Monday, December 29, 2008

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More Drink Tax Debate

Well, there's another court hearing regarding the drink tax today. You can read a snippet about it from the Post Gazette. In a nutshell, they (restaurant owners and a councilman - Charles McCullough) are trying to stop my most hated person, Dan Onorato, from using funds collected by the drink tax for anything other than the Port Authority. Did you know that the drink tax collected 16 million dollars more than what was needed for the Port Authority? Crazy. I'm hoping that this makes something else happen. And I wouldn't mind it if it made Dan Onorato cry a little.

After owning the restaurant for seven months now, I have realized that there really isn't money in this business. Don't get me wrong, we are able to pull a salary - enough to pay our bills and the extra mortgage on the house that we got so we could buy the bar. But what's crazy is the sheer amount of money that needs to go OUT. Our electric bill is about $2,000 a month. Gas is about the same. Payroll is crazy. Insurance? Holy crap. Liquor liability insurance is completely insane! Then there's our health insurance! We picked some crappy tier with UPMC, and Tony has a $2500 deductible per year. I've been reading a lot of restaurant-owner-related-crap, and for every $1 in sales, owners are lucky to see about a nickel. That seems about right. But I really don't think that other people realize that.

All in all, though, Tony LOVES having the restaurant. And his happiness is worth it. And we won't be living in a van down by the river any time soon. Tony is one of the hardest working people I know, and considering the economic times, the restaurant is doing really well.

How about that for a venting session? :::takes deep breath::: I feel better now :)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

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Becca's Picture view of Christmas Eve

Here are some un-edited pictures taken by Becca and her cousins last night. They are taken with the Kid Tough camera from Fisher Price. She absolutely LOVES the camera. Of course, the quality is not exactly stellar, but I think this camera is a great starter camera! She already dropped it down the basement stairs, and it held up great! The only complaint that I have about this camera is that it SMOKES through batteries. It takes 4 AAA batteries, and they lasted for about 130 pictures (which is about 1 hour, in our case). I think that I'll invest in some rechargeable ones.

Click to play Becca XMas
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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

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Premature Santa-lation

Here it is, 11:00 am on December 24th. Yeah, we've already done the whole Christmas morning thing. There's really quite a history behind it...

When I was small my father (who was a cop) almost always had to work on Christmas Day. Plus, my father is not exactly patient when it comes to gift giving. I'm the same way. Must be genetic. Anyway, Santa always came to our house overnight on the 23rd/24th, and we opened gifts the morning of Christmas Eve.

Fast forward to my grown up years. Yes, I'm already impatient. Tony and I are living together. I was tending bar at the airport, and I always had off Christmas Eve. And always worked Christmas Day (I usually didn't start until 4:00 - and I got FANTASTIC tips that day). Also, at this time the Downey family festivities usually lasted on Christmas Eve until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, and one (if not both) of us were experiencing a fuzzy Christmas buzz. So, the Christmas Eve morning tradition continued.

So, now we have kids. Up until this year, Tony always worked on Christmas Day. Just made sense to keep the tradition alive. This year I had to pause and think about it, though. Yes, Tony is working on Christmas Day, but not until 7:30 pm. Should we break the tradition? Should we follow the Christmas rules? I decided to keep our personal tradition alive, and here is the reasoning: Tony is SO not used to waking up any time before 11:00. If I had to wake him up at, let's say 6:00 am tomorrow morning, it would throw him off for the entire day. So, he came home from work around 3:30, we set up the presents and stockings, and sat around shooting the shit until 5:30. Out came the bells, the mad rush to try to find Santa, and a whirl wind of cute Christmas wrapping, Hershey Kisses and plastic play things. Tony even made breakfast. (Although he kept referring to the 24th as 'tomorrow' and I kept referring to the 24th as 'today.')

Becca is now old enough to figure out that she's getting her presents early. Easy cover up there. PapPap and Santa go way back. Best friends, in fact. There's a very elite group of people that Santa comes out early for. And we're included.

