Saturday, May 30, 2015

May Rudolph Day

The 25th of this month came at the tail-end of Sophia's weekend at home and it was Memorial Day so Rudolph Day just wasn't going to be happening.  As it turns out, today was the perfect day to take its place - nothing on the calendar and Vic had duty.  A whole day to myself to dream Christmas dreams.

This month's task, from Organized Christmas, was catalog shopping tips. I don't think I've ever really thought of using summer catalogs to plan for Christmas.  I always seem to be waiting for the holiday season catalogs to start pouring into my mailbox closer to Christmas.  There were, however, some great tips on using the catalog vendors' slow summer season to watch for clearance sales and to stock your gift closet, and to use the catalogs for gift ideas and inspiration for homemade gifts. I must start looking more closely at the summer catalogs!

It's time to update the holiday letter.  I haven't added anything to the gift closet lately other than the instructions for the holiday candy idea that I modified for July 4th and I used my stash of Christmas paper to pre-cut all the strips that I will need in December. May's frugal finds were jars for Gifts in a Jar; not something I plan to attempt although I might try one of these versions for my Secret Pal:

Gifts in a Jar from one good thing by Jillee
This month's movie was One Magic Christmas which I had never even heard of before and it was cute. I managed to put together all of the July 4th candy packages (photo will be up in a day or so - just need to print the labels) while I was watching.

All in all, another great Rudolph Day.

Friday, May 29, 2015

5 on Friday

I'm very far behind on everything this week so I'm skipping Life Last Week and Wednesday Hodgepodge and going straight to 5 on Friday.

1. We had a lovely weekend with Sophia at home and did all that we had planned plus some. I'm exhausted.

2. Members of our local Navy Wives Clubs of America chapter attended a Memorial Day Wreath Laying event at the local cemetery which was very moving. I was so happy to have my family with me.

3. Still waiting to hear about the details of my new job although since it's a branch of the Federal Government, these things take time.

4. Looking forward to a couple of social events coming up - since most of my spouse groups meet during the day, these may be the last on my calendar for a while.

5. Starting the search for ideas for a great Christmas present for Vic.  Since he will most likely be gone, it has to be something that travels well, doesn't take up a lot of room at the destination, and promises fun when he gets home. So far, I'm leaning toward something like this:

A Year of Let's Go on a Date ideas
Rather than mail a basket, I thought about twelve tags on a ring as a teaser of what's to come - tags like these but with each one decorated with the theme of the date.

Friday, May 22, 2015

5 on Friday

1. I got a job offer! The phone rang, the lady at the HR Office said she had good news and to check my e-mail (I was already on the e-mail and about to open the attachment!).  We chatted about  the basic details and since I had not opened the attachment yet, I asked if it contained details about the interview and she said "No interview, you've got the job!" Wow, either I'm just what they were looking for or they are really desperate! I'm going to go with option 1. Hope to hear in the next few days to get the paperwork rolling and anticipate being at work around June 15th.

2. Sophia is coming home for the weekend! Can't wait to see my girl.  We're going to have all her favorites for dinner and pack up all the leftovers for her to take back with her, eat lunch at Chick-fil-A, stroll through the mall, have an Outlander marathon, and work on her packing list for camp.  Did I tell you she got a job for the summer as a  Wrangler at a local Girl Scout horse camp?  She is so excited.

3. We had a very enjoyable time last night at the ship's Hail and Farewell event.  The Wardroom or Officers' Mess gets together every few months to say Hail to incoming officers and Farewell to those who are leaving the command.  There were some, for my New England friends, wicked good jokes in the farewells and introductions.

4. Debating on whether to attend the Navy Wives Clubs of America National Convention in October.  I would love to go but is it too much to ask for a week off when I've only been working for about four months?  I'll have to see what the work tempo and environment is like before considering a request for a week's leave.

