Monday, February 27, 2017

Happy Homemaker Monday 2/27/2016

My goodness, the end of February is almost here.  Where did the month go?

It's time for another Happy Homemaker Monday with Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom.  Click here if you'd like to join in .

The weather:::
Moderate temperatures forecast until Tuesday (75 degrees) and Wednesday (80 degrees - no, no, no!)  but they go back down again at the end of the week.  For most of the year, Virginia weather and I do not get along at all.

On my reading pile:::
Still working my way through the reading pile - no change from last week.  I have made an effort to spend more time reading so hopefully, I'll get at least one book finished this week.  I added this to my collection - couldn't resist the great price at Costco.  It's a beautiful book.

On my TV:::
No Mercy Street or Victoria last night.  We finished Season Two of Outlander and have to wait until September for the next installment of the adventures of Claire and Jamie Fraser.  I've been watching Edward the King on PBS Passport.

On the menu for this week:::
Steak, I think, will be on the menu tonight but after that, no clue.  Vic will be traveling so no doubt it will be snack-type food for me.

On my to-do list:::

  • Volunteer shift at the gift shop
  • Theater outing this week with a girlfriend - Vic and I bought tickets in December for an upcoming show but he won't be able to make it.
  • Starting a Declutter Challenge March 1 (see below)
  • Tax prep appointment with our bookkeeper
What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
No Wilton class after all this weekend - thoroughly disgusted with Michael's over the whole thing.  We signed up for four sessions in the month of February which was the only month that Vic would be home every Saturday.  The instructor decided to cram four classes into three so we made plans for the fourth Saturday, then she cancelled the third session and rescheduled it for the fourth Saturday (I could change my plans but Vic couldn't so that meant I would be going alone) and then she rescheduled again after I'd already changed everything I had scheduled to accommodate the new time she was requesting.  I was so fed up, I told her I would like a refund for the sessions we would not be getting and if she couldn't arrange that, then please forward the name of a supervisor or manager who could.  So disappointing.

Looking around the house:::
One load of laundry and unload the dishwasher.  Working hard to keep clutter at bay.

From the camera:::

Beautiful roses for our 24th wedding anniversary yesterday

Something fun to share:::

I'm starting this Declutter Challenge on March 1.  If  you'd like a set of your own stickers for your planner, journal, or calendar, you can find them at Lisa Lorene Plans on Etsy.

Today is also Kahlua Day.  Do you have a favorite Kahlua beverage?  I sometimes put the tiny bottles in the toe of our Christmas stocking so we can enjoy it in our coffee with lashings of whipped cream on top.  It's a version of Irish Coffee; I think it's just called Kahlua Coffee.

What I'm wearing today:::
Black yoga pants, white long-sleeved shirt, flip flops.

Bible Verse, Devotional:::
If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging.  (Romans 12:8)

Sunday, February 26, 2017

February Rudolph Day Recap

February's Rudolph Day didn't quite go as unexpected.  I took a tumble in the house and spent most of the day on the couch, no doubt I'll be pretty black and blue for a few days.  I used the time well, though, thoroughly enjoying the February movie, The Spirit of Christmas, and organizing all of my Christmas document and picture files. I went back and pulled all the Christmas in July themes from the Magical Holiday Home Forums and listed them all on one document - that way, if we need to come up with ideas as a group like last year, we'll have an easy reference to what's been done in the past if we want to look for new ideas.

I also worked on this month's task:

February - Begin a Holiday Letter

With all the traveling Vic will do this year, it's a good place to keep track of when and where - as he'll add some new states and countries to his Places I've Visited Courtesy of the United States Navy!  All in all, a day well spent.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Five on Friday

A new Five on Friday, just in time for it to be transitioning from one blog to another.  Please check out all the details here.

Tomorrow is Rudolph Day so I thought I'd give you a quick rundown on the five things that make it a lot of fun and a productive day.  After all, the goal of Rudolph Day is  to plan some simple tasks for the month ahead, in order to get ready for Christmas Day with plenty of time to spare.  Who wants to be trying out a new craft, a new recipe, or a new decor theme in the middle of December when all the chaos of the holidays is in full swing?

Pick a craft project to try and fine tune.  If you're participating in an ornament or other gift challenge, you don't want your offering to look like a Pinterest fail.  Over the years, I've tried many things and I know what works and what doesn't (ie. my skill level vs. my expectations!).  My Snowman Disc from a few years ago wasn't quite as polished as the one I found but it was presentable.  Make sure you have all of your supplies ready to go so you can just sit down and sew, knit, crochet, or cut and glue with everything you need close at hand. 
The sample
My ornament
Pick a recipe and do the same.  I found I wasn't quite as adept at using a silicone mold as I thought I would be.  No doubt practice would make perfect so try and try again.  I also found that although some things turned out looking like the picture, I didn't really care for the taste.  Don't make your guests into recipe guinea pigs.

