Off Topic Tuesday Topics

Okay, I admit I love photographs.  I love to take pictures, I love to look at pictures, I love the story that a photograph can tell.

But I’m not an Instagram user.

Sure, I have it. I’ve used it, even.  I think I have three pictures of my dog.  But it’s just not the format I enjoy.  To be honest, I never even think about it.  Plus the majority of my requests to follow are from kids aged 10-15, those I work with at church, so it’s not something vastly entertaining for me, with selfies every six seconds.

So instead of my four favorite Instagram peeps, I instead am giving you four peeps that I read daily (or as often as they post)!  Yay for blogging???Life.Love.Lauren


1.  John and Sherry Petersik.  I know I’ve mentioned them before, but their home adventures in DIY, child rearing, and life in general can be found at  Love them because they seem to keep it real, and they are from my ‘hood.  Like three doors down from where I babysat three nights a week as a kid.  Just bought a new house, so it’s fun to read along. Continue reading

Inspiration can come from anywhere

It’s really hard to type blog posts on a train with spotty wifi connections.  I’m just sayin’.  Not to mention that I thought it was six things from each color last week–so six red, six orange, etc.  And trying to type that on a spotty wifi connection and rickety railroad tracks was not going my way.  So I gave up.  Too much of a headache to try to keep up.  But this week I love the topic!  We’re down to five things:

Life.Love.Lauren Continue reading

All my days are running together

So time for a full confession.  This is the second week in a row that I have put my post together and spent all day trying to figure out why Lauren over at hadn’t put up the link post.  It’s usually around 5pm when I figured it out.

It was Sunday.  This is a post done every Tuesday.

The sharpest knife in the drawer, I am not lately.

Anywho, this is the last week of this week’s round of topics!

Oh, the places you’ll go!

I would love to travel more.  I would love to spend my entire life visiting new places, learning new things, having new experiences, and coming home again.  Because coming home again is just as important as leaving, I think.  It’s what makes it so much fun–by the time you’ve had enough, you get to return to the familiar and the comfortable.

Life. Love.Lauren

I’ve been blessed to have a few fantastic travel opportunities.  Continue reading

Where have I heard that before?

Every now and again you hear a phrase that sticks with you.  Sometimes it’s from a movie.  Sometimes it’s from a song.  Sometimes it’s from that friend you’re with at an all-you-can-eat diner at 3am waiting for her to sober up enough to get home.  But whenever that phrase hits you, you remember it.  It might not make any sense whatsoever, and sometimes it’s just the memory alone that makes it special.  I know I’ve done movie quotes before, so I’ll try to keep it minimal this time! Continue reading

Life is full of lessons

I would be a professional student if I could.  Classrooms, learning, lots of knowledge.  But there are some things you just can’t learn in school!  Which brings us to this week’s Tuesday Topics, as we’re down to #4.

Life. Love.Lauren

  1. Pets relieve stress.  At the end of the day, after working for 12+ hours, caring for an ailing parent, and dealing with frustrated clients all day, the adoration found in a pet is priceless, and better than any psychologist’s couch!

    No matter how much I want to be left alone, he insists on cuddling to make me feel better

    No matter how much I want to be left alone, he insists on cuddling to make me feel better

  2. Never use credit cards.  Seriously.  Pay cash whenever you can, and save the plastic for automotive or appliance emergencies.
  3. They may drive you nuts, but they’re the only family you’ve got.  Value the time you have with them, because it’s never enough.  At the same time, you need to know your limits.
  4. You have a second family, not blood related, that is the one you choose to “do life” with.  You know, the girlfriend that will be by your side when you’re both too senile to remember your shared past.  The families that were there when your kids were growing up.  Or you went through that breakup.  Or you lost that job.  And sometimes, yes sometimes, this family is more valuable than the one you received at birth.

Where have I heard that song before???

I am a scrapbooker.  Have been for many years.  And it’s a running joke among my scrappy friends that I don’t scrap my life, I scrap events.  So I have books of vacations, books of weddings, books of babies, but no books of everyday life.  This running joke of my life being lived in themes has prompted different discussions over the years as to what book I should do next.  There was actually one proposed that I thought was really cool, and have started assembling the materials to make it but haven’t gotten as far as actually putting it together yet.  The idea was to pick the ten songs that were the autobiographical soundtrack of your life.  The ten songs that can tell people who you are with no explanation, or tell of events in your life.  I loved the idea of this project, and I started to compile my list.

