Saturday, July 15, 2017

Camp Aunt Barb

Butch and I leave tomorrow for Table Rock Lake to join some of my siblings for the annual Zimmermann family vacation. It's been several years since Butch and I have gone since the Z vacation is always so close to our family vacation. We're looking forward to it.

I decided to plan a fun day for the kids. There are going to be 5---Josie-2, Nathan-3, Evie and
Travis-5, and Emma-8 (Jim's granddaughter). I have so many activities planned. I'll share the itinerary later. But for now, here's just a little glimpse.
 Sandy gave me this idea based on a birthday party Mitchell went to when he was little. I got tackle boxes for the kids and stamped their names on them. I'll pack their lunch and little treats inside.
 I made some cute invitations that listed some of the activities I'm planning. I want them to be excited. I'm taking them from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday. I know it's going to be hectic and I'll be exhausted. I'm all about making memories.
 Who doesn't like getting mail?
I wanted to have some t-shirts printed, but the cheapest I could find was $10.00. Instead, I decided on stamping them myself. I got the colorful shirts at Michaels--3 for $10.00. Sure, it took time---of which I have precious little these days--but it was worth it. They came out pretty cute.

I'm still working on the itinerary. I'll post it when I get it done and all of the "stuff" gathered!

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Kate Spade is my designer of choice. I've been carrying Kate Spade bags for 10 years or more now. "She" sends me email deals all the time. Taking advantage of one of those HUGE sales, I made Christmas a "Kate Spade" Christmas a few years ago. Everyone loved it. She has cute purses, totes, umbrellas, jewelry, sunglasses, office supples, scarves, shoes---just everything.  I got this one for Sandy last Christmas:
And did I mention the packaging?
 Swoonworthy! You know how I am about cool packaging.
Those boxes.....

Anyway, just wanted to give you a little preface for the story I'm about to share.

Yesterday, I received another "deal" via email from Kate Spade. It was an awesome two-toned, striped coral tote for $99.00. I wanted it REAL bad! Like I really need another tote, but it was oh, so cute. I was going to get it. I clicked on the link and then the problems began. Here's the email I sent to Kate or most likely, one of her lackeys:

Your website has become so frustrating. I’d say for the past year, I have no longer been able to place an online order. I can’t get anywhere as the pages will not load. What is the problem? I don’t have trouble anywhere else.
This was the response I got:
Dear Barbara,

 Thank you for contacting kate spade new york.

We are excited that you wish to place an order with kate spade new york and are sorry to hear of the difficulties you have experienced. We were unable to replicate the issue you described, and we recommend an alternate web browser and/or deleting your browsing history and cookies.

If you are using Internet Explorer, you can do this by clicking on “tools” and then “internet options.” You may then click on “delete” under “browsing history.” If you are using a different browser, such as FireFox or Chrome, please use a search engine, like Google or Bing, for directions.

We would like to suggest using a non Apple device to place an order for other items, as we are currently experiencing an issue with Apple products not working properly with our website. Rest assured, we are working diligently to have this issue fixed.

We thank you for your patience and understanding in this matter. We look forward to assisting you in the future!

If you have additional questions or need assistance with anything else, please give us a call at 866-999-5283 in the U.S. and Canada or at 610-491-2028 if located internationally. For your convenience, we are available 24 hours, 7 days a week.  


Kayshlee R.
Customer Care 

ARE YOU FRIGGIN' KIDDING ME!! Their website doesn't "do" Apple products?? What the ??? I ONLY "do" Apple products! So sad, too bad Kate Spade. How many sales are you losing? This seems to be a really serious situation for you. Because not only did you lose my sale of that one bag---but everyone who knows me and my multiples problem, knows you lost out on more than one bag! I was already thinking ahead to this Christmas.

Oh, well, I didn't NEED that bag. I guess I should thank you Kate Spade. You saved me a few bucks. Still, it's irksome. I want what I want and I don't care what it costs! (That's for my friends who like to razz me about this).

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

There's No Going Back

Well, my effort to NOT spend money on books this year gets tough sometimes. Whenever I learn what our new book club books are going to be, I have about 7 weeks to get them and read them. That means that I'm usually down to the wire getting them and then reading them. I'll admit, it makes me nervous.

This month, I've been waiting and waiting for Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I've had hopes that it would come in on time. I have exactly 2 weeks to book club.