5. Really looking forward to starting my new book "Jambusters" and can't wait until Home Fires comes to PBS.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge - Volume 221

1.  Did you make someone laugh yesterday? Was it intentional?

I had a parking lot incident yesterday that made the man who was corralling the carts laugh; not sure if that qualifies as intentional.  As I went to turn right into an empty parking spot, I came bumper to bumper with someone from the next lane who had pulled into her parking spot and then attempted to continue forward into my spot (you know, so they are parked with their front end at the back - I hate it when people do that).  Anyway, she saw me and reversed but only after a hesitation.  I got out and started walking to the store next to the carts guy and he said, "It didn't look like she was going to let you have that spot!" with a laugh.

2. What's a simple question with a complicated answer?

Honey, what time will you be home? It always varies but the reasons are different every day and often include more acronyms than the average person hears in a month.

3. Rhododendrons or have to choose. Are either currently blooming in your yard?

I know we have roses but as to the identity of the other flowering bushes and blooms, I have no idea. Yep, definitely gardening-challenged here.

4. May 21st is National Waitstaff Day. Have you ever worked as a waiter/waitress? How would you rate the experience? What was the best/worst part of the job?

I have never worked as a waitress.  I would imagine the best part of the job would be appreciative customers who tip well.  Of course, that means that disagreeable customers who leave lousy tips would be the worst part of the job.

5. What fashion trend for women should be outlawed? How about one for men?

Leggings worn as pants - come on ladies, leave a little to the imagination.  Men, sagging pants absolutely.  Tighten those belts, gentlemen!

6. Name a writer who inspires tell us why.

Robin Jones Gunn with her Sisterchicks series - fun, faith, friendship...after forty and around the world.

7. What well known quote or saying sums up your plans for today or this week?

"A little of this, a little of that" - there seem to be so many things that I want/need to do, I just have to do a little at a time.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Must.regain.self.control.  I've been eating all the wrong things lately and my body is really telling me no more.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Life Last Week 2015-20

After Vic's return and all the fun during our weekend in Leavenworth, I had some catching up to do around the house.  An almost two-month underway period means lots of laundry.  Although Vic does make an effort to keep up with it while he's gone, most of it just doesn't smell as good as it does when I do it at home! The only appointment on the calendar last week was my last trip to the dentist for the next six months - yippee!

The Ladies of Leisure gathered on Wednesday for coffee, conversation, shopping, and lunch.  We welcomed two new members to our group which was awesome and had a lovely time getting to know one another and thinking ahead to some fun outings now that the weather is getting nicer.

Vic came home early on Friday and we headed out to our Marriage Enrichment Retreat weekend.  This is a benefit through the Navy Chaplains Religious Enrichment Development Operation (CREDO) - there are a number of retreats and workshops available to strengthen Navy couples and families, and they are free, all-inclusive events.  We started off by checking into our hotel and then since Friday's dinner was on our own, we headed into the Historic Waterfront area of Gig Harbor to stroll around, explore, and then we headed to dinner at Gateway to India, an Indian eatery that had received rave reviews and they were spot on.  Dinner was delicious.

Gig Harbor; the Fisherman's Memorial; Sophia would have loved this store; Vic gazing out at the marina
Back to the hotel to freshen up and head downstairs to the event registration and the evening session. There were fourteen couples with five from Vic's command and a great mix of ages.

Our room was huge
Lovely fireplace in the lobby
Up early on Saturday and downstairs for the breakfast buffet.  We had a morning session, then a buffet lunch, and then an afternoon session until 3:00pm.  From 3:00pm to 6:30pm was free time and there were a lot of activities in the local area for those who opted to explore.  Vic and I headed off to the cinema although we were unsuccessful as there was only one seat left for the feature we planned to see.  So, it was off to Ben & Jerry's and then back to the hotel to relax before the candlelight dinner that evening.

