Saturday, December 18, 2010

I'm dreaming of a new ......

Not that a career in health insurance isn't glamorous and wildly exciting, but here are my dream jobs (not necessarily in order):

1.) Doowop girl (think "Dreamgirls") -- this requires sequined costumes, big hair teased up with a can of aqua net, singing and dancing. It's always been at the top of my list. Must be located in Vegas to achieve full effect.

2.) A hip hop dancer, like one of The Fly Girls from the old show "In Living Color." Since my "running man" looks more like a siezure (and I've been told: "Never do that again"), I think this career is highly unlikely.

3.) Own a lunch truck -- I haven't tossed this one aside. Would have to keep it relatively simple, but gourmet and delicious. I'm quite confident this could be achieved. This would satisfy my strong desire to be a chef, yet I wouldn't have to work nights, weekends and holidays. I could also drive my truck anywhere and open up shop. Travelling, cooking, making money ... all rolled into one!!!

(From "The Great Food Truck Race" on The Food Network a few months ago)

4.) Boyd Matson's job -- I want his job narrating all of the National Geographic specials all over the world. Can you imagine how awesome that would be?

5.) Have a TV show similar to the old one "On the Road with Charles Kuralt" -- Loved him and the idea of roaming the country in an RV meeting unsung heroes and spending time in towns that no one has heard of. I could finally see the world's largest ball of twine AND get to be on TV to talk about it ... ahhhhhh!!! Maybe I could combine this with #3?

6.) Own a beach bar & grill ... the kind locals like to frequent. A simple lifestyle surrounded people who just want to relax and enjoy life. One of my favorites is "The Beach Road Bar and Grill" in the Outer Banks .... the sisters that own it are inspiring.

Ahhhhhhh ...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Things I Can't Get Into No Matter How Hard I Try

1.) Films - I like movies, not films. Now I'm not saying I've never liked a foreign language film or something that won an Oscar, but for the most part you won't see me at the Ritz. Ritz Carlton maybe, but the Ritz 5 in Philly? No way! Stuff I thought sucked horribly: Michael Clayton, There Will be Blood (or should I say, Snoring?), The English Patient, Rachel Getting Married, Glengarry Glen Ross. Zzzzzzzzzzzz

2.) Sneakers -- They're for exercising, and that's it. Why would anyone want to wear sneakers when there are so many better options available? Comfort doesn't count.

3.) Carrots - Raw or cooked, yuk. They look so good and they're so good for you, but something about them just doesn't gel. I keep trying them in hopes this one will change, but so far no go.

4.) NPR - Where is this on the dial? Is it a number that's below 88 or on AM? I don't know, but it's somewhere that my radio can't find. I have indeed listened to it before, but basically this one kinda falls into the same category as #1 (Films) for me.

5.) Donating Blood -- I'm ashamed to admit to this one because it's such an important thing to do, but it's true. The needle makes me hyperventilate and want to throw up. Sorry, but it's just not happening.

6.) Easter -- I just don't like it. I know it's the holiest of holy days and my parents would be so disappointed to know how much I loathe Easter, but I do. It's on a Sunday, the decorations and colors suck, it's not a work holiday and all of the rabbits, eggs and fake grass in baskets? Nope. Perhaps my love of Christmas will make up for this one.

7.) Small hair -- True evidence that this girl is a child of the 80s. Stepping away from the can of Aqua Net seems to be working out nicely, but still ... I like it long and big. Nuff said.

8.) Starbucks -- Their overpriced and bitter coffee sucks. Perhaps this shouldn't be on this list because I'm not trying very hard to get into it. At all.

9.) Going barefoot -- Having anything touch the bottom of my foot other than my sock or shoe is just not appealing. I don't want to feel grass or sand between my toes, and I don't want tiny crumbs or pebbles sticking to the bottom of my feet. Barefoot on the beach is a little different only because wearing shoes is totally fruitless -- the sand gets in your shoe anyway, so you may as well take it off. Foot hangups, you think? This is just the tip of the iceberg. Don't even get me started on "mandals."

