Thanksgiving Trials and Tribulations: The Table

So I decided to have Thanksgiving in the new house, but the funny thing is that I have absolutely no dining room furniture.  Not a stitch.

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I did have these pine cones adorning the mantle across the room.  I found them at a yard sale a few months back.  Too bad you can’t sit on or eat off of them.

With less than a week before Thanksgiving, I had to put on my thinking cap.

My solution was not unlike glamping.

Actually glamping might be more glamorous.

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Thank you to Costco and Ikea, I am the proud owner of a “dining set” for under $100.  Coincidentally, I am now equipped for tailgating.  I’m loving this versatile furniture.

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Because I planned to serve slightly more elegant food than hotdogs and chips, I figured I might want to dress (hide) the table.

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I found just the thing at Wal-mart: tone-on-tone ticking stripe fabric by the yard that I would transform into a tablecloth.  Minor detail: Did I mention that I don’t sew?

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Ta-da!  With some creative cutting and folding, I successfully hid the evidence that my table was anything but solid mahogany.

I advised my guests not to lean too hard on my “delicate” table and explained that I was going for a more eclectic look with my “retro” chairs.

A little metallic never hurt anyone, so I started the tabletop with gold chargers and an actual vintage piece, a candelabra that my grandmother had given my great Aunt Anna before she passed.  It was nice to have a reminder of her at the table.  She was a great cook and an elegant lady.  I think she would have been proud of my efforts.

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Glassware and plates instantly made the table look fuller and shinier.

The table was beginning to look legitimate.

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Then came some tinted glass bowls to add color and continue with the vintage theme.  My mom and I made a last minute dash to Pier 1 for some golden yellow cloth napkins.   I put together two low floral arrangements with my flowers from Costco.  I love a show-stopping floral centerpiece, but I actually wanted to be able to see the other people at the table so I divided and conquered. I also added some burlap ribbon to my fancy chairs to complete my unique look.

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I was pretty pleased with myself, especially since this set-up cost me less than the groceries for the meal.

Consider this my submission for the design on a dime challenge.

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This is my favorite angle.

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Eugene took this fab picture with her phone.  I think it’s worthy of Martha Stewart Living.

This certainly wasn’t a traditional Thanksgiving set-up, but we all got to sit together around the table and have a good laugh.  I’ll give thanks for that.

Stay tuned for the meal.  It was not without its challenges.

Y’all keep it classy,

Sugarlump

Gold Mine

I recently made a trip up to Boston to help my parents clean out closets and storage spaces that contain the relics of my childhood.  In an effort to purge the no longer needed, my parents nominated me to make the call on what was too precious and dear to part with and what needed to find a new home in a hurry.

The major area that needed addressing was my sister’s and my old playroom that had become a resting place for furniture no longer allowed in the main part of the house.

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Things only got worse before they got better.

But, boy, did they get good.

I found some real treasures among 3 carloads, 2 truckloads, and dozens of 55 gallon trash bags by the curb of rejected items.

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This here is one of the Hanson brothers, also known as my little sister Eugene.

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I found an entire box of cards that my sister’s classmates had made her when she had her tonsils removed in the first or second grade.  By the volume of cards and the concern in her classmates’ scribbles, you would have thought she was having high-risk, open-heart surgery.  She had many a reminder to eat popsicles, which had some very creative spellings.  My favorite though, was this card from a young man who I deduce was named Harrison.  He seemed to have some top secret information for Eugene on the inside of the card as she was to “plees opon alone.”

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I found my Chapel signs from my senior year of high school.  Man were those a trip.

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This is me in 8th grade with my kindergarten buddy.  I think she’s applying to colleges now.  I feel old.

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Hard to believe since it was just yesterday that I was sporting pig tails and cat appliques.

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Who remembers Lisa Frank?! I used to love to buy this stuff at the school store in elementary school!

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I was unsure about this creature that belonged to Eugene.  I sent her this picture to inquire about its nature.

Me: “What is this here creature?”

Eugene: “A horse in a kimono, naturally.”

Right.  He was for sure a keeper.

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Cards congratulating my parents on my birth.  I’m not sure if it was a common thing to say back then (let’s hope), but a lot of the cards said, “take good care of her,” as if my parents were questionable guardians.   This kind of made me laugh/worry.

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This is a realtor packet from 1992 when my parents sold their first home in Maryland, where Eugene and I were born.

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Apparently I took interest in homes and real estate at a young age as it appears I added my own notes to the list of house features.

