Saturday, October 31, 2015

2015 Christmas Countdown - End of Week One - Get Organized

Photo courtesy of Organized Christmas

Since I am putting up this post at the end of the first week, obviously my plan to post daily went awry. I did manage to follow the Countdown, I just didn't manage to post about it. On to better plans for next week!

Week One of the Organized Home's Christmas Countdown is Get Organized Week. You can read all about it here and here is a quick summary of how my week went:

Day 1 - Get Organized

The Countdown really crept up on me this year. The "Let's Get Ready" message popped into my e-mail and I knew it was crunch time. However, I took a deep breath and resolved to make the promise (Step One) and decide to follow the Countdown (Step Two) via the daily e-mail messages, Designating a Christmas holiday planning center in my home (Step Three) was a little more slapdash as in it's, uh, kinda sorta over there (points vaguely in the direction of the office). I'm working on that one. Printing the Countdown Calendar and Get Organized Week Checklist was easy - I actually had the checklist already in my planner (the Christmas Planner, not to be confused with the other planner that is currently ruling my life) from last year.

Day 2 - Make a Christmas Planner

Done! Actually, already done is a better way to put that since I use the same binder year after year. I just add new planning pages. Planner cover and divider pages are in place - I'm ready to plan.

Day 3 - Set Up a Holiday Calendar

I'm working on it. So far I have my days off work, Vic's days off work, Sophia's arrival and departure, key shopping dates, holiday events and activities, and miscellaneous deadlines. It is a work in progress as no doubt things will crop up that have to be squeezed in. The goal this year is to have the holidays less chaotic than last year. Pretty easily done since I'm working now and can say, "Sorry, we can't make it, have to work!".

Day 4 - Values Check

Less chaos = less stress = more fun. Oh, and stick to the budget. Nothing stresses Vic out more than to find out I have gone overbudget....again. I am vowing this year to stick to the budget.

Day 5 - Master Gift List

Again, a work in progress. Deadline for family Amazon.com wishlists is November 29; after that, online shopping will commence, packages will arrive, and wrapping will begin.

Day 6 - Christmas Cards

I have my Christmas Card List, just have to work a little more on pruning. With Social Media as the preferred option for many people, our mailbox has been less and less full as the years go by. I guess it's time to bite the bullet and cut some people off the list. I hate to do it, I love sending cards but it seems like not as many people are as interested in receiving one and reciprocating.

Day 7 - that's today! - Home Spruce Up

This one will not be a major chore as we've already decided to downsize this year. "Sorry....have to work" definitely comes into play here. We don't plan to do any entertaining at home  ("Sorry....") and we've decided to pare down the decorations and just focus more on the limited time that we have to spend together. It will be a game-playing, DVD-watching, book-reading kind of holiday, together.

I hope you are joining me, or will join me (sorry I'm starting you off a week late but you can catch up) but even if you are not, I know you will find something useful here - these printables are amazing.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Life Last Week 2015-39


It's only going to take one item to sum up last week.

After thirty-eight weeks of Life Last Week, I am especially happy to put this post up today. I had a small stroke on Tuesday/Wednesday (not sure exactly when) and after a stay in hospital and the love and care of my family and friends, I am feeling fine and very thankful.

On Tuesday afternoon, I walked over to another building at work to pick up two packages of paper. Nothing really heavy, think of two packs of printer paper. It was a bit warm outside and when I got back to my office, I was hot and my arm ached a bit from the way I had been holding the paper. I picked up the phone to call one of my co-workers and when I asked for her, I noticed that my words were a bit garbled. I thought perhaps because of the heat, my lip was stuck to my teeth. She wasn't available so I rang off and got on with my work. I rode the bus home after work and can't really recall anything out of the ordinary other than noticing that my handwriting was a bit off when I went to address an envelope to Sophia. Vic had duty so I was alone. I watched a bit of TV, had some dinner, and went to bed. The next morning, I was putting on my makeup and noticed that my mouth was drooping a bit on the right-hand side. How do you self-diagnose a problem with your mouth? Why, talk to yourself while looking in the mirror! This is when I noticed that there was really something wrong with my speech.

