Headed out around quarter after one. Figured since I got a late start, I'd take Uber. They showed up in less than 7 minutes, though I'm not sure why they stopped by the wrong house. I had to dash across the street. No problems after that. There was no traffic, and we arrived at the Lands End in Cherry Hill within 10 minutes.
Lands End must have just restocked. They had piles of great after-holiday sales. They were also busy, but not elbow-to-elbow like some other stores in the mall. I had plenty of room to go over long-sleeved t-shirts, sweaters, fleece jackets, and jeans in the plus-sized area. Ended up with a t-shirt in a pretty pink and green paisley print, indigo blue jeans, and a plain white mock turtleneck. I didn't realize that even at half-price, the jeans and t-shirt were $40 each! The t-shirt was one of their fancy expensive cotton brands. It came up to over $100. Well, you get what you pay for with Lands End. Some of their clothes I've owned lasted literally decades...but I'll be more careful the next time I buy from them.
Stopped at Hallmark next. I mainly wanted a birthday card for my niece Lilah, who turns 8 next month. Ended up picking up a pretty, simple box of Christmas cards half-price with the words "Merry and Bright" in script surrounded by simple holly and evergreens, too.
Made my way down to Panera Bread for a bigger lunch next. Even at 2 PM, they still had a full dining area and long lines. I ordered a bowl of French onion soup, a crusty roll, and half of a chicken salad sandwich with sliced grapes anyway. It took them forever to put it out. I mistook someone else's food for mine briefly. I was so embarrassed! It's probably a good thing I ended up taking a table in the very back, in the corner next to the windows looking out over Route 70 and the parking lot. At least the sandwich was perfectly sweet-salty and the soup was nice and hearty.
Hiked around the corner, past the back of Wegman's, and down to Barnes & Noble. They were also very busy, with lots of people sitting on the floor reading books and tons of kids in the children's area, looking for things to read and new toys to play with over Christmas break. I eventually ended up with what's currently the last book in the Shady Hollow animal-based cozy mystery series Mirror Lake and the original LP cast album for the recent Broadway version of Tootsie (the latter half-price).
I had originally planned on checking out TJ Maxx and the Gap too, but between it being past 4 PM by the time I got out and spending so much at Lands End, I limited my last trip to the Trader Joe's on the very end of the mall next to TJ Maxx and HomeGoods. Boy, were they a mess. Lines down the aisles in that little store and wall-to-wall people. Now I'm really glad I took the week off. Dodged people long enough to pick up boxes of peanut butter and jelly and cocoa-almond butter bars, blood oranges, cranberry-white chocolate oatmeal bakery cookies, those dried orange slices I really like, salt-free creamy peanut butter, and dark-chocolate almond butter cups and strawberry sparkling water for a treat.
Since the parking lot at Trader Joe's was nearly as much of a disaster area as the inside, I strolled back to Barnes and Noble to pick up Uber. To my surprise, I got one in two seconds, and they arrived in less than a minute. I was home in less than 10, admiring a lovely pink sunset over the still-frozen Cooper River.
(At least the weather was decent for walking around an outdoor mall. We were much warmer, a more typical for late December mid-40's, with soft sunshine and no wind.)
Went straight into writing after I put everything away. The Nutcracker manages to get the Mouse Queen in the chest, thanks to Debralee distracting her by throwing her sneaker at her head. The mice are horrified and the Mouse King plots revenge, but Debralee is only happy that her new friend and Gene are all right...
Broke for dinner at 7. Watched Match Game '79 while I ate. In the first one, Fannie Flagg talks about the book she was then writing. (That book would become Coming Attractions, later known as Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man, and it was Fannie's first major novel.) We also get some very funny answers to whom a super salesman sells Polygrip to. In the second, Charles is so fed up with the Star Wheel never landing on him, he tries to remove his name and star from it (and only succeeds in the former).
Finished the night on YouTube after a shower with holiday episodes of The Patty Duke Show. In the first season episode "The Christmas Present," Cathy is looking forward to her foreign correspondent father coming home. Patty and Mr. and Mrs. Lane are horrified when they discover Cathy's father Kenneth has been jailed after taking part in a revolution in Europe and not only may not arrive, but is to be fired. No one has the heart to tell Cathy the truth. Mr. Lane tries to pass himself off as his twin brother, only for Cathy to receive the best Christmas surprise ever.
Cathy's dad may be home for New Year's, but he's also out of work. Cathy and Patty spend their "Auld Lang Syne" trying to find him another job. They hit on him writing a book about his experiences in Europe, but like many writers, he just can't get the words down. He does end up taking his old job back after the head of that revolution won't talk to anyone else but him. Cathy's sad that this does mean he'll be away...but it also means she can stay with Patty and that they "survived another one," as Patty puts it.