Boxes & Packing Tape & Pulled Muscles, Oh My!

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Packing a lot of my stuff and beginning the process of disassembling my bedroom has brought about some new discoveries and motivations.

I have more kitchen stuff than I realized, and since I love to cook, that will be a good problem to have once I find a house to buy. I really had no idea I had so much. I’ve put a few favorite kitchen items on my Christmas wish list, since they unfortunately belong to my sister. If I had the budget for it, I would be a Pampered Chef snob. My favorite roasting pan is a must have, so that’s high on my priority list of things to get.

I have a violin. I completely forgot I owned a violin. I can’t play it at all, which is probably why I forgot I owned one. I also forgot about my dulcimer. I pulled it out and it seems to still be in tune after having sat in a bag for years. Kudos to Mr. Rick for building such a great instrument. I’m feeling a little inspired to get back to playing some music. All of my poor instruments have been neglected for several years. I picked up my favorite guitar last night and my fingertips were in pain & begging for mercy in approximately sixty seconds. I hope to remedy that before too long.

I found a box of photos in the back of my closet that I didn’t know I had copies of. I thought I had lost them when my hard drive crashed a few years ago, so this was a happy discovery. I also found some cards and letters that I’d long since forgotten about but that I am thankful to have found.

I had two sections on one shelf of my bookcase in my bedroom – one of books I hadn’t read and one section of my favorite books that I love so much I will always keep. Those sections were separated by my awesome “A” and “Z” bookends from Janie. (“Thank you for my AZ!”) I have to say, I was a little sad to pack away my AZ. Most of my books went in a box to go in storage, but I pulled three or four out of my unread stack & took them to my parents’ house. Maybe just having a few books to choose from will keep me from feeling overwhelmed with choices and I’ll get them read.

I have two seasons of Gilmore Girls on DVD and haven’t watched that show in forever, so I took those two seasons to my parents’ house. I took the last four seasons of Friends, because I know how I sometimes need my Friends fix. I took two other DVDs over there, too – Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close because I found that movie fascinating and think my parents might enjoy watching it and Home Alone because Christmas is just around the corner and I know I’ll want to watch it in December. Oh wow, I guess I better try to find Elf, too! Otherwise, to storage it all goes.

I have two full boxes of board games, not to mention a smaller box of cards, Mancala, and Mexican Train Dominoes. I packed it all away except one game that I took to my parents’ house. I just can’t have Telestrations in a storage unit across town.

I love blankets. It was hard to decide which (and how many) blankets to take with me and which ones to pack. I decided to pack all but two. My old faithful Louisiana Tech sweatshirt blanket will come with me and so will my quilt. Everything else – storage. Even the new super soft one Janie gave me for Christmas! That one was hard to temporarily part with. It really is new to me since we just finally exchanged Christmas gifts two weekends ago.

I don’t think I’ve quite reached the halfway mark in my packing yet, but I’ve hustled this weekend. Soon I’ll be relocated and saving with a vengeance! I’m feeling pretty accomplished.

Unfortunately, I managed to re-aggravate a pulled muscle in the midst of all this packing and moving heavy boxes around, so I’m settling in with an ice pack, ibuprofen, and a Parenthood marathon on Netflix. My pulled muscle and I need a break. We’ve worked hard.

Lettuce Surprise You Co-op Update!

We are 2/3 of the way through the first calendar rotation of our co-op! This has been fun. It seems everyone has enjoyed it so far – even the assigned work day of shopping & sorting. Robertson Produce has been excellent to work with and my sweet parents have been so kind to provide our distribution point. Daddy even goes out to the storage room early on co-op mornings to turn on the air conditioners and get the room nice and cool for whoever is coming to do the work that day. I think the only problem we’ve really run into at all is that a lot of us like to hang around and visit a few minutes when picking up our shares, and the room can get a little crowded at times. It’s fun, though! On the occasions where a member has been out of town on co-op day, it has been very easy to find an alternate to pay $10 and take that extra share. In fact, I’ve had a few alternates tell me, “Let me know if you need someone else again next time!” This is proving to be a success. Round two of our co-op will start in October if all goes as planned and we’re expecting our group will grow by at least a few more shares! We’re accepting new members between now and the end of September.

Here are some photos of what we’ve gotten each time so far.