I figured I'd better make an appointment to see my doctor but when I called, there were no appointments available that morning. The appointment clerk put me through to the nurse line (because sometimes they can squeeze you in to a spot not available through the appointment line). When I told her what was wrong, she told me to hang up immediately and call the emergency services. I said I would just call Vic and have him come home to take me to the emergency room but she was insistent that there be no delay. So I call 911 and the fire truck and ambulance rolled up to the house within minutes and started to triage me. My blood pressure was shockingly high but all the neurological tests came out fine other than the appearance of my mouth and my speech so they put me in the ambulance and took me to the hospital. This was 6:00am on Wednesday morning.

I spent all day Wednesday and half of Thursday in hospital. I had a CT scan, an MRI, an Echo cardiogram, a carotid ultrasound, a heart ultrasound, and they took more vials of blood that I thought I could possibly give. The outcome was that I had had a small stroke. I passed all of the physical, speech, and occupational therapists' tests and so am very thankful that there appear to be no lasting effects. I am on two medications - one for life as with one stroke there is usually the danger of another, but I may be able to stop the other medication after my follow-up visit with my doctor in two weeks.

Vic met us at hospital on Wednesday and was there with me through all of this. My sister, Barbara, came up from Oregon on Thursday morning and Sophia came home for the weekend from school. My Navy Wives sisters put together enough meals for a few days and the outpouring of messages on Facebook, through texts and e-mails was so wonderful. I was truly blessed to be surrounded by so much love.

No idea what may have caused the stroke. I think I've mentioned here before that I am adopted so I have no family medical history to reference. I know that my lifestyle needs some changes - focus on healthy eating, getting regular exercise, and trying to stress less. I'm working on all three.

I cancelled my plans to attend the Navy Wives Clubs of America National Convention. My doctor just didn't advise flying at this time and gave me a letter to forward to the airlines to get a refund. My sister took care of the arrangements but it appears that United is going to be less than accommodating in a situation like this so a letter is being dispatched and I will keep you up to date with that one. American Airlines, on the other hand, was most helpful.

And that, dear friends, was Life Last Week.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #25



Today's post is dedicated to the Brontë Sisters - Anne, Emily and Charlotte - shown above in a portrait painted by their brother, Branwell. I did not know that the three sisters were aged 29, 30, and 31 when they died.


The Brontë Parsonage Museum, the former family home of the Brontës
Church Street, Haworth, Keighley, Yorkshire

Haworth Railway Station

Haworth and the Haworth Village Association
Accommodations, attractions, events, walking and shopping in Brontë Country

The Old White Lion Hotel in the heart of Haworth
A 300-year old coaching inn in a great location.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Life Last Week 2015-38


1. Another crazy busy week at work and the anticipation of a three-day weekend at the end of it made it just fly by. That's always a good thing.

2. Girls' Night Out event at the local mall - local businesses, home business owners, and local organizations had tables with freebies, drawings, coupons, and lots of handouts. The Navy Wives Clubs of America had a table and raised enough to buy five more wreaths for Wreaths Across America.

3. Busy Saturday with the Navy Wives meeting and a Meet & Greet event that had no guests no doubt because of the wretched weather so the members in attendance ate the potluck food and played games. After the meeting, Vic and I headed across the bridge to the bigger mall, the bigger tool store, and the bigger craft store. Fun shopping afternoon!

4. Spent Sunday traveling up to see la petite fille and MudLynn. Lovely visit, far too short. Took a detour on the way home to another tool store resulting in one happy hubby as he found a new tool for his woodworking shop.

Vic, Sophia and MudLynn waiting for our lunch at AB Crepes
Vic testing out the mortisers - I know, what's a mortiser?
5. Dug out all the things I plan to wear at the convention and sent it all off to the dry cleaners. That's going to take a second mortgage to pick it all up! Had a pair of trousers hemmed, stocked up on toiletries, and figured out what jewelry goes with what outfit. Just need to finish off my door prize item and I'll be all ready to go.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge Volume 238


1. It's October so let's get this out there first thing...have you jumped on the all-things-pumpkin bandwagon? How so?

Yes, as far as Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes go. I haven't had much time to branch out into anything else pumpkin yet but there is still time. I love that the pumpkin season is not just a month like Valentines or Easter or July 4th season - we have September, October, and November for sampling all things pumpkin.

