Archive for ‘Money Bites’

December 20th, 2011

My Theory On The Candlestick Park Power Outage

by Venomous Kate

If you caught last night’s game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, you know the power went out at Candlestick Park not once, but twice during the game. PG&E, the company providing the stadium’s power, says they still don’t know what caused it. Oddly enough, the outage was entirely limited to the football stadium; no one else in San Francisco experienced the blackout.

Needless to say, this has caused all sorts of speculation about the real cause. Some folks say Steelers LB James Harrison must have run into the power grid with his helmet. Others suspect it was part of a ploy to get more money to rehab the 51-year-old stadium.

My theory? Karma was doing me a solid.

See, we’d just finished dinner and, instead of tackling the dirty dishes piled in the kitchen sink (because I’d handled the cooking), the Venomous Hubby sat down to watch football. This, after pretty much sitting around all day Sunday watching football while I handled all of the holiday preparations by myself. Rather than start an argument over the matter, I shrugged and told him to enjoy the game while I went upstairs to read. After all, the dishes would still be there after the game, right?

Not two minutes later, VH came trudging upstairs to not only do the dishes, but to finally install the tv wall mount in the kitchen. The one that lifts the kitchen TV off of the sideboard, finally frees up a much-needed horizontal surface area to which I can move the pile of papers that has been taking over my kitchen island. The very one that I’d asked him to install LAST Christmas, with little success, because he was too busy watching football then, too.

And the truly funny part? The instant he’d moved the TV to its new mount and turned it on to make sure everything was working, the power went back on at Candlestick Park.

Thanks, Karma, I owe you one!

 
 
 

December 19th, 2011

10 Types of Great Last-Minute Gifts Under $20

by Venomous Kate

If you haven’t finished your Christmas shopping, time is running out! You probably know that already, so what’s stopping you from finishing your gift list? Okay, so maybe money is tight or you’re too busy to trudge through the mall. No worries, I’ve got you covered! Well, not the money aspect, mind you, but you only need $20 (or less) for these great gifts. And, thanks to blessing of free two-day shipping, they’ll be there on time if you order TODAY!

1. For Kindle Owners – Know someone who owns a Kindle? Then why not stock their library with a selection of free or nearly free Kindle books?

2. For Coffee Lovers: Want to produce a Pavlovian response in a coffee lover? Whisper “Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee” and watch them drool. Better yet, give them a pound of the stuff ($9.99). Like them a lot? Then throw in an Aerolatte To Go milk frother ($12.77) so they don’t have to keep shelling out tips to that surly barista with the scraggly goatee.

3. For Playful Thinkers: Sure, you could give them a subscription to Mental Floss magazine, but at $21.97, that would exceed the $20 limit, wouldn’t it? Why not give the gift of Mastermind, the challenging board game we all remember from childhood? Yep, it’s still just as tough, and it’s still just $14.99.

4. For Those Without Taste: You know who I’m talking about — Uncle Bob, who still tries to get you to pull his finger even though you figured out 37 years ago what a bad idea that is, or maybe Eugene in Accounting who doesn’t understand why everyone teases him for wearing both suspenders and a belt to hold up his pleated jeans on Casual Friday. These are the folks who’d love something like a toilet-shaped coffee mug ($11.99), a grenade-shaped screwdriver set ($5.36) or a nightlight shaped like a leg ($14.95). (Yep, a smaller version of the one in A Christmas Story (Two-Disc Special Edition DVD).) ($13.99)

5. For Tired, Stressed-Out Women (or whiny teenaged girls): Ask any overworked woman what she’s most in need of and you’re likely to get one of two answers: (1) a drink; or (2) some “me” time. Chances are, if she’s that stressed out, she probably has plenty of booze on hand. So take care of the “me” time with the Spa Sister Absolute Night Luxury gift set ($19.50) that includes slippers, an eye mask, body scrub, foot lotion and lip balm, all in a cute little case.

6. For Wine Lovers: I know, I know, it’s hard for me to believe that people don’t always finish a bottle of wine, too! But for those who don’t — or who just like to pretend they can’t — the Vacu Vin wine saver set with 4 stoppers ($18.68) lets them keep the good stuff fresh.

