Friday, December 29, 2023

Saturday 9


1) In this song, the lead singer thanks his younger self for everything he learned from past experience. What's something you learned in 2023? I learned a lot as I made my way through my self-assigned reading project. I picked four people I've heard about my entire life but really knew little about -- Winston Churchill, Dwight Eisenhower, Aristotle Onassis and Babe Ruth -- and read biographies of them. These men are fascinating and consequential and while I'm certainly no expert, I have a better understanding of why they became legends.
2) He admits he did some things he wished he hadn't. Did you do anything in 2023 you wish you could take back? I was too free and frank when I pushed back against the input my new boss, Ceecee, shared with me. The feedback was from Katie from Corporate, and it was irrelevant and annoying, which I made clear. I still believe I was right, but I overreacted. I wasn't responding just to Ceecee, but to more than 40 years of irrelevant and annoying "Katies." I apologized to Ceecee and she was very gracious.

3) This music video consists of old photographs. Do you have many photos lingering on your phone or camera? Or are you prompt about downloading them? Some I download right away, but yes, some are lingering on my phone.

4) This week's featured artist is 5 Seconds of Summer, a band from Australia. Have you ever been to the land down under? If not, would you like to go? No and no. I have nothing against Australia. I'm sure it's lovely. There are just places closer to home I'd like to see, or see again.
5) In 2020, when this song was popular, "murder hornets," aka the giant Asian hornet, were spotted for the first time in the United States. Are you afraid of bugs? Nope. I have to be careful around bees and red ants because I'm allergic, but that's just commonsense.

6) Enough about 2020! Let's look back on 2023. Did you travel this past year? I went to Tampa to see Anthony Rizzo and the Yankees in spring training (and visit my Cousin Rose) and to the TCM Classic Film Festival in Los Angeles. Elaine and I went to New Salem, just outside outside of Springfield, for an overnight trip to tour the Lincoln sites.
The fall colors were a nice backdrop for Mr. Lincoln

7) What was the biggest purchase that you made in 2023? Does dental work count as "a purchase?" I spent a shit ton on my teeth this year.

8) What was your favorite book of 2023? This is hard to answer because the book that has stayed with me, that I keep thinking about long after I put it down, was The Big Fella, the Babe Ruth biography I mentioned in #1. But I think that's because Ruth's saga is so compelling, not because this particular biography is especially well written. (It jumps around a lot.) Still, Babe was a good and supremely talented man who overcame more than anyone should and went on to have a lasting impact on American culture so I'm glad I read it.

9) What are you looking forward to most in 2024? No one specific thing, but I'm optimistic about the upcoming year.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Thursday Thirteen #341


13 ways to avoid identity theft.
The FBI tells us that more than 50,000 cases of identity theft are reported every year. Here are 13 ways to help keep yourself safe. (All of them are free.)

1. Pick up your mail every day and put a hold on your mail if you're going to be gone longer than overnight. Low-tech identity theft is making a comeback.

2. Drop your letters off at the post office, or put them in your mail carrier's hand yourself. We assume there are cameras everywhere, but there aren't, and there's been an uptick in theft from corner mailboxes.

3. Use a Sharpie or a gel pen when you write checks. "Check washing" is making a comeback, too. That's when one of the bad guys intercepts a check you mailed and uses chemicals to remove/replace the payee and dollar amount. Since your signature is legitimate, your bank will cash the altered check. To avoid this, don't use ballpoint pens to write checks. Instead, reach for a pen where the ink "bleeds" a bit into the paper, making it more resistant to those chemicals. 

4. Look at what's in your wallet. Leave your Social Security Card at home. Don't carry credit cards you're not likely to use that day. You'll be less vulnerable to identity theft if your wallet is lifted.

5. Change your passwords. Yeah, it's a drag. But like picking up your mail, sometimes the little things can go a long way to keeping you safer.

6. Shred your documents. Not just bank statements. Utility statements and credit card applications can be used to steal your identity.

7. Read your bank/credit card statements. It's common for the bad guys to hijack your account information and then make small transactions, to see if they can get away with it, before emptying you out.

