Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Tonight I had one of those great times where you just sit around with friends and solve the world's problems.  Of course, there really weren't any major problems...more like scheduling issues and show-and-tell, but you know what I mean.  Just some time to sit and chat and not worry a whole lot of anything beyond whether or not you have salad in your teeth. 

But as we talked, the layers peeled back.  Someone was dealing with health issues...and someone else was just a little down this season.  One was wondering how the tuition will get paid but knows it will and another was just pushing to get everything done on a deadline. 

You know...life.

How many times, though, do we really need our friends...just a word, a hug, or a companion over a cup of coffee?  We are generally happy to see people when we feel our best and aren't in need of anything.  We love to give gifts, bits of news (not gossip...there IS a difference...) and tell about the great deal we just got on something.  When we are tired...our hair looks as bad as we feel and we don't feel like we have anything to offer...it is difficult to muster up the enthusiasm to fellowship with others.  We don't want to be Debbie Downer, you know.

We want to be whatever the opposite of that is.  Penny Perfect or something.

Tonight I was talking about myself a little bit because we were talking about things we do well and things we struggle a bit to get through...and how great it is that God puts people who have opposite skill sets together.  Among my friends, I have artists, decorators, and women that can put together an outfit that looks like a million dollars but costs less than you'd believe.  They can sing so beautifully that I swear you'll cry.  They have houses that look like Southern Living was just there on a photo shoot, and others that can take pieces of paper and ink and make things of beauty.  And organizational skills? 

Oh yeah.

I think every once in awhile we need to take stock of our friendships and cherish the fact that there are some that we've had for years and others that we've had through one season or life or another.  We've grown older together...or we met through our alumnae group a year ago.  It matters not.  What does make a difference is that every person that is your friend either makes you better, helps you through it, or makes you want to become a more vibrant version of yourself. 

I know that's how I feel about my friends.

I think about all of the blessings that I have that I call friends.  How often have I been given a key to unlock something that has troubled me for years or been given the encouragement to grow beyond my comfort zone!  Even if the latter means that I am taken kicking and screaming...only to discover that someone knew me and my capabilities better than I do.

So, thank you to all of you out there who have made me a part of who I am.  There were those who took a shot at tearing me down...but it was my friends who built me up.  There were those who told me I couldn't...and there was a group of friends that laughed in the face of adversity and helped me get through whatever it was.  They are angels that God brought into my life at just the right time or to walk with me through this path called life.

Blessed?  You bet.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


It has been an interesting month.  I write those words sitting here after watching the Alabama Crimson Tide win against their archrival Auburn Tigers...I'm in a perpetual state of fullness that began sometime during the past week when I finally just gave it up and determined that starting a diet during Thanksgiving week would be somewhat brainless. 

Not that I didn't try for twelve hours on Friday.

In November, my daughter registered for her final semester at University of Alabama and my son registered for the remainder of his freshman year.  My sweet niece became a mother to a precious son named Noah Hunter...and his first cousin, Jacob Andrew - also my great-nephew - turned a year old.  I have watched football and bought Christmas gifts, finished a class of Apples of Gold, and discovered a neat little shop near my house that I have frequented so much that the cashier knows my name when I walk in.

I spent Thanksgiving swearing that it would be more low-key than in years past because at this stage of hormonal imbalance...low key is no longer optional.  I either stay calm...or a red hot version of the Incredible Hulk comes out...minus the green tint.  So, I picked the least difficult dishes to prepare and let other people do the rest because - honestly - getting my house in order is a large enough struggle without adding a meltdown over the fact that I'm out of some random ingredient at midnight for a dish that nobody is going to eat anyway.  My ability to try to do the impossible is something that I've always prided myself on...but as someone who vacillates between bursts of normalcy and brain fog...I just need to steer clear of trying to do too much.

