Friday, April 30, 2010

Show and Tell

Would you be surprised to learn that my my favorite grammar school tradition was the Friday afternoon Show and Tell? Well, it was.

Emphasis on the telling part.

Based on the behavior of many school aged kids, I have a hunch that most schools no longer set aside time for Show and Tell. What a shame. Show and Tell taught us not only to stand and speak but to listen to others speak as well. It followed simple golden rules.

1. If you did not listen to the others, you did not get your chance to speak.
2. Keep it brief. There was a room full of classmates waiting after all…

And for goodness sake, try to be interesting. (I always added that part in my head while waiting.)

Life skills…

How we labored over our weekly choice! Sometimes, we received a gift or came upon some little eureka and could hardly contain ourselves until Friday. More often, we reached the end of the week without a plan. Then, Thursday night included the great explore throughout the house for the Fabulous Friday Yakabout.

Blogging is kind of like that.

Sometimes, I happen upon some tasty tidbit and can hardly wait to spill it on the page. Other times, I stare at the empty screen and feel the need to whip out the bloggadoodle.

So which case applies today? You be the judge.
Because today is Show and Tell.

Debbie, do you have something to share with the class?

Why yes, I do...

...and it’s this.

Prairie Hens

Ok, technically old yard chickens. But these are very special old yard chickens. They are the ones that I yakked about HERE. After my meander down memory lane, I started thinking about those old prairie hens. I asked the Duchess what had become of them, and she directed me to the vast wasteland behind her garden shed. So I ventured out… and there… half buried in dirt like a forgotten memory, I found Mama Hen and one of her little chicks.

I learned something that day.

It is very difficult for a 48 year old woman to do the happy dance while lugging a 50 pound concrete chicken. I dragged them out, dusted them off a bit, and ran inside to get the shiny red Kodak. I think I might have been squealing.

En route, I worried that I would be forced by good nature to share my treasure with my sister, the poke bonnet pal of my prairie years. I admit to considering an offer of Little Chick in return for custody of Mama. Finder’s fee and all…

I needn’t have worried.

The sister grinned at me like I was a little Polish and promised me that she would put up no chicken custody battle. They’re all yours Debski. 

Now, what I will do with them, I do not know. Suggestions?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Incredible Traveling Innie

This morning, my next thing was cleaning out that incredible traveling innie that I call my pocket book. This was necessitated by an embarrassing incident over the weekend which I shall leave unyakked.

As I was cleaning out the purse, I decided to start looking for a new one. True, there is nothing aesthetically wrong with the one I’m using. I like it, and it’s still in good condition. But the thing is just not working for me.

When I purse shop, have a few basic rules. First, I have to be drawn to the shape. Then, I have to like the way it feels when I hold it in my hand. I clutch it and bounce it up and down for a few seconds… I’m not sure why. In addition to the way it looks and feels, the purse needs a zippered compartment in the middle and at least one small pocket elsewhere for the cell phone.

And a pretty color helps too.

I have decided, however, to add a new item to my list, and it is this: I will no longer purchase a pocketbook large enough to house my entire head.

This is a new standard is necessitated by the ginormous purses on the market today. These just do not work for me. Any woman who can not maintain a walk- in closet should not be allowed to carry a walk- in purse. It’s just that simple, and I am that woman.

Items not only have a habit of gravitating to my purse, they have a habit of lurking at the bottom when they do so. This makes it impossible to find my cell phone.

Yes, I know I said that a purse must have a handy little pocket for the cell phone. My purse has one…. And I am absolutely positive that I return the phone to that little pocket upon hanging up, but inevitably, that tenacious little leaper ends up down in no man’s land. And it is while he is lounging in no man's land that he decides to burst into song. This usually occurs when I’m driving…. Which requires the one handed whirly bird to fly to the passenger seat and attempt to dredge him up from the bottom… all the while keeping both eyes on the road and the other hand on the wheel.

Aside from the wallet and the eyeglass case and the buried treasure of loose coinage and the 2 highlighters, 4 pencils, and 4 pens, and the shiny red Kodak, the cell phone might be hiding among all kinds of purse discoveries. Like these.

The pharmacy. I carry so many bottles of medicine around that if someone bumps into me, I rattle. In addition to the various pill bottles, I have mystery medicine lurking at the bottom of my purse. This carelessness renders them absolutely impotent since I have no clue about their type, expiration, or dosage.

