Friday, November 19, 2010

Paint. College Dude. And A Helpful Hint.

Busy day today. Foremost on our To Do List is to pile ourselves into the car and take off for Norfolk to pick up a certain College Dude. Word on the street is that he is due to land at 5:20 pm.

I told him we’d be there. If we felt like it. If we didn’t have anything better to do.

Ha. You know me better than that. There’s nothing better to do than to pick up one’s beloved son from the airport! (Especially when said son hasn't been home in seven months.)

But in the meantime, Steve is going to be staying busy working on this room. (Sarah's bathroom/guest bathroom.)

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The current wall color of yellow is not a real lovely match with the current floor. Which is comprised of these colors.

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And since we don’t want to spend a bajillion dollars redoing the floor, we are going to spend one tenth of one percent of a bajillion dollars redoing the paint. And buying a few towels and rugs that coordinate with the artsy flooring rather than clashing with it, as do the rugs we’ve been using for the past year, which were brought from our old house.

So. That’s the to do list for the day. Paint. And College Dude.

And the helpful hint? Actually, I have two helpful hints today. You all are just so wonderful you deserve a bonus hint.

The first tip has to do with this particular item that we’re using in Sarah’s room with her recently purchased queen mattress.


We weren’t able to get a traditional box spring up the stairs to her third floor room and the split box springs were expensive. So we stumbled on this little number at K-Mart which has three benefits.

1. It fits up the stairs easily.

2. It’s a box spring and a frame, all in one piece.

3. It’s only about $100.

4. It has FOURTEEN inches of clear storage underneath. Which is HUGE!

(Oh wait. That was four benefits. I told you I wasn’t good with math.)

Anyway, if you’re ever looking for a box spring/bed frame solution, this is a good one!

And the last hint?

I was reading a magazine yesterday and it said that if your oven is tied up at Thanksgiving and yet you want to serve nice hot rolls, here’s what you do.

Bake the rolls ahead of time and freeze them. (Or bake them earlier in the day and leave them unfrozen.)

Then thaw them (if frozen) and warm them in a crock pot set on low. They will stay warm and moist for up to an hour!

How exciting is that? I had actually been pondering how I was going to get rolls in the oven along with everything else and I was rather delighted to read the crock pot tip.

Disclaimer: I have not yet tried this tip. However, I did bake some rolls last night and later today (or tomorrow) I am going to put them in the crock pot and see how they turn out.

I will report back to you!

(And if you have any wonderful Thanksgiving tips to share, please do. I’m all about helpful tips.)

And now I’m off to clean, clean, clean. And then clean some more. We’ll have fifteen or sixteen people in the house for Thanksgiving (plus I have another visit to Greenville Monday to get stitches out) so I’m trying to get a few things done ahead of time.

Happy Friday to you!

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Must Dusty Velvet Elvis Encrusted Flea Market

This is another post which I am “cross pollinating” from Sarah's site. It’s actually one of my favorite posts which is why I want to share it here on Smithellaneous. I hope you enjoy it!


(Written September, 2005)

Steve and I were paying our bills one night when we came upon an unexpected whopper of a bill. We had to work pretty hard to get all the figures to work out, but we managed to get that bill paid, in addition to writing our monthly tithe check which was due at the same time. (Paying a tithe is giving ten percent of your income.)

I must make a confession to you, though. As I began to write that check to the church I thought to myself, “I know what the Bible says about tithing. I know what I’ve practiced all my life. I know what we've taught our children. However, it would sure be nice, just this once, to take that tithe money and put it on this big bill.”

We didn’t. And I knew we wouldn’t. But I just wanted to confess that I was surely and sorely tempted!

Because of that large bill, when I headed out to the grocery store the following day, I didn’t have a whole lot of extra money left to spend. I shopped very carefully with my main splurges being some extra fruit and a box of Little Debbie Snack Cakes.

The next morning, I happened to hear that two families in our church were in need of meals due to some medical challenges they were facing. Although our church has many wonderful ladies who help in that department, occasionally things crop up that need immediate action and I just take on those opportunities myself. It’s a part of my “stealth ministry” as a pastor’s wife!

