Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Cyber Monday!

I am thankful for my family, friends and good health. What better holiday to be thankful for your health than one that you gorge on overindulgence. A client on the phone today told me his holiday was "fat and sassy". I agreed with him that that's the way it should be. I hope you all had a fat and sassy weekend with your loved ones. I'm also thankful for my husband and my kids. Husband put on a garage sale on the only rainy day in months and did so with a semi deadtired smile the whole time! Yes, I said my kids - 2 legged and 4 legged. 2 legged kid - Kendall wrote me the sweetest letter as part of her homework last week. I will post picture later. 2 legged and 4 legged children give me a reason to wake up every morning! Most mornings they are the reason I wake up, however too early it may be...see photo above.
Wishing a happy cyber monday to you all. In lieu of the online shopping day of the year, I will post a blog to share with you my cyberness and I will finally post my super secret most favorite website (shopping website) of all. I refused to share up until this point because it was my Christmas shopping venue of choice. Now that the gifts are all ordered I can successfully share the goodness with others without them buying the same gifts for themselves.
I'd like to introduce you to my new bestie...FabI heart Fab.
In other news this past Saturday was my 10 year high school reunion in State College. Oh the good ole days...I hope everyone had a blast reunioning back at home over the holiday. I would like to request some pictures posted to facebook soon!
Last night Dustin and I watched 60 Minutes and I think I found my second calling in life.

With my super nose and sense of smell and "tastes like the way __________ smells" comparisons, I definitely think I would fit well in this industry. Besides I was a marketing/advertising student thats gotta help me out with the whole flavor sells thing. Must research further...anyone know any flavorists???

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The benefits of a heightened sense of smell

I've always thought I had an extra acute sense of smell. I smell extra bad when its bad and extra good when its good. I smell everything. "What is that smell?" is a common phrase in my vocabulary. "What does that taste like?" is often described in terms of smell. For instance, I have never become a whiskey connoisseur because to me whiskey tastes like the smell of a barn. A barn filled with hay, animals and all that comes along with it. My favorite new beverage, ZICO - tastes like the smell of a large bowl of Frosted Flakes more specifically the milk after you eat the Frosted Flakes.  Apparently I relate to the world with my sense of smell.
For the past week or so I have become aware of a strong burning plastic smell each and every time I got out of the driver's side door of Mr. Prius. At first if was faint and I thought I was imagining things. I assumed I was nuts and forgot about it until the next time it smelled stronger and it only seemed to come from my driver's side wheel well area,so then I became more concerned and made Dustin smell it too.
I read into it online to find out what might be happening. I read a lot about the different smells people experience inside their Prius which wasn't happening to me and I also read that sometimes a grocery bag can get stuck under your car and melt  to the bottom causing the chemical burning smell of melting plastic to permeate in and around your car . After researching and continuing to smell the plastic burning each time I exited the car I finally called Richie at Qualtech to make sure I wasn't nuts. He told me to bring it in and they'd put the car on the lift and we'd find out what was going on.
I made Richie smell around my car and he seemed to think it was coming from the same driver's side wheel well that I had noticed it. They threw it up on the lift and looked at driver's side wheel well to find nothing, no HEB bag trapped near my wheel, melting to death. His mechanic took the vehicle out on a test drive to get the car and plastic melting smell all heated up again and returned to put the vehicle on the lift. During the test drive the mechanic noticed that something was wrong with the driver's side front wheel bearing and that was causing what I thought was extra road noise from my tires an issue that would have to be fixed but still no plastic. After they solved the wheel bearing mystery they were walking under my car and on the exhaust pipe directly under the middle of Mr. Prius was a faint blue and pink stripe from an old Ziploc baggie, permanently attached in an odd artistic formation to the bottom of Mr. Prius. My nose was right and it helped me solve the extra road noise mystery with exactly 17300 miles left on the powertrain warranty. Not under warranty the labor alone would have been close to $300 to repair. I am extremely grateful.
With exactly one week until Thanksgiving I will start my Thank you's and Grateful's now.
I am grateful for...Mr. Prius
I am grateful for...Ziploc Baggies
I am grateful Sense of Smell
I am grateful for... my unwarranted attention on driver's side wheel well for the wrong reason
I am grateful for...Qualtech Automotive, Thank you Richie for not thinking I'm completely nuts and for checking to see if it was a warranty repair with Toyota
I am grateful for...60k mile Powertrain Warranty
I am grateful for...Thursday night football in Blacksburg...GO HOKIES!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Clean Garage = Early Christmas

