Category Archives: shopping

Today’s Post is Brought to You by the Letter P…

Since the letter P seems to have popped up a lot around our place in the last week, I decided it would be pleasurable to post about it:

1. Last Saturday, Jim, Anna and I went blackberry picking at my private patch on the West Side (Hope preferred to purchase packages at McAllister Place instead).  Jim ploughed purposefully through the prickles, blazing new paths.  We picked a full plastic peanut pail of blackberries in about an hour-and-a-half.  Anna was perfectly fine until she was pursuing a particularly perfect bunch of berries, lost her balance, and pitched into the prickly purgatory.  She suffered painful scratches which we later applied Polysporin to.  I pointed out that I had perspiration pouring down my posterior – Anna said that was a piece of information she’d prefer not to have been privy to.  After picking up Hope, we stopped at Jim’s parents’ to pick up a ladder.  Jim wanted to put up the new ceiling fan we’d purchased at the yard sale in St. Martins.

2. This week, I took my persnickety pupils to finish up shopping for school supplies.  Hope got purple wedge heels (Anna bought them for her), which later caused her to fall and tear a hole in her pants.  It’s a pity that it is no longer prevalent to patch jeans!  Hope also got purple sneakers (she protested when I prevailed on her to purchase size 10 – said she didn’t want to have “clown feet!”).  Jim got Hope a purple plaid bookbag, and purple plaid sneakers for Brianna at Payless.

Hope's precarious purple sandals...

Hope's purple sneakers...Size 10!

 

Hope's purple plaid bookbag...

3. Jake, our poodle/schnauzer got a haircut this week.  The job was somewhat patchy, as the guard kept falling off the trimmer.  He made me laugh yesterday when I caught our pooch perched on the arm of the chair perusing the kids who were playing outside on the trampoline.  His back legs were sticking straight out…I tried to photograph him, but he defeated my purpose by turning around to look at me!

Look at Jake's side just in front of his back leg...that's where the guard fell off...

4. We’ve been snacking on foods that start with the letter P this week.  Jim and I both like peanuts (Jim eats barbecue, I prefer honey-roasted).  Jim got a big bag of mixed chips – he doesn’t like pretzels, so he leaves them for the Pretzel Princess (that would be me).  I also love glasses of pineapple juice over ice.

Jim's bag of barbecued peanuts and my jar of honey roasted...

Jim's rejected pretzels...

 

5. Wednesday afternoon, I stopped at the post office to pick up postage stamps.  I had to pass the Big Brothers/Big Sisters book sale, so I purchased another pile of books.  We have a customer named Phil who likes all things outdoors…several of the books made me think of him.  As I passed through the City Market, I actually ran into Phil, and told him I bought books for him.  He put aside several as he was waiting for a payment to pass at the bank.  He plans to order a pricey publication on fishing when his check clears.  

6. On Wednesday, I pissed off a passionate patriotic person with something I posted.  I pouted for a couple of days…my proclivity to post was temporarily paralyzed.  I am partial to the person I perturbed, so we both apologized profusely for provoking each other and the precarious predicament has passed.  Everything is peachy! 

7. On Friday, we called the plumber because we had a leaking pipe in the kids’ bathroom.  When I talked to him on the phone, he proposed that sometimes pinholes in the pipe cause leaks.  I proclaimed that the problem was probably bigger than a pinhole, as Jim had seen quite a puddle of water in our basement.  The plumber made a big hole in the wall, and replaced the tap.  He didn’t have the right part to make it possible to have a shower.

Plumber's handiwork so far...

8. On Friday evening, I was in the garden when I perceived a couple of pink poppies peeking out amongst the profusion of plants:  these were the third and fourth ones I have seen (the first one was in Dad’s pea patch).  I did not plant poppies this year (although I purchased seeds for them).  I had been pulling perplexing weeds that I couldn’t identify in any listing of pervasive plants prevalent in our province (after poring over some publications on plant identification, I became privy to the name of another pretty weed we have: purslane).  Upon examining the leaves of these poppies, I realized they were my mystery weed!

Pink poppy in the pumpkin patch...

The plentiful purslane...

 

9. Remember the pumpkin that was growing on the fence?  Well, it’s even more portly now!  The biggest ones are starting to turn orange.  Our beans continue to be prolific, particularly the Blue Jay, Mennonite Purple Stripe, and Royal Burgundy beans, which all have purple on them.  It’s doubtful whether our peppers will ever produce.  We’re still waiting for the purple Brussels sprouts too.

Pumpkin on the fence...

Big pumpkin...

Purple blossoms on the Blue Jay beans...my most prolific producer...

