Monday, November 25, 2013

The Art of Being Thankful

Our Dear Prairie Readers,

This is going to be short and sweet.

While working at the indoor farmers' market on Saturday, Prairie Sherry had this pleasant realization that "Have a wonderful Thanksgiving" is the one holiday greeting that is least likely to offend.  

To be sure, too many families in the United States will struggle to put any meal on the Thursday table, save one that includes a big bird and all the trimmings.  Others will be unable to gather because of miles or  family strife.  Some will work because of employment that is needed to keep society functioning.  Others because of corporations that view dollar signs as more valuable than the people employed.  And then there are those who have no home.

While we can't solve all of our nation's problems on Thanksgiving Day, we who are safe, warm, and fed can be doubly thankful for our blessings.

The Prairie Grlz view all of you as among our blessings.  Some of you are relatives, some friends, some acquaintances, and others complete strangers.  We appreciate you joining us and reading our little blog. Each view tallied on our stats board is like a thumbs up and a pat on the back.  Each "like" on Facebook is a greeting.  Each comment is a small conversation.  We feel connected to you, and you have become our Prairie Family.

Our thoughts are with you this week.  We are taking it off to finish up school and then spend time with our families.  Prairie Sherry gets to pick up her college freshman on Tuesday.  Prairie Eydie is heading north to be with our dear Prairie Pa and her ma.

See you next week,
The Prairie Grlz

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Prairie Grl Rituals

Maia dispensing advice.
So, I just asked my youngest what to post.  Running a little dry here, Prairie Folk.  "Tell everyone about how wonderful your daughters are."  Well, they are pretty great. Thanks for nothing. Go upstairs and do the dinner dishes.

Rituals.  That's what I am thinking about.  Those things I do in the same way, day after day, just because feels right.  We're not talking about OCD, although I do have some tendencies.  I do like order, so let's start at the beginning of the day:

The key was attached to the bottom of the can.
1.  The morning cup of coffee.  In recent years it has evolved into dark roast, free trade, and French pressed--always strong and always black.  I can't stand flavored coffee. The first sip clears the fog.  The second sip brings me back to childhood.  Do any of my readers remember when coffee cans were opened with a little side key?  Seriously, my mother would call me in from play when she opened a new can of Butternut Coffee.  I always got the first sniff.  At age four, she let me drink warm milk spiked with a touch of coffee and a bit of sugar.  When I turned 15, we went on a trip to Chicago, and she taught me how to drink it black--after dinner. Damn the caffeine.

I had to put this ancient photo
 in because I had one on of these.
A lightening bolt struck it dead.

2.  Morning computer time.  I have always been the first to get up in the morning.  I love my alone time, and this brief period starts with that cup of coffee in front of the computer.  I don't care how little sleep it may mean, I simply must carve out 30 minutes to check email, Facebook, weather...whatever.  I could do it on the phone, but I enjoy sitting in front of the aging desktop.  It seems to whine louder each day, and baby, please hold on a little longer.. Before the computer, it was listening to the radio (NPR). Now I can do both.

Google images didn't have a lot
to offer.
3. Books on CD.  I have a 50 mile commute, nearly an hour and a half  behind the wheel each day.  When I first started logging on the miles, I would listen to the radio.  Crappy traffic plus crappy world events make for tense shoulders.  I discovered the riches of the Madison Public Library System.  Now I drive and "read."  Sometimes I have to drive around the block twice to finish a chapter.

4.  Removing the bra after work.  Enough said.

5.  A glass of wine while making dinner.  This doesn't happen every night, less so now that there are only two of us and meals together are fewer, but when I make dinner for those I love, I love a  glass of red.  I turn on  NPR (I am a sustaining member.), take a sip,  and cooking just doesn't seem a chore

This is rather obscene photo of
Rory "cuddling" with Joli a couple
of summers ago.  I just had to add
it for visual interest.

