Monday, August 29, 2016

Monday's Musings

I hope to have a graphic for you next week but for now I'll just dive right in.  Here's just a few things we've been doing lately.

Exploring new restaurants and cuisines in our area - we decided that we'd use the few months that Vic has left here to visit some new eateries

Japanese - Vic likes sushi and I have been experimenting with different types - the ones shown above are pretty tame - salmon, tuna, and avocado (the top one is basically the same as the middle one, just inside out) and a very tame California roll

Indian - there's a new Punjab restaurant in town and we enjoyed a delicious dinner for two combo there last week - samosas for an appetizer, lamb curry, aloo mattar (a vegetarian potato and peas dish), tandoori chicken, naan and rice, with a yummy dessert of rice pudding and a form of Indian doughnut in rose-flavored syrup

We went to Costco for the first time since Vic's been home and I fell in love with this washer - definitely on my wish list for our forever home.

LG Side Kick Pedestal
And finally, a view of the back of the house we currently have on the top of our top three list - don't you love those windows?

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Life Last Week #28

Hello everyone!  It's been a while but I'm back and with a renewed commitment to my blog (if I say it, you'll hold me accountable, right?).  I've missed you all; tried to read posts when I had a few minutes but time has been limited so forgive me and rest assured, I'll get around to visiting everyone as soon as I can.  Get more organized - that's my fall resolution.

Here's a photo I took in Newport from Castle Hill - gorgeous view, how lovely to sit in one of those chairs and just watch the scene on the bay.  Summer is coming to an end, school supplies are in every shop, some districts have already gone back to school, and soon the supplies will be whisked away and pumpkins, bats, and spiders will abound.  Pumpkin Spice Lattes will appear announcing fall, the changing of the leaves, and the run-up to the holidays.  How did time whiz by so quickly?  Wasn't it just January when I stood on the rain-soaked pier to wave goodbye to Vic and his shipmates?  Since then, he's been to Guam, South Korea, Singapore, the Philippines, and Hawaii and returned safely to Washington.  His new orders are here and Virginia beckons.  I have moved from the job I held for ten months into a temporary promotion that now has the real potential to be a permanent assignment.  The vacancy announcement was posted this week and my application was dispatched for consideration.  I think I stand a pretty good chance, the only obstacle being a military spouse candidate who has the qualifications to do the job and would have priority under the Military Spouse Priority Placement Program.  I have a backup, the opportunity for a position in another department for six months while one of my co-workers is on maternity leave, so we'll see what happens.  Vic and I have some decisions to make - neither one of us is overly thrilled about being separated again but we are thinking long-term and have set up several key events that will happen to help us determine that long-term plan.  Step one is to resolve my job status.

Sophia is busy moving into a new apartment and waiting for her new roommate prospect to pass the leasing company's application screening.  She has a full load of classes scheduled for the fall quarter, her last fall quarter as all being well, she will graduate in the summer.

I'm moving Life Last Week from Monday to Sunday and I'm toying with a regular blog schedule, details coming soon.  I'd like to have some regularly-scheduled categories during the week and then add to them as topics come to me.
It's an opportune time for me to take to the keyboard again as the Ready for Christmas:  House & Holidays Plan begins today.  This is Week One:  Planning and Paperwork - perfect timing!  I feel like I should see the words "This one's for you, Pamela" written under the title.  The goal this week is to clean, organize, and de-clutter the home office or planning area.  Yes!  How did they know that mine is in desperate need of cleaning and organizing?  It's also time to begin the basics of holiday planning:  values, budget, and gift list.  I've got the framework of these going so I feel that I'm off to a good start.  Leave me a comment if you're planning to join in.

Have a great week!

Monday, August 15, 2016


Just stopping by to say I'm still here in the blogsphere.  Thirty-one days of Christmas in July was exhausting and then the run up to homecoming took what was left of my energy.  Vic will be off for a few days so we'll be reconnecting and getting our life back - renegotiation, reintegration, and stabilization they call it in the Return and Reunion classes!

What a thrilling moment to see this:

and a little over a hour later, to finally have him back in my arms again.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Christmas in July - Day Thirty-One

Even though I didn't get a chance to try any new recipes or any new crafts, I really enjoyed this Christmas in July.  I helped to coordinate the themes and with the input of the other Magical Holiday Home members, I really feel like we came up with a more personal approach to the celebration.  I know that, apart from the first week, I leaned less on Pinterest and more on photos from our own Christmases.  Not that there's anything wrong with a Pinterest-heavy Christmas in July as there certainly are some fabulous ideas there, but I felt more connected to my fellow bloggers by sharing personal stories.

So, here's a shout-out to my fellow bloggers who joined in the Christmas in July fun:

Bloggy Mom at My Mom Calling

Game of Thrones fans will appreciate this!

Christmas in July - Day Thirty

Here's a little meme before my wrap-up of Christmas in July 2016.  I wrote this seven years ago so let's see if my answers have changed (updates will be in red italics).

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping Paper (I've switched to decorative boxes)

2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial, as much as I love the smell of the real trees, I don’t like the mess.

3. When do you put up the tree? Thanksgiving Day afternoon, as soon as the turkey platter is in the dishwasher!

4. When do you take the tree down? Boxing Day (the day after Christmas)

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes, but I buy it from the supermarket. I've never attempted to make it - the uncooked egg thing really bothers me.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? As a child - Stacy Manning, my doll, no clue where the name came from. As a teenager - red American Tourister luggage.

