Our Family… Always First

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Total honesty post…

The picture I’m sharing with y’all today is from our trip back from Yadkinville last night. The sunset was breathtaking. Richard commented on its grandeur as we began our drive back from Mountain Valley Hospice House. I was able to capture only a small portion of the skies natural state. Richard & I have made this trip together regularly for the last week now. Spending a few moments each day with a very sick loved one, are minutes that I will treasure always. 💕

So I’m just getting it out there, these times are hard. Everyone is struggling somehow in life. Life is not “normal “ anymore. COVID 19 has changed how we live and work or not working. Changes have been coming fast in the last few months and some folks have been sick. People are ready to get things back to normal.

That being said, I am going to address the next phase of business for us at Wilkes County Hardware and what our current vision looks like.

After May 8th, WCH will still do curbside service only at this time. We will slowly proceed with caution. Our WCH staff is like our family. Many of you know, Wayne has been home waiting out the brunt of the COVID crisis and we miss him dearly🤗. Our staff has been great to work through such a unique & challenging time. We love & appreciate each and every staff member at WCH. As a business owner, we feel compelled to create a safe & healthy working environment for our staff, they are our family too.

Many folks have been gracious, kind and understanding of the new normal at WCH, curbside service only. Please know that we value each and everyone of you!!! We must take care of our family first, immediate family and our staff. So business will not be normal for us for a while longer. We appreciate your kindness and understanding as we do our best to help you with your hardware store needs.

Eventually our plans are to gradually reopen our doors, welcoming our customers & community back inside the rustic walls of Wilkes County Hardware. Social distancing and other criteria will be in place when we reopen based on the current CDC recommendations. Please stay posted for further updates and information.

Thank you

Richard & Angela Searcy

Advice for my sister…

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My sister called me the other day, & she had news to share with me. Her announcement was that she could not be a teacher. I giggled. We both laughed for a minute and I told her that she was a great nurse and I’m glad she chose that as her career path.

From the phone conversation, I could tell she was struggling with this newly founded homeschooling situation that so many parents have been thrusted into as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic.

As we continued to talk, I just simply let her share her story. By the way, she has 3 kids at home, all under the age of 15. The problem was obvious… all 3 kiddos were not feeling it, & lacked a bit of motivation. My sister was getting an influx of information from 10 different teachers… 😳😬 I really felt for her and I knew she was still trying to do the impossible- teach her kiddos, be mom, and work!!!!

In the last few days, I have really been thinking about all this change for so many parents and the homeschooling struggles playing out in the social media world. Some of the posts are quite funny, people are searching for what to do, & even the Today show did a feature on this topic this week!!!

So how we “teachers” do it in the classroom and make it all work???? Here is a working list for you today from a teaching veteran… 25 plus years of experience… turned Hardware wife. I hope this is helpful for someone out there as well as my sister… Love ya sister… hope this brings a glimmer of hope & insight to you today.

1. Keep a routine going for each day – begin & end at the same time-their school day is based on routine and specific schedules your kiddos are accustomed to

2. Allow for Brain Breaks, games, outside time. Simple yoga or meditation time can be used as well and many schools are using it now

3. When you are teaching new concepts, make connections to things they already know – build upon their prior knowledge is crucial to learning

4. Teach for 10 minutes & review for 2 minutes – we teachers like to call this concept “chunking”. Remember the attention span of a kiddo is 8-12 minutes (depends on age and gender) Adult attention span can be 15-20 minutes… well enough said

5. This one is my favorite and my students loved this one as a teacher-Read together- read aloud novels/chapter books… use your voice to project different characters, mood / tone of the story… stop and ask questions for comprehension along the way, discuss new vocabulary, integrate other subjects from story- science, math etc when you can!!!

6. Rome wasn’t build in a day… Adapt when things don’t work out like you expected. It will be ok if you don’t accomplish everything you need to in one day.

7. Overplan!!! & Communicate with your child’s teachers. Set your daily expectations out there to your kiddos, let them know what they will be learning/doing. This will help them to take some ownership of their own learning.

