Tuesday, January 24, 2017

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #51

Ticket sales are open - if you've got some of the events from the British social season calendar on your Places I Will Visit This Year list, click on the titles below for more information and tickets.

3-7 May

10-14 May

Click on the photo for details on a tour by Odyssey Traveller
23-27 May

17 June

19 June

The Duchess of Cambridge and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark in their fabulous hats, Royal Ascot 2016
20-24 June

28 June - 2 July

Please, it's Wimbledon with a D and not a T!
3-16 July

2 September

Whew, it's going to be a busy summer!  Off to pack my bags...

Monday, January 23, 2017

Happy Homemaker Monday 1/23/2017

The weather:::
Drizzly rain yesterday and more of the same today.  Temperatures are up and down this week, from the high 40s to the mid 60s.

On my reading pile:::
Still working my way through No Distance Too Far by Lauraine Snelling (Home to Blessing Book) although I've been a little distracted by some new cookbooks.  More on those in my end of the month review.

On my TV:::
Mercy Street, Victoria, and I'm starting The House of Eliot while Vic is gone.  It's the story of two sisters who go from having wealth and privilege to having nothing but a passion for fashion design.  It's been years since I've watched it.

On the menu for this week:::
It's just me until Friday so meals are pretty skimpy.  I made a huge batch of Wendy's Chili - The Whole 30 version - and there's some leftover steak.  Friday night will be Chinese food to celebrate Vic's return and then I have to come up with something creative for the weekend.  We didn't end up making the Thai Coconut Chicken Soup so that's probably dinner on Saturday and since we loved the One-Pan Herb-Crusted Roasted Salmon that will do for Sunday but I'll serve it with steamed broccoli as the roasted broccoli wasn't really a success.

On my to-do list:::
  • Clean the office - we bought a lateral file cabinet and it's my goal to get these boxes of documents sorted and filed by Friday.
What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
Nothing but an idea for a Christmas ornament swap I am going to participate in this summer with the ladies from the Magical Holiday Home Forums.  I think I've settled on the final idea.  Little does Vic know that his time at the ornament factory is about to begin!

Looking around the house:::
It's too quiet.  I really miss Vic when he's gone.  Thank goodness these are only short trips in his new job and none of the six or seven month deployments.

From the camera:::
The organized linen closet - I tackled that last week and am very pleased with the outcome.  

Something fun to share:::

Goodies for Valentine's Day.  I picked up the towels and cheese set at Home Goods and the floating candles and Love ornament at Michael's this weekend.  It's time to decorate.  The little Christmas ball says Sophia - couldn't pass it up at 80% off.

What I'm wearing today:::
Fleece and velour as usual.

Bible Verse, Devotional:::
Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. (1 Chronicles 16:9)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

January Rudolph Day is coming

I'm putting this post up on Saturday for those of you who do not know about Rudolph Day and for those of you who know about it but may not realize that it is coming up this week!

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 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 January 25th to see how I celebrated Rudolph Day.

Friday, January 20, 2017

5 on Friday

I saw these really neat plates at my local British food store and was so disappointed that they were not for sale.  I headed over to Ebay and there they were, albeit in Australia, but the seller gave me a great deal on combined shipping (they were all listed individually) and now they are just ready for mounting.

I finally got my planner where I want it to be.  It's been such a long process to figure out what works best for me - stickers, no stickers, half boxes for details, no half boxes, there's no end to the supplies available.  I think I've got a system!

Loving my FitBit!  I've got goals in place and discovering new challenges.  It is really keeping me motivated to MOVE!

Finally reconnecting with my Christmas-loving friends over at the Magical Holiday Home Forums and how nice it is to be back.  A lovely group of ladies who talk about everything Christmas.

And speaking of Christmas, Rudolph Day is coming!  If you haven't heard of Rudolph Day, click on the photo below for all the details.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Travelling on Thursday - Vic's Birthday Edition - Accommodations

I decided my current weekly edition needed a header photo so here it is.  First of all, let me say, as my friend Kathleen summed it up last week, planning and anticipation is half the fun.  It most certainly is, and I am the supreme planner.  Vic and I are such a great team - he will go anywhere as long as I plan it!

Second, no matter where you're going, a good guide or reference book is a must, especially if you are going to venture out on an adventure that you haven't tried before.  During our Christmas Eve Barnes and Noble shopping excursion, I picked up this guide.

I was happy to see that it covers all of the major European river cruise lines (for future travel!) and covers the U. S. lines as well.  There is a nice section at the front on the various cruise lines and the features of each vessel, as well as sections about specific itineraries.  It's a great little package.

American Queen Steamboat Company cruising is described as "throw(ing) yourself into American history and folklore...embrace the kitsch, embrace small town U.S.A., and embrace the people and traditions along the rivers" and the vessels as "floating museums of the country's rich river history".  I loved that under Activities are "riverlorians", local experts who head up lectures and presentations, on topics from historical maps and data, the Civil War, or wildlife along the rivers.  I'm liking this adventure more and more.  It's so unique.

