San Bernardino Gives -or- Here Comes Santa Claus… Incorporated!

 

What does a community do after it has been quite literally and most painfully duped by evil in their midst? They hold the massive, charitable event, as they have for more than 60 years, and see that children and entire families are cared for at Christmas time and throughout the entire year. Here comes Santa ClausIncorporated.  San Bernardino will continue to give because that is what this community does- it cares.

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And we started with PRAYER

A whole lotta people showed up for not just a fundraising luncheon (delicious salad, stuffed chicken, vegetables, and dessert, by the way).

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some of the talented dancers

We were there to bid on a silent auction, a live auction, watch a dance/fashion show featuring styles from Macy’s collections and some very talented dancers… and the most fun event of the day… see who wins the Christmas Trees Raffles- who will win not only the trees, but all the decorations and gifts on and underneath these professionally decorated beauties!

Oh no! What does Santa Claus Inc. do when some of their usual volunteers cannot show up (law enforcement in the area was extra busy this week)? The Veterans of Foreign Wars Motorcycle Club stepped in to offer their help.

I learned a few new things about this gigantic event- not only are children and their families matched with gifts and warm clothing from Santa Claus Inc., but these kids are often helped out with needs that come up throughout the year. They are not forgotten. The care and giving is year-round.

Look them up- if you are interested in donating to an organization with an army of volunteers who help clothe and bring joy to thousands (as in, over 750,000 people over the decades- that’s almost a million!), Santa Claus Inc. may be a great fit for your generosity.

And please remember: like most charities, Santa Claus Inc. does not ask whether a child or their family is Christian, agnostic, Jewish, atheist, a non-believer, or Muslim. This is a group that cares about the well-being of a child. That is all.

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Many other gifts are available for purchase- designer purses, gourmet baked goods, jewelry, photography services… all giving a portion of the profits to Santa Claus Incorporated.

IMG_9468AND WILL YOU LOOK AT THIS: what happens at our table? A friend of the family wins this beautiful tree! Congratulations, Tanya!

IMG_9452Those of us that didn’t win were able to partake of the adult beverages… I can personally vouch for the Bloody Marys.

I have tried very hard to be accurate about the details surrounding this wonderful event- any mistakes are mine alone, and I will get them corrected as soon as they are pointed out to me. I can attest to these facts- I didn’t win a tree again this year, boo! They make a mean Bloody Mary at the Santa Claus Inc. bar. We admit that once again,  we did take the leftover half of our table’s coffee cake home to my mom like we have for several years in a row (no sense in wasting good sweets!). Biker dudes and women are cool, and San Bernardino is beautiful.

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Sea Glass… The Bad Kind -or- You’re Welcome, Barefoot Runners and Surfers

We’ve made it through Black Friday (don’t know about you, but I didn’t leave the house), Cyber Monday yesterday (did I even go online? I don’t remember), and now today has the honor of being named “Giving Tuesday.” Okie-dokie, fine by me. The Intertubes are full of clever stories of people sharing ways they have given back to the world at large. I like doing nice things, too, so I’m in. Maybe… a trash hunt on one of my favorite beaches for running- La Jolla Shores.

 

No glass on the beach, please!

 

The beaches have seen some higher than usual tides lately, and along with the seaweed, a lot of junk washed up with the waves. Junk including freshly broken glass- ouch! And there were at least fifty barefoot surfers out enjoying the spectacular weather today… I don’t want to think of the potential harm that one big piece pictured above could inflict. Again, ouch!

I had a short run of only couple of miles this morning, but still wound up with a fistful of glass to pitch into the trash. I’ve always told my kids to pick up trash on our walks and hikes, and it felt good to help take care of one of my favorite places to run and play.

Photo Bombing… Yarn Bombing… Now Here’s COUPON BOMBING

Yarn Bombing in Boston (photo credit... me! Ha!)
Yarn Bombing in Boston (photo credit… me! Ha!)
The Very Viral Photo Bombing Squirrel
Remember him? The photo bombing Squirrel- AKA the Crasher Squirrel

A grocery chain in our area has been bought out by and replaced with another, and the prices have definitely increased. I asked the manager of one store if there was any reason why, and all he could figure was the lack of a direct supplier like the other chain used to have. There’s the economics lesson today: insert middleman, increase prices.

I rarely use coupons lately, but instead of relegating this week’s stack straight to my recycle bin… why don’t I just sneak on over to the pricy new store with a roll of tape and see what kind of mischief I can make?

COUPON BOMBING!

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Holy cow, have you seen the prices on formula and razors lately?!?

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I matched up the coupons from the newspaper’s Sunday ads and taped them to the products. In all, I taped about $13 in coupons on about eight or so products. I sure hope someone who was coming along to buy one of these products got a laugh along with their savings.

No one who worked there seemed to notice… maybe the people watching on the security cameras got a chuckle out of seeing some crackpot lady walking around with a tape dispenser and pile of coupons in her shopping cart stealthily trying to stick coupons around the store… ha.

Clip a few coupons and scatter the savings. It makes for quite an enjoyable afternoon.

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Here’s to sharing the savings with total strangers!

Paying Forward- Sharing Guitars and the Love of Music

ellie guitar (1)My brother once gave The Girl a guitar for Christmas. He told me that it was a beginner’s model, and that if she really like playing, that she could have one of his nicer ones. With her busy schedule, we never managed to fit in formal lessons. She used You Tube tutorials to begin, and had at least half a dozen friends giving her tips a-plenty.

Capos, tuners, more picks were all requested, but she never asked for the lessons. I’m pretty sure that she understood the impossibility of cramming in one more thing during her waking hours. In two years, I am amazed by what she can do, and she has inspired me to try to learn how to play our piano that sits lonely in our front room.