8. Integrate technology- use online resources, games, videos( music/movie clips), Pinterest, blogs etc. Honestly, this one is time consuming but well worth it… dig deep for your kiddos and you will reap rich rewards!!! (If your students are working with online learning from their school districts, use these as a supplement to learning)

9. Don’t forget to use YouTube- great wealth of resources!!!!

10. Start small!!! Begin with a few hours of learning when you tackle this undertaking, and work way up to longer instructional time

11. Share resources and information/inspiration with others!!! I always hated to work with other teachers who never wanted to share resources or ideas. The more help/ resources you have the better off you will be!!!

12. Have your kiddos to reflect on their learning… this could be a daily discussion at the end of the day, journal writing, checklist, etc. This will put ownership of learning back on them and what they need to do differently tomorrow. Checks for understanding of content should be frequent.., like daily

13. Don’t worry… your kids will know you are not an academic expert. At the beginning of each year, I always told my students we will learn & ask questions together… learning never stops for anyone!!! Set this expectation early!!! We are learning together…

14. Try Create & Make projects – hands on projects or creative projects are great for kiddos

15. When a task is hard for your kiddo, don’t forget this… “you are not there yet” – the power of “yet” is not failure… you are still working on it… ie., learning in progress. Grant your child a little bit of grace to keep learning and growing.

So here it is sister… my advice to you as you navigate this new chapter in homeschooling with your kiddos. I hope this will help you 😉 and everyone else out there who might possibly need this.

Cornbread & Caregiving

Southerners know that cornbread is a staple at the dinner table. I grew up with it, & ate it religiously. As I grew older and moved away from home, the desire for “Southern style” foods were… if I’m honest, not as visible on my grocery shopping list. I guess you could say I had gotten away from my roots in Southern cooking. But, a trip back to my grandparents house is always a great way to get a “Southern cooking fix”, ie- cornbread, homemade biscuits, mustard greens, mashed potatoes, fresh green beans, fried chicken… we always seem to have a feast for a crowd.

My blog page has been fairly silent the last few months. My grandparents have experienced health setbacks that have been keeping me busy since January 2nd as I am one of their main caregivers.

Both of my grandparents will be 92 this year!!! Another milestone they will reach this year, their anniversary of 74 years of marriage!!!! Honestly, how many people can say they have been married that long???? It is amazing & beautiful to see how connected these two people are to each other.

During these last few months, I have cooked a lot of Southern style meals for my grandparents, because that is what they love to eat, and are accustomed to eating. Many meals around the grandparents house will always include a biscuit or cornbread. Biscuits, are usually a morning favorite, & cornbread served at lunch and supper. Cornbread in a small Lodge skillet is easy to prepare while the rest of the meal is cooking.

My husband has become quite envious of the fresh cornbread in the Lodge skillet and I believe it will be a regular addition to our routine at our house soon. He has always loved all things cornbread- sliced or cornbread muffins.

Caregiving is hard. Most of us will undertake this task at some point in our lives. If you know someone who is currently a caregiver for a family member, take time to check on them. A simple text message, phone call, visit, etc can mean a world of difference to them. Caregivers need support too.

Caregiving has been quite a journey. I have met some wonderful people, and I have learned a lot about elder care. That could be a totally separate blog post but… First and foremost, cooking and caring for my grandparents and doing all other things they need is what I do.

I have come to realize that these small little moments in time should be treasured because my time with them is fleeting. We are not guaranteed time in this world forever, so I will always enjoy the hot cornbread and company of two very special people in my life while I can.

Expectations and Grace

Expectations & Grace

Recently, I was watching an old episode of Happy Days. In this specific episode, Howard Cunningham came home from work (owning a hardware store) and I was stunned to remember that he wore a 3 piece suit to work everyday!!! I actually did a double take… thinking to myself, “is this for real???”

Richard was not home, and once he arrived, the first thing I hit him with was my immediate reflection from that past episode. He kinda chuckled and we both giggled at the absurd thought of Richard or I dressing the same way for a day of work at our Hardware store.