On our family vacation, I noticed that Stephanie (she's in our book club) had bought the hard back. She said she actually preferred real books to the electronic. I have not tried a hardback since getting my Kindle about 6 years ago. In fact, when Butch gave me the Kindle for Christmas, I was afraid I wouldn't like it because I like my books so much. It took me about two minutes to get used to it.
Well, it was hard going back. I noticed a couple of things right away about the book. It's heavy! Really heavy! I can't remember how I used to hold them while reading---especially in bed at night. I don't remember how I attached my little book light. It's awkward and keeps getting in the way of page turning. But the biggest negative---and it's a big one for me---is that you actually have to use a real dictionary to look up words. I'm obsessive about that. I cannot just skip over words I do not understand. Even if I can gather the meaning due to the context, I find that I want to test myself and see if I'm correct. I found myself tapping a word in the book before realizing that it doesn't work like that with a hardback. I did it three times before I finally got it through my head that I can't get a definition that way.

Another feature I like is the highlighting for notes. I need that to remind myself of things I want to discuss at book club. Plus, I need a refresher of the book prior to our meeting.

The jury is definitely in for me. There's no going back. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my Kindle!! And, just in time, my library book arrived today. I was about a third of the way in the hardback. I'm done with that. Plus, I love the feature of being able to use my Kindle app on my phone. Now I have my book with me everywhere.

One thing I do not like about my Kindle--or I should say this Kindle. The latest way to page turn is to swipe or tap. I don't like that. My hands aren't big enough to be able to do that while holding the Kindle. My old Kindle had buttons on either side you just pressed. It was very simple. In fact, my fingers rested on them while I held the book. Someone, decided that tapping or swiping was a better way. Just like my complaints about my car and other things---they need to let short people be the testers. And by that I'm saying that because I'm short, I must have littler hands too!

What about you? Have you tried going back? Or have you never left? Still, I can't believe I love the Kindle better. I always loved the tactile experience of a book---and the smell. Now, I don't miss either. There's no going back for me.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Home Again, Home Again

Jiggety jig. Remember that?

Anyway, it's always fun to come home after a trip. You get to see your house through new eyes again. Everything always looks so nice. My view out back was no exception.
 Everything was so green. The flowers looked healthy and colorful.

My friends were to use the pool in exchange for watering everything---and as you can see, it's quite a lot. We have a sprinkler system in the yard and landscaping beds. They do their job too. As it turned out, with the exception of July 4th when the pool was closed for a private party, my friends didn't come over. I think it was a rainy week here.
Jordan and Morgan had a pool party on Saturday. They left us a little surprise. Yes, it's a bag of dog poop!

We just never know what we're going to find when we come home from a trip! Still, it's good to be home!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Our Final Day!

We were determined to make this a really fun day. The whole idea of leaving and what goes with it---cleaning, packing, loading---is just depressing!

The family (except Butch and I) decided to make this a whole beach day. Butch and I headed out for some last minute sight seeing. I figure, this will probably be the last time we go to the Charleston area.

With that in mind, I decided that I wanted to tour the Charleston Tea Plantation. It is the ONLY tea plantation in the country. All other tea is imported. Being the tea snob that I am, you would think I know more than I actually do. I've never said I knew a lot about tea--just what I like.

Our first stop was to see the Angel Oak Tree. Sandy, Mindy and the girls had done it the day before and said it was pretty impressive.

The oak tree is 400 years old. They are trying to preserve it to last 900 years---the life span of the tree. It was pretty unbelievable as to how far it spread out. The limbs are actually hollow.

From there, we went 10 miles down the road to:

 We arrived in time for the trolley tour. This is one of the tea fields. Without going in to all of the details, the most impressive things are:

1. Only the top 3 leaves of each plant are harvested to make tea. That means they get a harvest every 18 days.
2. There are only 3 men that work the fields: 2 that use machetes by hand to open the rows for harvesting machine and do all the weeding completely by hand and one man who works the harvesting machine. That machine does the work of 500 men.
3. There is only one man that runs the entire manufacturing process in the factory.
4. Black tea is made by letting the leaves oxidize for 50 minutes, Oolong tea is oxidized for 15 minutes and green tea is not oxidized at all. All from the same tea leaves!

