again.  

Adna Floral est. 1963. is a family owned plant nursery, that takes great pride in personally growing every plant they sell. Open April 15th through June 30th. There is an excellent selection of healthy plants to choose from. Some of the colors are ones I haven’t seen before. 

Of course we included lunch in our outing. And, what an experience. Just up the road from Adna, in Chehalis, is Jeremy’s Farm to Table restaurant. Karen had been there and suggested it.  I don’t know how I missed it as I’ve certainly been in and out of Chehalis over the years. Like the nursery, I plan to go back. 

I can’t say enough about Jeremy’s. It flanks the historic Chehalis railway and was started in 1990. It partners with local farms to provide the freshest ingredients for menu items. I had “The Special”, Crab Cake Benedict. It came with home fries and I could have made a meal on them. So Good!!!!!  Of course I had to get dessert to go . . . Strawberry Crisp. 

Are you hungry yet?  Looking forward to more days out and about. Hopefully you are getting back out there too. 

When is enough too much?

So this week I went shopping with a friend who wanted to buy two new bras. After trying on what seemed like the whole shop, she eventually found the perfect pairs and all was well. It was a blistering hot day and by the time we got back to her place we were both gasping for something cold to drink. We sat under the shade in her garden and I spotted several pairs of lovely lacy bras in a variety of colours drying on the washing line. Why did she need more pairs, I asked? Her reply was that she wants her bra to match her outfit. What? Needless to say, I felt woefully inadequate with just a black bra, a white bra, and a flesh-coloured bra, in my possession, but they serve me well enough.

IMG_20190723_211537_706Before I left, my friend showed me one of her ‘bra’ drawers. I counted twelve pairs, plus the five on her washing line, and the two new pairs she’d just purchased.

20190728_144159I was still pondering on this the next day as I put away some freshly-ironed clothes and realised I shouldn’t have been so quick to tease her on her bra fetish. I counted fifteen pairs of leggings. Okay, I do yoga and attend classes regularly, but fifteen? I certainly won’t be needing any more pairs anytime soon, but then I did just see this adorable pair online…and sixteen is such a nice even number, isn’t it?

How about you? Is there anything you collect to excess?

One Simple Thing …

Recently Peter, my husband, and I visited Ikea to buy a single, fitted sheet for our Ikea bed which  we bought whilst living in Spain, sounds simple!  Ikea is a 40 minute drive away and we arrived about 4.30pm.  I had mentioned to my daughter, Kate, we were going and told two friends, Pam and Sue.

Kate asked if I would pick up a pizza cutter as hers had got lost in a recent move, I suspect thrown in the rubbish bin! Pam asked if we could buy 10 white dinner plates for a party she’s planning soon.  Sue asked if we could buy a lamp she needed!  So 3 extra things and the single sheet.

Peter is very tolerant!  We started the journey around Ikea when he spotted some bedding, which we sort of needed but we couldn’t agree on patterns SO we bought two sets!  Continuing through the crowds wandering aimlessly like robots we eventually reach the Market Hall.  Collect pizza cutter (plus a cute washing up brush with a sticker on the end) and Pam’s plates avoiding unnecessary temptations. Oh except a bargain pack of paper napkins which always come in useful! On to the Lighting, I had a photo of said lamp but couldn’t find exact copy or at the price Sue had quoted.  Eventually with help from two assistants, a man looking for same lamp for his mother, Peter and photo we bought a lamp!  Ah then I spotted the candles!! Cannot visit Ikea without stocking up on candles!  Once candle has burnt out the glass holders make handy desert dishes (trust me! But storage becomes an issue after a while!!)  Now the sheet.  “Helpfully” Ikea now stock their bedding in UK sizes not European which my original sheet and bed are.  The same size as my local Sainsbury’s supermarket 10 minutes walk away from the house! Luckily we could laugh about  the whole escapade.  On the way to the check out we passed some handy garden tables, I had mentioned one previously, so in the trolley it went!

So to our one simple thing, the sheet,  was added 2 sets of bedding, 10 plates, a lamp, a pizza cutter and a washing up brush and not forgetting the table. Oh and don’t forget the candles!!

I know this is a silly blog but sadly no photos taken (no time!) so hope the word picture works.

I will be out of action for a few weeks in August but will luxuriate in my new bedding whilst reading my book and sipping herb tea.  Lucky or what?

Champagne, Laughs and Manolos

I imagine most of us have heard a variation of Hunter S Thompson’s quote:

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, champagne in one hand and chocolate in another, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming ‘WooHoo! What a ride’.

