Hungarian Goodness

Today I had a little “mother-son” date with Flynn. We just hung out at Starbucks for a while and then went on to a store where I hoped to find a specific size of ceramic pot for my new little succulents. I didn’t succeed, but neither did I come home empty-handed.

The kids went out for coffee this afternoon, and then this evening Flynn had offered to take us out to dinner, so I suggested we try Brigitta’s,  the new Hungarian restaurant in Kilgore, which I had noticed on my way home from Tyler last month. A couple of people I know had tried it and really liked it.

It is a very unassuming place, with window boxes full of geraniums outside and very plain décor inside. There was only one other customer when we arrived.

We were greeted with enthusiasm by the owners, who described the various items on the menu for us (the day’s menu is written on a chalkboard). After listening to the whole menu, I realized that everything is served on mashed potatoes. When I explained I can’t eat potatoes, they immediately offered to split my potato portion among Walter and our sons, and also to give them my bread.  They were very anxious to make sure I was satisfied with my “incomplete” meal, and garnished it with garlic and sour cream after making sure I would approve.

While we waited for them to bring our food, the wife brought us a tray of Hungarian sausage and cheese to try. Yum. The five of us had ordered a total of four different entrées, and they were all so tasty that none of us wanted to share with each other. There was nothing fancy about the place at all—the flatware and dinnerware were disposable, and the drinks came in bottles and cans. But who cares, if the food is good? There’s nothing I love more than good home-cooked ethnic food. I hope this restaurant develops a devoted customer base and thrives! The owners came to check on us multiple times to make sure we were enjoying our food and didn’t need anything. We all walked out smiling.

After arriving back home, we had a family movie night with a break for more of Spencer’s birthday cake. Flynn leaves tomorrow afternoon and we are all going to be sad to see him go.

Meanwhile, Walter took the afternoon off again and installed a light for Jasper’s new desk, and a shelf/hook combo for Lucy to hang some of her things on. He had to go borrow a saw for the whiteboard, but I think that will go up tomorrow. It’s so good to have some of these little jobs done!

A Visitor and a Birthday

It’s been a great couple of days around here. Yesterday we had a guest preacher, and one of the hymns I had chosen for us to sing was the very one he had intended to request! So that worked out very well.

By the time we returned home from church, Flynn was already here waiting for us. It sure is good to have him here.

Since yesterday was Spencer’s birthday, I set up a group video chat so his three distant sisters and one brother-in-law could all talk to him at once. We had never tried that before, but we’ll have to do it again. We had Mercy, Mary, and Lina onscreen all at the same time!

Spencer went out to eat with his friends for supper, and took Flynn along, and most of our “adopted” college students begged off, so we had a very small kickoff of the school year. Mercy’s boyfriend Daniel was the only guest who came. I made way too much food!

Today I awoke to the sublime smell of a brisket roasting. Spencer had requested brisket for his family dinner today, and I like to slow-roast it overnight. So my big job of the morning was to trim the fat off and then cut up all that tender meat.

After lunch, we all went outside to view the eclipse. We had a sheet of very dark glass to look through, but the most fun was holding colanders up to the sun and seeing the dozens of tiny crescent shapes made on the ground by the eclipsed sun shining through the holes.

To my delight, Flynn offered to take charge of making the birthday cake. He has become quite a gourmet cake-baker in the last couple of years, and casually tosses around words like “ganache” in everyday conversation. He made Spencer a banana cake, iced with chocolate icing and then drenched in a layer of peanut butter ganache.

Meanwhile, Walter took the afternoon off and did several “honey do” project around the house, including installing a shelf I’ve had for months, and putting up the hooks for storing our new skinny table which we’ll only need on afternoons when I have class. The new whiteboard I think may go up tomorrow.

While Spencer and Lucy were at rugby practice, the rest of us started watching Ladyhawke, the movie of choice for eclipse enthusiasts. Then they returned for a late dinner of brisket and various accoutrements. Eventually, cake was served and it was a big hit with those who had it. I, of course, have no idea what it tasted like but it looked delicious!

It was a pretty low-key birthday celebration, but it was a good meal and I think everyone enjoyed it.

My Kingdom for Her License!

If ever a mom wanted her daughter to get her driver’s license, that mom is me. Going to pick Lucy up from work in the wee hours of the morning is taking a toll on me. I really hope that situation can be rectified soon! Unlike her, I cannot sleep until noon the next day.

Today I got a little more organizing and editing done, had to go to Walmart twice, and took a nap to recover from last night’s 2:00 a.m. run. I also practiced music and enjoyed talking to my brother on the phone.

