with Lynne and Leslie
Category Archives: Gifts Idea

Lynne and Leslie Ask Each Other Random Christmas Questions. You Are Welcome.

by SweetMidlife

Merry Christmas from The Sweet Midlife! This has been a year of many ups, and many downs, and we have had a bunch of both in our families. And here we are, at Christmas, determined to have a good holiday not in spite of the losses we have gone through this year, but to savor this holiday BECAUSE we know how precious it is to still have what we do have. We also hold onto the part of the holiday that celebrates the coming of Jesus, and that gives us hope, but even if you don’t celebrate that part, our wish for you is that you find that hope somewhere this season, and find some joy.

Since we can’t be together this Christmas, we, Lynne and Leslie, thought that we would have an online conversation of sorts by asking each other Holiday-themed questions. Let’s see what happens. Leslie answers first.

Leslie being Christmasy.

Leslie being Christmasy.

Lynne asks: “What are you doing tomorrow? Also, Willis, what are you saying?”

Leslie: I am going to a friend’s for dinner and bringing wine. Is it bad when people only want you to bring wine? What are you trying to say, Friend? You’re saying I can’t cook? Boom. I’m making a banana pudding just because and I like it so if you don’t want it I’ll take it. Why am I arguing with myself?

Also…Willis is over your tired question. Since, like, 1979.

Lynne asks: “What is the best Hallmark-y type movie you have watched this year? And was Hayley Duff in it? She is in all the movies. 

Leslie: The only Hayley movie I saw was “His Secret Family,” and it was NOT a Christmas movie. It was a “Girl, background checks! Hello?” movie. Also, when your insane husband who had a secret family says he only needs one family now, he’s coming to kill you. Why are you still in your house? My favorite was “A Baby For Christmas” on Up, because Neil and Drucilla were back together! (Amirite, “Young and the Restless” fans?)

Lynne asks: “Holiday baking question: Why should we believe it’s not butter? Shouldn’t it always be butter?”

Leslie: Butter is the reason I will likely never be vegan. Sorry, cows. I appreciate your service.

Lynne asks: “What was your favorite Christmas memory from our childhood? I can’t wait to hear this.”

Leslie: That time that we didn’t get our tree until Christmas Eve, again, and a family friend said she knew a guy who delivered them door-to-door and I was like “If this tree is fugly we can’t take it back and you’re gonna feel obligated to pay for it and then we have a fugly tree,” but we were all lazy and Daddy was like “I’m not paying for an ugly tree” and sure enough the dude came at like 8 p.m. and it was the Charlie Brown tree’s sicklier cousin. I mean, he was coughing like Satine in “Moulin Rouge!” But we had no more options and we paid for it, because the guy was there and no one wanted to turn it down and seem rude. #getyourtree

Lynne asks: “Snow Miser: Misunderstood Genius over-shadowed by his flashier brother?”

Leslie: Snow Miser is the Jan Brady of Christmas, meaning that he has to discover his own groove. #I’mtoomuch

OK, this is Leslie. Lynne’s turn to answer. Let’s do this.

 

I always feel like a snowman's watching me... actually, I don't. That would be weird.

I always feel like a snowman’s watching me… actually, I don’t. That would be weird.

Leslie asks: “Do you suppose Rudolph ever snapped because of childhood memories of being bullied and then totally used for his nose-glowing, or just waited till he had tenure and started his own rival delivery service? Cause I would have.”

Lynne: I don’t think he snapped. I think that he held onto that and became famous after writing his memoirs, titled “Turn On Your Noselight: How I Overcame Oppression and Now Run This Reindeer Thing.” The alternate title was “How You Like Me Now, Blitzen?”

Leslie asks: “If last Christmas I gave you my heart, but the very next day you gave it away, how did I get it back to be able to give it to someone special? And how bad of a friend was Andrew Ridgely for poaching George’s girl in that video?”

Lynne: I think the guy she gave it to pawned it so he could buy more short-shorts, because that’s what people wore in Wham! videos. George heard it was at the shop, and got it back. And I can’t hate on Andrew. He wanted something to do afterawhile.

Leslie asks: “Is making “My Favorite Things’ into a holiday song just a naked ode to materialism? And would Maria approve?”

Lynne: It might be. Maria was all about recycling, hence curtain-based playclothes. And you didn’t ask, but I feel like I should shout out to The Baronness. Whattup, Barronness. Oh, what if Maria remade Salt N Pepa’s “I’ll Take Your Man” and sang it to the Baronness and had Gretel as her own Spinderella? Huh? I would buy that record.

Leslie asks: “Where is this Barnes and Noble that Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett hang out, and can you think of any other duo it would be fun to run into while holiday shopping?”

Lynne: I WISH I could run into them, but if they showed up at our B&N, we probably would have missed them because we had to go home because we wouldn’t let the 3 year-old eat all the Starbucks cake pops.