Peppermint Wrappers: I use these to keep a record of my church attendance.

Lipstick. Not an uncommon sight in a purse, but those three tubes are the exact same shade, Sweet Mocha. They were samples from one of Clinique’s famous gift events. And I don’t even like the shade.

 Crackers… apparently ground into crumbs by the grist mill created in the search for the singing cell phone.

 Two pairs of sunglasses. I misplaced my sunglasses on our last trip to visit The Practical One. I searched her room to no avail. Finally, either in a show of great compassion or an effort to muzzle the sunglass lamentation, she gave me her own extra pair. They made me look like a character from A Bug’s Life but I took them anyway. Then, I found the first pair. In the bottom of my purse.

A Light bulb. There’s actually is a very good reason for this one. I carried the dead bulb to the store for replacement purposes. That was the day before my simple gift of friendship luncheon, which was two weeks ago. Why is the bulb still in the purse?

A clothes pin. I do not know…. Money laundering?

Keys. Lots of keys. And it is a scientific fact that it is impossible to locate car keys in a purse using the grist mill method. The more you grind, the more they retreat into the purse crevices. The only successful method of key retrieval is to dump the entire contents of the purse onto the nearest surface. And this must be done while crying. It’s a rule.

And so I’ve cleaned out the incredible traveling innie, and I’m borrowing one from Miss Whimsy while I browse for a replacement. wait for a sale.

And now, I’m headed outside to clean out my car.

Which I call Ebenezer.

But the husband calls a purse on wheels.

Can anyone out there relate at all?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Piney Pick Up Sticks

I haven’t been updating daily on my 29 Day Giving Challenge, mainly because most of them are pretty self explanatory from the little list on the right. It has been a fun challenge, though, and I’m happy to report that I haven’t, as yet, missed a day.

I was all set to yakkity yak about my gift from Day 21 when I opened  Jennie's Blog and I read about her Great Mulching Adventure while Super Sam was out of town. In case you didn’t read it, Jennie ordered and spread a truck load of mulch with one hand… with the other hand simultaneously feeding, bathing, diapering, deboogering, schooling, and snuggling three small children.

OK, I added most of that, but it was still a pretty impressive undertaking in my book… so I hesitate to cackle about my own proud accomplishment.

Because I picked up sticks and pinecones. 

I could say in my defense that I don’t usually do yard maintenance… if that statement in and of itself didn’t need defending as well. In our division of labor, lawn maintenance falls mostly to the husband.

Because, welll...

I am, however, trusted to help with the game of pick up sticks. This is not such a difficult task in the front lawn, but as I’ve mentioned, our back yard is mostly a piney Georgia stick forest which rains down sticks, pinecones, and other debris in a never ending backyard blitzkrieg.

I hate it.

That’s why I procreated slave labor. That system worked for me until The Practical One went to college, leaving only one daughter at home to help.  And since that daughter has been a whirling dervish of over scheduled senioritis lately, the piney stick forest has kind of… well…gotten out of control.

And so for the entire household, and for our back door neighbors, I did back yard patrol for my gift of the day. This was actually a pretty big task since the up and down motion wreaks havoc on my lower back. So I sandwiched it between other chores every ten minutes on the hour until the job was done.

 I picked up every piece of pine menace no matter how small.

And then I emailed this picture to the husband…

Subject: My gift of the day

And I waited for his response.

And I waited.

Finally, I got an email back.

And it said…

“Please tell me that there is not a gift box  full of pinecones sitting on my bed.”

Such a smarty pants I married.

Friday, April 23, 2010

When June Comes to Dinner

Have I mentioned yet that I married Beaver Cleaver? Well, I did. Oh, I briefly considered comparing the husband to Wally, the cool big brother of the Cleaver clan. But in full honesty, and because I have seen the freckles and heard the stories, I know that I married The Beav.

And I know that this is true because his mother… my mother-in–law… is June Cleaver. Yes, she is.

Actually, that other June has nothing on my mother-in-law. She raised two boys. My mother-in-law raised FIVE… count ‘em FIVE rough and tumble boys. And yet, when I first met The Beav, the carpet in her common area was white.

And it was clean.

Lest you assume that June is one of those clean freak “remove your shoes at my front door” types, she isn’t. She’s just June Cleaver, which means that she lives in a tidy little sitcom set where invisible stage hands remove dirt and clutter during the station breaks.

