Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thanksgiving Back in the Day Vs. Now: The More Things Change...

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I love the food, the cheer, the time spent with family. Some of my best childhood memories are of my Thanksgivings past, all viewed from the kids’ table of course. Now that I have a daughter, I am more and more aware of how things have changed since I was little, in some ways for the better. For years I thought I didn’t like sweet potatoes because the ones we had back in the 70s were dumped out of a big, purple and orange can and smothered in mini-marshmallows. The millennial roasted, organic garnet yam version is WAY better.
 But as they say, as much as things change, they also stay the same.

Here’s a little side by side comparison of Thanksgiving back in the day and Thanksgiving now:

Then: Bundle up the kids and drive across town to Grandma’s House. Over the river and through the woods and all that. 
Now: Pack up the entire family, kennel the dogs, rush to the airport, endure an hour long security line, almost miss your plane and then fly across the country to grandma’s house. On the busiest travel day of the year of course.

Then: Throw the Butterball in the oven until it’s done.
Now: Brine the farm-raised, humanely slaughtered, organic turkey in a mixture of wine, Himalayan salt, juniper berries and star anise. Wrap it in grass-fed butter soaked cheese cloth after inserting decorative herb leaves under the skin and roast gently in a convection oven. Glaze with a chipotle spiked pomegranate molasses.

Then: Cranberry sauce plops right out of the can onto the dish with convenient lines for slicing!
Now: Are these cranberries GMO?
Then: All the young men in the family have perms and mustaches and want to do The Hustle.
Now: All the young men in the family look Amish, complete with huge beards, have at least one ear tunnel and want to be organic farmers and run their own CSAs.

Then: You don’t eat meat? Well here, turkey’s not meat, it’s poultry. No? Ok, have some stuffing then. It’s not made with meat. Just some broth. What’s the big idea here? Are you voting for Carter or something?
Now: Oh my God, should we get the vegetarians a Field Roast or Tofurkey? Or make a lentil loaf and serve it in an acorn squash? Is Field Roast gluten free?

Then: Football!! Let’s go play outside and then come inside and watch the game.
Now: Umm, HELLO?? Have you never heard of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy? How about some Montessori games on the iPad for the kids instead? And can we go ironically retro and maybe watch The Sound of Music on Apple TV instead?

Then: Everyone’s in an uproar because Cousin Earl is showing off his tattoo that he got in the Navy. Rumors are going around that Cousin Kevin might be, you know, G. A. Y. because he has an earring.
Now: Everyone has a tattoo. The baby practically has a tramp stamp and look at Grandma rocking her new ink over there as she mashes those potatoes. And by the way, Cousin Kevin IS gay, every guy at the table has an earring or two or three, Cousin Katie has her nipple pierced and a beauty mark stud and no one cares about any of it. Except maybe Grandpa but he’s too busy trying to find out what in the devil this Brazilian wax nonsense is that everyone’s been talking about. What in the dickens is the matter with folks? Back in his day, a man appreciated a lady with a nice, full…GRANDPA STOP IT!!

Then: Well, we might hit the K-Mart or Sears tomorrow to see if they have any sales going on.
Now: We’re having dinner at one in the afternoon because we need to get the dishes washed and the food put away because the Mall opens at five pm and BLACK FRIDAY STARTS THURSDAY EVENING, BITCHES. I AM GETTING A FLAT SCREEN TV FOR TWO DOLLARS THIS YEAR IF IT’S THE LAST THING I DO! And don’t think I won’t cut somebody if I have to.

Then: The kids are putting on an adorable reenactment of the first Thanksgiving. Aww, look at the little Pilgrims and Indians learning to share and live together in harmony.
Now: No way are we going to propagate a fake fairy tale story that did not happen in order to sugar coat the facts about how a bunch of bigoted, intolerant religious fanatics came over here from Europe to steal the native tribes’ land and kick off a centuries long, brutal genocide. Plus, they didn’t even have turkey back then. I’m sorry but Squanto was eating acorns, oysters and freakin’ squirrels.

