London!

One thing that really surprised me in London was hearing many languages being spoken.  I had expected to hear a lot of the Queen’s English, but that was simply not the case!  I enjoyed the diversity around me, and so did Ysabela.  That being said, now back to our adventure….

While Rich dashed off to purchase tickets for Mamma Mia (for 38 pounds each), I took advantage of some shopping time after Bela and I sampled fish (haddock) and chips.  Ketsup cost extra, so we did without it.  It was much like the batter fried fish we get at Long John Silver.  We went to the M&M store and grabbed some neat things along with the chocolate.  Bela got chilled from the rain and wind later, so she unwrapped her blanket and used it like a rain coat.  We bought two on sale for three pounds each when I paid for Bela’s huge bag of candy.

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Bela was so tired by late afternoon, but she wasn’t alone; my feet ached, but we still had to keep moving on and off the metro.  The poor kid actually fell asleep while Rich tracked down two of the girls who got misplaced.  It took him about an hour to get back with them.

At least Bela’s shopping trip was successful.  She was pleased to find a flag and a London iPhone case.  I couldn’t find a case for my phone, so I was a bit disappointed.  We made it to Hult for supper where we had pizza.  It was pretty tasty after such a long day.  Some of the older ladies and I were nearly worn down to a nub after so many hours spent walking around London.  We made it to the hotel (finally) around seven.  (Keep in mind that we flew out Sunday after lunch and it was now Monday night.)  I was rooming with Laura, a Girl Scout leader.  Laura had emailed me prior to the trip to introduce herself which was kind of her.  I was thankful that Laura had a spare adapter so I could charge my phone!  Bela was rooming with three girls from the Texas group.  They had been discussing anime all day, so they had bonded a bit.

We hit the showers, then I perked up enough to go to the hotel bar for some American coffee.  It only cost me a pound.  I smoked a couple of cigarettes, then dropped off Bela’s medicines.

On my final smoke break of the night, I met a girl named Charlie Alex.  Her boyfriend, George, was caring for his little sister—Marla, two years old, green eyes, red curly hair.  Her picture was adorable.  Charlie asked me questions about the United States, and I listened to her explain why she was unhappy with the decision to leave the European Union.  She opined that it will limit economic opportunities for her generation.  Chatting with Charlie was a nice ending to a very hectic day.

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Grocery Shopping

Every time I head to the store, I silently vow to spend less than the month before. Every month I am disappointed in myself. I never mind spending money on food, but I do hate spending on the wrong things. My plan is to cook as much as possible. No more microwave stuff unless I have to be out of town and my daughter will have to fend for herself. We are both picky eaters, so meal planning can be a huge challenge.

Last month I bought a lot more “cooking” items, and we ate better meals that filled us up. I made a choice to focus on meats we like, and Bela has tried some new foods! Yea!!!!! I have a few more recipes that I am sure she likes instead of wasting money buying things she might eat. I enjoy making (and eating!) breakfast burritos, especially for supper. I saw a friend’s post on Facebook about bacon pancakes. They were a hit with my Bela. My friend Stacey gave me a simple chili recipe that Bela ate at her house. Success! Another success happened in the store this evening. Ysabela saw the stew meat in the cart and licked her chops. That’s a good sign! I figure I’ll add some potatoes and stuff to it in a crock pot, and we’ll have stew for a change. Bela is more of a carnivore than I am; I usually pick out the potatoes! (Now you know!)

Anyway, we’ll see how smart I can shop in the coming months. I am committed to saving money and eating better for less. (Thank you, Lisa, for sending us the coupons!)

Unexpected Blessings

Have you ever been blessed while waiting in a Wal-Mart checkout-out line? Usually I’m really cranky if I have to wait more than five minutes to make it to the cash register. Once, not long ago, I waited 20 whole minutes….and got a blessing out of it. I struck up a conversation with the lady in front of me. We were, after all, trying to pass the time pleasantly while waiting in line. Either that or misery loves company…..at any rate, Tammy shared that her teen was redecorating her room and was “done” with her zebra stuff. Let me leave Wal-Mart for a minute and step into my classroom.

As a teacher, I get a really good idea of what my students love or collect as I see them in class and hear their chatter. I knew one of my girls LOVES the zebra pattern on anything. Now back to the check-out line.

I asked Tammy, my new best friend, if she would be willing to sell me the zebra stuff. I was determined to get it for my student, you see. I learned that Tammy is a gracious, generous lady who wanted to “pay it forward.” As we talked more, we both agreed that every time we have needed something, someone has been sent to provide it for us. You might call this karma or the hand of God, but either way, I know miracles can and do happen. Tammy shares that belief. We swapped phone numbers and agreed to meet another day so I could pick up the zebra room décor—lamp, flowers, wall hangings, everything. The day came, and I was thrilled to see her again. She is truly a wonderful person. She even brought a couple of pairs of shoes that were not needed by her teen. Wouldn’t you know that my daughter could wear one pair and her friend could wear the other!

We don’t usually equate Wal-Mart with awesome new friends, but it can happen. Don’t you just love those wonderful, wacky Wal-Mart women?