10.) Reading the newspaper -- This is weird and maybe slightly OCDish, but I find the whole experience of reading a newspaper to be completely annoying. Here's why: the paper is dirty and gets all over your hands, it's too humongous (about 3 feet wide and 2 feet tall with the whole thing opened up), tiny print, um .... kinda boring (not too many pictures), and it makes a ton of dirty trash that I get fined for if I forget and throw in the wrong trash can. If someone points out an article, I'll clip and read, Other than that, I get the Sunday paper for Coupons and Travel section only.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Puled Pork Recipe ... sort of

Lora, you requested my pulled pork recipe, so here's the closest thing I can find to resemble what I do. The following recipe is from Good Housekeeping and my mother makes it all the time. As is, it's quite delicious. Unfortunately, I'm not a measurer or recipe follower -- I read a bunch of them, then kinda make up my own. Here are some of my notes and tweaks to the recipe ... followed by the recipe:
  • Esposito's has THE BEST pork loin anywhere. It's worth the trip.
  • Swap the sweet paprika for smoked
  • More onion ... cut small
  • Swap ketchup for a bottled BBQ sauce (I hate ketchup and think it should be outlawed!)
  • A few splashes of hot sauce
  • Put the onions on the bottom when you start cooking ... it helps to keep the meat from scorching and the sauce from sticking
  • At the end if the sauce isn't thick enough, I stir in a mixture of cornstarch and water to thicken it up .... maybe 1/3 of a cup-ish

Pulled Pork BBQ for the Slow Cooker
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup(s) ketchup
1/3 cup(s) cider vinegar
1/4 cup(s) packed brown sugar
1/4 cup(s) tomato paste
2 tablespoon(s) sweet paprika
2 tablespoon(s) Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoon(s) yellow mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
1 1/4 teaspoon(s) ground black pepper
4 pound(s) boneless pork shoulder blade roast (fresh pork butt), cut into 4 pieces

In 4 1/2- to 6-quart slow-cooker pot, stir onion, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, tomato paste, paprika, Worcestershire, mustard, salt, and pepper until combined. Add pork to sauce mixture and turn to coat well with sauce.
Cover slow cooker with lid and cook pork mixture on low setting as manufacturer directs, 8 to 10 hours or until pork is very tender.
With tongs, transfer pork to large bowl. Turn setting on slow cooker to high; cover and heat sauce to boiling to thicken and reduce slightly.
While sauce boils, with 2 forks, pull pork into shreds. Return shredded pork to slow cooker and toss with sauce to combine. Cover slow cooker and heat through on high setting if necessary.
Spoon pork mixture onto bottom of sandwich buns; replace tops of buns. Serve sandwiches with pickles, potato chips, and hot sauce if you like.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Random thoughts from a random blogger

Some random thoughts for my blogging re-debut:

Despite having zero athletic ability, I am totally addicted to watching sports. This includes but is not limited to: football (pro and college), Phillies baseball, any Olympic competition, bull riding, those timber-cutting contests with big axe-weilding burly guys, NASCAR, winter sports (especially downhill and snowboarding), college basketball, the Tour de France, and one of the most notoriously boring sports of all .... golf.

The best mascara ever invented is Loreal Beauty Tubes. This is why I no longer walk around looking like Alice Cooper, with big black smudges around my eyes.

Nobody, no matter how perfect their body is, should wear bubble dresses. They are unflattering and ugly. Ever see a woman with her skirt inadvertently tucked up in her underwear? Yep, that's the look of a bubble dress.

And the kitchen MVP award goes to ...... the crock pot. Or should I say crock potS. Three of them, in fact. One round, one oval, and one small. Some people only haul them out in the fall and winter, but my crock pots get a year-round workout. (Below: Pulled pork ... a fave)

My DVR is already set to record Oprah's show on October 29 which is a reunion of the original cast of The Sound of Music. Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, all 7 kids, other cast members and some members of the Von Trapp family are going to be on the show. AND .... they're going to sing. Too bad Oprah's gonna be on the show too.

The Wii fit is worthless. It's a total pipe-dream to think you're going to get fit standing in front of your TV pretending to hula hoop. Sorry. I tried it and it doesn't work. Sure it's better than sitting on the couch watching people pretend to hula hoop, but it's not really exercise.

And speaking of the couch ..... I am in a battle with the store that sold me my sofa. It has fitted slipcovers, and they shorted me one. The middle back cushion is missing a cover (note: in picture below blanket is not just there for decoration keeping feet warm). Damn it. And they don't want to send me the cover ..... they thing I should spend $300 for a brand new set. I have 2 words for that: Fuck you.