Our dress is always casual and we dress for the weather… hot or cold. Typical day of work could mean exposure to, “100 year old dust”, kerosene, pool chemicals, and of course our wood stove is active in the winter. It just wouldn’t be practical to wear a 3-piece suit. Our customers would not “expect” to see our staff dressed that way. Expectations…. here are some thoughts on this subject today….

Expecting a specific outcome usually leads to disappointment… who has had that experience?? All of us right??? Our minds are powerful objects which can “project expectations” upon people and events. Other times, we can even create our own heartbreak through our own expectations.

Regardless of the circumstances,

I have had “expectations” placed upon me as a woman working in our hardware store. As a full-time owner now, I have encountered this more times than I ever wished would happen.

Some folks who maybe first time customers, enter the store, then I welcome them, and they immediately look for a male employee to help them, with the “expectation” that I can not find what they need. Here are three typical outcomes of customer interactions in our store when these “projected expectations” are visible….

1. Customer pleasantly surprised to see that I can get what they requested.

2. Unsure of where potential item is located( as a side note- we have so many different types of products… I’m still learning what is actually inside this very old hardware store!!!!)so I may go ask where something is located, and I can then, go get what the customer needs. If the item is unavailable, we send our customer with ideas to try next… recommendations of other local spots to find that specific product .

3. On occasion, the request is such a specialized item that I do turn the customer over to another staff member- who has vast knowledge in a specific area to assist them.

Sometimes the reactions from the customer/ regardless of their gender, is overall pleasant interactions. The “expectation mold” is shattered like a key “unlocking a new mindset “.

So why is this a problem today??? Do we have these preconceived notions/expectations about how people should be based on what they do???? Or how they will react???

I will be perfectly honest, I’m a little stumped by “old mindsets” / expectations. Has giving/showing grace to others regardless of what is “expected from them” gone by the wayside???? Is this mindset rooted in past experiences???? Hmmm… I wonder how life would be so different if we all used this philosophy of showing grace in all circumstances???? So what is grace???

Grace is defined as an exhibition of kindness, mercy, favor disposition to benefit or serve another. The older I become, the more I think these two things should go together… expectations/grace.

Let’s develop this concept a little bit further. As an educator for 25 plus years, the education world spends a lot of time talking about expectations: specifically, setting high expectations of students equal more learning opportunities.

I always wanted my students to do their very best. As a teacher, “expectations”(standards for learning) of my students were consistent and high. I also tried to exhibit grace and kindness on days students were having an “off day”. But that did not mean the standards of learning were less. We were always working together to achieve that nice balance of expectations vs. grace.

So I am wondering, the balance of expectations vs. grace is this a life learning experience???? Are we up to the challenge????

Simplify

Here we are, another new year in progress! The social media world and the nightly news is full of talk of New Year Resolutions. In 2020, I am making absolutely NO resolutions, instead I am setting intentions for 2020.

So what does that actually mean- setting up an intention??? My mindset has shifted from setting a goal (resolution) of I want to do this- X event or thing by this date-Y and this is how I plan to do it…. Living with intention is different- you are an active participant in your decisions that you make, because your intentions are driven by your core values and beliefs. Words of Intention let you stay true to yourself at all times.

Let’s be honest here, sometimes resolutions do not always come to fruition for various reasons. The ‘busy life” we all lead can get in the way of resolution goals. Intentions can be accomplished with this new mindset and small progress can be made in any area in which you hope to accomplish, whether the intention is focused around your mind, body, or soul.  My word of Intention will be a gradual process in 2020 for me—-living life-messing up-learning from mistakes-forgiving yourself or others- perseverance towards my ultimate intention.

My intention for 2020 is SIMPLIFY.  I actually believe I began to work on this intention back in 2019, and it did not occur to me that I had begun to put into practice already until my reflection began a few weeks ago. SIMPLIFY can look very differently for each unique individual, that would all depend on your priorities for 2020.

Begin your word(s) of intention for 2020 with small tasks- like simplify your kitchen pantry- then move to another area of your home that could use more attention- cleaning out bathroom cabinets, closets, etc. SIMPLIFY can be applied not just in the “cleaning out/purge rituals”  of each January in your home. An intention can be applied to better health, help with monthly finances, career goals, personal relationships, or even spiritual growth.