At least that’s the view from my side of the screen.

June whips up culinary masterpieces from her incredible self-cleaning kitchen. Never, in 25 years of marriage, have I seen that woman make a cooking mess. I, on the other hand, can’t make a bowl of pasta without turning my kitchen into a crime scene. I inherited the messy cook gene from The Duchess.  It’s frustrating. I try so hard … only to turn around and discover some smirking pot or bowl and think, “Where in the world did YOU come from?”

In that 25 years of marriage, June has assigned me one task in her kitchen, and that would be the task of preparing the relish tray. That's because my culinary gifts are limited to the arrangement of pickles and olives on a pre-divided platter.

So you can imagine how June’s visits to this neck of the woods are accompanied by weeks of anxiety. Over the years, I have discovered a method that works for us. I’m glad to share… just in case you married a Cleaver too.

We grill.  He grills.

Not only does that keep the mess out of my kitchen, but there is an ulterior motive. You see… if the grilling is being done by the husband... her son... the one that she raised.... a true June is always a cheerleader and never a critic. A true June can retire well off her  Mommy Point Pension.

OK, not very Proverbs 31ish, I admit. But it works for us.

And that would be the inspiration for this post this morning.

Because we had a salad the other day which I like to call Mother-in-law Salad. I call it this because once, about a decade ago, June came for a visit.

And along with the grilled vegetables and grilled pork tenderloin and baked potatoes for dummies, I served this salad.

And June asked for seconds.
And the recipe.
And I think that any dish which passes the June Test must be worth sharing.

So I am.

Mother-in-law Salad

           Green leaf lettuce
              (the purpley green leafy stuff from my garden)
           One pear, diced
           About ½ cup of walnuts
           About ½ cup of bleu cheese
               (The Beav prefers feta)
           One small red onion thinly sliced 
              (or chopped if you prefer)
           And raspberry walnut vinaigrette.

That’s it.

I know... I know... couldn't she just post the recipe without all that yakking? No.

And per suggestion from the comment box below, I'm going to peek in the door at Foodie Friday. What do you think they'll do when Lucy shows up?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Veggie Tales

Remember back in January, when Old MacDonald and his wife decided to plant some square foot gardens? I could hardly wait to be able to savor and share the fruit of our his labor. I put in my order… spinach for salads and smoothies… lots of lettuce… some broccoli, Brussels sprouts, summer squash…

…OK...actually, I can’t even remember all that I requested. In fact, I’m not completely sure what’s out there. It kind of looks like a jungle to me. This has actually become the husband’s pet project. Mr. Little Red Hen has done it all. He built the beds. He lugged the dirt. He planted the seeds. (OK, plants. He didn’t start from seed. The man is a salesman, not a farmer.)

He watered the plants…

…except when he is out of town. In those cases, I get the three syllable reminder. “Deb-or-ah… did you remember to water my garden?” I say that I have then skedaddle outside to make an honest woman of myself.

My job was supposed to be harvesting.

And then, overnight… those leafy greens burst forth into Vegetable Paradise. And I do mean overnight. Apparently, some vegetables grow as quickly and unexpectedly as daughters do.

Because when I went out for my walk yesterday morning, this is what I saw.


So I ran like a happy camper up to my eaves where I keep my 4,276 baskets. And I found the one most similar to the arm basket in  my little fantasy land.

Now, I happen to be fond of raw spinach. I do NOT happen to like cooked spinach. I have tried to like it, but it has the carrot and sweet potato effect on the tip of my tongue. Unfortunately, I also know that the best spinach for a fresh salad is that of a small leafed sort. And since I dropped the spinach ball and let ours grow into elephant ears, I figured that most of my first harvest would have to be used for something else.

So Popeye and Olive Oyl had pineapple/banana/spinach smoothies for breakfast. Now, I realize that the thought of a spinach smoothie probably triggers the ewwww button, but they are delicious.

And it came from our own garden.
So then I bagged up some more for the next few days.
And I shared a bag with a friend.
Because that was all part of the plan, too.

Today, I tackled some purpley green leafy stuff out there, and I’m planning a wonderful salad.
 And then...
...just as I was about to bring in the sheaves, I spotted THIS.


The Great Green Hope.

Monday, April 19, 2010

I Know Why The Trees Were Smiling!