They gave us as much free tea to drink as we wanted. There were many flavors and it was all sweet---but not like southern sweet tea that is too sweet---just right! It was all good!

We got home with plenty of time to join the gang at the beach for our family book club discussion. We read Hillbilly Elegy.  Everyone really liked this memoir of a kid that grew up in a dysfunctional family to graduate from Yale and write this best seller by the age of 32. Definitely worth the read.

I'm going to try again to post a video. These kids can do everything with their phones.
(Well, once again, I can't get the video to post. It shows up when I'm writing this, but then doesn't show up on the post. I have no idea what to do about that.)

We decided to go to dinner at the Crab Shack since we enjoyed it so much the first time. Plus, Mitchell wasn't with us then. After dinner, the plan was to spend about a half hour getting our stuff organized to go home. We didn't want to end the evening with that.
We played dozens of games of Mexican Train this week---great for all ages. On our last night, we decided on Catch Phrase.
It's a great game for a large gang. We have so many laughs---if you've never played, put it on your list for sure!
Even Elizabeth is really good---not only at giving clues, but at guessing. We also played charades this week---always a good fall back. The only problem with that is we spend more time thinking up the clues than actually playing. I've decided to come prepared the next time!

Well, that's about it. Another one for the books. It all went by way too fast. And, as always, Stephanie has everyone list their favorite thing and least favorite thing about our vacation. I'll start with the least favorite as to end on a high note.

When we arrived, Mindy discovered a bird's nest of swallows in the carport. We all spent the week watching the baby birds. On the last day, one of the birds had fallen out of the nest. Everyone was upset. Butch scooped it up on a paper plate and carefully balanced on top of the trash can (I was a nervous wreck) to put the bird back in the nest. We were all happy. It wasn't two minutes before the mama bird pushed it back out. Butch took care of it so it wouldn't suffer, but no one wanted to know about that. What a downer.

On to our favorite. Everyone agreed that although there were many high points of the week, the low country shrimp boil was the BEST! If you ever get a chance to arrange that, you must do it!

It was a fabulous week and we had a great time being together---that's what it's all about.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Beach Vacation continued...

Day 5:
The guys played golf in this muggy, hot and humid heat! Butch found us girls a tea room and made reservations. This is getting to be a habit with him! We left early so the girls could do some shopping on King Street in Charleston.
 The tea room is called "Twenty Six Devine." The owner told us about the teas we would be sampling. There is only one thriving tea plantation in the entire country and it's right here near Charleston. Butch and I are going for the tour today. I always like to do things that I can't do anywhere else.

As you can see, the tea and food was amazing. Mindy has a little trouble since she doesn't like mayonnaise, but she had many other choices.

Day 6:
Half of us went to Fort Sumter. The other half went to "Angel Rock." Butch and I are doing that on the way to the tea plantation. I don't want to miss anything! The ferry ride out to Fort Sumter was the best part of the tour. We saw dolphins along the coast and got to see Charleston from a different vantage point. Fort Sumter itself wasn't all that interesting. The original fort is mostly gone. They've restored just part of the first level. Plus, it was oppressively hot!

We all met at The Griffon for lunch yesterday.
This restaurant is literally wallpapered in dollar bills. I've seen that at other places, but this just seemed like the most. They were supposed to have the BEST fish and chips. Some really liked it, Butch and I thought it was just so so. Not enough that we'd want to go back.
After lunch, Stephanie, Nicky, Sandy and I went to tour the Nathanial Russell house. Butch dropped us off and did a little geo-caching.

We saw the house on our walking tour on Monday. The gardens were beautiful. The house was really nice with a lot of unusual features---like pine doors actually painted with the grain to look like maple. One thing bothered me and that is the need for everything to be so politically correct. The docent kept saying "enslaved Africans" rather that slaves. We all know it was a bad thing, but it was part of our history. I guess they want to make sure we understand that they were "from Africa and enslaved against their will". We get it. On another note, the guide from the walking tour told us that the balconies on this house were curved to accommodate hoop skirts. The house docent said that was bull. Hoop skirts weren't even a "thing" when this house was built in 1808. Besides that, the daughters would not have been allowed outside on the balcony because this would have been "exposing" themselves. Just goes to show, you can't believe everything.