For instance, on Thanksgiving Day, at 9:30 a.m. with a noon lunchtime deadline...and everyone beginning to arrive at 10:00 a.m....I actually thought it might be a good idea if I made a squash casserole to go with everything else that was planned.  Never mind that I was missing two ingredients and hadn't finished getting ready yet...it was still possible.  Sane?  Hardly...but definitely possible.  Two years ago, I would have made the casserole.  This year?  No.  I just put the squash back in the refrigerator and decided to get over myself. 

Good thing, too.  Because when my nephew and niece arrived at 10:15 I assumed that I was ready for company.  I passed a mirror in the dining room and scared myself.  No makeup.  As I walked to my bedroom, I realized that my feet felt funny.  I looked down and realized that I was sporting one black Mary Jane shoe on my left foot and a black slip-on mule on my right foot. 

So much for having it all together.

This year there was no meltdown...no grand scheme to pull together a Thanksgiving menu and presentation that Martha Stewart would have been envious of...and very little stress.  I had a sweet friend come over and decorate my house with the Thanksgiving items I have collected through the years and the 90% off floral arrangements that I snagged from Michael's last week because I ran into another sweet friend who told me of their existence by the door. 

Now if I can just figure out where I'm going to store them for next year.  Whoops.

As November comes to a close, I'm looking ahead as Christmas is right around the corner.  I'm almost through with my Christmas shopping, the Christmas project I have been working on for the past month is set to be delivered this week, and my Christmas cards are ready to be addressed and mailed.  I've even purchased my Christmas stamps.

I know.  I'm such a dork.

My goal for the next month is to just sit down and hope that I can find a way to slow time down a little bit.  It seems to be flying past me at a most disturbing pace.  I'd really like to just sit down and breathe without a mile long to-do list hanging over my head.  I mean - seriously - if you don't notice that you have on two different shoes or that you forgot to put on your make-up...you're doing too much and moving too fast. 

Guilty as charged.

Next month, I am going to try to write something every day.  Many of you have followed this blog and others of you have come by for an occasional visit.  Thank you for taking the time.  I know how valuable a commodity time is.

So, slow down...breathe...and please come back to visit often.  And let me know how it is going with you.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Christmas Shopping aka Female Hunting Season

I don't know if it was my Girl Scout training in "be prepared" or a natural inclination to get all excited about the beginning of female hunting season...but I'm knee deep in bargain hunting right now.  I made my list and checked it twice two months ago, because I am absolutely out of my mind apparently.

I am currently implementing Plan A just like I do every year which is "Buy Early...Stress Less."  Bear in mind that I generally end the season on something like Plan V which is "Chase Down Absolutely Unavailable Item" such as the L.L. Bean nightgown I wanted several years ago or Plan W "Cry In the Aisle of Publix Because They Are Out of Canned Blueberries" or something equally tragic. 

But I vow that this year will be different.  And so far it has been.  This was the year of the Christmas Club. 

Never mind that it was a woefully underfunded Christmas Club.  And that it is underfunded is in spite of the fact that I have honed the gift list down from what it was to what it is.  Yes, I've added the "Christmas Project" - the details of which will be divulged at some point in time - but that has really been a minimal outlay of dollars.  It has been a bit of a time hog though. I'm not pointing the finger of blame there. 

So, here I am at the beginning of Female Hunting Season...with my list, coupons, clue about how many credit card bonus points I have to spend, and a general idea of what is going on on www.fatwallet.com.  That last one is important because it is like a clearinghouse of sales and good deals from all over the world wide web.  I mean, where else are you going to find out how to get a Q-see Biometrics Fingerprint Door Lock for $98.24 with free shipping, a Thermaltake BlacXST0005U External Hard Drive SATA Enclosure Docking Station for 2.5" and 3.5" Drives with rebate and free shipping for $9.99, or a free sample of Garnier Ultra-Lift Deep Wrinkle Cream with SPF 30? 

Nowhere.  You may not need those, but out there in cyberspace...someone is going "Yessss!"  Scary, but true.  This season I've ordered from the Disney Store, Bloomingdale's, World Kitchen, Clinique, and Jarden Customer solutions already.  Who knows what fun tomorrow might bring?