So, now I'm dead tired (I've been awake since about 2:00 am). And I just went through all the opening of the toys. With the wires. And the plastic restraints. I only swore about five times, and came through with one injured finger. I'll share more about the toys (and which ones suck) tomorrow. But for now I will leave you with a design I did for t-shirts and such a couple of years ago. (I think...or maybe it was last year). Anyway, as I was twisting, pulling and swearing I thought of it:

Toy Company Greeting Cards (Pk of 10)

Have a great holiday, and please be safe!!!!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

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Christmas Highs and Lows

Let me start off by saying that Christmas really is NOT my favorite time of the year. Really, I'm not a Grinch. There are some things that I really like about the season. Especially now that I have kids. I love perpetuating the whole Santa charade. And the sheer amount of excitement leading up to Christmas. If you could store that excitement up, you could power a city (::thinks of Monsters, Inc.
::). And the whole Santa Cam and holding Christmas over the kids' heads for a month DOES make life a little bit easier. But you NEED something to make life a little bit easier in December. Now, I'm not a huge shopper. I mean, sometimes I can get in a mood and shop 'til the cows come home. But it has to be on MY terms, and the mood has to strike me. I'm not a big fan of deadlines, crowds and keeping secrets.

Deadlines make me crazy. They didn't used to. I'd get a bill, and mail it that day. I'd have a paper due in school, and nine times out of ten it would be done early. But now that I have these two little bundles of energy, they pretty much dictate how my day goes. And shopping for them? It was almost impossible. The hubby's at work 60 hours a week. I made a mad dash to Wal-Fart one morning when Chloe was in school. Normally, while Chloe's at school I'm working at the restaurant. But I put that off and plowed through the toy isle. It actually was going pretty smoothly. Too much so. I got in line and got somebody on their first day. I'm very patient when it comes to that sort of thing, but I had to make it home to hide the toys before I went to pick up Chloe at school. I was practically jumping out of my skin! I did make it, though, and the kids were none the wiser.

The crowds...well...I've always been like that. I'm a loner. A rebel (anybody know the movie?
). And keeping secrets? I think it's genetic. I just don't enjoy keeping a secret. If absolutely necessary, I can do it. I've also found that it's safe to tell a secret to somebody who basically wouldn't give a crap about it. You know, I'll tell my mother or father a secret about one of Tony's friends that they don't even know. They really don't care, and I get it off my chest. It's win-win. I've kept Christmas secrets so far, but I've definitely dropped some hints. After I drop them, I'm ready to just kick myself right in the ass.

So, I'm glad the season is almost over. I'll thoroughly enjoy watching the kids open their gifts. I will also enjoy having a house free of Christmas Decor. It always feels so clean and organized once all the Santas and snowmen are put away. I may not post again before the big day, so I hope you and yours have a fantastic holiday.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

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2008 - Looking Back

Well, my brain is too fried to think about a topic, so I'm taking the (sort of) easy way out, and answering the following questions. Dawn from Because I Said So did the same questions, so I'm a copycat (although my answers are different).

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?

Wow, lots. But it mostly has to do with buying the restaurant. So, bought a bar/restaurant.

2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Well, I don't really make New Years' resolutions. But I did have goals for the year. Not to be redundant, but one goal was to get the restaurant. The other was to make $1,000 a month online. Some months I hit that one, some months I didn't.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nobody super close. An old friend did give birth last month.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Lots of funerals this year (but nobody in the immediate family)

5. What countries did you visit?
Um, I don't even think I left Allegheny County this year. Scratch that. I went to Washington County. And Somerset County. But no COUNTRIES.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
More family time

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory?
May 27th - 2 days after my youngest's birthday, 2 days before my oldest's birthday, and our first official day of business at Downey's House.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I didn't collapse and stay in the fetal position in tears.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Keeping up on my house. It's terrible.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nope :) (OK, everybody knock on some wood for me. I just did.)

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My laptop

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Chloe's, because right after January 1, 2008 I felt confident enough to leave the house without her in a pull-up.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Nobody specific, but lots of politicians. (Hello Dan Onorato and Allegheny County Council!)

14. Where did most of your money go?
ALL of our money went to the restaurant. Um, the money's still there.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I know that 'the restaurant' is the short answer. But it was REALLY seeing Tony realize his dreams, and having all those ideas that were stuck in our heads really come to life.

16. What song/album will always remind you of 2008?
Nothing really specific here, but I did have fun picking out the 'alcohol themed' songs on our myspace page.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: happier/sadder,thinner/heavier,richer/poorer?
happier, poorer and about the same weight. Well, OK, maybe a couple of pounds heavier.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Christmas Eve with the Downeys and Christmas Day afternoon with the Sarnowskis!