As of right now, that list stands at 28 songs.

It was 37.  I was able to get down to 28.  I am still trying to get down to 10.  It’s difficult!

Anywho, this was the first thing I thought of for this week’s Tuesday Topics.  We’re down to a list of five, so here are my five most favorite stories from individual moments during the 28 song soundtrack of my life: Continue reading

Repeat entry, different link party!

For this week’s Tuesday Topics, we’re supposed to list six favorite products.  Only I just listed my ten favorite beauty products for my Monday link party.  So instead of retyping, I’m just going to refer you to this post.  Pick six of the ten and count them as my favorite! 🙂

Life. Love.Lauren

There are a few non-beauty things that I am obsessed over, however.  Here are a few (though not six, sorry!):

  1. Mio Peach Tea.  I cannot stand the taste (non-taste?) of plain water.  I used a soda stream for a few years, then discovered this.  Unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more difficult to find.  Is it being discontinued???
  2. Yoga Sandals.  I wear these all.the.time.  They are so comfortable as your foot doesn’t slide around.  You just have to get used to the things between each toe, which takes no time.  Great for pedicures too!!  Have them in black and three other colors as well.  Biggest problem I have with them is to keep the dog from chewing on them–even while they’re on my feet!!!
  3. Going for the heathens here–has anyone ever heard of Crabbie’s?  It’s my new favorite once a month alcoholic treat.  It’s a true ginger beer.  Served over ice (or not, in my case) with a lime.  Delish!

It’s so nice to have a job I LIKE, you know?

So I’ve had a few jobs.  Not a lot, but a quite a few.  Started when I was 18, and have had at least one since then, usually two or more.  Until about four years ago, when I was laid off from not one but two in six months, and then spent 18 months unemployed before finding part time work.  That work is now full time, and I actually really like my job.  It’s been a long time since I could say that, and I’m thrilled that I can!  Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard sometimes.  And busy.  And tedious.  But overall, at the end of the day, we’ve helped people.  And that matters.

Life. Love.Lauren
  1. I tell people I work for Northwestern Mutual, but that’s not entirely true.  I work for someone who works for Northwestern Mutual, I don’t work for them myself.  My check comes from him, not the company.  Downfall of this is that there are no benefits, which sucks, and I’m trying hard to make it financially.
  2. It’s not an insurance business, it’s a full service financial services company.  529 plans, 401K plans (I had eight on my desk to work on when I got in this morning), company disability, etc.  And it irritates the tar out of me that my family (one person in particular) speaks very negatively of my job basically saying I work for an insurance schiester.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.
  3. It has no benefits, which is the only drawback to it right now.  If I worked for the agency, I’d have benefits.  But working for an individual?  Not so much.  And health insurance on my own costs 25% of my take home pay.  It’s expensive y’all!
  4. I had 377 emails when I got in this morning.  I left here at 8 on Thursday night, out at an all day meeting on Friday, off yesterday to volunteer for a non-profit fundraiser, and in today.  I’ve been working on them for three hours and needed a break so I decided to finish my list. 🙂
  5. One of the guys I work with just returned from China where he ran across the Gobi desert.  250 Kilometers.  That’s 155 miles to you and me.  Why, you ask?  I have no clue.  But he did it a few years ago in Chile when he ran across the Atacama.  Personally, I think something in his head must make him off his rocker to do it.  But it’s pretty cool that he has a goal and works to achieve it like that.  And he’s a great guy to boot.  And I love that I work for a company that allows people to chase dreams like this and make them a reality.
  6. Sometimes my boss and I get annoyed at the titles of boss and employee.  We are business partners.  We are friends.  We are work-husband and work-wife.  We are so much more.  And I’ve worked for a lot of schmucks over the years, so to have this kind of a work relationship with someone is awesome.  We used to work for the same company a decade ago, and that shared history is nice too.
  7. I am truly blessed to be employed and better yet to work for someone who shares the same set of beliefs that I do.  Someone who values family and thinks they should come first.  Someone who thinks that work is important, but that life is too.  Someone who, when my mom has surgery (like in three days) basically kicks me out of the office to go care for her instead of threatening me with losing my job like our mutual employer did over and over and over again.

Aw, Man! I wanted easy!