Remember these piney stick faces?

At the time, I wondered what had made them so happy. Well, Saturday on our walk, I think I found the answer.  As we approached the house directly across the street  from the piney stick smiles, this is what we saw.

I couldn’t tell exactly what it was at first, but the husband knew...and he started chuckling.
Give a little boy a pile of dirt, some sticks, and a little time, and you end up with this.

A piney stick stockade, complete with rifles-on-the-ready  to protect from vicious invaders.

Twenty years ago, this might not have been so noteworthy. Forty years ago, it was as common as azaleas in the southern springtime. But today, we took note. Because today we rarely see evidence of simple childish playtime, at least not around here. Too often, our neighbhorhood looks like that scene from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.... the one where Truly Scrumptious asks, “But where are all the children?” And the Child Catcher du jour appears to be a tripped out electronic screen.

At least that’s the view from my side of the hill.

But at this house, the little boys are often outside, playing.

Apparently, Mom and Dad got a load of dirt delivered, and they didn’t mind the sacrifice of load or lawn for a day of Let’s Pretend. The husband and I meandered on a side trip down memory lane. I wondered aloud if they were protecting their fortress from those smiling pine tree invaders. The husband corrected me. Two guns, he observed, were firmly planted toward the forest in the other direction.

Definitely, injuns.

I returned home and headed back out with the shiny red Kodak. And then, I made those little pretenders a batch of my favorite cookies.

Simple gift, day 16.
I’m pretty sure that in this instance, we were actually the receivers.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Big Score in the Dish Towel War

Look what I found at THAT place while shopping for dish towels and the sponges for my simple gift.

Now look even closer...

They now have dish towels specially designed for the clorox~aholic. Who knew? Apparently, I would have known if  I had bothered to replace my dish towels sooner. I was so giddy with excitement that I included them with Mr. Clean's simple gift. 

And I put them in a giftie bag and left them with a note.

He told me that I was odd.
But he smiled when he said it.
He gets me.
I get him too.
That's what makes it a gift.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Marrying Mr. Clean

I love my husband. I have yakked about him HERE.

He’s a wonderful husband, the kind who pitches in and does all sorts of chores around the house. He cooks. He cleans. He helps with the laundry. He’s Super Dad.

I’m very blessed.

But sometimes... sometimes…I sort of wish that he didn’t know a Downy ball from a softball.

Because I married Mr. Clean.

My husband has a love affair with Scotch Brite Sponges. He buys them in bulk for perpetual availability and stores them in a gallon sized baggie under my sink. This Scotch Brite affection is so legendary that he has actually received boxes of them for Christmas gifts. He was thrilled.

He has used his Scotch Brite sponges and Mr. Clean biceps to scrub my kitchen into oblivion. He scoured  the finish off a laminate counter... He dulled the shine on a glass cooktop... And I might be the only wife in America who had to replace Revere Ware cookery because her husband scrubbed off the handles.

I hoarded them.

When he is not scrubbing my pots and pans, he is scrubbing out baggies. He turns them inside out, attacks them with the Scotch Brite, and pitches little tents all around my kitchen sink...

...a little baggie Hooverville.

That particular mess doesn’t bother him one iota. After all, he's an outie... and an even bigger reuser than I am. I once returned home to discover a single piece of paper towel spread out on the counter, drying. Apparently, Mr. Clean had decided that it was a perfectly good piece of paper towel because, as he explained to me, he had merely used it to wipe up some water.

I introduced him to Mr. Dish Towel.

He became infatuated.

So much so that a kitchen clean-up is only complete when he flies the Hooverville flag from the oven door. Now, This wouldn’t bother me so much if all of my towels didn’t look just like that one.

I have tried to replace them with pretty, colorful towels, but I have finally surrendered.
You see, the man is also just a tad germaphobic and certifiably addicted to the bottle of Clorox. He believes that every load of towels requires a cup of the stuff.  I have tried to explain to him that most towels are used to dry clean things. Therefore, industrial strength disinfection seems like overkill. Nevertheless, he stays on perpetual bleach offensive.

So we play a little game.

I buy new towels.

And he turns them into this:

Or this:

You might be wondering what set Little Debbie off on this ramble today...

Well, it’s this:
I discovered yesterday that Mr. Clean has won the current round of dish towel tag. I can not find one single dish towel fit for anything but the rag bag.