The next few days are going to be pretty big around here, as Flynn is coming into town. Also, another son has a birthday tomorrow.

Two Birthdays and a Power Outage

Today was the birthday of my “little” brothers Jon and Matt. Although thanks to ultrasounds this never happens anymore, my mother did not know she was having twins until she gave birth—six weeks early! Matt lives in Indiana and Jon in California, but at least I got to see them both this year at my niece’s wedding. I hope they had a great day.

And no, they are not identical. They don’t even look like brothers!

Last night I suffered my second night of sleeplessness in the last two weeks. Insomnia usually only bothers me at high altitudes, so I am at a loss to explain this strange occurrence. It sure made getting going this morning very difficult.

I had arranged to meet one of my former students for lunch, as she is moving to Oklahoma this weekend. It was pouring rain all morning—unusual for Texas in August. We had a nice chat over lunch but she soon had to leave to go help load the U-Haul.

I chickened out of going to the gym this afternoon because it was new student orientation day on campus and the place was mobbed! Maybe tomorrow . . .

Then this evening the power went out while Walter and Jasper were eating supper. Even the power on campus was out, which almost never happens. We lit candles and I found myself being grateful I have so many battery-powered LED lights. Lucy asked me to bring her something at work (which also had no power), so Spencer and I drove through the eerily dark streets. The light went on at Denny’s right before we got there. I dropped Spencer off to hang out with friends, and by the time I returned home the power had just come on again here too. It was only out for about two hours, but it seemed longer!

Parting Shot:

azalea bloom

Speaking of birthdays, my birthday azaleas randomly put out a couple of blooms. They are going to be spectacular in the spring!

Jackie Gets a New Home, and I Attempt a Cleaning Project With Purple Results

I mentioned yesterday that I bought a new pot for my jacaranda tree, which I’ve begun referring to as “Jackie.” Today I got Jasper to help me move Jackie to her new and much larger home. I will try to take a photo tomorrow. Jackie has grown a great deal since I planted her as a seed in the spring! I haven’t figured out yet where we’ll put her in the winter since she is a tropical tree.

This being my week to indulge in a social life, my friend Marsha came over for a visit today. It was so good to get caught up with a friend I rarely see. I wish I had more time to visit with friends.

When not socializing, I’ve been working on clearing off my desk and surrounding area in preparation for the impending start of the school year. Since I don’t do this chore often enough, by the time I do it, I find I can throw most of my papers away. It’s a good feeling. Still more to do, but I’m making headway.

One of the things I found languishing on my desk was my pink fountain pen (I have several fountain pens). When I examined it, I found it no longer contained any liquid ink, though I had a clear memory of leaving it full of purple ink. So I took it to the kitchen to clean it out, and I found the purple ink. It had leaked out and dried up in the cap, but there was still plenty of dry ink in the reservoir too.

So. Much. Ink. The sink turned purple over and over again. I would leave the various parts of the pen to soak for half an hour at a time, then go back to rinse and rinse again as the dried ink dissolved. Purple, purple, and more purple. I am more than a little concerned the pen leaked so badly though. I love that pen! As I write this there is yet more purple to be purged from my pink pen. I will not fail at my task!


Hot Date at the Hardware Store

Today I enjoyed a visit from my friend Angela, who came into town on the bus. After picking her up, we stopped to get some salad ingredients before coming back to the house for lunch and conversation. It is always nice to spend time with a friend!

This evening, though, it was time for my husband and me to go on an excursion to the hardware/lumber store. I had been working on a list for the last month or so. We needed a new light fixture and some small pieces of hardware. I needed a new pot for my thriving jacaranda tree. My efforts to “revive” my white board ended in smudgy failure, so we had to get a new one before I start teaching again.

We also needed some large curved brackets, because a couple of weeks ago I had to buy a new table. The table is long and narrow, and was necessary because my note taking class had more students than can fit around my large dining table, and my fall class will also be large. The new table is not popular. We can’t leave it up all the time because it blocks access to our two china cupboards. So I had to find a spot where we can put up some brackets and hang it on the wall. I hope it works!

Our hardware store date was “hot” because we had to take the van, which has no air conditioning! The car could hardly have fit the 4×8 foot sheet of coated board we use as a whiteboard surface. I am excited about having a good whiteboard again. I have barely used my old one for the last couple of years because it stained so badly. This new one should be the last one I ever need. Jasper will graduate before it wears out!