6.  An evening cuddle with the dog.  I can't speak for others, but a cuddle with my canine is extremely good for my soul.  No one enjoys my cooking (dry kibble) and my arrival home quite like Rory.  Do my daughters dance in circles on their hind legs?  Do they give me wet sloppy kisses? The dog is allowed on one piece of furniture in the house--the downstairs sofa. When I deposit my weary bottom on said surface, he hops up beside me and literally groans with pleasure.  This dog has  put up with me for nine years.  That is longer than any other male in my life, with the exception of my brother and father--extended family not included.

Normally I would go on to an uneven number because I am entranced with 3's and 5's and any multiple thereof, but I think that tonight I will stop at an even 6.  I'm tired.  The dog is waiting.  And I am looking forward to my final ritual--a chapter or two before I go to sleep.

Sweet dreams!
Prairie Sherry 

And you thought I forgot.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Art of Not Baking Christmas Cookies

For obvious reasons, Martha Stewart will never be a Prairie Grl.

I was going to write about Sharon's birthday, but I am pretty darn sure we all need a break from that subject.  Then I was going to write about my sinuses, but Prairie Sherry gently reminded me that blogging about illness is boring.  So - I decided this was the perfect time to explain why I won't be baking or eating Christmas cookies this holiday season. 

I went through a year(s) long phase when I made several different kinds of pain-in-the-ass Christmas cookies.  I just had my first kid and wanted to get a bunch of holiday traditions in place.  I had fond memories of baking cookies with my Grandma Edie, so I decided to conquer that  tradition first.

Lets see.  I made spritz cookies because everyone told me how easy they were.  (This Prairie Grl was not made to handle a gun of any kind, especially a spritz gun.)  I made those candy cane cookies, where you have to twist the dough and shape it into a cane shape.  The only bonus was smashing real candy canes with a hammer to sprinkle on the cookies.  Of course, I made the traditional cut out sugar cookies.  Mine always burned around the edges and I was too sick of cookies to bother decorating them.

I finally stopped the cookie baking tradition for two reasons.  One, I hated it.  And two, I was the only one eating the cookies.  My first year of cookie baking hell, involved me trying to follow the Weight Watcher point system.  I was easily eating my measly 24 points in cookies before 11:00 AM. 

Luckily Weight Watcher magazine offered the life changing tip of storing Christmas cookies in the trunk of your car.  That way you can shame yourself every time you leave your warm house to pillage cookies from your trunk.  Truth?  I found myself more fixated on the cookies in the trunk than when they were on the counter. 

I have never been able to erase the fact that ONE Christmas cookie is between 4 to 7 points.  So, I don't eat any Christmas cookies even though I am no longer on Weight Watchers.  (That last sentence is dangerous to include, as Prairie Pa will be trying to catch me eating cookies.  You just try, Prairie Pa!  You just try!)  

Prairie Eydie

PS  I DO eat marzipan.  PLEASE don't tell me how much they equal in Weight Watcher points. 


Monday, November 18, 2013

The 90th Post: Prairie Grl Never Stops Learning

Yes, it was my birthday week-end (which is just a little more specific than my birthday month, season, or year), and I received 2 brand-new car batteries as very unexpected gifts.  Dang, if I am not a lucky grl!  And Sears had better not sue me for using a picture of one of their models, because I gifted these batteries to myself, and my wallet is now blowing dust.

So the week-end starts out like this:  I come home on Friday, and decide to move Betty Blue Destiny, our 13 year-old Sable station wagon, out of the garage so I can get to the mower.
Out Betty Blue has a few more dings and isn't quite as shiny.
rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr..... goes the engine, and that is pretty much it.  Being totally not mechanically inclined, my first course of action is panic and hysteria, but then I remind myself of the age of the car, and the fact that in the four years I have owned it, I have never dealt with the battery, and it is probably time for this to happen, although it is extremely inconsiderate of Betty Blue to do this the day before MY BIRTHDAY. But then I remind myself that my personal battery is probably not running as strong as it once did, and I should be sympathetic not accusatory.

My first thought is to call for a tow, but then a little voice speaks to me. "Sharon," it says, "tomorrow you turn 58.  Do you think it is time to learn how to jump start a car?"  I head for the family computer.