A quick selfie as we were getting ready - excuse Vic's sleeve as I had forgotten to pack his cuff links and he ended up sliding his shirt sleeves up so they stayed covered by his jacket sleeves
The candlelight dinner was lovely and we ended with a knee-to-knee session where we were given a set of questions to discuss - one of those "Look into my eyes and spill your soul" type exercises.

Up early again for Sunday's breakfast buffet and then a brief Christian service for those who wanted to attend.  It was lovely; the scripture passage really stirred some strong emotions after the previous day's discussions. Then we had the first of two short morning sessions, divided by a break to check-out, and then after a buffet lunch, we gathered for a group photo and said our goodbyes.

It was a great weekend - lots of discussion on communication, conflict, fun and friendship, intimacy, and spirituality.  I loved that one of the couples was 18 (wife) and 19 (husband), had only been married briefly, and were taking this chance to make their marriage stronger at the beginning.  When they told their friends that they were heading to a marriage retreat, the most common response was "I didn't know your marriage was in trouble". A completely wrong assumption.

Have any of you ever been on a marriage retreat?

Friday, May 15, 2015

5 on Friday

It's been a while since I've done a 5 on Friday but I've got a few minutes so I thought I'd whip this out.

1. We're off to a Marriage Enrichment Retreat this weekend - first time in our 22 years of marriage so we'll either be more in love than ever at the end of it...or off to divorce court!

2. Must get my Pinterest under control - I've pinned enough care package ideas for several deployed husbands and many college students.  I'm going to make a schedule and pick the best of the best.  I'm also toying with the idea of holding a social event for our ship's spouses to exchange ideas and put together an "I love you and I'll miss you but here are a few comforts from home" care package for the next time the ship leaves for more than a month.

3. Remember when I said we thought we'd be going to Italy next?  Well, the Navy took that option off the list as someone else's name is on the list in that slot. Hmm, where will they send us next?

4. This weekend is Viking Fest, our town's annual celebration of Norway's Constitution Day of May 17 - it will be Maifest all over again but the Norwegian version!  Although we'll miss most of it, we should be back in time to take in some of Sunday's events.  How to choose?  Watch the donut eating contest or the oyster eating contest or the lutefisk eating contest?

5. Sunday would have been Mum's 89th birthday.  She's been gone for twelve years and the sadness has shifted to great memories. Still not a day goes by that I don't think about her and want to share something with her.

Mum and Dad as stall holders at the 1996 Christmas Craft Fair at their retirement home in England - they raised a lot of money for local charities from the handicrafts and baked items they and their fellow residents made

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Life Last Week 2015-19

It was a pretty crazy week followed by an action-packed weekend hence this Life Last Week post finally going up on Wednesday!  Vic had been gone for seven weeks so the anticipation level for his return last Friday was through the ceiling.  I love the final countdown week.  That being said, there were quite a few things to do and some meetings and appointments to get through.  It certainly made the time fly by.

Tuesday evening I took the Family Readiness Group (FRG) training with the spouse who will be our new FRG President. I don't really want to hold an office but I know the importance of an FRG when a ship is deployed so I am planning to help out in some capacity.  It's been a number of years since I've been involved with an FRG so I thought I'd better take the training to make sure I'm up to speed with any new rules and regulations.  It was a fun class - a small group so there was a great question and answer session which is a great way to learn.  The facilitator turned out to be from Manchester, England so it was lovely to chat with her after the training was over.  On Wednesday was the COMPASS session for May.  Of the three days, Wednesday was the only day I was able to make it and I scooted out early because I'd been running around all day and poor MudLynn was at home, patiently waiting for her dinner.