And so, I will venture into THAT place.
And I will purchase some new ones.

But while I’m there, I am going to pick up some Scotch Brite sponges. Because I also discovered that his sponge baggie is almost empty. And that is my gift for today. I might even wrap them.

Honestly and truly, Sponge Bob will be thrilled.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Simple Gift of Friendship

On Friday, I invited a few friends for a luncheon at my home. It was no special occasion, unless you consider friendship alone a reason to celebrate like I do. Actually, we had been tossing around the idea of starting a luncheon club for a while now. The inspiration came from the The List. On it, I have a section dedicated to the use of the beautiful china, crystal, serving pieces etc. that I keep way too secured behind the glass curtain. I think it’s a casualty of the Mommy Years. My friends agreed that their own lovelies had suffered the same fate, and so the idea was born.

Since it is spring break, and since I am in the middle of my 29 Day Gift Adventure, I decided to jump in and host the first luncheon. I’m so glad that I did. We had a lovely time.

I snapped some pictures before the guests arrived. After that, I put up the shiny red Kodak and enjoyed my friends.

The table setting was pink, not only because I love pink, but also because my china is pink. (Yes… back in the 80’s we didn’t have enough sense to choose a neutral pattern…I love my Shenandoah, however, and would probably choose it all over again if I had the choice.)

China: Shenandoah, by Noritake 
Crystal: Moonspun, by Lenox.
Flowers: Azaleas and dogwoods, by God.

The food was deliberately light and all easily fixed ahead of time.

The salad was a mixture of spring greens, fruit, and vegetables. I added dried cranberries for a little pink and served with pink raspberry walnut vinaigrette.

The lunch plate included curry chicken salad, cold vegetable salad, and pasta salad. My sister provided her delicious pasta salad for us. Not only did it help to have it made, but she’s doing the 29 Gifts Challenge with me so that was her gift for the day.

And do you see that lovely little bed of lettuce? It's a first fruit offering from our square foot gardens that I yakked about HERE.  Right now, they are looking more like this.

Meanwhile, back at the luncheon...

Because we’re all dieting, I kept the dessert really simple. It’s a weight watchers recipe for pink cherry fluff.

Coffee and conversation lasted until 5:00, and we planned our next luncheon for the beginning of June. (May was intentionally skipped… If you are a teacher or have school aged children, no explanation is necessary, is it?)

Lunch with friends. My 8th gift.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Practically 21

Twenty-one  years ago today... at precisely 3:33 in the afternoon...
I began the greatest adventure of my life.

It has been a wonderful ride.

And I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

We're heading out in just a little while to Macon, Georgia to visit a birthday girl on her special day.

Happy Birthday to my dear daughter.

I hope it's practically perfect in every way.
Just like you.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Simple Giving: Simple Service

As I’ve said, my girls are opposites in many ways. One profound difference is their individual takes on clothing storage. The Practical One keeps her clothes neatly organized within the innie options. One station for blouses… one for shirts… another for jackets, dresses, slacks… and the beat goes on. When stressed, she loves to pull them out, sort, and reorganize.

Miss Whimsy, on the other hand, views clothing storage as drudgery. She tends to stuff them wherever she can find the extra inch.
No order.
No plan.
No possible way that she can see the forest for the trees.

(Honestly, I think it's genetic. I flunked Clothes Closet 101 too.)

So periodically, I have to require that she sort out her clothes. This generally takes place during the seasonal change out. First, we pull everything out… of the closet… of the drawers…and of the box under the bed. And then we sort. We eliminate anything that is very obviously too small, very obviously too worn, and very obviously too outdated.

And then we sort the remaining items. This requires trying on anything which has earned “iffy” status. Not so much of a big deal these days, but back in the growing- like- a- weed days, it was a royal pain.

To her.

Because she always had four times amount of clothing of any normal child. This wasn’t the result of overindulgence as much as the fact that she’s the family Second Hand Rose. The fourth of four girls, she was the recipient of every “I paid good money for that” survivor of other seasonal sort piles.

I think this has left an indelible mark on the girl because to this day, she has a Pavlovian Response to the words, “Clean your closet”.

The instant they are uttered, she begins to morph into a human question mark. She drops her head, hunches her back, and drags her hands at her knees…

And she hrrrmphs.

She’s done it for years. I don’t know why; it has never reaped any peculiar reward for her. It just makes her look like Neanderthal Girl trying on a sundress.