Providing those meals though, turned out to be an enlightening experience for me because as I started packing up my homemade chicken pot pie and deciding which side dishes to send along, I felt an unexpected but unmistakable twinge of selfishness shoot through my soul.

I knew it would be nice for the families to have some sort of dessert to go with their meals but the only “dessert-y type” things I had in the house were my newly purchased (and highly coveted) Little Debbie cakes.

And I knew that fresh fruit is always a great addition to any meal but I also knew how much Sarah loved those green grapes I had just bought. Did I really want to send out the door the groceries I had just selected and purchased with such frugality? Did I really want to give away my Little Debbie Snack Cakes? The chocolate ones?

I mean, really?

I stood in the middle of my kitchen floor and “duked it out” with myself over cakes and grapes. Do I send the extras along, or do I keep them for my own family? Should I be selfish or not selfish? Should I give or should I keep?

I finally got kind of bored with arguing with myself (it’s much more scintillating to argue with someone else) and said, “Okay. I will give this stuff away and I will be happy about it and I will believe that as we are faithful to be generous with what we have, then God will be faithful to supply our needs.”

And so out the door (in the hands of Steve, the Meal Delivery Guy) went my much longed for snack cakes and grapes, along with the chicken I had been reserving for our own supper. When Steve returned from his delivery run, I had made a quick tuna casserole (thank the Lord for always present cans of tuna), and the three of us ate a contented, albeit chicken-less, meal together. And that was that!

Now we move along to the subject of junior bridesmaid dresses. (Don't worry--it's all going to tie together. Eventually.)

Two weeks from now, Sarah (along with three other girls) will take part in an Honor Stars Crowning Ceremony, which is the culmination of a whole lot of work done in conjunction with her girls’ group at church. Each girl is suppose to have a white dress for this ceremony and I had started stressing out over that because I wanted Sarah to have something lovely. However, I knew I couldn’t just sashay into Jewel’s Formal Wear downtown and fork over $100 for one of their lovely dresses.

Well, last Friday on our day off, Steve and I decided to continue our ongoing quest for a gently used couch for his church office. Someone had told us that on the older side of town, there was a large indoor flea market that sometimes carried used furniture. I told Steve, “Well, we probably won’t find anything there, but let’s drive out just for the fun of it.”

We hadn’t been walking through that flea market for more than five minutes when I glanced up and saw a truly wondrous and incredible sight. I saw . . . (wait for it!) . . . a white, junior bridesmaid dress.

Now to truly understand the significance of that discovery, you have to remember that I was standing smack dab in the middle of an uninspiring flea market. A dusty flea market. A flea market filled with every sort of unusual piece of junk known to man, with the aforementioned junk filling up every crevice and cranny of this gargantuan building.

Some of the junk was interesting and wonderful, some of it was ugly and dirt-covered, but the bottom line was that it most definitely was not a place where Lovely White Dress Sightings happened very often.

As soon as I saw the dress, I screeched to a halt, veered off my course and charged across the aisle, leaving my bewildered husband wandering in my wake. I wanted to take a closer look at the dress to make sure it wasn’t just an apparition that my overwrought imagination had conjured up.

I looked at the size. It was Sarah’s size. I looked at the price. It was only $15!

I sternly laid aside the temptation to do a happy jig in the middle of the aisle and merely asked the man behind the counter if he would hold the dress till the next day.

Later that day when I told Sarah I had found a dress possibility she said, “It sounds pretty. What store is it at?”

I said, “Well . . . (long pause) . . . it’s at a flea market.”

Poor child. She had never even heard of a flea market!

She said, “Mom, you’re wanting to buy my special white dress for my crowning ceremony at a place called a flea market?”

But Sarah is a chip off the old block and is very open minded in her shopping philosophies. As long as she understood that the dress from the flea market was not going to be infested with fleas, she was all for going to take a look at it.