Then: Polaroids and flash bulbs. Get around to dropping the film off at the Fotomat after Christmas. Hopefully. Then maybe by Easter someone will finally manage to stick all the pictures into a big, vinyl covered photo album.
Now: Instagram this immediately. Tag me. Delete that! I look fat. Untag me! Did you post that without asking me? Oh my God! How many likes did we get?   #FamilyThanksgiving2014 #OMGSoFull  #YesIAteThat 

Then: Kids arguing over the wishbone.
Now: Everyone takes a turn doing a wishbone selfie.

Then: Green bean casserole! Sneak all the crunchy onions off the top!
Now:   Green bean casserole. Sneak all the crunchy onions off the top!

Then: Grandpa’s wearing a leisure suit and bitching about taxes, Democrats and gas prices.
Now: Grandpa is still wearing a leisure suit and bitching about taxes, Democrats and gas prices.

Then: Ehn, we’ll probably go cut down a tree in a couple weeks and get it up in time for Christmas, once we untangle all the darned strings of Christmas lights we tossed in a cardboard box in the basement.
Now: That sucker’s been up since Halloween. Pre-lit, for the win.

Then: Here have a slice of Mrs. Smith’s Pumpkin Pie with some Cool Whip on top.
Now: How about a pumpkin spice latte with pumpkin spice oreos, pumpkin spice Pringles, pumpkin spice Milano cookies, pumpkin spice kale chips, pumpkin spice coffee with pumpkin spice creamer to go in it, pumpkin spice bagels with pumpkin spice cream cheese, pumpkin spice hummus, pumpkin spice marshmallows and pumpkin spice m&ms? And if your skin feels a little dry we also have pumpkin spice hand cream which goes nicely with our pumpkin spice candles, pumpkin spice air freshener and pumpkin spice shampoo.

Then: You got out of bed excited to see Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Bullwinkle and Kermit float down Broadway in the Macy’s Parade. You were really excited to see the Rockettes too and if the reception was bad you were totally willing to hold the tin foil on the rabbit ears so you didn’t miss a thing.
Now: You get out of bed excited to see Pikachu, Sponge Bob and some freaky looking, faceless, silver rabbit thing floating down Central Park South. And okay, you’re still really excited to see The Rockettes and if the satellite goes out on the TV it’s fine. You can live stream the parade on your laptop.

Then: Your family’s nuts, you’re stuffed, you’re happy and most of all, you’re thankful for everything.
Now: Your family’s nuts, you’re stuffed, you’re happy and most of all, you’re thankful for everything.


Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The Bouqs - Product Review!

This post contains affiliate links and I was given a free bouquet of flowers in exchange for an honest review.

I always said that if I were really rich that I would always have fresh flowers in all the rooms of my home. I would change them seasonally, have themed flowers, flowers growing, cut flowers. I really love flowers. I'm definitely not one of those girls who complains about flowers being impermanent or that red roses are unoriginal. I love them all. Flowers are one of the ways to my heart. Another tip? Give me chocolate AND flowers and I'm pretty much putty in your hands. But anyway...

I also like to send flowers to other people. Unfortunately this is usually cost prohibitive and difficult. A long time ago I used Hallmark Flowers exclusively to send arrangements mostly to my grandmothers or for funerals, etc. They were reasonable, reliable and had consistent quality but then, unfortunately, Hallmark discontinued their flower department. I tried Martha Stewart with okay results, but she too discontinued her flower service. FTD and the like were left but I often found them to be expensive and really unreliable. You'd order one thing and get something totally different, which sucks and can be embarrassing so honestly, I stopped sending people flowers through the mail. I only deliver them in person now. That's kind of sad though because there are many occasions where I want someone far away to receive a bouquet.

Luckily, I think I may have found a solution.

A couple months ago (sorry guys) The Bouqs, a new floral delivery service, contacted me and offered to let me pick out a free bouquet of flowers from their web site in exchange for a review. Great, I thought, because as I said before, I LOVE flowers!

The first thing about The Bouqs that impressed me was their aggressive marketing skills, but we all know that without a great product your marketing skills amount to nothing but BS. For me to be really impressed, these guys needed to deliver. Umm, literally I guess since we're talking mail order flowers.