Leslie asks: So what’s your favorite Christmas memory at Casa Streeter?

So many. Ooh, you started it with the Christmas Eve tree procrastination-turned-tradition tales. There was the year we waited so late on Christmas Eve to get our tree from the lot at the parking lot of Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, where the Orioles and Colts used to play, and by the time we got there, the dude who worked there had gone home and left all of the trees there for people to take for free.. And this was before everyone had cell phones, but I remember people on their carphones (Daddy had one!) calling their friends going “Pookie! You better come get you a tree, Yo. It’s free!”

SO, thus concludes Streeter Twin Christmas Convo time. What’s your favorite Christmas memory?

 

 

 

 

 


Say What? Saturday: The five things I swear I’m getting done today

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here!

It’s Saturday, the one day no one really wants to have a “to-do” list, but whose scheduling fluidity lends itself to doing stuff. And not the stuff I like to do on Saturdays, which include eating leftovers and watching “Blue Bloods” reruns.

OK…I admit it : I’ve already done those things, which leave now the non-fun stuff. So in the tradition of accountability, here are five things that I need to get together today. I want y’all to hound me about this and say “Leslie, did you deal with that well-dressed teddy bear yet?” And hopefully I won’t say “Yes” and be lying because y’all don’t live with me and how would you know?

dishes

1) Calling the dishwasher repair guy. To avoid this situation.

boca

2) Evicting some of these unemployed animals from the “gated community” of the kid who hangs out with us, because of overcrowding.

scarf bear

3) Putting away my laundry and random clothes that are squatting on my couch, including this scarf I just bought, modeled by the lovely and talented Sweater Bear.

rental car

4) Cleaning out this rental car so that I can return it to the shop where my husband’s car is sitting all ready to bring home, so I’m not throwing stuff in bags at the car lot because tacky.

me

5) Going to my Crossfit class so I can keep looking like this and not like a black Oompaloompa.


Wedding week: Be a cheerful giver…and getter

by SweetMidlife
There is no ticket price on a wedding invitation. 

Leslie here!

I remember being blown away as a young adult when I found out how a bridal gift registry worked.

“So you’re saying that I go into a store, look up things I want, write them down and then people buy me what I asked for?”

“Yep.”

“What sweet madness is this?”

By the time I got to fill out my own gift registry, it was almost two decades later, and I’d been on the other side of that sweet madness many, many times. I thought that having experience buying gifts for people made me pretty judicious in what I asked from other people, as in: I felt that my job as a wedding guest was to buy you a gift, preferably one you had asked for, that did not make me look cheap without putting my rent in jeopardy. I learned, especially when I was younger, that you had to jump on the registry and buy the less-expensive nice gifts first or someone was going to beat you to it. And if a bride ONLY had high dollar items on the registry, I either bought a $50 gift certificate or went in with friends.

So as a bride, I was very careful to have a range of things I registered for, in price and in fanciness. I was almost 39 when I got married, so while I already had towels and plates, I registered for some that could establish us as a new household. However, I didn’t go crazy and say “Y’all better buy me $50 a piece towels,” because it is not anyone else’s responsibility to buy my fancy towels. Of course, the registry is just a suggestion, as far as I was concerned. While there were a couple of things we got where we were like “Uh, OK!” we accepted everything cheerfully and gratefully.

Because they were gifts.

And not legal obligations.

Or compensation or reimbursement for the money we spent on the wedding.

I’ve read some horror stories online on sites like HellsBells, where people submit hideous stories of bad wedding etiquette, about wedded ingrates who start email battles with guests whose gifts they consider unworthy of the money they spent on their meal, or of one idiot who tried to return a beautifully presented “wedding cake” made of the towels HE AND HIS FIANCEE HAD REGISTERED FOR to the co-worker who had painstakingly assembled it, because they didn’t want “artsy crafty” gifts.

And expected her to buy them something else.

What?

Nobody had to buy me crap. But they did. And when they did, we thanked them and moved on, particularly because we got enough cash to buy our own towels if we decided to. A wedding invitation should not have a dollar sign on it. All you need to do is RSVP in time to ensure that I don’t pay for your dinner if you’re not gonna show, and then just show up and not start a fist fight in the buffet line or cuss out my grandmother. That’s it. Gifts are usually expected, but if you don’t give me one, the wedding’s already been paid for so while it’s not the custom, it’s not like I need your check. And unless your gift is a rotting bag of oranges, illegal substances or something I gave you with the price tag scratched off, it’s cool.

Feeling this way does not make me perfect or a martyr. It just makes me a grown-up, I hope, because my wedding didn’t roll out the way I’d planned, requiring me to adjust my definition of gift. After my husband and I had paid the deposit on the hotel where we’d be married and started telling people the date, we found that he had a tumor in his ear for which his insurance would not cover the surgery to remove, as it was a pre-exisiting condition. After about a week of worry, we decided to get married in the same place we’d planned, with the dress I’d purchased and as many people as we could get from the original guest list…just several months earlier.