A Mennonite Purple Stripe bean run amok...this one's about 7" long...

This Royal Burgundy bean is more purple than burgundy (turns green when cooked)...

Still waiting for the peppers to blossom...

Still no signs of sprouts on the Purple Brussels Sprouts...

10. We’re having people over for supper tonight, my little Puddin’ Pop, Elise, and her parents.  I’m looking forward to seeing her…it’s been at least three weeks!  I had planned to have pork in the Crock Pot, and mashed potatoes, but got a beef roast out of the freezer instead…I must have been preoccupied! 

Me and my Puddin' Pop, the last time I saw her on August 5th...

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Of Broccoli, Baby Showers, Book Sales, and Back-To-School Shopping…

1. Broccoli. On Saturday night, I harvested our very first broccoli from the garden.  I made a tasty broccoli/cheese frittata with it for supper, along with a salad made with our lettuce and tomatoes, and cucumbers (from the store).

Fresh Organic Broccoli...

Broccoli/Cheese Frittata...

Saturday's tomato harvest before I cut them up for salad...

Other firsts from the garden this weekend were carrot and rutabaga…we had them tonight.  I love rutabaga – it’s a mild flavour, especially good with butter and salt and pepper…it’s my new favourite vegetable.

Our first Scarlet Nantes carrot...

This Gilfeather rutabaga tasted a lot better than it looks!

2. Baby Shower.  On Sunday, the girls and I went to my oldest daughter’s best friend’s baby shower.  One of the games Kaylee came up with for her friend’s shower was melting chocolate bars in the microwave, and then inserting them into numbered disposable diapers.  The shower guests were then asked to pass them around, examine them, smell them, and even taste them (!) and try to determine which chocolate bar was in each diaper…I don’t think I’ll be eating “Crispy Crunch” again any time soon…

My middle daughter, Anna, won that game, and also two other prizes because she got the “marked” plate and the marked cup!  The macaroni salad she and Hope made got rave reviews too!

3. Book sales.  This morning when I got to the store, I totalled up my haul from the Sussex Flea Market – I spent $53 Canadian, and got just over $575 U.S. worth of books.  I went to the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Book Sale at Brunswick Square today, and spent $25 Canadian, and came away with almost $340 U.S. in treasures (and I saw “Witchy-Poo” before she saw me, and escaped!).  I put $100 on one book I bought – if it had the Andy Warhol-designed dustjacket, it would have been worth at least $250! 

The books continue to come into the store faster than we can get to them…four more banana boxes came in while I was at the book sale this morning (these were added to the nine boxes we already had from last week).  I jokingly complained to the guy that brought the four boxes that I’d just stopped having to do hurdles to get to my desk (Dad took the extra books to our new bigger storage space before the Open House).  I also have four boxes of books to photograph for the Internet…coming back from vacation is tough!

4. Back to School Shopping.  This afternoon, Anna and I went to the mall to pick up some school supplies (and a new pair of flats for her).  Hope skipped the trip, preferring to hang out with her friend.  Our bus ride to the mall was not fun: some teenager sat behind us playing his music without headphones, and singing badly along with it (the same song, over and over).  In between, he was on his phone, telling everybody who would listen about getting beaten up last night:  “They cracked my head open, I got a concussion, the inside of my mouth is all messed up, and I’ve got four bruised ribs,” he bragged.  I was ready to add to his injuries by the time I’d heard the story for the third time!

We got to the mall, and Anna found a pair of shoes (not flats) that she liked and that fit within the first half hour (it’s a miracle!).  We also bought Hope a Justin Bieber T-shirt that Anna claimed she would “love” (when Hope opened the bag, she announced it was just like the one she just bought, except for the colour – FAIL!).  We went to Zellers for school supplies…the first thing we saw was lined paper for $2.99 for 400 sheets.  That sounded pretty good to me…I loaded four packs into the cart (one for each kid).  We picked up mechanical pencils, whiteout, highlighters, Sharpies, dividers, and some notebooks, and then continued to another section of the store where signs told us there were more school supplies.  That’s where I spotted the display of lined paper that was $.39 for 150 sheets.  I ditched the other paper (I admit that I just put it with the cheap paper instead of where it was!), and picked up a dozen of the smaller packs (three for each kid).  Anna picked out expensive scissors, impossibly-priced erasers (“But they’re so cute, Mom!”), and a zebra-print pencil case that cost $6!  We found a couple of binders for Hope (Anna still had hers from last year)…they were purple, so I figured she would like them (wrong again! – “Mom, I can’t have hard binders!”).  We managed to tick off almost everything on the list except the 10 duotangs that Hope needed, and the bag that Anna wanted (none of them was the “right size,” which translated means “not expensive enough”).  I also picked up some Charmin toilet paper on sale (I’m usually not a brand-name girl, but Charmin rocks), some red Twizzlers (one of my favourite snacks) and a couple of things for Elise’s first birthday next month…