Saturday morning as we pulled up to the weather beaten warehouse, I had a moment’s misgiving. I looked at the place through the eyes of a twelve year old who is becoming aware of fashions and brands and style and I thought, “Oh dear. She is going to think this is the worst place ever and she is going to be utterly appalled about the fact that her mom is even thinking about buying her special dress in a place that sells rusty tools and velvet pictures of Elvis!”

But to her credit, she flung her little purse across her shoulder, beamed at me brightly and happily accompanied me through the doors, commenting on how interesting everything was and quickly laying to rest my fears that she had become too hoity-toity for such a place.

She saw the dress. She liked it! She tried it on. It fit!

I almost felt like crying as I saw her sweet little eyes overlook all the strangeness of our shopping environment and I heard her lovely voice cheerily say, “Yes, I think it’s a good idea to buy this dress. It will save you and daddy some money and I like it just fine.”

Now the best part was yet to come.

As we were getting ready to pay the vendor’s wife walked over and said, “I thought you might like to know that this dress was worn just one time and the people paid $75 for it, on sale. Also, you might be interested to know that it came from Jewel’s Formal Wear downtown!” (The very place I knew we couldn’t afford to shop at!)

I stood there for a moment in stunned, quiet thankfulness as I was reminded so beautifully that God had seen my challenges throughout the week--my struggles with writing the tithe check and my even bigger struggles with giving away the food. (Especially the chocolate.)

The coincidence of finding a dress like that in a place like an old flea market was not lost on me. I mean, what were the chances of it being the right color, the right size, the right style and coming from the very store I had wanted to shop in?

The joy on Sarah’s face at finding such a lovely bargain made me smile as I completed the transaction, being extra careful to keep the lovely white frock from coming into contact with the old dirty wrenches and pliers that were flung across the table near the cash register.

The final poignant moment came when the vendor started rummaging around trying to find a clean bag amidst all of the greasy, grimy guy stuff he had for sale. He finally emerged triumphantly from under the grimy, germy counter with a shopping bag from Nordstrom’s in his hands! I almost laughed out loud.

I have been in a few Nordstrom's stores in my life but have never purchased anything because their stuff is so expensive. To have our lovely dress from Jewel’s packaged in a Nordstrom's bag and handed to us over the display of dirty screwdrivers--well, it just seemed precious, funny, and surreal, all the same time.

And I knew heaven was smiling!

I felt like God was saying, “You wrote your tithe check and gave away your chicken and your green grapes and your chocolate Little Debbie snack cakes and in return, I had a white dress waiting for you in the most unlikely of places. Is that a good trade-off, or what?”

The bottom line? Don't ever tell me that God isn't everywhere, or that He doesn't see everything!

He even shows up in dusty, musty, velvet Elvis encrusted Flea Markets.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Fab Blast From the Past

Forty-two years ago, I wrote my first song.

I was six.

Over the next few years, I learned to play the piano and the guitar. And I kept writing and kept singing.

When I was about eleven, I met a girl in my small Wisconsin town named Lorrie. And guess what? She also sang. And played guitar. And wrote songs.

A friendship was born. (In fact, we are still great friends to this day.) We practiced together endlessly and went out and did little “gigs” in area churches and nursing homes. We even had matching dresses that Lorrie made for us. Yes, we were earnest. But very cute, too!

lorrie and i

One of the highlights of our young lives occurred several times a year when a gospel group called The Lundstroms would come to our area. They had several busses, a huge sound system, lights, and a live band.

Lorrie and I were utterly entranced. We would coerce our patient family into taking us to whichever Lundstrom appearance was within driving distance and we would sit enthralled while the Lundstroms sang. We diligently watched their every move and even took notes concerning every little thing they did. (Did I mention we were earnest?)

Here are the Lundstroms was when they first started out with two brothers (Lowell and Larry) and their wives (Connie and Gloria.)

early lundstroms

As the years went by, a third brother joined them and then the couples had children and the kids all grew up traveling and singing with their family. As I watched them up on the stage together, singing, performing, and preaching, my little ol’ heart’s desire was that someday I too, would find a husband who wanted to travel and sing. I dreamed that he and I (and our children) would live on the road and travel from place to place—writing songs, recording albums, performing our music—just like the Lundstroms!

