Fragrant florals

The lists are getting smaller and smaller!  This week it’s about the flowers.  As much as I love them, I have a problem with cut flowers for two reasons:  Allergies and expense.  I love cut flowers, but I prefer the ones that come in from a bush in the back yard to ones bought at the store.  Of course, if you chose to spend your money on flowers for moi, I shall not complain!

The Austin Family Diary

Two flowers:

  1. Look at my header on this webpage.  Hydrangeas cut from a friend’s garden.  Love ’em.  Love the fact that you can dump coffee grounds or some fertilizer around the base of it and change the color anywhere from white to pink to purple to blue.  A good bush in the backyard will yield flowers all summer.  So beautiful.
  2. Peonies.  Same thing.  Love them.  I used to work with someone who grew so many every summer she’d cut a ton and put them on everyone’s desk, and we had fresh flowers all summer.  It was beautiful.

Honorable mentions go to daffodils, tulips, day-lily, iris–all flowers without major scent issues for this allergy ridden girl!

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What was I thinking????

I thought this list would be an easy one.  I was so incredibly wrong.  I don’t know if it’s because I am incredibly frugal and wait for sales (most of the time) or if it’s because I seldom have extra money to spend on things other than bills?  Or because when I get something home and realize it was a dumb purchase I go back to the store and return it?  Actually, that would be a pretty fun list.  10 THINGS I BOUGHT AND RETURNED ALMOST IMMEDIATELY AFTER RECOGNIZING SPUR OF THE MOMENT MADNESS HAD OCCURRED.  I bet that list would be a cinch to come up with.

So yeah, I actually struggled a bit with this one.  But it was an interesting discussion to be had at dinner with the girls last night.  I think about six answers came easy to me, but after that it was a stretch (as evidenced by the last two or three!)

10 dumb purchases

  1. When I got my KitchenAid mixer, I got a doozy of a deal on it.  So much so, that I also got a deal on the attachment kits.  I asked my brother if he wanted it, and he jumped at the opportunity.  So I figured why not?  I’d get it too.  The mixer?  Love it.  Use it all the time.  That attachment set?  Yep, still in the original paper wrapping.  And let’s be real–why on earth would I ever want to make my own sausage?
  2. About four years ago, I was determined to get a Wii with my Christmas bonus money.  I waited until there was a going out of business sale at Best Buy, I got games buy two get three free, I was a Nintendo deal finding machine.  Know what?  I think I’ve played with it about ten times.  Don’t get me wrong, I love it.  I truly do.  But I’ve determined that it’s more of a group thing, and my house is too small to have many group things in it.  Could I live without it?  Absolutely.  Was it a stupid purchase?  No question.  But you know what?  On the rare occasion I am sick it provides great entertainment.
  3. I think what I have determined is that I tend to participate in extra curricular in phases.   Watch every movie released in 2004?  Done.  Fly kites?  Love it.  Scrapbooking, reading, etc.  All have had their moment as my favorite pasttime.  Right now, it’s knitting/crocheting.  Might have something to do with the niece that I’ll get on my birthday this year (what a way to turn 40, right??)  But for the last year or two, I’ll come home, see a big box on my front porch every now and again, and think “what on earth did I do?”.  I mean seriously.  If you need $25 of stuff, and free shipping starts at $50, there is no need to order another $220 of items to make it work, is there?  So much yarn, so much pretty pretty yarn, and no idea what to do with it all.

    *please note: not my stash. Found image on Tumblr. I only WISH I had this much or were this organized!

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Blast from the past

Sunday Social 

Next Weeks Questions: Lets talk about those awkward years:

1. Biggest Middle school fashion mistake
Minidresses with legwarmers.  Hey, I’m an 80s child!
2. Who were your best friends in hs? Pics?
It was a regular revolving door.  Tanya, Kirsten, Christy, Tanya, Kim, Robbie, Ethan, Johnny, all great friends.  No photos, or at least not to post here!
3. What was a typical weekend like for you in hs?
Babysitting somewhere, I’m sure.  Football games and after game dances on Fridays into Junior/Senior year.  Church on Sundays.
4. Did you have any boyfriends/girlfriends? Tell us about that
I didn’t date much in high school.  The one guy I dated my senior year was, um, a bit older let’s say, and was from church, so we just hung out a lot because people didn’t approve very much.
5. Did you have any secret codes with your friends? Spill your secrets!
Secret codes, no.  But the girls shared notebooks that we passed back and forth between classes or folded up notes.  This was before the age of texting and email, y’all, it’s what we had to do.
6. If you could relive one day/moment/experience from middle school or high school, what would it be?
Not many, to tell you the truth.  I hated that time in my life, all seven years.  Well, maybe hate is a strong word, but there is certainly nothing in there I want to relive.  At All!