God bless Google, because within the next 30 minutes, I watch no less than five videos on how to use jumper cables.  I have always had a set in the back of whatever car I am driving because my father told me to, but I have never actually tried to use them myself.  Instead, I have used the pathetic "damsel-in-distress-at-the-side-of-the-road" ploy, which, as I age,  I am finding less and less effective.

At this point, I need to state that I am very fearful of anything electrical in nature.  I just about go into cardiac arrest when I have to change a light bulb.  When removing a switch plate for a painting job, I envision the screwdriver slipping right into that outlet and ZAP, fried Prairie Chicken Sherry.  Not only do I watch the five videos, but I also have to keep running upstairs to check and see if what I had under my hood is the same as what You Tube is portraying (there is an interesting metaphor in the making...). I also take notes to aid me during the actual process of possible electrocution.
A bit worse for wear due to my
sweaty palms.

Fortunately, my other car, a Toyota Corolla, is parked next to Betty Blue.  This 2009 model doesn't have enough character to be given a name.  We just call it "the silver car."  Well, after several trips downstairs to review the videos, many referrals to my notes, and having my 17 year-old standing in the garage to witness my possible death, I get Betty Blue started and deliver it to the best mechanic in Madison (Matt at Integrity Automotive Service). Cheers, applause, ovation--I solve the problem.

The story is not over.

Sunday morning, we are down to one car, so I tell Maia that I will take her to work so that I can run a few errands and then spend the rest of the day continuing my birthday celebration--collaging, reading, eating, relaxing...

"The silver car" does not start.  I lift the hood to find that this 2009 vehicle has the original battery.


Now, we have a car, alone in the garage, with no possible energy source, and I discover that I can't get my "newer model" into neutral so that my able daughter can shove it into the driveway so I can get a jump.

Back to Google.  Within 20 minutes, I now know how to find the "manual override switch", and with my trusty screwdriver, I get the car in neutral, and Maia shows her phenomenal strength.  Her friend arrives with a Ford 150 truck, and I show her my incredible new found talents with jumper cables. I only refer to my notes twice.

The car is running.  Now, what to so with it? This car has to start on Monday at 6:15 AM so I can get to work.  It is Sunday.  I must find someplace that sells and installs car batteries on the Lord's Day. After another session with Google, I find that Farm and Fleet is the answer.  Farmers never get a day of rest.
Testosterone Heaven. 
For our Gentle Prairie Readers who are not acquainted with Farm and Fleet, it is also called "The Man's Mall."  It sells everything from tools, to deer stands, to pig feeders, to fishing rods.  It also has the most extensive Carhartt collection in the upper Midwest.
Young men not included.
My problem is that the appointment is at noon, and it is now 10:30, and I must keep this vehicle running. I attempt to solve said problem by going to the grocery.  Maia stays in the running car while I go in and do the shopping.  By then it is 11:15, and I am feeling terribly guilty over my ever-increasing carbon footprint. I head to Farm and Fleet, which is located in the middle of a field and miles away from anything approximating  a trendy Madisonian coffee house, and I resign myself to the fact that I will be spending the next hour "shopping."   

Two hours and 45 minutes later, my shopping cart is rattling with a sturdy brown belt to wear with my jeans, two red bandanas, a set of "As Seen on TV" rug grippers, and a can of baking powder.  For some reason, Farm and Fleet does have a small baking aisle.  I glance briefly at the battery chargers, but since they have cords, I decide that I won't purchase one during my birthday week-end.  My olfactory system is awash with the smell of tires, horse liniment, chicken feed, work boots (new, not used), and testosterone.     

I drag myself over to the automotive section and ask why I haven't been paged.  Well, evidently they forgot.  My car has been ready for over an hour. 

Now I am home.  I have poured myself an adequate glass of Pinot Grigio.  It was an extremely expensive birthday week-end, and I don't have any delish clothes (save for the belt and the red bandannas) to show for it.  But wait...I have learned how to jump start a car, override my automatic transmission gear shift lock, and find deer butt removers at Farm and Fleet (This was probably my most disturbing discovery of the week-end.).

I am a life-long learner.

Prairie Sherry  


I am mourning the passing of a dear lady, Joyce Rubesch.  My thoughts are with her sons, daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren, two of whom happen to be my fabulous godchildren. Joyce, you touched many lives.   