Up early on Thursday to clean like a demon.  Seven weeks of a just a cursory whiz over with the vacuum caught up with me and it was quite a job but I got everything looking spic and span and then headed out to get my hair cut and my nails done.  Time to look glam for my darling.  I couldn't sleep at all Thursday night - I have a marine app on my phone and I kept checking it every so often to watch the ship's progress.  I had planned to go out to a local landmark to see it pass by with a friend but she has three small children and just couldn't corral them all in time for us to make it.  Never mind, I put the time to good use finishing the packing for our weekend away and spent far too much time on the spouses' page on Facebook and got quite caught up in the excitement of the ship's return as everyone kept posting pictures from wherever they were watching it pass by on its way to the pier.  I couldn't stand it any longer so I packed up the car, dropped MudLynn at the kennels, filled the car with gas, and headed to the base.  Just as I was turning into the parking lot, Vic called to say he would be off soon so I told him that I was already there and that he'd better hurry!  It was lovely to see the reunions, little ones running into Daddy's arms, and hugs from Moms for their sailor daughters. There were people everywhere - it's a huge ship and in between the sailors disembarking and the family members waiting to greet them, it was quite a crush.  I spotted Vic and got out of the car to give him a big hug and welcome home kiss.  We loaded up his bags, made a stop at Starbucks for a drink for the road, and headed out of town.

Vic didn't know where we were going until we were almost there - Leavenworth, the Bavarian-style town in the Wenatchee Valley (see Letter L is for Leavenworth here and Letter W is for Wenatchee here from the A to Z Challenge).  It was Maifest weekend in Leavenworth and I had booked a hotel right in town.  Maifest is a German tradition dating back to the 10th century when villagers would gather to celebrate the arrival of spring by planting flowers, playing music and games, and raising a "maipole" in the local square.  The pole would be decorated with sausages, cakes, flowers, and ribbons, and villagers believed that dancing around it would bring good luck and wealth to the village. We headed out to stroll around town, had Mexican food for dinner (yes, we drove three hours to the Bavarian town to eat Mexican food!), and then wandered back to the hotel.  Saturday we enjoyed the festivities - Bavarian march, Maipole, dancing, Bernese Mountain dogs, men in lederhosen - had Mongolian barbecue for lunch, strolled through the shops, went back to the hotel for an afternoon nap, and headed out again in the evening last...German food.  We packed up Sunday morning and headed for home so that we could pick up MudLynn and spend a little time at home before we headed out again to go to a Life Celebration for an officer who retired from the ship recently but sadly passed away from a heart attack before he could even begin to enjoy his retirement.

Here are a few photos from our weekend:

Our hotel - right across the road from the area where the festivities were held
The Bavarian decor even extended to the elevator doors
Balcony suite with fireplace
Stunning vistas
One of the carriages in the Festzug - the Bavarian March
Bernese Mountain Dogs
Enzian Schuhplattler - one of the dance groups
Can't believe I captured this shot!
The Maipole Dance
Unbelievable dance precision in winding the ribbons around the pole and then dancing in reverse to unwind them
The banners of the dance groups

Wednesday Hodgepodge - Volume 220

1. When is your next big deadline? What's it for?

June 6th.  Time to start moving la petite fille back home from college.  It has to be June 6th because the stronger half of my moving team (hubby and I) will be gone again so I've got to use him before I lose him.

2. May is National Barbecue Month. Do you prefer cooking indoors or out? What's the best thing about a barbecue? What's the last thing you cooked on an outdoor grill?

I love to barbecue but I'm afraid that we are both really useless at it.  The best thing about a barbecue is that the mess is outside - I tend to be a bit of an over-zealous saute-er which means that the stove top is a mess when I'm finished. With a barbecue, the mess drips down into the pan that can be removed and cleaned easily. The last thing we cooked was no doubt a flank steak - I usually marinaded one with olive oil and soy sauce and then popped it on the grill.  Let it rest and cut it thinly across the grain - delicious!

3. What is one thing on your "never again" list?

Riding on a roller coaster - even Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World terrified me. Long ago, I had a dream in which I fell from a great height.  I woke up shaking and have never been able to get that image out of my mind.  Avoiding roller coasters is the first step in hoping that the dream never becomes a reality.