You know I truly enjoy these link parties.  Especially ones like last week, when we pick nine photos to share.  That’s fun.  I share a little bit of myself that I normally wouldn’t, the anonymous interwebs enjoy, and all is good.  I usually write up the posts the night before, as an attempt to relax after work.  Like tonight.  Worked from 8 to 7, no break.  Spent 90 minutes on the phone with Anthem–in California–trying to figure out how to fix my problem with Anthem in Virginia.  Changed clothes, sighed when I realized I’ll be 915 eating dinner, and tried to relax by doing the Tuesday Topics for this week.

Well Lauren, thanks for nothing.  Easy, my tired patootie.  Eight goals for the month?  That’s HARD to come up with after a long day at work.  Here goes:

Life. Love.Lauren Continue reading

Photo Op

I don’t usually post photos of myself on this site.  For that matter, I don’t usually post photos of other people on this site.  Mostly because this blog has never been about other people, and rarely even about me at the beginning.  I don’t do this for sponsorship, I don’t do this for fame or fortune.  I do this for me, and so I have something to look back in the years to come and reminisce.  So finding nine photos might be a bit hard, just bear with me and we’ll see how many I get! Continue reading

Listy McListerson

Welcome to the next round of Tuesday Topics!  Here is the new lineup:

Life. Love.Lauren

Which means that this week I’m listing ten things that make me happy.  Simple things, really, but here we go!

  1. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Minis.  Must be minis, must be refrigerated, and must be eaten in groups of four.
  2. Hammock sitting.
  3. Reading a great book while hammock sitting.
  4. Kite flying.
  5. Actually being able to grow tomatoes and not have the squirrels eat them all.
  6. Levi ThePuppyDog.
  7. Being gainfully employed.
  8. Fresh bedsheets.
  9. A great sermon at church.
  10. The fact that B’s youngest, J, is old enough now to not just recognize me as someone he knows but as someone he can get excited to see.  And he comes running whenever I’m walking into a room.  His older brother is sometimes too old to get excited about Aunt Kelly, so I cherish these days!

Someday, Yes Someday

.The Austin Family Diary

I’ve had a “bucket list” for years before I had ever heard the term “bucket list”.  It’s about four pages long.  I started it when I was in high school.  There was a teacher who read us a story about a millionaire who had cancer and was given six months to live.  He realized he had worked for all these years, made all this money, and never really done anything that he wanted to do in life.  So he quit his job and made a list of 100 things to do in six months.  From the mundane, like cook a six course meal, to the possible, like meet the Queen of England, and the fantastic, like travel to the moon.  (This was 25 years ago when I heard this story, so it was a bit more unbelievable to think that civilians were capable of space travel.)  Turns out the doctor’s were wrong and the six months turned into years, and he realized he had more to accomplish.  So he kept chasing his dreams, and hoped to one day even be able to achieve #37, walk on the moon.

At the age of 15 (yes, I was 15 and a junior in high school) I thought this was a great story.  So I made my own list.  And I’ve added to it over the years.  I have crossed stuff off too–like graduate from college, live somewhere for more than five years, fall in love, and have my eyesight corrected.  But there are other things–like skydive, have children, travel to Moscow/Africa/Turkey/dozens of other places, learn to hula hoop, and own a Burnese Mountain Dog–that I have yet to accomplish.  So picking two?  Just two?  Very difficult.  But so many great ones to choose from!

So here are two that have been on the list the longest, and why.

Learn how to play the cello.

To me this is just the sexiest of instruments.  As a second alto, the full-throated vibrato of the strings without the shrillness of the violin or the bulkiness of the string bass.  The exquisite compositional movements by Bach, Dvorak, etc.   And then there is this, the best quote I found while looking for a photo of a cello online: The cello is played by bowing the elegant bow across the strings. Sometimes, a choir of angels will join in with the cellist. Making the world a better place.  Amen.  Yep, on the bucket list.

Find a husband, chosen by God, for me to spend my entire life with.

