Thoughtful Thursday, Birthday Edition

Today is my daughter’s birthday. She was born on a blustery cold day in Kansas – it snowed or sleeted or some such frozen precipitation, as I recall. I really didn’t care too much about the weather that day. Delivering a healthy baby was the only thing on my mind!

Min was born nearly five weeks before her due date, and yet she was 6 lbs 15 oz, 19 inches long. She was slightly jaundiced, so spent a few hours under the lights, but it was nothing to be concerned over. The biggest issue we had was that she did not nurse right away; a baby must begin suckling within 24 hours of birth or extra measures must be taken. Min has always done things on her own time table, and she ate when she decided it was time – about an hour before the “deadline”. That’s my girl!

Now my baby girl is all grown up, a mother herself. The turbulent teen years are over; she and I now enjoy a great friendship. She comes to me for advice occasionally,  and I hope my advice is good, but most of the time we just chat about what’s going on in our lives. Like girlfriends do! Having a daughter is like growing your own best friend.

I love you, Min, daughter of mine!

What I’m Reading and What Came Out of my Oven

What I’m Reading and What Came Out of my Oven

Today’s weather is fabulous. Not just fabulous for January – it’s fabulous for almost any month of the year! The sun has been out most of the time, although milky clouds are beginning to filter the sunbeams now. We’ve got a stiff south wind going, but that only serves to raise the temperature a tad higher. It’s sitting at 70 beautiful degrees right now, folks!

Things will be a lot different tomorrow, so I’ve been popping outside as often as possible today, and I even ate lunch out on the porch. My old lady cat Butterball hobbled her way out of the barn this morning and has been sitting in the sunshine:

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I have a difficult time sitting down to eat lunch without a book in front of me, and today was no exception. Our book club recently read Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister, which I enjoyed enough that I picked up a couple more of her books at the library. Right now, I’m reading The School of Essential Ingredients.

Ms. Bauermeister has a way of writing about food and cooking…you can practically smell it and taste it. “She felt about her zester the way some women do about a pair of spiky red shoes – a frivolous splurge, good only for parties, but oh so lovely.” “Antonia raised a bite to her mouth. A quick crunch of hazelnut, and then the pasta gave way easily to her teeth, the pumpkin melting across her tongue, warm and dense, with soft, spicy undercurrents of nutmeg. It felt like going home, and she relaxed into her chair with a sigh of happiness.” As I nibbled my peanut-butter-and-honey sandwich, flipping pages, what I read made me think that I ought to forgo reading while I eat and place more attention on what I’m putting in my mouth. Perhaps I’d be more mindful and eat only what I truly enjoy. Food for thought…

Earlier this morning, I baked a pie type concoction for Some Postman’s dessert tonight. (He insists upon having dessert at every meal except breakfast. Is it any wonder I’ve got a pillowy middle?) I call it a pie type dessert, because it’s not exactly a pie. I’m calling it “Cherry Crisp Pie”. Last fall, when we bought a new deep freeze, I discovered eight or ten quart bags of cherries from our long-dead cherry tree, buried in the depths of the old chest freezer. It’s been a joy to use them over the winter. Today I turned the cherries into pie filling…

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…lined a pie plate with a leftover store-bought crust (from the busy holidays), poured in the filling, topped it with a mixture of butter, brown sugar, flour, oats and cinnamon, then folded the edges of the crust over toward the center of the pie (because I used a too-large plate, oops). A little less than an hour in the oven, and this is what emerged:

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Something must be wrong with my sniffer, because instead of pastry and fruit, the scent I’m getting is bacon. Bacon???

And now I am headed back into the kitchen, after having taken Pooka for a walk with Some Postman after he returned home from work rather early. To go with our Cherry Crisp Pie, I’m making a Spaghetti Pie, which has absolutely no pie crust in it.

