The First Day of School

The boys went back to school today. My little guy seemed ready and downright blase about the whole thing. Afterall, he’s a veteran of the 2nd grade. Third grade will be a snap. Add to that that he’s got one of my all time favorite teachers at the school and he’s in for a wonderful year.

My eldest is off to the Middle School campling trip. He looks so big next to the other boys. He’s even bigger with hiking boots on. It’s so wierd to think that just a few short years ago he could walk under the dining room table and wore a puffy diaper. Now he’s on his way to manhood.

At least I still have a dog that likes to cuddle!

Dreamings — If we won the lottery,

This past weekend the California Lottery was up to 131 million dollars.  We like to play the dream game.  Here is what we came up with.

Grownup wish list:

Bigger house — with a separate libary, separate rooms for the kids, my own personal bathroom that I don’t have to share with my husband, a pool, a small house on the grounds for my parents, a small house for Delfina and her little dog, a big laundry room ( along with someone else to do the laundry!), a big kitchen, a separate big dinning room, a big family room/media room, a big couch with two chaise lounges built in in a tasteful manner, a studio/office for my husband, a good separate office for me and a sewing/craft room, a beautiful garden and a vegetable garden.

Travel — trips around the world with the whole family. Private tutor for the kids since they are coming too!

School — big donations to school so they can stop bugging us all for money for at least 4 years.  ( I realize they’ll never really stop bugging us for money.)

$1 million to each of my husbands sisters families ( It’s up to them to do with it what they want — blow it or pay for college. They are grown ups and we don’t want to try to control anyone with the money. It’s a gift! No strings!

Big fat donations to all of our favorite charities.

That’s it.  or that’s what the grown ups wished for.

Kids’ Wish List

1. Every book they ever wanted to read

2. A car when they are old enough to drive — preferably a new fully loaded Mustang

3. Keep the old house, just make it bigger

4. Go to a better private school that has more fields for sports.

5. Pay tuition of best friends so that they can all go to the same private school.

6. A house for Delfina and grandparents on the property so they can stay with us all the time.

7. A pet for Opie ( the family Snorkie)

8. A pool

9. Separate rooms ( oldest son’s wish)

10. Connecting rooms ( youngest son’s wish)

11. Trips all over the world!

12. Plus all the stuff that Mom and Dad want.

Money does not buy happiness, but it certainly does create a few more opportunities for it.

Dreams – I dream of something sweet!

Yesterday, I wished my ATM card would magically appear.  I’ve discovered I don’t like cash.

Yesterday, I wished for patience, tolerance and a muzzle. Yesterday, my imagination failed me. I couldn’t think of diplomatic ways to deal with people.  Silence would probably be the best answer when I’m in this kind of mood, but sometimes you can’t be silent. 

Yesterday, I tried Angel bakery.  Today, I’m going to see if Stein’s in Dallas will ship cookies.  Can someone please find me a bakery that has a great selection of different kinds of cookies?  Maybe I am idealizing the bakeries of my youth. 

Today, I dream of something sweet to sweeten me, give me back my tolerance and patience and sooth my disgruntled soul.

I dream of a light cookie that dissolves in my mouth.

I dream of sugar, chocolate and nuts, of short bread, dates and apricot filling.

I dream that I have at least two more months of summer.

Muttering Number 1 — “Customer Service, Can we help you?”

“I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.”  What does that mean?  So, you rolled over and ended up on the right side instead of the left side. How is that the wrong side? Why do we say this? Is this really such a horrible thing? Are we so wedded to our “side of the bed” that it can upset our day and change our perspective on life? 

I had this thought, but I was on the correct side of my bed. I could see my lamp, my pile of books, my hamper of cleanish laundry, and my view of the backyard out my window.  I was on the right side of my bed. However, I  was not on the right side of my life.   I awoke disgruntled.

The feeling failed to dissipate when I discovered that I’d lost my ATM card just as I was leaving  to take Gregory shopping for his Middle School camping trip.  It certainly didn’t fade away when I recalled that the last place I saw the card was at Ralph’s on Saturday.  It was now Monday.