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I had a lot to add.

And that was only day one.

Y’all be good,

Sugarlump

 

 

Easter Eatin’

Happy Easter, y’all!

I’ve been up to a lot lately that I will post about when I have some free time, which will be on the fifth of never.  Just kidding.  Kinda.

Even though these posts won’t be in chronological order, I thought I’d share my Easter while it’s fresh in my noggin.  My dear little sister, Eugene drove down from Lexington, Kentucky to join me for the holiday.  I hadn’t seen her since Christmas, which seems ridiculous since she lives only three and a half hours away.  She arrived last evening and we went out to dinner at Germantown Café, which we had been to last summer for brunch.  The brunch last year was fabulous and dinner certainly didn’t disappoint.

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My friend and her sister joined us and we ordered two appetizers to share: pork belly tater tots and fried green tomatoes.  I normally don’t like tomatoes but I didn’t mind choking these down one bit.  They weren’t half-bad; in fact, they were more than half-good. The pork belly tater tots were slightly smoky, but not overwhelmingly so, which was good.  I’m not a huge fan of smoky things, including cigarettes.  They were very rich but quite tasty.

For my entrée, I had the fish special, which was a panko-crusted tilapia with a Puttanesca –like medley over parmesan polenta and asparagus.  If there is ever a fish and grits/polenta dish offered at a restaurant, I will most likely order it.  It’s one of my favorite combinations ever.   This wasn’t the best I ever had, but it certainly hit the spot.

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We moved on to Holland House for drinks/dessert.  I ordered a drink on our waiter’s recommendation that wasn’t on the menu.  I don’t recall the name, but it was a bourbon-based concoction that tasted like fall in a tumbler.  Fall is my favorite season and bourbon is my poison, so I definitely enjoyed it.  It didn’t hurt that Holland House is such a neat scene with its dim-lighting and parlor-like feel with just the right balance of rustic and refined décor.  Initially I had wanted to sit at the bar to people watch and observe the theatrics of the bartenders making their artisan cocktails, but it worked out that we were seated by the fireplace since it was a cold, rainy night.  We ordered dessert to finish off the evening.  My sister and I split a flourless chocolate cake with a scoop of homemade carrot cake ice cream.  The dessert wasn’t as spectacular as the drinks, but all in all, it was a fun evening.

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After church this morning, my sister and I headed over to Pancake Pantry, which I have been wanting to try since I moved here.  I was forewarned that there would be a line down the sidewalk and today was no exception.  Poor Eugene toughed it out in the rain with me, each of us with a malfunctioning umbrella and no outerwear, for about 45 minutes.  Thankfully, the food was worth the wait otherwise I think she would have killed me.  She ordered pecan pancakes and I ordered chocolate chip.  We also rounded out the meal with an order of sausage patties and hash browns.   The pancakes were superb and the sausage was the good stuff.  The hash browns, while good, were clearly crisped up on the griddle with Parkay margarine.  I know this because Parkay has a very distinct flavor which I first experienced as a child when I insisted we purchase the Parkay spray margarine I had seen on TV because it looked like fun to use.  It is not tasty and I’m going to have to dock Pancake Pantry a few points for this faux pas.  They have a good thing going with their pancakes with whipped butter, though.

In my typical fashion, the visit was centered around food.   Eugene didn’t seem to mind and I didn’t have to cook.  Not that I mind cooking, but I still don’t have barstools so there isn’t a proper place to sit and eat a meal in my apartment.   I’m working on it though.  Thank goodness Nashville has a lot of great restaurants.

Y’all come back,

Sugarlump

One Year Sweeter

Today is the one year anniversary of the Sugarlump, which means I have lived in Nashville for almost one year.  Man, does time fly.  I have a few reflections to share on this momentous day:

While I started this blog mainly to capture moments of my life that I never want to forget, it has proven to be so much more.  It eased me through the transition to my new home.  It has kept me connected to my family and friends who regularly read the Sugarlump and comment.  In turn, it assures them that I am alive and well.  Some of my extended family members and family friends have probably learned more about me through reading my blog this past year than they had learned about me in all the years they’ve known me combined.  Whether that’s good or bad, I don’t know.  I’m just putting it all out there.

Most surprisingly, The Sugarlump has connected me to new friends who I know only because they have found my blog or I have found theirs.  Who knew complete strangers would take the time to leave a kind note or helpful tips?  This blog regularly reassures me that this world is indeed full of good people.