We got home and had time for brief nap before Butch's next surprise for the family. He wanted to keep it a surprise from me too, but then wanted my opinion as to whether I thought it was a good idea. It definitely was! He arranged for us to have a South Carolina low country boil! Unfortunately, there is no yard area here because of the pool. So, "Andrew" could not set up his table. He said the upper balcony would be a good place. Plus there was such a nice breeze up there.
We watched him prep and cook while telling us all about this style of cooking. It's all in the timing! He answered a zillion questions from us and was still able to cook without being distracted. He brought everything and set the table. The boil consisted of potatoes, corn, sausage and shrimp. He also cooked a couple chicken breasts for anyone who didn't want shrimp. He also served cole slaw and key lime pie for dessert. It was so delicious! Actually, this was something I've always wanted to participate in. I had "attend a crawfish boil" on my bucket list. Shrimp counts! So, so good. We ate every bit except one little piece of sausage on a little piece of corn. It was plenty of food and everyone definitely had their fill! The best part---Andrew did all the clean-up! The surprise was a huge hit!

After dinner, Butch drove the young adults to town so they could do the bar scene. When he got home, he went straight to bed! He was so worn out! Victoria, Elizabeth and I played games. Then we went out for ice cream, strolled the street and visited a shop, came back and played more games until the "kids" called to be picked up. After that, they all stayed up even though it was near midnight! I went to bed!

Everyone is sad that today is out last day!

More to come...

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Family Vacation 2017

This year, we find ourselves back at the beach---Folly Beach, South Carolina---just a hop, skip and a jump from Charleston.

For most families, a beach vacation is the most relaxing type. Not for us. There are always activities. Here's what we did the first few days:

Day 1: Arrival. We rented a 6BR-5Bath house.
We drove up to this and were very excited. Probably the best thing we did was have our groceries delivered from Publix. Sure beats spending 2 hours in the grocery store. The only problem is that it was an old lady who delivered. Sandy and family had arrived first, so they got to help haul the groceries up long flights of stairs. The top is the main level of the house. There is an elevator, but it's tricky to work and slower than molasses.

The house itself is wide open and spacious---exactly what this family needs. There are 10 of us this year. The only problem is that---I'd say, it's not been painted or had any regular maintenance since it was built---guessing 15-20 years ago. The furnishings are shabby and not very comfortable. But, as always, we make the best of it. We have a little private pool that, surprisingly was refreshing the first few days. Now it's hot, more like bathwater.

Rather than go out the first night, we ordered fried chicken from Publix. Our "shopper" forgot the potato salad. We made do.

Games all evening---the first of many. We play games every night: Mexican Train, Catch Phrase and charades--so far.
Day 2 was a beach day. The house is on the beach so we don't have far to go.  We like our privacy and there aren't too many people around. Nice.
Butch bought a washers game for the beach. Stephanie and Nicky brought this thing (don't now what it's called) that's like a frisbee, but has a hole in the middle.

We had dinner out. Very few places take reservations, but Butch found one for us. The Crab Shack---not to be confused with the chain Joe's Crab Shack. The food was excellent! Fresh seafood all around.

Day 3:
2 hour walking tour of Downtown Charleston.

 I had no idea that my cousin opened a rental firm here!
 The homes were amazing. We're going back to tour one on Thursday.
 Loved this bike sign along the Battery.
At the end of The Battery was this beautiful park. The cannons are from the Civil War. ALL the trees are over 150 years old.
 Gorgeous gardens everywhere!

 The landscaping!
 Flower boxes!
 Although this has been restored and looks almost new, it's actually a kitchen house.
 All of these homes are from the 1700's.

 We saw a bunch of pirates in the park with a real parrot!

Mindy is standing by the smallest street in Charleston. It is a real street---of course you can't drive on it.
 After the tour, we had lunch at The Oyster House. The she crab soup was divine. A perfect lunch for me along with a hushpuppy with praline butter and a glass of wine!

Day 4---4th of July:
We planned a beach day.
Butch could not get the kite to stay up for very long. Either too windy, or not enough wind. It wasn't steady enough to keep the kite aflight.
After this nose dive, he gave up. I lasted on the hot beach for about 2 hours. Elizabeth and I went to the pool.

We decided on a late lunch to avoid crowds with 10 of us. That has worked out well. We went to a place that Sandy heard about called Taco Boy. We were able to walk right in around 1:30 p.m.

To be continued...