We went to the checkout, and emptied our cart…I had predicted it would be $150, and Anna said $200…we were both wrong: it was only $119!  The next shopping trip will be with Hope to get her pants and shoes for gym…

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Flea Market Friday…

Picture this: a huge field full of tents, campers, tables, antique cars and car parts, and at least one of every consumer object ever sold in the last two hundred years.  Throw in a couple of dozen port-a-potties, 900 vendors from every province east of Ontario (and a few from the Eastern States), a few dogs, several thousand hot and sweaty customers, and some country music, and you have the Sussex Flea Market.  Organized by the New Brunswick Antique Auto Club, the annual market runs for three days over the third weekend in August.

This aerial photo was taken from a powered paraglider last year...

My dad and I have gone every year for about the last seven years…

My alarm went off yesterday at 5:30 a.m.  I jumped out of bed and donned my flea market outfit (skipped my shower – I knew I would need one after I got home): baggy shorts, an old tee-shirt, and my Birkenstock knock-off sandals (I put band-aids over my instep where they rub).  I put my hair in a ponytail, and pulled a black baseball cap over that, sticking the ponytail out the hole in the back of the hat.  Normally, I wear sunglasses, but having had a pesky eye infection for the last few weeks, had to wear my glasses instead of contacts.  I did rudimentary makeup and smeared sunscreen over all the exposed skin.

I went downstairs, and began packing our lunch: peanut butter/jam sandwiches on 12-grain bread, cucumber slices/baby carrots, blueberries/blackberries, and zucchini bread (chocolate and plain).  I put our frozen water bottles into a cooler, and the lunch in another cooler.  I grabbed a hoody in case it rained.

We left the house at 7, stopping first in Quispamsis at the bank and the gas station.  When we hit the highway, it was sunny, with very few clouds in the sky…awesome! 

We got off at the first Sussex exit, and headed to the market.  We were almost there when we saw her: “Hit the gas,” I yelled.  Trundling her wheeled cart purposefully towards the gate was our nemesis – I’ll call her Witchy-Poo.  Witchy-Poo had tried to bum a ride with my dad to the market, and he had told her “No” because neither one of us can stand her.  Let’s just say she’s paranoid, delusional, and could talk the side off a barn (and then spread your business all over town when she’s finished).  I don’t dislike many people, but she’s definitely on my list of people to avoid if at all possible!  I was happy that she had her cart so that I could hear her coming!

I loaded my essentials (money, phone, Kleenex, extra car key, and ID) into a small bag borrowed from one of the kids…then I put that bag, two more shopping bags, and a water bottle into a shopping bag.  Dad got his cart out of the trunk, and we arranged to meet back at the car at 10:30, and headed for the gate.

There was a rope strung along the edge of the parking lot, about 18″ off the ground.  I was halfway over it, when Dad decided he would lift it up to go under it!  He nearly dropped me right there!  I couldn’t believe he would try to go under a rope that low…

We made it to the gate.  One lady took our $3 admission, and another one stamped a big green dot with a bingo marker on the backs of our hands.  Dad set off towards the arena, where there was a guy who always had nice, clean books.  After a stop at the port-a-potty (which wasn’t too gross yet – it was early in the day), I started down the first row.  I found a nice Thornton Burgess book for a buck, and talked a woman into selling me a $10 book on New Brunswick history for $7.  That was all I got in the first hour – usually I have a full box by that time!  I saw more Danielle Steeles than I thought existed, and lots of other pulp fiction.  Then I found a vendor who Dad knew from the Flea Market in Saint John (he didn’t recognize me in my “incognito” outfit, until I introduced myself).  I bought two books for two bucks, and headed for the car.

Dad had fared better than I had – he found a bunch of nice Chip Hiltons for a buck each.  We unloaded our books into the trunk, and ate our zucchini bread.  I was starving, and feeling a little faint from the heat.  Dad had managed to lose his water bottle, so I gave him another one.  I had finished at Row O, and Dad had left off at Row K (we were meeting in the middle), so we didn’t have many rows left.  We set noon as our next rendezvous time back at the car.  

I approached one booth that I could see had books, but couldn’t see what they were from a distance.  The vendor started his sales pitch right away.  “This girl looks like a reader…I’ve got some love books over there.” 

