Thursday, January 17, 2019

Nothing Says Loving . . .

Not like something from the oven, but like cards, cute(?) stuffed toys, and candy if you believe merchandisers who think this is what people want for their loved one(s) — and maybe some do. Personally speaking, none of this is for Grenville and myself who agree that love should be celebrated every day. 

This post is a couple of weeks late. The photos were taken a couple of weeks ago Most local stores began marketing Valentine's Day paraphernalia several days before New Year's Day was observed. 

A nearby major card retailer had this large display ready on December 27. Here's a name hint from the store's popular tagline: "When you care enough to send the very best." (Did you guess the store name?)
Not to be outdone, several other retail stores also had V-Day cards for sale filling racks once filled with Christmas cards within a few days after that holiday.
A local pharmacy retail store relocated its marked-down Christmas items to showcase these new gift ideas. Teddy bears and ostriches flamingoes (thanks Sandra) seemed an odd combination. The bears are a long-time favorite but who thought of flamingoes?
There were other choices too. Perhaps the love of your life would prefer Charlie Brown or Snoopy as a symbol of your love? And Minnie and Mickey Mouse were also available. These these toys looked charming, but what's the market?
And, if bears and cartoon characters don't do it, there's always puppy dogs. Admittedly, these were not the cutest toys I'd ever seen and since when are puppies pink?
Of course, what would Valentine's Day be without candy in heart-shaped boxes and there was quite a selection available everywhere.
My personal preference would be peanut butter hearts, which we recently enjoyed in the shape of Christmas trees. Soon, these will be replaced with peanut butter Easter eggs.
If folks needed colorful packaging for cards, toys, and candies, those were available too.
I don't know about most of you reading this post, but when I was growing up (eons ago) there was none of this hyped-up merchandise. Valentine cards were exchanged in grade school and also small multi-colored candy hearts with fun messages. 

Sweethearts is their "official" name although they’re also called conversation hearts. These treats have a history dating to 1847 and it  started here in New England. 

Oliver Chase, a Boston pharmacist, wanted to get in the apothecary lozenge business. He learned that they had a manufacturing process that required a mortar and pestle, kneading and rolling dough, then cutting it into discs that became lozenges.

Chase invented a machine for the process and then started a candy factory, leaving the pharmacy business to produce what became Necco wafers, named after the his New England Confectionary Company.

In 1866, his brother, Daniel, joined the business and designed a machine to add words on the candies like: “Married in pink, he will take a drink,” “Married in white, you have chosen right” and “Married in satin, love will not be lasting.” The candies were usually featured at weddings.
The candies became heart-shaped in 1901 and messages were shortened to: “Kiss Me,” “It’s Love,” “True Love” and “Call Me.” Today, they’re always being updated. In the 1990s, Necco’s VP added: “Email me” and “FAX me.”The company annually receives hundreds of message suggestions. (YouTube videos show the production process and color mixing.)

Why are these candies so popular year-to-year?

Some think it's because it allows people to give loving hearts in friendship or as a love message. Many, like myself, recall getting them in grade school. Even those who don’t eat candy now have commented that the candies return them to childhood.

In terms of dollar sales, Valentine's Day is the third biggest holiday/season for the U.S. candy industry. According market researchers, it lags behind Easter and Halloween, which are also 1-day observances.

Grenville and I are planning a getaway after hearts day to celebrate it and my earlier Feb birthday.

How will you be celebrating this year? 

Friday, January 11, 2019

Not So Funny . . .

It's a fact that (sadly) nothing lasts forever, including U.S. postal rates.

So, if you have any February mailing events coming up, think Valentines, birthday cards and packages, you might want to mail a bit early — by the last Saturday of this month. 

It's a win-win situation, not only will those you get them be able to enjoy them longer but mailing U.S. cards and packages earlier can save you some $. 

And who doesn't like that?

For anyone who hasn't yet know — some (not all) U.S. postal rates will increase on Sunday, Jan 27 (when post offices are closed). Unless you've pre-bought Forever stamps, the cost of mailing a 1st class letter will be 55 cents vs. the current 50 cents.

The almost good news is that the higher fees will not affect all 2019 postage costs, some will go down or remain the same; postal fees vary by the type of service used. That said, here's the most notable changes as of January 27, 2019:
  • First-class mail letter (1 oz.) will be 55 cents: highest percentage rise since 1991 when it rose from 25 to 29 cents. 
  • Added letter ounce costs decrease: each additional oz. drops from 21 to 15 cents. Mailing a 2-ounce letter will be 70 cents vs the current 71 cents.
  • Postcard card rates remain the same: 35 cents. 
  • Priority Mail prices jump by an average 5.9 percent: a small flat-rate Priority Rate box now $7.20 will cost $7.90; a medium Priority Rate box now $13.65 goes to $14.35. 
  • Priority Mail Express fees are up 3.9 percent: if mailing an ASAP envelope, the rate goes from $24.70 to $25.50. 
WHY These Increases?
The USPS isn't funded by taxpayer dollars, but operates on the sale of its products and services. According to online sources, in 2018, the U.S. Postal Service lost nearly $4 billion citing losses to drops in mail volume and pension and health care costs. This was the 12th consecutive year that it reported a loss despite a growth in package shipping. 