This is why I love working with kids

So a bit of background.  I work with the elementary kids at my church.  K-5.  I love this age–the young ones, who are just starting to get socialization skills and doing stuff away from mom; the fifth graders, who think they can take on the world.  The girls that are just starting to become girls, and the boys that are just such a boy.  It’s always a blessing to be able to work with them.  On Sunday mornings I teach every other week.  There is the main lesson, then we split into small groups.  I have a helper, her name is H, she is awesome.  She was actually one of my kids when I first started working with the group, and the last two years she’s been one of my leaders.  A ninth grader, she is fast growing up into such a beautiful girl.  On Wednesdays, I help with the kids choir.  This year, we have 119 registered to be in our production on March 3.  Yes, you read that right.  One hundred and nineteen children.  When they’re on, it’s amazing.  And working with them, while you sometimes want to smack them upside the head and tell them to get with the program, is usually an amazing thing as you see them filled with God’s grace.

So we’ve been bribing the kids the last few weeks.  Not a pretty way to put it, but it’s the truth.  We’ve been randomly handing out Airhead candy to the kids that are doing well.  They’re so funny–they know the rules.  The minute they get it, it goes under their seat and waits until 650 when choir is over to pull it out.  The first week that we did it, the kids asked me what my favorite flavor was.  I was honest–I’ve never had Airheads candy.  Didn’t know what it was.  Had to ask.  Not a big candy lover, I figured I wasn’t missing much.

There are two kids that try to see who can get there first to sit next to me on the top row.  Both are fifth graders.  One is a girl who is new to the group who I got to know during the Christmas production.  She’s really starting to joke around and lose the shyness, and is such fun.  The other is a boy who was grown in the church and who is from what I consider one of the finest families in the church.  His older sister is now in sixth grade, younger brother in second.  And this kid, wow.  All of them, really, but this one is what we call raised right.  Just like his sister.

Which is why I thought it odd the last few weeks.  He kept telling me, “Miss Kelly, I don’t understand.  I know all the words, I sing loud, I stand up when I’m supposed to, I don’t talk when Miss Lisa says not to talk.  How come I haven’t gotten an Airhead?”  I would answer I don’t know, J, they hand them out at random.  Keep doing well, and you might get one.  For three weeks he kept asking me.  Then tonight, he finally got one.  Orange flavored to boot.  As soon as he got it he turned and handed it to me.  I looked at him like he was off his rocker, he wanted it so badly.  I gave it back to him, and he said, “No, Miss Kelly.  That’s why I wanted one.  I wanted to give it to you because you’ve never had one before.”

Doesn’t that just melt your heart?  Have to admit, I felt a little shamed thinking he’d been complaining a bit much about not getting one.  Leave it to God to teach me a lesson at the most random of times.  Such a beautiful moment.

I didn’t take it, of course.  Gave it back to him and said it was all his, he worked hard for it, he could have it.  And he gave me a huge hug.  And I still have a giant smile on my face from this precious, precious child.  Love him.

Some hodge and some podge

I usually try and write at least a little something before getting straight to the questions, but today I just don’t feel like it.  So here’s the hodgepodge!

1. When were you last ‘on a mountaintop’?  You may answer in the literal or figurative sense.
I’m going with the literal on this.  Saturday.  Yes, less than a week ago.  I went to Charlottesville to see my almost 91-year-old Grandma.  We went to visit my grandfather (and great grandmother, great aunt/uncle, and a cousin I never knew I had).  They are all buried on Monticello mountain.  Actually, they’re all buried in the same ten foot section on Monticello mountain (yes, that same Monticello mentioned in last week’s Hodgepodge).  Yep, that’s right, in the light snow we took a not-very-mobile nonagenarian to climb down a mountainside in order to visit dead relatives.  I’m not much on the ‘come see me when I’m gone’ practice, but it means a lot to her, so we go when I am there to drive her.

2.  Do you establish and maintain a strict budget in your household?  What is one piece of financial advice you would offer someone just starting out on their own?
I’m trying to.  It’s hard when you live on $0.67 between paychecks.  Seriously.  It’s down to the penny.  But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, I’m sure of it.  Just frugal living!

3.  Cherries-yay or nay?  Cherry pie, cherry cola, black forest cake, or a scoop of Ben and Jerry’s Cherries Garcia…pick one.
Yes!  Absolutely yes.  Bing cherries.  Ranier cherries.  Tart cherries.  Sweet cherries.  Dried cherries.  Sour cherry candy.  Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia FroYo.  But my two favorites are probably black cherry ice cream (reminds me of my Papa) and my nana’s recipe for Tart Cherry Cobbler.  Served warm with vanilla bean ice cream.  Every now and again I get a hankering and make it.  And can eat half of it in one sitting if I put forth a modicum of effort.