This blog has given me the motivation to learn more about photography as it provides a great outlet through which to share the thousands of photographs I have taken since moving to Nashville.  I apologize to my readers who don’t care for cats or weather reporting.   I hope to get out more this summer.

Though I am generally journaling-averse, writing posts has been a kind of therapy for me.   It helps me to find joy in the little things as I reflect on my day.  It puts things into perspective.  It keeps me connected in a more meaningful way.  I never would have thought I’d call myself a blogger, but a blogger I have become.

And even though I have slacked off on the blogging as my life has become busier in Nashville, I hope to continue celebrating blog anniversaries.

Thanks to my faithful readers for all of your “likes” and comments.  You make my day.

Love y’all,

Sugarlump

I found Nemo

I made a somewhat last-minute decision to fly back to Boston for a long weekend.  It figures that I picked the weekend an “epic” blizzard is due to hit New England.  I think it’s karma for me calling Nashville silly for canceling school due to the threat of 3 snowflakes.

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I’ll have you know that I left unseasonably nice weather in Nashville.  I felt kind of ridiculous heading to the airport yesterday in my fur vest given that it was about 65 degrees.

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I was supposed to fly out from Nashville this morning, but, given the rumblings of the impending storm, on Wednesday we scrambled to change my flight and I ended up flying into Providence last evening.  Good thing, considering almost 4000 flights have been canceled because of this storm, including the one I was originally booked on, which would have been arriving about now in Boston.  That would have been a dicey landing.

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Thankfully, I was able to reschedule my plans for tomorrow to this morning.  I headed out at 8:45 before the snow began and found it very challenging to obey the 55 mph speed limit coming from 70 mph speed limits in Nashville.  All I’m going to say is that I kept it under 75 and I made it back in one piece.

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Now I can enjoy a lazy couple of days by the fire. I don’t have a fireplace at my place in Nashville so I feel like I’m at a ski resort at the moment.  Maybe I can talk my mom into making me some hot chocolate…this will be a good test of how diligent she is about reading my blog…

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Although I love the weather in Nashville (minus the tornadoes at night), I hadn’t realized how much I missed a good snow.  It’s really beautiful.

Hopefully there won’t be any major issues with this storm.  Not only was school canceled, but many offices and businesses as well.  Travel ban in effect as of 4PM.  This is serious.  Think positive thoughts.

Y’all be careful,

Sugarlump

Inherited Mischief

I’ve recently taken an interest in target shooting.  Most people who know me find this surprising/troubling.  Not to worry, you skeptics, I only care to shoot inanimate objects.

Uncle Santa gave me, my sister and cousins each a box of shells and some targets for Christmas.  I think it’s one of my favorite gifts ever.  Maybe next year I’ll ask for a gun.  Watch out.

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I was so excited to go out shooting the day after Christmas, but the weather was most uncooperative.  A nice rotation of rain/sleet/snow carried on all day so my box of shells is still unopened.

Christmas night, as we were discussing our plans for the following day, Granny shared with us that she didn’t want her girls shooting guns.  My dad called her out on this immediately because she shot guns all the time growing up.  She said that didn’t matter; she still didn’t want us shooting guns.  My dad overruled her on a count of hypocrisy.

All four of us are also adults and can shoot a gun even if our Granny doesn’t want us to, but we didn’t dare bring that up.  We are and always will be her “babies” even though we’re no longer 2, 3, 5 and 7 like she thinks we are.

It’s no secret that my Granny was somewhat of a mischievous child.  Shooting guns was just the beginning.  We asked Granny to tell us some stories that night and it wasn’t long before we were all laughing so hard it hurt.  There were some really good ones that involved playing hooky.

We asked Granny what she did when she skipped school one day for an entire day.

Granny: “Well, we had never seen a trial.”

Family in unison: “You skipped school to go to the courthouse?!?!”

Granny: “Yes, and we sat there all day and there wasn’t even a trial so we just went back to school.”

After we all died laughing, we just sat there for a few minutes processing Granny’s rather unusual item on her bucket list that warranted skipping school.

The next story was even better.

One day in high school, several couples who were “courting” decided to leave school without permission.

Granny said, “Now, our principle was a mean old man and he stuttered. “

Upon being caught, the couples were ordered back to school.  They walked down the hall, past the principle, who had a habit of pulling up his britches when he was mad.

Granny stood up and hiked up her pants in the front using her forearms, imitating the principle.

We all just about lost it and waited for the punchline with the stutter.

Granny said, “He was so mad, he didn’t say a word.”

