Home alone.

When Kevin is out of town, I’m a big sissy.  And he was out of town earlier this week which means there were two cats in the house – one named Kiki, the other named Scaredy.

I’m not exactly sure how this happened.  I lived alone for years and I don’t remember being especially anxious every single moment of every single night.  I guess I’m just out of the habit now.

On the third morning KA {Kevin Away} I was rudely awaken by the low-battery chirping of a smoke detector.  I fumbled my way to the extra 9V batteries, located the culprit, and replaced the battery.  And it kept chirping.  I fiddled around with it, pulled it from the wall, popped the battery in and out, called Kevin, followed his recommendation to hold down the test button, winced as the alarm screeched, repeated all these steps, twice…and the little monster kept right on chirping.  As much as I would have loved to hang out with the chirper all day {sarcasm}, I had to go to work.  Kiki was not so lucky and I do believe the every-30-seconds beep drove her within an inch of her sanity.  Poor thing spent the entire day {I speculate} curled up on the boot boxes in the closet {her safe place}.

Later that day the three to five o’clock window brought lots of visitors – the cable guy {box was malfunctioning}, the HVAC guy {changeover time}, and the alarm guy {who made the alarm go off twice in his work – supplying Kiki with more stories to tell her cat-therapist}.

But what about the smoke detector?  I can practically hear you asking that question, on the edge of your seat with anticipation.

Give the people what they want, that’s my motto.

It was still chirping.  So I did what anyone would do – I Googled a solution.  “They” recommended turning off the breaker, removing the detector from the wall, disconnecting the wires, taking out the battery, holding down the test button for 15 seconds, putting the battery back in, reconnecting the wires, putting it back on the wall, and flipping the breaker back to the on.  I turned off the breaker.  That’s as far as I go, people.  Disconnecting electrical wires is on the husband’s list of responsibilities.  Unfortunately he was in Kansas and therefore unavailable for wire disconnecting.  No need though – the breaker thing worked!

For a couple of hours.  Then…chirpity-chirp-chirp.  Again. {I learned that Gilmore Girls turned up loud almost blocks the sound.  Kiki stayed in the closet.}

It was around that time that darkness fell and there was a great racket outside.  Probably burglars {or the neighbors putting out the trash bin}.

Also.  It’s October and all kinds of scary previews are on TV.

Also again.  My feet were eaten up by a mosquito {who died a horrific death shortly after the attack} and now they’re swollen and they itch something horrible.

So basically it’s all kinds of fun around here.

Have you had a run-in with a smoke detector?  Do mosquitoes love you?  Do you enjoy being home alone – or is every night noise subject to a heightened sense of scary?

Coffee date with you.

Amanda aka The Lady Okie inspired the coffee date theme of this post.  She’s written a few in this style and I adore them and her, so thanks, Amanda, for the inspiration.

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Let’s pretend that you and I are meeting for coffee, or a tea, if you prefer.  I’d have a latte, thanks, with a splash of vanilla.  We’d settle in to catch up and here’s what I’d contribute to the conversation.

I’d start by reminding you that I’m not the type to yak on and on about being busy.  Mostly because no one cares.  OR if someone does care, it’s only because they are salivating on your last word so they can tell you how much busier than you they are.  But you, my lovely coffee shop date, are not like that at all, so I won’t feel a bit guilty or apprehensive about releasing a sigh and sharing:  I feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day.  You’d laugh and agree and ask what’s been filling my hours.

It’s easier to say what’s NOT filling my hours.  Dusting, for instance.  And organizing the garage.  And cleaning out the refrigerator – that leftover couscous is about to walk out on its own.

What is keeping you from all those exciting activities, you ask?

Well, work is a big thing.  There are a few projects underway that require undivided attention for blocks of hours.  But I like that kind of thing to fill my day, so it’s really been fulfilling, actually.

