Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Rest of My 31 Things

Today, as promised, I give you the rest of the 31 things I did this holiday season:
23.  Took home-made chicken noodle soup to a friend going through chemo-therapy. 
24.  Took pumpkin bread to our new neighbors.  They built a duplex across the street from us, and we hadn’t met the people on one side.  Taking them a Christmas card and pumpkin bread seemed like a good way to meet them. 
25.  Took pumpkin bread to the rest of the neighbors.  We usually take baked goods to all of our neighbors around Christmas, but this year we also stayed and visited, instead of just dropping things off.  We have a neighbor in her 80s, who has lived there since 1960.  She seemed to enjoy the company, and it was neat to hear about how the neighborhood used to be.
26.  Paid for the next person's order at the drive-thru.  I did this one early on, just never got around to posting about it before.  I gave the cashier a note wishing them happy holidays to give to them.
27.  Took pound cake to the people who do security in my office building.  They do a great job, and are really nice, so I thought they needed to know they’re appreciated. 
28.  Took pound cake to the volunteers in my office building.  There are a lot of volunteers who work in the building, and help keep things running smoothly.  They do it simply out of kindness, so I thought they deserved a little something to say thank you.
29 – 31.  Took baked goods, magazines, books, soaps, and a movie to hospice.  I’ve written before about how amazing the people at the hospice house my grandmother was in were.  So we decided to try to do a little something for the staff, and the people there at Christmas.
We baked pound cakes and pumpkin bread to leave in the kitchenette in the family waiting room and for the staff.  My parents came too, and my mom made up little snack bags of Chex Mix and trail mix type things, as well as bringing fresh fruit.  We reasoned that people have to eat, and vending machines can be expensive and unappealing.
We also brought books and magazines for the waiting room, and a holiday movie for the kids’ room, because sometimes you just need a distraction.  We also brought some soaps and lotions for the care packages that they hand out in the beginning.  It wasn’t all that much, but we just wanted to do something. 
And that is the end of my 31 things project.  I’ve enjoyed it.  There were a few times when I wondered if I’d find 31 things I was able to do in the timeframe, but then some random opportunity would present itself.  I think that’s kind of the point, there are opportunities to do little things to make the world a slightly better place.  We just have to alert to them and seize them when we can. 
It also seems that I’m maybe a little obsessed with feeding people, and helping pets is definitely my thing.  It takes all kinds, right?

Monday, December 30, 2013

More of My 31 Things Project

I hope you all had a wonderful time during the Christmas holidays.  Nick had to work on Christmas, but fortunately, he was on day shift, so we were able to have the evening together, as well as his lunch break for lunch and presents with my friend Crystal.
And, I have not abandoned my 31 things project.  I’ve actually been quite diligent about doing the things, just not very diligent when it comes to blogging about them.  Things got a little hectic right before Christmas, and our computer/internet are so slow these days.  It.  Seems. To. Take.  Forever. To Load. One. Post!
So, instead of daily little posts, which was my original plan (one that I think would have been better), I’m going to do two relatively long posts to finish up the 31 things.  It seems that they’re pretty much all food or animal related.  (Can you guess what I’m passionate about?) So, I’ll do all of the animal related ones, and then all of the food related ones tomorrow.
18.  Picked up a dog from a local vet to take to the no-kill shelter.  He was taken in as a stray, with a damaged eye.  The vet’s office fixed him up, and then got in touch with the no kill shelter about taking him.  It’s in the next county, so he needed a ride over.  I arranged to leave work a little early and picked him up to take him to the shelter.
19.  Donated a blanket to the animal shelter.  The colder temperatures seem to be here with a vengeance, and here to stay.  The animal shelter sent out a plea for more blankets to help keep everyone warm, so we donated a blanket.
20.  The no-kill shelter has a thrift store (all of the money goes back into the shelter), so we loaded up a few boxes of things, including a few Christmas decorations we decided we could part with, to take to them.  The money is for a good cause.
21 - 22.  There’s a colony of feral cats living behind a local hardware store here, and there’s a small group of volunteers who feed them.  I became involved with them last year, and Monday is my usual feeding day.  Since Nick had to work on Christmas, I took Christmas as well, so the usual Wednesday feeder could enjoy Christmas morning, uninterrupted with her family.  I also took the cats some treats with their regular food.  It was Christmas!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Number 17 – Donated to PetSmart Charities

(Part of my 31 things project.)
Last weekend we found ourselves in PetSmart to buy food and toys for the fur kids.  I love the fact that PetSmart doesn’t sell kittens or puppies, and that they do a lot for animal rescue groups like giving them space to house pets and hold adoption events.
The group we adopted Milo from is one of the rescue groups that benefits from this, so it hits home.  Because PetSmart chooses to share their space Milo had a safe place to wait for us to come along and adopt him, and so have over a million other pets. 
So when we checked out and the option to donate came up, we gladly gave them a small donation. 

