Good morning!  I’ve had such a wonderful weekend and it continues today because I have the day off of work.  My brother Charlie and his family leave tonight to go back home. 

Friday my sister and I took a half day and met my brother and his family and my Mom at Revival Food Hall for lunch.  We lucked out and got a table together within ten minutes of being there – um, I may have forgotten how busy it would be on a Friday there!

We realized my brother and sister hadn’t seen each other for three years!  I think I saw him at least twice a year in the last three years with my trips to Austin and family reunions in Virginia.  My sister hasn’t been to Austin yet and hasn’t made our family reunions in many many years.  Just proof that I am my brothers favorite sister. πŸ˜€

Yep, still need a hair cut! πŸ˜€   I hardly took any pictures, or put stuff on Instagram or storied this weekend.  It was nice to unplug and just hang out, watch the video of my nieces wedding we went to in November, play board games, and of course, laugh!

Saturday morning my brother and I got up at 6:15 to go to the Food Pantry in Melrose Park to help my Mom.  She’s been volunteering there on Thursdays and Saturdays for probably 18 years.  Every other Thursday my Mom meets the Chicago Food Depository truck to restock their shelves, and on Saturday’s they open at 8:00 and can accommodate up to 125 families each week.

They normally have everything packed and the customers get two numbers – one small one and one big one – I manned the “small” number door where I handed out all the pantry items, and then they go down the hall to the second door, hand in the “big” numbers and get all the refrigerator and freezer stuff.

As I handed out bags, several people looked me straight in the face and said “God Bless You.”  I felt so unworthy! I just showed up for a few hours – but it got me thinking how lucky I am that I never have to worry about where my next meal is coming from.

Long time readers will know, but I was a single Mom until Hannah was 8 years old.  I lost my job the first day I dropped off Hannah to her first day of day care, after being off of work for six weeks on an unpaid maternity leave, even though I was living with my parents, I still had bills to pay – mainly my car and car insurance and day care. 

I immediately went to a temp agency where they hired me on the spot and I started a job the next day.  My weekly salary?  $190.  My day car cost $100 a week, and my car payment was $90.  My parents put me on their State Farm Insurance and I qualified for W.I.C. which is basically food stamps.  I had to go to a government agency to get my vouchers (now I think they give you debit cards) and I was limited to the things I could buy:  dried beans, infant formula, breakfast cereal.  

My vouchers were good for $25 a week, and my formula cost $15.  Granted, I lived with my parents so we were not lacking in the food department, this was just my “contribution” to my situation.  But imagine if I didn’t have my parents to live with – how would I have survived on $10 a week for food for me and my daughter??

They are changing the system next week so people will have more of a choice on what food they get.  It is somewhat limited – as in Saturday the only protein we had to offer was sliced turkey breast.  Several people asked “do you have any other protein?”  Sadly, no.  And for some reason the food depository has an abundance of raisins – and many people said “if there are raisins in my bag, take them out, no one eats them.”

My Mom directed her crew on how she wanted it rearranged.  There were a lot of hands to help, so we finished by 11:00.  

By the end of the day 76 families came in for food.  Again, makes me very blessed to have the means to buy whatever I want when I want.  #blessed

Since my brother was in town, he had time to help Hannah start a blog!  She’s been thinking about it for a while, so my brother spent about an hour setting it up, hosting it under his Blue Host account – it was an early birthday present for Hannah – thanks Charlie!  Once she gets some content on there, I’ll be sure to share the link!

I made lasagna soup, batch 2,981 on Saturday night and it was a big hit. This time I used cheese ravioli for pasta.  I’ve said it before but if you plan on having leftovers, always keep the soup and pasta separate, and then reheat together when you are ready to eat.  I started making this soup in 2012 or something like that?  Brenda recently updated her recipe this past December and you’ll have to check it out here.  

We played banana grams, iota, and my favorite Balderdash.  I am a tiny bit competitive with board games, but we always laugh and have a great time. 

We went to my Mom’s church yesterday morning.  The membership has dwindled a lot over the years.  The older generation dying, no new families coming in.  There were 18 people in the congregation yesterday (including the five of us!).  It’s a beautiful church and the church I grew up in.  After I moved to Cary I never really went to church on a regular basis again, so it’s nice to go back.

And no trip from Austin would be complete for my sister-in-law Laura if we didn’t get Giordano’s – this is a slice of deep dish pepperoni – I weighed it and it is 18 points for that slice of pizza and worth every point in my book.

We have no plans this morning, other than hanging out.  Hannah is coming back to pick me up because I don’t have my car here.  I have Cooking Club tonight at Courtney’s so have to be back in time to get my dish together and get to her house – first Cooking Club of 2018!

I hope to take people pics later today and I’ll post them tomorrow along with the recap of our Cooking Club.  

Happy Monday friends – make it a great day!