I glanced dismissively at his pile of Harlequins and said in my snottiest voice, “I’m looking for old hardcovers…I don’t think you have anything I want!”  And I walked away.  Sexist bugger!

Eventually, I came to a table where about eight boxes of the type of book I was seeking awaited my perusal.  Apparently the vendor’s little old lady neighbour had cleaned out her shed and sent the books with her to sell!  Thank goodness for little old ladies who like to read!  I bought eight of them for $2 each. 

At another table, I spied four local books which I had never seen – I got them for 50 cents each – I suspect we will sell them for between $15 and $20 each.  That was probably my best purchase of the day.

I went back to the car at noon, and Dad and I ate our lunch.  About 12:30, Jim called and said he and the girls were at the other gate – I arranged to meet them at the arena, and Dad left for home.

By then, it had clouded over, and was starting to sprinkle.  We walked around outside for a while, and then I suggested we take shelter in the arena, since I hadn’t been in there yet.  The kids bought some movies, and some jewellery, while I went to the book guy and bought more of his books (which I ended up getting for about half-price, because I bought so many!). 

The rain stopped for a while, so we explored some of the rows close to the arena…Hope and Brianna got some soft ice cream: chocolate and vanilla twist.  I found a few more books (five for a buck).  Then the rain began in earnest.  My feet were hurting, the preventive band-aids were clinging by their last bit of adhesive, and I was starting to get a shinsplint (at this point, I’d been walking for more than five hours).   I begged to head home, and the rest of the family reluctantly agreed.  After a quick stop at McDonald’s to satisfy hungry kids, we were on the highway again.

Dad was making more applesauce when we got home.  I set the books down, and went upstairs to wash the brown dust of Sussex from my tired body. 

Can’t wait for next year…

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Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!…

I have to preface this post by saying that I’ve never been a very observant person…

I used to watch “Gomer Pyle, USMC” every day after school…I loved it when Gomer said: “Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!”  I’ve had a few surprises this week:

"Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!"

On Monday, I went out to read on the deck…the sun was out, and it was very hot, so I took a lawn chair down under the trees in the back yard.  I looked up and was startled to see loads of beautiful ripe cherries hanging from a tree that I had been saying all this spring I was going to Google to find out what kind it was!  I was like a kid in a candy store.  I ran in the house and got all three girls and brought them outside to show them!  Then I got a bowl and started picking all I could reach (Hope helped for a while, but the other two went back to their laptops).  I got a good-sized bowlful, but could see lots more higher up.  Off I went to the garage in search of a ladder.  There was a big wooden stepladder, but it was behind a bunch of stuff.  Being the lazy sort, I grabbed the small 2-step ladder off the wall.  Setting it up in a level place in the grass under the tree, I mounted the first step. It was at that point that I made my second discovery…my balance at age 49 is shot!  I looked like one of those blowup punching Charlies we used to have when we were kids.  I didn’t fall off the ladder, but that’s because I didn’t venture any higher than the first step (I blamed it on the wind)!  Totally defeated, I put the ladder away and took my bowl of cherries into the house.  “What are you going to do with them?” Jim asked.  “I guess we’ll just eat them,” I said dejectedly.  There weren’t enough to make a pie or anything (and that’s assuming I could make piecrust, which I can’t).  The discovery prompted me to check on the progress of the wild red raspberries beside the back deck…they were ready too…I ate them all!

Cherries...

Last night, Jim and I watched a British sitcom he downloads called “The IT Crowd.”  One of the major characters is getting a massage when something totally unexpected happens…I knew something was going to happen, but never would have suspected that in a million years…the title of the episode is “Something Happened” if you want to find it yourself…be prepared to laugh yourself silly!

The IT Crowd...

Tomorrow is Jim’s 48th birthday.  Anna and Brianna had hatched a plan last night – they wanted me to get Jim out of the house so they could make him a birthday cake with fondant icing – they’d seen a video on how to do it, and wanted to try it.  Today was the day.  I offered to take Jim to see a movie – it was “Reel Deal” day – only $5.99 per ticket.  We decided on “Inception.”  The folks at rottentomatoes.com gave it an 85%, and I’m always in the mood to watch Leonardo DiCaprio (Joseph Gordon Leavitt was in it too – the funny kid from Third Rock From the Sun).  Jim also wanted to show me some of the new furniture he’d been looking at for the living room.

Joseph Gordon Leavitt in a scene from one of my favourite movies...500 Days of Summer...