4. What's something that annoys you about people your own age? Something you love about your generation?

That many seem to be as dependent on their mobile phones as the younger generation are.  It drives me insane to see women my age who can't go for two minutes without looking at their phone. Really? How did you manage before the mobile age? I love that we can look back and remember how good things were when there was less concern about germs (who drank out of a garden hose?) and personal safety (coming home when the street lights came on because until then we were out playing with and being around people that we knew and trusted) and when having fun was something creative (what fun we could have building a fort out of whatever we could find or making up a game from a ball or a natural set of obstacles) and less reliant on some form of technology.

5. Lilac, iris, hyacinth, pansy...your favorite purple flower?

I guess with my blog name I should say hyacinth but I'm going to go with pansy.

6. Whats a song that always calms you down?

"Moon River" from Breakfast at Tiffany's.  I close my eyes and get lost in the melody - very calming.

7. What's the last thing you donated?

Food to the local food bank.  When we decided to go on the Whole 30 eating plan, I cleaned all the non-Whole 30 food out of the cupboards and donated it.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Waiting, waiting, waiting to hear back on the eleven federal government job applications I have takes SO LONG.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Welcome Home

√ House cleaned

√ MudLynn dropped off at the Doggie Hilton

√ Bags packed

√ Hotel booked

√ Fuel gauge on full

√ Excitement level at all-time high

√ Just got the call to pick up my sailor

√ Welcome home, darling - let the weekend fun begin!

Military Spouse Appreciation Day

It was about this time twenty-two years ago that Vic swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and I became a military spouse.  It's been an amazing journey by his side.  To all my military spouses friends, this is your day!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge - Volume 219

1. What's a phrase your mother often said to you? If you're a parent, is this something you now say to your own children?

If I said "I'll die if I don't get something to eat" (when I wanted a snack and dinner time was imminent) and Mum would say (in her poshest British accent) "I rather doubt that, Pamela, or at least it would take some time".  Yes, exaggeration fell totally flat with Mum.

2. What is a scent you associate with your mother or your childhood home?

Fresh baked bread.  Mum was always making a loaf or buns of some sort and the smell of yeasty goodness was intoxicating.

3. What's an activity you remember always doing with your mother (or someone who was a mother figure in your life)?

We used to go on a lot of outings - much as I do with my family now.  During the six years we lived in Belgium, we had a caravan at the beach from April to October and we were always taking off on a field trip - a drive down to Calais to take the hovercraft over to Ramsgate to stock up on English goodies, or a trip into Ostend on Saturday morning for the market or to go to a movie if the weather was grim.  We drove up the Belgian coast, stopping at all of the little towns.

4. Flared jeans, maxi dresses, and jumpsuits are 70's fashion trends back this spring. Are you on board? Which trend would you be most inclined to try? For the men...flared corduroys, wide-collared shirts, and floral prints...what say you?

I have a pair of slightly flared jeans but I don't think they are very flattering.  No to the maxi dress as I'm short and they don't work for me at all and a definite no to a jumpsuit.  When we came back to the States from England in 1978, I brought with me the in-fashion trend of wearing a skirt with a petticoat underneath (usually a broderie anglaise-type petticoat) and the bottom inch or two of the petticoat hung down below the skirt hem.  I can remember walking in the mall and people staring at me - I think they thought that my petticoat was slipping down and would soon be around my ankles!  

I couldn't find a picture but the petticoat looked like this so imagine an inch or two hanging down below a skirt hem and you'll have the idea
5. May 6th is Teacher Appreciation Day and also Nurse Appreciation Day. Is there a nurse or teacher  you have especially appreciated along the way? Tell us why?