Dustin started a new challenge last weekend when the time changed. He utilized his extra hour to completely destroy our semi organized garage to re-organize it, create a work bench/work space for himself and prep for a garage sale. This project led to a full week of Mr. Prius hanging out in the driveway with a hoard of things laying on every inch of the garage floor. When this past weekend came around it was my new priority to help Dustin complete the original plan and get things put away. In my words, "If you don't get the garage cleaned up, I'm going to bulldoze everything in my way and park the Prius back in his spot!" Yes, I used the word bulldoze in reference to a Prius and Yes, my husband laughed at me.
Through our sort, we pulled everything out of storage, we rearranged tools, cleaning supplies and crafty things in one area along with all the lawn and outdoor supplies we've accumulated and I got an entire new shelf for my couponing haul and Costco items. Couponing is a lot like shopping at Costco, you end up with supplies for a year that you have to find a place for. This is ok by me as long as we use it. I have an entire shelf full of cereal, one for canned goods and another for my sports drinks for when I'm on the Yoga wagon (Which I am by the way...). One pesky rather large item was left after our mass organization and that was my 9' Christmas Tree in a bag. With two weeks until Thanksgiving weekend and nothing better to do, who wouldn't just go ahead and start decorating for the holidays. Officially the earliest I have ever thought about or made any movement toward decorating for the holidays. Now there aren't ornaments on the tree because I am of course waiting until Kendall is with us so she can help with that process but the tree is up, the lights are on and the presents are wrapped under the tree.
Now what will I do with myself for the next month and a half...
...Go to Yoga...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hometown Heartbreak

Its hard to put into words how I feel. I told my husband last night that I'm depressed. I'm not even there and I'm depressed. A few months ago I blogged about the fire here in Texas and our close call and came to realize what makes for a home, now I'm realizing that your memories make your home as well. State College is one of my homes. Its my hometown, where I grew up...State College is memorialized in my history, in my story - its a huge part. No I didn't go to Penn State, as a young kid growing up in a small town I wanted to adventure out into the world and find another place to call home. As a Hokie grad I don't know how all the Penn Staters feel, PSU is not my PSiloveU but the town that houses the University is synonimous with Penn State and that town is mine. Its all ours. It's Happy Valley where it may not be sunny every day and we may not all be Happy all the time but its a fantastic place to call ours. Our little hometown, our little Valley, ours. I may not live there anymore, I may call somewhere else home, but these days I'm clinging to my memories of State College, a place we all thought we knew. I've called my parents more times in the past week than I have in the past few months trying to get a sense of the place. I'm clinging to anything I can in memory of my State College. My town. To hear the media describe the events, to see the images of the place I love demonized by utter media chaos makes me sad for my valley.

The tragedy in this story is of course what happened to innocent children. The tragic part for people from, living in or associated with State College is our town will never be the same. Its not JoePa, although he has helped to define the place for more than 60 years, I'd like to see the media step away from that topic. Its a sensational story and it will surely sell to the mass of sports fans throughout the country but lets not forget or forgive what allegedly happened in my pristine hometown where we don't have to lock our back doors, where everyone is family.

I hope the truth comes out, all of it. The Grand Jury investigation has been 3 years in the making. Why now? Why does it take the State of Pennsyvlania years to arrest someone of their alleged crimes and no actions have taken place up until now. I know exactly why, due process. It is the same process that allowed my baby mama drama to take 2 full years to be signed into order and that was nothing compared to the astronomically huge deal this is. It took us one day to take our case to a judge. Its taken how many years for a judge to sign an order keeping the accused in this case away from kids. Really? State of Pennsylvania, didn't you think it might be a good idea to keep him away from children legally when you let him post bail. I'm confused and saddened by it all. Depressed, like I said before.

I hope we hear the entire story, if people covered it up they should lose their jobs. If the accused did what is said then he will get his.