We all sat there for a minute and then questioned Granny as to what the fact that he stuttered had to do with the story if he never even said anything.

She just wanted us to know that about him, evidently.

That made us laugh even harder.

Granny always calls us the craziest bunch of young’ins.   I wonder where we got that from.

Y’all mind your Grannies,

Sugarlump

Visiting Jack

Cousin Lauren came down to visit me here in Nashville the other day.  After some lunch and a trip to Comcast to switch out my cable box (I’m so much fun to visit), we headed to Lynchburg, Tennessee for a tour of Jack Daniel’s Distillery.

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As we neared the distillery in the car, cousin Lauren remarked how another distillery she had driven by had these creepy old buildings.  Moments after we stepped out of the car, we determined this place was creepy, too.  Must be a distillery thing.  And the fact that it was miserably cold, damp, and foggy.  Other than that, it was a perfect day for a distillery tour.

I’m such a great host.

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This was pretty nifty.  There is a natural source of water under this here hunk of rock that is used in the production of Jack Daniel’s products.  Apparently it’s some pretty pure stuff and makes Jack Daniel’s whiskey taste real good.  How do people figure these things out is what I want to know.

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This is not a black and white photo in case you were wondering.

After we went through the buildings where the whiskey is produced, we found ourselves by some very black trees.  The trees turn black from a mold that grows on them as a byproduct of the distillery.  Our tour guide assured us that the mold is not harmful to the trees or to people and is in fact a sign that the production of whiskey is going well.  Looks can be deceiving!

In the next building, where the whiskey drips through 10 feet of hard sugar maple charcoal to be purified, our tour guide lifted the lids of the large containers so we could smell the whiskey. We got a huge whiff of the whiskey, which made me think of bourbon balls as the smell lingered in my nostrils.

Pleasant thought, no?

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This prompted me to ask cousin Lauren about some candy my mom had brought down with her from her friend.  I was under the impression that all chocolate specimens in the tin were bourbon balls.  Here was our clarifying conversation:

Me: “Those bourbon balls didn’t really taste like bourbon at all.  They actually tasted almost like coconut.”

Cousin Lauren, “Did the ones you ate have pecans on top of them?”

Me: “No.”

Cousin Lauren: “Then you were eating coconut balls.  The ones with pecans on top are bourbon balls.  The ones without pecans are coconut balls.”

Me: “Oh……No wonder they tasted like coconut. At least I have a good sense of taste and could identify the coconut.”

Cousin Lauren: “…and the lack of bourbon.”

I’m glad we got that cleared up.  It was really troubling me.

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Towards the end of the tour, I asked our tour guide where she was from because she clearly did not have a southern accent and had been asking people in the group where we were from.   Coincidentally, she was from Massachusetts, where I lived for 13 years and moved here from in April.  I asked her where in Massachusetts she was from and she told me Salem, a town famous for the witch trials that occurred centuries ago.  These creepy trees would fit right in there.

All I have to say is, this world is tiny.

And I like bourbon balls.

And try to arrive at the distillery before 2:30PM if you would like a tasting tour.

We arrived at 2:40PM.

Y’all be careful,

Sugarlump

Christmas Traditions

This year marked a big transition in tradition for the Dyer household.   Instead of having our family Christmas at my parents’ house as we have always done, I hosted here in my new hometown of Nashville.

In my one bedroom apartment.

I didn’t foresee an issue as I have a large sectional that can sleep two people so I knew all four of us would have a comfortable place to sleep.

What I didn’t foresee was the blanket shortage.  I wound up sleeping under my robe.

It’s ok though.  Santa still showed up and we had our family Christmas.

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I may need a bigger place if I plan on hosting regularly.

After our family Christmas on Christmas Eve morning with just me, Eugene and my mom and dad, we headed to Kentucky for Christmas on Christmas Day with the extended family.

Got that straight?

We always sleep at my dad’s parents’ house on Christmas Eve.  My aunt, uncle and cousins live just down the road so they do their family Christmas early in the morning and then head to my grandparents for the big family Christmas on Christmas Day.

Christmas morning, Granny made sausage gravy and biscuits.  Man that stuff is good.  I certainly couldn’t eat it every day but then again my great grandparents did and they lived into their 90’s so maybe there’s something to that.  I’ll have to ponder that at a later time when I’m feeling less full.

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Per tradition, we started with our stockings.  Among other lovely items, there was a Starbucks gift card, which it looks like I could have used that morning if the nearest Starbucks weren’t over 70 miles away.