Vacation Time

Today was the first day of my vacation. That is, after teaching all summer, I get two weeks off before I start teaching again. (Most of my homeschool friends have already started their school year.) I thought I’d get a lot of sewing done, but I didn’t. What I did was a lot of revising and a little bit of knitting.

I actually get a little bit of a social life this week, so I am looking forward to that too!

Living the Dream

For most of my married life, I had an unattainable dream. (Well, I had a lot of unattainable dreams, but I’m talking about one in particular.) My dream wasn’t to drive a sports car or live on the “right” side of the railroad tracks. My dream was simply to be able to think up a menu and then go grocery shopping for the week without needing to take my calculator, because I’d know I had enough money to pay for food without having to make some hard decisions.

For decades, grocery shopping always involved taking a calculator to make sure I stayed within my budget. Often, I had to put things back in order to get things that had a higher priority. This was why my husband stopped shopping with me very early in our marriage. It was too upsetting to him to see me agonizing over what to keep and what to put back. I fed us on $40 a week back then!

I know I’ve often griped about having to shop at Aldi on Friday mornings, and I’m sorry about that. I really do hate it. I hate that I can’t go grocery shopping at a time that’s convenient for me. But this morning, as I walked into the store, I realized my long-cherished dream had come true. I no longer take a calculator with me when I shop for food, because I can actually afford everything on my list at Aldi. I often have to change my menu plans “on the fly,” because Aldi doesn’t stock everything all the time and I can’t count on finding something that might have been there last week. But still, it does feel pretty good to walk in the store knowing I will be able to buy enough food to feed my family, and that I don’t need to add up every penny on a calculator. Even at Walmart, I could never do that.

So, I guess I’ll quit my bellyaching and be grateful for the realization of one of my life goals!


Monday I taught a letter-writing class, and today I taught a note taking class. For years I have taught my own students my favorite note-taking system, because so often kids are never taught how to take notes at all. This year I thought I’d expand the material to a day-long class so we could explore seven different note taking systems. When it comes to taking notes, I do not believe there is one true way and all the others are pointless. There is such amazing variety in human brains, and I figure if I give kids a huge toolbox, they will gravitate toward the tools that work best for them.

It was one of my larger classes, but they were a pretty cooperative bunch and I think they all walked away with some tools they could use in the future.

Here they are hard at work:

8-10-17 Note Taking class

In Which Adrienne Saves the Day!

I have stunning news on the “very rare hymn tune” front! My brilliant and innovative friend Adrienne has acquired the tune! She tried to get the album featuring a choir performance of the hymn, and I think downloaded the individual track, but the information we needed was not there. So she tried something that never would have occurred to me. She contacted the accompanist for the choir in question and he sent her a photograph of the sheet music!

The name of the tune is not listed, but the composer is–a Victorian musician named W.H. Jude. Knowing this, I was able to discover that he published only one volume of hymn tunes–back in 1900. I found a used copy online and have already ordered it from England—but meanwhile, I have the photo which is clear enough to play from. I will let you know when the book comes as I’m sure you’re all sitting on the edge of your seats!

In other news, Lucy and Jasper and I went on a brief excursion to historic Jefferson today. The weather was not very cooperative. We were able to eat our picnic lunch in a nice little park, but then it started sprinkling. We thought we’d check out a free museum we’d never been to, since that’s an indoor activity. By the time we drove there (two blocks) rain was coming down in buckets. We got drenched just getting from the car to the porch of the museum, only to find it was closed for lunch.

However, they had a handy bench we could sit on while we waited, which was great until the wind started blowing our way and we got drenched again! The kids lost all interest in the museum, so I bowed to the inevitable and took them to the General Store, stopping on the way for an obligatory photo:

8-9-17 Jib & Lu 1

The General Store is where you can find all kinds of one-of-a-kind items, old-fashioned candy, and souvenirs that range from wild and wacky to very, very tacky. Like these little light-up Jesus keychain flashlights:

8-9-17 Jesus lights

Or this mug:

8-9-17 Jesus Shaves

When you pour hot liquid in, apparently, Jesus’ beard disappears.

Eventually the kids were ready to have a root beer float for dessert. Since I was sitting at the counter with them, I felt obligated to order something, so I asked for a diet Dr. Pepper. I could not finish it. I just do not drink soda anymore and I saw no point in drinking something I couldn’t enjoy!

Then we came home and ever since I’ve been going flat out preparing for tomorrow’s class. Those kids aren’t going to know what hit them . . .

Parting Shot:

8-9-17 Jib & Lu 2