One year, not many moons ago, I decided to challenge myself for lent. I mean, really choose something that was a sacrifice and would be non-trivial to follow through on. I chose to forgo shopping for myself whether in stores or online. No little treats, no clothing, no books. I would also donate a weekly amount of money to represent my non-shopping savings to charity.
I remember announcing this to the family when they asked what I was doing. My daughter’s eyes grew really big, and she gasped, “NO SHOPPING? HOW WILL WE EAT?” I soothed her upset by explaining that it did not mean I would not do the grocery shopping, just that I would not be treating myself to the unnecessary items that seemed to find their way into my basket. Like those little irresistible nail polishes you find on the endcaps.
I was successful. The last two weeks were rough. And the hardest item to eliminate purchases of was books. I spent a lot of time in the library checking things out. Too bad that habit didn’t stick for long. I love them too much not to own them.
This year, I am trying to similarly challenge myself. I am toying with the idea of forgoing eating out in restaurants, but that might be a tad too rough, as it puts a damper on the occasional meet-up with friends I don’t regularly see.
We recently discovered a new addition to the North Alabama dining landscape – The ToyBox Bistro. I’m telling you about it, but this isn’t a critical “restaurant review.” It is just an impression of a fun little spot from an appreciative fan. I first found out about the eatery from this recent article in AL.COM.
What really piqued my interest was this quote: “Toybox Bistro is a homage in some ways to Timon’s late husband, Steve, who died five years ago from cancer. Timon said Steve was ‘an enormous collector’ who filled her house with lots of cool, high-end toys and games.”
And what a dear, sweet homage it is. I always wondered what would become of these sorts of collections. I know that my current yarn fetish will happily be consumed by my sister, but what do you do with a lifelong acquisition of all things geeky and game related? The interior of the ToyBox Bistro is filled with action figures, games and gaming cards. It is absolutely adorable and if you know any gaming enthusiasts from aged 8 through 88, they will get a kick out of perusing the showcases.
(Apologies for the crappy photos, all I had was my cell phone and it was a little dark inside.)
A wall of action figures:
Some wonderfully repurposed pendant light fixtures:
Each table top, under glass, has a collection of playing cards including Munchkin, Yu-Gi-Oh, Cards Against Humanity, etc.
The food is well-priced, well-prepared and quite tasty! They offer adult and kid friendly items such as hamburgers, hotdogs, wings, salads and various other dishes. Beer is also on tap. We tried their special “waffled mac & cheese” and found it surpassed our expectations. It’s basically Mac&Cheese done in a waffle iron – you will love it if you are one of those weirdos, like me, who loves the burnt crispy bit on the top of a casserole.
Check them out. They are next door to Sugar Belle (owners of the cupcake assault vehicle in town).
With everything going on in my dealings with mom’s cancer, I am having great difficulty finding the time to sit down and write something of substance. Even when I manage to carve out a few moments just to do this, I am unable to string together more than three sentences. It fascinates me how much the day to day dealings have zapped my brainpower. I decided to just tell you the top 10 things floating around in my mind and see what sticks.
1. I took a leave of absence from work. My mother is quite feeble these days. She has allowed herself to deteriorate to nearly being unable to stand. She is taking radiation, and I am her only family in town. Therefore, I am ferrying her. It ends up being close to a 3 to 4 hour outing every weekday. Combine that with the aforementioned inability to think, and there you have the reasons I am not even trying to work productively.
2. The one fringe benefit of my mother’s health crisis is that my sister is coming to town a LOT, so I get extra playtime with her.
3. Before we really knew mom’s diagnosis, we had arranged for a remodel of our master bath. The original estimate was to take about 2 weeks (I figured it woukd be 3), but due to unforeseen crap going on once we opened the walls, this job is taking forever. I do have running water now. Its been 10 weeks. Nearly there. Nearly.
4. I have heartburn right now. I had been plagued with it for the past few months, but it went away when I stopped working. I believe it’s because I quit eating out. But last night I had biergarten food, and I’m paying for it today. It was good going down, however.
5. Almost got stuck in a space capsule in the children’s play area. See #2 above. She instigated it.
6. I was bitten by a Llama today.
7. Ostriches, up close, scare the hell out of me. They have swagger and an attitude of owning the place. They seem like they want to pop a cap in your ass. And, they are huge; they have those beady eyes. And, when you close the car window, giant birds don’t like it, because they know you have the food, and they start tapping on the window (above my eye level, mind you) with their big, horrifying beaks. This is a close second to the terror that is named “Clown.”
8. At the fabric store, I bought some midnight blue velour, faux fur, and organza with glittery snowflakes on it. The clerk said, “awwww, how pretty. Are you making a frozen – themed costume for your little girl?” Um. Nope. (I shall be the Snow Queen, this year. I get to wear a crown. I like that.)
9. We’ve had to move mom about 3 times in the last few months. She wants to move back into another place (nope), and she keeps talking like moving is no big deal. Of course it isn’t, when you aren’t DOING any of it. It IS easy when the furniture keeps showing up where you need it. Do you think there are “Moving Fairies?” That would be an excellent costume for my husband. I could get some white painters coveralls, put a logo on “Two Fairies and a Truck,” add glitter and wings. Voila! He’s not as excited about this as I hoped.
10. I made the best batch of red beans and rice this week. It was stellar! Another perk of not working right now is that I’ve actually freed up a little extra time in the morning to meal plan and prep. Tomorrow’s planned fare is shrimp & corn bisque.
I needed some quick, efficient and healthy lunch options, because, quite frankly, assembling chow at 5:30AM has stymied me.
Enter PictSweet brand, Deluxe Sides, Edamame with Sea Salt. An individual, steam in the microwave box of yummy.