The Perfect Glass of Sweet Tea.

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Dolly Parton called sweet tea ‘the house wine of the South” in the movie Steel Magnolias. 

Just between you and me and a box of Tetley, when I came on the scene, my mother was a iced tea sweetened with Sweet-n-Low drinker. Therefore I became same.

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It wasn’t till a couple of summers ago writing a piece for local magazine — that I began to question why had my South Georgia momma sweetened iced tea with Sweet-n-Low? For in researching my story, seemed like everyone else with a South, North, East or West Georgia momma had a pitcher of sweet tea in their refrigerator.

In talking to my mom when writing the earlier piece, I learned that my maternal grandmother did have a pitcher of sweet tea in their fridge, but that my mother — when pregnant with me in the 1960s — turned to Sweet-n-Low to save calories.

In the 60s, doctors told women to gain only 6 ounces during pregnancy. Thank you 1960s obstetrics. You are why I grew up deprived in the iced tea department.

I had to learn the ways of sweet tea from my friends.

*  The brand of tea is important. (Though depending on who you talk to, the best kind changes like Falcons fans after a loss.)

*  Color is important.

*  Clarity is important.

Yes, it sounds like we are talking about diamonds.

Wanting to give up soft drinks, I started making sweet tea that summer and was baptized in beauty of steeped tea leaves.

I picked up a few things from my sources for that article that have grafted their way into my sweet tea mystique.

Heather — Tetley is king. Therefore I use Tetley. And this is the only reason I use Tetley, because Heather says it is smooth. Not sure what smooth means to tea but it seems to be an important factor.

Bob — Bob was big on clarity. Therefore I always look to see just how clear a batch is. Some people say a pinch of baking soda is the key to transparent tea.

Mom — Talked about the color of her mother’s, my grandmother’s, tea: Amber. I know. Sounds like a exotic dancer, but it’s a color you strive for in tea. Not sure exactly what Amber tea is but as Justice Stewart said about hard-core pornography in Jacobellis v. Ohio, “I know it when I see it.”

You just know if your tea is the right color.

Pam — I have Pam to thank for the half sweet/half unsweet rule. She grew up with sweet tea in the fridge as did all my sources, but now she cuts it in half.

That’s what I do. I order it way in restaurants. Fix it that way at convenience stores. And in my home.

It still tastes plenty sweet for me and saves a few calories.

Today was the day to make the first sweet tea of the season.

I dug out my two pitchers and fixed me a glass.

I use a recipe from Allrecipes. It’s pretty standard operating procedure from listening to all my sources and it works for me.

First, put the kettle on.

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Have your pitchers waiting with six tea bags. You can put a pinch of baking soda in the bottom.

When the water boils, pour two cups on the bags and let steep 15 minutes.

Once that is done — you are almost there.

Take out the tea bags, stir in 3/4 sugar in the sweet tea container.

Then put six cups cold water into the concentrate in both pitchers.

 

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Now that’s the color I’m talking about. Untouched photo, promise.

 

Then I poured half sweet and half unsweet.

 

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Cheers.

 

 

What about you?

Sweet or unsweet?

Any secrets to share . . . ?

 

 

 

 

 

How to gain 10 pounds. Or have your friends drop their pants.

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The right way.

Or the personal trainer way.

Beverly Morris, the supergal who’s allowed us into her breast cancer recovery event, now has a new challenge.

Listen to this . . . .

 

Yes. The plastic surgeon said he needed fat to harvest before he would schedule her reconstructive surgery. And Beverly doesn’t have any. Poor thing.

I know. The easy answer would be for all of us to donate our fat.

A win-win right?

Charitable soul that I am,

I marched to her doctor’s office and dropped my tights to reveal black Sharpie circles around the back of my thighs.

“Take all you need. And more. Please.”

After politely telling me to pull up my tights — and before calling the Athens police, her doctor said that he could only use Beverly’s fat for her body.

What’s up with that?

So I baked her chocolate chip cookies.

See how much I love the rower.  (I really look like I could kill? Something. I wouldn't want to be a bug in my path after this.)

See how much I love the rower. You can’t hide that kind of love.

 

 

In three weeks, Beverly heads back to the doctor to see if she’s ready.

What would be your advice to an uber-healthy eater to gain 10 pounds in three weeks?

