Saturday, July 31, 2010

#213/365 My New Fave Asian Place

Here is CollegeGirl on our recent day out.

She is eating menu item #22.

And then, I ate the leftovers the next day. I really think it could have fed a family of 4.

Number 22 was fresh. It was unique. It was not mass produced. It was priced right. yum.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

#212/365 If You Give a Mouse a Cookie...

This is now in the new 'guest room' (formerly Lulu's room). Just a week ago, this space was home to stacks and piles of miscellaneous 'frap'. Now, it is a nice office space. Please ignore the tangled mess of cords.

Buh-bye office. Helloooo, sun room. Looks nice, huh?

Would you come visit with me here? You'd have to bring your own snacks, because I am a terrible hostess, but hey. I'd be glad to see you. haha

A few of my 'favorite things'. Makes me happy just to look at them. (happy sigh)

I think I shall have to make this my new reading nook. Devotions space. Happy place.

^^^^ This *used to be* the dog's 'bed'.

She's a bit disgruntled with being displaced. Or maybe she's confused and addled.

Just like her mom.

That would be me.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

#211/365 In the Blink of an Eye

This is what my life looked like 10 years ago.

Don't. Blink.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

#210/365 Going Back in Time

This weekend is my 30th High School Class Reunion. Through the wonder of FB, I have been able to reconnect with many of my friends, prior to the gathering. How nice, since there is never enough time (or quiet) to catch up in person, once every 10 years.

I am looking forward to seeing everyone again.

Of course, I'll take photos.

You're welcome.

Monday, July 26, 2010

#209/365 Tuition

Sometimes, ya gotta dig deep.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

#208/365 Couple of Carefree Kids

It was a weekend without kids. So, we went for a drive, without knowing where we were going. I love doing that. Actually, so does the hubs.

We headed east, into the direction of the terrible floods. The rivers in that direction were all so high, with swiftly moving water and swollen waters far outside their banks. Many roads were closed, due to the dangerously high water. Many cabins and homes are under water, due to the failing of a dam. So sad.

Next, I asked the hubs if we could head to a tiny town named Hopkinton, which was the former home of Lenox College (defunct since 1944). How had I even heard of this college? The wonder of the interwebz, of course. lol

It was a darling little campus, with a lovely church and several brick buildings, dating back to before the Civil War. The most important event to have happened at Lenox College (associated with the Presbyterian church), was the camps' response to the Civil War call for volunteers. All males on campus (except for two men--one underage and one in poor health) immediately joined the Union Army. It is written that Lenox College's sacrifice of all their male staff and student's was the greatest of all college's.

After poking around the campus, we drove to a town on the Mississippi River to have dinner. We found a place we had never been (thank you, Crackberry) and took a chance. The restaurant was right on the harbor, the sun was setting, it wasn't raining (amazing--remember the floods?), so we dined on the deck, overlooking the water.

We both had catfish and LOVED it. No dessert (remember the precious post?).

Overall, the day was such a nice, relaxing, spontaneous one, culminating in a lovely jaunt around the countryside. Ahhhh ...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

#207/365 This has gotta STOP!!

"Oooh. I passed my test. Let's celebrate with dessert."
(Applebee's Maple Blondie)

"Look at these cute cupcakes! I'll get some for the weekend for the hubs and I".
Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter and Chocolate Razzberry cupcakes from 'Scratch'

"Since it'll just be the hubs and I this weekend, let's have carmel pecan rolls from Johnson's."

Good thing there isn't something to 'celebrate' (and by 'celebrate' I mean, eat copious amounts of calorie-laden cuisine) every weekend. haha

This will not fly long-term...

Friday, July 23, 2010

#206/365 I AM SOMEBODY!!

Passed the exam.

Passed all coursework and competencies.

And I am lucky that I didn't rip my certificates as I excitedly opened the envelope.

I was excitedly ripping it open because the instructor told us that good news would come in a big envelope.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

#205/365 Amish Day Out

A local county park I used to talk my littles ones to, has been extensively improved. I was "in the neighborhood" and swung through to check it out. I was thinking that if it was nice, we'd take the crumpson there.

As I crossed into the park, I was met with this sight ^^^. Hmmmm....this park is smack dab in the center of Amish Country, but what was this buggy doing in the park?

Wow. What a pretty hiking trail head. That would be fun to do with the little man, too.

But what's up with the need to put a sign about 'no horses' on the trail? Who would even think about that?

Wait. What? (does double take) Horses? And hitching posts? In the PARK? I guess that explains the trail head sign forbidding horses.

Just around the corner, near the play ground equipment was this unexpectedly large Amish convention. It looked like a picnic or field day, as there were children playing on the play ground, young adults playing volleyball and women setting up tables with food.

I stayed a long, respectful distance thing for these photos. Trust me, the kids were pretty cute and I really would have loved to take their photos, but this is it. All you get.

And Val? I mostly certainly did *not* stare.

I grinned and waved happily.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

#204/365 Retro Reno

Remember this post?