Friday, November 15, 2013

Prairie Grl Ditches Dining Room

What can a Prairie Grl do to get invited to Oprah's dining room for a dinner party???

The times they are a changing in my dining room.  

I have a lovely china hutch and an antique table in my dining room. 

BobWhite Salt ' Peppers  By Red Wing Pottery

My Grandma Edie's dishes are stacked in the china hutch.  I have tea cups, salt & peppers, sugar bowls, and wedding china edged in gold that haven't had a breath of fresh air since we moved six years ago.  I have a drawer stacked with placemats that never get used.  The remaining drawers are stashed with my kids' artwork, snowman candles I'll never burn, an old camera I can't throw away, lighters for candles I don't light, and multiple decks of cards in Ziploc bags. 

The table is oak and has extra leaves.  Chairs from Pier One surround the table.   

So, why don't I love my dining room?  The short answer is because we don't dine in it.  I don't host dinner parties.  Dinner parties scare me.  The china hutch is just an expensive storage unit.  The table displays my unattractive laptop computer and Dora the Explorer coloring books.  The dining room is a constant reminder that I don't entertain large groups of people and of wasted space. 

This weekend, I am packing up all the dishes and storing them in basement.  I am moving the table & chairs somewhere else in the house.  All the nonsense in the hutch's drawers will either be thrown out or donated.  (Not the kids artwork.  Maybe that can be framed and hung on the walls.  Or maybe it can be thrown out.  Who knows?)  I am turning the dining room into an art/game/book area for me and the kids.


Gus and I have been discussing the new room all week.  Apparently we are going to be holding regular book club meetings.  Gus used his own money to buy a skeleton hand pointer to use during book club.  (Obviously Gus hasn't read my powerful blog series, The Art of Book Clubs - October 2, 7, and 11th.)  Gus is also envisioning bean bag chairs in a variety of colors.  Hmmmm.  I am wondering how I can add height to the room if all the chairs are on the ground.     

My hope is that the new space will spark more creativity, discussion, and fun in the house.  

Prairie Eydie 

Happy Birthday Prairie Sherry!!!  I hope you're having a "Bed of Roses" type of day.  Love Ya! Prairie Jon

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Birthday: The Final Post...I Promise!

Seriously, I prefer pie.
Prairie Readers, please humor me for one last post about my birthday (Remember, it's the 16th!).  Let's talk presents once again. I hear a collective groan.  Bear with me. This is about three of the best presents I have ever received.  There have been lots of really fabulous gifts over the past 58 years.  It is really difficult to narrow the plethora to a few, but these are three that make me smile every time I think of them.

Age 5:  The Stuffed Cat

Meet Milkshake.  I was the last of three children, and while our family wasn't large, we must have worn my parents down a bit.  By the time they got to me, Mom and Dad sort of forgot to buy the traditional first teddy bear, you know, the one that sits patiently in your pristine bassinet awaiting your arrival.  But my mother, being a lover of traditions that make people happy, decided to rectify this oversight on my fifth birthday.  Instead of a bear, however, she found a stuffed cat (not the taxidermy kind), and being a lover of creating new traditions when the fancy struck her, she purchased it.  This cat is now 53 years old, and I still adore her. She has camped across the United States, traveled to Europe, and lived in every house/apartment I have ever called home save one (Austin, Minnesota, age 0-6 months).  Milkshake will outlast me.  I hope my daughters (and grandchildren) give her a good home.

Age 6:  The Craft Box

This whole mid-life collage crisis is not my first foray into the world of arsty-fartsy.  I have always loved anything to do with paper, glue, glitter, tape (lots of tape), colored pencils, crayons, paints... It just make me shiver to think of the possibilities. 