4.  Should you ever discuss religion or politics with people you don’t know?
That’s kind of a touchy subject, isn’t it?  I would say yes, but it depends on the people.  If I’m never going to see them again, then sure why not.  If you ask me about my faith, then absolutely I’ll tell you.  There are subjects that I don’t talk about often, even with people who I’m good friends with, because they’re hot button issues (does God love my gay friends?  yes, He does.  Do I think homosexuality is a sin?  No.  Do I think that women can be leaders in the church?  Yes.  Do I think that God loves Republicans and hates Democrats?  You must be kidding.  What a stupid question.)  Sadly enough, I think I’m more willing to be open and honest and lay it all on the line with someone I don’t know–and will probably not see again–than I am with those I know and love.  And when it comes to politics?  Well, that’s almost always a no.  Mostly because I work in a two person office and the other half, while on a whole different school of thought from me, loves to take every opportunity to knock our government, our leaders, our laws, and the failure of our society.  And I refuse to rise to the bait, participate in the conversation, or feed his soap box.  I love him dearly, but I can only take so much.  Trust me, on November 7, 2012, I did everything I could to make sure he was out of the office all day so that I wouldn’t have to hear his opinions, complaints, and predictions on the ruination of the country.  Let me put it this way–he still has a framed campaign poster from when Ronald Reagan campaigned hanging in his office.  Everyone that has come after has been out to ruin the world.  And heaven forbid you point out that Reagan was once an outspoken Democrat before switching sides . . . .  That’s blasphemy.

5.  When you take a road trip do you prefer to be the driver or the passenger?  Where were you headed on your last road trip?
Driver.  I get carsick too easy when I am passenger.  Come to find out it has to do with bad allergy/sinus issues.  Road trip?  Must have been my trip to Pennsylvania Memorial Day 2012.  Which means I need another!

6. If we peeked inside your closet, what color would we say is most prevalent?
Black.  I wear black pants every day Labor Day to Memorial Day, and then have the top half black as well at least three days a week.

7. Who’s your favorite senior citizen and why are they special?
Oh there are so many.  Even if I stick with the non-family, currently living variety.  I grew up with so many in the church that are a joy, an inspiration, and a delight to have known as a part of my life.  At the funeral that I was at two weeks ago, I was told before I sat down that I had to go hug Mrs. Walker.  She was my Acteens leader when I was ten, and still asks about me.  And remembers where I am attending, that I work with children, and makes my day when she shares love.  Growing up, going to church with my nana, I had to make sure I gave Mrs. She-Shepperson (don’t know why I added the She, but that’s what I called her) a hug.  She always had Smarties in her pocket, come to think of it.  There was Sylvia, who I also saw a few weeks ago who made sure to come hug me.  She’s got to be in her 80s now, and that beauty mark she paints on every day hasn’t changed a bit.  I feel so blessed that I was able to grow up with such influences in my life, and taught that there is nothing wrong with learning from and socializing with my elders.  It’s the one thing I truly wish I was able to do at the church that I currently attend.  I feel like there is a substantial division of the ages, and not much intermingling.  And it’s a shame for the younger generations.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
Oh, I always have random thoughts.  SO MANY random thoughts.  Today’s sampling:  (1) I had my iPod on shuffle today.  Hold Me Now by the Thompson Twins played.  Love that song.  Never understood why they were the Thompson Twins when it was a trio.  (2) Had a birthday dinner for a friend at Plaza Azteca tonight.  It was just meh.  I’ve decided the homemade guacamole is the only thing worth eating there, the trots that come after everything else are not worth it.  TMI?  (3) Did anyone else watch Castle on Monday night?  Ho.Lee.Cow.   (4) For some reason, Levi is preferring to grab a towel from the dirty clothes hamper and dragging it to the back hallway for his lounging.  This instead of the sofa or his bed in the living room.  I guess he just wanted a change of scenery?  (5) Last night I didn’t fall asleep until after 4am.  Which made the 615 alarm truly a problem.  Here’s hoping I get a great night’s sleep . . . .  and finally, (6) I know I don’t know her personally, but can I tell you how excited I am about Robin Roberts returning to GMA on Wednesday morning?  I wrote a very personal story here about why I was so moved about her struggle with MDS and her fight.  And as I write this on Tuesday evening, on the one year anniversary of my friend’s passing from this same horrible thing, I celebrate the triumph that is Robin’s return, and know my friend is cheering her on from heaven.  And while she’s watching, she’s closing with the prayer that Robin says has led her family through the years every day:

The Light of God surrounds me.
The Love of God enfolds me.
The Power of God protects me.
The Presence of God watches over me.
Wherever I am, God is. 