I am pleased as punch with how this building's architectural integrity has been maintained.

Now, will the food be any good?

That remains to be seen.

Even if it's not, I am still so tickled that the building was preserved in such a respectful way.

#203/365 Rudy's

I felt terrible yesterday (fibro) and completely forgot about posting, in my effort to just survive (slightly overstated for dramatic effect--lol).

So, here are two photos from a local eatery from the previous day that should have been Tuesday's post.

This place has the best chicken taco salad I ever have known. So good, in fact, that I won't even order one elsewhere, because I know I would be disappointed.

All the hanging puppets?

Creepy or not?

I say not.

Monday, July 19, 2010

#202/365 Snail Mail

I am now caught up on my personal correspondence.

Yay me.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

#201/365 Light Reading? Not Really

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Iowa has (had?) the distinction of being the "Meth capital of the USA".

And the center of "Methland"? A short 10 miles from where I work. I work with children and familes who are been directly and indirectly affected by meth every. single. day.

It is ugly and heartbreaking and scary to see how powerful this drug is. And how easily it can be manufactured with common items, easily found in an agricultural state.

My awesome brother sent me a copy of this book, after telling me how good it was (Thanks, Bro!). He seemed genuinely surprised/concerned that I work in homes where meth is likely used, if not made.

I will admit, it is sad and distasteful and worrisome. But what can you do? Refuse to see a child who is delayed? Not an ethical option. Require them to bring the child to a site for therapy? They won't bring the child. No-one wins in this awful game. No-one.

I look forward to reading the book. I have only read through the prologue so far. It's very odd to read about things and places I know pretty well, as seen through an outsider's eyes.

I'll try to remember to let you know what I think when I am finished.

And pray for our vanishing, wholesome, Mayberry state.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

#200/365 Rolling out the Red Carpet

The Ayla Renae Welcoming Ceremony Centerpiece.
Cute, huh?
I can say that, since I had nothing to do with it. *wink*

Grandma (Ayla's great-grandmother) watching as Brian (Mr. New Dad)
shows he still has his birthday check in his wallet, un-cashed.

(squeal) Somebody's plumping up. :D

The new center of the universe...Ayla Renae.

New Mama and Daddy and Baby Ayla.

No family resemblance there, huh? Almost creepy. LOL

Ayla slept though most of the open house-style event.

Some good new baby loot was acquired and new family and friends were introduced.

And there were yummy and cute treats.

Like cupcakes (red velevet with creme filling) and duckcakes (looked just like rubber duckies; some heads and some tails) and fudge and punch. Nomnom.

It was a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon, especially the nap time that followed.

It's just too hot to do much of anything else.

Friday, July 16, 2010

#199/365 Pysch. 101 and Procrastination

Love the new bedding and the old bed. The bare lightbulb over the bed? Not so much. I will need to rectify that. The room definitely needs some touches of personality, but it is a faaar cry from where things were.

The curtains were re-purposed from the sun room. Which is also a project half finished. Like dominoes, this process is.

About halfway through the bulldozing, er, CollegeGirl's former room, I realized I should have take some 'before' shots. But I was waaaay to far into the 'cleaning zone' to stop and grab the camera.

After all, it had taken me 11 months to get to the point where I was ready to tackle the mess. I gave CollegeGirl a deadline to come and do it herself and when the deadline passed (yesterday), I just sorta decided it was TIME. She hate for me to be messin' in her stuff, but oh well. lol

See all that frap? A young adult's lifetime of frap. Most of it, I highly doubt she even remembers she owns. She already took all the good stuff. lol

Now, imagine that all that was allllll over the room. Messy. Messy. Messy.

So, why did it take me 11 months to clean her messy room?

Well, what if she was gonna come back? (insert crickets chirping)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

#198/365 Saddest Sight

In a now nonexistent town stands a beautiful church. The cemetery is peaceful and pretty.

I walked about enjoying the peace, alone with my thoughts. But when I saw this headstone, I just felt stunned.

A mom and her three young daughters, all gone in a single year? What had happened? Illness? Car accident?

Was anyone left to grieve? A husband/father? Brothers? Other sisters? ugh

I couldn't stop thinking about it. When I had a chance, I searched the internet to find the story behind this sad sight.

All I could find was the briefest mention of a plane crash, in the church's online cemetery records. I have lived in this part of Iowa, since I was a child. I do not remember such a thing happening, but ...

Wow. Four lives, gone.

And many more forever changed, I am sure.

#197/365 Looks like God's Country, but it's Hotter than ...

These scenes were on my way to a little client's home.

Gorgeous countryside.

Temperatures hotter than a hot place.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

#196/365 Pharoah, Joseph and the Gang

I do not have words adequate to describe just how wonderful this production was. Top notch talent.

We were invited, by Mark's mom, to a special showing for the retirement village where she lives. Great seats, fantastic performance and great food afterward.

What a treat for a Tuesday night. :)

Now, if my fibro would just stop SCREAMING at me, I'd be much happier.

Monday, July 12, 2010

#195/365 Hmmmmm...