8. Remember that medical records leave you vulnerable, too. There's another kind of identity theft on the rise: medical identity theft. Scammers use someone else's insurance information to get care. So read any insurance EOBs you receive closely and carefully, too. Contact your insurance company immediately if you see something amiss.

9. Use alerts. Many financial institutions will send you an email or text when funds are transferred to/from your account. Take advantage of this! 

10. Freeze your credit. Contact the three credit bureaus -- Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion -- and ask them to freeze your credit. That way, only you can open a new personal loan, credit card, etc. Freezing your credit is free and won't affect your credit rating.

11. Check your credit report. Those same three credit bureaus -- Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion -- can provide you with a free annual report. Similarly, keep an eye on your credit score. That way you can tell if a new account has been opened or if spending goes way up on one of your existing accounts.

12. Use public wifi carefully. Do your banking from home.

13. Think twice before paying with a debit card. If someone else uses your credit card, the most you can be liable for is $50. This is federally mandated. The law doesn't extend to debit cards. Either call and confirm with your individual bank what their policy is covering debit cards, or take the safer route and use your credit card.

Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.


My Christmas Day of Service

Worship of God, service to man. Those words are carved above the entrance to my church. They inspired me to kick off my own very personal Christmas tradition: a day of service.

•  First I went through my front closet and decided to part with two very nice wool coats: one gray and one black. They are almost new. Since I no longer have a job that requires me to dress up to visit a client, I do not need either of them (and you can argue I never needed two). This time of year* some women who can't afford to buy them new will appreciate them. I also laundered my Michael Kors puffer coat. There's a telltale trace of my foundation on the collar, but it's a big warm coat with a brand name and it has value.

I took a moment to be grateful that I had a career that enabled me to have three very nice coats that I don't need. Especially when there are women -- right here in my community -- who spend our winters shivering in inadequate outerwear as they commute to their jobs. Or worse, spend their days outdoor and their nights in shelters or tents.

•  Then I got ambitious and signed up for nine Letters Against Isolation, instead of my usual three. I used the new snowy stickers and gel pens I got at the card shop where I now work. In between cards, I exchanged texts with John (naughty holiday jokes), Elaine (more trivia about It's a Wonderful Life, because we each knew the other would have it on) and Cousin Rose (we opened our gifts "together" across the miles).

I took a moment to be grateful for the people in my life. I am only alone when I wish to be. Letters Against Isolation has taught me that there are people for whom "alone time" doesn't feel like a luxury or an opportunity to recharge. For them it's soul crushing. 

I'm going to dedicate Christmas to service every year from now on. I'm not sure how it will look in 2024. But I'm sure the effect will be the same: it will refocus my heart on the reason for the season.

*Though it's been unseasonably warm so far this winter, we all know the mercury is going to drop. It always does.

Isn't this a lovely Christmas message?


This is what the former President and leading candidate for the GOP nomination wanted to share with us on Christmas Day. Yes, he politicizes one of the holiest days on the Christian calendar, apparently to the delight of his many "Christian" followers.

Every day Donald Trump makes me more grateful for Joe Biden and the thin line of decent statesmen who come between us and this.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

PS I no longer participate in WWW.WEDNESDAY via that link because her blog won't accept Blogger comments. I mention this only to save you the frustration I experienced trying to link up.

1. What are you currently reading? Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six by Lisa Unger. As the jacket says, "A dreamy weekend is about to turn into a nightmare." Three couples rent a secluded cabin. It's not rustic and they aren't into roughing it. They're looking forward to relaxing days in the hot tub and nights on the high thread count bedsheets. But then a massive storm hits and people start getting dead.

Yes, this an oft-used premise, but it's one I'm totally into. I was also really into Lisa Unger's Confessions on the 7:45, so I have high hopes for this one. I also like that it starts immediately after Christmas dinner, and captures the letdown that often accompanies it. Perfect timing!