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After the stockings, we moved into the living room and the youngins passed out the gifts.  Eugene found a tagless gift, which was cause for great concern.

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My mom and Aunt Vickie received some money in shot glasses from Santa (Papa).  I found this hilarious.  I’m glad Aunt Vickie thought so, too.

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Granny got her box of tide with a dollar bill from Papa.  He’s been doing this for decades and I’m still not really sure how it started.  Maybe someday I’ll get to the bottom of it.

After Christmas at my dad’s parents’ house, we headed down the road (literally) for Christmas with my mom’s parents.

I went straight for a bourbon ball….or two.   I have a wicked sweet tooth and there’s no telling when it will strike.

We settled into the living room and opened our gifts.  It wasn’t the same without my aunt, uncle and cousin on my mom’s side, but we were certainly thinking of them and wishing they could have been with us.

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After seeing the photo that my parents sent out unsupervised in the family Christmas card this year where I look possessed, Eugene and I insisted that we supply suitable photographs for next year’s card.  We had my dad take about 437 photos and this was one of the better ones.

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With cameras retired for the day, we ate the delicious Christmas dinner that Grandmother had prepared for us.

Then I had a few more bourbon balls and a piece of rum cake.

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We played a game of Scrabble, one of our favorites.  I wasn’t on top of my game.  There’s only so much you can do when dealt X, B, J, H, L, L, T.  That, and most of the blood in my body was likely trying to aid in the digestion of the forty pounds of food I had eaten in the past few hours instead of pumping through my brain for a stroke of vocabulary genius.

And then I might have had another bourbon ball.

And then some leftover dressing from Christmas Eve dinner back at Granny and Papa’s.

And a piece of the jam cake cousin Lauren and I made on Thanksgiving and let ripen for Christmas.  It was scrumptious.

I think I’ll be full until next year.

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These things are the devil.

Y’all be careful,

Sugarlump

Christmases Past

I stumbled across a few gems from Christmases in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s.

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Evidently, I used to be a Christmas angel.

(My mother just informed me that this was not a good day.

Apparently, I did not want to have my picture taken.

Can you blame me?

Two words, Mom: white tights.)

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While sitting to have my picture made was not high on my list, I certainly got my money’s worth out of my toys.  Never was a child more content to play with her dollhouse for hours on end.

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I enjoyed commanding the attention of many a den full of family members.

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I was happy to pitch in and help document the family Christmas.

(Thankfully, Fashion Police hasn’t gotten wind of these pants.  I was a very skinny toddler and all I can say about these pants is that my mother must have had high hopes that I would expand drastically and require pant legs large enough to store my toys in.  No such luck.  I bet even now I wouldn’t have an issue getting those things over my thighs.)

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Christmases were going swimmingly.

(Aside from the fashion.)

And then suddenly I wasn’t the only grandchild anymore….

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By 1993, there were four.

Oh how Christmases have changed over the last couple of decades…

Merry Christmas, y’all,

Sugarlump

Oh Christmas Tree

It’s been so long since a fresh post.  Too long really.

It’s so annoying how life gets in the way of blogging about my life.

I’ve been up to a lot of things as the holiday season picks up speed, namely getting my apartment ready to host my immediate family Christmas.

The first order of business was a tree.  I wrangled a live 8 foot Frasier fir into my jeep and then up 2 flights of stairs to my apartment.

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All by myself, thank you very much.

I just flung that puppy over my shoulder and never looked back.

I was very impressed by my achievement as I went to put the stand on the tree and realized I had no tree stand.  What a buzz kill.

What happened was that I saw a tree stand at Lowe’s where they didn’t have any garland so I decided I would just get the tree stand wherever I found garland and save myself a holiday madness check out experience.  I found garland at Home Depot and plumb forgot about that there tree stand thing.

It’s a miracle that I can make it to work with matching shoes on a regular basis.

So glad that my efforts toward time efficiency had paid off, I trudged out to my car and drove to Home Depot.  I parked my car and grabbed for my wallet in my purse.  No wallet.  Man, that day was really shaping up to be a good one.

Thoroughly frustrated by myself, I drove back to my apartment, went and grabbed my wallet and set off for my FOURTH journey for that dang tree stand.

Even though I never got out of the car at Home Depot, my pride would not allow me to drive back there for the third time in 2 hours.  So I found myself at Lowe’s, purchasing the tree stand that I had opted out of purchasing just hours earlier so I could save myself some time.

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BAH, HUMBUG, y’all,

Sugarlump