Then there are community commitments, with their joys and disappointments and – always – meetings.  Meetings that committee members don’t show up for {at this point, you’d shake your head, mimicking my exasperation} and meetings that go on for hours.  The latter resulted in Amy (let’s take this to third person, shall we?) getting home late to find that Kevin had the audacity to do laundry and leave clothes in the dryer.  What was he thinking?  He knows that Amy is some kind of compulsive, obsessed laundry lady who must fold and put away – not tomorrow – today.  So she played the role of laundry martyr for the 10 PM showing.  Audience:  Kevin and Kiki.  As I sheepishly admit to my crazy, you’ll laugh with me.  Poor guy did a nice thing by tackling the overflowing hamper of dirty clothes and that’s how you thank him, you’d ask.  And you’re right, friend.  When you’re right, you’re right.  {Sweet husband, I owe you coffee and ice cream.  Everyday.}

I’m reading a fair amount {working my way through Maeve Binchy’s Tara Road at the moment}, and the cool weather has me craving lots of Kevin and Kiki cuddles.

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Looking ahead, as we put our next coffee date to the planner, I tell you about all of the exciting things that are coming soon:  a work trip to Santa Fe, an anniversary lunch at work for the company’s 10th year, some volunteering, a Pinterest party, a bridal brunch, a day trip to Phoenix to meet a sweet little newborn, a hula hoop dance class {for which you’ll insist on tagging along}, and my best friend’s wedding!  It’s a great life.

Enough about me.  Let’s talk about you.  What’s new?  Can I buy you a _________ {fill in this blank with your order on our imaginary coffee date}?

 

My first blate.

Blogging is such an interesting hobby.  Is hobby the right word?  I began blogging because I like to write and I like the idea of documenting some of the happenings in my world.  Most people I know in “real life” don’t know that I blog.  So I just kind of expected this little space on the internet to be something for me.

I am in awe of how much more it has become.  That more is defined by the online friendships I have made with other bloggers.  The comments and emails and snail mail from blogger friends are such a joy.  Kevin is now unfazed by the {daily} remarks about this blog friend’s vacation or that blog friend’s baby shower photos.  That blog friend’s pet and this blog friend’s recipe recommendation.  I speak of these people like they are part of my everyday – and they (YOU!) are.  We may not be able to grab a cuppa tea or a cupcake together, but the connections are real.

2014 began with me vowing to take the friendship with at least one blogger off screen and into real life.  I wanted to go on a blate (blogger + date).  Throughout the year, I showed Kevin blogs written by gals that I want to meet so that he would develop a sense of confidence in the idea that the person his wife was jaunting off to meet was not, in fact, a serial killer with a wildly fabricated website.  He begrudgingly admitted that these folks were probably perfectly nice and normal.  And as fate would have it, the stars aligned for Jenny from Jeneric Generation and I to meet in Oklahoma City.

After I dropped Kevin at the airport – he had to fly to Denver for work – I headed to Orange Leaf, a frozen yogurt place, to meet Jenny.  I arrived first and studiously focused on my Sudoku puzzle – totally playing it cool with my casual glances at the door every time someone walked into the shop.  A bit nervous, thoughts like, “Hug?  No hug?” flittered through my mind.

Jenny arrived (we hugged – it felt right) and we instantly hit it off!  She is just as smart and sweet and genuine as her writing implies.  We chatted about blogging and Oklahoma State (our time at the school overlapped by a few semesters) and moving and jobs and families (she announced it on her blog earlier this week – she and her husband are expecting their first baby!  Congrats to them!).  Then we headed to Half Price Books and managed to keep each other from buying half the store.  A fellow fan of the books, it was so fun to walk around the store and exchange recommendations.  Harry Potter was an important conversation topic, as he always should be, really.

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Three hours passed quickly in the company of a kindred spirit and soon it was time for me to head to the airport {where the plane I was on had mechanical issues and didn’t take off until two hours after it was supposed to, resulting in a missed connection and therefore, a night in a hotel room in Dallas.  Sidenote.}.

Jenny, thanks for the afternoon – I had a blast!

And I’m already plotting my next blate.  Perhaps a cross-country/continent trip is in order?

Have you gone on a blate?  What is your favorite thing about blogging? 

Stillwater {love} runs deep.

Stillwater, Oklahoma, home to OK State U, is one of my absolute favorite places.  It was there that I spent my college years, and I am always excited to go visit.  So naturally, there is an unspoken requirement that any husband of mine is duly obligated to adore and gush over the town and the campus like I do.  Fortunately, Kevin was up for the challenge.  As we drove around town and I pointed out the hot spots (“There’s the chiropractor office that I went to after a girl ran a red light and hit my car!” Etc.), he genuinely appeared to like what he saw.  Then we spotted Marble Slab.  I knew at that moment – victory was mine.  Stillwater had Kevin at Marble Slab.

We stopped into Pete’s and bought a OSU cowboy t-shirt for the gentleman and a sweatshirt for the lady.  {Thank goodness too, because we sat in the shade at the game on Saturday and the temperature was in the 60’s, so the lady was cold.}  We ate at Eskimo Joes, because that’s what you do on your first trip to Stillwater.  There were cheese fries.  And burgers.  Then, of course, there was Marble Slab.  I know the way to Kevin’s heart.

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We let ourselves into my friend Amy’s house, as she was working out of town.  She was so nice to let us stay with her.  We loved seeing her house (she just moved in!) and meeting her dogs.  They were very suspicious of us when we first arrived and she wasn’t at home yet!  When she arrived home late that night and vouched for our coolness, they decided we were alright.

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I stayed up late catching up with Amy, which was lovely.

In addition to letting us stay with her, she was also the one who hooked us up with tickets to the OSU game.  And she dropped us off and picked us up so we didn’t have to deal with parking on or near campus during game day.  Seriously.  She’s awesome, that Amy.

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We walked around campus a little before the game and I waxed poetically about how different things look now.  (Except it wasn’t poetic.  I basically just said, “Wow – that’s different.  And that’s different.  And that’s different.”)

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We met up with Lyndse and Sara.  It was nice to see them, even though it was brief!

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Both teams looked a little rough in the first half, but things picked up later in the game and Oklahoma State won.

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We walked around campus a little bit and then drove around and grabbed Starbucks with Amy.

Then it was time to head into Oklahoma City, where we were meeting up with Tessa and her husband, who were kind enough to let us stay with them.  We went to Lake Hefner Grill for dinner and it was delicious.  I’m still annoyed that Tessa managed to grab the check before me and they bought our dinner.  But that just means that we owe them next time!  I’ll get you, my pretty….

There was football and lots of attention from Tessa and Ryan’s dogs – two English Mastiffs.

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Sunday morning they (umm, the humans, not the dogs) cooked us some tasty country ham and biscuits for breakfast, and then it was time for Kevin to go to the airport (he had to be in Denver for work on Monday) and for me to meet up with Jenny.

Returning to a place you love is fun and nostalgia inspiring.  But as I think about the weekend, I’m most struck by the wonderful people who were woven into it.  Maybe it’s the people who make the place?

Do you like returning to your alma mater? 

30 by 30 – Third quarter update.

Three-quarters of my 29th year has now passed and it has been packed to the brim.

Now for the 30-by-30 update graph:

30 by 30 3rd Quarter Progress Update Graph

As you can see from the list of boooooooks on #7 below, I have far surpassed my reading goal, which was 24 books.  There is now a revised goal of 48.    I guess I like to read….  Volunteer hours may seem a little low, but I know I’ll be volunteering a lot this fall, so I’m not worried about meeting that one.

Regarding the remaining items on the list – things are mostly under control for this stage of the game.  I’m most worried about making it to the Grand Canyon this year.  I may go to the South Rim, which is open year round, in December.  I also need to pick up the pace on the journal entries.

1. Find a flattering (key word) red lipstick.

With the help of an expert lipstick consultant, Leann, I discovered Brave Red at MAC.  The name is quite fitting, and I love the color!

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2. Sit at a floor table for dinner at Pars (a Greek restaurant). 

Kevin and I met up with two of our good friends at Pars for dinner in January. Not only did we sit at a floor table, but it was also a belly dancer night.  Kevin and I find the belly dancer nights to be a bit awkward, so we try to avoid them.  But it seemed appropriate that we had the full experience at the floor table.  I love Pars, but I’ll stick to regular tables.  I’m not an especially tall person and my legs were aching by the end of dinner, crammed under that low table!

Pars with K & N - January 2014.

Pars with K & N – January 2014.

 3. Buy a designer purse for myself.

I bought one.  And I love it.  But I’m also struggling with a case of buyer’s remorse.  It is just so expensive.  Thus far, its life with Amy has been spent in the closet, tags and wrappings still intact.  I reserve the right to return and find something, umm, less pricey.  Like a wallet.

Update:  I returned the purse that I’d originally purchased (see the 2nd Quarter update post for a picture), and found another one that I love so much more.  It was still a lot to spend on a purse and I don’t foresee myself regularly purchasing designer purses, but I do really like it.

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4. Fund IRA for year.

5. Plan and execute a surprise date.

Read about it here.  It involved choose-your-own-adventure kind of fun and included sushi, bookstore, and game night at home.

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6. 52 hours of volunteer work. 23/52

4 hours – El Ranchitos de Los Ninos
5 hours – Chocolate Fantasy gala
3 hours – Charity Cruise gala clean up
3 hours – JL rummage sale to benefit Henderson House
1 hour – official HUG card writer for JL
4 hours – The Storehouse
3 hours – The Curiosity Collaboration

7. Read 48 books. 41/48

1) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – 4 stars
2) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – 4 stars
3) Anne of Windy Poplars – 4 stars
4) The Fault In Our Stars – 4 stars
5) Devil In The White City – 4 stars
6) Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – 5 stars
7) The Silver Star – 3 stars
8) Princess Academy – 4 stars
9) Divergent – 4 stars
10) Roots of Empathy:  Changing the World Child by Child – 4 stars
11) Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister – 3 stars
12) The Husband’s Secret – 4 stars
13) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – 4 stars
14) Breakfast at Tiffany’s – 4 stars
15) Me Before You – 4 stars
16) The Paris Wife – 3 stars
17) The Other Typist – 3 stars
18) The Last Summer (of You & Me) – 3 stars
19) Her Fearful Symmetry – 3 stars
20) Heart and Soul – 3 stars
21) I’ll Walk Alone – 2 stars
22) My Name is Memory – 3 stars
23) Dollface – 4 stars
24) The Giver – 5 stars
25) MWF Seeking BFF – 4 stars
26) Sisters of Treason – 4 stars
27) I’ve Got Your Number – 5 stars
28) Girls In White Dresses – 3 stars
29) The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets – 4 stars
30) Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour – 5 stars
31) Lessons From Madam Chic – 4 stars
32) The Happiness Advantage – 4 stars
33) Paris in Love – 3 stars
34) Night Diver – 2 stars
35) Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?  (And Other Concerns) – 3 stars
36) Life After Life – 4 stars
37) The Hobbit – 3 stars
38) The Girl You Left Behind – 3 stars
39) Gathering Blue – 4 stars
40) The Paris Architect – 4 stars
41) Remember Me? – 3 stars

8. Take Kevin to an OK State football game.

Blog post coming soon with details about how much Kevin LOVED Stillwater, the football stadium, and the Oklahoma State campus as a whole.

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9. Send 24 just-because letters or gifts to friends. 19/24

10. Go on a blate – with a blog friend that I have not yet met in person.

Stay tuned for a post about my blate (blogger + date) with the lovely Jenny over at Jeneric Generation.

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11. Complete the Photo-A-Day challenge following Fat Mum Slim’s prompts. 273/365

12. Run a 5K.

13. Host a murder mystery dinner party.

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14. Visit the Grand Canyon.

15. Weekend trip with my mom and sister.

Schedules being what they are, we didn’t manage to get away for a full weekend of fun at the Grand Canyon or Vegas (two ideas we’d tossed around).  But we did enjoy an excursion to some local petroglyphs.  The adventure is recapped in full here.

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16. Attend three theatre events or concerts. 4/3

1) Jim Gaffigan – 3/13/2014

Pre- Jim G. smiles on 3/13/2014.

Pre- Jim G. smiles on 3/13/2014.

 2) Avril Lavigne and Backstreet Boys – 6/2/2014

Pre-gaming on the lawn before BSB and Avril hit the stage!

Pre-gaming on the lawn before BSB and Avril hit the stage!

 3) Impulse dance show – 8/8/2014

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4) Wicked:  The Musical – 9/18/2014

image17. Attend one of Meta’s weekend yoga retreats OR attend one yoga class a day for seven consecutive days {just in case the weekend retreat options don’t work out}.

The weekend yoga retreat didn’t work out, but the seven days of yoga did!  Read about it here.

Day 1 – 7:30 AM – hot yoga with Meta at a local studio
Day 2 – 5:30 PM – yoga at my gym
Day 3 – 7:30 AM – hot yoga at a local studio
Day 4 – 10:00 AM – Meditation class and practice at the city museum with Leann and Katie
Day 5 – 11:15 AM – hot yoga at a local studio
Day 6 – 5:30 PM – yoga at my gym
Day 7 – 9:30 PM – cosmic hot yoga with Meta at a local studio

18. Take a train ride.

I made the trip to Santa Fe on the Railrunner for a work event.  Like Sheldon, I do love trains.

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19. Spend a morning shooting guns (including the one I inherited from my dad) with my friend Tom C.

20. Take a dance class.

21. Go see Vanilla Pop play.

Vanilla Pop with the ladies on 6/6/2014.

Vanilla Pop with the ladies on 6/6/2014.

 22. Cook 15 new recipes. 17/15

1) Melt-in-your-mouth baked chicken – recipe
2) Spaghetti squash in the crockpot – recipe (if it can even be called that)
3) Swiss chard with honey roasted garlic – recipe
4) Slow-cooker beef brisket – no real ‘recipe’ but I’d never made this before, so I’m countin’ it – just cooked a beef brisket (seasoned with McCormick steak seasoning), a can of cream of mushroom soup, a chopped onion, sliced mushrooms, and four cups of beef broth in the slow cooker on the low setting for 7 hours
5) Dairy free pesto – recipe (the first time I made this, it was a complete FAIL because I over-toasted {read:  burned} the pine nuts and the pesto tasted burnt and gross)
6) S’mores treats – recipe
7) Mediterranean Orzo salad – no official recipe to share (cooked whole wheat orzo, kalamata olives, grape tomatoes, spinach, olive oil and lemon dressing seasoned with salt and pepper, and feta cheese)
8) Jalapeno cheese dip – recipe (slight variation from recipe:  I used a different brand of jalapeno dip seasoning.  It was still a hit with the family at Easter.)
9) Slow cooker brown sugar glazed pulled chicken – recipe (I didn’t have soy sauce so I used a Hickory and Brown Sugar BBQ sauce instead.  It was still tasty.)
10) Asparagus and ham sandwiches – recipe
11) Greek chicken – recipe (we did bake rather than grill, unlike the recipe)
12) Slow Cooker Ground Beef Lasagna Soup – recipe
13) Mediterranean Quinoa Salad – recipe
14) Lemon & Garlic Chicken – recipe
15) Steak Parmesan – recipe (made a few adjustments but followed the general recipe)
16) One Pot Zucchini Mushroom Pasta – recipe
17) Kale Chicken – recipe

23. Go on twelve date nights. 12+/12
(This one has proven difficult to track because Kevin and I go out to dinner at least once a week and every dinner out feels like a date!  But for the purposes of this 30-by-30 list item, I counted assorted nights that felt especially special.  Let’s just say that we far exceeded 12 dates!)

24. Enroll in a continuing education class.

Attended a HIPAA class on 2/18/2014.

25. Send twelve More Love Letters notes. 12/12

26. Take tea in a tearoom – topped off (haha!) with a fancy hat, naturally. 2/1

Tea with new work friends at Figments on 3/22/2014.

Tea with new work friends at Figments on 3/22/2014.

 

Tea with Joy at the Phoenician - 4/25/2014.

Tea with Joy at the Phoenician – 4/25/2014.

27. Journal 52 times. 27/52

28. Assemble a framed travel map.

29. Attend a festival. (Jazz Fest, Lavender Fest, etc. – whatever I happen to stumble into.  The sky’s the limit when it comes to fest-ing.)

I went to the local lavender & garlic festival one weekend in July.  Two of my favorite things under a blue clear sky on a summer day?  Don’t mind if I do.

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Lavender & Garlic Fest – 7/12/2014

30. Explore a city I’ve never visited before.

Seaside in San Diego - June 2014.

Seaside in San Diego – June 2014.

Recently on Instagram.

Is it okay to be in love with your own photos?  I hope so.  Because I am with some of these….   Here’s a round-up of a few September Instagram faves that I haven’t already shared in other blog posts.

{Yet again, most IG pho-toes are following along with #fmsphotoaday prompts.}

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Prompt:  In My Cup.
I like it a latte.

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Prompt:  DIY.
Probably the only DIY project I have ever completed – my brooch bouquet.
Learn how I did it here.

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Prompt:  Upside Down.
Right side up or upside down, this guy is cute.

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Prompt:  Father.
This painting – named ‘Watching The Herd’ – was a gift from my mother-in-law.  She never met my father, but she was spot-on in thinking that this represents him well.

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Prompt:  How I Feel Today.
It’s a double-rainbow-good-job-God kind of day.

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Prompt:  Spring/Fall.
Re: transition season wardrobe – layers for the win.

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Prompt: Remember.
Nothing inspires wistful memories of weekend hammock lounging quite like a Monday.

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Prompt:  Triangle.
The three sides to our little triangle family, reading HP and the Deathly Hallows.

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Prompt:  Angle.
“Cock your hat – angles are attitudes.” – Frank Sinatra

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Prompt:  Best.
Raindrops on roses…

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Prompt:  Game.
Chess, anyone?

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Prompt:  Where I’m From.
Land of ristras.

Obviously I let you down in September because there is only ONE photo of Kiki-cat.  None of sweet Florence {and you better believe there are plenty to pull from in the white cat photo archives}.  I kitten you not….  This is CAT-astrophic!  But don’t dispaw…I’m sure in October I’ll be feline the cat photos once again.

What pics did you snap in September?

Sweekend.

What do burgers, volunteering, football, Mexican food, French toast, Harry Potter, Gone With The Wind, and WWI books have in common?

Well.  Probably nothing.  EXCEPT my recent weekend included all of them.

On Friday night we went to the Little Red Hamburger Hut for dinner.  Kevin had the red chile, I had the green.  We were each delighted with our choice.

Saturday morning I trekked to a local food pantry to do a little volunteering.  Always humbling and sometimes heart wrenching, volunteerism fills my heart with thankfulness for the blessings in my life.

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Kevin was coaching that afternoon and I headed to the game after running a few errands.  It was a tough loss – the team played well against a larger team of bigger guys.

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We enjoyed a Mexican fiesta of food at a local favorite and then relaxed at home for the evening.

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On Sunday morning, we met my great-aunts and great-uncles for breakfast (I had the French toast), and then we watched the third Harry Potter movie.  As a Harry Potter update, Kevin recently finished the final book and he is in series mourning, much like I was when I reached the end.

The afternoon brought the TCM special presentation of Gone With The Wind in honor of the movie’s 75th anniversary.

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It was heartening to see a completely full theatre for the showing of  4 hour movie that is 75 years old.  As Scarlett and Rhett and Melanie and Ashley were brought to life by the talented performers, I couldn’t help thinking about the difference between movies then and movies now.  Oh how far we’ve fallen.  {This was reinforced by the sounds creeping through the wall of an adjoining theatre – fast pulsing music, car wheels squealing and engines revving, explosions….  I don’t know what movie it was and I don’t need to – it was a sad comparison to the writing and acting on the screen in front of me.}

I picked up pizza and sandwiches for dinner and we ended the weekend with some Curb Your Enthusiasm (have you seen it?  Think The Office and Seinfeld, combined.) and some reading.  I finished The Girl You Left Behind (3 stars) and Kevin started The Road to 1914:  The War to End All Wars.

How was your weekend?  Do you like old movies like Gone With The Wind