As a frequent card writer, I use a lot of stamps and pre-bought holiday stamps for 2019 a couple of weeks ago. This week, I'm writing out February birthday and anniversary cards using 50-cent Forever stamps purchased in 2018. I will be buying more stocking up on stamps (at the 50-cent rate) before Jan 27. 

How about other U.S. postal users — will you stock up too or send less mail in 2019?

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Resolved or NOT?

By definition, a New Year's resolution is a tradition in which someone resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal, or otherwise improve his/her life.

Sounds ambitious don't you agree? Most of us have made resolutions in the past. Many of us or at least some of us have actually stuck to a few during years past, myself included. By the same token, some of us, myself also included, have not. If thinking about them counts, then I've mentally succeeded; however most of those have not been kept for even a month week.

What is it about these New Year's Resolutions that dooms many to failure? Maybe there are too many to keep within a year or maybe it's the "title" that's a bit daunting or unnerving and dooms many to fail not follow through.

I'm sure you know about many "standard" ones that repeat annually, such as: lose weight, exercise more, sleep more, eat healthier, read more, spend less, save more, pray more, think positive, enjoy life, spend time (with family/friends) and so on. It seems that many (if not all) of these should be done without fail. Years ago the list also included stop smoking, but that goal is not as prevalent these days.

For 2019, here's my short to-dos, more or less, as above.
  • write more
  • listen more
  • look more
  • talk less
  • finish projects
Short is good and maybe more do-able too.

How about you — made any to-dos of your own ?

Sunday, January 6, 2019

It WAS a Very Good Year

To paraphrase the song title composed by Ervin Drake and popularized by Frank Sinatra, we had a TERRIFIC year in 2018. (Spoiler alert, this is another photo-laden post with many previously posted images.) 

(It Was a Very Good Year was first recorded by a member of the Kingston Trio and featured on a 1961 album. This recording reportedly influenced Sinatra to want to record one. It's been recorded by other artists including Ray Charles, The Turtles, Chad and Jeremy, Lou Rawls, Della Reese, Shirley Bassey, Herb Alpert, Wes Montgomery. Drake's inspiration in writing the song was said to be his then future wife, Edith Vincent Bermaine, a showgirl, whom he had dated, and then married 20 years after the song was written.)

NOW, back to our very good 2018 — it was filled with family, friends and experiences.

It was the year we became home-less (in a good way) and finally sold our VA Eastern Shore home after a few years and several realtors. We had already relocated to our current mill apt in Nashua, NH, so no longer having long-distance home ownership concerns was a huge relief. Yes, it was a beautiful home which we lovingly updated and modernized, but 12 years of living in a town of 500 residents left us wanting more to do and see.

The wedding of our youngest niece, Jamie, took place in early June in our home state of NJ. It would be followed a short 4 months later by the wedding of her sister, Julie. My brother was very relieved that there's no more daughters to be wed.

In between these family weddings. The summer of 2018 (mid July to the end of August) was taken up with cross-country travel. We drove from Nashua, NH to Springfield, Oregon. The goal was to visit friends who suggested we come for a glass of wine. (It seemed like a good great idea at the time.)

The trip was filled with a lot of sights: largest boot, a cowboy museum and a mustard museum NV and OH), a Thai Temple (WI), world's largest 6-pack of beer (MN), 2 prisons (IN and WY), 2 auto museums IN and NV). We drove through 20 states, visited 5 state capitals and took 2 boat trips on the mighty Mississippi River. We also found sought out as many ice cream places as we could in each state — our defense excuse was that our travel was all during the hot summer months. (We can highly recommend Culver's in the Midwestern states and always stopped at one.) And we "discovered" cheese curds in WI.

We spent time with family members on both sides of our family. And, unlike some occasions when families gather, all these times were for celebrations and/or holidays. The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays included seeing nearly all of our immediate family members who live in CT, NJ, PA, RI and sharing good times together.
Thankfully, we were able to spend time with friends in several states, including CO, NJ, MN, OR, and PA.

As much as last year was a very good wonderful year in so many other ways too. We're looking forward to see what 2019 will bring and hope that it will be as good or better (if that's possible). 

This is the year we will both reach milestone birthdays (winter & summer). In mid-April, we celebrate the 22nd anniversary of our first date and in early fall, it's our 20th wedding anniversary. (Readers of this blog know from past posts that we celebrate both dates.) A couple of trips are in the talking-about stages.
Cheers to Everyone for your very good New Year in 2019.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Friday Funnies

This statue was definitely for the birds.
This 1st 2019 Friday Funny was taken during a pre-holiday visit to neighboring Milford, NH. Birds were flocking to the top of the Odd Fellows building in the town square.

Keep Smiling, and
Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Welcome 2019

Our THANKS to fellow bloggers who read and commented on our posts last year. 
We had a year of adventures and experiences and enjoyed sharing them with you.
Our best wishes to YOU for a 2019 full of wonder and joy.
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