Number 16 – Took A Spaghetti Dinner To Our Next Door Neighbors

(Part of my 31 Things project)
We really hit the jackpot when it comes to neighbors.  We like all of our neighbors, but fortunately we really, really like the people right next door to us.  They’re very friendly and nice, and their kids are extremely well-mannered and well-behaved.  They’re also the neighbors who kind of keep the little traditions that make our little section of the street nice alive: they take cookies to everyone at Christmas, they share things from their garden, and they help the elderly lady on our street with things like walking her dog. 
We usually take them a pound cake around Christmas, but we decided to do something a little different this year.  We took them spaghetti last year when the youngest child was born, and they just went on and on about how much they liked the spaghetti.  We decided to give them the choice this year. 
I called and told her we were thinking about bringing them spaghetti instead of baked goods, but weren’t sure if that was Christmas-y enough, and also wanted to make sure we brought it at a convenient time.  She said that a night off from cooking was a great Christmas gift, and that they loved the spaghetti.  So we took our neighbors a spaghetti dinner.   I know it’s a little unusual for Christmas goodies, but it seemed like what they wanted. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Number 14 & 15 – Took Pumpkin Bread to My Acupuncturist & Office Staff

In the interest of trying to catch up with posting about my 31 things project I’m going to have a few posts that are multiple, related things.
Last week I had my last acupuncture appointment before Christmas.  I really, really like my acupuncturist, Amanda.  She’s very sweet, has done amazing things for my allergies, and was amazingly kind and wonderful during all of my health issues this year. 
She’s in a new office, and the office staff is wonderful as well.  Everyone is always friendly and pleasant, and great about scheduling. 
So I decided to take them pumpkin bread: one loaf for Amanda to take home for her family, and one loaf for the people in the office.  Just a little way to try and let them know that they’re all very much appreciated.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Number 13 – Returned the Extra Christmas Presents We Received In Error

I'm still on track with accomplishing my 31 things this holiday season, I'm just running terribly behind with posting them. 
My sister, Gabrielle, hates to gift wrap so much that she absolutely refuses to do it, so she does the bulk of her Christmas shopping on Amazon and pays for the giftwrap option.  She has been shipping our Christmas presents straight to our house since they’re already wrapped. She’ll be at our house Christmas Day, but it saves her the trouble of having to travel with them.
I think it’s ridiculous how much she’s spending on giftwrap when you consider how cheap wrapping paper is, so I made the suggestion that she not wrap Nick’s presents (he’s a Christmas Eve baby, so she’s also sending his birthday gifts to the house) and I would open the boxes and wrap them. 
When I opened a box last week there was a strange sense of having seen the contents before. It turned out that the box had exactly the same gifts as a box we’d received a few days earlier.  I can’t say what they are because Nick reads my blog, but it’s definitely not anything you would need or want two of. 
I asked a few people if that had ever happened to them, and they said no, but surely Amazon wouldn’t notice, and I should just sell the things on EBay and pocket the extra cash.  I called Gabrielle to make sure she hadn’t been charged twice, and she had not. 
I then called Amazon, and spent a very long time on hold.  The person I talked to said someone calling to say they’d received too much was a new one.  They arranged a UPS pickup and the extra gifts are now on their way back to Amazon. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Number 12 – Brought Pound Cake to Another Department

(Part of my 31 Things project.)
There’s a department that my office works with fairly closely.  They’re all really nice, and do a lot to help us out.  They’re also really patient with us.  So, I thought it would be nice to bring them a cake and let them know that we appreciate how nice and pleasant they are, so Tuesday I brought them a home-made pound cake.

Number 11 - Brought Soup to My Grandparents-In-Law

I think it’s probably safe to say that my husband gets his volunteer spirit from his grandparents.  They’re both retried, but they aren’t sitting at home watching TV.  They are very actively volunteering for various causes including a literacy program, a soup kitchen, and the National Park Service to name a few. 
They’ve recently scaled back their volunteering to keep it to under 40 hours per week, which is still quite a lot, I think.  Mondays are one of their busiest days, and they’re usually pretty tired at the end of the day, so last Monday we brought them soup for dinner so they wouldn’t have to worry about cooking after a long day.  They do so much for others, we wanted to do a little something to make their day a little easier. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Number 10 – Brought a Pound Cake to Our Vet’s Office

(Part of my 31 Things project.)
With five fur kids of our own, and one foster fur kid, we seem to spend a lot of time at the vet’s office, and a lot of time on the phone with the vet’s office.  Everyone at the cats’ vet is super nice, and they make a point to know everyone’s name, which is a really big deal for me. It seems like they care about the fur kids. 
They also put up with Milo’s terrible behavior without complaint.  I think that puts them in the saints category!  Anyway, I thought it might be nice to take them a cake and a card to let them know we appreciate them and everything they do.  So yesterday I dropped off a home-made pound cake for them during lunch.
They seemed very happy with it, and even called later in the day to say how much they all enjoyed it. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Number 9 – Brought A Cake to Our Hair Stylist

I’m still behind in posting about my 31 Things project.  Please be patient with me as I catch up.
I am really, really bad at articulating how I’d like my hair to look.  Hair isn’t really my thing.  I want mine to look nice, but I don’t want to fuss with it much.  My sister would tell you I don’t even brush my hair.  That’s not true, but I don’t spend as much time on it as she seems to think I should.  I also have really straight hair, so a bad (and I’ve had more than a few) cut seems to be really obvious.  It took me a long time to find a hair stylist I really like.
But I finally found Tabitha.  She’s really good at interpreting what I’m trying to say I want my hair to look like.  Anyone else would have probably just shaved my head when I was trying to explain what I wanted for my wedding hairstyle, but not Tabitha.  She turned my gibberish ideas into something that made me feel really pretty.  (She also cut Nick’s hair how I wanted it for our wedding!)   She hasn’t gone up on her (already really good) rates in years, and is just a very sweet person.  She also rescues animals. 
So we decided to take Tabitha a home-made pound cake at our last hair appointment just to wish her happy holidays and to let her know that we appreciate her.  

