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Sunday, December 13, 2015


My email 'inbox' is currently being flooded with emails from various companies vying for my business.  After spending a modest amount with some, on my annual 'missions of mercy' for family and friends, I have been receiving 'thank yous', with a giant discount off my next purchase.  This discount is usually quite useless for two reasons.  The first is that I have already made the purchase, and I shall probably not make another one until this time next year.  This brings me to my second 'useless' reason.  The giant discount is only applicable for the next month, and if I did want to buy something, I would have to pay a premium to have it shipped before Christmas, just to make sure it arrives.  

Along with finding the best deal, I have to keep up with the latest contests.  Each day, I spend a few minutes (last calculation was nine) checking out my usual haunts, and entering various contests in order to win the coveted prize.  Once again, this is not always for me, as the 'winning' is much more exciting for me, most of the time, than the actual prize.  I have given many concert tickets away to those who would enjoy the performance more than me. However, this time of year, there are a lot more contests to enter. Everyone wants to 'give away' something, and most just require an email address.  Of course, this does mean that for the next couple of months I am deleting emails from companies with whom I wish to have no connection (mostly because in my excitement at finding yet another contest, I ticked the box that I thought said, "I do not want....from partners", when in fact is says the opposite!) but I am quite happy to do this if it means I have the chance of acquiring something interesting, useful, or perhaps a character from one of the popular children's programmes.

The advent calendar for one such programme was posted on line. Knowing that my grandson enjoys this particular broadcast, I thought it would be fun to open a tab each day, on my computer and have the chance of winning something.  Each day, after completing the regular entries, I clicked on the website, (which I am ashamed to say I added to my 'favourites', the reason for which I am even more ashamed, to wit, I could not remember from one day to the next, the exact name of the programme,) and opened the relevant tab.  My 'prize' was the ability to 'colour in' the picture under the door, or listen to one of the characters sing a song from the well-loved show.  I was slightly disappointed, but continued to take part in the activity each day last week.  On Friday, Samantha came to my desk with a work-related question, and caught me in the throws of opening 'today's' window.  'Congratulations!', appeared on my screen, followed by, 'You have won'.  I was, within a few days, apparently, going to be the owner of a CD which contained the sound track of  (wait for it...drum roll please) 'The Ninky Nonk Show'.   Horror struck as I wondered to what I would be subjecting my grandson.  Not surprisingly, when typing these words, the 'spell check' underlined them with its usual squiggly red line, indicating that it does not recognise the language!

However, perhaps the more disturbing thing was my reaction immediately after I had won this coveted prize.  In her excitement, Samantha took hold of my mouse, and clicked, 'next', which returned her to the picture that was beneath 'today's' door, and lost the screen that indicated that I had indeed won!  Not understanding how they would now know where to send the prize, (the brain becomes befuddled when entering so many contests, it had not registered that I had to sign in to the site with an email address,) I shouted in dismay, "You have lost the Ninky Nonk show!" Fortunately, unlike last week, there were no visitors in our office, but this was no less embarrassing!  

An email was sent to me, and I followed the instructions as to how to retrieve this most coveted item, and upon being questioned, "Did you win something else?", by all and sundry in our office, I just nodded uncomfortably, hoping that they would not want details!  

Dividing my time between entering contests and deleting emails has been rather time consuming.  I have also had emails which allow me to track my purchases, as well as my prizes!  The order I placed on behalf of my sister had been making its way down from Ohio. This was travelling from the Buckeye state, through Arkansas, and arrived in Houston on Friday, before heading down to Austin. When it eventually arrives in my hands, it will have a few days rest before heading on an even longer journey, this time across the ocean! Fortunately, the items in question are not alive and have no feelings! (I state the former 'without prejudice' to any that disagree!)  However, I am exhausted just following their road trip! 

As the weekend neared, I started to go into a mild panic.  The full blown panic normally sets in a couple of days before I leave for England, especially this time of year, as the last minute orders flood in, and I have to tell some people, "No!"  The mild panic ensued because I was tasked with making some goodies for Samantha and Edwards Christmas soiree, the weekend before the big shop weekend.  Of course, if it was any other time of the year, they would not be having a Christmas soiree.  The order this time was enough to send me into a Ninky Nonk mindset, and as I attempted to organise my time between deleting emails, entering contests and actually doing some work, at work!  Saturday was going to be rather busy, without actually achieving anything!  