Immediately, we called our loved ones, most of whom lived several states and a couple of hundred dollars of plane tickets away, and said “We love you and want you here, but we understand that you now have four weeks rather than five months to buy plane tickets or bridesmaids dresses or gifts. You now have to decide what to do with your kids who were invited for what was supposed to be a summer wedding, when they were out of school, but who will now still be in school. You have to rearrange possible vacation days, or check your calendar. We know we are asking a lot of you, so understand that we mean it when we say…if you cannot make it we will never be mad about that. And if you come, particularly if it’s going to cost you more to come now than it would during the summer…consider that your gift.”

And we meant it. But you would not believe the gifts that we got – the gift of the friend who called Costco and personally ordered my flowers, and then yelled at them for a refund when they screwed it up. The gift of a song that a friend learned to play for our recessional. The gift of free photography from friends who usually charge thousands, or of wedding planning from a friend who had charged that much professionally to do the same. The gift of various wedding party members running out to buy last-minute candles, to pick up out of town guests I’d forgotten to update on changed plans. The gift of my grandma, who didn’t think she could travel after surgery but who, on a fixed income, got clearance and bought a last minute ticket anyway which wasn’t cheap, even at senior prices.

These are gifts that are given out of love, that cost money and time and effort and organization. They are not sold at Pottery Barn. There is no gift certificate for “fill out place cards the morning of the wedding at the bride gets stuffed into her dress.” That’s a gift, nonetheless.

And I wouldn’t exchange them. They are priceless.


Enjoyable: New Socks!

by SweetMidlife

This is the latest in “Enjoyable”, a series of posts that shines the spotlight on life’s ordinary joys.

Lynne here! Happy Ho,Ho, Ho to you.

Every year, my Grandma James gives her kids and grandkids the same themed gifts, and it’s always something that we need. One year, everybody got pajamas.  And yesterday, I opened up my gift (wrapped by my Aunt Timmae), and inside it were 6 pairs of trouser socks.  Lovely trouser socks.  I LOVE new socks.  They feel good, and they are pre-snag, pre-fuzz, pre-run-in-them, and most importantly, there are 2 of them.  Before one escapes through the holes in the dryer and goes off to Single Sock Land. I am sure it exists. Stop laughing. New socks hold the promise that, at least for a little bit, I will do my job to keep them together, and this means that I will be able to find a pair of matching ones as soon as I open the drawer.  No more searching for the other one, and no more holding up socks that almost match and deciding that I can get away with earing them because I am wearing long pants. Not that I have done that. No, I totally have.  Anyhoo, new socks are wonderful, and a bit luxurious, and my Grandma rocks. That is all.


That is so not cute, Part 2 or Shut up, little girl!

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here! Lynne, my partner in ranty ranticism, a thing I just now made up but that you totally get the gist of, got us started yesterday with her pondering on the advertising value of nasty children. I, too, have found myself screaming “Shut up, little girl!” at various TV commercials featuring the most sour, inappropriately familiar, parent-shaming little brats. In my family, they’d be at the very least sent to their rooms for, like, ever. But apparently someone on Madison Avenue believes that there is money to be made trafficking in demanding little harpy creatures who tell their families exactly what they want in the most disrespectfully matter-of-fact terms.

I’m not sure what the draw is – is the assumption that children are now horrible because our collective permissive parenting sucks, and these Children Of The Corn are supposed to be just like your own little personal Chuckie at home, somehow endearing you to their familiar awfulness? If I saw my kids in these brats, like the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese creatures who dead-seriously accuse their parents of “stealing”  “their” food, when the parents presumably bought said food, and prepared said food in the pots and pans that they bought in the house they paid for, with the electricity they pay for, I’d break into shameful hives, scramble the kids into counseling/exorcism, and apologize to everyone I ever inflicted them on. And then I’d get some sort of counseling myself.

For sucking.

Last holiday season, eBay ran this offensive, awful ad where a young “lady” sings a cute little rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” to her family about the gifts she hated in the past and what she will and will not accept. This is hilarious to me because it assumes that A) we all believe that you deserve a gift automatically by existing and that B) telling me not only what you want but what you will and will not accept and that my previous expendutures of cash on your little ungrateful butt have not only not been appreciated but have qualified me for public shaming.

Hold up, little girl. Let’s get this straight. You just outed me as sucking and basically submitted a musical list of demands like I work for you, and you expect me to buy you something? Are you kidding me? Are you kidding yourself? Are you stupid? Because if I don’t throw my drink at you and storm out immediately, I’m the stupid one.

