Setting the mall on fire (almost).

Though I’m officially done with school, I continue to learn. The brain, for example, is fascinating and complex, and we are discovering how it functions, how we think, feel, and process, and how memory works. Fun fact: our sense of smell is powerfully linked to memory. I can personally vouch for this.

When I think of that smell, and remember the smoke, I am instantly transported right back to 1983. Of course, I am referring to the smell of burnt caramel popcorn. If you missed my last post, it will take just a hot minute to catch up.

Let me set the stage. I was a bored-to-death teen in small town Iowa, working at the only mall for miles around. It was actually hopping back then, with fun hangouts like Music Land (they sold OG vinyl) and a video arcade (games were only a quarter). My employer was KarmelKorn. You already know why I chose this place.

We had none of this fancy signage.

It was here that I perfected cotton-candy making, candy-apple making, and, drum roll please, the ultimate prestige of making caramel corn from scratch. In hindsight, they must have been desperate. This 15 year old had zero experience beyond consuming these sugary treats.

Karmelkorn was strategically placed on the corner at the main entrance, nearly dead center in the mall. The walk time from the farthest end (in either direction) to our counter, clocked in at a whopping three minutes.

It was probably a Saturday afternoon. Prime time for every teen in town to be strolling about, laughing at other people’s hair or fashion choices (it was the 80’s with plenty to laugh at). Or they may have been waiting for the next movie time. Yes, theaters back then were known for the stale, inferior, and very overpriced popcorn.

I must have gotten distracted while boiling of a batch of caramel, forgetting to add a key ingredient at the precise time. The contents in the copper pot severely scorched, and smoke billowed for a good five minutes before I could get it under control.

It felt like this.

Thankfully, sprinklers did not activate nor did the fire department show up. There was a security person who hustled over to see if there was an actual fire. We determined that an evacuation of THE ENTIRE MALL was unnecessary. It would take several hours for the smoke, and especially the smell, to dissipate.

Our prime location provided for everyone’s easy inquiries, “What’s on fire?” “Is something burning?” “Did YOU do that?”

It was not one of my finer moments.

There were other humiliating character-building things that happened in my early working days. Like busting a lawnmower blade on a visible water pipe. Or totally forgetting to show up for an easy-peasy babysitting gig a mile from my house. Or when my mall career advanced to cashier – and I was nearly trampled in a Cabbage Patch Doll stampede.

Ah, those were the days.

I’m pretty sure this is the point of having a job when we are teenagers. So that we can be reminded that there is room to grow, and that we are not perfect. It’s a decent lesson to remember as an adult, too.

What are some of the learning experiences you had early on? Can you laugh about them now? Can we laugh with you?

Thanks for reading, until next time,

Virginia Slims and Refrigerators

I love beginning new projects. I love kicking around ideas for what I will begin next week or next month. But working on something midway through? Or just doing that final little thing to check it off the list? Nahhh.

What’s even worse is when it’s just something that is never ever done. You know, like laundry or cleaning the house. Maintenance is just not exciting enough. Why clean up in 10 minutes what can accumulate? Let it become a big project with clearly visible results. Wow, great job! It was such a mess and now it’s perfect. But keeping it that way? Picking up a little bit daily? Weekly even?

Not so much.

I am however, learning the value of better habits. In many ways I have incorporated great practices, like yoga every morning and flossing every night. Yes, I even start and finish the laundry (finish, as in, it’s put away and hung up and everything) in the very same day. I don’t let my car get too messy and my paperwork piles are smaller than they’ve ever been.

virginia slim

Please don’t think I advocate for smoking. I just like the slogan.

Today, however, I had to own the fact that while I’m winning in those areas, I have work to do. Confession alert: I am a terrible food manager.

For whatever stupid-ass reason, I don’t like spending time evaluating what IS in my frig and freezer and pantry. I would rather just go to the store and buy more stuff. Then, I can take all the stuff I bought last week (that is now fuzzy, slimy or otherwise gross) and throw it out to make room for the new stuff. I’ve come to think of it as an expensive, wasteful, food rotation hobby.

Ridiculous? Yes. Correctable? Also yes, I hope.

So this morning, I did a little refrigerator cleaning. You know, before I go to the store to buy more food. As this was a big neglected task, I would get some satisfaction (it was actually satisfying embarrassing, so much so that I had to share it with you).

Apparently, I like to collect condiments. They are the obvious winners of the frig longevity game. They are clearly unlike grapes or romaine when expired. These bottles and jars require serious effort. You’ve actually got to find the “best used by date” (often requiring reading glasses) and then realize that mustard from April of 2016 must go. Which is sad because I moved in June of 2016 and that mustard should not have been hauled here in the first place.

I did not count how many bottles I rinsed and recycled, but it was a pathetic amount. This isn’t even all of them.


I did count three bottles of soy sauce which I condensed into one. There is so much sodium in that stuff it will never go bad. I nearly choked when I dumped the outdated Sriracha out. And why do I have Miracle Whip? I hate that stuff. Oh yeah, I bought it for my brother when he was here in March. Out with it.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who is afflicted with this terrible practice (seriously, comment and tell me I am not alone).