Sunday Style 1-25

Sunday Style 1-25

This Sunday’s outfit should be placed in the “not so great” category. It’s not an “epic fail”, but I made too many frowny faces at the mirror and when I looked at the photos, so it can’t be a “like”.

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Outfit details:  Christopher & Banks sweater – thrifted; Appraisal skirt – thrifted;

earrings – JC Penney’s; belt – umm…I don’t remember; tights – Walmart;

Life Stride shoes – thrifted.

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Let’s be positive first….this is what I do like about the outfit:  the color of the sweater, the belt, the fullness of the skirt, and the color of the shoes. What caused the frowny faces? The fit of the sweater (too big, sleeves more like 7/8 instead of 3/4 – I rolled them up so it wouldn’t be quite so obvious), the length of the skirt (too long for my short frame), the fit and look of the shoes, and the overall too-voluminous-ness of the outfit. I keep forgetting that even though I feel large and fluffy most of the time, if I wear large and/or fluffy clothing, it only serves to make me appear dumpy.  Clothing that fits well is far more flattering.

And so I will bid farewell to the sweater and the skirt. Sweaters are impossible for me to alter, and shortening the skirt would alter the design too much. The shoes are just hopeless. Bleh!

We can’t end this post on a low note, so let me tell you about my most recent online shoe shopping experience. A friend told me about Orthaheel shoes, which are supposed to be the best for people dealing with Plantar Fasciitis. I checked out the website and nearly fell off my chair at the prices. Ebay’s prices were no better. A few days later, what should appear in my inbox but an email from Zulily, featuring Vionic shoes with Orthaheel technology – at about 1/3 the retail price! Woo-hoo! Of course, I went shopping. I can hardly wait for these to arrive in my mailbox:

 

Thoughtful Thursday – What’s On My Mind

I woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom (nothing unusual about that) and began thinking of what I might write about today. As I crawled back under the blankets, I forced myself to abandon those thoughts, because if I didn’t, I’d never get back to sleep and would be too sleepy to think coherently enough to write. As a result, I’m writing off the top of my head this morning. I had a cuppa Darjeeling, though, so I’m wide awake. Let’s see what’s going on in this housewife’s brain!

First of all, let me give you a follow up on last week’s Thoughtful Thursday post. While I was out grocery shopping on Tuesday, I purchased a pack of Subway gift cards to keep in my purse, in case I saw someone holding a sign asking for help. As I made my way from Dillons to Walmart, guess what I saw on the corner? Sure enough, a young lady holding a sign – she has four kids and any help is appreciated. It felt SO good to be able to pull up next to her and hand her one of the Subway cards! Thank you, God, for giving me an opportunity so quickly, and that I followed through on my plans so I would be ready to help.

Facebook asks “What’s on your mind?” in the status update box. What’s been on my mind lately? My little old lady dog, Abby. I watched a few You Tube videos of Dachshunds the other day and it made me want to post some of my own puppy dog videos. Unfortunately, this computer is new enough that I’ve only got very recent videos of Etta uploaded onto it, none of the videos of Abby. So I went to my Facebook videos to figure out if I could send them to You Tube somehow. It turns out that I’m not smart enough to do that, but I did enjoy watching all those old videos. Sure brought back some happy memories! And it made me miss my little old lady dog.

While I couldn’t upload any of those old videos, I did figure out how to get a link to them. If I did it correctly, you should be able to view the one of Abby singing and dancing for her breakfast. Photos are easy! Here’s one of my favorite pics of both dogs:

Etta is on the left, Abby on the right, looking down. She wasn’t sure she liked being up in the mailbox, so I had to be quick with the camera!

The kids have suggested that we get another Dachshund, a pet for Etta, but she is quite happy being the only Princess Dachshund in the house since Abby went to dog heaven. I’m not certain it would be safe for a new puppy to occupy the same space as Etta Pooka. She used to snap at poor old Abby once in a while, so I can only imagine how she would treat a new dog. I think it’s best if we remain a one-dog-at-a-time household. Besides, she has her kitty friends outside to play with.

