That’s my (wrapping) story, and I’m sticking to it.

I rescued a big stack of bright yellow paper from being recycled at school. It had been crumpled to take up space in science kits, and when the department heads unpacked, they didn’t save it. I intervened, of course. Folks in my school building know that I’m the scavenger among us.

I share this encore presentation because it’s still true. Amigo still insists that I’m a”green freak” and I take my eco-sensibilities too far for his taste. The rest of the family tolerates me, so here’s the rest of the story.

Several years ago I vowed to stop buying wrapping paper. I didn’t say I’d never use it or reuse it, just that I wouldn’t buy any more.

  • Very little wrapping paper is recyclable.
  • Commercial gift wrap can’t burn in a fireplace, either; it releases too many chemicals.
  • Most wrapping paper will wrap one gift and then end up in the garbage.
  • Gift wrap costs add up. The shiny patterned paper is expensive.

Amigo doesn’t like the philosophy. In fact, he’ll only help me wrap if we’re using real gift wrap. I compromised by using gift wrap I’d rescued from the wastebasket when the school PTA cleaned their closet. We wrapped with rescued and reused papers, and the gifts look great.

He doesn’t object to my green version of gift tags. Every year we take stock of the previous year’s holiday cards, cut them apart creatively, and with the help of a little ribbon and a hole punch, turn those cards into unique and lovely gift tags that cost nothing but a little time. We’ve done this since before he was born; maybe that’s why it feels natural to him.

Thanks to my spreadsheet gift record and my online shopping prowess, the majority of the shopping is done. Maybe I can sneak some of my eco-friendly and frugal methods past my wrapping assistant that time. Or maybe not; after all, he reads my blog.

 

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Shopping in non-traditional places

An encore presentation: it’s all still true. I just got back from a short shopping trip that included Half Price Books and a local dollar store. I can finish the wrapping now. 

Folks, you know me. You know I gave up buying wrapping paper several years ago. You know I plan ahead for gift shopping because of all the birthdays that mingle with Christmas. You know I love Christmas music and listen to it – well, I love to listen to holiday music, new or classic.

But do you recall – of course you do. Creative wrapping, frugal gift planning, and finally, the shopping, take a little thought. And then, with a little thought and planning, the fun begins.

Thrift stores! By carefully perusing the racks, I have often found good buys on brand name and quality clothing. Lands’ End, GAP, Old Navy, and my favorite jeans just take a quick cycle through the wash and then look good as new – or better. Better how? Because they’re already worn in, but not worn out.

Thrift stores again – baskets. I enjoy filling baskets with my own canned goods for special people like extended family. My favorite place to find baskets? Goodwill and other thrift stores.

Stores that specialize in vintage. This angle requires good knowledge of the gift recipient. If you’re considering that rabbit fur coat that’s marked 20% off, you’d better avoid buying it for me or for La Petite. But if you see a lovely scarf or classic cameo pendant, go for it.

Stores full of repurposed and crafty pieces. There’s a shop near my workplace that sells wonderful creative and useful household pieces. I look at their wine cork frames and trivets and think “I could make these.” Then I realize no, I don’t have the time or the talent. I’ll buy it from someone who does have the time and talent.

And finally, last but never least, I thoroughly enjoy shopping at Fleet Farm. Don’t bother with Toyland; just stick to my standard departments. Friends and family know that they can buy anything for canning and preserving and I’ll be thrilled. They might even find gardening tools and toys there, despite the weather outside being frightful. We’ve also discovered that the foodstuffs designed for hunting or camping are also good pantry staples. Bear Creek soup mixes, anyone? Yum.

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How does a die-hard Packer fan decorate a tree?

No one fumbles around with the tree in a Green Bay Packer fan household. Diminutive though they may be, these little delights are like prize jewels of the family ornament collection. This roly-poly guy is a jingle bell decked out in Green and Gold and a football uniform.

These two came from a student (oh, she knew me well). They look fragile, but they aren’t. You won’t see them on injured reserve. Tiny and shiny, the crystal snowmen are small enough to fit in a teacup, but they’re prettier near a string of lights that can reflect on their glory.

