Thursday, April 17, 2008

Fiesta Chili Beef Update

I received an e-mail from Campbell's in response to my inquiry on what had happened to the Fiesta Chili Beef.

"Enough! We get it! We made a mistake, OK? Sometimes we just have this inexplicable need to mess with our product line up. We need to be busy so we won't lose our jobs and sometimes that means we have to find things to do. As you can imagine we can only come up with so many combinations of Chicken and Noodle soup and we've exhausted everything with that d@m! soup. We clearly can't redesign our packaging so that's out. A couple of months ago our bosses had a meeting pointing out that we weren't "doing" anything and we had to justify our employment here. We immediately began research studies on the most innocuous thing we could come up with, Fiesta Chili Beef. We spent months doing "research" and then a few more months preparing an elaborate report on why Fiesta Chili Beef was actually costing our company too much to make and how we could save millions of dollars by discontinuing this product from our line. We all got bonuses and went out for beers and high fives over our brilliant strategy to not only stay employed but also receive accolades and bonuses.

Imagine our surprise when we began to be inundated with e-mails from people like you wondering where their precious little Fiesta Chili Beef went. At first we thought we could hide it from our supervisors and no one would know. But the e-mails kept coming--more and more. Server traffic was up and we were finally found out. The outcry from the public was too great and we've had to confess our ill-fated scheme to our supervisors.

I've managed to save my job by personally over seeing the re-introduction of the Fiesta Chili Beef back into our product line and personally apologizing to each and every e-mail that comes in. Bob wasn't so lucky. Shortly after the Fiesta Chili Beef scandal came to light he was over taken by a mob in the Campbell's parking lot. Frank survived but is still undergoing therapy and hopes to be walking with crutches soon. Mark, Neil and Joe were all fired and I'm left to clean up this mess. I've had to take a cut in pay and my car's been repossessed. Christy kicked me out but Mom and Dad said I could stay in their basement until I'm back on my feet again. But only if I bring a case of Fiesta Chili Beef with me.

Happy?! You have your stinking soup back!!!!!!!!!!"


OK, that's not really the e-mail I received but a girl can wish. I received the same tired e-mail that everyone else has received when they write to find out what happened:

Ms, we received your message and appreciate your taking the
time to contact Campbell Soup Company to inquire about our Campbell's
Condensed Fiesta Chili Beef Soup. Unfortunately, this product is not
currently available.

Tastes and preferences constantly change and there is only so much space
on a supermarket shelf. Periodically, we look at the sales for our
various products and are forced to make the difficult decision as to which
products stay and which must be replaced.

Inquiries such as yours remind us that sales figures aren't the only
measure of a product's value. Perhaps one day Campbell's Condensed Fiesta
Chili Beef Soup will make its way back to your grocer's shelf.

Please accept the coupon we have sent to you via the mail with my
apologies for any inconvenience you may have experienced. The coupon can
be redeemed for any product in the Campbell family of brands including V8,
Prego, Pace, and Pepperidge Farm.

Thank you for visiting the Campbell Soup website.

Campbell Soup Web Team

So that's that. Funny, I don't recall my taste and preference changing. I did come across a recipe that someone claimed tasted just like the Fiesta Chili Beef so I'll give it a try and report back.

Until then, good-bye Fiesta Chili Beef....

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Misery loves company

I've discovered that I'm not the only vendor having problems with these clients. At current count there are at least four other vendors in the same predicament. At least I have someone to commiserate with.

Last night I drowned my sorrows in a chocolate martini and watched the Desperate Housewives of New York. I love that show, what a train wreck. It's fascinating how out of touch some of the people are. I especially love the blond rich-wannabe who made it clear that she would *never* move back to Kansas. Let me make this clear, we *never* want to invite you back. I love how the coasts love to run down the "fly-over" part of this country never noticing that if it wasn't for the hard-working folks here their lives wouldn't be the same. We're the farmers who feed them, the people who build the planes that carry them and the ones who watch them make complete asses of themselves on t.v. If it weren't for us, the viewing audience, you wouldn't be on t.v.