I set about making pastry on Saturday morning, and found, once again, that my mind had gone into Ninky Nonk mode!  Although I remembered how to make the dough, I had decided to make it 'sweetcrust', rather than 'shortcrust', and this caused me a bit of a problem.  Using egg to bind the flour and fat, rather than water, and having a higher sugar content, I knew this was not going to be easy to manipulate, and wondered if I had calculated my ingredients correctly.   Kneading the mixture into a somewhat slimy ball, I did what I always do in such circumstances, and put it in the fridge, in the hope that it would all be perfect after a 'rest',  Whilst the pastry was relaxing, I whipped up a batch of sausage rolls, chocolate Christmas puddings, and a trifle, (all of which were a trifle compared to the dough!)  Dana returned from the office, expecting to be coming home to an empty house, and was surprised to see me still scuppering around the kitchen.  "How are you doing?", he asked, and was not surprised when I answered, "Ninky Nonk".  

Click for OptionsAs is often the case when something starts out disastrous, the pastry turned out to be one of the best batches I have ever made!  The mince pies melted in the mouth, and my husband enjoyed a couple before I whisked them away, together with the other party favours that I had made for my daughter.   I drove out of our complex with a car full of food, and headed north.  Once at Samantha's home, I unloaded all the goodies, and we went to the Walmart to pick up our weekly shop!  After returning to Samantha's house, dropping off her shopping and transferring mine to the mini, we headed towards the mall, each in our own car, where we were going to guests at a party for Noah, who was five last week.  As Samantha is his godmother, this makes me his grand godmother, and therefore, I felt it my duty to at least attend.

All the participants at the party looked as if they would be at home in Ninky Nonk land, and each one of them looked as if they would enjoy the CD that I had won on Friday.  It was a time to sit and do absolutely nothing but watch a bunch of pre-school kids enjoy bouncing around in inflatable castles and dungeons, without a care in the world, other than "When are we going to cut the cake!"  For ninety minutes, I entered no contests, retrieved (nor deleted) any emails, tracked no packages, and didn't give a Ninky Nonk about anything outside the play area that had become my sanctuary. Despite the screams of joy, and music that was booming through the speakers, and reverberating off the walls, I could have fallen asleep, as this was a pressure free zone!

Click for OptionsAll good things have to come to an end, and we left the giant inflatable land and headed in different directions.  I arrived home much later than anticipated as the traffic was very heavy.  It also started to rain, which to an Austinite (and again I say this 'without prejudice') means, "Stop!"  Dana was fast asleep when I got in, and so I sat myself down with a cup of tea, with my laptop at the ready. With emails almost hitting a century, I scanned each line and deleted all but a handful.  Out of the few that were left, a couple actually had the audacity to read, "You did not win, this time!"  Not all the 'contest' pages have a weekend entry, so my time wasted on this particular task was cut down to almost 'nonk'.  I did not win a chocolate Santa, nor a CD, nor a travel bag with 'must have' accessories.  However, it did give me time to create a peppermint plate, which was found on one of the websites to which I inadvertently subscribed whilst entering one contest!  (A few mints put in a loose bottomed tin, baked for six to eight minutes, and left to cool).

Sunday was rather quiet in comparison to the rest of the week.  I started to negotiate what was going to go where in my suitcase. Dana and I enjoyed breakfast, and then took the dog for a walk, despite the rain falling at a healthy rate!  We returned to work on our respective computers, and I set about checking emails before starting to type today's post.  I did not win a chocolate Santa, nor did I win a make-up bag, containing all the 'must have' accessories for any trip!  I made my way around the various contest sites, and opened the tab on the advent calendar.  'Congratulations!', appeared on my screen, followed by, 'You have won'.  It was another CD with the sound track of the 'The Ninky Nonk Show'!  Out of all the prizes I have won, and out of all the prizes I could have won, I think this was probably the ONLY one that I would not wish for two! 

With one shopping weekend left until my departure, I am going to be wondering all week what it is that I have forgotten to put on my list, or to order, or to track, or to win!  I do have another present to buy, however, as my nephew, Ben, became a father two days ago, to a baby boy!  I can only hope that next week runs smoothly, and that the emails do not become more prolific as Christmas nears, although I am sure the flood will not recede!  Perhaps between now and next week I shall attempt to understand Ninky Nonk, and maybe become fluent before the tapes arrive.  How many are hoping that will not be ............. another story!

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