We were getting ready to go, when Jim looked out the window and noticed that some of the leaves on the flowering crab were kind of yellow.  It has been really dry, so I suggested that perhaps the weather had something to do with it.  I said I’d check them out while I was waiting for him.  “Hmmm…don’t know whether that’s dryness, or some sort of crabapple tree disease…I’ll have to Google this,” I thought.  At that precise moment, I glanced over at the eight bushes lined up beside the crabapple tree…they were covered with berries that looked strangely familiar…one of them was blue!  I yelled at Jim, “No way…these are blueberries!  And not wild ones, either!”  I called him over to see the berries, which were huge.  I’ve never seen high-bush blueberries before, and these would not present a problem to pick without a ladder!  Did I mention I’ve never met a berry I didn’t like?

We got in the van as I babbled excitedly about all the blueberries I would be able to put in the freezer.  I made plans to go and pick blackberries at my favourite secret spot on our next holidays in August (we’ll have some blackberries in our patch beside the rhubarb, but not enough to satisfy my appetite for them).

Blackberries...

We were halfway down the road when I realized I’d forgotten my cell phone.  We were at the theatre when Jim remembered he hadn’t brought his insulin – no chocolate for him!  We got a popcorn to share, and Jim bought a big diet Coke (I never get a drink at the movies – it just makes me have to pee!).  I munched on some Junior Mints too.

Junior Mints..."They're Delicious!"

The movie was okay, although it was very confusing, and there was a lot of violence!  There was no expense spared in production costs for sure!  Jim liked the “science fictiony” aspect of it.  It had good-looking guys, and a couple of laughs, so I was good too.

After the movie, we stopped at a couple of furniture stores.  One saleswoman confided that she’s lost 40 lbs. when she first started working there…maybe I should look into a job selling furniture…

I wasn’t impressed with most of what we saw…it all looked the same to me…I think that’s why I like old stuff, because it’s unique.  I did like a couple of accent chairs.  We didn’t buy anything today.

The couches we saw were boring, like this one...

On the way home, Anna called (on Jim’s phone).  She wanted to know where we were – she said the fondant project had been a “huge fail.”  I mentioned that I had predicted that…

When we got home, Anna put frozen pizza in the oven, and I went out to the garden to gather greens for a salad.  Jim made his famous garlic bread.  When everyone had their fill, the girls brought out the cake…I wish I’d thought to take a picture.  The fondant was green, and covered a two-layer white cake, with buttercream frosting under the fondant.  They had spelled Jim’s name in bubble fondant letters on the top.  Anna told me the fondant had stuck to everything…Brianna’s hands were stained green!  We ate the cake anyway…it was good!

As I was getting ready to hit “publish” for this post, a big earwig crawled up onto my mouse hand.

These guys are all over our house...

Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!

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It’s My Birthday, and I’ll Pie If I Want To…

Today is my 49th birthday…yes, I know…it’s very hard to believe!  I am fortunate and grateful for good genes and good health!

We woke up early this morning, as we had planned to go to St. Martins for the Town-Wide Community Yard Sale they were having as part of Old Home Week…I love yard sales (see https://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/yard-sales-the-thrill-of-victory-and-the-agony-of-the-feet/).  We had planned to leave the house at 8 a.m.  We did well to get out the door by 8:20…after stops at the Credit Union and the gas station, we were on our way.

Passing through Fairfield, we saw our first “Garage Sale” sign.  It was in front of a shabby country house with even shabbier outbuildings.  Anna decided to stay in the van – she said it looked “too sketchy” for her to get out.  The rest of us (minus Devin, who hates shopping) headed up the driveway towards a large garage.  It was a complete surprise: inside, an older man in overalls greeted us warmly and made small talk about the weather.  Everything was laid out neatly on tables, or displayed on pegboards along the walls. I found a pretty Ironstone cream and sugar set made by Ridgway in the Jacobean Brown pattern.  I paid $3.

This is the matching cup and saucer for my cream and sugar...

Jim found another bird feeder (just what he needs)…one with small holes for finches.  Hope bought some jewellery.  I found a book I might have purchased had it not been musty-smelling.  We headed back to the van.

Our first stop in St. Martins was the Village Market Building.  This was where the Book Fair was advertised to be.  Unfortunately, there were very few books, and a lot of yard sale stuff.  Jim took Hope in search of a washroom while I bought three books for $7.  Once Jim got back, we headed down the very busy Main St.  We decided the best course of action would be to get out and walk. 

After a couple of hours walking and shopping (along with an ice cream break and another pee break), we had accumulated some more treasures: two more books ($2), a Beanie baby bear, a ceiling fixture with a fan, a large clamp, a Five-Star binder, and a pair of soundproofing headphones.  We were tired and hot, and close to one of Jim’s and my favourite places in St. Martins: Fiori’s Restaurant (see https://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/eating-around-new-brunswick/).