2. What did you recently finish reading? Santa's Little Yelpers by David Rosenfelt. Chris Myers spent more than a year in prison for manslaughter. While there, he participated in a program where inmates trained dogs. This endeared him to crusading lawyer/dog advocate Andy Carpenter, and when Chris is paroled he gets a job with Andy's dog rescue organization. Chris is working on weaning and homing a litter of eight golden retrievers when he is accused of murder. Andy is planning a Christmas trip to the Magic Kingdom with his family, but he puts it on hold to defend his friend.

This was a good mystery. The prosecutors have so much solid evidence against Chris that, instead of disputing it, Andy chooses to develop alternate scenarios of how the murder have been committed. None of these theories has to be true, just plausible enough to raise reasonable doubt in jurors' minds. Yet as they take shape, one in particular is intriguing. It leads Andy and team from their cozy homebase in Patterson, NJ, to a small, depressed and depressing town in PA. Andy realizes he is not just formulating an acceptable theory for the jury, he's on track to finding the real murderer.


It sucks as a Christmas book, though. I wanted more ho-ho-hoing, but here, the holiday is really incidental. So are the puppies! I wanted to know more about their eight little personalities. That's why, ultimately, I was disappointed.

3. What will you read next? I think it's time for a biography.


Sunday, December 24, 2023

Sunday Stealing


1. Who did you spend time with this year? I enjoyed the time I spent with my nephew lots.

2. Anything change with the pets in your life? Nope. Both my cats are healthy, and for that I am grateful.

3. What was your job like this year? What do you do? Did any roles or assignments change? If you aren’t employed, base this question on your work at home or volunteering. After a year off, I started a new job at the card shop around the corner. I'm always surprised customers know my name because I forget I'm wearing a name tag. This retail thing is new to me after 47 years of office work.

4. What was the best book you read this year?  How many did you read? I am almost done with my 45th book of the year. The best of the bunch was In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. I know that's not the most Christmas-y answer, but there you go.

5. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you? Did you feel differently? I turned 66 this year. I barely felt it because my birthday fell on the day before Thanksgiving and that damn turkey stole my thunder. Kwizgiver gave me a birthday shoutout and that was a highlight.

6. What political or social issue stirred you the most? If you come here often, you know the answer to this. On Christmas Eve, I'm not going there. Instead I'll invoke Chicago's Very Own.


7. Who was the most interesting new person you met? Ceecee, my new boss at the card shop. A 30-something working mom, she has a refreshing attitude toward work and life. She says her #1 requirement of any of us is that we be kindI just love talking to her. Then there's Rachel, the instructor of my yoga class. New to Chicago from Los Angeles, she is engaging and fun and very helpful. She also works pop culture references into the class, which makes it all more accessible for me. (Too much of the "woo-woo" and my mind wanders.)

8. What changed in your home? Not much.

9. What have you learned throughout the year? (Other than crafts)  Can be a new skill or a life lesson. "The supported fish pose" in yoga. It makes my spine feel so much better. Here is someone much more attractive than I doing it.

10. What was your favorite outfit for warm weather? Cooler weather? What do you wear when you dress up? Any new clothes or accessories you really love? I'm happy to see my office attire again! There's no dress code at the card shop, but my nicer sweaters and blouses had been languishing in the armoire during my retirement and it's good to put them to use again.

11. Did you make or give up on any efforts to be healthier? Diet, water, exercise etc? I've been doing yoga almost exactly a year now. I still suck, but I feel better and that's the point, right?

12. Fave meals, snacks, desserts, restaurants etc? Eat out or eat in? Nothing new in this area. Pizza and cheeseburgers are still my favorites. Eat out or eat in doesn't matter, as long as I'm not cooking.

13. Did you learn any new crafts or techniques? What was your favorite thing you made? Sorry, but I've got nothing for you here.

14. What are your hopes and dreams for the new year?  (Some suggestions-family, travel, work, lifestyle, hobbies, pets, appearance) I'd like to make my home more liveable by getting rid of much of my stuff.

15. What was the best new/new-to-you thing you a) bought b) made c) acquired in some other way? I just bought an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner. Can't wait to try it. Hoping it will remove the tarnish on some of my pieces and make them wearable again.