I want as much of the trip as possible to be a surprise for Vic but I knew that I needed his input for our room choice.  The offerings are vast for a vessel this size, everything from Owner's Suites with Exclusive Verandas to Single Inside Staterooms.  We debated on whether to go with a private veranda, an open veranda, or a bay window, checking the pricing and the location of the rooms.  I thought thrifty Vic would opt for a smaller, less expensive room so I was surprised when he really had only one criteria - the room had to have interior and exterior access.  Leave it to my safety expert to plan ahead for any contingency.  So we'll opt for the slightly larger Outside Stateroom with Open Veranda, slightly more expensive than the category below it, also with the same name, but with only exterior access.

Looks like we'll be in the row of goldenrod-colored cabins at the bottom of the picture as they have both interior and exterior access
Access issue aside, I really wanted a stateroom with a veranda - you spend a lot of time watching the river roll by and what better place than on the veranda.  There are chairs and a small table, perfect for your morning coffee or a cold beverage, a book, and your camera.  As the brochure says, "...imagine opening French doors to a sweeping river vista and the sweet scent of magnolia trees..."

Where are my suitcases?  I want to go NOW!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Weigh In Wednesday 1/18/2017

Joining Rachel over at Living Better One Day at a Time - click on photo above
Another week gone by, another week of healthy eating in the bag.  I won't pretend, there are some tough moments - there was a commercial for pizza on TV the other night and I could have reached through the screen and ripped it right out the guy's hand but I restrained myself!

It's Day 23 on the Whole 30 here so still no weight to list yet but I am feeling it.  My pants are definitely looser and there is more spring in my step.  I have been drinking 64 ounces of water faithfully every day and one of my friends in Washington challenged me to a FitBit challenge which got me walking more.  It's still pretty cold outside and I've been running around too much during the day to get a real walk in but I will eventually.

The new Whole 30 cookbook is fabulous!  So far we have cooked Pan-Seared Scallops with Bacon Over Braised Swiss Chard which was delicious (we used crumbled prosciutto instead of bacon) and it was the first time for both of us to try Swiss chard and Shrimp, Snow Pea, and Shiitake Stir-Fry, also delicious and another first, using fresh shiitake mushrooms.  I roasted trays of vegetables this weekend, roasted red potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and carrots, and yesterday I had a variety of pots bubbling away on the stove for lunches and freezer meals - my version of Wendy's chili (left out the beans), Ground Beef and Green Beans in an onion and garlic vegetable broth which is a soup Vic takes for lunch, and chicken adobo made with coconut aminos instead of soy sauce which in our opinion is actually better than the soy sauce version.

We've been eating dirt for snacks - yes, you read that right.  Have you ever seen those pudding cups for kids' birthday parties that look like little gardens in cups?  They have pudding and then a layer of Oreo crumbs for dirt and a gummy worm or two sticking up from the dirt.  Well, our dirt consists of dried cherries, raw coconut, and raw almonds all ground up into crumbs in the food processor.  About half a cup makes a great snack to satisfy any sweet cravings.  It's sort of like a deconstructed Larabar (oh dear, I really watch far too much Chopped!).  I really thought that if I put the nuts and the coconut in the food processor and then added the dried cherries which are moist, the whole mixture would clump together so that I could scoop it out with a meatball scoop and make little dessert balls.  No such luck, the whole mixture stayed dirt-like and hence the name!

The other thing that we're really loving is Tessemae's Buffalo Sauce - the ingredients are:
  • Sunflower Seed Oil, Olive Oil, Aged Red Peppers, Distilled Vinegar, Sea Salt, Lemon Juice, Spices, Garlic, Organic Mustard (Organic Vinegar, Water, Organic Mustard Seed, Salt, Organic Turmeric, Organic Spices)

It is just awesome for a little extra kick of flavor.  Vic loves it on eggs and I splash it on potatoes or roasted vegetables.  It turns grilled chicken into faux wings and zings up any dish that calls for hot sauce.  I buy it at Whole Foods but it's also available, along with a host of other Whole 30 compliant sauces and dressings, on the Tessemae's website. **Note:  You can see a little separation at the top of the label - most oil and vinegar mixture do this and a good shake takes care of it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #50

Several of the bloggers who join in with Happy Homemaker Monday are knitters so I wanted to share a wonderful set of pattern books for anyone who is interested in making stuffed toys and other little bits.  My Mum knitted many of Jean Greenhowe's designs and wrote to her asking for some posters that she saw in her local wool shop when Sophia was a baby.  We framed the posters and hung them on the nursery walls.  I always get a warm feeling when I look at Jean Greenhowe's designs because I know the love my Mum put into the pieces when she was making them for me.  It never fails to make me feel closer to her.

You can find all of the patterns at Jean Greenhowe Designs - credit for the photos in the collage has to go there as well.  She has some free patterns available if you would like to give them a try.

Here are a few of our family favorites:

Santa and Mrs. Claus along with Mr. and Mrs. Snowman are always part of our Christmas decor
Sophia with Mr. Owl at her high school graduation - it was like having Nana with her
I hope you enjoyed Jean Greenhowe's Designs - let me know if you give one of them a try.