My Peppermint Bark Snowflakes and the sample (top photo)
A big part of Rudolph Day is to immerse yourself in the spirit of Christmas for the day.  That means making sure that you have the movie (or a movie if you're choosing one at random) ready to go.  The Christmas fans over at the Magical Holiday Home Forums pick a movie each month so that they can chat about it afterwards.  If a movie is not on your agenda for Rudolph Day, dig out a Christmas CD to spread some Christmas cheer.

Work on the task for the month.  Whether you follow a plan such as Organized Christmas that has a theme each month or just come up with a task yourself, Rudolph Day is the time to work on things at a slower pace so that month by month, you have broken Christmas preparation into manageable segments.

Finally, snap a few photos and whip out a blog post.  Share your celebration with others.  We'd love to hear all about it.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

February Rudolph Day is coming

Saturday is February Rudolph Day!

What's Rudolph Day? Here is the definition according to Organized Christmas:
A few years ago, members of our Christmas community began to observe "Rudolph Day" on the 25th of each month.
On that day, we take a few moments to plan some simple tasks for the month ahead, in order to get ready for Christmas Day with plenty of time to spare. By starting early--and working a bit at a time on each month's Rudolph Day--it's easy to prepare for Christmas, save money on gifts, and cut holiday stress.
Here's the annual line-up with the sub-theme (if there is one) in parentheses:

January - Tie Up Loose Ends (gather ideas and organize your Christmas notebook)
February - Begin a Holiday Letter
March - Birthday Gift-Buying Strategy (party planning for the holiday season)
April - Plan Holiday Crafts 
May - Catalog Shopping Tips
June - Recipe Round Up
July - Choose a Holiday Plan (Christmas in July celebration)
August - Craft Control (thinking ahead to Elf on the Shelf)
September - Prepare for Holiday Gifts and Giving
October - Plan Holiday Meals
November - Write Holiday Letter

The bottom line is...prepare for Christmas by doing something every month and make the 25th of each month a Rudolph Day by doing something Christmasy!

This is the year I plan for Rudolph Day each month - I have a planner, there's no excuse not to get organized!

Check back on the evening of February 25th to see how I celebrated Rudolph Day.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge - Volume 298

Time to join Joyce and friends over at the Hodgepodge.  Check it out here.

1.  Have you ever been fishing?  Did you catch a fish?  If so, did you keep it or throw it back?  If you haven't been fishing, is that something you'd like to try?

No, doesn't apply, doesn't apply, and no.  Not feeling the fishing thing at all and don't even get me started on the worm part of it!

Fish out of water, big fish in a small pond, living in a fish bowl, packed in like sardines, this is a fine kettle of fish, plenty of fish in the sea, or cut bait...which fishy phrase most recently applies to some area of your life?

Fish out of water.  Vic enlisted in the Navy when he was 27 years old - we were both working in the Western Pacific for a company that was in financial difficulty and when the opportunity came for him to join the Navy, he jumped at it.  It was something he had always wanted to do but growing up in the Philippines, it just wasn't an option for him when he was younger (the quota system was still in effect and there were far too many applicants and not enough spots).  So, after we were married and there were no obstacles like this, his dream came true.  I was thrilled; I'd lost my military ID card when I turned 18 so I was very happy to be getting it back!  Anyway, I digress.  So, here he is, third oldest person in his recruit training class.  He was an enlisted sailor for 17 1/2 years and then was commissioned as a Medical Service Corps officer and as such, he's at least 15 years older than most of his peers.  Guess what that makes me?  I'm surrounded by the wives of his peers, thirty-somethings with toddlers and infants, with conversations full of breast-feeding and cloth diapering and finding the right preschool.  Yes, I'm a fish out of water.  That's ok, though, because for the most part, they see me as just another Navy wife, and value the experiences that Vic and I have had over the years, even though I'm sure it does sound like some of them are straight out of the good ol' days.  What, you didn't have email when Vic was first deployed?  Quel horreur, no Skype, no FaceTime?  No, my dears, we wrote letters!

2.  What's something you're always fishing for in your purse, wallet, desk, or kitchen junk drawer?

My sunglasses.  There are a lot of pockets in the inside of my purse but there needed to be one more for my sunglasses.  As such, I'm always fishing for them in the bottom of my purse.

3.  Your favorite fish tale of movie?

Finding Nemo, so cute.