On my sixth birthday my sister (then age 16) gave me a shoe box filled (and I mean filled to the brim) with art supplies.  There was every item I had ever lusted after in the arts and crafts section of the dime store.  I can still see and smell the eraser--tan not pink. A real drawing eraser that made piles of mess when you used it. Here it is:

Just looking at this picture brings back memories of that shoe box and how much I loved it.  My sister even included gold conduct stars.
This was sort of  the extent of stickers back in 1961, 
and you had to lick them. 
Age 13:  Pierced Ears

Ear piercing in 1968 involved one of two methods.  Either you used an ice cube and a big needle, or you went to the doctor's office. The former got you grounded, and the later got you a lecture about the insanity of mutilating body parts from the guy who probably helped birth you.  My 13 year-old friends did not have their ears pierced. Their parents wouldn't let them. My brother not only convinced the parents, but he bought the first pair of earrings and paid for the mutilation. What an incredibly cool dude!  I was at my social zenith following this event. It didn't last long, but I still get a warm, fuzzy feeling every time I change my earrings.

What ties these three gifts together is that first family I ever knew. Mom and Dad always told me about the unexpected mid-November snowstorm that blew in the day I arrived into this world. My sister's story is that Dad came to her classroom to tell her she had a sister. And this is my brother, then five, holding me for the first time.

"She'd be a darn sight prettier if she had some
earrings in those ears."

Gosh darn, I am one lucky Prairie Grl. 

Prairie Sherry 

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Art of Shopping Local

Mark in profile, at Camp Randall.  I have absolutely NO photos of my brother on my phone, so I found this on my sister-in-law's Facebook page.  Note to self:  Take photos of Mark over the holidays.
You've meet Prairie Pa.  Now it is time to meet my brother, Mark.  He lives the values I have, but don't live.

I guess I have no excuse.  I have both seamed stockings and a bike.

Mark bikes to work every day.  His commute isn't the eight minute bike ride mine would be.  Rather he bikes miles across Milwaukee, Monday through Friday, to get to his job.  I told Mark I couldn't bike to work, because I have to look good. He directed me to the website:  It is all the "how to's" a working Jane needs to commute by bike and look awesome.  Oh snap!  Yeah.  I tried whining about how teachers need to cart lots of papers and supplies between home and the classroom.  Apparently there are things called panniers.  Double snap. 

Mark also makes a conscious effort to only buy clothes made in America.  Yesterday, before my sister-in-law, Heidi, and I dashed out the door to T.J. Maxx and Mayfair Mall, Mark pointed out how everything he was wearing had been made in the U.S. of A.  I didn't dare say, "But there is nothing good for a pear-shaped gal to buy that is made in America."  He probably had a website waiting to ambush me, like,

I am always just happy to find a pair of jeans that fit and don't care where they were made.  I know you expect your Prairie Grlz to be socially responsible, but I am not there yet on this issue.  Does it count that my mom made all of my clothes until I was in 6th grade?  Does it?  (Does "The Boss" only buy American?)

Mark called me today with the suggestion of having a day where we would shop local and eat local.  I was on board right away.  (I have enough jeans to get me through the winter, so why not?)  December 14th, Mark, Heidi and I will be doing all of our Christmas shopping at local shops in Milwaukee.  We are only eating and drinking coffee at local restaurants and cafes.  No "Renee's Special" for me at Cheesecake Factory.  No clearance rack at T.J. Maxx.  No  Hello Kitty vampire mug at 75% off.  Of course, I will share the results with you.  And no.  We will not be shopping local on bicycles.

Prairie Eydie

PS - I usually buy all gifts locally.  Local artist rock!  Including your very own Prairie Grlz.  Wouldn't someone on your gift list LOVE this coffee table hand crafted by our own talented, Prairie Sherry. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Art of Extreme Celebration

Prairie Eydie is all about grace and that sort of stuff.  She sets a high bar, and I prefer to just crawl under it. It is November.  This is my birthday month, and for a person who celebrates each day of the year like it is her birthday ("Celebrate Every Day Like It is Your Birthday!" 7/24), I ramp it up a few notches for these 30 days.  My mother told me that I was suppose to be a Thanksgiving baby.  I arrived a couple of weeks early, and I have always figured that this month is all about me and being darn thankful that I am here.  