I've had a lot of wonderful teachers over the years but the one who really stands out in my mind is my English teacher when I was in school in England.  She chastized me for what she called "my dreadful Americanisms" when I went through a period of adding -wise to a number of terms.  She was right, it was dreadful!  I remember her kindness when I was applying for a job and she wrote me a reference.   She said I was "selective in my friendships".  I haven't been around a lot of nurses but Raewyn, the nurse who conducted our childbirth classes was wonderful.  After all her hard work, I don't think there was a single woman in our entire class who had a natural delivery.  She stopped by after Sophia was born and asked if she could hold Sophia up on the other side of the window in the nursery to show her current class (who were taking a tour that afternoon) what a beautiful newborn looked like.

6. If I came by your house, what would I find on your frig door?

Whole 30 guidelines and pantry list, trash pick-up schedules and recyclables guidelines, magnetic photo frames with pictures from Walt Disney World, a few magnets from England, magnetic business cards for local vet and the Naval base important numbers, and the social calendar for our current command.

7. Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana made her royal entrance on Saturday, May 2nd. On a scale of 1-10, how much attention did you give to all the news coverage? 1=Who's Charlotte? 10=sat glued to the telly, cuppa in hand.

Because of the time difference, I went to bed just as I got a news alert that the Duchess of Cambridge was in labor and on her way to the hospital so I woke up to the news that the new Princess had been born.  I was definitely a 10 in the morning, devouring every piece of news I could find on the Internet.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I'm still busy submitting job applications - eleven in total so far.  Good grief, the Federal Government is a labyrinth when it comes to the employment process.  Hoping to hear something soon.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo - do you celebrate?  Why?  How?

Special thanks to The Pioneer Woman for this (edited) background information:

In 1862, the Mexican army defeated French forces (whose numbers were double that of the Mexican troops) in a huge battle in a town called Puebla. It was an unexpected victory and became the source of much excitement and pride, not just in Mexico, but also in many Mexican communities in the American West. When word of the May 5 victory reached mining communities in California, Mexican workers reportedly celebrated by firing rifles into the air and singing patriotic songs. That is said to be the very first Cinco de Mayo celebration…and they’ve increased in popularity ever since.

Note: Cinco de Mayo is not to be confused with Mexico’s official Independence Day, which is celebrated across Mexico on September 16. But here in America, May 5 has become a day to embrace Mexican heritage and pride, whether you have Mexican ancestry or not.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Baby Charlotte

Life Last Week 2015-18

Another week down, another week closer to Vic being home.  A little out of the house activity this week but most of it has been in the house bits and pieces.  Three meetings on the calendar for last week - COMPASS Planning Session on Monday was quick and easy as the Team Leader kept things rolling along, Navy Wives Clubs of America Q&A Session was wonderful with lots of questions answered and a meeting with a fellow spouse led to a shopping trip to the mall yesterday.  Apart from those events and a few errands to pick up photos, groceries, and a few craft supplies, I spent most of the week giving the house a thorough spring cleaning.

I drove up to Bellingham with MudLynn on Saturday to meet Sophia's new roommate (for the upcoming school year), Hannah.  She loves dogs but we wanted to make sure that MudLynn loves her back which of course she does.  It should have been a pleasant drive up there but a bad accident meant forty minutes of sitting in traffic at a standstill.  Thankfully, the return drive was quick and easy and I made the ferry without too much of a wait.  While in Bellingham, Sophia and I went to lunch at a great drive-in, drove by the barn to say hello to her coach, and took a quick stop at her new apartment and the park right across the street.  Perfect place to take MudLynn for a little stroll. I am going to miss her when she goes off to live with the college girls but I am still hopeful that there will be something on the job front to keep me occupied.  On that note, I have now completed eight applications and the application period has closed for all of them so fingers crossed that the next step (an interview) is coming soon.

Of course, I couldn't put up a post about last week without a mention of the newest member of the Royal Family - Her Royal Highness Princess ___ of Cambridge.  There is as much anticipation about her name as there was about her arrival.  The hoopla over how fabulous the Duchess looked when she stepped out to introduce her daughter was interesting and brought forth gems like this one:

Those of us who felt and looked like we'd been dragged through a hedge backward after giving birth can relate!