My word of intention is to begin to work towards a more SIMPLIFIED life at home & work. It is not my goal to become a minimalist but to streamline what we have and what we do. I hope to keep you updated as the year progresses.

Our closet spaces at home and in some other key areas are already have met the SIMPLIFY intention with great success. Today, little progress was made on my intention- setbacks will happen.  I have all of 2020 and beyond!!!  I think it was Leonardo da Vinci that said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.  After all, he was a well known “Renaissance Man” of his time- he can’t be wrong- to SIMPLIFY 😉.

 

FYI: For more information on Intentions, how to begin the process of intentional living, please check out our boards that we have set up on Pinterest for our followers. There are lots of books, and resources out there for you to investigate. We also have Pinterest boards set up for your organizational/ cleaning needs. A wealth of resources is out there!!!

 

Hygge “hoo-gah” in the Fall Season

What is hygge? It is a Danish word for coziness, warmth, & comfortable living which brings about a feeling of contentment. Celebrate the everyday moments with ease… the art of simple living right???? This sounds really easy in theory but can we all slow down in life and truly put this into practice? I read about this about a year or so ago. I have not tried to put this into true practice yet. My life has always been extremely full of work, family and activities. Now that my lifestyle has changed dramatically, with retirement, I am devoting more energy and efforts into putting Hygge into our routines in daily living. Small progress is progress. Keep moving in the direction in which you wish to go. Right???

Hygge can be accomplished anytime of the year, but Autumn would make a great transition to begin practicing Hygge. So this is a personal goal of mine to put this into motion as I write this and no time like the present???  Today I am going only to focus on 5 key elements to bring in Hygge into your home- yes, these items can be located as conveniently in your local hardware store or even within your home.

  1. Lighting- This is a crucial element to bring Hygge into your home. Natural lighting can help to improve your productivity, happiness, calmness, & health. Wherever you can let the natural light flow in just do it!!!! Then think soft lighting- Mrs. Meyers scented candles, string lights, lamp lights, etc. Soft lighting areas creates a space that is soothing, calming and relaxing. I love to use string lights year round. One of my favorite places for string lights is around my kitchen window that overlooks my backyard. Early morning or late evenings, it is beautiful to see these lights glowing softly. The string lights have created “cozy corners” in my home. Lamp lighting helps to add softness/comfortable Hygge feeling to your home. We have customers who love their old lamps and they need repair parts for them. Our team members can help them find the replacement parts or even sometimes will do repair for them if it is more in depth than the customer expected.
  2. Bring the Outdoors Inside your Home- Autumn time is an easy time to bring the outdoors into your home. Decorate your home with pumpkins, pinecones, acorns, sticks, or any other all natural items that remind you of the Fall season. Handcrafted wooden bowls from our local artisans inside Wilkes County Hardware, would make a nice addition to your home decor. Don’t forget to add in greenery from the great outdoors or update your house plants with new pots. So many great options as the fall season begins. To add some Hygge to our home this year, I took one of my favorite wooden bowl that was filled with sea shells and added a few fall accents to the bowl. It has been so hot here in our state that it did not seem practical for me to put up my beautiful shells yet. I have the outdoors inside in a unique, rustic way.
  3. Food and Drinks- Yeah!!!! This is truly the comfort part of Hygge in my thinking. Oh my goodness, nothing is better than your favorite “comfort food meal” on a cool Fall day right???? We love homemade soups/chili at our house in the Fall and Winter.  Fall season is the perfect time for soups, stews, & casseroles. Is there nothing better than hot, homemade biscuits made in a Lodge pan or even freshly made cornbread???? The possibilities are endless. Gather your family with one of your favorite comfort meals and set up candlelight- going back to number one- soft lighting. Enjoy the family time laughing, and slowing down life one meal at a time. Speaking of slowing down, Hygee experts suggest that you should plan to make a dessert once a week…. make what you love and enjoy it….  Well, I guess I need to work on that one too!!! When it comes to drinks for the Fall season- think warm!!!! Hot cup of coffee, tea, hot chocolate or even hot apple cider. Curl up with a blanket and just get comfortable.
  4. Create Hygge Experiences with the Family- Hygee is keeping things simple…  host a game night with your family or invite friends, enjoy a firepit… this goes back to number 1- lighting …. fire light is very soothing to the soul. Kids and most adults  love to do S’mores – Wilkes County Hardware can make your S’mores experience great- 31 inch skewers!!!! They work great and are safe for kids to use. Think about how you could “unplug from the busy workings of the world”. It could be a movie night with no cell phones,  or playing card games, the possibilities are endless. Creating family Hygee experiences should slow the pace of living down, and help bring family together in a new way.
  5. Get Outside- It is time to connect to nature and disconnect from the world of technology. Yes, even working in your yard in the fall can be a great way to unwind from a long work week. Raking leaves with that new rake from Wilkes County Hardware, or working in your garden, in the cooler weather can help you to feel content as the seasons change. Take your family and go on a hike/walk, find a pumpkin patch and scout out the perfect pumpkin, pick apples at an orchard, the choices are endless!!!! Sometimes you just need to step outside, get a bit of fresh air, and remind yourself of who you are and what you want to be…..the end result of Hygge- connectedness to nature and self.

