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The "new name" is Gingham Country and the author is me: Sandysgingham. If you're following me here, you might want to change your "follow" to the new site-- http://www.ginghamcountry.com/living

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A winner and Fried Spaghetti


Yea! We have a winner!
Marilyn won my freebie giveaway!


Ralph Lauren Coco Palm Decorated Hand Towels!

For more details check the bottom of the page...



I have to admit, Spaghetti brought us together!


Reading Marilyn's blog, I realized she was a crafter. That's the category I always search for interesting blogs to read. I mean, crafters are interesting people. If you've ever known a crafter, you know it's true. They can make a silk purse out of a sows ear! Really! That's just how they are. Inventive, curious and darn interesting people.

Another thing that caught my attention about Marilyn's blog was that she'd posted a recipe for Fried Spaghetti. What? At first thought, that's hard to digest. I mean, I couldn't even picture it and I love spaghetti.

But she's a crafter and I know how they are, so I decided to give it a try anyway. We'd had spaghetti the night before and the left-overs were in the fridge. Hubby and visiting grandson were NOT enthused. Even after I told them that Marilyn's family loved the stuff, they were shaking their heads.


It's a quick and easy recipe that you can find at Marilyn's Blog "Aroma Fields."


http://aromafields.blogspot.com/


In no time at all we had pan fried spaghetti and Oh My! That stuff is delicious. Hubby loved it, Grandson loved it. In fact they both agreed that next time we should skip the spaghetti night entirely and have left-over night first. Fried Spaghetti! You have to try it!

~Sandy


Saturday, September 19, 2009

My Dad...ahead of his time


I've thought about my dad all week. On Sept 17, he would have been 95 had he not passed away in 1987. I can see him in my mind's eye just as he was. A tall, frugal man born in 1914 who spent his teens living through the depression. He worked hard all his life to support his family and squirrel away every penny that he could. He was a child of the depression. He knew what it meant to do without.

During the years after my dad retired, the city garbage dump was a regular place for him to meet a friend of his and appraise all that the wasteful and ungrateful neighbors in their community had thrown out. They hadn't locked the garbage dumps then, nor discovered that a plastic bottle could live 5 million years and the environment needed protecting from said bottles.

It was shameful and wasteful, Dad would rant when he drove home with a pick-up load of warped lumber and odd-shaped tin and rusty nails and wire and a gallon can of paint with the lid stuck shut. How could people be so wasteful. No respect for the dollar anymore.

My mom nagged him to take up a hobby (besides dump digging). She had tired of lowering her head in shame as she struggled to stay friendly with the ingrates who actually threw their garbage away.

Mom was certain that everyone knew where the ingredients for Dad's new storage shed had come. She was sure that everyone could guess that Dad had straightened the boards, soaked the rust off the nails and wire, mixed the used paint till it was the perfect shade of tan to complement the eaves on our house. It was actually stunning. A beautiful storage shed. But none of us kids would tell Mom that. She hated it.

I think that's why I was so surprised when I heard Mom telling my daughter the story of Grandpa's prized storage shed many years after his passing.

My daughter had shown Mom her brand new shoes; stylish, stunning, with all the glitz and bling only a sixteen year old could love. More importantly, with a smile of pride my daughter told mom that her brand new shoes had been recycled from a car's rubber tires. I wasn't at all sure how Mom would take that.

Mom smiled slowly, then shrugged. "Your Grandpa would love them," she said, "he was a man ahead of his time."

~Sandy

No Smoking!


I always knew it would be easy to quit smoking. I had quit hundreds of times. Quit for weeks, hours, days even minutes. Staying quit....that was my issue. And wanting to stay quit....an even bigger issue. I knew what always happened. Anytime I quit smoking for longer than a half hour, my weight ballooned.

And this time wasn't going to be any different. I didn't just wake up smart one morning and voluntarily decide to quit smoking. Actually, about six months ago, I woke up with chest pain and a strange nausea that made morning sickness feel like ....heaven. By mid-morning I found myself in the cardiac unit of our local hospital. Three days later, I was duly diagnosed with all those warnings and red flags that say heart disease is looming; elevated blood pressure, aging blood vessels plump with cholesterol....yada yada. A "life-style change," the doctor ordered. Stop Smoking, Change my diet, Regular exercise, blood pressure medication and Statins to remove the gook from all those Dunkin Donuts. Oh my!

Okay okay. Really, I agreed out of desparation to be left alone. To grieve for all those donuts and apple pies and yeast rolls that I'd never enjoy again. How could something be so good and do so much harm. Frankly, it still doesn't make sense to me.

As soon as I huffed and puffed and coughed for the last time, I had to watch the scales compulsively. I'd quit smoking before, I knew what would happen. Cravings! Cravings for food, sweet food, the higher the sugar content the better the food. Cakes, cookies, brownies, ice cream, a hot fudge sundae...with a dollop of whipped cream. I don't know why I think sweet food will snuff out the intense desire for a cigarette. And I think I'm not alone in such idiotic reasoning. Because everyone I know who's ever quit smoking tips the scales 20-30 pounds heavier afterwards.