And frankly, that wrinkle cream might not be a bad stocking stuffer. Kidding! (or possibly not.)

I mean...who has time to look everywhere?  I just know that every year I end up buying some interesting things for next to nothing that end up being really cool gifts.  I have to stretch the boundaries of "creativity" because Big Dave is one of those annoying people who likes to tell you what's in the box before he opens it.  When he guessed "cologne" last year and found out that it was a label maker that I had shipped to me for $5...I got to pour him a cup of "shut up" juice. 

That was fun.  And frankly...he uses that label maker quite a bit.  Who knew?  I just thought it was cool.  And, of course...cheap.

I also got him a Foodsaver system and a ton of bags for half of what I would have paid in the store for a system that is twice as good.  Thanks Fat Wallet!

Did I mention that Fat Wallet also gives cash back if you sign up?  And that it totally works? 

This year, I've already gotten five great deals...and I'm watching it like a hawk for a few more. 

I found out this year that two credit cards that I no longer use but are still open had rewards points on them that I liquidated.  That's going to make some people happy this year and "free" is certainly "budget-friendly."

Rock on.

I've also been the queen of coupons and have found that there have been a number of stores that have insisted on getting their sales going earlier than they have in years past.  I mean, there's the danger that prices could continue to fall...but if I sense that something is a good deal...I go with it.  If I can get Christmas gift tags at 50% off (Hobby Lobby) for $1 each...that's a deal.  If I can get 25% off of my entire purchase (sale included) at Lifeway...why not?  Or get an additional $20 gift card by purchasing $100 in gift cards at Bonefish Grill that I want to purchase anyway...why wait?


Plus, it's fun to get a deal.  You know it is!

My goal is to finish all but the bare minimum of shopping by December 1st of this year.   Never mind that this is my goal every year.

Every.  Single.  Year.

And yet...I have never accomplished this. 

Why?  Because I always have stragglers.  People that I like to buy for who don't want to let me know what they would like to have until the last conceivable minute (Mom and Brian) or have something specific in mind (Linda and Brian) or just want everything (Jill).  Those who want expensive items (Brian), difficult to fit in the car without profanity (Big Dave), or who are so easy to buy for (Jill) that they end up with more stuff under the tree numbers wise than appears fair. 

Yes, I do think one child having 23 gifts and the other having 8 might cause the latter to end up whining on some futuristic version of Oprah someday.  I'd really like to avoid that if at all possible.  It may already be too late.

But this year I have high hopes.  I've already gotten a lot done...and I've even mailed one package to its final destination.  I know!  The people at the post office were even impressed. 

I'm worried that the annual Christmas card may be my Waterloo.  For whatever reason, I have not taken as many pictures this year as I have in years past...and the chances of me getting my two together, dressed, and reasonably happy at the same time is fairly remote.  This may be the year that the dogs are on the Christmas card.

Hey, it could happen.

I know that Christmas shopping is a lot of fun for some of us and something that requires medication for the rest of us to get through.  Just try to focus on why you are doing it in the first place.  That joy on Christmas morning when somebody opens a gift that you've found and they are pleased at your effort. 

Or they find that the label maker really is pretty cool after all.

Happy hunting!

Monday, November 7, 2011

On Elevator Music and Other Random Recollections

Over the past few weeks I have sat down to write numerous times and have found that my muse is on vacation.  Hope the weather's nice wherever she is...

I haven't been particularly inspired by anything lately...although there's really always a lot to write about if truth be told.  I could go on about some of the serious things that have been on my heart or some folks going through this or that that have been on my mind a lot.  But some of what I'm learning isn't quite ready to spill out yet...kind of like when you're baking and the cake is almost...but not completely done.  If you try to take it out too early...you pretty much ruin the time you spent getting it to that point in the first place.

Although cake batter in its most basic form is among my favorite things in the world...but I digress...