The first week, Melissa and I did the shopping. I took a few extra photos along the way on our work day, so first is a photo of the actual stash we took home. We bought Roma tomatoes, avocados, red onions, lemons, cantaloupe, cilantro, leaf lettuce, and squash. The second photo is of all the bags waiting to be picked up. The box in front is of the “bonus items” we had after all the sorting into shares was complete. When co-op members came to pay their $10 and pick up their share, they could pick a bonus item out of the box. There are two ways to handle extras; either just distribute something extra into each bag or allow members to choose something they want. Everyone so far has just had a little “bonus section” like this, which has worked out really well! It’s fun to choose your bonus item!

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The second week, Emily and Patti shopped and we got corn, pineapples, spinach, asparagus, and oranges. (Forgive the clutter in the photo!)

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The third week, Krisi and my Aunt Sue bought cantaloupe, lots of bell peppers, zucchini, grape tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, and bananas.

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The fourth week, Tabby and Lisa got red onions, tomatoes, squash, corn, cilantro, and strawberries.

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If you love fresh produce like all of us Lettuce Surprise You co-op members do, every other Friday feels like Christmas! Two more shop days to go. Mrs. Paula & Terri are up next, and then my mom & Mrs. Barnes will finish up this round.

Interested in joining next time? Contact me!

Humble Pie, coming right up!

One of my favorite movies of all time is While You Were Sleeping. There’s a line in the beginning of the movie where Lucy – Sandra Bullock’s character – is looking back on her childhood. She says her dad would tell her, “Life doesn’t always turn out the way you plan.” Then she adds, “I just wish I’d realized at the time he was talking about my life.” Hear, hear, Lucy Moderatz.

West Monroe is a bit mystifying. This is home and if I’m in Louisiana, this is where I want to be, but let’s be honest: this is not the land of opportunity. There’s no real reason housing costs here should be ridiculously high, but they are. I’m looking to buy a house. It’s a goal I’ve had for a while, but it almost feels like I’m spinning my wheels sometimes. Being a single gal, I’m not looking to live in a shady part of town. But guess where I can afford to buy a house? Yep – the shady parts of town. Even though I’ve been saving for quite a while and am very disciplined in my spending and saving habits, if I want to buy a house it’s likely going to be in a questionable area of town. It’s a bit disheartening. Okay, it’s very disheartening.

I’ve got the sweetest parents in the world. Have you met my parents? If not, you should. You’d love them. Everyone loves them.

My sweet parents have kindly asked – even encouraged – me to move back into their home temporarily so I can kick my house downpayment savings account into high gear. They don’t want me to live in the hood either. They have pointed out how much money I could save if I just lived at their house for a while and they’ve started cleaning out my old bedroom for me. So, I’m about to be that person. I’m about to be that boomerang kid and I’ve not been a kid in a long time. This is going to be mighty humbling.

I’m thinking by the end of September, I’ll be back at my parents’ house for a while, sleeping in my old bedroom and tucking away as much money as I can while keeping a close eye on the real estate market.

If you drive past my parents’ house and feel the need to point and laugh, I will totally understand. If you feel the need to yell, “cut the cord!” at me, I can only nod in agreement, because that’s something I have said when I’ve heard of perfectly capable 30-something year old folks living with their parents. I’m not allowed to get too upset about any heckling, because I genuinely understand where it’s coming from. Do I hope for heckling? Heck, no! But if it happens, I get it. I have to ask, though – does it make it slightly more acceptable since unemployment, Cheetos, video games, and lounging around in my underwear are not on the agenda? Maybe just a little? No? Okay.

It was certainly not in my life plans to move back into my parents’ house at this age, and if we’re being completely honest, a lot of my life doesn’t look like I expected it would. Life doesn’t look like I thought it would, but it certainly doesn’t look bad, either. I guess I’ve just gotta roll with it and acknowledge how blessed I am to be the daughter of Bo & Ginger.

Beach Vacation 2014

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This year’s beach vacation was lovely. Perdido Key, Florida is such a charming little town. Due to going during “peak summer” season and the fact that my friends and I live on budgets, we stayed at a more affordable condo than we usually do when we go during “late summer” and can afford a place right on the beach. We didn’t have an unobstructed view of the Gulf and our swimming pool was the temperature of a bath tub most of the time, but I would stay there again without hesitation. It was great. Next time I might mosey on down to my favorite condo’s pool that feels refreshing and not like a bath tub!

The weather was beautiful. It rained for about five to ten minutes after we got our luggage carried inside the first night and we never saw another rain drop until we were somewhere in Mississippi on the way back home. The Gulf was beautiful. I never encountered any seaweed, but only the occasional fish that would kiss my leg (and make me squirm!) and a school of jellyfish that sent us scrambling back to the shore on the last day. (They didn’t sting us!) If anything, the water was cold some days. It never got over 90 degrees the entire time we were there. We all got a little sunkissed and only Amber ended up with a sunburn bad enough to be uncomfortable.