Busy week ahead...all the details next week.  Have a lovely week everyone!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

It's a Girl!

Courtesy of What Would Kate Do
Lovely news to wake up to this morning.

The Wanderlust Tag

Just what I needed after a month of A to Z - a fun meme posted by Caroline of Mrs. M's Meanderings to get me dreaming of traveling.

Where was your first plane trip to?
I'm really not certain - one of those questions I should have asked Mum and Dad before it was too late - I have so many of those.  If your parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents are still blessed to be on this earth, ask questions!  Get one of those legacy books - they are a great resource for questions.  Ok, sorry, got off track there!

I was born in Germany and we moved to Boston, Massachusetts when I was two and then to Norway about a year or so later.

I found this photo of our departure from Norway back to the United States in 1965 and we're obviously on a ship so is it possible that all of our travel before then was also by ship?  Perhaps we were sailing to England and then flying on to the States?  Ugh, this is going to drive me bananas.  I wonder if I can tell from old passports (believe me, I've got a drawer full of them).  Can you tell the difference between an airport stamp and a port stamp?

I know for certain that the first plane trip I remember was in 1967 when we flew from California to Hawaii.  Dad flew to Hawaii from Vietnam (he was there from 1966-1967); this was his mid-way R&R (rest and recreation) trip.

You’re leaving tomorrow & money is no object… where are you going?
Round the world with Cunard.

Are you a repeat visitor or do you explore new places? 
For pleasure travel, this really hasn't been much of an issue so far.  I've been to England three times in the last fifteen years, but the first time was to my sister's wedding (in Scotland) and then on to my parents' in Lancashire for a week, then to Yorkshire for Christmas that same year, and then back again to Lancashire for my Mum's funeral two years later.  I'd go back to Lancashire just because that area feels most like home and we definitely want to go back to Yorkshire.

We haven't done a real holiday since we got married.  We've had lots of little trips - Walt Disney World, New York, Boston, Washington DC, but they all pretty much coincided with Vic's duty station changes.  The only real trip not like that was to Montreal, but that was for a conference for Vic and we turned it into a getaway.

We really need to get into the mode of having an annual holiday.  Of course, with Vic's upcoming schedule, that's not going to happen anytime soon. I'm holding out for a posting to Italy, Spain, or Japan and then let the traveling begin.

Hostel or Hotel?
I'm just going to borrow Caroline's answer because I burst out laughing when I read it and thought to myself...we are SO alike!  She said: I don’t imagine that anybody who knows me or has read my blog for more than a couple of weeks would labour under the misapprehension that I would EVER be found checking into a hostel.
Snobbish? Me? Maybe. Ask me if I care.

Where would you travel just to eat the food?
Macarons in Paris, bratwurst, knockwurst and all the wursts in Bavaria, tapas in Spain, the list is endless; we are definitely foodies so a trip centered around food would be amazing.  I want to work my way through this book:

Food Journeys of a Lifetime
Plane essentials & how do you pass the time?
I don't like to fly and don't even get me started on a trans-Atlantic or a trans-Pacific flight. Flying and flying over water - yeuch. That being said, if I have to fly, I prefer a night flight so that I can sleep and wake up when it's just about all over. If I can't sleep or it's a short-haul, then a good book or movie keeps me occupied.

Is there a place you would never go again?
I can't think of anywhere but just about all the places I have visited were safe and pleasant at the time.  I'd think twice about visiting certain places these days - always wanted to go to Israel but I don't know if that will ever happen given the climate in that region.  I have a hard time with extreme poverty so I'd stay away from places where there is so much. Rather takes away from the fun of your holiday if you're traumatized by your surroundings.