So Tuesday while she was at the lake, I made the Great Closet Clean Up gift # 5. I pulled everything out, including those shoes (another post another day…) and I sorted it myself. First, I sorted everything that I thought would probably be given away. What was left, I stacked by style of clothing and season. That which I was sure she would wear this season was organized in the closet.  When she got home, a very grateful daughter gave a thumbs up to the give away pile.

She gave a grateful two thumbs up to being given an additional weekend to decide which winter clothes should be saved for another year.

We stored them here... her sister's room.  

By the way, if you hear of an earthquake in central Georgia, never fear. It will merely be the sound of The Practical One hitting the floor in a dead faint ...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Walmart is reading my blog!

I can see no other explanation for it.

I’ll report; you decide.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s novel, I recently ventured back into Walmart Land for a 3 item pick up. And as I walked through the door, THIS is what caught my eye.

There, sitting discretely by the front door, was this quiet little tower of market baskets. Didn’t I just complain last week about the absence of market baskets at my local Walmart?

Why yes, I did. I wokkked about it HERE.

So I whipped out the shiny red Kodak to obtain the evidence, and as I grabbed a market basket to carry on my 3 item walkabout, I asked Mr. Greeter exactly when our Walmart had begun to offer those handy dandy little baskets.

And he said, “Last week.”

Coincidence? I think not.

I was chewing on this tidbit on the way home when I happened to catch a glimpse of a huge banner plastered across a store. It’s a relatively new store… the only local competitor to my favorite formal shop.

The one I yakkity yakked about  HERE... and HERE

And the banner said:

Now, I’m convinced.

Apparently, I have The Power.

Maybe today, I should yak about Congress…

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Busyness of Simple Giving

I had intended to update in bits and spurts about my 29 Day Gift Giving Challenge, but that Busyness Demon kept getting in the way. He tried, in fact, to keep me too busy to think about the gift giving commitment itself, but he tried in vain. The better Spirit prevailed. I stand solidly on day 6, more committed than I was at the beginning.

So here’s a brief  update  novel summarizing the first  4 days of simple gifts.

Day 1

This was an easy one since we had previously planned the family birthday party for Miss Whimsy to coincide with Easter weekend, and I had given myself permission in advance to count such gifts in my 29 days.

So I did.

Day 2

In truth, Saturday presented many opportunities to claim a similar prior plan. Crazy as it may sound, Saturday night, smack dab in the middle of Easter weekend, our school hosted the Junior/Senior Prom. (I know… I know… I was incredulous as well…)

Now, technically I could have counted the dress… or the hair… or the nails… or the pre- prom dinner that we cooked and served to her little group… or any number of indulgences surrounding the Cinderella Story. But I didn’t. Let’s face it: the Princess Project is as much a gift to the Queen as it is to the Princess. That would be cheating.

I did, however, figure out a way to combine the prom festivities with my giving challenge, and I did it on the Red Carpet that our school hosts as the Cinderellas head into the ball. In true paparazzi fashion, I hailed down every couple for whom I have a matching mom’s email address (quite a few) and asked them to pose for a picture on the runway. Then I emailed the pictures to their moms, who might or might not have made it to the runway themselves. In truth, the heart of my gift was not merely the picture, but the acknowledgement that I, too, had bothered to notice her Cinderella or Prince Charming on that runway that night.

Day 3

This was Easter Sunday, and I was admittedly having a little gift giving frustration this year. I am a very traditional person. The girls have had the same Easter baskets for as long as they can remember. As they got older, I started the tradition of buying them a new spring pocketbook to go with a lesser offering in the Easter basket. It works for us. Usually, we browse the favorite Purse Paradise, and they point out a few pretties which catch their eyes.

Shiny Purses of 2009

 Not this year. Oh, we browsed, but neither daughter seemed to spot a single purse that she liked enough to justify the expense. This is not good when Little Debbie is already crouched on the edge of Meltdown Mountain. And a gift isn't just something that you "check" off a list.

Then I remembered something that they each wanted. And so I took a boot- sized step out of the Easter box, or basket in this case.

We purchased and filled up these rain boots instead of the basket.

 I’m still not sure how I like the basketless Easter, to be honest. But it made the girls chuckle. And so I call this gift #3.