Will I get another dog after Etta joins Abby in heaven? We talked about not getting another dog after Etta, so that we would be able to travel easier. But we don’t travel often, and I do enjoy Etta’s company as I putter around the house. So maybe I will want another Dachshund. Let’s hope I don’t need to decide on that for a good long time yet. Etta will be 10 years old in March; she should have at least another 5 years of snuggles and silliness to share with me.

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This Week’s Thrifting Ventures

This past Saturday was the monthly thrift sale at a nearby town’s Catholic church. I fixed myself a to-go mug of coffee, put two homemade Cranberry Maple Scones in a container and picked up my daughter bright and early. We made a quick stop by the bank, then to the Short Stop so she could get a to-go cuppa and we zoomed off to the sale. Well, we didn’t really zoom per se….my car was quite low on gas, so I took it easy on the ol’ girl.

The sale is a very popular one, and people line up well before the door opens at 8:30 am, even when it’s cold and blustery in the winter. We were blessed to have very mild weather on Saturday, so we were barely chilled after standing outside for 10 minutes. Sis and I each had a huge fabric shopping bag slung over one arm, ready to fill it with treasures. We took our time, cruising each aisle, scanning and rummaging among books, jeans, toys, dishes, all kinds of stuff. I was the “Big Spender”, loading my bag for a mere $3.25. Sis spent a dollar less. We were both quite pleased with our finds, and made our way back to her house to warm up those scones. (They didn’t warm up enough, even being placed directly in front of the heater vent.) I didn’t think to ask her to snap a quick pic of her stash to show you, sorry about that. Here’s part of what I purchased:

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Not pictured are a couple of items destined for eBay. The black jeans fit me, but not the way I like (too low waisted, gap in the back) so they went in the eBay stash as well. The khaki pants and black jacket both fit perfectly, which always amazes me that it’s even possible, given there isn’t any way to try things on. The books were 25¢ each; I love to add to my reading selection for so little!

Some Postman had the day off Monday for MLK Day, so we had a “date day” in Topeka, where we perused all our favorite antique stores and had lunch at Red Robin (one of the few places I can get a veggie burger – and sweet potato fries, YUM!). We popped in the Goodwill store, too, where I found two cotton skirts and Some Postman got a sun shade for the car. It’s been a long time since we’d been in that store, and I’d forgotten how dirty it is. Washing our hands thoroughly was the first thing we did once we arrived at Red Robin!

Because two thrifting sessions in a matter of days just isn’t enough, yesterday I stopped in at our local Goodwill while out grocery shopping. Oh my…our store is SO much cleaner! I really ought to tell them how much I appreciate that. Anyway, finding those cotton skirts in Topeka reminded me that I’m still hunting for more 100% cotton clothing to replace the polyester I’ve purged from my closet. Did I ever hit the jackpot! My cart was loaded with TONS of things, but after trying on, much of it was left behind. I’m thrilled with what I did get, though:

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The two skirts on the left (plaid, tan floral) were purchased in Topeka. The travel-print skirt was made in Italy – fun! The solid color skirts are Merona basic jersey skirts, which I like to wear instead of shorts in summer. The green shirt will need the sleeves altered; normally I don’t buy anything at Goodwill if it needs to be altered, but since this top was half price, I decided it was worth it. I love the trim on the tomato-red shirt and the fact that it’s cap sleeved (I don’t care for sleeveless). Now the red print dress is sleeveless, but I can put a tee underneath or a light-weight shrug over it. I’ll need to alter the dress a bit also, but it was also half price, making the effort worthwhile. When I laundered the dress today, I didn’t notice until I was tossing everything in the dryer that the tag, which had fallen off in the washer, said to dry clean only. Really? For cotton? Going through a cold water regular cycle didn’t seem to hurt it any, but I let it air dry to be on the safe side. Don’t want to shrink it before I get a chance to wear it!