Monday, December 9, 2013

Number 8 – Bought Dog Food

You had to know there was another animal related post coming as part of my 31 Things project!
The no-kill shelter that we are fostering Duke through provides everything you need to foster a pet; food, crate (if needed), dishes, veterinary care, and medicine.  The idea is that fostering doesn’t become cost prohibitive for anyone.  If you have a home and the desire to share it with an animal in need, they want to make it possible.  You just have to pick up food and any other supplies at the shelter whenever you need them.
We elected not to take food the last time we were there, instead we bought a bag ourselves. A bag of dog food isn’t that much, but it was something we were able to do to help save the shelter a little money, so they can put that toward helping another animal. 

Number 7 – Took Pound Cake To A Friend

We’re friends with an older couple that we like very much.  He recently spent 19 days in the hospital out of town dealing with a serious health issue.  They made it back home in time for a very quiet Thanksgiving. 
We visited yesterday and brought them a home-made pound cake and a cheery Christmas card.  It wasn’t much, but it seemed to brighten their day a little bit. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Number 6 – Giving Away My Shopping Cart (Or Buggy As We Call Them Here)

One of my favorite places to buy groceries is Aldi.  If you’re not familiar, they’re sort of a discount grocery store.  They have really great stuff, but the stores are very “no frills”.  You must bring or buy your own bags, they don’t take credit cards, and you put a quarter in to get your buggy (cart).  When you return the buggy you get your quarter back.  It’s all part of their cost saving strategy, and it seems to work.
It’s not unusual for people to trade buggies and quarters in the parking lot so someone doesn’t have to walk all way back to return their buggy and retrieve their quarter.  It’s also not unusual to see folks carrying a lot more than is reasonable through the store.  I’ve done this myself a time or two when I just couldn’t find a quarter in the unorganized depths of my purse.
Yesterday when I was returning my buggy there was a lady standing in front of the buggy rack digging in her purse.  She had a cane and really didn’t look like she was feeling well (you know how sometimes you can just read pain written on someone’s face?), so I gave her my buggy and told her to have a great day.  

Friday, December 6, 2013

Number 5 – Trying to Help Truffle Find a Home

If you’ve read more than a post or two of mine you’ve probably figured out that I’m something of an animal lover.  So you had to know that some of my 31 Things project would involve animal related things. 
One of the blogs I follow is Animal Shelter Volunteer Life.  It’s a great blog featuring the adoptable cats at a rescue called PAWS.  It’s a well written blog and alternates between featuring cats in need of homes, sharing PAWS success stories, and generally providing a little encouragement for the folks involved in animal rescue. 
One of the recent posts was about a cat named Truffle.  Truffle is 10 years old, and has been at the shelter since 2009.  That is way too long for a cat to be waiting for their furever home. The post asked readers to please share Truffle on various social media outlets in hopes of helping her find her furever home.  So that is what I’m doing.  You can read all about (and see great pictures of) Truffle here or here.  I’ve also shared her story on my Facebook page. 
I’m also asking for your help with this part of my project.  Please take a minute to share Truffle on whatever social media outlet(s) you prefer.  It doesn’t take much time, and you never know if you might be sharing her information with her perfect match.   Adding the right furry family member might just be someone’s biggest Christmas wish. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Number 4 – Made Mashed Potatoes

I'm still running behind in posting about my 31 Things project, but here is number 4. 
Unfortunately Nick had to work on Thanksgiving.  The upside was that he was working days, so we were able to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner later in the day with family. 
He and his co-workers make the best of the working the holidays by bringing in food and sort of having their own celebration with their work family.  I think it’s great that they do that. This year Nick was supposed to bring in mashed potatoes. 
We use the recipe from The New Southern Garden Cookbook by Sheri Castle, and they are fabulous.  Everyone always raves about them whenever we take them to an event.  This year, I made two batches for Nick to take, one for his shift, and one to leave for the night shift.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Number 3 – Contributed to the Local Food Bank

I have not abandoned my 31 Things Project!  I’m actually right on schedule with doing the things, it’s just posting about them that seems to be the challenge.  We had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and the Christmas tree is up, looking happy and festive, as well as providing hours of entertainment for the cats.
Now, on to number 3:
I went out Tuesday night to finish up most of the shopping for Thanksgiving dinner, and the grocery store was asking for donations to the local food bank.  I made a small donation to them because everyone needs dinner.