When I have a spare dollar or two . . .

. . . I usually like to spend it at one of these stores.  Look, I’m not a big shopper.  I don’t like to do a lot of frivolous spending.  But given an empty visa and the chance to go crazy, well, then I might have some fun!  So right now, these are my favorites:

The Austin Family Diary

  1. Teaism.  I just wrote about it yesterday in fact.  I am, very slowly, going through the shelf of tea that I own.  Only problem is that you find favorites and want to replenish.  I am sworn not to until I drink a lot more of what I have!
  2. Knit Picks.  I recently found this store and I love their yarn.  So soft, so reasonably priced, and such great colors.  Only thing that stinks about it is that it’s an online store.  I wish they had a local location that I could get my hands on stuff prior to purchasing.  Then again, that might not be such a good idea . . . .
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  3. I know it’s probably a favorite of quite a few, but I’m going to have to say Best Buy.  I would say Amazon, but that doesn’t really count as it’s the marketplace for everyone.  Best Buy is one that I could max out my credit card with no problem.

There you have it.  The three stores that if you said “you have fifteen minutes, whatever you touch you can keep” and I would be in seventh heaven!

Small yet joyful things

I didn’t participate in last week’s Monday Listicles–not for lack of interest, just for lack of time.  So I wanted to try and make sure that I got this week’s topic covered and posted!  So for this week, it’s about the small stuff.  And it’s all the small stuff, right?  Isn’t that what the book said ages ago?  Anywho, without further ado, here are the:

10 tiny (or secret) things that bring you joy

  1. At this particular moment, Reese’s Miniature Peanut Butter Cups.  I don’t know what it is, but it has to be the minis.  I can’t have it in full size or the snack size, has to be the minis.  And as mentioned before on this post, has to be in multiples of four.
  2. Hammock sitting.  Nothing beats it.  Throw in a great big thing of sweet iced tea, my kindle, and an occasional fudge stick, and it’s wonderful.  Need to scrub the toilet?  Go sit outside.  Need to make dinner?  Go lay under a tree.  Bliss.
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    Napping outside

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    View from the hammock

  3. Still a sucker for the great MGM musicals.  I came home from Charlottesville and visiting my ailing 90 year old Grandmother, and Gigi was on TV.  I didn’t move for another two hours.  The world can disappear for awhile as you get lost in the romance and grandeur that was the golden era.

  4. A slight breeze, a bunch of nylon string, and some ripstop fabric.  What a combination.  Unlike most places on the east coast, where we fly is not on a beach–in fact it’s so close to the airport that there are flight height restrictions.  And it’s so much fun.
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  5. This is, without a doubt, my favorite tea store.  They have such wonderful tisanes, and the hands down best Chai blend that I have ever had.  Nothing like a fragrant pot brewing in the kitchen.

  6. Does my best friend know me or what?  We do not exchange Christmas gifts.  We instead do something each year.  This year we went to the Chihuly exhibit, had a fantastic lunch at Burger Bach, and went to see the movie Les Miserables.  And, crazy person that she is, she gave me a gift anyway.  I wish she hadn’t, because I got her nothing, but she did anyway.  Know what she gave me?  An animal puppet.  Awesomeness.  Yep, she gets me.  It’s currently perched on top of a candlestick holder on my entertainment center so I see it every day.
  7. The Hokie Pokie.  Because it is what it’s all about.  Besides, I dare you to find me another marching band that spotlights two dozen tuba players in a kick line.  I cannot imagine dancing while playing a tuba for two minutes.  Very physical!  Combined with Enter Sandman for the kickoff, it’s a perfect fall afternoon.  60,000 fans, jumping up and down.  I would have LOVED to have been in Lane Stadium the day that Metallica themselves filmed the order to start jumping.  Trivial fact:  The theme song was picked by an arm wrestling match, and the jumping started one fall day when the band was trying to stay warm!

  8. These guys.  No, they’re not mine.  They’re my best friends.  And I love them dearly.  Have a rotten day?  Go hold a kid.
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  9. It may be trivial, but good food.  When my brother was in the army, his roommate had a theory.  Wherever you are, if you find a restaurant that has Christmas lights up year round, it’s going to be the best food in town.  And if you think about it, that theory makes sense.  It’s usually local, usually a neighborhood or mom/pop place, and is always good.  We’ve abided by this this theory in California, Virginia, South Korea, Hawaii, Germany, DC, you name it.  Whenever we can’t decide on a place to go, we go on walkabout, and find a place with lights.
  10. These kids.  Oh, these kids.  This year our children’s program has 119 children registered to sing.  Our choir room only holds 90.  I’m so proud of them!!!