Anyway, didn't mean to turn that into a mini-rant. I do like the show as entertainment. They've done a pretty good job of showing the difference in personality from coast to coast which is interesting. I love how the New York women will just throw down the gauntlet and talk about what's bothering them, confront who has offended them, etc.

The other show I haven't been able to find for a while that I love is "Flip This House." I know they currently have some bastardized version with some non-personality random people but I want to watch the Trademark Properties people. They had another show we found for a while that had a different title since they were in a court battle with A&E tv but that seems to have disappeared too. They were some interesting people and I loved when they'd talk to the owner Richard. He's a very savvy business man and it was always insightful to hear what he was talking about. I love being around business men like him. You can learn more from them and their business experience in a dinner than you could in a semester of a college class. And how can you not like a guy who loves the phrase, "Winner, winner, chicken dinner!"

I better get back to work, I'm turning procrastination into an Olympic sport here. Even the poor knitting is suffering. I worked briefly on the two-at-a-time socks yesterday waiting for kids after school but that's been about it. There was no way I was going to even look at them last night. Given my record of monumental mistakes I've made with them when I'm sober the last thing I was going to do was tempt fate with a chocolate martini. That sounds like the title of an awesome book, "Tempting fate with a Chocolate Martini." Perhaps that will be my autobiography someday. I probably should have named my blog that (I think I secretly want to have the longest blog name ever, hee hee).

Speaking of chocolate I made my husband record this snippet from Saturday Night Live the other day and I now watch it over and over again. Makes me laugh every, single time. Tell me Ashton Kutcher shouldn't have his own show once a week...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Stress. Stress. Stress. No other word for it.

This past month hasn't been fun. I keep getting bad news here and there and every time I think it can't get much worse and things should start looking up I get new bad news that drags me down a little more.

I remind myself daily that none of this is health related and thank heavens everyone is healthy and doing fine.

Unfortunately though I am beginning to wonder about just how rotten the economy really is. I've known it has been taking a down turn for quite some time but it has now jumped up and slapped me in the face. In the last two weeks I've had customers simply not pay and violate their contracts with me. I don't want to get into specifics but let me tell you this is intensely frustrating. It would be the equivalent of your boss one day telling you on a whim he decided he wasn't going to pay you for the month. Yes, the whole month. Imagine the financial impact...

I am really frustrated and angry that people have so little regard for others that they are leaving me in a terrible situation. I've had people who have approached me as soon as there is a problem, early on, and I've let them out of their contracts. I'm not heartless and I understand that sometimes life throws you a curve ball. If given enough time I can re-book the event. When folks only give me less than a week notice it is impossible to re-book a date that I have already turned down other business for because I have a contract with them.

Frustration and anger are high, stomach is in knots and I've developed a permanent headache.

Here's to hoping this is the bottom of the bad luck and things can only go up from here. There's some light at the end of the tunnel so I'm going to focus on that until all this passes.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Just when my pear tree thought it was safe to unfurl her buds for spring we have a freeze warning for tonight. ::sigh::

Friday, April 11, 2008

Another one bites the dust...

Man. What a rotten week.

All in all it's been a pretty crappy week. Various issues at work and life in general have resulted in an escalating simmer of frustration. But the coup de grace, the final straw, the cherry on top, is my sad discovery that the geniuses at Campbell's have now taken my favorite soup off of the market. Amazing how you can tolerate that big junk that life throws at you but it's the little things that make you truly crazy.

Yes, my friends, the beloved Campbell's Fiesta Chili Beef is no more. For those of you unfamiliar with this soup, allow me to explain. From the time I was a little girl my mother would use this soup to make Chili dogs. This is the single best chili ever. It has a very unique flavor, completely different from a traditional stove-top chili you would make at home. It isn't as tomato-y as regular chili and would probably best be described as the freakishly awesome step child of chili and refried beans. This still doesn't quite capture the true essence, the je ne sais quoi that is Campbell's Fiesta Chili Beef but it is the best I can do. I would even go so far as to say that it has it's own special branch of the Chili family tree. It's related to Chili, but it's really completely unique.