Look, I just turned 40.  (AAAAGGGHHH!!!)  I don’t feel 40, I still feel 25 some days.  But 40 I am.  I have been engaged twice, once in my 20s, once in my 30s.  The first was my first true love.  The second was the one that I settled for so I wouldn’t be alone.  I thought we could make it work.  He was a lay pastor.  He was a Christian.  He was here.  So why not try.  But it wasn’t right.  (Turns out after we broke up I found out he was also a heroin dealer.  Who knew.)  I think I had talked myself into it because he was a Christian.  Chosen by his church to be a leader among men.  So it should work, right?  Who cares that he was a deadbeat, alcoholic, and (unbeknownst to me) a drug dealer.  I am just thankful that my big wake up came prior to the vows and not after.  But acknowledging that I was settling with my choice, simply because he was the only thing around offering at the time, was a big step for me.  And I finally figured it out.  I get asked all the time why I’m not married, why I don’t have kids.  And true, I never pictured myself at this point in my life as single and childless.  But like I said–I figured it out.  It’s incredibly important to me that my husband share my religious beliefs.  Years of dating outside my faith or even a Christian but a radically different background (a Quaker with 12 years of Catholic school, the first love was!) taught me that the important thing is that you are able to attend and worship together.  And more than anything, I want a man I can pray with.  To a point, a man that can be the spiritual leader of my family yet still respect the choices and input from his spouse before making an informed decision.  And this, this is the reason I’m still single.  I have male friends that I’ve been friends with for decades, and people wonder why we’re not married.  I have finally found an answer that I can give that truly explains why I’ve not pursued a relationship with this person, who is not a practicing believer:  I haven’t waited 40 years to find someone to spend my life with here on earth only to not have them with me in the next one.  I realize that in heaven there is no husband/wife, but I like to believe that they are there with me, not suffering the hereafter in a place any less spectacular.  So that is on my bucket list too!

The Daily Clicks

I’m baaaaaack!  I know, cheesy opening line, but one I used anyway.  I’ve actually missed my linky parties the last few weeks, but what can I say?  Life’s been busy!  I just wish it had been busy in a different manner.  I have had intensive classes for my investment license certification , a family member that has been suddenly ill so I have to trek across the river at least twice a week to help out (not complaining, just stating fact), my house feels like it’s falling down around my ears, and I am exhausted.  Oh, and I took five days out of town to celebrate my 40th birthday and meet my birthday-sharing new niece!!!  So I have just spent very little time on the computer lately.  But I have missed my link parties, so it’s time to crack down and get back to it!

Since it’s Tuesday, it’s time for Tuesday Topics!

The Austin Family Diary

To be honest, I had actually written a combined post for weeks seven/six, but I lost it when the computer did a freakout.  I might try to retype them someday, and I think five is pretty cute.  But now, it’s week four.  So here are the top sites I check daily.  *Disclaimer:  Work related websites, Email, and Facebook don’t count!

My Yahoo.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I said that email doesn’t count.  It’s not email.  But I use as my RSS feed or all my favorite blogs, so it keeps me up to date.  I tried Bloglovin’ when the Google reader went down and they were suggesting new sites to try?  But honestly, I like the one I have.  So I closed the Bloglovin’ membership.

Young House Love.  I have never met Sherry and John, nor do I ever expect to.  I know they are now big and famous :), but to me they’re still the sweet couple I stumbled across six or so years ago when they were referred by a friend as “the ones that bought the house next door to where ‘so-and-so’ lived when we were in high school”.  Do I  know them?  No.  Do I consider them a neighbor?  Yes.  It cracks me up when they talk about their journeys or visits to seven area craft stores or to go apple picking, because I live on those roads too.  Gotta love the Richmond peeps!

Granted, it’s only Monday-Friday.  But I’ve enjoyed her blog for gosh, almost ten years?  As a pop culture junkie, Whitney Matheson satisfies my need for quirky little tidbits about anything and everything.  Whitney has moved Chicago to DC to NYC since I’ve been reading her, and yes–she’s a Virginia native.  From about an hour north of where I grew up.  Always cracks me up when her southern roots show through, like when she mentions Smithfield ham or fried green tomatoes.  Hilarious.

I actually had to think a bit about what my fourth entry would be.  There are a lot of sites I visit often, but not daily.  And then when I went to go surf for others that I have hit recently it occurred to me that yes, I probably visit this site daily.  I love trivial bits of nothing.  Last night I ran across the TCM airing of The Wizard of Oz, remembered that a friend is related to one of the stars but couldn’t remember if he was the tin man or the cowardly lion, pulled up the computer, and looked at IMDB.  (Jack Haley was the lion, FYI.)  I love love love the trivia function on each entry, and look at it often.  And I am always saying “who on earth is that actor?  I know I’ve seen them before!”.  Back to IMDB I go.  (And on occasion, I venture over to the Broadway version–

So those are my four non-email, non-facebook entries.  Others that get an honorable mention: