Monday, January 31, 2011

The Great Snow of 2011

Well, it actually wasn't all that great. We were trapped at home for several days, and school was closed for a week. Fortunately, we had power and water and plenty of food, so the only negative was very cold temps and a deep desire to get out and Do Something.  Unfortunately, the entire northern half of Alabama came to a screeching halt as everyone surveyed the snow-covered scene in stunned disbelief.

A day later, and the 4-lane highway at the end of our little street was still a mess.  We would've walked down to get some barbeque (there's a place just before that curve in the road) but since THEY couldn't get to work, we were out of luck!

Thanks to the foresight and long suffering labors of the philosopher, he embarked on a major project: shoveling our Entire Driveway. It was a smart move, as our neighbor's driveway remained a solid sheet of ice for an entire week!


After he came back in for a steaming cup of hot tea, we toyed with the idea of shoveling our little street too.  There are only three houses on it, and it's a dead end, so we knew the snow plows would never make an appearance.  We decided not to, but later that day we did what we could to drive the truck up and down, hoping to melt away some of the snow while it was soft so it could evaporate before the deep cold settled in that evening. 

Well, it kinda worked.  Three days later we were able to escape!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What Not To Wear?

OK, I admit to being a viewer (I don't think I will go so far as to call myself a "fan") of TLC's show "What Not To Wear".  I've learned some things about how clothes fit, and why certain styles look better on certain body types.  I've giggled at some of the hosts' jokes, and been horrified at some outfits.  There are some "reality shows" that focus on getting a laugh by making fun and demeaning whatever regular joe is on.  This one, I would like to think, really is focused on making the women (who is nominated by her friends) feel better about themselves and how they look and dress.  Plus, the show gives them five thousand dollars to spend in New York City on new clothes.  Bonus!

All that to say, I've been looking in my own closet a little more carefully these days.  And I haven't been all that crazy about what I see.  It's been a while since I've really purchased any new clothes, and many of my "work clothes" are showing significant signs of wear.  So when my dad asked me what I needed for Christmas this year, I told him that I could use some new work clothes.  He was amazingly generous, and Christmas Day I found myself confronted with a $300 Visa gift card and a mandate to "spend it all on clothes".

Did I mention I abhor shopping for clothes?

Sigh.  Be careful of what you ask for - you may get it!  My dear, long-suffering and patient husband agreed to assist me in the task ahead.  I knew some of the basics that I needed, like khaki pants, a black skirt, and a new blouse or two.  But beyond that.... yikes!  Much to the surprise of our biologist friend (visiting us for New Year's), she got roped into the experience too.  And we started the day in my closet, looking at what I already had and what I needed to send to the thrift store.  She wasn't as cranky as Clinton and Stacy are, but it was stressful, let me tell you.  (Did I mention I detest shopping for clothes??!?)

So off we went... to the mall.  To the Big Box Clothing Stores that intimidate me in their vastness and befuddle me in their methods of organization.  By the way, did I mention I have a bit of a snarky side, and it really comes out when I'm perusing current fashions?  This personality feature was merely enhanced by the presence of the philosopher and the biologist!  So once we got the snark out of our systems, we settled down to some serious shopping.

Did I mention I'm also a bit of a ... well ... penny pincher?

So I hit the sale racks.  And came to the realization that the "sale racks" should be called the "tacky clothes no one else would buy racks" or the "clothes in completely unwearable sizes either tent-like or barbie-shaped racks".  Nonetheless, I persevered.  Since I had two watchdogs making sure I didn't bolt from the building, I had to try stuff on.  And I had to try on stuff THEY found.  And they cheered when I said "You know, I kinda like this." And that was affirming, so I wanted to hear it again, so I found another suitable garment.  WooHOO!  A breakthough!

Actually, no.  I gave up the ghost after Sears, Belk, and JC Penney and ran away.  Not empty-handed, but nowhere near done with my task.

So my biologist friend went home, and the next weekend we spent the day in Birmingham.  At the Really Big Mall.  No, the REALLY BIG Mall.  The one with the hotel attached to it!  ACK!  There I discovered two things which surprised me greatly - there is actually a boutique store whose clothing I like and can wear (White House / Black Market) and a very snobby store that sells petite clothing that actually fits (Talbots).  Hurrah - more success!

The following week we had a blizzard that shut down my employer for a whole week.  By mid-week, unfortunately, I was stir crazy.  The main roads were safe, and the retailers were back in business.  So I escaped the confines of our house (leaving the philosopher to his philosophical musings) and went up the road to try my luck one last time.  I had about $75 left, and wanted to maximize my value, so I hit Ross, and Marshalls, and TJ Maxx (These should be labeled STORES "With tacky clothes no one wants to pay retail for".  Then I went to Kohls, and Dress Barn - and, miracle of miracles, I was FINISHED!

So, much like What Not To Wear, here is a catalog of what I got with my Christmas money....

1 black skirt
4 pairs of dress pants
1 pair of jeans (thrift store, I admit, but they fit great and look new!)
2 fine gauge v-neck sweaters
2 sweaters with oxford collars
2 cardigans
2 shells
1 camisole
2 dressy tank tops
1 oxford shirt
1 corduroy blazer

So top THAT, What Not To Wear!!!! 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year!

Wow - I hadn't realized how long it's been since I've posted anything...  So here's December in review, and I'll try to get pictures up in another post later.

December came in with a fury, and heartbreaking news that the philosopher did not get the job at the Happy Southern School.  (Lots of prayers needed for that one!)  However, another door opened - well, let's say it unlocked, and we're hoping it opens further - for a position at a Slightly Farther North But Still Happy Southern School.  This job would require relocation, and I would have to leave my job, but that's the only negative.  We have dear friends who work there, and other dear friends in the same town.  I don't want to get my hopes up, because they were so recently brutally bashed.  Still, I'm an eternal optimist, and I *do* have hope.

After the semester ended for both of us, we left for a Much Needed Vacation in New Orleans.  We stayed at La Maison Marigny, a delightful B&B on the residential end of Bourbon Street.  We ate well, and we listened to live jazz and had drinks.  (We were pondering that later, and realized that may be only the second time ever that we were in a bar and both had cocktails....!)  We bought fun-but-inexpensive art, and enjoyed a trip to the World War II museum.  We did a lot of walking and taking pictures, too.  It's funny, but when we first were married we took photos of each other.  Later we started taking pictures of places we had been, usually without people in the frame.  Now?  We're taking pictures of architectural detail!!!

Christmas day my sister-in-law came to visit, which was wonderful.  We only live 2 1/2 hours apart, but there's so little time to actually get to spent time together!  So that was a blessing, and a delight.  Even better, we got over two inches of snow on Christmas Day, a first for our tiny corner of the world.  Yay, snow!  (Boo, bad road conditions!)

For New Year's, our biologist friend came down for a few days.  She and the philosopher played a game of "What Not To Wear" in my closet, and then took me shopping to spend a generous gift card present from my dad.  Most women in the world love to shop - for me it's emotional exhausting and definitely not something I look forward to.  But I have some nice new clothes, and a dear friend to thank for it!

2010 will not go down on the record books as a wonderful year, but all is well for now.  We're still praying, and watching, and waiting for the path.  God's got a plan, we just have to wait until he's ready to reveal it to us.  My impatient side fervently prays that in 2011 will see the way, but nothing can rush God.  And all in all, that's a good thing.