I haven't been able to find it in the stores for several months now and finally had to resort to doing some basic internet sleuthing to figure out what was going on. Much to my dismay I discovered that Campbell's in their infinite wisdom decided that we really do need about thirty different variations of chicken and noodles (and rice! and stars! and wild rice! and noodles with vegetables! and Spongebob shaped noodles!). We evidently need every conceivable incarnation of chicken and starch based soup imaginable so they had to drop the Fiesta Chili Beef to make room for them all.

This is so irritating. Chili Dogs will never be the same. I think we need a letter writing campaign to bring back the Fiesta Chili Beef.

I'll keep checking the soup aisle in hopes that they will bring it back. Until then, R.I.P. Campbell's Fiesta Chili Beef.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

There's an uneasiness in the air. I'm worried about a friend and it's as though there is something askew in her life right now that I can actually feel. It's nothing I can put a finger on, no definitive word or action that points to anything specifically wrong, but it's there. It reminds of when a spring thunderstorm is rolling in and you can actually feel that it's coming in the air. It isn't the change in temperature or the clouds on the horizon but a barely noticeable change in the atmosphere. It is as though you can feel a slight charge of electricity.

That's how I'm feeling now. Something isn't right and I'm worried. She tends to back away from friends when things aren't going well. I've been trying to reach out to her casually without making a big deal about things but that hasn't worked as she's been "busy." I have mixed feelings about it. One one hand I want her to know that I love her and want to be there for her but I also don't want to rush in and invade her space if she just needs time to work things out on her own privately. On the other hand I'm a little hurt that she's backing away and doesn't want my shoulder to cry on. Which just makes me angry with myself for feeling that way, who am I to have hurt feelings because someone else is going through a rough patch in life? How selfish am I?

Is it woman's or mother's intuition? Is it someone so close to your heart that you can personally feel when their's is breaking? There are alarm bells ringing in my head, hurt in my heart and anxiety in my stomach.

The bottom line is I'm hoping I'm terribly wrong and really mis-interpreting things but it sure doesn't feel that way.

My dear friend, I love you and hope everything is ok.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Two-at-a-time sock status: never-ending.

It is as though I enter some odd time warp every time I pick these things up. I knit on them and knit on them and yet they never seem to see any progress. I'm beginning to wonder if I will ever finish them. This is kind of hard on a monogamous knitter, you know one who just knits one project at a time. I admit it has driven me over the edge and straight into the arms of an easy little project.

I picked up a cute little kit by the Crafty Alien at Twist. My business partner's birthday is coming up and she is a cat fanatic so I think she'll enjoy it. The kit is the Calico Kitty kit and it's super easy and will hopefully be just as cute as the picture in the package when I get done with it. In what seemed like mere minutes compared to my never ending socks I knitted up all the pieces. I now just need to attach the calico spots to the body and do the felting/stuffing/finishing work. My girls love the kit and I'm trying to encourage my oldest to give one a try. I think it would do much to boost her knitting ability and confidence.

In addition to the little bit of knitting I've fit in I've been busy shooting weddings and trying to get my taxes finished. I hate procrastinating but I seem to punish myself by procrastinating on certain things. This time it's taxes. Thankfully I had a good 2/3rds of the work done already, now I'm just trying to wrap up the remaining bit. However, in an exciting twist, I have apparently lost a month and a half of expense receipts. And I hadn't managed to get them scanned before I lost them. I think I know where they are, now I just have to find the file I think they're in.

Back to work, pictures of the Calico Kitty after I get him/her finished up...