Well, with these words in mind, a friend and I have spent the last couple of days in London after we decided to slide into our pensioner-status birthdays in a memorable way.

Me and Dee at Covent Garden

Covent Garden

We booked into a lovely little hotel near London’s West End and headed for Covent Garden with its lovely markets and quirky shops just made for browsing. Soon the late afternoon chill called for a glass of mulled wine around the Christmas tree, then it was off to see Beautiful, the Carole King musical. It was fabulous, as was the pre-theatre dinner we enjoyed at The Waldorf where we treated ourselves to a glass of champagne (or two).

Cheers! At The Waldorf

Living it up at The Waldorf

Next day, following a leisurely and rather late breakfast, we headed to the shops. First stop was Liberty, where we enjoyed morning coffee and some serious lusting after Manolo Blahnik shoes.

I'll have a pair in each colour, please

“I’ll take a pair in each size, please.”

Liberty

Covent Garden

Then it was Fortnum and Mason and their Christmas shop and fabulous selection of seasonal fare. So tempting, but I (mostly) managed to keep a tight hold on the purse-strings. Since all that restraint was very tiring we soon needed sustenance again. All I will say is that afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason is an experience…and necessitated a deep dig into that hitherto tightly closed purse 🙂

But we had an amazing couple of days and created some fab memories. Can’t put a price on that, right?

Scents for a Woman

I love candles. Especially scented ones. I burn them all the time, summer and winter, and get really excited when I have a new fragrance to try. Recently, I ordered three large jar candles with an oriental theme. They are perfect for this time of year – warming and comforting – frankincense, Moroccan argan oil and oud oasis. Absolutely gorgeous. I can close my eyes and imagine wandering through an eastern bazaar, complete with colourful rugs, vivid ceramics and succulent dates and figs…with, of course, hot and sunny weather!

My favourite fragrances are lemon lavender, verbena, vanilla and sandalwood. Lemon, lavender and verbena bring back memories of lovely holidays in the south of France, especially Menton (famous for its lemon festival), while vanilla reminds me of ice cream and sunny days on the beach when I was little. Sandalwood is a masculine scent. In fact, most of the heroes in the stories I write use sandalwood soap!

It’s interesting how smell can evoke particular memories, whipping us back in time in a heartbeat. The emotional response we have is said to be governed by this association, which explains why some people love a particular scent and others absolutely hate it. Recently I was in a restaurant where they served up Spotted Dick and Custard – a traditional British steamed fruit pudding, evoking memories of my beloved grandmother who always served this pudding on Wednesdays, as a treat for finishing up our dinners of liver and onions. Yuk!

What about you? Any favourite scents and associated memories?

Gallery

Black Friday – A Truly Brilliant Invention

Have you noticed how Black Friday, the shopping day right after Thanksgiving Thursday, has crept up on Thanksgiving Day, jumped on it, and gobbled it up like a well-done turkey set upon by a pack of hungry wolves? A few … Continue reading

The Wonder of Woolies

As 2013 rapidly edges to a close I’m reminded that in the Spring of 2014 I shall reach a milestone birthday and able to have a bus pass. Whilst I will also no longer have to pay for my medications I need to take that have enabled me to reach this grand old age, I am not able to collect my state pension yet, thanks to our wonderful government changing the goalposts on retirement, and I must wait another 5 years before I receive any payments. I am normally a calm and forgiving person but this has really angered me for the simple reason I have been paying into the system since I first started full-time work at the age of 15, and have been working in one job or another ever since. Even more annoying is the fact that had I been born just one day earlier, I would have been okay, but no, it seems I am to be “robbed” of 5 years entitlement thanks to the cut-off date the government has imposed. One flaming day! Okay, rant over, that’s not what this post is about.  Let’s get on to the real thing.

No, what I really was reminded of was my very first proper “paid” job all those years ago. When I was 14, I started a Saturday job as a Woolie’s girl, working in our local Woolworth’s store in Hounslow (for our overseas readers Hounslow is where Heathrow Airport is located). I was still at school so by law could only be employed for a few hours a week but those hours on a Saturday afternoon suited well. It meant I could still go to my dancing classes in the morning and after, walk the 2 miles to the High Street and then be on my feet serving all afternoon before walking home.

Hounslow Woolworth just before it closed down

Hounslow Woolworth just before it closed down in 2008

The store was huge, at the time boasted the largest glass frontage shop in the country (whether this meant the largest Woolie’s or not, I’m not sure) but there were many entrances at the front, and two from the rear for its customers. It was also one of the few in the country at the time to have a customer cafe. The facade had been modernized several times since.