We started with a three car caravan and managed to turn a seven hour trip into thirteen. Yes, I said thirteen. Partially, that is because we had to make frequent “clot stops”. Mama had a blood clot in her leg a month earlier so we wanted to make sure to stretch our legs. At the Mississippi Welcome Center in Vicksburg – clot stop #1 – I realized this was going to be an ordeal. I had to tell Mama and Mrs. Barnes that we weren’t taking clot stops to make new friends. We were simply there to stretch our legs and get back on the road. We were probably at that clot stop for half an hour. Mama had been carrying on her own long conversation with a staff member, but finally made her way outside. Once we finally sent Joe inside to find Mrs. Barnes, she was discussing a sewing table with a staff member, and then Joe himself got sucked into a conversation about civil war history. Then Mama had to go inside and get them both. This was when we realized it was going to be a long trip.

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The other major time block was due to a long wait at Lambert’s in Foley. Throwed rolls are a necessary experience for someone who has never been. On this trip, that was Stacy. Okra man was chatting (ie: flirting) with Mrs. Barnes so much that Amber and I were ready to serve okra to ourselves right out of his bowl. We were starving and he was just standing there with that giant bowl of delicious okra just outside our grasp. It was torturous. Black eyed pea girl walked around looking sad, hanging her head, because nobody wanted any of her peas. Sad black eyed pea girl actually became a running joke on this trip. The boy throwing the rolls seemed to be taking out his frustrations. He would fire hot rolls at diners as if he were trying out for the New York Yankees and then stare in disappointment if a roll was dropped. I got the look one time. You’d think he’d be happier what with having such a fun job! Amber started giving him dialogue as he fired his rolls at people – “This is for all you who made fun of me on the playground!” and “This is for not making the team in high school!”, etc.

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We finally got to Perdido around 9:00 Monday night. This is the first time I can remember actually arriving at our condo after the sun went down. I have to admit, it kind of bummed me out. I love being able to catch glimpses of the Gulf as we’re driving that stretch of road through Orange Beach and Perdido. We unloaded our stuff and then made our shopping list and headed to Walmart for some late night grocery shopping. We came in under budget (Dave would be proud!) and finally got everything back to the condo and put away around midnight. I think we went to sleep around 1:00 AM or later that first night.

Amber and I picked the right room to sleep in. It was in the very back of the condo and we had a ceiling fan and a small personal fan we brought from home. We never heard anyone else in the mornings until we wanted to. I think we consistently slept the latest every day and our sleep friendly room gets the credit. Plus, we got the room with an attached bathroom! Hooray! We just made sure to share it with Melissa and it all worked out well. (I’ve decided that since I’m the one who always has to do the research to find and secure a condo for our trips, I deserve the master bedroom! Sounds fair!)

Throughout the week, we ate a lot; it never ceases to amaze me how quickly we can devour multiple pans of brownies and an entire double recipe of taco layer dip.

We shivered in the Gulf waters until we became acclimated.

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That also blows my mind – we shivered in the Gulf at the end of July. We stuck pretty close to the shore on account of all the sharks who were in the area earlier this summer.

We had some Sonic happy hour drinks.

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We ate at Tacky Jack’s Tavern and Amber found what I’ve been searching for – children’s aviator sunglasses. They claimed to be polarized, but are not. I still love them anyway.

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We laughed more than I’ve laughed in a while. We revisited a memory Melissa, Joe, and I had from our 2007 beach trip where we wore funny hats in a gift shop as our elderly alter egos – Francis, Hagatha, & Eudell. Only this time, we had Stacy and Amber along. Joe’s serious facial expression in every photo just made it even better. We were that loud, obnoxious, laughing group you sometimes come across in public places. Our apologies, fellow tourists.

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We told funny stories: “Karl/you can close that box”, “Yeeeeeeah!”, and “yard dogs” come to mind.

A few of us saw dolphins and Joe even saw them from our balcony on the last day, even though we weren’t right on the beach. (He has freakishly good vision.)

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It was fun. It was great. We all were wishing we had another day or two before we had to come home.

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The return trip took 12 hours. How can we turn 14 hours on the road into 25? How?! It’s a good thing I like Amber and Joe, because we sure were stuck with each other a long time in the car! We ended up splitting up our caravan, so that probably got us home a little sooner than if we had stuck together. My car managed to stop at Dairy Queen, Zaxby’s, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Jimmy John’s, and Starbucks on the way home. Weight gain mystery solved!

Fun times, y’all. Fun times.