21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?
Tony, because we're really not together all that much

22. Did you fall in love in 2008?
Uh, no.

23. How many one night stands in this last year?
Um, none. But I do have a night stand. There are milk stains on it and it's covered with dust.

24. What was your favourite TV program?
Stuck between 'The Office' and 'True Blood'

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Dan Onorato

26. What was the best book(s) you read?
I'm trying to think if I actually read a book this year. Well, an adult book. I don't think I did, but I have been reading the Junie B Jones series to Becca. They're very cute.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Um, yeeeaaaahhh. I discovered that I still remember some of the words to songs you learn in preschool.

28. What did you want and get?

29. What did you want and not get?
Peace and quiet

30. What were your favourite films of this year?
The only one that I really watched. Sex and the City

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I don't really remember what I did on my birthday. I do remember that I turned 38.

32. What's one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I'm pretty satisfied.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
21st century comfortable mom

34. What kept you sane?
The nights that the kids went to bed by 8:00 and I stayed up and had time to myself.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I still think John Krasinski is adorable

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
That damn drink tax

37. Who did you miss?
My grandmother. I thought about her a lot this year.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Can't pick just one, but I love my employees.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
Realizing your dream isn't really a 'happy ending.' It's more like a 'new beginning.'

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?
'I'm so-o-o tired. I haven't slept a wink" - The Beatles

Sunday, December 14, 2008

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New shirts :)

Hi! Before I post about the new shirts I did this morning, I wanted to add a quote to my post from yesterday. I am adding the quote "Chloe, kitchen towels are NOT for boogers." There's another one I never thought I would say. I'm sure I'll come across more on a daily basis. I'll try to share.

So, I did a new Groundhog Day design. I don't know what it is about Groundhog Day for me. Just that glimmer of hope that Spring might be just around the corner. Hey, I know I'm grasping, but I really don't like winter. Anyway, here they are. One for the chickies and one that's more for the boys:

Homeboy Groundhog Day Baseball Jersey

As always, I made more than just shirts. There are buttons, tiles, mugs, mousepads and all kinds of stuff. The above links will take you to CafePress, but I made some over at Zazzle, too. Here's a peek from over there:

Phil is my BFF bag
Phil is my BFF by hdowney

So, now it's off to get our running around done before the Steeler game today. Just a little excited about that. And I guess I really should start doing my Christmas cards. Ugh!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

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Wow, how times have changed

I may have mentioned that I've gotten sucked into the vortex of facebook lately.  It's all good.  I started an account there a year or so ago, mostly to promote my t-shirts and to connect with other people who do the t-shirt thing.  But recently I've re-connected with many grade school and high school friends, among others.  And today I realized just how much I have changed.  It hit me like a ton of bricks today when I said this to Becca:

You'd better stop playing on those steps, or YOU'LL be the one with the broken leg!

Now,  she had just finished telling me about a girl at the birthday party this afternoon who had a broken leg.  So, it hits me.  I can't believe that kind of stuff is coming out of my mouth!  There are other things I thought I'd never be saying (BTW, all these things were said today):

  • Close that fridge before all the food goes bad
  • Let me help you.  Your underwear is on backwards.
  • Didn't I tell you NOT to jump in the puddle?
  • Because I said so. (my favorite)
  • No, I don't know why ladybugs have black spots.  Just because they do.
  • Didn't I tell you to close the fridge?
  • Go to bed or I'm calling Santa
If you had asked me 20 years ago (yes, I graduated in 1988) whether or not I'd be saying these things on a regular basis, I'd say no way.  Back then I knew that I always wanted to have kids.  But back then I believed that everything would go my way.  I'd be rolling in cash, my kids would never misbehave, and I'd still be wearing the same size jeans.  Well, notsomuch.

Not that I'm complaining at all.  I'm happy.  I have a nice house and stuff inside of it.  My kids ARE well behaved, but I can't control them like little robots.  And that's when all the fun stuff happens, anyway.  When they decide for the 10th time that they're having a Halloween Birthday party for their bear FiFi and we need to go to the dollar store NOW for treat bags.  (Chloe, by the way).  