I inched further onto “the wrong side of the bed”  after the following  interchange with with Ralph’s customer service.

“Hi, I’ve lost my ATM card and the last place I saw it and used it was Ralph’s. Do you guys have a lost and found?”

“Uh, uh, uh, um, er,  yes.”

“Okay, great! Do you think you could look and see if my card is there? My name is..”

” Well, uh, the manager has the key to the lost and found  and she’s supposed be here momentarily.” I look at the kitchen clock. It is 11:AM. “Uh, can you hold?”

“Sure!” Now, I listen to some canned music and the daily specials from some perky announcer person.  Five  minutes pass. I put the phone on speaker and start going over my emails.

Five minutes later.  ( Total of 10  minutes on hold).

“Hi, Ralph’s Customer Service,  how may I help you? Different voice, a female this time.

” Hi, I’m on hold for the manager. I need someone to check lost and found for my ATM card.”

“Okay!”  Click! I am once again on hold.

5 minutes later ( Total 15 minutes)

“Hello, customer service, how can I help you?” The first voice again.

” Remember me? I’m was waiting on hold for the manager. “

“Oh there is no manager in the front of the store. You’ll have to wait until 12 for the next manager to come on shift.”

“You mean you don’t have a manager until 12? “

“No, the manager is not in the front of the store.”

“So you do have a manager in the store?”

“Yes, we do. That manager is not in the front of the store.”

“So, why can’t the manager come to the front and talk to me on the phone or pick up the phone in the back of the store?”

 I’ll admit some attitude might have crept into my voice. This is Ralph’s.  It is a large supermarket, but not  The Mall of America. I’ve gone from one end of Ralph’s to the other with my gimpy knee without much trouble. Are there some special challenges for managers to face traversing one end of the store to the other?  Are there rapids?  A  pool of piranhas?  Man eating sharks?  Killer bees? Packs of wild hogs?

“Can you call back in 10 minutes?”

“Fine” I hung up. Picked up my car keys,  a different credit card, my middle school kid and headed straight to Ralph’s. I was there in 3 minutes.

Did you know they have a customer service button at the service desk? When you press it, a syrupy sweet computer voice sounds over the intercom asking for assistance in customer service.  The voice  repeats until someone comes to the desk to turn it off.  It must be really annoying. I took perverse pleasure in it.

About 2 minutes later,  here comes the manager.  She’s running. Is that a piranha dangling from her belt? No, just a big key ring.

“Hi can I help you?” She pants.

“Yes, thank you. I was wondering if you could look in your lost and found and see if you have a lost ATM card.  It may be here or may not be, but I’d like to rule this place out. ” Maybe it was the annoying intercom voice or the manager running across the store, or the image I had a of piranha biting her in the  butt,  but I took a big leap to my side of the bed.

“Okay, happy to.”

She opened up a drawer ( an unlocked drawer!) and began rummaging through it. It looked like  one of my mom’s junk drawers. By the way, she had two credit cards there, but neither was mine.

Was I back on my side of the bed yet?  No, but  I found a great store fulfilling Gregory’s camping pack list —  The Surplus Store. It’s at Venice and Motor. They have everything and they are way cheaper than Target. Additionally, they have a  well organized, friendly staff of above average intelligence willing to listen to me whine about my lost ATM card with convincingly sincere sympathy.

I inched a little closer to my side of the bed.

Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day.

Oh for a Lemon bar…

I was looking for a good desert. I was in the wrong place — the local supermarket.  Brownie bites, chocolate chip cookies, or chocolate dipped macaroons  towered over the fake butter croissants.  The boys would be satisfied with the chocolate chip cookies, but not my husband.  He hates the flatness of these store made cookies.  Me, I don’t think they’re all that bad, but why are they so mediocre?  I buy the brownie bites.  At least, they are competently chocolate.  But these mediocre treats  make me yearn for the sumptuous baked goodies of my youth.