Fantasy football rocks; however, my teams suck this year. My friend Schue and I own Team Caca, and every year we're in the playoffs but this year I think we're pretty firmly in last place in our division. And in the Pigskin Estrogen league that my friend Truff started, Team Disco Bubbles started out mahvelously, but is quickly sliding to the bottom of the heap. Oh well, it's still fun and I love plotting and strategizing. It also makes watching the games fun.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

No Wiggle

What is it that has brought me out of a 2-month blogging hiatus? Not insomnia and not a burst of creativity, but it was the purchase of a new toilet seat.

So as I was cleaning the bathroom with that toilet duck stuff, I squirted it all over the place by accident and it ate the enamel off my toilet seat. It was left looking really weird and dirty, so of course, I headed to Lowe's for a replacement seat.

Pondering the selection of toilet seats, I quickly ruled out the cushiony one and the clear blue one with an aquarium motif. Finally, I selected a standard seat with one feature that I'd never seen before: "no wiggle."

Funny, huh? But it made sense to me. How gross is it to sit down on the seat and have it slide around, forcing your naked bum to touch some gross part of the bowl that should never be touched by bare skin? Seemed like a smart purchase, but come to find out it has a flaw.

Not a flaw for us girls, but apparently the "no wiggles" toilet seat doesn't stay up when men try to put the seat up. Personally, I consider this a "feature" rather than a "bug", but I can understand why it may be shocking to be a man in midstream and experience a big toilet seat collapse.

So Dave tells me that after 3 weeks, the toilet seat is still not staying up and he thinks it's defective. I shared that the only reason I could think to cause it would be this "no wiggle" thing.

Now, he is convinced that "no wiggle" really means the toilet seat is made for women, not men. That the toilet seat manufacturer found a humorous way of saying "this toilet seat is meant to flop down, so keep your wiggle out of the way!" He REALLY believes this!!

Seriously, I crack up every time I think of it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Time to do some mattress shopping. I keep hearing good things about "memory foam", but just the name of it has me a little perplexed. What confuses me is the term "memory." If I leave a big ass dent in the bed, why would I want my mattress to remember that? Seems like "amnesia foam" would be better, so every time you get in bed it's just like new.

"The Devil Went Down to Georgia" came on the radio one night this week during my drive home from work. I'm a rather scary person when that song is on. Why? I know all the words and even singalong to the fiddle competition parts? Weird.

I really like Lady Gaga, but kinda think "she" might be a "he." Anybody else (aside from all the tabloids) with me on this one?

Sorry, but enough of Susan Boyle. So an aesthetically challenged woman can sing ... she may have a CD out, but I've only ever heard her sing the same song over and over again. And it's not even her song.

For years of my life, I always wanted to wear glasses. Over the last month, I've come to the realization that the day when I'll actually need them is fast-approaching.

At long last, I'm finally naming my official fake BFF. And the award goes to (drum roll please) ...... Chelsea Handler. I watch her show all the time and just love her down to earth, smart sense of humor. Yeah yeah, rumor has it she slept around and has/had a drinking problem. I don't care, I think she's funny. She's written a couple of books which I'm sure are hilarious. I'll be picking up this one to read on my trip to Kentucky this week.

And speaking of books, sitting in the car dealership this week waiting for my car inspection to be done, David Sedaris had me cracking up. Better than cracking up -- big, uncontrollable belly laughs. If I'd judged this book by the cover, I would've totally missed out of this piece of hilariousness!!! I'm not an NPR kind of gal, so I never listened to him there, but I'll certainly be reading all the rest of his stuff. He's a good candidate for my club of fake BFFs.

I've been watching "The United States of Tara" on Showtime OnDemand. Toni Collette is a very talented actress, and have thought so since I first saw her in "Muriel's Wedding" years ago. She's been good in everything I've seen her in, including this show. She plays a woman with multiple personalities, and John Corbett (Aidan from "Sex and the City") plays her husband. They've got 2 kooky kids, and the multiple personalities are just hilarious. Check it out if you haven't already.

My favorite car was a Toyota Tercel wagon that my parents gave me to drive in college -- aka "The Bus." I had 3 Toyotas after that and never had a day's worth of trouble with any of them. Am sorry that Toyota's having this gas pedal problem, but am confident they'll fix it and weather the storm. Anybody remember "The Bus?"