Yes, three weeks not three days.

 

 

Not Angelina? Or go punk’d yourself.

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April Fool’s Day. I love a good joke within reason.

Looking at the date, my already keen Spidey Sense was on high alert.

Or so I thought.

Having finished some work, today was the day to check some of those tasks that had been piling up off my list.

Number one being my camera.

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It’s been sitting on my desk since it took a direct hit from a bit of spilt water. Darned if I can remember who I sent it to last time to repair. So I contacted my amazing fabuolismo photographer friend Angelina Bellebuono to get the company name again.

 

 

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This was such a relief.

Because last time I thought I was texting Angelina — I had the wrong number.

 

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I remember putting the correct number in my contacts — or did I?

To be honest I wasn’t 100 percent sure.

I was overjoyed that I did indeed have Angelina on the case to help my fix my silly camera.

So I told her the sorted tale.

 

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Hmm.

This made me wonder if it had dried out? I put in new batteries.

 

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Yes. I rejoiced!

Things worked.

And then they didn’t pooh.

I shared this real time tale of woe with Angelina. :(

Or did I?

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UUUUUGGGHHHHH!

Do you believe this sh*?

I am flippn’ loopy.

I spent the next ten minutes trying to convince Not Angelina that I wasn’t hoppin’ a ride on the Crazy Train.

Which only confirmed the Crazy Train Yurail Chip embedded in my cerebellum.

How’s your April 1st?

 

Kindness Wins. Social Media Dialogue with Children.

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Your child on social media equals a never-ending battle to keep up with what they are doing and who they are doing it with.

As a parent, I also worry about the disturbing trend of low-self image fueled by social media use. Example found in this Psychology Today article, I’m Ugly, I’m Fat: Self-loathing Among Tweens and Teens.

Adolescence has always been tough, but today’s youth experience the awkwardness of adolescent transformation like no generation before. What happens when your new selfie receives only five likes? Or worse, when things turn ugly and bullying starts.

 

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Back when I was in school, a student who was the relentless target of putdowns or threats of violence, at least got a break once home for the day. With social media, bullying becomes 24/7 sport.

A freelance writer, blogger at These Little Waves, wife and mother of three, Galit Breen lives and works in Minnesota. Her work has appeared in online publications such as Brain, Child, The Huffington Post, TIME, and xoJane. A twist of fate surrounding a post of hers resulted in her current mission and book, Kindness Wins.

 

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“I had a post go viral this fall about comments I received about my weight on an article I wrote about marriage. Not too long after that, my daughter and her friends began using social media platforms like Instagram. When I looked through some of the kids’ profiles, I realized there’s a lot of kindness terrain to cover. After my experience with unkind comments and fat shaming, I knew I wanted to do something about cyberbullying. This book is my ‘something.'”

Galit hopes Kindness Wins can be a guide for parents and a resource for teachers and leaders of any small group of tween and teens — such as a youth group or after school program.

I had the pleasure of getting to know Galit, her family, her work and her ideals through interacting a number of years on social media and reading her blogs and writing. Last year, I got to chat with her dear self in person at a writer’s conference. And had the opportunity to ask how to pronounce her lovely name. (Gay-leet).

In writing Kindness Wins, Galit drew upon her vast working knowledge of social media and her teaching background. With a M.A. in Education, she was in the classroom for 10 years as a reading teacher. And Galit listened to the counsel of her tween and her daughter’s friends in the writing and editing process.

 

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Just a few of the endorsements Kindness Wins has received:

“An absolute must read for anyone raising a child in this unfamiliar (and slightly terrifying) age of social media. I’m a better parent having read it.”– Jill Smokler, New York Times bestselling author, Confessions of a Scary Mommy.

“An indispensable 21-century manual of manners written for 21st-century parents and their children. With compassion, humor, insight, and practical wisdom born of firsthand experience, Galit Breen makes a compelling case for online decency. What would happen if parents and kids everywhere could read these 10 simple rules of conduct, learn them by heart, and live by them each and every time they log in? The world would change dramatically–and for the good of us all.”– Katrina Kenison, author of Mitten Strings for God and The Gift of the Ordinary Day.

“Thought-provoking, inspiring, and simple to grasp, Kindness Wins is an invaluable parenting tool filled with extremely effective ways to teach our kids how to be kind online. Simply put, when kindness wins, we all do.”—Kimberly McCreight, New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia.

 

With an April 7 release date, join me in pre-ordering Kindness Wins.

 

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As for my thoughts on this important subject —

I don’t write about the struggles with my children because it is their struggle, trying to find a true self, separate from me — as my children by adoption. But young people today are not only wondering who they are amongst their flesh and blood peers, they are contemplating who they are (or want to be) online.

Discuss online community and identity with your children. Our family does talk candidly talk about online behavior. Kindness Wins is a great way to open that dialogue with your tween or new teen. Take it from me, the social media waters drop off into a murky abyss the moment your back is turned putting a pan of lasagna in the oven.

Any tips that work for you discussing social media dos and don’ts with your children?

 

Those Damnable Coathangers. Or No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.

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No good deed goes unpunished.

Sounds cynical.

Maybe it’s more like,

No good deed goes remembered by the menopausal mind.

That’s it.

It’s just that I got tired of seeing those bent up, pent up coat hangers by the trashcan. Trying to cram their mangled selves into the plastic liner.

Makes me CRAZY.

Makes me CRAZY.

 

So when I saw the hanger recycling container on a trip to the cleaners, I was all on it.

No more feeling guilty for throwing away all those coat hangers.

Not exactly sure who this new person was — one so concerned about infesting our landfills with bent wire, but I was committed.

On a mission of renewal for my bent-up self and the coat hangers, I told my husband, “no more bending the hangers and cramming them in trash cans. We are recycling them.”

As I proclaimed, so it became.

As the pile of discarded coat hangers on the closet floor grew, I came up with a plan. Store the hangers in the trunk of my car so they would always be with me when I went to the cleaners.

So darn proud of my organized, recycling self. Behavior worthy of a 10,000-daily-pageview-Recycling-Blogger for pity’s sake.

Until I actually got to the cleaners and dropped off the hangers.

So proud. Slightly superior.

Walking inside, I deposited the dirty clothes on the counter. I paid for the clean and pressed shirts waiting for me starched and pressed in clear plastic.

The drive home I dare say was tinged with euphoria.

Got out of the car.

The realize I left the clean clothes hanging on the hook at the dry cleaners.

AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!

Not so bad you say? What if it happens – over and over and over.

Each trip to the dry cleaners.

This afternoon, I got out of the car after dropping off my dirty clothes, handing over my old hangers and paying for my purty clean clothes.

Back home, I looked at the back seat and realized once again my clothes were still on the hanger back at the cleaners.

I did not say AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!

I said some very, very bad words, very, very loudly. The kind of loud words and volume that make shadows dance back and forth behind the neighbors’ window panes.

Getting back in the car, I thought time for some therapy. Why, oh why this forgetting?

Heck if I know.

I’ve even forgotten why I started this post.

Do you recycle coat hangers? If not, you might better let sleeping coat hangers lie in the trashcan.

 

 

Time to Start Taking the Time.

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Oy. Life is flying by and I haven’t stopped by to chat for the longest time.

Plenty of posts started in my head but paying work, cooking collard green soup, cleaning house, changing the inner tubes on my bike tires and rearing children have taken priority.

But one post hasn’t left my mind, so I’ve decided to stop for a moment and write.

Weekend before last, I had a visit from a childhood friend.

On the porch, in the morning before heading downtown to get some breakfast.

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Here we are back in the day.

 

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Anne grew up a block from our high school in Central Florida but since leaving for college, she has lived way up north — Midwest up north.

First she went to Marquette University which is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

She met and married her journalist husband, Chris and they moved to Duluth, Minnesota. There they had two beautiful children and decided to head south for warmer temps to raise the family.

They settled on Cleveland.

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I traveled to Central Georgia in my mid-20s and if we were to move again, notice how my arrows tend to drift.

 

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Yes, I don’t get to see Anne often being that she is in Cleveland, Ohio. So it was extra special that she rented a car and came out to Madison on a Sunday night when she was in Atlanta for the weekend.

We talked and talked. In someways it seemed like just yesterday we were at her house for an after graduation luncheon.

But things have changed since May 1981.

I realized how very young her father, Glenn Miller the long time Director of the Orlando Public Library, was when he had his stroke — younger than I am today.

Her father has been gone a while now. As has mine.

Her younger 6′ 4″ brothers have families of their own. In my mind will always be the young, good-looking, fun, extremely tall boys who drank a gallon a milk each day.

One image sticks out in all that talking we did. Anne remarked we will soon be the grandmothers in the family photos.

Grandmothers in family photos. Us?

Grandmothers are the ones in photos in the spot reserved for grandmothers. Whom we adore.

But.

A few weeks ago, I attended the BAM conference in Nashville meeting so many great women. Women who talked of their careers, life with an empty nest and their grandchildren.

That made sense.

Those conversations with my high school buddy, not so much.

No that’s not true. It does make sense and it is wonderful.

It’s just how quickly time has flown that doesn’t make sense.

Riding out of the high school parking with the windows down and The Wall playing over the radio, life on earth was an eternity.

Now we know better.

That’s why it meant so much that Anne  took the time – and the extra day — to head out this way. I’m realizing it’s time to start taking the time for what’s important.

xoxo to you Anne. Hope to visit soon — in the summers.

When was the last time you reconnect with an old friend?

 

 

 

 

 

I started this blog . . . and then BAM.

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I don’t really know why I started this blog.

No. That’s not entirely correct. When I started this blog in 2009, I was writing a weekly newspaper column. The main purpose in creating my blog was to post my columns on the internet and become nationally syndicated and the rest would be history.

Funny thing happened.

Not much.

Not with my columns, of course. That part didn’t really puzzle me. What did was the lack of commenting and interaction.

Because I didn’t understand the community of blogging. Blogs are not only about writing and hitting publish and going on with your life.

Blogging is writing and publishing and reading other bloggers and commenting on their thoughts and words. It’s interacting with your readers.

I finally got it.

Blogging is relationship. And when I did get that — it became fun and rewarding.

When I started five years ago, a lot of what I wrote was about my children because that’s what my columns were.

My children are older and nothing makes them crazier than hearing from a teacher or a friend’s mom what they read about them on my blog. So no more of writing about children.

What to write?

There was the me that turned 50. And hormones and moods. Color the gray or no. Sex and  . . . no sillies, I haven’t written about sex EVER. Not that I can remember anyway.

But the great news is there are a lot of midlife bloggers out there and last weekend I went to the Bloggers at Midlife Conference, BAMC  15 and it was incredible.

Anne Parris and Sharon Greenthal brought their online community at Midlife Boulevard together in Nashville.

See if you can find me?

Can you find me?

 

From the opening gathering above on Friday night — it was over 24 hours of fun, friendship and finding out what amazing women are out there in the blogosphere.

Such a great, inspiring group of speakers. Starting out with Elisa Camahort Page, a co-founder of BlogHer to Martie Duncan, a finalist on Food Network Star, Season 8.

 

BlogHer's Alicia Camahort chatting with equally inspiring Danyelle Little @TheCubicleChick

BlogHer’s Alicia Camahort (left) chatting with equally inspiring Danyelle Little @TheCubicleChick

 

Every woman who took the platform shared an amazing journey to where they are today.

Between their words and the words of all the women I met, the one take away from BAMC15 for me was REinvention.

I was fascinated with all the stories outlining all the different roles we’ve had in ourselves.

How things that seemed misfortune —  crushing misfortune in some cases — moved us forward.

Confession. My humor bread-and-butter is self-deprecation. Always has been. It’s so much easier, and safer, to make fun of yourself.

So now, I’m in a pickle. How do I bemoan about gray hair, bad knees, expanding midsections — that now familiar fold of fat that appears when I sit down.

I feel some what traitorous to this beautiful band. (And to me, darn it.)

Well, it is what it is and I am what I am.

Newly inspired about this time in my life and this community of kindred, yet oh so unique, spirits.

Some of my photos from the conference.

 

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Okay — when I see this pic my first thought is those lovely creases around my eyes are payment for all the hours spent on the beach. *sigh*

I got to meet Cathy Chester!!! For reals! And talk with her. She blogs about her wonder-filled life as wife, friend and mother in New Jersey (I love talking with people from New Jersey. They think I have a Southern accent.)

Cathy writes candidly about life after a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis on her blog, An Empowered Spirit and other places, such as HuffPo. She’s darling. Cute and silly. If I find silly, I’ve found a friend. Or someone I’ll stalk till they like me or I get served with a restraining order.

 

 

 

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Talk about inspiring — take Doreen McGettigan (above at left). A writer and blogger who wrote Bristol Boyz Stomp, a memoir of her brother David’s senseless murder and the journey for justice.

I could go on and on about the writers and bloggers I met yet I hate to start listing women because of course I’ll leave someone out.

Maybe I need to do a post featuring someone and a blog every month? How cool would that be? You know what the road to hell is paved with. 

I will, I promise.

Any of you who consider yourself at mid-life, or the calendar says you are — what are your interests? What makes you excited? Leave an answer in the comments.

I’m sure I can find a blogger out there to inspire you, and even write a self-deprecating post on such myself.

Blogging @ Midlife –> her new frontier. I think.

 

Thank God, God is my Personal Trainer.

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Oh faithful blog readers.

Superwoman has an update. Or is it Wonder Woman?

Last time we heard from The Green Lantern — no sillies, personal trainer and Superwoman, Beverly Morris, she was about to have breast cancer surgery. Strawberry Man had made a very interesting proposal.

And I have a picture of Strawberry Man now. If y’all are very, very good I’ll post it one of these days.

So last time we heard from our heroine, it was days before Christmas. Facing the dilemma of no health insurance, she learned of emergency Federal funds to help with the cost of surgery.

So . . . take it away Beverly:

 

It has been too long. I have been dealing with so many things. This is not about me. I just want this blog post to bless people. This is about God touching all in ways that we may never know . . .

 

Me and Beverly last week when I told her "you need to do an update post."

Me and Beverly last week when I told her “you need to do an update post.” Isn’t she looking good? Back in the gym, yelling at her rug rat clients.

 

Alive and Well.

Yes. I’m alive and well. I had surgery on January 2. Beforehand, I worked hard on getting mentally ready. Your mind can work against you. Maybe that is why the bible refers to many scriptures about keeping your mind fit?

I researched everything I could get my hands on. It felt like I had been to medical school in one weekend. Knowledge is the lifeline. The bible says my people die from lack of knowledge. As a man thinks so is he. How about the one that says to renew our minds? I am so thankful God is my personal trainer.

It was wonderful to see the different ways he showed me that he had my back. Like the day of surgery. The prep nurse — who I did not know — looked at me and said, “I think I know you.”

I thought well, I get that all the time. But she said, “No, I have been praying for you. You are the trainer with breast cancer.”

Well, I have never been referred to that way. I have had people say:

* I’m the best.

*  I’m hard on them.

*  But not the trainer with breast cancer.

It has been eight weeks since I lost my breast to cancer. In that period, I’ve gone through some challenging times. Physically, mentally and spiritually. I had tubes coming out everywhere.

When I was having the first tubes removed, you would have thought the doctor was fly-fishing. That was a pain I never want to experience again. For two days, I could not talk and was very short of breath.

They say I’m in the first phase of reconstruction. As a body builder in my younger days, I worked hard on my pectoral muscles. However that does not work too well when you have breast cancer . . . or should I say had breast cancer.

During the reconstruction surgery, my doctor said it was sewing a saddle on a horse. I never had been referred to in that way either. Then three weeks out from my operation, I got an infection and was put on three rounds of antibiotics. The infection resulted from my body rejecting the expanders they put under my pectoral muscles. My doctor looked at the situation on a Wednesday and ordered a new surgery to redo my left side.

So I had two days to make my case with Lord. I looked up every scripture on healing. I read all the events in the bible where he healed. It said that he was the same today as he was then and he said to remind him of his word. So I really had to get in the word so I would know what I was talking about. I did not want to do that surgery again. I know that God works through doctors and I had two great surgeons. Now it was time for the master of them all to once again to show me he had my back.

On Friday I showed up for surgery. I really did not want to do this one — so I asked to speak to the doctor before we started. I asked him to look at it again. I thought it looked a lot better. He agreed and there was no surgery.  #happydance

If we could just have that trust at all times knowing he works things out for our good.

During my initial surgery to remove the cancer, they took 16 lymph nodes. Really, Doc? Sixteen of them?

So, yes I’m numb all on my back. But that feeling will come back. The most important thing is when the lab report came back — not one of them had cancer.

God does have my back. He knows what he is doing.

If we could have that trust all the time that he does work things out for our good. That he is in control. No matter what we are facing, it’s about where our hearts are.

My prayer for all my friends is to always have a heart of trust in the Father. So that you will be able to face and endure the wonderful plan he has for you. We are so special to him. Come on guys, he knows how many hairs we have on our heads –which mine have gotten thinner.

Things are going to happen. All the happenings in life are for a purpose. May all of us trust him to allow the purpose to happen. He has a plan. They are good plans. We may not understand but we trust him.

Keep your prayers going up. Thank you for taking this ride with me.

Good health to all.

 

See. Such great news. We are all so thankful that Beverly is in the gym again so our bodies won’t completely fall apart before the beach in a few months.

I’ll make sure she checks in with us every so often and how her body is soon to gets down and dirty with push-ups again.

Please give Wonder Woman a shout in the comments.

 

Oh To Be a Lemon Farmer. 

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Maybe it’s this cold winter, but I found myself googling cruises to the North Sea. No sillies. Lemon trees.

I had incredible urge to plant a lemon grove.

And there’s $23.46 in my checking account. So I soon realized my lemon dreams had to start small.

 

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SCREAM.

How long has that been sitting there? My baby tree nestled in the mail basket overnight in the freezing temps.

 

I raced inside to see if there had been any damage.

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Well. It was still green.

 

I read up on growing Meyer lemons in pots since I’m going to be a lemon farmer and all. One source said to use a glazed pot. Another advised that they like to be root bound.

I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to take this little net off.

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It was perforated so I took it off.

And then half the dirt fell on the floor.

 

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I bet this is how Dr. Phillips started Minute Maid.

Any advice on lemons? Recipes for killer lemonade?

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Though not sure I’ll see a lemon in my lifetime.

Ten Things Thankful. It’s the Little Things Edition.

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This past week seemed sooo long. Weird because it was a shorter one.

We traveled back from Florida Monday so the kids had only four days of school. Though it seems like 10. Go figure?

Ten Things Thankful for the week that was.

10.   It didn’t snow.

I know. I know. This makes me seem grinchish but if it snows and commerce stops my husband stresses about his business.

So happy it didn’t snow.

 

9.  Thankful for cold medicine.

Got my first official cold of the season. My nose is about to fall off. Thankful for decongestants.

 

8.  Thankful for spring break.

Our college son came home yesterday. Though he was off with friends an hour after he arrived, still nice to know he will be breezing in and out next week. And Mike and Mike will be my background muzak in the morning and not Squawk Box. Though I do love the Squawkers.

 

7.  Thankful for good books to read in the middle of the night.

Said every menopausal woman ever.  A subset of all the people trying to sleep with head colds.

 

 6.  Thankful for the Dollar Tree selling this little light for a dollar.

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Yes. I’d gotten spoiled reading from my phone in the middle of the night. But what happens when you have a good book book?  Thankfully you can go old school with the light in the middle of the night for a buck.

 

5.  The book section at Goodwill and Flea Markets.

Trying to awaken dormant frugal matter in my brain and not always automatically downloading from Amazon. Had great luck last time I hit the local Goodwill.  Got a hardback of Stephen King’s On Writing to put on my shelf. And this book I finished last night.

 

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One of the prolific Jodi Picoult’s earlier novels. It was good but I like her latest Leaving Time better. Some really good twists in that one. And I’m pretty hard to surprise with a good twist, not to brag. But I kind of am.

 

4.  Thankful for good friends who can recommend a lighter, well-written next book.

Most of what I have read lately has been darker. Next book, I need humor or just not murders, suicides, bat-ship dysfunction. I need a break from reality.

So please comment on any enjoyable books you’ve read lately.

 

3.  Thankful for Monday and Wednesday next week.

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Doesn’t even look like they will be nice days. But just seeing 77 makes me HAPPY!!!!!

 

 2.  I wasn’t locked out of my house last week.

So I have that going for me.

 

1.   March 1.

 

Please leave suggestions for good reads.  Wishing you a great week.

 

 

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