When I went on their website to choose my free review bouquet (okay not totally because I had to pay for shipping, but that's fine) I was really impressed. A lot of times I get frustrated when I try to order anything online. Sometimes site layouts can be confusing and annoying and I have a hard time finding what I'm looking for. Not here. These guys have their site organized beautifully and it's not too cluttered. You can easily see the products and prices and the ordering instructions are simple and pretty much hassle-free. Big plus to me because I kind of hate shopping and filling out online forms. If something is even remotely annoying to fill out I will usually say, screw it and give up. I'm kind of ADD like that.

The best part for me, and I honestly thought this was genius, was that when you look at each bouquet they offer, you can see customers' pictures of the same products. I LOVED this idea because look, we all know catalog style photos aren't totally realistic. I would rather see a real customer's actual photo of their actual bouquet and how they displayed it. I found this enormously helpful. Loved, loved, loved this idea. You can also go on Instagram and search the hashtags #bouqs and #bouqslove to see real photos of the flowers.

I chose the Confetti Bouquet and I picked this one because I thought for reviewing purposes I should pick something basic and yet colorful and probably roses since people most commonly send roses. They arrived in a big box via Fed Ex a couple days later. They were heavily packaged and the stems were coated in some kind of gel that keeps the flowers alive and fresh and even though I live in stinking hot Florida the flowers were cold when they arrived so I'm guessing they ship them refrigerated somehow? Anyway, the flowers were very sturdy and healthy but be careful unwrapping roses. These had a lot of very big thorns and I kept getting poked. I kind of wish they could clip some of those off before sending them, at least the giant ones, but that might be labor intensive.

Here is one word of caution. When you order flowers from The Bouqs you are not ordering from a traditional florist where the flowers come already prepared and arranged for you in a vase. You or your recipient need to find your own vases and the arranging is up to you once you get the flowers out of the box. I don't particularly mind this, especially if I'm saving money but for a more romantic occasion where you want the showy arrangement with the balloons and the crystal vase and the whole shebang you might want to go with a traditional florist instead. I'm just saying.

My flowers were very fresh. They really seemed like they were picked and immediately packed and sent and I was glad to see they weren't wilty and that they had thick, strong stems. These flowers arrived in very good shape. I cut their stems, divided them into a few different vases for different rooms and by the next day they had all fully opened. So pretty. I was really happy that I chose The Confetti because they were very colorful. I'm big on color and I got a good variety. My favorite were the lavender roses.

They lasted about a week. I probably should have tossed them after six or seven days but I got attached so at ten days, when they were truly a lost cause and getting stinky I threw them away. But I was sad to see them go. Some people have luck drying roses, but I didn't feel like doing that.

Now here are my criticisms. I pride myself on doing complete honest reviews. I think my readers deserve that and if I'm going to recommend something I'm going to tell you the truth. I think some of the arrangements are too pricy especially because you can run down to your nearest Trader Joe's or Whole Foods and get the same thing. For instance, check out my favorite arrangement from the current holiday themes. It's five sunflowers. For fifty dollars. Seriously?? You can get that at the grocery store for around $12.99 here and cheaper at Trader Joe's where I've seen comparable sunflower bouquets for as low as $5.99. A lot of the bouquets are prices competitively and reasonably, but some, like this one, are not. I think The Bouqs could do a little better there.

My other issue is not so much a criticism but more of a wish list. I wish The Bouqs offered a little more obvious theming. I like to send flowers that are obvious to the occasion or holiday. If you click on holiday themes now you are led to a page of orange bouquets gleaned from other collections. I think this is an area where The Bouqs needs improvement. If I could get a really nice, Thanksgiving arrangement I would totally order it but I want something that says Thanksgiving more than just the color orange, you know? Maybe some wheat, some berries of some sort, fall leaves? I am anxious to see what they will offer for Christmas. I'd like to see some poinsettias, holly and pine and something uniquely beautiful that cannot be found faster and cheaper at the grocery store.

Other than that, I had a positive experience with this company. Their strong points are the ease in ordering, the efficiency in delivery and most definitely the freshness and quality of the flowers. I wish them much success and thank them for letting me try and review their product!

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