Now it's Christmas

Last night I saw George Bailey on the big screen. My friend Elaine and I went to the annual holiday show at The Music Box Theater, which includes a singalong with Santa before the showing of a pristine print of It's a Wonderful Life.

First we had dinner at a local restaurant known for their chicken. She had the chicken salad, I had the rotisserie chicken, and I received two (count 'em, 2!) compliments on my Cubs Christmas sweater. Then it was off to the theater. 

This is a Chicago tradition. Santa comes in, sits atop the organ, and leads us in a singalong. We went to one of the evening shows. I'm told that during the matinees it's mostly families and very wholesome. I've only ever been at night, when it's a bit more raucous and we can hear beer cans being popped open throughout the singalong. I just love how many young adults know this classic film so well (you can count on hissing every time Mr. Potter appears on screen) and are willing to don Santa hats and come out for it. I got emotional about all of it and and bought the 40th anniversary commemorative mug.

Who needs another mug? Not me. But I had to have it.

I found it comforting that Elaine was grumpy. I know that sounds weird, but it's true. She was battling an upper respiratory infection -- caused by allergies, so she wasn't contagious -- and very snappish. She is usually far more thoughtful and generous than I am, so in a way I enjoyed seeing this more human side of her.

I went to sleep feeling more Christmas-y than I have so far this year.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Saturday 9


1. As you can see, when Sam Winters was a little girl, she loved giving her annual wish list to Santa. If you could ask Santa for anything at all, right now, what would it be? A phone call from my dear friend Henry. He is in the hospital, lapsing in and out of consciousness, unable to speak, and he likely won't recover. Friday was his 61st birthday. I love him and miss him.

2. Are you currently on the Naughty or Nice list? How did you get there? I am on the Nice list because I always try to do good. I don't always succeed, but I believe Santa appreciates the effort.

3. Are you traveling this Christmas? If so, are you going by car, plane or train? I am local this year.

4. Did you ship any gifts to friends and family this year? If yes, which one traveled the farthest? This journal went almost 2,000 miles to my oldest friend in Hesperia, CA. 

Learn more about it here

5. Did you buy yourself a gift this year? Why yes, I did! When Anthony Rizzo, my favorite-most ballplayer, returns to the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field for the first time since he was so cruelly traded, I will be there! My tickets have been confirmed.

This is misleading. Friday games @ Wrigley Field are always at 1:20 PM.

6. Which do you prefer: candy canes or gingerbread? Gingerbread.

7. Close your eyes and tell us the first carol that comes to mind. "Winter Wonderland." The first thing that popped into my head was Andy Williams holding that last high note on "Sleigh bells ring ..." and then I had to go through the song from the beginning to get to the title. I am old and this happens.

8. What's your favorite winter beverage? It hasn't gotten really cold yet, but when it does, I'm going to start drinking hot tea.

9. Share a memory from last Christmas. Instead I'm sharing a memory from Christmas 2021 because it's on my mind. We didn't know it at the time, but it was my last Christmas with Henry in Key West. Here's the view we enjoyed as we had our seaside holiday lunch. It looks like a picture postcard, doesn't it?

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Thursday Thirteen #340

13 uses for petroleum jelly. I have a jar that goes largely untouched in my medicine cabinet. I looked around on the web and I think I'm missing some opportunities here.

1. Eye makeup remover. This is why I've got it. But I'm such a lazy gal, I don't wash my face before bed and so I scrub yesterday's makeup off in my morning shower. But Vaseline is gentle and would have the added benefit of moisturizing the skin around my eyes at bedtime (if I used it).

2. Soothe dry nose. If, like me, you have steam heat, this can help keep your schnoz comfortable and healthy throughout the winter.

3. Lip balm. Vaseline also sells a formulation specially for this purpose, but the original works just fine, too.

4. Mani/pedi touch ups. Spread a tiny bit around your cuticles before you apply the polish. Then, after your nails are completely dry, all you have to do is wipe away the petroleum jelly.

