Thursday, February 25, 2010

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

I just love the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. No, I am not a country music fan. No, I don't like farming or livestock in any way, shape or form. There is just something about going to the HLS&R. I really can't put my finger on it. Maybe it's getting to dust off your cowboy boots and strut around in them for an evening. Maybe its riding the bus with other friendly, excited Houstonians on the way to their show jabbering about their day or joking with their friends. Maybe its betting with your friends and family who will win the wagon races and cheering on your wagon! Maybe its watching kids in the Calf Scramble. Maybe its cheering for the hard luck cowboy who got trampled by a bucking bronco. Maybe its the mouthwatering Bar-b-que. Maybe its looking at rows and rows of cow butts and admiring them although you have no idea what you are looking at. Maybe its watching the handlers brushing and blowdrying animals that would usually stand in the rain. It's all just amazing to me. I never get tired of it. You get a hitch in your step and a twang in your voice just stepping onto the grounds. I got a special thrill today seeing the Saltgrass Trail Ride coming down Franz Road in Katy. It sends chills up my spine every time I see them. I feel like a little girl again waving to the trail riders who are clearly having a great time waving right back at the spectators. I'm so glad to live in Texas!

It's Window Washing Time!

Let's Go! It's time to wash away the winter grime from the windows and let the sunshine in. Spring is on the way! Yeah! OK... I'm trying to get myself excited about it, but it just isn't happening. I tried. I'm tackling it one room at a time. The blinds are also covered in dust. Blinds should really be outlawed along with carpets. They are disgusting dust mite hotels. The blinds in the kitchen are the worst. They accumulate grease from cooking and it forms a horrid greasy-dusty concoction.

All the blinds got put into the bathtub and got soaked in warm water and a mild soap solution to loosen the dust and grime. They'll sit there for a few hours.

In the meantime, I recruited my crew to help out (such a handsome crew too). We mixed a 2 gallon bucket of warm water and 1 tsp. of rubbing alcohol, a capful of ammonia and 5 drops of dish detergent. I got this handy dandy recipe from this month's "All You" magazine. The recipe calls for ammonia or dish detergent but I used both. They took a sponge and went to work also getting the frame and window sill. A coffee filter also is a great lint free cloth to clean with. They did a great job. I'm glad its done for another year. No comments about child labor please ;) You missed a spot.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A warning re: Just4Vicki on Ebay half.com

For many years I have had transacted business on Ebay. I have only had a few negative experience in these many years until today. I purchased a book for my son on half.com by Ebay from vendor a/k/a "Just4Vicki". Because the book would be needed in the next few weeks for school I paid extra for expedited shipping. I paid for the item and expedited shipping on the January 31, 2010. I waited and waited and there were no shipping notices and nothing came in the mail.

I contacted the seller via Ebay on February 9, 2010: Hi! I requested that this item be shipped by expedited shipping. I wouldn't otherwise ask but we need this for school work this week. Can you confirm that it has been shipped? Thanks so much!

No response.

On February 11, 2010, I got a notification from Ebay that the item had shipped.

I contacted the seller via e-mail on February 11, 2010. I ordered this on the 31st. The order confirmation below shows that it should have been shipped by February 3rd. I even paid extra for expedited shipping because I needed it quickly for my son’s school work. Your e-mail indicates that you shipped it today, February 11. You gave no explanation or apology for the delay. That is unacceptable. I am happy to pay for the book and regular shipping costs. I believe that the expedited shipping costs should be refunded to me.

No response.

I resent the above message via Ebay on February 17, 2010.

No response.

Sent a new message via e-mail on February 17, 2010 threatening to leave negative feedback. I am giving you one last chance to make this right before I leave negative feedback. I believe most Ebay vendors want to make their customers happy. I’m trying to give you the benefit of the doubt but if you do not communicate with me, I will have to conclude you don’t mean to do right by me. I paid extra for expedited shipping but this item was not timely received. I ordered this on the 31st and did not receive it until February 13. It seems fair that the extra shipping costs should be refunded to me.