7. For Yoga Fans: Know what’s worse than feeling your feet slip out from beneath you as you’re doing Downward Dog in a class full of skinny, bendy people? NOTHING! That’s why I love these all grip yoga socks with pink dots ($9.61), which are not only cute but give great grip, too. At that price, why not combine it with a thirsty yoga towel ($9.58) because, no matter what people think, yoga really does make a gal sweat!

8. For Kids With Cabin-Fever (or who need to stop trying to watch Johnny Test when you need some sofa time to get away from the rest of the family): give ‘em a Chinese jump rope ($5.35) and watch that energy burn. Oh, sure, you may get that old chant “in, out, side-by-side” stuck in your head, but it’s a small price to pay for possession of the remote control. Want to keep them busier even longer? Throw in a skip ball ($13.15) and send ‘em outdoors!

9. For Couples Without Kids: Okay, so they don’t get to wake up before dawn on Christmas morning to watch their kids gleefully rip through mountains of gifts, tossing each one aside with barely a glance as they reach for the next. Know what couples without kids do on Christmas morning? Each other. Help them keep that Christmas morning spirit alive the rest of the year with sexy refrigerator magnet poetry. ($14.95) Too silly? Fine, give them an inflatable “position master” pillow (NSFW) instead. ($18.01)

10. For People Who Are Exactly Like Me And Live At My Address: They’ll be happy with just about anything from this list. Trust me on that!

 
 
 

November 10th, 2011

A Little Pre-Thanksgiving Unpleasantness

by Venomous Kate

Have I ever told you that Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday of the year? It’s true, I love it even more than Christmas (sorry, baby Jesus) or my own birthday (which really ought to be a national holiday, don’t you think?) despite the lack of gifts associated with Thanksgiving. See, it’s all about the food. Or, rather, the lack of guilt over eating it. What other meal is it not only acceptable, but actually encouraged, to gorge one’s self to the point of pain and then, as soon as a bit of wiggle’s returned to the waistband of your pants, do it again and again? As someone who loves to cook — and to eat — it’s the perfect holiday!

Or, rather, it would be the best holiday of all if there wasn’t pressure to get together with far-away family members, particularly She Who Must Not Be Named, who begins her campaign of terror and manipulation hinting about getting together for the holidays sometime in March.

Last year, I was smart enough to pre-empt her visit by inviting my mother who waited until the last minute (at my request) to let me know she couldn’t make it. By then, it was too late for SWMNBN to make travel plans. Even the discount car rental places were all booked up. Pity.

This year, I really can’t get out of it. After all, I stayed home alone this summer when VH and the Big-Eyed Boy went to pay homage visit. Fortunately, she can only stay three days, and not the marathon week- or two-week visits of years past. Sure, it still means the same amount of vacuuming, scrubbing and dusting, and I’ll be making — and doing the dishes by myself after — three meals a day while she’s here. But it’s only three days and, best yet, she’s flying out ON Thanksgiving morning.

That’s right: I’ll be getting the holiday visit with her over before the actual holiday! If you ask me, that’s a good enough reason to have a second piece of pumpkin pie. Maybe even a third.

November 10th, 2011

Celebrity Breeders

by Venomous Kate

From the moment Beyoncé announced her pregnancy at the VMA’s, the gossip mags have covered just about every aspect of it: what she’s wearing, whether her bump is real, and when she’s due. Considering how the papparazi swarm around her, flash bulbs clicking away the instant she steps outside, it’s a wonder we haven’t all been treated to photos of Beyonce getting a prenatal massage. Maybe she’s trying to lay low right now while we mere mortals recover from learning that her baby will be bathing in a $7,000 pink Swarovksi crystal baby tub. Really.

Fortunately, Jessica Simpson’s been more circumspect about her pregnancy. First, she kept mum on the matter, letting the gossip mags speculate on the cause of her growing girth. Then on Halloween she decided to be mum no more, showing off her bulging baby bump in a mummy costume. Get it? Get it? Yeah, it was pretty bad.

But it’s not just female celebrities breeding like rabbits right now. Nope, back in the news is perennial papa, Mel Gibson, who’s been slapped with a paternity suit by some reality TV bimbo. And just think: the ink isn’t even dry on the judge’s order in Mel’s last paternity/custody lawsuit!

Now, when you give it some thought, the real surprise isn’t that Beyoncé’s baby will be spoiled, that Jessica Simpson’s packing on pounds, or that Mel Gibson can’t keep it in his pants. No, the true surprise is that Kim Kardashian hasn’t jumped all over this celebrity breeding stuff. Then again, a baby requires a lot more than a 72-day commitment.

November 3rd, 2011

My Kitchen Renovation Is In Progress

by Venomous Kate

The kitchen is really the center of our house, as it probably is in yours, too. Ours has a fireplace and one wall that’s almost entirely windows. You can’t enter the house without traipsing through or past the kitchen, and since I’m an avid home cook, most of our visitors wind up hanging out there. So I guess it’s not surprising that the kitchen is the room for which I have the biggest plans, and yet the room in which we’ve done the least.

Oh, we’ve rid the room of the hideous roosters and apple green paint. We repainted the wood cabinets and replaced their contractor-grade door- and drawer-pulls with tiny silver spoons and forks I bought at an antiques store. When our refrigerator died a couple of years ago we bought one that actually matches the other appliances. I felt like a real grown-up then.

One thing we haven’t fixed? The floor. The white porcelain tile floor that shows every drip, drab and crumb. The white floor that’s still shiny enough in most spots to make it obvious when I skip mopping for the day. The white tile floor that is cracked in at least a half-dozen places where we walk, while by the stove there’s an entire tile missing so I have to keep a mat there to cover the subfloor.

I hate that floor.

So why haven’t we replaced it? Well, like a lot of things in our lives, it still works. That is, we’re not walking on plywood, and spills are still easy enough to mop up. (Daily.) But the main reason is because ripping out a porcelain tile floor is a truly tedious, back-breaking job that involves spending hours on one’s knees wielding a hammer to crack the tile, then a chisel to get down to the subfloor, then a wheelbarrow to cart loads of broken tiles out to the garage where our trash company will not pick them up. That means, getting them out of the house doesn’t mean the work’s done: we still have to load them into the van and drive them to the city dump, one van load at a time. It’s work for young people, I tell you, which is probably why we should have made it our first project in the house since these last six years have been doozies.

Today, though, I decided I could stand it no more. I’d taken the kitchen rugs out to the deck so I could mop the floor (again), and forgot to bring them in before washing the breakfast dishes. One wrong move and — YOWZA — a cracked tile sliced a nice chunk off the bottom of my foot. Naturally, I bled everywhere.

Now, I could’ve cleaned up the carnage. That’s one nice thing about porcelain: blood splatters wipe up real well. But I’d already mopped the dang thing once today; I wasn’t about to do it again. So, after tying a kitchen towel to the bottom of my blood-soaked foot, I hobbled to my husband’s tool bench and found his hammer and chisel. By the time I needed to pick my son up from school, I’d only been able to crack up and haul out six tiles. SIX! And meanwhile I’ve worked so hard that my knees are locked up, my back is aching, and my hand has stiffened into something sore and claw-like.

So I’ve decided I was right: tearing out this tile really IS a young person’s job. As it happens, I know a young person with destructive tendencies and too much time on his hands. A young person whose adolescent hormones have lately led him to mouth off far too much for my liking. A young, smart-mouthed person who, when it comes down to it, is behind 99% of the drips, drabs and crumbs that made me hate this white porcelain tile floor in the first place.

Now, every time he mouths off, talks back, argues, rolls his eyes, calls me names or even breathes funny, he’s required to crack, remove and haul out one tile. At the rate he’s been at it this afternoon, we’ll be down to the subfloor in my 20’x26′ kitchen this weekend.

I love it when a plan comes together.

August 17th, 2011

So Long, Summer!

by Venomous Kate

So Long, Summer I know summer isn’t officially over for another month, but with my son back in school, I feel like it is. This has been the longest, cruelest summer I can remember, thanks to that horrible heatwave we had. Being cooped up indoors with a cranky pre-pubescent because it’s just too hot, and the air quality is too bad, to go outside? Man, that’s not my idea of a vacation. So, having just dropped the Big-Eyed Boy off for his first day of junior high (!), that “vacation” is officially over.

All around me, there are signs that I’m not the only one who views the first day of school as the true end of summer, despite those who claim that Labor Day really is. All of the mommies were grinning ear-to-ear as we took turns pulling up at the school doors so our kids could hurriedly get out before we peeled away (well, as fast as one can “peel” at 5 mph.) Throughout my neighborhood, homeowners have put their pool covers on, and the Stepford Wife-types have switched their front door wreaths from bright-colored florals to rings of plastic autumn leaves. I even saw one of the early morning joggers wearing a hoodie today, something that was unthinkable a few days ago.

But here’s the thing about motherhood: I’ve spent the majority of the past three months counting the days until today, mentally planning all of the projects I’d finally have time for once school started again, and reminding myself that, come August 17, I’d have time for things like long showers, nail and doctor appointments, and a chance drink my coffee before it got cold.

So what’s happened? After the school run, I pulled into the garage and came into a house that seemed somehow too quiet. That list of things I wanted to do has totally fled my head, and I forgot about my cup of coffee until it was cold, anyway. Instead, I’ve puttered around, putting things away and half-listening for my son’s steps thundering on the stairs, for his voice calling out to ask me what’s for breakfast. Here’s this day I’ve so looked forward to throughout this horrible summer. Now that it’s here, I miss the little guy poignantly. But that’s okay, there are only 122 days until Christmas Break when, no doubt, I’ll counting down days until school starts again.

August 5th, 2011

Save Big At One Of My Favorite Stores

by Venomous Kate

Have you ever checked out GraveyardMall.com, the place where high prices go to die? Not long ago, I ordered one of their “Mystery Boxes” in the hope it would contain two or three things to entertain my son after we’d been cooped up in the house thanks to the heatwave. Not only did the contents serve that purpose, but I got a few nifty kitchen gadgets out of it, too!

Anyway, if you haven’t checked the site out, don’t miss today’s chance for free shipping and up to 90% off MSRP on home decor, lighting, outdoor landscaping stuff and more!

July 22nd, 2011

Feminine Products Putting Are Too Much “V” in TV!

by Venomous Kate

Image from Summers Eve feminine wash ad Look, you know and I know that women have vaginas. Those of us who aren’t currently at Comic-Con also know that sometimes womens’ vaginas are, to put it nicely, odoriferous or gnarly. (For the record: men’s ugly bits are just as often repugnant, but for some reason there aren’t entire product lines to fixing that problem.)

But, really, must we get so graphic on TV about problems down there? First it was the horrid women’s razor ad about “trimming the hedges” (YouTube link). Maybe you’ve seen it? A pretty young blond sings about how, when she’s feeling a little blue, her favorite thing to do is “mow the lawn”. In solidarity, perky young women exclaim that some bushes are really big (wink), some gardens are really small (another wink), and whatever shape your ‘topiary’ is in, “it’s easy to trim them all”. Funny stuff… unless you happen to be sitting next to a pre-pubescent boy who asks “Mom, what are they talking about? I thought this was a razor commercial.” (Solution: spill hot coffee on yourself as a distraction. It works!)

Now Summer’s Eve is taking the same tack, and this time it’s ruffling some feathers. Why? Well, it’s not just the not-so-subtle images in their ad (see, upper left). This time, it’s because the ad is supposedly playing into racial stereotypes:

The black hand explains to African American women that you spend a lot of time on the hair on your head, why neglect the hair down there while showing the drawing of a cactus. (Okay, I’ve lost my African American readers, let’s move on.) The Hispanic hand starts off by saying “Aye, Aye, Aye” and then in a heavily accented voice mentions the “trashing the tacky leopard thong” — need I say more? (Hasta luego Hispanic readers) The Caucasian hand starts off by welcoming viewers with a hearty “Hello from Vagina Land”.

Except, sadly, when it comes to pushing products for down there, this racism is nothing new. That bush-trimming razor commercial? It’s a black woman who sings about really big bushes, while a petite Asian woman sings about her ‘small garden’. But, while clearly playing to racial stereotypes, the razor commercial was also so preposterous, so over-the-top and campy, that the racism didn’t really jump out. So consumers ignored it, while absorbing the message that sad or depressed women need only spend some time trimming, mowing and cutting their pubes to turn their lives around.

Frankly, I find the Summer’s Eve commercial repugnant on a number of levels, not the least of which its insidious racial stereotyping. So I’m glad it’s causing uproar and generating consumer anger, which will hopefully stop this slew of vaginal-related ads before I find myself having to pour an entire pot of coffee on myself to distract my kid from a commercial for double dildos.