I want State College back. I want to turn on the tv without my hometown as media central. Its the center of the world to me and I hate that its the center of the world to everyone else and is now demonized as "cover-up", "child-abuse" central because of what one man's actions did. One man. One single individual has affected the lives of 8 perhaps 9 young men in a horrifying manner. One single individual played a sick game of charades to others that thought they knew him, a two faced monster. One single individual has brought an entire community down. One single individual has caused turmoil in daily lives of anyone that associates themselves with Penn State. One single individual has affected the people who live in my hometown.

'In this green vale that molds our spirits' we are hurt. Hurting for the victims, hurting for our spirit - we want the spirit of our town back, back to the way it was before all this. We know it never will be same but we can hope above all else that this will not define our town. Like any good family strife we'll get our spirit back eventually, it will take time and the truth but eventually we'll get to redefine this place we call home. We'll always have the memories we grew up with, and we'll look upon those memories fondly.

This is State College, the place where I grew up. This is my State College. Its a Sad Valley today and it probably will be for a while to come but...We are...and forever will be...State College, PA , We are Happy Valley.

I heart State College, PA.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Trials of a Couponer

I started shopping at Randall's/Safeway more religiously in the past six months when HEB started having weird coupon policies with printable coupons plus the fact that they do not double or triple and all of my local Randall's locations do.

I used to hate shopping with a grocery list or menu plan or coupons because it always seemed to take a lot of time with 'no cheese down that tunnel'. I seemed to never feel rewarded after I was done shopping, i just felt spent - both monetarily and time wise. I always felt like couponing and lists made me buy more things that I didn't need or would never use before the expiration date.

Fast forward to the premier or first season of extreme couponing, I was shocked at what people were buying and storing in their homes. I do not have a full basement to hoard my goods or an extra bedroom to keep a tower of toilet paper but I did realize that by not using coupons and not shopping with a list I was wasting a lot of money each week on my grocery bill. If I planned according to sale ads and bought only items that I knew I would use I could be successful. So I planned, cut coupons and filed them in my binder and watched sale circulars for the week's specials and printed coupons from every computer I could access. This process allowed me to get my % savings from a minimum of 30% at the beginning of this venture to above 50% on every day shopping.

I used to curse coupons at check out time, I hated using them and hated other people using them in front of me in line. Just seemed like it took forever and made the process more painful but when you can save so much money its worth it in the end. If coupons are used properly the checkout person does not have to be 'profiled' to be successful with your coupons. Yes a good high value coupon will give the dreaded beep every once and a while but as long as the cashier is willing to get a managers approval and look for the item in your basket than there shouldn't be any issues.

This past Friday, I had planned for and clipped and pre-ordered specific coupons for my shopping trip so that I could stock up on certain items that were on sale and to get my Thanksgiving Turkey for a discounted price with all the contingencies met for the special discounted per pound rate. After gathering my groceries I headed to checkout.

This is when the coupon report - cashiers behaving badly/improperly/not understanding english on a coupon and frankly stealing, begins.

I had 14 coupons for 14 4-packs of Seattle's Best Coffee Drinks ready to use. A lady helping to bag all my groceries stepped up to the cash register after I handed the cashier lady my stack of coupons and she was telling her to read all the individual coupons closely for the words, 'one coupon per purchase'. If it said that then they could only accept one coupon. The cashier had already scanned 4 of my coupons for coffee and the 'bagger' lady said "we'll honor those four ONLY even though we're only supposed to honor ONE". The line had built up behind me and I was that dreaded woman using coupons on a Friday evening. They continued to go through all the coupons and pulled out any coupon that I had more than one of, handing them back to me. At this point I was thinking 'WTF happened since yesterday when I used multiple coupons for items in one transaction, as long as it doesn't state 'limit of one coupon per transaction' you should be golden'. I kept my mouth shut and awaited my receipt and my hard earned/calculated $10.00 off your next purchase for spending $75.00 or more coupon. The cashier handed me a new coupon for cereal that was printed from the register and my receipt but there was no $10 coupon. I looked at her and said 'I'm supposed to get a $10 off coupon from this transaction."  She looked at me and then looked under the register (no where near the coupon printer) and reached under the desk and handed me my $10 off coupon. SCAM ARTIST. First she is misinformed about the coupons and hands me back over $21.00 worth of coupons that she said I can't use in this purchase and then she tried stealing my free $10.