Legal Fire Power:

Didn't buy anything.

Illegal Fire Power

In my driveway, last night at midnight, causing us to call the local law enforcement today.
They were nice, found one unexploded M80 (there were remnants of at least a dozen) and kept it "for evidence" (insert dubious look). And they said they would 'increase the patrol presence'.

Ok. I appreciate that. My tax dollars hard at work. Protecting me from squirrel-y teen vandals.

Sheesh, ya squirrels. Just get a job.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Shhhh! Top Secret (L O N G)

I dare say that there may be NOTHING in my closet that I paid full price for. I just do not think that is necessary. Hardly ever. And, if I can manage it, I usually try to only buy clearance items at TJMAXX and consignment stores, too. Might as well have a sale on a sale, huh?

Many people over the years have responded with surprise when I confess that nearly all of my wardrobe is from Goodwill, TJ MAXX, consignment stores and garage sales. Maybe they are just being polite. Maybe they think I am a freak (my adult children certainly do-ha!). I am not sure and I am past the stage in life, where I seek to impress others with the size of my clothing budget. (shrugs)

People also usually tell me that I am 'lucky'; that when they attempt to shop at Goodwill, they never find anything. I will admit, there are times I leave Goodwill, consignment stores or TJMAXX, with no purchase to show for my time. But this does not happen very often.

So, here are some of my Top Tips for shopping at Goodwill.

First, the things you will need: hand sanitizer, cash or debit card (or both), time, a shopping cart (especially if you have fibro) and open mind.

Next, it is important to realize that it takes time (and a plan) to find "the good stuff". Depending on how MUCH time I have, there are two ways I approach the store.

If my time is limited, I use one of these two method, depending on what I am shopping for.If I am NOT clothing shopping, I will take my cart and scan the perimeter of the store (usually books, household, electronics, games and toys).

Anything I see that I like, I will examine thoroughly. Check for chips, cracks, missing pieces and plug the item in (if indicated). There is usually a 'no return' policy for items at Goodwill and consignment stores, so buyer beware.

If I am in the mood for wardrobe shopping, I will zero in on items that I can quickly browse through, without having to get a dressing room: shoes/boots, jewelry, hats (don't try on and don't purchase, unless machine washable), belts, purses/bags, scarves, etc. I also may hit up the jackets/blazers and outerwear, since I can quickly slip things on, to check the fit.

If I find an item that appeals to me, I will usually buy it, even if I currently do not have an outfit it will match. I have learned over the years that the 'match' will come later. That happens to me allll the time.

If I have all the time in the world, I get a CART and fill it!!

I enter the store, grab a cart, put the heavy purse in the cart and off I go. If I am looking for something in particular (a dress, jacket, boots, etc.) usually go straight to those racks. There is usually no rhyme or reason to the way items are displayed (size, color, style), so dig in. Remember, this ain't a department store, so don't let the work of the 'hunt' discourage you.

I look at everything, at least by glancing at color, fabric and decade (ha!!). If I am not drawn to those things, I just keep flipping through the racks. By this stage in my life, I am aware of what colors and styles work for me. I am not usually able to pull off certain colors. I don't bother with those things. I also know what styles are most flattering on me. I avoid things I know I will not look good in.

If something catches my eye, I pull it off the rack and check the size. Not my size? Back it goes.

If the size might work and I like the color and fabric, I throw it in my cart. Remember, sizes can vary greatly. If the size on the tag looks too small or large, but the item itself looks like it might work, I hold it against myself to check. If it looks like a possible fit, I throw it in the cart. Lather, rinse, repeat, as I make my way through the racks.

By the time I have filled my cart with potentials, it is usually full of at least 20-25 items. Then, I head to the dressing room. I take my whole cart into the dressing room (if possible) and hang things according to what they are: dresses, jackets, tops, pants. Off come my clothes and the trying on process begins.

My Number One Rule is this...if I don't LOVE it, I will not buy it.

If the fit is not right, no go. If the color is not good on me, back it goes. If I am on the fence about an item, I will not take it home with me. My experience has been that if I don't love it, I will not wear it and since I cannot return it, I cannot recoup the money spent. Not. cool. Even if I only invest $3.50.

By following my Number One Rule, I usually weed out most of the items in the cart. This is ok with me, as I truly do not have a "need" for more clothes, bags, shoes, etc. I have 'wants' and as such, these acquisitions are completely optional. If I only leave the store with an item or two, that is perfect, especially since I know I already "LOVE" the few things I will purchase.

When it is time to check out, I may have spent an hour or more in the store. I consider this time well-spent, since I know I love the things I found and I know they fit me. I know that I will not have to waste time returning things. I also know that by shopping at Goodwill, that I can 'afford myself' and therefore, suffer no post-shopping guilt.


And now, some never before seen scenes from my closet. ::coughcough::

Remember, purses at Goodwill are $1.25, shoes are $2.50 and shirts and dresses and blazers are usually $3.95. And I have acquired these things over YEARS of shopping.