Ah, finally a response on February 17, 2010. But a very nasty one indeed. I do NOT believe I did anything wrong. If you feel leaving a negative feedback will make you feel better, than feel free to do so. I will follow suit by leaving a negative feedback for you. Which one of us will be damaged the most? hmmm?

My response on February 18, 2010 was: You are a vendor. People look at your feedback before placing an order. It is obvious you don't care about your customers. My negative feedback will reflect this.

She immediately responded on February 18, 2010. Really? One 'negative' 'hard-to-satify' customer is hardly going to hurt me. Do you act this way to everyone? What a nasty person you must be!!!!

She has resorted to name calling. Classy.

My last response on February 18, 2010 to this "vendor" (and I use that term loosely) was: I have been nothing but understanding. I have sent several e-mails to which you have never responded until I threatened negative feedback. I will not stoop to your low level and call you any names. I failed to understand how that solves anything. Good day to you madam.

I have contacted Ebay directly for assistance in handling this "vendor".

I don't like to be taken advantage of or threatened. She has probably done this for years. Trying to make others pay for her shortcomings and threatening them when they call her on it. She picked on the wrong lady.

Beware of this vendor friends.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Stick a Turkey on the Grill and Enjoy an Easy Meal

Why it never occured to me to stick a turkey on the grill, I'll never know. A friend from High School posted on Facebook around Thanksgiving that she grilled her turkey. I was intrigued.

We purchased an additional turkey at Thanksgiving intending to deep fry it on Christmas. Our Christmas plans got changed and the turkey remained in the freezer.

This morning I did a little more research and found out that Elizabeth Karmel, the author of my favorite grilling book ("Taming the Flame"), had a website that had details on how to grill a turkey. Here are the instructions. It seemed to be too easy to be true. I'm happy to report it was as easy as they claimed.

The rule of thumb is 13 minutes per pound. I put it in a disposable roasting pan (doubled up for safety). Although not called for in their recipe, I did do some injecting with Tony Chachere's butter injection. Brushed it down with olive oil, sprinkled it with Kosher salt and a little black pepper. Set my grill to 375. I used the indirect method. In other words, the flame is on both sides of the pan but not directly under it. Don't open the grill during the cooking time. It took 2 hrs. 45 minutes for my 13 pound turkey. I let it sit for 15 minutes covered in foil off the heat to let it get juicy again. Boy was it ever juicy. Check out the picture below.

Conclusion: I still think a fried turkey tastes best, but this was far easier, safer and much more inexpensive (peanut oil is crazy expensive). Using the grill would leave my oven free for other dishes. I will have 4 meals from this turkey. I'm thinking turkey pot pie, turkey noodle soup, turkey sandwiches... the list goes on. I'm also thinking this would be fantastic in the summer. It would keep the kitchen cool and I could make some cool weather meals from the leftover turkey (cold turkey salad, sandwiches, turkey primevera, etc.)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Who Dat? Super Bowl Party Decorating Ideas on a Budget

As a transplanted Cajun, I am thrilled to see the Saints in a Super Bowl! We aren't big football fans but we look for any excuse to host a party. This one was a blast to decorate for!

I am going with a New Orleans Mardi Gras theme and keeping it inexpensive.

We are serving Jambalaya and homeade beignets (called "Third Generation Doughnuts" on this blog). Our guests are helping us out by bringing the chips, drinks and a very healthy veggie tray.
I made a decorated garland for my front door using some grapevine garland, a string of lights, wired ribbon, two black feather boas, a mask, some beads and a fleur de lis cut out. Simple but elegant. I can just take everything off and redecorate for Easter, Thanksgiving... and so on.
My table decorations were just as simple and inexpensive. I used lots of cheap beads and masks.

My chandelier was fun and easy. Lots of wired ribbon, beads, a mask and some inexpensive black streamers. I found some gold wired star garland and wound it around some thin PVC pipe to make the curlie cues that hang from the bottom of the chandelier. I made a bow for the bottom of my chandelier and threw beads all over it. I added a gold mask for the final touch.

The masks and beads do double duty and party favors at the end of the party!

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