Saturday, December 13, 2008

Merry Christmas to me

The local Western Warehouse* is closing. Bad for them, good for me. The boots were 30 percent off. I've been really happy with my old pair of Ariat Fatbaby boots so I went to find a new pair. The pickins are getting pretty slim, but I found a pair. They're not black. But they are pretty ... and comfy ... and on sale.

*Clicking the Western Warehouse link shows the company is evidently becoming Boot Barn.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I'm getting too old for this

Last night, some of my former coworkers and I got together for a Christmas party. We had great food and delicious Margaritas. I felt relaxed and a little tipsy, but certainly not drunk. The significant other played designated driver, so I didn't have to worry about how much I drank, anyway.

Unfortunately, either because I really am getting too old to party or because I don't party enough and my body doesn't know what to do with high-fat snacks and tequila, I woke in the middle of the night feeling like crap. My stomach hurt and I had trouble sleeping. I didn't wake up with a hangover and I feel mostly fine (other than tired from a busy day and lack of sleep). So, I'm going to say that it's not my age but rather my normally clean living that made me feel so lousy after a few Margaritas -- and celebratory shots -- and Mexican food.

It was all worth it and I'm thankful I went, because the party was great, as was hanging out with some of my best friends -- and definitely the coolest people I've ever worked with. I even got a present that made me laugh out loud. Nice stitching, Kate.

WARNING: Naughty word in the image below!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What I drove: 2009 Nissan Rogue

It was probably the shortest test drive I've ever taken -- including ones when actually shopping for a new car -- but I actually like the Nissan Rogue. Despite it's blatant product placement on "Heroes" and the fact that all Nissan vehicles are barely on my car radar, I think the Rogue is a pretty nice little crossover.

I was given the test drive assignment Monday with a deadline of Wednesday. Two days is a really short turnaround, especially for someone who has been used to having a couple of weeks to call the dealership, set up the appointment, spend a few hours driving the vehicle, then take a week or so to pull my notes and specifications together and write the story. It's not one of my better stories. It's mostly information about the car's power and amenities, with less about the actual drive. But it gets the job done. And on such short notice (throw in a snowstorm to make driving treacherous) I think I did ok.

From my story:
The Rogue offers a refined ride and practical amenities, but it has a little bit of a wild side under the hood. The 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine is paired with a continuously variable transmission. While a conventional automatic transmission typically has four or five fixed gear ratios, a CVT has an infinite number of ratios, according to Nissan literature. Put the Rogue in drive and go. You never feel the vehicle shift gears.

A CVT also optimizes your gas mileage, Robinson says. The front-wheel-drive Rogue gets 22 miles per gallon city and 27 mpg highway. The all-wheel-drive version does nearly as well with 21 mpg city/26 mpg highway. But it’s not just about saving gas. With 170 horsepower and 175 foot-pounds of torque, the Rogue really zips.

On the road, the Rogue glides along like a fish in water. It handles nicely on all road conditions from packed snow to dry pavement to bumps and dips. The front-wheel-drive version I drove laughed at the snowy, slushy roads, so I imagine the all-wheel-drive version could take on some of the roughest conditions Colorado could throw at it.

The ride is smooth and quiet. But you can add all the noise you want with the optional Bose audio system with AM/FM/in-dash six-disc CD changer, eight speakers and XM Satellite Radio, with a free three-month subscription.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas workshop

Thank you Martha Stewart for making me feel inadequate, once again. Granted, it is my own fault for signing up to receive e-mail updates about her Christmas Workshop. I don't know why I thought I'd get cute and simple ideas for Christmas decorations and treats. We all know Martha doesn't do simple.

Under the heading "Easy Holiday Crafts," we're taught how to make such things as evergreen bobeches (I had to look that word up.).

Maybe those aren't really difficult to make, but the process involves gathering fresh evergreen leaves and wiring them together. I've tried wiring fresh flowers before, and it's not something that's in my skill set. I guess I'm more the paper-chain kind of gal.

My favorite line: "Your best damask tablecloth is now safe." My who-mask what now? I am so visiting the wrong Web site there.

The Christmas kitty, however, is perfectly content with my less-than-perfect holiday decor.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Home again

Thank you lucky stars, karma, St. Anthony (patron saint of lost items) or whatever cosmic power returns green iPod Shuffles to their rightful owners. I thought for sure mine was gone forever.

You see, last week, while at my Literacy gig, I dropped my iPod at the school. Of course, I didn't miss it until the next morning when I was getting ready for the gym. By then, snow covered the ground and was still coming down. I called the school, but no luck.

I normally call the after-school program before I head over, to make sure the kids to be tutored are in attendance. Yesterday when I called, I asked if they had found my iPod. They had found an MP3 player, but it wasn't green and it wasn't an iPod. When I got to the school, one of the teachers called me over to her desk and handed me my iPod! A little girl had found it outside. I think she contemplated keeping it for herself, but either her conscience got the better of her or she listened to the music I had loaded and found it lacking -- there's absolutely no Hannah Montana or Jonas Brothers on my playlist.

Whatever the cause, my iPod is home again, and I promise to keep a closer eye on it now.

Monday, December 08, 2008


Happily, I am going to have some freelance writing assignments coming my way. Unfortunately, the first one is due in two days. The extremely short turn-around time is due to a transitional period at my old place of employment. I'm taking the assignment because the pay is better than before and I'm not ready to burn any bridges.

So, the plan is to drive a car tomorrow morning and have the story written by Wednesday morning. I'm not worried about getting the story written once I've driven the car -- I usually write test drives in about a day -- I'm worried about the dealership getting back to us and having a car for me to drive.

Some things, I guess, are out of my hands. I'm just thankful to have a writing gig lined up.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Trimming the tree

It's hard to think about Christmas without my mom. Even though I haven't been home for the holidays in several years, Mom was still a part of my Christmas. She sent care packages with her homemade peanut brittle, cookies and gifts -- usually at least one of which was handmade. Mom's peanut brittle was legendary. Even people who claimed not to like peanut brittle were won over by her recipe -- handed down to her from my paternal grandmother (the secret is the cooling and pulling process).

This year, there will be no care package. As I hang the ornaments and put out the decorations, there are plenty of things to remind me of Mom: Santas and ornaments she made and ornaments and decorations from when I was a kid.

While it makes me sad to not have her around any more, the decorations also make me nostalgic. And I'm thankful to have the things she made, items she created with care and love, items that can't be bought or duplicated.

And maybe someday, I'll figure out how to make peanut brittle the way she did.