This is Hope's Beanie Baby bear for July...her birthday is the 31st...

We went in…Brianna added a tongue and eyebrows to the happy face drawn on the whiteboard beside the door…I quickly herded the family in and we sat down at a table.

The restaurant was busier than usual…one waitress was running her buns off!  She took our beverage orders: Brianna ordered “Chocolate From The Cow.” Then we studied the menu, some of us longer than others:  Hope took forever to decide what she wanted…after another bathroom break, she finally landed on the children’s breakfast with a pancake (Jim told her he’d pay extra to get sausage and bacon). 

Jim had the Mexican Fiesta Platter (which is what he usually orders).  Brianna ordered the Chicken Caesar Salad in a tortilla bowl.  Anna settled for the BLT Wrap, and I had the Veggie Panini.

Everybody’s food was excellent: the Ciabatta bread in my Panini was amazing!  The filling was tomatoes, cucumber and baby spinach.  A side salad with lettuce, cucumber, dried blueberries, and raspberry vinaigrette completed the plate.  I ate every bite (including Anna’s dried blueberries!).

The waitress was still having difficulty keeping up, so one of the owners, Mike Fiori, came out of the kitchen to clear our table.  He told us a story about an artist who lived across the street.  When the waitress came over, I asked what the desserts were today:  She advised that there were three kinds of cheesecake, Death by Chocolate cake, a brownie with brownie frozen yogurt and caramel syrup, or pecan pie (all desserts are homemade by Barb Fiori).  I informed her that since it was my birthday, I would have the pecan pie.  The staff brought out my piece of pie with a birthday candle stuck in the top, and they were singing, “Happy Birthday!”  I wasn’t a bit embarrassed!  Mike said I must be “29”!  I agreed that I was “29 again.”  That pie was absolutely heavenly (of course, I’ve rarely met a pie I didn’t like, except cream pies!).  Jim, Anna and Hope had the blueberry cheesecake, and Brianna polished off every bite of her “Death by Chocolate” cake.

Heavenly Pecan Pie...

The best part of the meal (besides the fact that I didn’t have to pay for it) was that five of us ate for $76 and change…great healthy food including dessert and taxes!

We were all stuffed as we walked back to the van…

When we got home, I headed for my computer…wow…lots of my friends had sent me birthday messages!  I thanked them all, and then caught up with some of my friends’ blogs (check out the links on the right – not a bad writer among them!).  The kids gave me their presents (Dad gave me some money earlier in the week to get my hair done): Hope gave me a gift card for Shoppers Drug Mart, Devin gave me small earphones for the computer at the store (so I can listen to music, but still hear the customers come in), and Anna and Brianna gave me big headphones for my computer at home (so I can drown out the sound of the TV or the kids’ music while I listen to mine!).  Jim and I are going tomorrow to pick out my big gift from him: a new bike!  Kaylee, Scott and Elise are coming over for supper tomorrow night too.  I finally bought a playpen for when Elise comes over…she finds every bit of lint on my living room rug when she’s here, and tries to eat it!

Kaylee, Elise and Scott in June of this year...

After the presents, Jim, Anna and Brianna took off for Hampton – Jim had arranged to photograph a friend’s wedding, and took the girls along as helpers.  Devin helped me hook up my new headphones, and then I looked up my St. Martins book purchases: not bad – spent $9, and got about $105 U.S. worth of books.  I was pleased…

I paid $3 for this book...it will be listed online for $20 U.S.

Hope was happy too…her friend who just moved to Miramichi was in town visiting her dad, and invited her over to go swimming…Hope had been feeling left out about not getting to go to the wedding, but she was okay now!  Off she went with her friend.

Dad and I watched one of the Ron James DVDs that I got him for his birthday…I love that guy…he’s hilarious!  It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen it – it’s still funny!

This is the DVD we watched tonight...there are three more...

So…it’s been a good day (and the only work I’ve done is make supper)…I’m still looking forward to the birthday party at Jim’s mom’s on Wednesday (that’s his 48th birthday – she’s having a party for both of us).  I’ll post pictures of that too!

Thanks to everyone who made this last birthday of my forties a happy one!