Ahh…three sessions of thrifting therapy in a row…feels pretty good! I could have another session this weekend, if I felt like going back into town. I saw on Facebook that all the Kansas Goodwill stores are having a “Buy 2 Get 1 Free” sale this Friday thru Sunday (clothing items only). I doubt I’ll go, but thought I’d make sure to spread the word to my Kansas ladies who thrift shop!

Sunday Style 1-18

Sunday Style 1-18

Sweater dresses have always alluded me. Not that I can’t find them in shops and thrift stores; they are abundant. Rather, it’s that the sweater dresses I find are so very cute on the hanger, but on me, they transform me into a lumpy, pudgy knitted pillow. The typical sweater dress clings better than Saran Wrap in ALL the wrong places. GRRR!!!

Enter eBay:  Every so often, I’ll enter “fit and flare sweater dress” into the search box and see what happens. Lo and behold, a couple of weeks ago, several lovely options presented themselves, and one particular dress was available in a few different colors and in petites! I placed a bit on the navy one and lost the auction. The forest green version was somewhat more expensive as a Buy It Now, but it included both the belt and matching scarf, unlike the navy one. Since it’s exactly what I’ve been searching for in a sweater dress, I clicked the button and bought it. And I’m very happy with it!

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Outfit details: Signature by Robbie Bee sweater dress – eBay; Fitzwell boots – eBay; artisan bracelet – antique show; earrings – so old I have no idea.

Honestly, I completely forgot about the belt that came with the dress, but I do prefer how it looks without the belt. It flows smoothly and creates a slightly longer look without the belt cutting me in half. I’ve not felt friendly towards belts lately, anyway, so it’s best that we not see one another for the time being.

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Perhaps a chunky cuff bracelet isn’t the most flattering choice for a stubby arm such as mine, but this bracelet speaks to me in a powerful way and I think it’s wonderful. It makes me happy to see it on my arm when it compliments an outfit well, as it does here. Fashion rules can stuff it! Wear what brings you joy, people.

Thoughtful Thursday 1-15

Thoughtful Thursday 1-15

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My quiet time this morning focused on kindness. The passage for today in Our Daily Bread was Mark 10:13-16, where Jesus welcomed little children, wrapped them in His arms and blessed them. The disciples tried to shoo the kids away, thinking Jesus ought not to be bothered with sticky fingers and snotty noses. But Jesus cares about ALL people, whatever their age, in whatever state of messiness. He calls me to do the same – to be kind and considerate, even of those who appear undesirable.

Are my eyes always open to the opportunities I am given to be kind, to extend compassion, to offer a simple touch or smile? Sadly, many times, I’m wrapped up in my own little world, eyes on the sidewalk directly in front of me, oblivious to anything or anyone around me. One particular incident haunts me still…

Last February, when Some Postman and I visited Seattle, the last day of our trip as we were walking to the train to take us to the airport, we were approached by a homeless couple. They asked for 75¢, all they needed to get each of them a cup of coffee on that cool rainy day. I wanted to give them three quarters, really I did…but my money was stashed away deep in my carry-on bag. The walk signal was lit up, and so I shook my head and walked on by. How I wish that I had taken the time to dig for those quarters! An opportunity missed to share a kindness.

Back at home, I don’t have many meetings with homeless people. They are here, I just don’t see them very often. Once in a while, a man with a cardboard sign will stand by the corner near Walmart. Yes, our community does have assistance available for folks in need, but sometimes that isn’t enough, or they are only allowed aid once a month. And so I should stop…and do what I can.

Next time I travel, I’ll be sure to keep some change in my jeans pocket. Next time I’m out grocery shopping, if I see someone standing at the corner, I’ll stop to offer some food or a five dollar bill. And today, while I’m out running errands, I will look up from the sidewalk, offer a smile and a nod, hold open a door, say hello to a stranger. Open my eyes to the opportunities to be kind, Jesus!