I'm glad I didn't have a crystal ball back then.  I might have been too afraid of the reality of it all.  I needed 10 or 15 years to warm up to the idea that my life isn't all mine.  Now it belongs to my kids.  And I'm fine with that.  Now, the couch belonging to the kids?  Not so fine with that, but I'm working on it :)

Friday, December 12, 2008

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Quick Zazzle Sale!

Hey! I just saw a twitter from Zazzle, and they're having a sale today for 5 hours, starting at Noon PST until 5 PST (that's 3:00 - 8:00 for my peeps here on the East Coast). Here's a re-hash of the tweet:

5HOURZFRIDAY Friday Catch up Sale Noon to 5pm PST only -$5 off shirts -$4 off mugs -$3 off stamps -$2 off everything. So, click the link and enter the code 5HOURZFRIDAY to get your discount!

Zazzle 5 Hour Sale

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

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My thoughts on the changing drink tax

Well, Dan Onorato and Allegheny County Council decided to lower the Allegheny County Drink Tax to 7%. Many thoughts enter my head. One is that it's about time they lowered it. The drink tax has raised over 30 million dollars for a failing Port Authority. (Whose drivers, by the way, just got a raise.) However, the Port Authority hasn't even gotten this money yet. Danny Onorato basically told them that they need to shape up before they get an money. What I'm wondering (and maybe somebody can answer this for me) is where is all the interest going that the county is making on those millions of dollars?

Now, as for the lowering of this asinine tax, 7% is better than 10%, but it's still too much. And council even said that it was too much (basically). They said that it would be easier to lower it again if it was too much. Later. Probably another year. So, this is what I've decided. There's really not too much I can do about the drink tax specifically (and there are plenty of other people trying damn hard to get it lowered even more). But I CAN try to get people not to vote for Dan when his term is up. Now, I understand that's quite a while away. He's only a year into his second term. And you know, I'm not normally one to hold a grudge. But I can take a few years to point out every time he screws up (and there will be many, I'm sure). I'll make some anti-Dan t shirts, start talking politics and what not. It's not exactly what I enjoy doing. But really, he's ticked me off that much.

Oh, and to top it all off, he's a bad tipper.

So, please send me any links you might have about Dan and his screw ups. I may start a whole new site.

OK, my rant is over. I'm going to finish out my night working here on the laptop while lying in bed. The lack of sleep compounded with the energy I spent writing the schedule, giving extra attention to a sick and boogery Chloe, and writing/printing a new drink menu means that I may work for an hour. Or less. 6:30 comes pretty damn quickly.

Monday, December 8, 2008

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It was like workin' in a sweatshop!

Well, let me tell you about the past two weeks in regards to my t shirt shops. CafePress added some dark sweatshirts and hoodies. I was (and still am) very excited about it. The dark hoodies sell well on Zazzle, and I know they'll do well over at CP. I added them to my shops a couple of weeks ago. I have one, very large, job/occupation shop. I had to go in and tweak 2/3 of the designs I have for the sweatshirts. Then I added them to my other stores, Brainlintdotnet and PeaceLoveand( <--- that shop needs some love!). I worked on it whenever I could. At the mall when my kids were at the birthday parties. At home while they were watching a movie. After they went to bed and I stayed up until 1:30. Well, I'm finally done! Here are some of the sweatshirts:

Peace Love Candy Canes Hoodie (dark)

Off Duty Bitch Zip Hoodie (dark)

Bartender Barcode Zip Hoodie

So, now I can get back to adding all of my stuff on Zazzle. Which will definitely take me more than two weeks. Oh well, at least I'm never bored.

I think I may have a post coming up soon about the Onorato tax and the fact that they're lowering it. I just need to have more than 10 minutes to myself to do it! Have a great Monday!

OH, I just edited this to add that this is my 100th post!!! Yeah for me!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

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Just like Seinfeld, I'm even.

Don't know if you read yesterday's post, but Chloe was a breeze yesterday. Cheerful and cooperative. Today, however, was another story. I woke up to a very cantankerous three year old. She wasn't going to school. She wasn't taking her medicine. She wasn't getting her outfit on. She didn't give a rat's ass about the naughty list. As I looked down at her disheveled pajamas and her completely matted hair, I threatened to take her to school completely naked. She complained the entire way there. As we were getting Becca to school, Chloe started singing 'Jingle Bells' (well, sort of.). Becca chimed in and Chloe screamed "I'm singin' that song!" So Becca started singing a different song. At the top of her lungs. And Chloe continued on singing 'Jingle Bells.' At the top of HER lungs. Times like this makes me wonder why it's not an option in a family vehicle for one of those limo partition thingies. Just press the button, and up goes a sound proof glass partition. It just makes sense.