I didn't just wake up smart one morning and decide to quit smoking. Actually, about six months ago, I woke up with chest pain and a strange nausea that made morning sickness feel like ....heaven. By mid-morning I found myself in the cardiac unit of our local hospital. Three days later, I was duly diagnosed with all those warnings and red flags that say heart disease is looming; an aging blood vessels filling with plump with cholesterol....yada yada... plenty of excercise, high-blood pressure, issued beta-blockers and an excercise regimen.

Stop smoking is number one...........excercise is in the works.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Back in the day...

Back in the 80's, our local newspaper held a contest: "Columnist for a day" to provide print while the regular columnist flew off on vacation. I won!

With 4 small children I always chased bargains. And as any obedient writer would do, I wrote what I knew. Bargain Hunting. In light of today's economy, I thought it might be fun to take a look at clearance shopping in the 80's and my first writing to be published


*****************


A Bargain-Conscious Mother sees the Light!
I can no more resist a clearance sale than a mosquito can ignore plump, juicy flesh. At times, that fact ignites anger in other members of my family. They aren't all as bargain-conscious as their mom, especially where light bulbs are concerned.

My son actually started the ruckus a few days ago. "Ahh Mom," he moaned through a mouthful of potato chips. "Who took the light bulb out of my closet? I have a date and can't find anything in there."

I have to admit, it had slipped my mind. I snatched his bulb when the one in the bathroom hissed into darkness during an untoward moment of desperation the day before.

Have you ever noticed that light bulbs never sizzle and spit and die when you have a spare one lying around? Not to mention that whatever ails them is highly contagious. They never blow out one at a time. I mean, we're a family of six. Three of us have yet to outgrow temper tantrums (NO! I'm not telling which three.) So, how many safe places can there be to hide pear shaped, egg-shell glass?

Still...determined to stave off buying any new bulbs until Wal-mart runs the four-for-a-dollar sale, I'm reminded of the seldom-used bulb in the hall. Seldom used? It's Never used. I mean, it could be sprouting green stuff for how often we use that hall light. Perfect. I swipe the bulb and my son's closet is illuminated again. I couldn't understand the urgency anyway, I mean, don't fluorescent shirts glow in the dark?

"There," I dusted my hands as I smiled, quite pleased with myself. Dollar Days were just around the corner.

"Hon..." hubby shouted, "the pilot light has gone out on the furnace, what's wrong with the light switch in the hall?"

My jaw dropped. Then I scurried from my son's closet to retrieve his former bulb from the bathroom so I could shed light on the hall while hubby worked on the furnace. "Whew!" I can make it. This is Monday. The sale starts Wednesday.

"Mom!" my daughter is shrieking from the bathroom. I finished her shrill cry..."I know! I know! the bulb burned out. I'm coming." This called for strategy.

Let me think. There were 2 bulbs over the kitchen sink. No one needs that much light to scrape crusted egg off Safeway china. (Yea, the Ironstone collection with palm trees in the center.) I scrambled up on a chair, smothered the hot ball of light with a cup towel (a freebie from a new box of Ivory Snow. Pretty daisies on the hemmed edge). The bathroom is lit again. No big deal.

"Mom!"

My lips form an angry but determined O. Action was needed in my daughter's room. I could hear it in her voice. But I was ready...

Two lamps in the living room. In the farthest corner away from the television set lurked a liv e bulb. No one ever sat there anyway, except the cat. And she did very little reading. With that bulb installed in my daughter's room, I sighed and wondered why that darn sale couldn't have started a few days earlier. But of course, I reminded myself, I hadn't needed light bulbs yesterday.

"Mom!"

I froze! Assessing the situation. My closet's bulb is in the hall. The hall's bulb is in my son's closet. The kitchen bulb is in my daughter's room--or was it the bathroom? The living room bulb is in the.....

"Mom!"

I slipped my coat off the hook near the door and shrugged into it before I sidled toward the front door.

"Where do you think you're going?" my hubby growled.
"To Circle K," I answered. "For Candles."


~Sandy


Monday, September 14, 2009

Fall is coming...


The Life of my Amaryllis + a quick peek at a Geranium. I love geraniums, especially the pretty pink ones!

Fall is coming, I feel it in the air when I wake up in the morning. A crisp chill where there had been sweltering 90 degree temps. Still, I miss summer already. The green plants and brightly colored fruits and flowers and vegetables. Our tomato plants no longer bloom, the Zucchini plant is weeping like a willow. I'm saying "hello" to leaf rakes and trash bags and " goodbye" to long days of summer and homegrown salads with "special" flavor.

A few photo reminders of how it was only a month ago.


My son's back yard - A bountiful Harvest of tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, okra, green beans, and herbs of every variety. With a 3' wide Vegetable and Herb and Flower garden around the entire circumference of his backyard, it was a garden of Eden.





One of my Sweet Geraniums



A Desert Cactus bloomed pretty this summer despite a slow monsoon season!


Another cactus with lots of white blooms and a story to tell!

