Happy Birthday to Grommy

Happy Birthday to my mom, also known in our family as “Grommy” — although I’ve forgotten which grand- or great-grandchild named her that. We gathered to celebrate her day along with other fall family birthdays a couple of weeks ago, and I started the thing I’ve been threatening to do for years: Wrap all presents in plain brown paper and then decorate accordingly. I have to admit that my mom’s birthday present was my first effort, and I think worked pretty well. It was fun, anyway. Her present was a wooden plaque making fun of celebrating her preference to have a little coffee with her cream and sugar. I wrapped it up and then my 4 1/2-year-old grandson, Nolan, and I collected fall leaves from the yard — he liked the crackly brown ones best while I went for the pretty red and orange ones. We then carefully and meticulously taped the leaves to the top of the wrapped package and wrote our birthday message directly on the brown paper. Okay, that’s a big fat lie. The “careful and meticulous” part was purely Nolan, who scorned my haphazard design approach and spent several minutes A) planning a template for the leaves (“No, Kacky. The little red one should go HERE.”) and B) unrolling the tape edges that had folded back on themselves so we would have smooth and wrinkle-free strips. Plus, his handwriting on the “happy birthday” was better than mine. Obviously, one of us has artists for parents, and it’s not me. But I have a beautiful, talented, strong, loving, kind and smart mom — who always A) makes detailed plans before attempting a project and B) reuses and repairs things instead of throwing them out. Happy Birthday, Grommy! We love you!

Why You Should Go to Walgreen’s

Younger Daughter is right. I need to stop being such a shopping grouch. So what if some companies seem determined to squeeze every last penny out of us they possibly can, even resorting to some bordering-on-the-edge-of deceptive packaging? Doesn’t bother me one bit. Because, as is the way with the world, karma sent some serendipitous bargains my way to balance the disappointment of getting shortchanged on age-attacking wrinkle cream. Here’s the story: I was in Walgreen’s a few days ago in yet another futile attempt to refill printer cartridges  (it never works and I always have to buy new ones and I strongly dislike having to pay close to $100 for something as distinctly non-fun as new printer cartridges). But while I was there, I literally ran into happened to see a shopping cart parked next to check-out that was full of tissue paper and gift bags. What first caught my eye were cute black-and-white prints with pops of bright pinks and greens. Perfect for all my friends’ birthday gifts I think about giving in my head. Then I found tissue paper with characters from one of 3-year-old grandson Capt. Adorable’s favorite movies — “Toy Story.”  And then I noticed the clearance sign on the cart that said “75 percent off.” Jackpot! And then when I was checking out, some of the gift bags were half-off of the sale price. I ended up with seven packages of printed tissue paper and 11 gift bags with coordinated tags and some also with their own coordinated tissue paper, all for about $12. I felt as if I were having my own “Extreme Couponing” moment. In a small way.