I wasn't willing to fight the coupons standing there in line, ask for a manager and hold up all the impatient people in line behind me, so I slowly pushed my cart over to the customer service desk with my unused coupons and my receipt. I asked the lady working that desk if the coupon policy changed in the past day, she reviewed what I had and what I had purchased and even checked with her manager as to the wording on the coupons. Randall's ended up giving me $21.84 cash back for my coupons 3 minutes after I walked away from the cashier that told me they couldn't accept them. I didn't mention the $10 coupon scam while I was standing there because I was shocked and pissed off at that moment. I was very relieved about knowing the coupon policy better than the cashier and the bagger and thanked the customer service woman profusely for refunding me for the coupons.

When I got to the car I called Dustin and ranted about the cashier. He told me I needed to tell the store what had happened and report it to the supervisor so they could do something. I didn't want any unsuspecting grocery shopper to not receive their hard earned/spent $10 off coupon because a thief was among us so I called the store back on my way home and told the same lady that refunded me what had happened at checkout with my freebie coupon. She apologized again for all the trouble and said she'd report it to her front of the store manager so that it could be addressed. I told her I wasn't entirely sure what happened but that I had to ask for the coupon and she pulled it out from somewhere other than the printer it came off of. I didn't want it to happen to someone else and them not knowing well enough to ask for it.

Moral of the story: Ask someone else if it doesn't seem right. Watch your back out there, there are many forces working against well-meaning coupon shoppers just trying to save a buck!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Spaghetti Squash

New family favorite...
We had baked spaghetti squash tossed in brown butter with italian seasoning and parmesean and a fresh green salad with parmasean balsamic viniagrette. Yes I'm hungry again.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What's for Dinner?

Got our Farmhouse Delivery today! So excited to eat well tonight...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Color Fun

Thanks to my Bikram Buddy Kim, I am now registered to participate in The Color Run along with Team Awesomer than Awesome. We'll be wearing tutus.
I can't tell you how excited I am for this:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Severely disappointed in the number of trick or treaters at the Laycock household last night. I specifically did not go to yoga last night so as to experience the hoards of children ringing my doorbell and to gorge myself on candy while I waited. Last year I even handed out whole candy bars (thanks to Costco) with the thought that the following year they'd know my house would be AWESOME to hit up for candy.

My first revelation from Halloween this year is that Trick or Treating is dead.

Not one of the kids said "Trick or Treat", c'mon parents lets train these kids. They have to earn the candy with that simple phrase. They instead just hold up their buckets like a homeless person with their sign asking for candy without a single word. At least the littlest kids that showed up that may not have been able to speak knew what they were there for and readily dug deep into the candy bowl for their multiple handfuls of delicious sweets. The older kids just held out their hands and I said Happy Halloween before any of them said anything. In the 4 cases I had they said Happy Halloween back but not one "trick or treat!" What the hell? What happened to the pillow cases filled with candy, literally running from house to house to get as much candy as possible, screaming trick or treat before the homeowner could even open the door. My four, yes four groups of trick or treaters which i will now refer to as halloweeners, hah, had itty bitty buckets for their candy and were obviously not bolting to all the houses in the neighborhood to hit every single one with the light on in order to get as much candy as possible. I'm not sure if the kids are lazy or the parents are or if we just judge everyone now...Whether its the fattening of America or the safety concerns we have for our children at every little step, something has changed. Maybe its the parents that think we can just buy some candy that we like or we'll have a ton left over at home from the lack of "trick or treaters" at our house.

My second revelation from Halloween this year, Snickers Peanut Butter Squared are AMAZING!

My remnants of Halloween, an entire bowl of the best of the best candy is now sitting at my office waiting to be eaten by me and all my coworkers. My trick or treaters failed me this year. One of my goals was even to desensitize my dogs to the doorbell from the massive amounts it would ring last night. Of my four groups of trick or treaters, they all knocked politely on the door.