This one is quite unusual actually. It was a single little clump of prickly stickers in a 4" pot when our children delivered it as a present for our 16th wedding anniversary. They saved their money and picked it out all by themselves at the grocery store. When they delivered it, a ribbon cinched around its middle, I was so surprsed.
Last June, hubby and I celebrated our 44th anniversary. That little cactus has grown quite huge in the last 28 years! Those 4 children are grown now too, with kids of their own. And this sentimental cactus now squats in a corner of the front yard.




This new squash plant grew up and afforded many loaves of warm zucchini bread this year!

~ Sandy

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Feedback...

Feedback: Great Seller. Great Transaction. Fast Shipping. Thank you!

Well, that's not always what happens after the transaction is over. It's the idyllic conclusion to an online sell but not guaranteed. Many things can happen to keep shared feedback from being a pleasant experience: a flaw unseen or unnoticed by the seller, a discrepancy in color due to monitors or camera lighting, slow delivery due to postal service or holiday or just plain ole lazy seller. Lots of things can prevent a POSITIVE Feedback on both sides of the sell. Both Buyers and Sellers make mistakes.

The sale isn't over until both parties have had their expectations met by the sale. The seller receives funds due, the buyer receives merchandise as described. The first thing I do after receiving a complaint, is take a deep breath, pull on my "thick skin" and listen.

It's always easier to whip out the mouse and fire off a Negative as soon as I feel accused. But when blazing emails are flying back and forth filled with nasty accusations, it's difficult to reach a conclusion and find an equitable solution. So catch your breath, read the other persons email very carefully. Really listen to what's said and what's 'between the lines.'

Sometimes it just doesn't matter who's right or wrong.

[[ ME: "Yes, I did send a delivery confirmation to prove it was shipped."]]
[[ HER: I don't care! It's still your fault that I didn't receive it.
]]

We both learned later that the package was accepted by her next door-neighbor's son, who tossed the item into a basket near the umbrella stand at the front door. And there it waited for 3 weeks.

Things happen! It wasn't her fault, it wasn't my fault! Things just happen. Hold back the angry emails until you've tried all that you can to speak with the seller or buyer and reach an agreeable conclusion that is satisfactory for both of you.

Then leave the feedback that really says!
Positive Feedback: Great Communication! Thank you!

~Sandy

No Winner Yet!


NO Winner Yet! "Follow MY Blog Contest"

1 set of Custom Made Ralph Lauren Accent shams 16" (your choice) or
1 set of Custom Decorated Hand Towels
from any of my online stores!
See all Online stores in right column



Thanks for visiting,
~Sandy

Seller got ya blocked?


Have you tried to purchase from an Ebay seller and found access to their items denied? Blocking buyers is a little known safety valve for a seller being harassed and tormented by a disgruntled buyer. The problem with the system, I believe, is that the lists of obnoxious customers are often circulated among sellers without verification.

I admit I have my only little list of "banned buyers," but I've never added a single one from the list of someone else. What I find offensive - might not be offensive to someone else; Likewise, something that sends me into a melt-down might not bother another seller at all. Personality conflicts happen, even through e-mail. No, I won't ban a customer because of another seller's issue with them. And after 8 years of selling, my list of banned buyers is very very short. I believe that almost anything can be worked-out in a respectful manner: Offer a partial refund, a discount off their next purchase, or replace the item entirely. I've learned from experience there is always a compatible solution if you communicate with each other.

Here are a few things that WILL get you banned from a favorite seller!
And believe me, they happen!

1. Destroying an item before you mail it back for a refund because you bought the wrong color.

2. Receive the item, leave "good" feedback, then do a chargeback on your credit card for a refund (claiming your 3 year old actually made the purchase)!

3. Refusing to pay until 1 hour before the 30 day notice ends.

4. Send argumentative, demanding emails every hour until your item is received.

5. Leave a Negative feedback because drapes were green instead of blue, which was stated in auction title, auction description and in email when you requested confirmation of the color.

~Sandy

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ralph Lauren Fabric


Ralph Lauren Bedding Collection Fabrics!

I just received some new fabric from Ralph Lauren for my custom shams; Cote D'Azur, Palm Harbor, Home Lake! All gorgeous fabric and lovely collections...

I often receive requests from customers to purchase Ralph Lauren fabric "by the yard" from his elegant bedding collections. I rarely list fabric, especially larger pieces of fabric.

Fabric for Ralph Lauren's bedding collections is produced for manufacturing only and not retail sales. You won't find a piece of fabric to match your bed linens in a "by the yard" fabric store. Ralph Lauren doesn't sell fabric from those collections in that manner.

Ralph Lauren fabrics by the yard can be found at nicer fabric stores. But these fabrics are heavier-weight, drapery fabric. You might find a complement to your bedding collection; a contrasting color or pattern, but you won't find the exact match to a duvet or sheet set in a fabric shop.

Since I purchase factory remnants, I receive the exact same fabric as the bed linens. Any items sewn by me will be an exact match to your collection!

I've been selling Ralph Lauren (and other designer) fabric shams for 8 years. I'm familiar with many vintage patterns and get requests weekly to identify an older collection or pattern. My photo collection of vintage Ralph Lauren fabric is quite extensive. If you need a name or description of an older fabric, feel free to drop me an email!

~Sandy