Two words I loathe: Democrats and Republicans. Where's the word for "think-for-yourself-ers?" I'll leave my soapbox in the corner, but it seems common sense and flexibility fly right out the window when a political label is too firmly affixed.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

In the Kitchen With Me

Recently, I ran across a recipe in a magazine for "Buffalo Chicken Meatballs" which caught my eye. No messy fryers, skip the fattening skin, but yet you still get that delicious buffalo-y bleu cheese and celery taste. The name of the magazine and the recipe have eluded me, but it really didn't seem that diffcult to make something on my own, so this afternoon I gave it a whirl. These things turned out to be quite tasty, and will most certainly be added to my appetizer repertoire.

Unfortunately, I never measure anything so these amounts are approximate -- proceed with caution if you're a measurement freak.

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

1 package (~1 lb) ground chicken
1 egg
1/4 c bleu cheese crumbles
1/4 small onion, finely minced
1/2 rib celery, minced (I made fine slices with the mandoline, then ran the knife through to make it even smaller ... looking for flavor without the texture)
pinch of kosher salt
fresh cracker pepper, a generous dousing

2 heaping spoonfuls of Maries Bleu Cheese Dressing
2 heaping spoonfuls of sour cream
2 tbls butter
1/3 c Frank's Red Hot sauce

Preheat oven to 350. (I baked the meatballs to avoid the calories and mess of frying, but you could do it either way.) In a mixing bowl, combine the first 8 ingredients , but only a pinch of the celery. Reserve the rest for later to add to the dipping sauce. I also added a few splashes of hot sauce to the meatball mixture, but the 1/3 c is really for the sauce which comes later. Mush it all together, then form into appetizer sized meatballs.

Bake for 30-40 minutes.

While the meatballs are cooking, make the dipping sauce in a small bowl for dip (duh, what else would you put dip in?) Add: bleu cheese dressing, sour cream, the rest of the celery, and more fresh cracked pepper. Stir and refrigerate.

When the meatballs are done, melt butter and hot sauce in a small saucepan. Pour sauce over meatballs, toss until well-coated, then serve with diping sauce.

Makes 18 meatballs.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Love It or Shove It - TV Edition

Love it .... Tom Brokaw has a new show that's very reminiscent of "On the Road with Charles Kuralt" which was always a fave. I forget what it's called or what channel it came on, but he drove cross country in an RV, stopping at random places and telling random stories.

Shove it .... Pop-up advertisements. It started as a small, subtle and sometimes translucent logo tucked in the corner of the screen. OK, not so bad. Now, in the middle of every show there are major advertisements popping up in the middle of the screen ... as if commercials aren't enough. TNT might be the worst, with Kyra Segwick climbing out of the corner of the screen with a flashlight once every couple of minutes. So annoying!

Love it .... Funny lines from "Jersey Shore." Yes, I'm hooked on this hilariosity. "She's a 5 stage clinga" .... "Don't worry, I'm not clown her out" .... "Grenade" ... "She came chah-gin' at me like some kinda hippo" .... and the list goes on.

Love it .... new cast of Project Runway.

Shove it ... I've said it before and I'll say it again: Boo hiss to the creepy sunglass guy from CSI Miami.

Shove it ... Conan AND Jay. Not that I'm awake late enough to watch either of you, but if I were I'd watch Letterman.

and finally,

Love it ... DVR. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways: no tape storage necessary ... can watch an hour show in 30 mins .... skip the commercials! .... when nothing's on you always have something for me to watch ... can record series so I don't have to remember to set you every week.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

In the Kitchen with Me

One of my favorite rooms in the house is my kitchen. In fact, I think I've come to realize that I love to cook more than I love to eat. All of the kitchen gadgets, different ingredients, recipes, serveware, stores ... I really do love everything about it. Admittedly, I'm a foodie through and through.

So I think I'm going to start sharing some of my kitchen observations, tips and recipes on a regular basis. And since it's a rainy Sunday with football on the tube, it seems natural that I'd be piddling around the in the kitchen.

Here are some of my random food thoughts and observations:

Boneless skinless chicken breasts are perhaps the most boring and tasteless food in existence, even worse than iceberg lettuce. Doesn't matter what you do with them, they really are a waste of stomach space. I'm much more a fan of a boneless, skinless thigh if I have to eat chicken. There are so many interesting things you can do with them (will have to share in my next installment of "In the Kitchen with Me").

And speaking of chicken, food on bones kinda turns me off. Doesn't mean I won't eat it, but cavemanning my food from a carcas isn't necessarily an enjoyable experience -- even if it tastes good.