I recall a Christmas in the late 60's when my dad gave my mother an electric coffee urn for a gift.  It was a humongous electric coffee pot made for entertaining.  At the time it was a pretty common small appliance in many middle class homes.  I remember it being quite attractive, and probably practical since it seemed that my mother often had "the ladies" over for various reasons--bridge, church circle, bridge...    

My mother stopped talking to my dad for a couple of days after this gift was unwrapped, and when she did resume, I remember her saying to him, "Please, don't ever give me a gift with a cord again." Shortly after this Christmas, Mom returned to college and never played another game of bridge. 

I agree with my mother.  I do not want birthday gifts with cords.  If I need something attached to a cord, I will buy it for myself. Toasters, vacuums, blenders, waffle makers, crock pots--these are not gifts for a birthday or Christmas.  The only gift with a cord that I have truly appreciated is an electric drill my dear brother-in-law gave me many years ago.  It was like he entrusted me with something from the realm of "head-of-the-household", and he also gave me a couple of lessons so I wouldn't hurt myself.  Twenty-five years later, I still have that drill, I use it regularly, and I have never had to go to the ER because of it.  That was a more-than-an-OK-cord gift.  Lou, I thank you!

There are other things I do not want for my birthday.
No Precious Moments figurines, please.  Back in the early 80's, it seemed like many people felt that I needed these.  I never knew quite what to do with them.  I would try to scatter them about the house, but they always looked a bit awkward.  I still have one PM Christmas ornament that I dutifully put on my tree each year, but the rest of the collection ended up at Good Will.
 The "Willow Tree Collection" is also in this category. 

Decorative soaps.  I have been disappointed a number of times when I have opened up a box of these thinking that they were fine chocolates.  Does anyone ever use them?  Boy, do they collect dust!  And when you try to wash them to remove said dust, they turn into indistinguishable blobs of...soap.  Again, you can find mine at Good Will.
I am not a good recipient for anything that is pro-sports related, especially if it has anything to do with football, and in particular, Wisconsin pro football.  I don't get it.  The color scheme reminds me of a tractor.  Those cheese head hats do not cover the ears. They provide no warmth, therefore, they are useless.

For that matter, I hate hats of all kinds.  I wish I had enough techno-skill to photo-shop my face with this hat. You would instantly agree that a hat gift is really not for me.  Scarves?  Now that is another story...  

I am allergic to novelty underwear.

In a similar vein, "cute" slippers are never cute in a size 11.  These schnauzers would look like yetis on my feet.

I have always been glad that my birthday is in November.  Other than Thanksgiving, it is a rather bleak month.  I have this quirky tendency to think of days, months, and years in various colors. May is a pale blue, August a rich teal... November has always had this golden glow about it..  And the glow is at it's most intense right around the 16th.  Circle that date on your calendar.

But please don't wrap this up for my birthday gift.

Prairie Sherry

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

New Grace Challenge

“Grace is unearned love--the love that goes before, that greets us on the way. It's the help you receive when you have no bright ideas left, when you are empty and desperate and have discovered that your best thinking and most charming charm have failed you."

Anne Lamott

Prairie Eydie, Awesome Student, & Guest Blogger Lena are reunited after 6 years.  Too bad we couldn't have been reunited on a very special Oprah. 

On October 16th, in the blog "Grace Gifts - The Challenge," I asked y'all to join me in a week long journey of delivering grace.  In the midst of sinus infection #2 (Yes.  I still need sympathy and devotion, since I think sinus infection #4 is on its way.), I delivered grace gifts to seven fabulous people.  I want to tell you how one of the gifts came full circle.

I had an extraordinary instructor when I got my Masters degree in reading.  Lets call her, Lori, because that is her name.  She is intelligent, understanding, and funny.  Everyone wanted to be in her sessions because there would be stickers, lively literacy discussions, and chocolate.  Lori always looked lovely.  She wore heels, swinging skirts, and red lipstick.  In the month of February, she wore a different heart pin on her blouse or jacket.  I LOVED seeing what Lori was wearing.    