5. Protect your skin when you do a DIY dye job. Apply it to your ears, neck, and hairline to reduce the likelihood of staining. (When I colored my own hair, I did this and it worked perfectly.)

6. Extend your scent. Put a dab on each wrist before you apply cologne and let it slow the fragrance's evaporation.

7. First aid. Apply it to minor cuts and burns. It adds a protective barrier to damaged, vulnerable skin that can aid in healing.

8. Care "down there." It's not only good for baby's diaper rash, it can provide similar relief for grown ups after a bout of diarrhea or constipation. 

9. Comfort after a tattoo. Skin gets angry after being tattooed. A layer of petroleum jelly provides relief, as well as moisture and protection.
10. Removing adhesive. Use it to get rid of the stickiness left on glass or plastic by labels or price tags.
11. Got a bike? Apply a little to the chain to keep things running smoothly.
12. Got a car? Extend the life of a new battery by applying a little Vaseline to the terminals when you install it.

13. Got feet? Relieve dry, cracked heels. At bedtime, slather a generous amount on your heals and then put on socks.

Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.


Tuesday, December 19, 2023


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

PS I no longer participate in WWW.WEDNESDAY via that link because her blog won't accept Blogger comments. I mention this only to save you the frustration I experienced trying to link up.

1. What are you currently reading? Santa's Little Yelpers by David Rosenfelt. I'm spending Christmas with one of my faves, lawyer/dog lover Andy Carpenter. This year, Andy thought he was going to devote himself to celebrating the holidays with loved ones and weaning and homing a litter of eight adorable golden retrievers. It's not going the way he planned, though. A buddy of his, Chris Myers, is accused of murder. Andy believes Chris is innocent so, inconvenient as the timing is, he's concentrating on a case as well as ho-ho-hoing.

I love Andy. I love that he's inherently lazy, has no physical courage, and can't stop cracking wise. Therefore I'm sure I'm going to love this volume of the series.


2. What did you recently finish reading?  Candy Slain Murder by Maddie Day. Ms. Day created a very specific, credible place in her fictional town of South Lick, IN. That's the best thing about this book. You can easily imagine yourself at a two-top table in Pans 'n Pancakes, eavesdropping on the town gossip as you enjoy your eggs.

The rest of the book was just "meh." First of all, the killer's identity, motive and murder weapon were obvious from the start. Second, I don't know why our heroine, the proprietor of Pans 'n Pancakes, involves herself in sleuthing. She's not bored (we go through her day with her and running that restaurant is hard work). She's not personally involved with the victim. She has no special crime fighting talents. So when the police ask her again and again to fall back, why doesn't she? And the cat on the cover looks like my guy, Roy Hobbs, but he isn't given much opportunity to show his personality.

I'm afraid I don't think I'll be back to this series.

3. What will you read next? More Christmas, if there's time.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Deplorables behaving deplorably

Or How MAGA Ruined the Sound of Music for Me. On Saturday, our former President and current presumptive Republican nominee in 2024 held a rally and invoked Hitler. Again.

In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote, "All great cultures of the past perished only because the originally creative race died out from blood poisoning." On Saturday, Trump decried immigrants from the podium in New Hampshire, saying they are "poisoning the blood of our country." Afterward, the leader of the MAGA movement doubled down, repeating in writing on Truth Social that "illegal immigration is poisoning the blood of our country."

How do the so-called Christians in the MAGA movement respond to this? They either agree or are silent. It's important to note that, when it comes to fascist, racist dictatorships, silence is just as damaging as assent.

Trump doesn't have to quote Hitler. The English language is a vast and flexible instrument. He could create almost limitless phrases that would make his point. He invokes Hitler because 1) it works; it worked in Germany and it seems to be working here and 2) it's an unmistakable signal to the white supremacist groups like The Proud Boys of whom he is so fond.

Antisemitism is on the rise. Especially after the heartbreaking Hamas attack on October 7 and the ensuing battle in Gaza. Why does Trump -- who has Jewish grandchildren -- embrace Hitler's rhetoric? Because he is soulless and will do whatever it takes to win. The bigger question is, "Why do 'Christians' embrace him?"