Shopping With Big Girls

You slim girls are so lucky when it comes to shopping for clothes! Don’t think I’m “hating on you” because I’m not. I would simply like you to understand what plus-size women go through when we want new clothes. We bigger girls are frequently disappointed and frustrated. My daughter and I have left stores empty handed more times that I would like to remember.

My friend and I (you remember Laura, I’m sure) took Ysabela shopping Saturday. We had the whole day reserved for the trip because finding the right clothes in the right sizes can sometimes take an entire day! We checked out the belts at Orscheln while picking up a few other items. The bling belts went from small to extra large. I didn’t expect to find belts in our sizes there anyway. (Maybe you’re sensing that we have low expectations for clothes shopping.) Orscheln is a farm supply store that I love to visit—just typically not for clothes. We did get lucky and find a few plus-size shirts we liked. I considered that a victory.

Belts in my size?  No.

We went to my favorite store in the mall—-Maurice’s. It is my favorite because I know going in that we have a better-than-average chance of finding our sizes in stock. Before I tell more, I must say that I have not been paid or otherwise compensated for this article. This article is based on my experience with the Maurice’s store at the Platte River Mall.

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For those of you who do not know, Maurice’s is a store that caters to larger women and has sizes up to 4X. The sizes are labeled as 0-4. I think that’s a very smart move because many times big girls are shamed by the numbers. Asking for a size 3 is much less embarrassing than asking for a size 46 (or whatever), especially in a crowded store. The clothes are trendy and chic, but I can always find dressy outfits that are cool and tasteful for a “woman of my age.” The warehouse sends a very limited number of size 4 items, so if you need that size and find it, BUY IT RIGHT AWAY!

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As soon as we entered the store, I saw our favorite “personal shopping assistant,” Emily, an assistant manager. She always greets us like old friends, and she is the reason Ysabela and I shop there now. (Emily has an eye for style and a knack for making people feel comfortable.) Laura and I explained our mission: to find nice clothes and document our adventure for my blog posts. Emily and the manager enthusiastically helped Ysabela (and me) pick trendy clothes from the racks. We noticed some patterns that wouldn’t be flattering for our size, but there were quite a few things that fit our “requirements.” Oh, I haven’t told you those yet, have I? We were looking for clothes that flatter our curvy figures and make us feel pretty. It’s not as easy as it sounds, believe me!

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While Ysabela tried on clothes provided by Emily, I took a minute to catch my breath. Anytime Bela has a good shopping day, I rejoice. She hates to shop for clothes. I think it’s because she has been disappointed so many times in so many stores. I am thrilled to find a store that caters to plus-size ladies. A lot of retailers are missing out—we have money to spend on clothes and few places to buy them!

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Ysabela cooperated for a few pictures before going “on strike.” I was taking my turn trying on clothes when I heard the alarm go off at the front of the store. Nobody was trying to steal anything. Laura was after a perfect shot of Ysabela in front of Maurice’s.

I prefer being behind the camera lens rather than in front of it, but Laura managed to get me anyway. Emily even found Bela a pair of boots on clearance for $10! All in all, it was a SUCCESS!

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Shopping with Laura

Wow! It ought to be illegal for Laura and I to go shopping together. Our mission Saturday was to take some pictures for the blog post I had planned. Sounds really simple, right? So we thought. We took my Ysabela to be our model for clothing, and I figured I’d try on some clothes while we were there. Stay tuned for that story in a day or two. I need some recovery time before I write about that.

Laura treated us to lunch. So far, so good. Las Margaritas in North Platte has great Mexican food. We proceeded to the farm and ranch store we both love, and I bought some rabbit chow and a few shirts for Ysabela. I could rationalize that easily enough—the clothes were all on sale. (How I love a bargain!) On our way to the mall, Laura asked if we could stop at a furniture store to check prices on a “chair and a half.” Since I had no idea what she was talking about, I innocently accompanied her.

Let me pause to bring my dear readers up to speed. The last time Laura and I hit the stores, I out-spent her by a couple hundred dollars. It was not really my intention, but that’s the ugly truth. At any rate, I thought I’d do better this time. I was thinking that last trip was the exception. Back to the story….

We got to the furniture store, and I was educated about the chair and a half. I saw some beautiful horse pictures and one of a wolf. (Both species are favorites of mine, but I resisted the temptation and left them on the wall.) I was so proud. We know from the Bible that pride goes before the fall, but I didn’t see it coming. My new queen-size bed will be delivered Thursday. In my defense, I needed it! It was also ON SALE! When you have a big woman, a kid and two small dogs (that stretch out like slinkies) trying to sleep or watch a movie in a full-size bed, space is at a premium. There have been times that I have opened my eyes to realize I had about a foot of space for myself. I hope that will change this coming week.

I was intelligent enough to not finance that new bed; I am proud to say I paid cash for it, even though it hurt a bit. Then we hit Wal-Mart after going to the mall. As Laura and I compared our receipts, she snickered and said, “You blew me out of the water again!” (The mall story is coming soon.)