4.   Are you sunrise, daylight, twilight, or night?  Explain why you chose your answer.

I'm sunrise.  I do best first thing in the morning.  I love to see the dark turn to light, if there's a sunrise within sight that's even better.  I can face anything after I've had my early morning coffee, and a little time to catch up with Facebook and blog friends.

5.  What's the oldest piece of clothing you own and still wear?

Inside the house or out in public?  Inside the house would be a grey tracksuit/sweatsuit jacket emblazoned with a cardinal.  Mum bought the suit for me when she and Dad came to Florida in 1995 so that makes it 22 years old.  The pants have long since been retired to the rag bag but I still throw on the jacket in the house when I need an extra layer or feel particularly nostalgic.  Out in public would be an even older item - my green Christmas dress that I bought in 1994 for Sophia's first Christmas.  It's an evergreen, long-sleeved dress that I have worn to Christmas Eve service almost every year.  I didn't wear it last year, and I'm going to need a few more Whole 30s before I can get into it again this year, but it's as much a part of Christmas as any of the house decor.

6.  We've got one more month of (officially) winter here in the Northern hemisphere.  Are you feeling the need for a getaway?  What's been the best and worst part of your winter so far?

No, not feeling the need for a getaway from the winter weather.  I like the colder temperatures so I'd rather go north in the summer to get away from the heat.  The best part of winter was the winter storm we had - everywhere looked like a Winter Wonderland (before it started to melt) and Vic was off for a few days since everywhere was closed down.  The worst part?  We live in a historic home and it's pretty drafty so that jump in the electricity bill wasn't fun.

7.  The Wednesday Hodgepodge lands on National Margarita Day...will you be celebrating?  Frozen or on the rocks?  Are you a Jimmy Buffet fan?  If so, what's your favorite JB tune?

No, I don't really make margaritas at home but I do enjoy one, frozen, if we're out at a Mexican restaurant.  There's just something about chips, salsa, and margaritas.  Yes, I like Jimmy Buffet but I wouldn't really say I'm a fan.  I had to look him up to see what else he sings besides "Margaritaville"!

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Along the fishy lines, and tying in with National Day celebrations, mark your calendars for April 16 - Dolphin Day and July 14 - Shark Awareness Day.  I know these things because I recently purchased a set of Random and Wacky Holiday stickers from my favorite planner sticker shop, shout out to Bottled Tea Designs.  If you'd like a set of your own, check them out here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #55

What is afternoon tea?  It was introduced in Britain in the 1840s, a light repast to take one from the late brunch-type morning meal to dinner which was usually served around 8pm.  Bite-size tidbits, savoury and sweet, were served with a cup of tea to tide one over, and it became a social ritual bringing engraved invitations to "take tea" and tea gowns as a whole new addition to a lady's wardrobe.  Ah, to have a portion of my wardrobe dedicated to just gowns in which to drink tea!

As I began my research for this blog post, I reacquainted myself with the various tea terms - high tea, low tea, afternoon tea, cream tea, and champagne tea.  My idea of afternoon tea consists of this menu, thank you to Afternoon Tea for putting it so succinctly:

Traditional Afternoon Tea Menu
A selection of freshly prepared finger sandwiches
Warm scones with clotted cream and preserves
A variety of home made cakes and pastries
Your choice from a range of teas

In case you're curious, a high tea is a more substantial meal enjoyed by the lower and middle classes after a long day at work - meat pies, shepherd's pie, and something no doubt slathered in custard are on that menu.  It is served at a high (dining) table.  A low tea is afternoon tea, described thusly because it is served on a low table.  A cream tea is usually just a scone and pot of tea, whereas a champagne tea is the full afternoon tea experience along with a glass of something sparkling.

The best tea I have been fortunate to enjoy was at the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia where Vic and I travelled as a post-deployment mini-break last September.  The venue was beautiful, the service impeccable, and the tea delicious.  On the bottom tier is an egg mayonnaise sandwich on a roll, a ham and cream cheese spiral, a rectangle of smoked salmon, and tiny shrimp in a phyllo cup.  The second tier held the famous Empress scones with clotted cream and jam and the top tier held a variety of tiny decadent sweet morsels - those are shortbread at the very front, and going clockwise, a chocolate mousse and ganache confection, strawberries in a meringue nest, tiny carrot cake loaves, and in the very center, a pistachio mousse entremet that was amazing.