In the words of Chris Christie: “He’s disgusting, and what he’s doing is dog-whistle to Americans who feel absolutely under stress and strained from the economy and from the conflicts around the world, and he’s dog-whistling to blame it on people from areas that don’t look like us."

So because Trump will protect their jobs and restore their comfortable way of life, self-proclaimed Christians will embrace antisemitism and racism? I'm sorry, but this is a circle that cannot be squared.

Sunday night I, like millions of Americans, settled in to watch The Sound of Music. Trump's rhetoric was ringing in my ears. As I watched Captain Von Trapp and the nuns of the Abbey stand up to Nazis, I wondered how many MAGA families were also watching. How many were holding their children and grandchildren near, embracing this movie for representing the best of us, and then went back to supporting Donald Trump and his specious claims of antifa ruining us. 

Let's not forget antifa means antifascist. The reason why MAGA deplores antifa is that they embrace Trump.

I don't see how they can applaud both Captain Von Trapp and the candidate who invokes Hitler. I also don't see how they can sleep at night.

When MAGA embraces Hitler, be like Capt. Von Trapp


Saturday, December 16, 2023

Sunday Stealing

1. What is the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received? Blaze. Definitely Blaze! I got him the Christmas I was 4. I loved him beyond measure and will never forget coming into the living room and seeing him beside the tree with a single red bow on the seat. Thanks, Santa!

2. What is the worst Christmas gift you’ve ever received? The problem wasn't the gift but the giver. When I was in high school, Icky Grandma gave me a jade tree when we celebrated at her house on Christmas Eve. This was something I really wanted. I sat at her feet in her dining room after I received it. I was admiring the waxy leaves and she was sipping beer from a juice glass -- her concession to my mother's request that she cut down her drinking. I kept saying, "Thank you, Grandma. Thank you, Grandma." She was staring into space, too loaded to hear me. She and I never got along, so I didn't care ... yet. The next day, Christmas Day (!), she called the house. After their conversation, my mom yelled at me. Grandma was furious that she spent all that money on that big jade tree and I couldn't even be bothered to thank her. I insisted I did, but my mom just shook her head. It was the holidays and I'd upset Icky Grandma. The bitch put a damper on Christmas for both me and my mom (whose parenting skills she had brutally critiqued). And for no reason. I've got so many Icky Grandma stories. Hence the name.

3. Do you have a favorite Christmas song? Andy. Always Andy at Christmas.

BTW, Andy sings "Happy Holiday!" not "Merry Christmas." Released for the 1963 holiday season, I guess this makes Andy one of the first-ever woke warriors against Christmas. 😃

4. Does your family have any favorite holiday traditions? Since first my uncle and then my mom died, my family doesn't really celebrate together en masse anymore.

5. What is your favorite Christmas snack? I don't really have one. I just eat like a pig all season.

6. Did you believe in Santa growing up? Very much.

7. How early do you start decorating? I put my decorations up last week. I have a small illuminated ceramic gift with a green ribbon on the coffee table, cards taped to the front door, a Santa hanging off the door knob (my side) and a penguin with a scarf waving at people who pass my front door.

8. Are you an early or last-minute shopper? I'm a perpetual shopper. I buy things as I come upon them throughout the year.

9. Would you rather give or receive gifts? They each have their charms.

10. What’s your favorite Christmas movie? Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol. It's a short but remarkably faithful retelling with great songs. You can find it free on YouTube and you can stream it, too. The finale is my favorite song.

11. What is one of your Christmas memories? This is the view from our Christmas lunch, 2021. My last Key West Christmas with my wonderful friend, Henry.

12. Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve? I have one sitting here from my oldest friend. This is an amazing occurrence because she is never early! I can tell by the box that it's a book from Amazon. I may open it on Christmas Eve or maybe Christmas Day. I haven't decided.

Friday, December 15, 2023

Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: The Christmas Blues (1953)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
1) In this song, Dean Martin sings that the streets are white with snow. Do you anticipate a White Christmas this year? Probably not. It's been unseasonably warm so far this winter. This makes me a little melancholy.