My budget and waistline demand that I do a better job in this arena. I think I will just walk to the grocery store. I can only purchase what I can literally carry. That should certainly help me make better decisions about what I buy.

Each week, from now until forever more, I will clean out my refrigerator and evaluate my food plan carefully. And I have all of you to hold me accountable.

Thanks for reading, until next time!




And so it continues…

Before I reveal the dating darkness, I’ll provide the excuses for the sharing delay. I had a huge event at work which consumed a lot of time and energy. And in the few moments outside of work, I climbed out of the homework pit that neglect had been digging. Keeping up with three classes actually takes time, y’all. And yes, I am counting the days until spring break.

Since my last post, I wrote a 1000 word article for a local magazine that a friend publishes. And some friends were in town because their momma passed away – so there was a few days of funeral stuff with them. And attended a half day Toastmaster’s Officer Training. And entertained a house guest for four days (or the house would have been a total disaster). So yeah, I have been passing my own self in the hallway. See ya later warped-speed-busy-life. You can come back never. I need time to date if I’m going to write a blog that turns into a best seller.

We left off with Guy D, the one I was excited to meet but then didn’t. And you may recall that he cancelled because he had met “the one” after their first date. Spoiler alert: she wasn’t the one. D messaged me last week. We chatted for a few and then I asked about “her”. He explained that she wasn’t who she said she was (what?). Oh, and he would still like to connect if I was open. Hmmm… I need to think about that. No jumping too quickly with D!

Guy E was young and hot and never made it past the first 15 minutes of messaging. Here’s the acceptable formula for young: half of your age plus 7 years. (So at 48, half plus 7 is 31. I know, right?) We weren’t very far into our text conversation before he shared why he is interested in women my age. Apparently we are known for being good at – let’s say, explicit activities – along with cooking and baking. Alrighty then. Not sure why he thinks I’m good at baking.  Thanks for showing me what you’re about early on. E is for ego. And exit!

Guy F – we’ve had light conversation and are planning to connect in person this weekend. I have been the difficult one (as per usual) due to the insane aforementioned schedule. He seems nice enough, polite and professional. Oh, and he wants to treat me to sushi which is something I totally love. So we’ll see if we actually meet and how it goes.

Guy G and I started chatting a bit tonight. He has gorgeous blue eyes and is a snowbird – young, but not in the same decade as Guy E – thank you very much. He lives about an hour from here until April. All summer and fall he is 1000 miles away. Seasonal dating. That may just be perfect.

Beyond dating, school and work, I am doing my best to take good care of myself. This weekend’s agenda includes a little retail therapy at TJ Maxx and a pedicure. Also I took advantage of private beach access by simply asking if it was available to me. And lo, I received a parking pass and a wristband, just like that. Sometimes you just have to practice self care. It’s worth it!

Thanks for reading, until next time…


What to wear…

It’s that time of year again. School is about to start. That usually means a thorough evaluation of clothing and shoes, and maybe pencils and notebooks as well. For our family, we typically front load the wardrobe and pray that the only growth for the next few months is intellectual. Parents, do you feel me?

It was so much easier when they were young and didn’t care so dang much. And didn’t post a picture every day of their cutest outfit. My mantra is that no one cares what label it is and no one cares if you have worn it before. But it’s clearly irrelevant. Because now there is documentation of the wardrobe, so yes Mother (insert eye roll) everyone KNOWS that I’ve had no choice other than to wear the same outfit more than once! Gasp!

I’m being a bit dramatic. We shop the clearance rack. We shop at Goodwill. We will take hand me downs if you’re cleaning out a closet and think of us. On this year’s shopping occasion, I handed my high schooler an envelope with cash and said, “Here ya go, hope you can stretch it.” And she did. And she’s gainfully employed with few, wait, make that NO bills, so she can supplement her own style fund. And she is. And that’s ok.

It’s been said that clothes make the man (or woman?). I would agree with that. I have a few friends that are bachelors. They like to wear things that a married man could never wear. Shirts with holes or missing buttons or pants with a stain. I tell them to enjoy wearing that sort of stuff because it won’t happen if they ever snag a “Mrs”. This may also shed light on WHY they are still bachelors!?

Why do we care so much about what other people think? Don’t get me wrong, I have my days where I change my outfit eleven times before I leave. Eleanor Roosevelt said it best, “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”  I think it still holds true, even though she said it long before the days of Instagram.

My zany friend Chris has a verse from Proverbs 31 tattooed on her forearm. It’s this chapter that most of us hate because the Proverbs 31 woman is so unbelievably perfect. It’s like she created some impossible standard we can never in a jillion years live up to. But this particular verse talks about being clothed with strength and dignity. I like that, and it’s somewhat realistic.

I think along with that it’s great to wear humility and kindness. A pleasant attitude. A soft heart for others. A smile that comes from knowing you are loved. This doesn’t come from a label, and probably not from the outlet mall. This comes from knowing God, and anything that is good about us, is only because of his great love working in us. And the best part about that? It’s a freebie. You can’t buy it, earn it, save for it, or wait for the super-clearance, blue-light, red-tag sale. It’s just there…for you and me….and I am so very grateful.

Thanks for reading…til next time!