I'm on a truffle kick. Everywhere I turn in my kitchen there's something with a truffle in it. Truffle salt & pepper, black truffle oil, sottocenere (delicious truffle cheese from DiBruno's), and Cremere di Tartufo (a truffle-infused spread for bread).

A framed copy of this picture is hanging in my kitchen:

My friend Kelly took this picture for the family cookbook I assembled last year. It's my Butternut Squash Soup. The spoon is from my grandmother's silverware set that she left to me. I really love this picture! Thanks Kelly!!!

So moving along ....

What's exciting about baking soda, baking powder, flour and sugar? Nothing. All baking recipes pretty much call for the same 6 ingredients added in different quantities or sequencing. Baking is too much like chemistry -- not for me.

Rice cookers seem like a waste of money and space. Some magazine I was reading reported rice cookers to be the #1 rated favorite kitchen appliance, and I thought "Wow, really???" You can cook rice in a regular pan. Why get a space hog the size of a crock pot just to make rice? Maybe if I liked rice I'd feel differently.

On the other hand, here are some items I cannot do without in the kitchen: crock pot, silicon spatula (which is used for everything), aluminum foil, salt & pepper mills, 1 hard anodized nonstick pan for cooking pretty much everything, the immersion blender, and last but not least ... my santoku knife.

A confession: it all started with some innocent channel surfing, and before I knew it QVC had me on hold. Yes, I admit it -- I bought something from QVC. There's a show on Sundays called "In the Kitchen with ___ " (Dave or Bob or somebody), and it features all kinds of kitchen products. I like to flip past it to see what's new, but I never buy anything -- until I discovered this: a line of ovenware called "Temptations." I didn't have any nice casserole dishes, and the more I watched the more I got sucked in. The thing is, I love this stuff! I'm throwing away every glass baking dish I own. It's functional, pretty, easy to clean and comes with trivets, serving racks, covers and I even got a carrying case for my set. (Not to mention, it was very affordable.) I will stop short of calling the QVC testimonial line to sing the praises of my new ovenware, but really if you need anything like this -- it's awesome.

For some reason, I've not been able to get and keep a can opener for more than about a month for the last 10 years -- not something you'd normally consider a high "wear and tear" item. It wasn't until I found "The Toucan" at Target, that my can opener curse ended.

When it comes to cooking, I'm a complete Type A, Control Freak, Virgo, Anal Retentive, whatever-you-wanna-call me. (Who me?? nahhhhhh!!) Anyway, I like to use good ingredients, make sure everything is properly chopped and cooked, it's gotta be appetizing to the eye, and of course ... delicious. I have no idea how my friend Schue cooks with me in the kitchen for my Christmas party, because I know I'm a huge pain in the ass. But she does, and I appreciate it.

Pork is, hands-down, my favorite protein.

Clean as you go ... a must. There is absolutely no need to soak dishes -- only on the rarest of rare occasions (like 3 times a year if you're wondering what I mean by "rare"). Finding soaking dishes in my sink actually makes me spin into a rage. I can't stand to see a dish filled with cold, greasy water and food particles floating around in it. YUCK!! I've been telling DD to stop soaking things, and he's refuses to listen. The next time he does it, I'm tempted to pour the "soak" into his bedroom slipper. "Soaking" is another way of saying "I'm too lazy to do the dishes." I don't care if you don't do the dishes (I actually like doing dishes), but DO NOT fill them up with water and leave them for me.

And to end with a positive thought ...

Coffee made with fresh ground beans is the only way to go. The smell and taste are the perfect way to start any day.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


"Criminal Minds" is one of my favorite shows on TV, but last night's episode left me with nightmares.

Instead of my dreams being filled with visions of sugarplums and Shemar .....

I was haunted by images of the creepy corpse-like human "dolls."

Creepy creepy creepy!!!!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Woeful Shoe Shopper

Dear people who make women's shoes:

Not every woman buying shoes is a stripper. Some of us are clumsy and want our big Fred Flinstone toes to feel comfortable in our shoes. We also need to wear shoes that are appropriate for jobs that don't involve swinging on a pole. As much as we love sparkles, could you please give us options that don't have sequins ...

ruffles .....

lucite .....

gladiator straps .... (which are sometimes cute, but always synonmous with blisters)

ties that go up to your knee ....

or big metallic studs? (Please see "gladiator straps")

I'd also like to mention that wearing ginormous heels makes me too tall. If I wanted to be that high up in the air, I'd get on a ladder ... not strap it to my foot.