2) He tells us he's done plenty of window shopping this season. Do you find you're influenced by a retailer's window dressing and store decor? Are you more motivated by price? Or do you do most of your shopping online, making holiday decorations irrelevant? Decor not so much. But I do like hearing carols when I shop. Maybe I buy more because of them.
3) Dean was born in Steubenville, OH. Though he rarely returned to his hometown, it was in his thoughts during the holidays. Every Christmas he made like Santa and sent toys to hospitalized children in the Steubenville area. Are there toys on your shopping list this year? Not toys, but I did buy four children's book this season. Arthur, the 8-year-old I "adopted" from the local children's home, loves basketball so he's getting The Sports Illustrated Big Book of WHO: Basketball, a colorful encyclopedia of players for kids. For the Toys for Tots box, I donated Santa Baby, 96 Facts about Taylor Swift, and a Disney Little Mermaid book. I liked getting books as gifts, and hope these wee ones will, too.
The illustrations in this book are so cute!

4) He had fast hands when it came to cards and before he was famous he worked as a dealer in Atlantic City. When you play cards, what's your favorite game? Canasta.

5) Dean Martin was an avid reader ... of comic books. Especially in bed when he was on the road and couldn't sleep. Much as he enjoyed comic books, he was embarrassed by them. What do you do when you can't sleep? Check my email, tend my Farmville crops and, of course, pee, which is likely what I woke up to do in the first place.

Now let's have a few holiday-specific questions:
6) Every year, the United States Postal Service introduces special holiday stamps. Do you purchase them? Yes.
This year, I went with the elves.
7) Do you have a funny/ugly holiday sweater? I have been told my Cubs sweater is an "eyesore." Whatever. I represent my guys at Christmas.
8) Do you wrap your presents or use gift bags? Mostly wrap, but if I'm giving someone more than one present, I'll go gift bag.

9) We're doing Christmas karaoke! What holiday or winter-themed song will you perform? I'm tone deaf, so I'm sitting this out by popular demand.



Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Thursday Thirteen #339

 13 Pretty Gifts. It's that time when we look for the perfect, thoughtful holiday gift. None of these are things a person would be likely to buy themselves. Many are personalized, and all are under $50.

1. Personalized pocket mirror. She'll be proud to take this out of her purse to check her makeup. You choose the color and the font. (I've purchased three of these already.) $10

2. I Wrote a Book About You. A bound book with pages of fill-in-the-blank statements that help you bring your relationship with a loved on to life. $12

3. Engraved refillable lipstick. You can personalize it with a name or a message (up to 14 characters). $22

4. It's the Question Game. Great for family get-togethers and parties with a diverse group of friends, this box has 150 conversation starters. $23 

5. Custom photo calendar. You choose the 12 pictures that will carry your friend through 2024. The wood frame dresses it up. $28

6. Weighted blanket. This blanket is designed to hug the body, which can help a fitful sleeper enjoy a more restful night. $30

7. Glass soap dispenser. Waterproof, reusable and customizable for the kitchen or the bathroom. This is one of those things none of my friends would ever buy for themselves, but I bet some of them would really like. $31

8. L. L. Bean Boat and Tote. Everyone carries these for shopping, work, picnics, etc. Why not give someone on your gift list a really nice, fashionable, durable one? $34.95 (Monogram $8 extra)

9. Birth flower and birthstone necklace. It's pretty and it's personal. Especially good for women, like me, who are born on the cusp between two astrological signs. There's no ambiguity about your birth month. $35

10. Little Words key chain. Colorful beads -- including 13 that spell out a name or a message -- make a utilitarian key chain more fun. $35

11. Custom disc bracelet. Another one-of-a-kind gift. You can spell out a name, a date, etc., with 12 beads on this bracelet. $38

12. David's Travel with Tea Sachet Wheel. Discover teas from all over the world in a pretty box. $39

13. Whiskey-infused Toothpicks. OK, nobody needs flavored toothpicks. But these sure look fun. $40

Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.