 Go, Pack, Go!

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Brian Beluga?

Sometimes the closed captioning is wrong, and it becomes humorous.

Sometimes it’s the announcer.

There is a media program for the folks who call a football game. It’s a team roster with phonetic pronunciation of the player’s names. Brian Bulaga, for example, is listed as Brian Bulaga (Boo’lahgah). Today’s play by play guy didn’t study the roster before the game. He called him Brian Beluga.

Readers, you’re way ahead of me, I’m sure. We turned it into song, of course. To the tune of Raffi’s Baby Beluga, I give you – Brian Beluga, from the O.K. Chorale.

Brian Beluga on the great green sea.

Block so wild, and you block so free.

Snowfall above, and the turf below,

Just a green and gold guy on the go!

Brilliant, it’s not. Memorable, kinda maybe. But we do have fun watching football.

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Cleaning the Broiler

Oh, Interweb peoples, I have a problem. Maybe you can help.

We have a gas stove and oven. We much prefer this over an electric. A few weeks ago, we had to replace the igniter, the modern equivalent of a pilot light. We made the investment, and the oven runs well again.

But the broiler. That darn broiler. A long time ago, at least a year ago, we cooked something juicy under the broiler and it splattered. Since then, we remove the smoke alarm from its wall and open a few windows and run the fan every time we use the broiler to cook. My oven has a self-cleaning setting, and I usually use it in late spring or summer when I can stay nearby in case…. well, just in case.

So, folks, how do I clean this broiler? Since it got splattered, we’ve been conscious of where we put the rack so it’s not too close. We run the kitchen fan. But still, still, still we end up with a smoky house.

Ideas? I’ll take any and all under consideration.

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Throwback Thursday: The Playoff Picture at the O.K. Chorale

Husband and I have a different perspective on the Packers and their post-season. He’s a Packer fan in a way, but he looks at their success from a slightly different angle because he works in television.
Television news in a major NFL market is a whole different, well, ball game from working at a station with no football to cover. For him, an extended post-season is both a blessing and a curse. It means more work, and it means more work. More work means overtime, and more work means overtime. An extended season can also mean travel…unless the Pack manage to earn home field advantage.

Who cares? I hear you wail. To answer that question, I share the transcript of an Actual Conversation at the O.K. Chorale. The script is the type that gets repeated annually. This one is funny because the Super Bowl was in Arizona the year I first blogged the topic, just like the one coming up in early 2015.

Me: It’ll be great if they keep winning and get home field advantage through the playoffs.
Husband: No, no, n-n-n-n-n-no!
Me: What? I thought you’d like it because you wouldn’t have to travel!
Husband: I don’t want to work outside on the sidelines in the freezing cold!
Me: Okay, then you want (insert NFL team in southern U.S.) to win so that you can work a game in (insert warm locale), instead?
Husband: No, No, n-n-n-n-n-n-no!
Me (confused): Huh?
Husband: I have this fear that the news director is going to look at us engineers and say, ‘Erbert, Gerbert, load up the satellite truck and drive it down to (insert southern NFL market). and when they win? Turn right.’ I could be on the road for three weeks! (editor’s note: he said “IF they win.” I changed it.)
Me: Then you should cheer for the Packers to keep winning. They’ll earn home field advantage, and you won’t have to travel.
Husband: (speechless, waving arms in air)
Me: I suppose it’s a lose-lose situation for you.
Husband: Yes! Yes! Yes!

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Research – guest post by “Chuck”

It started as research for Eating the Opponent, Atlanta. Then it blossomed. Courtesy of my dear husband and the Internet, I give you: Cheeseheads Breaking All the (Tailgating) Rules.