I made a conscience decision to model my "Teacher Self" after Lori.  To this day, I give my students stickers, smile and greet them at the door, notice when they are sick,  and do my best to pass on my love of books.   I don't wear heels everyday, but I really make an effort to pull myself together.  I believe when I look better, my students do better.  I don't participate in "Pajama Day" because I can't slob around all day in a pair of fleece Hello Kitty pants.  I also don't wear our school t-shirt every Friday.  Blech.  I am a team player and don't need to look yucky 20 percent of the week to prove it.  Oh.  And I am working on my collection of Valentine's Day pins. 

As part of my grace challenge, I sent Lori a collage similar to this one:

Today.  In the middle of second hour, I was visited by one of my former students.  (Yes.  He was one of my favorite students.  AND he was also one of Prairie Sherry's faves.)  He made my entire 2013-2014 school year when he told me, "You always believed in me and smiled at me every time you saw me."  

Maya Angelou said: I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. 

I am throwing out a new grace challenge.  Write to a former teacher and let her/him know who you will never forget how they made you feel when you were in their classroom.  Or send an email to one of your kid's favorite teachers.  Or drop off some treats at a near by school for the ravenous staff.  Or volunteer to help out in my classroom.  The grace you give will boomerang back to you.  Promise.   

Prairie Eydie


This young man is truly extraordinary.   I often think of him when I am feeling that what I do doesn't matter and isn't appreciated.  He didn't ace every test I gave, he wasn't in the top 20% of his 8th grade class, but he was and is a young man who always showed that he cared--about himself, his classmates, and his teachers.  It was an honor to be his teacher.  I learned so much from him.   

Prairie Sherry  

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Trip to The General Store

Friday marked the end of a 60 hour work week for me. With the two jobs and the end-of-the-quarter grading, I was fried. Maia had plans for the evening, the dog had been fed and let outside, so I stopped at Target on my way home to escape the traffic on the beltline.  I figured that wandering aimlessly down aisles for a half an hour was a better bet than dodging drivers either going to or coming from a post-work-week happy hour.  

Prairie Eydie is the only other person I know who views a trip to Target as good as a couple of hours of psychoanalysis.   It is a place to discover ones self and to heal.  I spent a whole lot of time healing at Target shortly after Mr. Cookie Sheet dumped me for someone with a seemingly better set of kitchen utensils ("The Art of Surviving a Dump" 7/10). The Prairie Grlz often make multiple trips to Target to see if the price on a certain item has lowered enough to warrant it's purchase. Sometimes, as was the case with the pink cowgrl boots (The Art of Buying Long Sleeved Shirts and Pink Cowgrl Boots" 10/30), we just buy regardless of the cost.  Throw caution to the wind for $24.99! What I enjoy about Target is that it is a place where I can buy a blazer to satisfy my need to copy Ellen DeGeneres' fashion sense and bananas for my morning cereal.  Target is the general store of the 21st century.

On Friday's trip I found so many interesting things that I was fully entertained for one and a half hours.  I was pulled out of my slump and re-energized. I even pulled out my camera so I could share with you, my dear Prairie Readers. By the time I left the parking lot, the highway was deserted and I was a new woman.  Here are but a few of my wondrous finds:

I found this sisal squirrel tucked away on a sale shelf.  I didn't consider it's purchase, but it did make me wonder if the sisal rug in my living room is made from the pelts of these little critters.  I thought I was buying something rather herbivorous to place on my floor,  but obviously I don't know my flora from my fauna.

And then I found these little guys a few aisles down. At $2.99, what a steal, and complete with their own nuts.  This is a real find for those squirrel collectors out there.  I think decorative squirrels must be this year's Chia Pet.  In fact, a Chia Pet squirrel might be quite interesting.

This is one of my favorite areas in Target.  Don't we all watch those commercials and say, "Well, that is a real waste of money," when we would really like to order the thing just to see if it looks/works anything like it does in the ad?  Here is where I can actually take that Magic Bra out of the box and determine if it is going to be so comfortable that I will wear it to bed.

Praire Eydie says her kidlettes have been begging for the Cat's Meow for their kitty.  Personally I think it might provide her whole family with hours of entertainment.  It might even replace the Wii. See the little Prairie Children and Prairie Ma scampering around the Cat's Meow.  Prairie Eydie could give up her gym membership.