I hope that you find these tips to helpful as the seasons change, and as seasons in life change. Happy Hygge Fall:)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hardware 101

Since my retirement as a teacher, my role has changed dramatically at the hardware store. I am continuing to learn more about the day to day business of hardware. It has been a great adventure of learning new things in the last few months. I have met many “new faces” of some of our regular customers that I did not normally get to see everyday. Here are some of my big take aways from the last few months of “Hardware 101”.

  1. Richard and I spoke with a new Orgill sales Rep. this week and he summed it up the best way, “Hardware is hard, honest work or it would be called “easyware” instead of hardware.” Some days are laborious, new stock to move around, truck days- stock replenishment… but when the work is done, it feels like a great accomplishment!
  2. The Midwest Fasteners display is like a huge “jigsaw puzzle”. For those of you who are not familiar with this company, it is a lot of bolts, screws, washers, etc of all shapes and sizes…. When a customer comes in the store to find that one single bolt to replace what they need- it like recreating a puzzle, it is magical once you find the right piece.
  3. Our staff- Wow!!! I am working with a team of guys who really do love what they do. I am so thankful that we all just work together to get things done,  & we can laugh together.
  4. My role as a business owner is evolving and changing as I continue to learn more and more about the business. Richard is extremely knowledgable about all components of the business. I am the “new entrepreneur” in the mix. I am doing “all things merchandising”with helpful input from the staff of course. New product acquisitions, local artisans contacts are continuous in our business and these folks are becoming our WCH family as well. We have been blessed to work with some fabulous local artisans!!!!  My role as the social media person has been ongoing since we purchased the business in 2015, and that is a daily task that I still enjoy.
  5. Our day to day customer base is amazing!!!!  I have met some great people who work hard everyday doing incredible work in all types of fields. We try to listen to what our customers need and wish to see in our store. New products are sometimes driven by customer demand and need for a product.
  6. We provide some amazing services to our community. Where else can you go in Wilkes to find all these services under one roof???? Pipe cut/threaded, glass cut, tool handle repair, kerosene heater wick replacement, knife/tool sharpening, pool water testing, window screen repair
  7. KEYS- what can I say… we do lots of keys for our customers, and they keep coming back because our keys work. Wayne does a fabulous job making our customers feel welcome at WCH.
  8. Our store layout has evolved over the last few years. We are still working on tweaking where products sell most effectively and what is convenient for our customers. We are continuing to look at product lines that are performing well and not so well.
  9. Locally sourced products are important to our customers. We sell local honey, bbq sauce, handmade soaps, knitted dishcloths, to name a few. The shop local attitude is strong amongst our customer base.
  10. And finally, “Love what you do, do what you love” is the most important thing to remember… and I am loving what I get to do:)