Day 4

I woke up on Day 4, totally tuckered and without a plan. Now, a lesson learned from the 2008 Challenge  was that often giving requires the stepping out of the comfort zone of your own house and mingling with the pubic. There, you will undoubtedly find a gift giving opportunity.

So I went to Walmart. Oh yes, I did.

Risky, I know. But I had exactly three things that I needed to get, one of which was a gallon of milk. When milk is not on sale at the grocery store, I buy it at Walmart. So off I went…

And the minute that I got to the parking lot, Little Debbie started her wokkkkking. It was already crowded, and I was having trouble finding a parking place. What threatened to set off the irk~o~meter was the number of spaces which would have been available, had some lazy Person of Walmart not plopped his cart willy nilly the middle of it.

And just as Little Debbie was about to go on a mental tirade, I “got” it. And I turned it into gift number 4. Parking my car at the back of the parking lot, I proceeded to collect every wayward cart and haul it to the cart return. The last one, I pushed into the store.. the wobble wheel leading the way. After I finished my shopping there, I headed to both grocery stores on the way home and did the same thing.

Whew. Attitude adjustment, gift giving, AND exercise all in one.

I have a gift to report from yesterday, but since this is already way too long, and since the gift was for Miss Whimsy… and she hasn’t discovered it yet… I’ll wait to include it with the next update.

Which will hopefully be more like the CliffsNotes than the novel.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

How Beautiful...

A local church gathers around their simple wooden cross for Sunrise Service. At the conclusion, worshippers can decorate the cross with offerings of flowers that they have brought from their homes and yards. In the end, it looks like this:

I love it.

Friday, April 2, 2010

29 Gifts

I knew it was coming.

It wasn't a surprise, and it’s not a mystery.

But I’m overwhelmed.

And I am feeling a just little bit broke.

And yes, I mean “broke” and not “broken”.

I’m feeling broke, as in
Out. Of. Cash.

OK, I’m not technically broke. I just got a paycheck yesterday, in fact. But I’m going through one of those seasons when I feel as if the motion of hand to wallet to debit card to the slidey thingie is set on auto replay, and I can’t seem to do anything about it. I’m stuck in a perpetual game of what The Practical One used to call "Check Slide Beep".

And I knew it was coming. In fact, it really isn’t a cash issue because I had been squirreling away money for this season since Christmas. But no matter how much money I squirrel, and no matter how much I prepare Little Debbie for all that check slide beeping, she still threatens to melt down when I’m in the middle of a compulsory spending season.

Because I’m a tightwad and a worry wart. And yes, I know that both are ungodly sin- natured qualities. And that, of course, adds feelings of guilt to the ever growing pile of misery.

Spring is generally a spending season for us. As a teacher, I “wisely planned” the birth of my daughters for this time of the year. (Well actually, I planned them for the summer, but God designed it differently.) So I have birthday expense, and Easter expense, and then the Prom mega expense, followed too quickly by graduation gift expenses, which will be significant this year since I have a graduate among them. And the price of EVERYTHING is so high these days…wok wok wok wok wokkkkkkkkkk…

I have thought a lot about my worrisome attitude in the past few days, and I know that it needs an adjustment.

So as I sit here on this Good Friday morning, my thoughts naturally turn to the concept of giving. And I have been thinking about another season in my life when I felt overwhelmed.

It was the fall of 2008, and we were among those riding the first tsunami of unemployment. The husband’s job had been eliminated earlier in the summer. I wanted to keep ten fingers clenched tightly on the clasp to my wallet and guard it unto death. I was looking ahead to Christmas and wondering just exactly HOW I was going to add “it” to the out box.

And I stumbled upon THIS.

It’s a wonderful concept of redirecting our focus to the honor of giving. It’s a commitment to give a gift each day for a period of 29 days, a challenge to give intentionally… and yet spontaneously at the same time.

Gifts need not be monetary. In fact, my gifts during those 29 days that fall could not be monetary. I simply didn’t have the cash to spare. But I did have my imagination, and I did have my time. And so I set out on a 29 day journey of intentional giving. And I returned with some wonderful souvenirs.

So today, I’m starting that journey again. I have dubbed the remaining days of April  29 Days of Intentional Giving. Lucky me, I have several gifts already purchased or planned, and I’m giving myself permission to count them. But I will also have many days when I’ll have to think outside the box and think more abstractly, creatively, and without spending a dime.

I’m ready…


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