As a teenage in the 1960s, you can imagine the counter I wanted to work on was the most popular: make-up, with its stock of Minors, Rimmel, Max Factor, Coty (which was manufactured locally) etc,  beautiful powder compacts and everything a teenager in London during the Swinging Sixties would want to wear. Other popular counters were the records, and the sweet stand. This was the time of the good old days when each counter (actually a stand of four in a square) had at least one assistant and a till (cash register) – no hunting around and queuing at the Pay Here point as we have today in most big stores. 

Typical store layout at the time

Typical store layout at the time

But no, I was given the hardware counter at the back of the store, along with the furniture stand and the lampshade counter. Big sigh of disappointment as there I was, selling rubber things that fitted over taps to stop them splashing, potato peelers and bean cutters and other kitchen implements, cutlery, washers, plugs, chains – you get the idea. The furniture stand had chairs and stools, rugs, bookshelves and small tables; and the lampshades, well, lampshades and lightbulbs. Most of my time with these latter stands I was running up and down the stairs and occasionally using the lift (hate lifts since once becoming stuck in one) fetching stock as the display items and furniture couldn’t be sold and there was no space to store anything on the shop floor. I enjoyed the work, the staff friendly, and I was never bored.

One day, to my utter delight, I was asked if I minded manning the record counter. Did I mind? I didn’t need asking twice but it was nearly my undoing. You can imagine the joy of this young, vibrant teenager being allowed to play records all afternoon, have plenty of fellow teens gathered around me, chatting, especially the boys. At the time, my favourite record was Goin’ Up the Country by Canned Heat, and I am afraid I played it over and over and over again. I can’t remember how long it was before the manager came over and told me that if he heard that record one more time that afternoon, I would be sacked! I didn’t and I wasn’t. I still love that song and still play it often.

Catch the song  here:

I left Woolworth’s when I left school the following year and took up my first full time job working at Heathrow Airport, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a Woolie’s girl in my green nylon overall. It helped me get over my nerves of talking to people, it helped with my maths as I was never good at it at school and back then, tills didn’t work out the change for you or do the adding up – you had to work it all out for yourself. It was also good training for going out into the “real” world of work and becoming a responsible adult.  

What was your first proper job? Do tell.

Fashion, Fairs and Fantasies…

Every November one of my dearest friends organises a charity craft fair and fashion show where everything sold is fair-trade. Each year Denise manages to exceed the previous year’s ‘takings’ which is no mean feat considering that here in the UK there are many bigger charities vying for people’s money at this time of year! But to all of us who know her, that is no big surprise. She has this ability to, shall we say, persuade people (and I mean that in the nicest way) into getting involved.Fashion Show Denise

And so it was that I found myself agreeing to model in the fashion show again. Well it’s such a good cause and as I’ve done it for several years now you’d think I’d be used to it. But I’m not really one for the limelight, much preferring to work behind the scenes, but Denise being Denise there I was stepping onto the boards again. What is even scarier than looking down at dozens of pairs of eyes directed on you is the fact that each year I seem to be slipping into ever larger sizes. I have this little fantasy that the mirrors are those distorted kinds that make you look bigger than you actually are, but sadly my self-deception was short-lived. This year I treated myself to one of the tunic dresses I modelled as it felt extremely comfortable and I thought it hid a multitude of sins. Alas, I bought it before I saw this photo, and they say the camera never lies! Tricia Fashion Show (2)AJ said it wasn’t the most flattering thing he’d ever seen me in, and perhaps I could wear it a couple of times and then donate it to a charity shop. He would have laughed on the other side of his face if he knew how much I’d paid for it!

On a happier note, I managed to get some Christmas shopping done. Fashion Show 13There were amazing things on offer – handicrafts, jewellery, food, bags, cards, notebooks- all so very refreshing from the mass-produced goods to be found in the stores and the proceeds going toward such good causes. It’s a happier shopping experience than fighting around the crowded shops. One of the stalls really caught my attention (and everyone else’s).

Fashion Show 14

This wonderful lady was selling absolutely stunning hand-made jewellery from Uganda for the Fingertips charity and shoppers were gravitating toward her special blend of energy and the gorgeous products all day.

I wish I could have taken more photographs, but the day tends to go by in a whirl of activity. But then there’s always next year … no doubt I’ll get ‘persuaded’ again.