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Weekly Wrapup…

Tough to believe it’s Friday already…another week is almost finished…have only posted once this week, but I’ve been BUSY (honest!):

1. On Monday, I took Anna to find a bathing suit top…said bathing suit top had to be UNDERWIRE due to Anna’s genes from her father’s side of the family (let’s just say the women on my side of the family tend more towards pear-shaped).  Finding the perfect one took quite a while…it cost more than the last THREE complete bathing suits I bought for myself (keeping in mind that the kids spend my money so fast, I probably bought those suits over a 15-year period)!  Jim patiently waited on a bench in the mall while we completed our purchase…it took most of my cash (including coins) because the debit/credit machine wasn’t working…Murphy must have bought his bathing suit there just before we arrived…

2. We had Kaylee, Scott and Elise over for supper on Monday night…they had been away on vacation, and I hadn’t seen my “puddin-pop” in more than two weeks.  She is crawling now, and working on pushing her first two teeth through…can’t believe she’s nine months old already! 

Scott, Elise, and Kaylee on vacation...

3. I had a job interview on Tuesday…I felt it went well, but I haven’t heard anything yet…I’m hoping the guy’s as big a procrastinator as I am, and just hasn’t gotten around to calling me yet (I can dream, can’t I?)…

4. As I was coming back from the interview, I saw a woman my age wearing white overalls…apparently she didn’t get the memo that overalls on anyone over the age of 5 is not cute.  Does she have any idea how big her butt looks in those?

5. Tuesday night, I went out to check my garden: my squash plants were covered with cucumber beetles!  I normally like bugs, but not when they’re chewing holes in perfectly good leaves!  I sprayed them with soapy water, but they were back munching away within two hours!  I checked the Internet and found that I need to get some “good bugs” called “beneficial nematodes.”  In the course of my research, I also found that you can get 3 (count ’em) 1/3- cup bags of live ladybugs at Home Depot for $20 (ladybugs won’t help me with my problem, though).

There's about a dozen of these guys on each hill of my squash...

6. The rest of my garden was doing okay…was delighted to find that my new plantings of cucumbers and pumpkins were up, although the cucumber beetles may start on those soon too!  We’ve been eating Dad’s spinach from last year for the last two weeks…yummy!  The peonies and the wild roses have “popped” too.

7. As mentioned in previous posts, people are still bringing us books they want to get rid of faster than we can process them…in the past two weeks, I think I’ve priced more than 3 dozen boxes of books (some good, others a complete waste of time – seriously, have these people seen our store?).  I have 23 boxes of books that I can touch sitting in my chair at my desk (all done – waiting for people to come and pick up their money/rejects, and then the good ones will be processed and put away – wishing the “storage fairy” would do something about our little problem soon).  Dad and I have an appointment to visit a colleague’s warehouse on Sunday…he’s getting out of the business, and trying to unload his stock as quickly as possible (this is at least Dad’s fourth trip to the warehouse and my second – getting some good stuff).

8.  On Wednesday, I walked down to Harbour Station to pick up vouchers for the kids to go to the midway…got a couple of extras for my friend Brad’s kids…they’re coming to visit from Ontario next weekend!  We’ve got a lot of cleaning to do before they get here!

9.  My blogging friend, Jane, got back from her stepson’s wedding on Wednesday…she wrote a beautiful (and hilarious) post about the whole affair (http://planejaner.wordpress.com/2010/06/17/getting-them-married-grab-a-soda-and-a-sandwich-maybe-a-cookie-this-is-a-long-post/), which I greatly enjoyed reading last night.

10.  We stopped at Co-Op garden center last night to look for those “good bugs.”  No luck, but I did get some tomato/pepper/chive plants since I don’t think my inch-high ones are going to grow fast enough to produce anything before our very short growing season is over.  We tried Brunswick Nurseries too…they suggested Halifax Seeds (we’ll go there on the way home).  Brunswick Nurseries has added a couple of new critters to their domestic petting zoo (they made me think of my blogging friend, Nancy, who has 100 of these guys!):

Coffee and Cream - Two Baby Alpacas

Jim and I want to take Elise to see them soon!

11. For supper last night, we barbecued sausages, hot dogs and veggie burgers…I love the Portobello Swiss ones I’ve been getting at Superstore!  We also had our very first salad from the garden – a combo of lettuce, mixed greens, spinach, and tat soi…some of the leaves were a little holey (more bugs!), but it tasted amazing!  Leftovers in our lunches today…

12. I was out in the garden until after nine last night putting in my new plants.  Will have to get some more eggshells out to protect the tomatoes from our huge slug population!  I planted the chives in a broken terracotta pot, which I set between two of the peony bushes.  The fact that there’s dirt spilling out the side doesn’t bother me a bit.  When I was putting my hoe away, I noticed a bird feeder in the garage that Jim hadn’t discovered yet – it’s just like the one he put up a couple of weeks ago.  We’ve lost the suet feeder…it’s dropped into the bushes by our back steps, and despite his best efforts, Jim can’t find it (it is a bit challenging searching through unpruned roses/raspberry canes!).  Here’s a picture Jim took of the new feeder, which has had as many as six goldfinches perched on it at once:

Our Pretty Yellow Birds...