My brother held true to his promise, but took a slightly different route. It turns out that my kids have another guitar-playing uncle, The Brother-In-Law, and he brought a steel-stringed acoustic Fender for The Girl as a parting gift before she leaves for college this fall! And as for my brother? Last year, he gifted The Boy his own beginner’s guitar for Christmas, too. We managed to cram in lessons for him, and soon The Girl insisted that he needed a better guitar. The Boy received my brother’s latest gift- a lovely, Spanish, steel stringed acoustic guitar.

So what do we do with two beginner model, classical guitars? We do my brother the honor of sharing them with kids at the music store who would appreciate them! That’s what we did. We are grateful for our generous uncles… it was time to share with others.

IMG_7724Meet three-year-old Louis, and his big sister Lilian. He marched into the music shop a couple of weeks ago with his mom in tow. Upon seeing the ukuleles, he exclaimed, “Look, mommy! Little guitars!” He then picked up one, held it properly, and looked like he owned the instrument. After I asked, mom Jessie said that he would be delighted to take my son’s 3/4 sized newbie guitar. One down.

IMG_7723We also met Aaron, a student at our local high school. Although he already had an electric model, Aaron was nearby while I asked my son’s teacher if he knew who might be able to use our 7/8th sized nylon stringed classical guitar. I just asked him outright if he would like it. Aaron is not a 7/8ths sized guy, but, I’m sure he will make do (the guitar is bigger than it looks in this pic). He promised to share the guitar with his school’s music department when he is ready to move on to a different guitar. Two for two!

If I decided to learn to play, I will have to fight with The Husband for playing time on the Epiphone he won at Vidcon this summer… I’m up for that!

One Heck of a Busy August = Blank Blog Dates, ARGH!

Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.
Denis Waitley, Author of “Raising Confident Kids

In the course of four weeks we will have accomplished (among other things…)-

  • One Freshman leaving for college.
  • One Freshman starting High School.
  • One  High School Senior moved into our home.
  • Four visiting groups of family and friends.
  • One hotel stay in Anaheim for VidCon and Disneyland.
  • Countless trips to the Salvation Army/Goodwill drop off as three teens swapped rooms to make space for each other.
  • The cramming in of a few new things that I didn’t have time to write posts about. Boo.

I’m pooped, my kids are cooked, and we are all keyed up for so many new things happening in our lives in our near future. My cup overfloweth, my gratitude is reaching heights I’ve never experienced and I am beyond thankful that my uneventful, humble life is one of the greatest gift to be treasured.

Get Yourself A Round Tuit, You’ll Get the Muffins to the Firemen that way.

"This is a Round Tuit. Guard it with your life, Tuits are hard to come by. Now that you have one, you can accomplish all those things you put aside until you got a Round Tuit."
“This is a Round Tuit. Guard it with your life, Tuits are hard to come by. Now that you have one, you can accomplish all those things you put aside until you got a Round Tuit.”
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Grandad’s Round Tuit. Not only did he still have it, but he also knew where it was and texted a photo of it to me as soon as I asked. The guy has his stuff together… or we both just got lucky.

When I was a kid, my dad came home with a little wooden coin. He told me that it was a “Round Tuit.” It might have been something his father or grandfather had given him as a joke. I also remember clever story printed on one side. With a little searching, I found several sites showing the same clever coin, pictured left. When asked if he still had his, Dad found his original, pictured right.

I have been meaning (everyone say it with me, now) to get around to bringing muffins to the fire station ever since we had some nasty fires last May. Those fires came too close for comfort. Like, really close- see the photo on the bottom right? They closed The Girl’s school the next day, and many others in the area.

Pardon the profanity, but this is funny, yo.
Pardon the profanity, but this is funny, yo.
View from The Girl's school May 2014
View from The Girl’s school
May 2014

So, today I finally brought some goodies to the local fire station and thanked them profusely for their work. Took me long enough! This is a great example of better late than never.

I finally got a round to it.

Sharing Cookies and Thoughts on Practice and Past Times…

So, there are these people who work for The Husband… they deserve more than cookies. Lol. I’ve seriously been meaning to get treats to them for a long time. This is quite a group of highly intelligent, dedicated, and really interesting people! I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies and crammed more than three dozen into a bag for The Husband to bring into a meeting today. Hopefully, everyone will get two cookies… maybe I should’ve sent in more.

I can crank out 12 dozen cookies in under two hours, including pans and kitchen cleaned, honestly, because I’ve made this recipe for 30+ years. I’ve made and sold hundreds of dozens of cinnamon rolls and can knock out a couple dozen with minimum effort. And I love cooking! It is a lot like an athlete’s love of practicing to develop muscle memory in a sport- I bet that anyone with a passion for anything would agree. Years of practice means few wasted steps in my kitchen; I know which equipment and ingredients to grab, measure, and use. Practice makes perfect, no matter what you are practicing… so be careful where you spend your time, right?

Pile o' cinnamon rolls for the teachers and school staff.
Pile o’ cinnamon rolls for school.

Nothing makes a baker happier than finding people with whom to share the goodies. In January I bring cinnamon rolls to the teachers and staff for Teacher Appreciation Day- ironically, I’m sure I feel more appreciated when they say they look forward to the rolls each year (Cinnabon knock-offs, I swear they are exactly like the shops in malls). It makes me happy.

I identity with these stickers...
I identify with these stickers…

I run a couple miles most mornings so I can eat that second taco or have a nightly glass of wine.

Amazon.com  0.0 I Don't Run
…links to Amazon.com
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I Don’t Run

If people don’t share these cookies and other treats, I’m going to have to earn one of those 13.1 or 26.2 stickers for the back of my own sweet ride. Bake on, people… and keep running, too.