I could go into why I feel the way I do about a number of subjects, or I could be completely honest all of the crazy stuff that seems to happen to me...because I just pretty much expect that it will. 

Or I could write because someone has asked me to log my impressions of something I'm involved with...but like a college freshman in English 101 staring on a blank screen...I'm waiting on what can only be described as "a vision."  And it will come...in time. 

But here I sit...with scattered thoughts of the past two weeks.  So, I'll just throw them out there.  Those random things that I recall.  You know...those little points in time that make life what it is. 

So here goes...

Recently, while on vacation, I spent a number of hours on hold for various things.  I don't know about you, but I tend to get a list of things that need to be done and I tuck them away mentally...or just make a list that I promptly lose.  When I actually sat down with a pad in one hand and a pen in the other, I couldn't think of jack squat that needed to be done.  Eventually I remembered a few things and realized that almost all of them involved calling a company to get something straightened out.  This generally does not end well.

I ended up on hold for forty forevers...listening to such classics as "Tequila."  Believe me...Pee Wee Herman's version was far better...

Yes...lovely isn't it?  I can't replicate what I was listening to...but here's Pee Wee's version...
 I do remember thinking "Whoa, this is an interesting version..." and noting that it was actually elevator music.  I mean, these days, it is really difficult to find it anymore.  Most companies put ads on while you are on hold, or have that annoying operator that comes back every 33 seconds to make sure that you know that you are still on hold 14 minutes later.  Even the grocery stores...a place that could definitely be counted on for elevator music...has now gone mainstream.  When you are cruising frozen foods and hear "Smells Like Teen Spirit" it is just wrong. 
I suppose missing elevator music either means that I am getting old...or I am just to the point where I realize that some things just run their course.  You get attached to a certain brand, flavor, or lipstick color and suddenly the powers that be quit making it.  This has happened to me so many times that I no longer get all worked up over it.  But boy do I get excited if I happen to run across something that I haven't seen in awhile...

A few years ago, I bought numerous candy bars from some kid raising money for selling World's Finest Chocolate.  Why?  Because some of my starter fat cells came from a combination of this concoction of milk chocolate and almond pieces...and Big Chic.  (Big Chic is the place in my hometown that makes the best fried chicken on earth.)  I was a little weepy as I wrote the check...because it had been years since I'd laid eyes on a bar of "band candy."  For most of my junior high and high school career, we raised money for various trips, uniforms, and upgrades by selling World's Finest Chocolate.  Sadly, I haven't seen any since.

I also wish that I could find a bottle of Jungle Gardenia.  It was the perfume my sweet Gammy wore every day...and why I so strongly associate gardenias with her.  They quit making it years ago...but they did sell the formula to Coty...who put it out briefly sometime in the 1990s. 

I also miss some cereal that my mother used to buy called "Concentrate" or something like that (hey, I was eight...sue me).  It had little flakes...and I remember eating that instead of Captain Crunch or Frankenberry or whatever everyone else was eating.  Every so often I'll try to find it in the aisles of a new store...but alas...no.   Ah!  I remembered that I have something called "Internet" that would allow me to find it.  See the pretty gold foil box?  I miss it. 

I also miss the colored candles that used to sit in everybody's windows at Christmas.  My grandmother had gold ones that looked orange from the street.  Other people had red, blue or green.  We all used colored lights on our trees instead of white ones.  I do love the sophistication of white lights on trees...but I miss how unbelievably tacky we were...yet how beautiful those memories are to me. 

This walk down memory lane...simply because I was listening to "Tequila" on elevator music.  And while I was listening, I was probably doing three of four other things at the same time.  That whole multitasking thing is a skill set that might have been a survival technique while I had little children at home and requiring a lot of my time...but these days...I really prefer just doing one thing at a time. 