Well, if you’ve been reading our story for any amount of time, you know that Steve and I (and our children) did exactly that for fifteen years. My childhood dream came true and I am so grateful.

Now. Fast forward a few years. In fact, fast forward up to Sunday, November 14, and take a look at who is sitting on our front porch swing with us.

Larry and Gloria Lundstrom! (Ta-da!)

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Yes, the very same Lundstroms who inspired me forty years ago as a child are still traveling, still singing, still preaching, and still as fun, funny and classy as ever. I must say that it’s a great joy to find that the people who so greatly impacted my life all those years ago are just as worthy of admiration close up as they were when they under the stage lights.


It was truly a treat to have them come to Manteo and sing and preach at our church. After the service, I cooked lunch for them and we spent a couple hours eating, laughing, and telling road stories. (Which are like no other stories on earth!)

Gloria especially liked this little salt and pepper set that I have in my kitchen. It perfectly sums up so many years of both our lives.


Have R.V. Will travel.

Have family? Will still travel.

Thanks Lundstroms, for being a traveling family that inspired me to travel right along in your footsteps.

Steve and I are so grateful for your lives, your ministry and your example.

st beck lund

Happy trails!

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Top Of The Head And Full Body Doggie Itch.

Hi. Snowy here.

It appears as though Mom has gotten her stinkin’ old camera out again.  I’m not exactly clear why she keeps on hauling it over here and pointing it in my direction but I’ll try to humor her and arrange myself in the the Quintessential Cute Doggie Pose.


Maybe it would make her extra happy if I burst out into song.


And of course, one can never go wrong with a licking of the lips pose.


We all know how effective the famous back lit pose can be.


I especially love how the light illuminates the natural fluffiness of my tail.  I am one good lookin’ fella.


Oops.  It appears as though I am being attacked by an itch.  And it’s not just any old itch, mind you-- it’s the dreaded Top Of The Head And Full Body Doggie Itch.

Excuse me one moment, please . . .   IMG_0669

Ooohhhhh . . .




Ahhh . . . .


Mmmmmmm . . . .


A hearty shake of the entire self . . .


. . . and my handsome self is ready to face the day.


Monday, November 15, 2010


Are we . . .


having fun . . .




Yes, you guessed right.

I had another (fun) procedure last Friday. It lasted 90 minutes which was precisely 90 minutes too long. I wasn’t given any sedation and was extra, ultra, uber tense during the whole thing; I think I must have burned up a thousand calories just keeping all my muscles so tight. But I survived.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer back in March, I could never have guessed that there would be so many surgeries and procedures to follow. There was the mastectomy/expander-placing surgery in April followed by half a dozen visits to have the expanders expanded. And then there was the surgery to take out the expanders and put in the permanent implants. And of course, I also had to have an additional surgery for revision and repair.

And now there are the “finishing touches” procedures, like what I had done on Friday. I’ll go back in a week to have stitches removed and then I’ll have one more “finishing touch” procedure to get through. Then (oh happy day), I shall be done with My Reconstruction Journey!

Hurray and hurrah. Not to mention, yahoo and yehaw!

On a less celebratory note, I think that the three “put to sleep surgeries” I’ve had recently were not overly kind to my lungs. I have a peak flow meter than I’m supposed to blow into occasionally to check my progress; before the surgeries, I was able to blow a 350, which is lower than most people but still reasonable for someone with 60% lung capacity. However, for the past few weeks, I haven’t been able to get it much past 300. That’s a fairly big loss, when you think about it percentage-wise.

So I’m going to go see a different pulmonologist than the one I went to in March for my annual visit (I didn’t care for that particular doctor) and see what he has to say.

Looks like more fun is in my future!


From the Comments Section:

Mary H asked, “When is Nathan coming home? I bet you are counting the days.”

Nathan will land at Norfolk International Airport this Friday at 5:20 pm.

So if anyone hears loud, clamorous rejoicing coming from this part of the country, it will just be us! This is the longest he’s been away in his entire life (7 months), so we are all really pumped at the thought of him being back home for an entire week.

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