Since we arrived in Virginia, we have been making the rounds of the various tea rooms in an effort to rediscover what we found at the Empress.  If you've been reading my posts, you'll know that we've been a little disappointed so far.  A couple have come close, but they miss the mark in one area or another.  No jam or cream with the scones is the biggest complaint, or for the one tea room that managed to tick that box, the third tier held clunky sweet items that just weren't genteel enough for a real tea.  Savoury selections have also been hit and miss.

Never mind, we have yet, thank goodness, to find anything that was truly inedible and we have enjoyed each outing for the simple reason that it's a rare opportunity for us to spend a quiet time together taking tea.

We will continue our search and hope you'll enjoy the tour.

If you want to see some truly magnificent afternoon teas, check out this article in The Telegraph, London's 10 Best Afternoon Teas.  Be prepared for sticker shock, and that's before you've done any currency conversion!  It is, however, on my Bucket List to enjoy tea at one of these places one day.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Happy Homemaker Monday 2/20/2017

Happy Presidents' Day everyone!  Presidents' Day always makes me think of the program put on by Sophia's preschool class when we were in Florida.  I will never be able to get this line out of my head, "Abramham Lincoln came down from the wildamess"!  Yes, that's AbraMham and wildAMESS, so cute!  If it had been in the days of smartphones, I would have had a video to share.

It's time for another Happy Homemaker Monday with Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom.  Click here if you'd like to join in .

The weather:::
It's definitely spring in Virginia - high 50s and above this week with 78 degrees forecast for Friday!  Shoot me now, y'all know I hate that kind of weather.

On my reading pile:::
Added these two lovelies to my collection this weekend - picked up the book in Barnes and Noble and the Great British Bake Off arrived from Amazon - it's an awesome compilation of the series so far - so much fun reading.

On my TV:::
Catching up with Mercy Street and Victoria, since Vic missed last week's episodes and I see that When Calls the Heart Season 3 is up on Netflix.  We're still working our way through Season 2 of Outlander.

On the menu for this week:::
Meal planning went out the window when Vic got home with a lot of eating out and snacking kind of meals so you'll see some repeats here because we didn't eat these meals when they were on the menu.
Monday - Steak, Baked Potatoes, Brussels Spouts
Tuesday - Salmon, Steamed Broccoli, Roasted Carrots
Wednesday - Nigella's Chicken and Sausage Bake, Oven Roasted Cabbage
Thursday - Shrimp and something
Friday - Korean-Style Short Ribs, Roasted Red Potatoes, some kind of vegetable
Saturday - Vic's at an all-day training session so we'll probably grab a takeaway - Chinese or Pizza
Sunday - Eat in or eat out - it's our anniversary so we haven't decided what we're doing

On my to-do list:::
  • Finishing up the office today (yes, yes, I know, it's been on the list for what, at least two weeks now?)
  • Spouses' group field trip to the Opera House which used to be a World War II USO theater (I didn't know that) and then lunch after
  • Bowling and lunch with Vic's command - it's their quarterly Morale, Welfare, and Recreation event
  • Rudolph Day on Saturday while Vic is at Disaster Relief Training

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
No Wilton class this weekend so we were creating memories at a new tea room - this one is ranking 2 of 3 - it was nice but it still not quite what I am looking to find in a tea room.

It got an A+ for ambiance - just beautiful - china tea cups and tiered servers, lovely table settings, food very nicely presented.  The bread was a little thick - more like a baguette - and the fillings were definitely too thick for afternoon tea.  That's chicken salad on the left and pimento cheese (yeah, it's a Southern thing - you wouldn't find that on a tiered server at Fortnum & Mason!) on the right.  The white cake on the left was superb - so light it practically melted in your mouth.  That's a blueberry scone on the right; again, no clotted cream or jam.

Looking around the house:::
Bathrooms - I'm starting a room a day plan - we'll see how it goes.

From the camera:::

The tiny fondant decorations on top of the white cake squares at the tea room were hearts for Valentine's Day.  The proprietor told us that starting next week, the fondant decorations would be shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day.  Such a cute idea to have a holiday tie-in.

Something fun to share:::
The biggest romance movies of each year beginning with 1930.  I was thinking that it might be a fun idea to give a DVD copy to a couple along with popcorn and movie candy for a unique anniversary gift.  I've got anniversaries on my mind.

Today is also Love Your Pet Day.  Do you have a pet?  I have a long-distance pet - our family dog, MudLynn, is now our college daughter's second roommate.  Vic and I miss them both terribly and have our fingers crossed and double-crossed that we will be going back to Washington when our time in Virginia is over.

How cute is that face?
What I'm wearing today:::
Jeans, pink long-sleeved shirt, flip flops.

Bible Verse, Devotional:::
Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.  (Philippians 4:6)  This is from the section in my women's devotional book on the theme of financial peace.