The other thing that galls me about this ad, and the Kraft one where the absolutely humorless kid confronts his mother’s book group about stealing his mac and cheese as if they tied him up in his room and raided his pockets, is the public nature of it. Talking to your parents like that is bad enough. Talking to them in front of extended family and friends is embarrassing, shaming and should make parents cringe. It should not make them spend money to appease those kids.

I am not a parent, but I am a godmother, auntie and family friend. I cannot control the way that the kids that I love are taught to be grateful, but I have impressed upon the little ones on whom I dote the following: I love you. I love spending time with you. I like spending money on you. But I am neither a Website or an ATM. You are owed my protection and love. You are NOT owed money, or some specific thing that you want. You don’t get to demand things from me. You don’t get to tell me what you’re going to order and get mad when I tell you to pick something else. You don’t get to demand a gift before I even get out of the car, because that means me and the gift are getting back in the car and going back to the store. You certainly don’t get to open a gift I gave you and ask how much it cost. All of these things will get you a talking to, or no gift at all.

I owe you my love. My love may be presented sometimes in the form of a gift. But that gift is not my love. And that gift is not an obligation. And if you don’t get that…you don’t get a gift.

And I’m eating the frigging mac and cheese. In your face.


First date on Valentine’s? It can actually work!

by SweetMidlife

 

This pic wasn’t their first date, but this was also a memorable one :).


Leslie here! I had to chuckle during last night’s “Gossip Girl” when a girl told a would-be suitor that it was a little cheesy to ask someone out for a first date on Valentine’s Day. That’s because I had that same conversation with a guy who asked me out for a date that was to be three years ago, today, February 14, 2009.

He didn’t care. I said yes, because he didn’t seem to be going away.

And at the end of this month, we celebrate our second wedding anniversary. So I’d say it was a good date.

The reason I had for rejecting a V-Day first date was that it seemed to put so much pressure on that date – I mean, it’s just the most supposedly romantic day of the year, where poor suckers lovers sink loads of money and thought into making this one day perfect, when the onus should be on making the whole year that way. You don’t get to be a jerk to me as long as you were extra sweet one day of the year.

But it worked out – not because he didn’t go all out. He sure did. But it was in ways that he knew meant something to me, a combination of grand gestures (a fancy dinner at a vegetarian restaurant, because he knew that’s the kind of food I liked; red roses and organic lollipops to reference the song “Lollipops and Roses,” which Natalie Cole had sung at a concert we’d gone to the night before (supposedly just as friends)) and normal, low-key fun (walking on the beach, talking about soap operas). He got the giddy romantic part right, which was appropriate for the day, and the “let’s just talk and get to know each other” part right too.

And that’s what we have to remember. If you were single yesterday, don’t be extra bummed because you’re single today. It’s just a day. A nice day for some, an albatross for others. But in the end, it should just be a reminder that there is love out there, love to be cherished and enjoyed and hugged. And don’t worry if you haven’t found it yet. It can find you. On any day.


Cool Gift For Your Kids or Your Sweetie or Whoever. Just Cool.

by SweetMidlife

It’s Lynne.

So, I have been wanting to run something about my beautiful friend Artist Jamie for awhile.  She is a graphic painter/artist/crafter/blogger/amazing friend who did the decorations for my wedding last year, and we  wanted to give you guys ideas for your own weddings. Haven’t done that yet, but we thought that Christmas was a PERFECT time to introduce you to Jamie’s fab, creative self because she has a beautiful thing she does that makes a beautiful gift….

11" x 14" Personalized Subway Art Canvas

They are called Subway Art Canvasses, and they are canvas pieces that you can customize with your favorite words to let the people in your life know how you feel about them. Jamie did this one for a kid family member, so he could remember all of the wonderful things he is. And looky, she did the one below for me! It was a wedding anniversary gift for my husband, with the words of our first dance song on them.  It was a neat updating of the traditional paper gift for first anniversaries, and he LOVED it.

16" x 20" Personalized Subway Art Canvas

Cool, eh? They come in three different sizes, and will really make anybody’s day.  It is good to tell the people in our lives how we feel about them, and there is something extra-special about having that printed up all pretty-like so they can refer back to it. Shoot, I think they make a good gift for YOU: put up your favorite saying, Bible verse, or even big giant picture on it and display it as decoration. We can inspire OURSELVES, can’t we? Check them out and buy one here on Jamie’s shop on Etsy (it’s like Ebay for handmade goods). Ooh, you should also check out Jamie’s blog, The Creative Imperative, a really neat place  with do-it-yourself ideas for painted things, crafts and other at-home projects.  It’s very refreshing and honest, and Jamie makes even non-crafty people like me feel like they can do cool projects (and my arts projects are loved only by my mother).  So, check her stuff out and support cool people doing cool stuff, and in the process, you can learn how to do cool stuff too. See, everybody wins!!


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