So, Chloe did finally get off to school. And after I ran and worked at the restaurant for a couple of hours, I picked her up and we decided to go to the library. I really need to get back in the habit of going to the library. And not really for me, but for my kids. When I was younger, the library was only a block and a half away. I was there constantly. I would spend my summer evenings (and mornings) reading. Couldn't get enough. I hope that my girls embrace reading as much as I did when I was younger. So, Chloe picked out some books (Bernstain Bears, Scooby Doo and some others) and I grabbed some Junie B Jones books to read to Becca. We've read about ten so far, and she really likes them. I had been buying them from the Scholastic Book Club, but I'm publicly promising that I will get more books from the library. It just makes sense. I'd prefer to save cash wherever I can.

So now here we are, and I'm looking forward to the chickies going to sleep. I love them so, but can I have some alone time, please?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

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Sometimes they're easy

Well, today really turned out to be a pleasant surprise. I had made an appointment to get my hair colored and cut at 10:00 this morning. And I was taking Chloe with me. Now, I knew that Chloe would be OK with waiting through just a hair cut. She's pretty darn good. But I wasn't so sure how a three year old would do waiting for over two hours in a small salon.

Now, the place that I get my hair cut is right next to the restaurant (Downey's House, just in case you're new here). The salon is called Hot Heads, and Jessica, the owner, is fantastic. And Chloe has been there a couple of times before. So, I go prepared. Portable DVD player with some Scooby Doo movies? Check. New 'Hello Kitty' doll house that the kids still have an interest in? Check. A lunch that Chloe packed for herself? Check. I have to say, she did fantastic. She danced, she chatted, she ate pudding. It didn't hurt that I've been explaining the whole 'Naughty and Nice' thing to her. She double checked tonight before bed to see if she's still on the nice list. She is.

BTW, I love, love, love my new hair. Short in the back, longer in the front (I like to call it the anti-mullet). The color is great. Or maybe I should say colors. My previous color was brown with some bright orange highlights, and a large chunk of orange in the front. The new color is all that plus some blonde streaks. Very punky. I like it. Just enough (ok, maybe more than enough) to make me stand out in the sea of suburban moms that live in my little plan of homes. Blending in is so boring.

And have I mentioned that I've been sucked into the Facebook vortex lately? I've chatted with people I went to grade school with, went to high school with, and people who I worked with at TGI Fridays in the airport. Crazy. As I speed even closer to 40 years old, I look back and realize that I really have learned something from every single person that I've met. Which is probably why I'm so twisted now (just kidding!)

More later!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

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More free shipping at Zazzle

Hey, Zazzle extended their free shipping code into today. So if you missed it yesterday, go and use it today. Here's my post from yesterday with the details.

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Useless Tip #2

OK, here's a quick useless tip. My kids hate the crust of the bread (surprise, surprise). Seeing that the only sandwiches they will eat are peanut butter sandwiches, this works out well. As I was making a peanut butter sandwich, the light bulb went off in my head. I use the big honkin' jar of peanut butter. The lid fits inside the crust perfectly. Make the sandwich, put the lid in the middle, press down and scoot it around a little bit, and you have a perfect of a peanut butter sandwich. It's like magic. Really.

Monday, December 1, 2008

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Another great Cyber-Monday coupon!

Well, here I am at the restaurant, trying to catch up on all my work. Now that I'm only here one full day a week, Mondays tend to be a little bit crazy. Anyway, had to just jump in and share this great coupon from Zazzle for today! Free shipping on everything!!!! CafePress better step it up. Here are the details: Enter the code CYBERZSHIP08 - there are no minimums! OK, more later :)

Here's the link to the Zazzle coupon page!

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Quick CafePress Coupon

Wow, this one is a good deal, and great to get a bunch of Christmas shopping done! $30 of $100 for today only. Here's the link to the coupon. The code is DEMHOL12. Gotta go downtown today (really, me. I NEVER go downtown). I'll explain more about that later. I'm interested to see what happens today. I have an unemployment hearing (I'm the employer).