When I was a girl, Stein’s Bakery in Dallas was ground zero for baked goodness.  Chocolate chip cookies, snicker doodles, date bars, lemon bars, oatmeal raisin cluster cookies, cupcakes and  the best birthday cakes — expertly prepared and consistently fabulous!   At least once a week, my mom would stop by  after school and let me pick at least two cookies for the ride home. She’d buy a box of cookies for home — date bars, chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, macaroons.  I’m not sure my dad every got any of these cookies.  I think mom and I killed the box before he got home from work. One summer of Weight Watchers and  thyroid pills and we were off of our Stein’s habit.  We never put our collective feet in another bakery or donut shop again. 

But enough reminiscing!  I needed to find a local bakery.  Supermarket fare will not do any longer.  I told the family to keep their eyes peeled for a local bakery.

Have you noticed that most “bakeries” these days are actually cafes. They make sandwiches, serve exotic coffee and give you morning pastries and the occasional slice of cheesecake. Oh and free wi-fi!  Every “bakery” within  3 miles of my house seemed to fit this category. Some of these places have some good things to offer, but I wasn’t looking for the occasional good brownie wedged in between the salmon croissant sandwich. I wanted a place where I could buy cake, cookies, tarts, pies, lemon bars, cupcakes, etc. I wanted a full service bakery.

 Driving around proved to be fruitless. Every bakery we saw in our normal rounds was either a cafe style bakery, or a substandard business that couldn’t make a decent chocolate chip cookie.  So I did what I should have done in the first place.  I went on the Internet.  I clicked in to Yelp.com and began my search. At first, it seemed as if all the bakeries that had really great ratings were in the Valley, Hollywood, or Burbank.   Too far!  Finally, in a review panning a local bakery, I found a possibility —  Hot Cakes Bakes, former winners of the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars.  Now I wasn’t a huge cupcake fan.  Remember I wanted a full service bakery. They aren’t quite full service — they don’t make bread, but I could live with that if their other confections were worthwhile.

The next day I brought home a sampling of goodies  for the family.

Mint chocolate chip mini cupcakes

Chocolate mini cupcakes

Brownies

Lemon bars

Pecan bar

Mixed berry bar

and of course Chocolate Chip cookies.

It took us only two days to get through the majority of the offerings. Actually there is still half a lemon bar and 1/2 a brownie left in the refrigerator.

I give Hot Cakes Bake two – no four- thumbs up.  They hit the mark on everything I brought home.  I only had one or two reservations.  

Reservation #1  — If we make this a regular thing, I’ll have to walk Opie 2 hours a day and walk the 4 miles to the bakery from now on.

Reservation #2 — Are we really going to spend $1.50 per mini cupcake and $3.00 a brownie?

Solution — We’ll just make it a special treat kind of a place.  I once lost about 30 pounds only eating the best food available. If it was mediocre, I didn’t eat it.  This was an easy diet in college!  However, if I skip desserts from now on and hold out only for a delicious lemon bar once or twice a month, eschew the mediocre brownie bites and soggy chocolate covered macaroons, maybe I can at least not gain weight!

Well, we see how well this holds up.  In the meantime,  I noticed a while ago that the lemon bar is gone.  I’m counting the days till my next bakery run!

About Me

I started blogging about our family’s new puppy, Opie. That’s when I got a taste for this Internet journaling.  Obviously,  I have more to talk about than my new dog.  Our lives do not revolve around the dog.  (Oh God, I hope not!)

 I have lots of mutterings and dreams to share. Maybe you faceless user- named folks in cyber space will be amused, outraged or interested in my observations. I don’t know.  I do know that this is wicked fun! 

So here are some basics.  I am the only woman in an all male household.  I have two sons, a husband and a male dog. I am completely outnumbered.  I am inundated with all of the amiable indelicacy of 8 and 12-year-old boys and yes, the Martian characteristics of the typical 45+ old male. 

 Maybe I need an outlet.  Maybe I want to talk about my job, my family, my garden, the garden pests, my neighbors, the ones who I like and the one’s who annoy me, the political scene or a funny cartoon.  Expect a potpourri. Some bits will be sweet, some sour, hopefully all of it will smell good.

 This blog will be about anything.  I might even share a Haiku. Who knows? My promise is to make it interesting at the very least.   I’ll do my best. Laissez les bons temps rouler!