Tomorrow, we’re off to see the New River Beach Sand Sculpture competition…it’s my first time there…we’ll probably stop in Pennfield for blueberry shortcake too.  I haven’t decided what we’re doing for Father’s Day yet…will try to post some new garden photos later.

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Scanning for Gold at Book Sales…

I love the month of May…it is easily my favourite!  The weather is more summerlike, trees and flowers begin blossoming, and it’s time to plant the garden.  It’s also book sale season – I love scouting for our store!

Tomorrow night, Jim and I will travel to Moncton for the Canadian Federation of University Women’s 48th Annual Book Fair (the Fredericton Chapter will hold theirs on May 28th and 29th).  Friday morning, Dad and I (and the kids – they’re off school on Friday), will be in line for the annual Saint John Free Public Library Book Sale.  Hope will be shopping for herself, but Anna will be helping us find the good stuff!

I haven’t been to the Moncton sale since I’ve had the bookstore, so I’m not sure what to expect…I’m hoping for great things!  The sale is held in a Curling Club in the neighbourhood I used to live in before moving to Saint John (we’ll be stopping to visit old friends for tea after we buy books!).

Venue for the Moncton sale...

The plan at any book sale is to be one of the first people through the door…there is a lot of competition for good books!  Lining up an hour before the doors open is not unheard of.  The library sale is held in an open area outside the library – tables are covered with cloths which are lifted at the appointed opening time.  My strategy there is to stake out the first table I want to look at.

People have different ideas about how to carry their treasures: I usually bring 3 or 4 sturdy cloth shopping bags, while my dad brings his wheeled luggage cart with cardboard boxes attached with bungee cords.

I'll be bringing this bag to the sale...

Another hint for book-salers: wear sturdy shoes – you’ll be lucky if you get through the sale without your foot being run over by a stroller wheel, or even a wheelchair.  I have also been smacked in the shins by these vehicles.

This one has double wheels in the front for more crushing power, and two kids to make it hurt more...

We have certain things we look for when buying stock for the store – just because a book is old doesn’t necessarily mean it’s valuable (Mary Roberts Rinehart was a bestselling author in 1910 – you can still buy her hundred-year-old books for a couple of bucks).  Condition, rarity, and sometimes subject matter also affect the value.  I look for quality bindings, unusual publishers, offbeat subjects, and anything local.  Nothing makes my heart beat faster than finding a British binding from the 1880’s with gilt decoration and gilt-edged pages!  And you can bet that if I find a book on Ukranian cuckoo clocks, it won’t take very long to sell on the Internet…

The kind of binding I love to find...

I avoid popular fiction (although book sales are a perfect place for readers to pick up current fiction at a small fraction of the crazy cover prices that bookstores charge for new books now), Reader’s Digest condensed books (they make excellent firestarters or doorstops), Book Club Editions (even old ones), and encyclopedias.  You generally have to work hard to separate the wheat from the chaff!

Just say "NO!" to these lepers of the book world...

One thing that we’ve discovered about the library sale in particular is that they restock throughout the sale…it’s a good idea to make 3 or 4 visits if you have time. 

Here are some suggestions for book sale etiquette:

1. Keep to the right of the aisle.  Don’t block the aisle while you stand talking to your friend.

2. Keep your hands off other people’s books…if I have a pile in front of me, they’re mine!  By the same token, if I’m going through books, please be polite enough to wait until I’m finished before diving in.

This lady's got the right idea in protecting her pile...can't say much about her reading taste, though...

3. Be reasonable when sifting through the stock…most sales try to keep some kind of organization to the tables.  If you put a book on Egyptian art back into the cookbook section, you’re wasting someone’s time!

4. Leave small children at home.  They’ll be bored, and in danger of being trampled.

5. Don’t bring coffee or food into the sale.  The chance of spillage is directly related to the rarity of the book you set your cup down on.

This is a $75 book...I wonder how much it would have been had some numbnuts not set his drink on it...

6. Don’t ask volunteers to hold books for you if you don’t intend to buy them.  There might be something I want in your “hold” pile.

7. Don’t dicker.  Most book sales are charity events – that extra dollar won’t break you! 

8. Don’t pull out a hundred-dollar bill for $5 worth of books…you’re not at Walmart!

I’m hoping to come back with some gems this weekend…happy hunting at your local book sales this spring!

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