Where are the shoes that have a modest heel, in normal colors, and are stylish but not over-the-top? Because I went shoe shopping yesterday and was actually quite sad to find that the choices are pretty much limited to stripper heels or ballerina flats.

On a positive note, I'll say that you're making some nice boots. But please, get the shoe thing together.

Desperately Seeking a Good Shoe

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cheers and Jeers

When I was growing up my parents had a subscription to TV Guide. This was long before the scrolling program guide or OnDemand. Obviously. Our TV was about the size of a smart car and got all 13 channels quite clearly, so it made sense to know what was going to be showing ... especially since those were the days where you had to get up to change the channel or adjust the volume. Nobody wanted to stand around turning the dial while a roomful of people yay'd or nay'd at the screen. In those days, a TV Guide was essential.

So there'd be a big fight over the TV Guide as soon as it came in the mail. My mother would be after the crossword puzzle, I liked the celebrity stories and to find "Afterschool Specials", and my Dad needed to know when all of the sporting events would be on. Sorry Laura, I don't remember if you were part of the weekly race to steal the TV guide. If you were, one of us always beat you to it.

Another feature of TV Guide that I always read was "Cheers and Jeers." What a great idea and a perfect way for me to be sure to know what was cool or not. TV Guide was there to help me! (By the way, all of this went out the window when "Tiger Beat" and "Dynamite" found their way to my Peapod!)

So in the honor of my childhood memory of the "Cheers and Jeers" column in the now all-but-defunct paperbacked "TV Guide", I will continue in the footsteps of this beloved piece of groundbreaking journalism with my own version: "Love It or Shove It?"

Here are my first couple of items:

SHOVE IT ... soy nuts. I don't care how healthy you are or what kind of flavored powder you're rolled in. You taste terrible.

LOVE IT ... the month of January. You know, January isn't such a bad month. Isn't it kind of nice to be able to relax inside and enjoy your home without feeling compelled to be out doing something? Personally, I enjoy a month of hibernation after the hectic pace of fall which avalanches into the holiday swirl. Plus, January has 2 vacation days -- always a good thing in my book.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Queen for Another Year

No writings from the Peapod in ages, but I'm back in 2010! (Are those rounds of applause I hear??) Lots of things I've been wanting to write about, but time's been short and blah blah blah. So I start off my writings for the year, not with my usual snarkiness but with some positiveness. Let's get this year started off on the right foot before I drive us into a ditch!

Anyway .... so over the last 3 weeks I've been reminded that it actually pays to spend some time writing. I sent Christmas cards, which makes me feel better since I miss EVERYONE'S birthday.

Then came my outreach to Brabantia Customer Service. Who is Brabantia you ask? They are the people that suckered me into buying an overpriced, but very cool kitchen trash can 8 years ago right after I bought my house.

So the fancy lid broke, and I searched online for a replacement but had a difficult time finding one except for a site in the UK that would sell it and ship to me for $50. I almost ordered it just because it was easy, but instead I sent a letter to Brabantia customer service to find out if I could get it somewhere in the USA. Voila ... they're sending me one for free AND apologized that it broke. Um, I've had it 8 years!!! I have a finger that didn't even make it that long before it broke! Thank you Brabantia. Next time I need a cool trash can, I'll look you up!

As if that wasn't enough! Then .......

I was nosing around the USAir website -- as I often do -- looking for travel bargains, when I noticed that I didn't fly enough miles last year to keep my Queen of the Airways status. And, let me tell you, this status is important. It means: free upgrades to 1st class (where they have free drinks and snacks), free standby, free bags, et cetera Et Cetera Et Cet e Ra!!! Forget the fact that most of my trips are on a 32 seater where the only options are cattle car or cargo -- for my few flights a year that offer 1st class, I must say ... I like it.

So I considered purchasing additional miles to maintain this status -- $200 wouldn't be bad for a year's worth of freebies that would make hours of travel more pleasurable. But before I did it, I wrote to USAir to make sure those miles would count towards keeping my crown. I heard nothing for 2 weeks. Then, I got a phone call at work -- I'd been "selected by [their] Marketing Department" to have my little perks extended for another year. Yahooey.

The moral of the story is: it pays to write and ask questions before you buy.

I saved $250 by writing to these Customer Service departments. Look out email boxes everywhere ..... I'm coming to a Customer Service Department near you soon!!! But be not afraid, if you are good to me I will send you a thank you note and then write nice things about you on my blog.