The following pictures may help illustrate what not to do and may raise relevant questions:

The marked parking spaces are for vehicles only. Fans cannot use parking spaces for tents, grills, chairs or other items. (Would a rock band using the top of a Cheesehead Camper as a stage be okay?)

cheesehead van

Tailgating is allowed at the Georgia Dome in the Yellow Lot or Lot A, known as “The Gulch.” Tailgate tents cannot exceed 8-by-10 feet. (If a bar 3 blocks away erects a temporary pole building, would that be ok?)

pole building

All vehicles require a valid parking permit. (But what if it’s an away game?)

away games

Tailgating may not interfere with vehicles driving through the lot. (Would it be ok if I set out orange cones?)

orange cones

Tailgating equipment (grills, coolers and electronics) may not extend beyond the parking space. (We’re trying Mr. Tailgate rule guy. Would you like a brat?)

truck grill

Loud amplified music or noise is prohibited in any Georgia Dome lots. (It’s not amplified and it’s not noise.)

tuba

Tailgating may not extend beyond the parking space.

crowd

Take that, Atlanta. Up here in Green Bay Packer country, we know how to handle tailgating.

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Throwback Thursday – Everyday Packers Decor

Everyday decor – I looked over this post and realized, as usual, that not much has changed since this piece first hit the Interwebs in 2011. Read on and find out what little did need updating.

Decor? Heck, this is just part of the household. Nothing is fancy. You know I hang green and gold ornaments on my Christmas tree. You know I sip coffee from a Lombardi mug that sits on a cheese coaster. With my Green Bay Packers and their winning streak in mind, let’s take a brief tour.
This title towel keeps my bread machine dust free in between uses.

Nap time means Packer blanket throws and green & gold Happy Feet slippers!

Let’s head upstairs.
In the bathroom, I can wash up with a classic and well-used Green Bay washcloth.

Tiny rabbit Krumpet used to live in Amigo’s room and hang out in a Green Bay Packers bean bag chair. Krumpet and La Petite now have their own apartment, but I still use this picture every September to show my students two important interests in my life: rabbits and the Green Bay Packers.
And last but never least, the guest room sports classic Green Bay Packers sheets.

These are just a few examples of simple evidence that yes, we are true fans in this household. Any questions? There will be a quiz Sunday night. Or Monday – “we” play Atlanta on Monday Night Football. Peach cobbler for Eating the Opponent, anyone?

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All This for a Stack of Books?

It’s not just any stack of books. In my family? Books fill and overflow the shelves until we have book piles – and that’s after I swap away quite a few and deposit a few more in neighborhood Little Free Libraries.

But I’m already getting off topic. La Petite called and asked if I could help her transport a bookshelf she would like to buy. I was going to be there anyway, coming to pick up Amigo after a weekend visit. Of course I said “Sure, why not?”

First: the bookshelf she wanted, a display model, flew off the store shelves before we arrived. It was gone. The store had the item in stock at full price, but La Petite wasn’t quite prepared to pay that much that day. That’s my girl: frugal to the end, even with a bookshelf.

But we had the van. And the shelves were unlikely to fit in her Saturn. Unlikely? Impossible .And the shelf unit was perfect, just perfect, for her apartment and the Big Art Books that needed a home. The shelf unit was a little more than she wanted to pay, but the Momvan was temporarily available, and it was Black Friday weekend, after all. She asked for a manager – nicely, of course.

The manager on duty offered her 20% off – close to $100 discount. We bought the shelves.

With a big box of ready-to-assemble bookshelf loaded into the Momvan, we realized we didn’t have a hand truck or dolly to help us maneuver this big, not too heavy but definitely awkward box from the parking lot to her apartment. We found a nearby Menard’s (doesn’t every strip have a nearby Menard’s?), bought a simple hand truck and a toy for the Toys for Tots box, and we were ready.

It wasn’t easy, and it was punctuated by repeated utterances in the category of “Mom, you’re pushing the wrong way,” but we got the Big Awkward Box to her door and then up to her second floor apartment. Luckily (for me, anyway), she didn’t want the shelves up in her loft bedroom.

And so, all was well with the world. Amigo and I hit the road with a few chips and sodas for a snack and the Green Bay Packers battling the New England Patriots on the radio. La Petite watched the game and put together her new set of shelves.

Home, sweet home.

Home, sweet home.

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