Maybe I am getting older.  Or maybe I just want to appreciate everything that comes my way because I know the truth.  People move, die, or change.  Life adds challenges and takes away some of those little things that enriched our days.  Nothing lasts forever here on the big round orb.  (Except, of course, the picture of my mother without makeup from Christmas 1992 that she swears will be the only surviving photograph of her 100 years from now).

So, I'm going to multitask less...and focus more.  Enjoy the "good stuff" that I have and quit saving it for a special occasion.  I mean...seriously...EVERY day is a special occasion.  If you're here and drawing breath...that's a good enough excuse to do something that you love...just because.  Oh, there will always be those show-stopping memories...zero birthdays, graduations, and weddings...but why not just track down some product that you have loved and lost or light that really great smelling candle that you haven't burned because you've been waiting for something.

And if you see some kid selling World's Finest Chocolate...send them my way.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

On Life As I've Known It Lately

Sometimes life seems really busy.  Lately, I seem to have all of my moments scheduled...and have been living in a perpetual state of exhaustion.  I think that there are a lot of people who have a lot more on their respective plates than I do...but I can't speak for them.  I can only whine for myself. 

And just so you know...if you find yourself praying for a stomach virus, minor surgery or a hysterectomy...chances are that you need a week of vacation.  Possibly two. 

Trust me on this.

A few weeks ago, I realized that some of the vacation days I had planned to take weren't going to happen...so I decided to schedule a week off.  Since everyone else I knew had a routine of their own, was working, in school, or something...and I was too broke to actually go anywhere fabulous, I had my first "staycation" in something like five years.  Most of the time off I take is because I am traveling, participating in something, have company, or it is Christmas.  Not this week.

Saturday was spent traveling to Tuscaloosa to see Jill and to tailgate with friends.  I was able to see Jill's sweet, pretty friend, Emily ride on the back of a convertible as this year's University of Alabama Homecoming Queen.  How cool is that?  The food was good (Moe's) at the tailgate...and we got to visit with Jill for a little while.  The weather was glorious...a little too warmish for this time of year (anything above 60 after October 1st annoys me...so just know that) and we got home in time to watch the game on TV.  I won't go into the stop we made in Maplesville to eat that was a fail.  It matters not.  I was on day 1 of vacation!

And why yes, we do actually drive five hours to tailgate and see our daughter. 

We got up on Sunday, went to church, Sunday school...and then...wait, whoa.

Sunday again.

The week just flew by as any day Monday through Friday does except when you are actually at work.  I believe that this is because the collective wishing for Friday speeds time up for those who are not at work while making it seem slower for those who are.  Or something like that.

It has made me think though...this concept of blazing quick weeks whipping around...it being July one minute...and November the next.  Hanging on for dear life on the roller coaster of life as it seems a lot faster on this side of the hill than it did on the climb.  I mean, my daughter just registered for her final semester of college.  My two nephews and one of my nieces on the Mixon side are married, one of my nephews has a precious one year old boy, and my niece is about to have a baby boy any day now.

She's seriously wishing that time would fly by.  Can't say that I blame her. 

Wasn't I just at the hospital when they were born?  Didn't they just graduate from high school?  From college? 

Oh my.

I think about all that I still want to do in life and how little time I have - relatively speaking - to do it all should I be fortunate enough to be blessed with longevity.  I want to use it all up...see what I can...do what I should...and love everybody like crazy while I'm here.

Next week I have a few more days off from my stash of vacation days...and I am looking forward to actually getting to do nothing much but rest.  And write.  Pray.  Think.

But I've been thinking about some things that I want to do on this blog...some areas of life that I want to explore because beginning in March...I'll be 49...and starting my 50th year.

50.  A zero birthday.  I honestly need a year to just gear up for that at the rate time flies.

So, check back over the next few days for some ideas I have to try to get decluttered...find some joy...and live more simply.  I don't know everything...but I do know that when you seek those things in life...God has a lovely way of rewarding your effort.  Actually, I'd prefer this to the surgery and the stomach virus if truth be told.

Hope you'll join me for the journey.  I'm back.  Hope you are too.