This is one TV commercial I succumbed to without having actually seen the item.  You know the ad:  The fried eggs just slide off, as does burnt cheese, and a melted Barbie doll head.  Well, my eggs stuck, the burnt cheese left an indelible mark, and while I didn't melt a Barbie doll head in mine, I did melt my spatula, and the whole pan had to be tossed in the trash. 

I wonder how many people are going to be getting this in their Christmas stockings this year?  Fun.

This just makes me wish that I didn't have short hair.  Who doesn't want to have Hot Buns!  I showed this picture to Prairie Eydie, who does have long hair, and she got quite excited.  I know what someone is getting for Christmas!!

I always find it interesting to find what people dump in the wrong aisles.  I found this hanging in the purse display. I can see why someone would want to get this garish garb out of his/her cart, but I wonder how it got in there in the first place.  Even at 50% off, this thing is no steal.  You can't really see the detail--the plastic broach at the neck, the glittery adornments on the skirt.  You also can't see the pile of glitter that sloughed off the skirt and onto the floor. There isn't one single natural fiber in this entire garment.  It would be like wearing a plastic bag. When I showed Prairie Eydie this picture, she admitted to having purchased this princess getup for her youngest.  Prairie Eydie and I don't agree on everything.  I hope she has a good vacuum. 

Prairie Eydie loves all things Hello Kitty, but I told her if she ever puts this thing on her lovely daughter, Lulu, I am calling child protective services.  This thing is a fire and a fashion hazard.  Looks like they skinned Hello Kitty. 

I found this item particularly disturbing.  It is called the Snow Slinger.  Here is a close-up of the package.

So today's bullies need a device for making and throwing snowballs?  Not only does it save their little fingers from freezing, but it also provides them with even greater velocity and distance for their icy projectiles.  Yeah, "fun and easy for everyone." Not for the kid who gets it in the face.

Speaking of cruelty, who would do this to man/woman's best friend?  Even on the packaging, this dog looks miserable.  I bet he is going to pee in someone's boots the first time he gets a chance. Good boy!

If you bought this for your dog, you don't deserve to have a dog.

Sometime's 70% off is a great deal.  If someone paid you a dollar to wear these, it wouldn't be a good deal.

Give me cheesecake, give me pumpkin cheese cake, but never give me a pumpkin cheesecake candle.  Period.

The perfect gift for Great-Grandma--NOT!

Finally, a number of weeks ago I gave you a recipe for "Muffin-in-a-Cup" ("The Art of Convalescence" 9/30)  Well, here is "Kitty-in-a-Cup."  The same person who dumped the ghastly (sorry Eydie) costume in accessories decided that this Halloween Hello Kitty needed to be stuffed in a Christmas mug.  Since Christmas merchandise now goes up right after Labor Day, who wouldn't think they go together.  Guess which Prairie Grl had to purchase this stuffy.  

After all this excitement, this is me by the Nate Berkus display. Nate is some interior designer that Target features in it's attempt to try to get you to think that you are shopping at Macy's or Bloomingdale's.  Prairie Eydie says he's, "Snoozeville."  On this, we agree.  Check out those gold boxes for $19.99.  Get me a couple of used shoe boxes and a $3.99 can of metallic spray paint, and call me an interior decorator.

But this is Target, so I can go over to the Starbucks counter right by the checkout and get caffeinated with a Pumpkin Spice Mocha Caramel Peppermint Marshmallow Turkey Soy Latte before I head out to my car. You can't do that at Bloomingdale's.  

BTW, I walked out of the store with face scrub, a box of wine, scotch tape, Fruit-of-the-Loom underwear, and a pack of Trident. $36.99 on my Red Card.

Prairie Sherry


I really do like Target, and the very nice customer service representatives did not usher me out when I started snapping pictures. They did sort of stand guard like I might flip out at any moment. I do hope they will let me come back.  

PS 2

If you have purchased any of the items shown above, I hope you aren't insulted.  I would never think less of you if you had a set of squirrel salt and pepper shakers on your table or a pumpkin cheesecake candle burning in your living room.  Well, I might gag a little at the last one.