7. Hardest person to buy for? Used to be Dad,now it's Vic (still the same, buying for men is so tough)

8. Easiest person to buy for? Sophia

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, I bought one from the Current Catalog for Sophia's first Christmas. It's small and very well-done for such an inexpensive set. I used to say I'd like one from Royal Doulton or Lladro but we're really happy with the one we have.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail with newsletter and photos

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? A telephone!

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? White Christmas (I think it's a tie now with The Holiday)

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I shop throughout the whole year which means I sometimes can't remember where I have hidden things!

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I might have but I can't remember what it was.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Smoked salmon (Christmas cake, I look forward to it all year)

16. Lights on the tree? Yes, white, non-blinking

17. Favorite Christmas song? Once in Royal David's City (another tie with O Holy Night)

18. Travel at Christmas or stay at home? Usually stay at home but we have had a few travelling Christmases that were wonderful - our entire family (Mum, Dad, Vic, Sophia, me, Barbara and Paul) went to Kettlewell, England in 2001 and to my sister, Barbara's, house in 2008 (Dad's last Christmas).

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Of course!

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Capiz star from the Philippines, another Christmas tradition since Sophia was a baby.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? The way Black Friday has become so chaotic - we used to enjoy getting up early (7 or 8am, not the insane 5am it is now) and doing a little shopping (nothing major, just the odd ornament or decorative item for the house). We would stroll (and I mean, stroll) through the mall, enjoying the festive atmosphere, admiring the decorations and displays, and stop for a coffee. Now it's such a dog-eat-dog, trample each other for the 99 cent bargain mess that all the enjoyment has gone out of it. (Black Friday is even worse now, it starts on Thanksgiving Day which is just wrong and the madness has accelerated into real violence)

23. What theme or color are you using? Don't really have a theme other than wrapping paper - we each have our own design (saves on tags!) - our ornaments are a jumble of Hallmark, homemade, mementos from our travels, and gifts, decorations vary from Mum's knitted and sewn items to bits and pieces we've had for years, Christmas linens stick around for a few years and then I change them. (see 1. for wrapping paper update)

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Our big meal is a cold buffet on Christmas Eve - baked ham with pineapple, Caesar salad, smoked salmon, chilled shrimp, marinated mushrooms, olives, cheese board, pate, french bread - we snack on this for a couple of days. I gave up cooking a roast dinner on Christmas Day about ten years ago.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? I got my big present early - an I-Convert, a slide/negative converter so I just put a few little things on my Christmas list - perfume, Calendar Girls movie, make-up mirror, pizza peel. (A piece of patriotic jewelry from Ann Hand; I've got my eye on the American flag, just gorgeous)

26. Do you have a favorite ornament, what? Not really, they are all special. It takes a couple of days to decorate our tree because I keep stopping and telling Vic and Sophia the history behind the ornaments (not like they haven't heard it all before!).

27. Gifts from Santa? Wrapped or Unwrapped? Santa brings the big stuff that it's hard to wrap - not too many of those in recent years since Sophia has gotten more of the smaller (ie. electronic) gifts lately.

28. Advent Calendar, chocolate or paper? Chocolate, Cadbury's if we can get one, or the German ones from the commissary.

29. Favorite Christmas memory? It would have to be Kettlewell - the whole family gathered, a coal fire burning in the fireplace, Mum bustling around making endless pots of tea, canasta until the early hours of the morning, all our favorite British foods, a picturesque village, Dickensian carolers, pub dinners...the best Christmas ever!

30. Special favorites of the season? A holiday concert or play - we went to see White Christmas on stage in Boston one year, we've been to see the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular a couple of times, would love to go to New York City for a couple of days one Christmas to take in a few shows. This year, Sophia is in the high school chorus so they will have a couple of special performances.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Christmas in July - Day Twenty-Nine

Christmas music - how can it not bring a smile to you face?  I love all kinds - traditional carols, classics sung by crooners like Andy Williams or Johnny Mathis, old favorites made new by a country star or a contemporary Christian artist.  I've mentioned before that Target always has a great selection of Christmas music - in addition to the Celtic Christmas I picked up last year, I've also added music by Hilary Duff, Steven Curtis Chapman, Josh Groban, and Chris Tomlin.

Do you have a favorite Christmas carol/song?  Mine has to be O Holy Night and listening to it this year will be especially poignant.  Sophia's voice coach, Kate Grana, performed O Holy Night every year at the Portsmouth High School's Christmas Concert at Glen Manor House in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.  Ms. Grana succumbed to cancer this year and I don't think I'll ever be able to hear O Holy Night without thinking of her amazing rendition.

Catherine (Kate) Agnes Grana

Christmas in July - Day Twenty-Eight

I love to schedule a theater performance for the holiday season.  

I think our all-time favorite was the Radio City Christmas Spectacular which we went to see when they were on the road in Chicago.  We actually went twice - once just the three of us and then we took my parents with us on a second visit.  The show is truly spectacular - the precision of the Rockettes has to be seen to be believed and there is such a variety of acts, it's an amazing show.

The grand finale of the Christmas Spectacular is the Living Nativity - it is an incredible combination of narrative, music, costumes, and animals.  It gives me chills just to think about it.  I don't want to give anything away so let me just say the production brings the event to life in a way you will never forget.