PS--Forgot to mention the dream I had the other night. On April fools someone posted that Julia Roberts had joined Ravelry. There is an actual member named JuliaR and it has her picture although you don't know if it is really her or if it is a PR move to promote an upcoming movie. It says that it she has requested a private membership so there isn't anything to see other than her name, picture and a plug for her upcoming knitting themed movie. This obviously found it's way into my subconscious because I had a dream that I actually met her. In the dream we meet at a dinner party somewhere (I know, me at a dinner party with Julia Roberts, ha ha ha ha ha because it's so very likely). Everyone else is asking her about working with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and all matter of Hollywood drivel. I on the other hand ask her if she's really on Ravelry, what she likes to knit, how long she's been knitting, etc. The funny part was she was much more interested in talking to me about knitting than with everyone else about the Hollywood gossip. Everyone else kept interrupting us because they thought their Hollywood talk was so much more interesting and important than knitting. What a funny dream. It does make me wonder though how many "famous" people are members of Ravelry under ordinary screen names. My husband once told me that Dale Earnhardt Jr. was a member of an online racing video game forum under a different name. He would play against other people online and they never had any idea who he really was at the time. I think he said he eventually told people who he was and it just kind of ruined the fun of it all because then people weren't themselves anymore, they were move caught up in his celebrity.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The weekend has come and gone. The kick-off to the wedding season was busy but not as overwhelming as I had worried. I can feel the slow progression from slow to busy but so far so good. I'm perhaps even a bit ahead of schedule (which is surely just asking for a monumental crisis that will bring everything to a grinding halt). Never mind, not ahead of schedule at all!

I would post pictures of the two-at-a-time socks but frankly I'm starting to become afraid of them. It's as though the yarn has become self-aware and does not want to be knit into socks. It clearly has a different idea of what item it should be knit into. Despite my intense care and meticulouslessness (ok, that's not really a word at all I'm just trying to show just how d@%! careful I'm being with them) things keep getting screwed up. Not just a little screwed up. Seriously screwed up.

I had made it past the heels and was cruising along in lovely stockinette. I stopped and checked them every single time I came to the separating point and pulled the two socks apart to make sure I hadn't accidentally connected them and make sure I had the correct yarn. I thought things were going well. Until I noticed a little hole. Huh? A hole? Oh yes. A hole. Wait. Two holes. Two holes a good two inches down from where I was. $*#@!!!! I immediately put the socks back into the project bag, zipped it shut and put it back in the knitting basket. Then I had a cocktail and tried to block it out of my mind for two days.

I tried to figure out if I could drop down and fix it but it appeared to be accidental yarn overs. After searching the Internet I didn't find any solution that looked like it would work for me. Perhaps there is one. At this point I don't think I want to know about it. I spent an obscene amount of time to tear back to those rotten stitches to fix it. Two nights ago I finally, FINALLY, got back to that last stitch and fixed it. I then proceeded (carefully!!) to start re-knitting it. Again. This is now the third time I have knit this section of the socks. I am now being super careful to watch how I'm knitting and make sure I'm not accidentally knitting between stitches, doing yarn overs or any other manner of stupid mistakes. I'm compulsively checking the socks to make sure they haven't been knit together, counting my stitches and making sure I'm always knitting with the correct yarn for each sock.

Despite this sock knitting neurosis I managed to drop a stitch last night. These ridiculous size 1 needle stockinette stitches are so freaking tiny I had to buy a new crochet hook today so I can fix them. This problem I can thankfully just drop down and fix without having to tear two socks back by two inches. It is still a little demoralizing. Ok, a lot demoralizing.

I know this two-at-a-time business is suppose to be more efficient and seem faster, I am clearly not there yet. I should probably just have kept going and figured no one would see the holes, but they bothered me too much and I knew it would bother me every time I saw them. The next pair of two-at-a-time socks I'll try on double-points and see if that method is a little easier for me. I don't really think these are hard to do, I just keep messing them up with dumb mistakes. And I don't want to start anything else until they're done. It's making me a bit grumpy.

I'm not sure what my problem is. Obviously this is all the fault of the yarn. It clearly would prefer to be something entirely different, perhaps wrist-warmers or knucks. Which is too bad. This is a battle of wills between the sock yarn and myself. I'm not giving up. They will become socks. I may have a Scarlett O'Hara moment in my front yard one evening vowing, "As God is my witness, this yarn will be knit into these two-at-a-time socks!" I will prevail. I will triumph!

Although I might start sleeping with my door locked. It's scary to think of what the yarn might be plotting for me at night while I'm sleeping...