Top three travel items?
  1. Passport
  2. Sunglasses
  3. Maximum SPF if it's somewhere hot because I don't want to spend the whole trip looking like a lobster.
Preferred method of travel, planes, trains or auto mobiles?
Yes, I agree with Caroline on the Orient Express – I've seen a couple of movies where it is featured and a fabulous documentary with David Suchet.  I hope that the Orient Express travelers still dress the part - I'd be horribly disappointed if I went to all that expense only to find that my fellow passengers were wearing jeans.

I tag anybody who wants to have a go – let me know if you do it, and I’ll come and have a read.

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Reflections Tradition

The A to Z Reflections Post has become a tradition as most Challenge vets will remember.  We've done this since the first Challenge in 2010.  What we request is that in a post on your own blog you tell us all something about the Challenge that impacted you the most. Actually this post can be about any April A to Z related topic and presented in any form that you like. Your post doesn't have to be long and complicated unless that's what you want to do.  Like the regular A to Z posts the Reflections Post can be whatever you want it to be just as long it's about the April Challenge. This is the time for you to register your complaints about anything Challenge related.  Let us know the weaknesses along with your suggestions as to how they can be improved.   We don't mind hearing the negative aspects of A to Z, but we hope you will have some positives to report as well.  Relate your anecdotes about interactions with the A to Z staff or other bloggers.   Offer praise to the outstanding bloggers in this year's Challenge or tell us about particular posts or themes that you think deserve recognition.
I really enjoyed my A to Z Challenge - my theme was Washington and I shared some of the sites we have visited and posted interesting tidbits about places we have yet to explore.  I learned a lot!  I loved the comments from readers who had visited Washington and from those who would love to visit based on what they read in my posts.

I enjoyed theme A to Z challenges as well as those bloggers who didn't pick a theme and had random A to Z posts.  I followed several bloggers through the whole challenge and plan to continue to read their blogs and I'm pleased to say that several of them are doing the same for me.  It is a wonderful way to increase blog readership.

I was absolutely overwhelmed to see that 1500+ bloggers were participating so I ran down the list to look for (LI) after the blog names to visit the lifestyle bloggers first. My complaint would be that not everyone added their two-letter category code after their blog name as they were instructed. I think these bloggers should have been deleted from the list after they were contacted by the co-hosts and instructed to link up again with their category code as there didn't seem to be any way edit the link (to add the category code) once it was entered.

A huge thank you to the organizers and hosts of the challenge and I look forward to participating again next year.

The "Two Good Reads" Tag

Caroline at Mrs. M's Meanderings has tagged me and Jenny from My Life in Flip Flops to share the love in the form of two good reads.  Caroline picked the two of us from her reading list, shared our links and a brief introduction, and asked us to each share two blogs from our reading list.  The tags can go on and on and we'll all have a chance to meet some new bloggers.

This is great timing because I participated in Grow Your Blog 2015 and the Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge and I have met some great new bloggers.

I'd like to introduce you to:

Holli is, in her words, "a wine-drinking, travel-loving, Harley-riding Texas girl who loves spending time with her friends and her honey".  She loves animals, crafts, and music among many other things. Her Letter I - as in Me, Myself, and I post is a great introduction, and she writes candidly about infertility, her Mom's struggle with lupus, and her Dad's transplant ordeal.  I really enjoyed getting to know Holli from A to Z and look forward to continuing to follow her blog.

I met Joyce through the A to Z as well and she's the host of Wednesday Hodgepodge, a collection of insightful questions that go up every Tuesday.  It's a lot of fun.  Her "observations on mid-life by a mom livin' it" make great reading. She and her family once lived in England and I'm working my way through her posts to read all about their time there.

Tag, you're it, Holli and Joyce, I hope you will join in and introduce us to a couple of blogs that you enjoy reading.

How it works:

1. Copy the tag logo from the top of the post, if you like.
2. Link back to the person who tagged you.
3. Write a post recommending two blogs you enjoy reading, and tag your recommended bloggers to do the same.