2.  "We have more power than will; and it is often by way of excuse to ourselves that we fancy things are impossible." Francois Duc De la Rochefoucauld  

What's something you once thought impossible, but in hindsight see as more a matter of lack of will?

To ever get into the clothes in the skinny side of my closet! It's still a long way from possible but where there is a will, there is a way.

3. The rose is America's National Flower, but every state also has its own (click here to see the list). Are you happy with yours? If you were in charge what would you declare your state's flower? If you're outside the U.S. what bloom would you like to see labeled as your country's national flower?
In 1892, before they had the right to vote, Washington women selected the coast rhododendron as the state flower. They wanted an official flower to enter in a floral exhibit at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. Six flowers were considered, but the final decision was narrowed to clover and the "rhodie," and voting booths were set up for ladies throughout the state. When the ballots were counted, the rhododendron had been chosen as the Washington state flower.
Meh, it's ok. Honestly, I'm not that crazy about flowers unless I get a delivery. I'm useless at growing them, just as useless at arranging them.

4. What have you lost interest in recently?

Scrapbooking - everything in my craft room is in such a mess and I just don't have time. Saving it all for those long nights and weekends of deployment time.

5. In your opinion, who's the best living musician?

Paul McCartney - from the Beatles to Wings to a solo artist, largely self-taught and still going strong after 58 years, his music is easy to listen to and you can understand all the words. Really showing my age here.

6. S'mores-love 'em or no? Ever make them indoors? Last time you sat around an outdoor fire? Are making s'mores and sitting round a fire pit on your autumn bucket list? Do you have an autumn bucket list?

No bucket list. Lots of bucket lists pinned to Pinterest but I doubt I'll get to any of them. Love S'mores, loved Starbucks S'Mores Frappucinos and hope they bring them back. Not really a sit around an outdoor fire type of girl, haven't done it in a long, long time and all I remember about the last time is that even though the fire was roaring, I was still cold.

7. Your favorite small town? Why?

Kettlewell in the Yorkshire Dales National Park in England, absolutely charming, so picturesque, would love to live there.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Super busy as always, lots going on in life right now. Hope I get a chance to visit a few of your Hodgepodge posts...eventually!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #24

The Olive Branch Guest House, Broadway, The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), mainly lying within Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, but also extending into four other counties. I haven't been to the Cotswolds in many years, but my visit there left such an impression on me that I will never forget it...and I long to go back! Just imagine leisurely strolling through picturesque villages with charming stone cottages, quaint little shops, and tea rooms. It is England at its finest. It is also, unfortunately, an affluent area, and therefore expensive to visit, but it is worth the splurge.

Long ago, when I was yet again planning a trip to England, I came across this charming guest house in Broadway and bookmarked it as a place to stay on my trip through the Cotswolds. Won't you join me?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Life Last Week 2015-37


Time for a new photo and hopefully, more regular posting...still trying to get my work life and home life onto some sort of schedule. Taking out the Bests and Worsts headings and just giving you five things from Life Last Week.

1.  Outside is glorious - cool, crisp mornings, leaves on the trees slowly changing from green to autumn colors, and pumpkins everywhere.

2.  Everyone is doing well and staying healthy... Vic and I are busy at work and Sophia is busy with school.  Thank goodness for the electronic age that keeps us all connected no matter where we are.

3.  A lovely Navy Wives Clubs Officers' Installation Luncheon last Saturday with the largest club member turnout in a long time.  Add to that spouses and guests and it was a great event. We have quite an age range in our club - twenty-something to 95! So awesome to learn from the senior members and listen to the new ideas from the younger ones. Looking forward to a great 2015-2016 membership year.


4.  We're in the pre-house hunting stage and what better place for ideas than the local Home & Remodel Show yesterday. (Note: Pre-house hunting is the stage where we think we want to buy, just need to decide what, where, and will whatever the Navy has planned for us next work with that plan).

5.  Less than two weeks until the Navy Wives Clubs National Convention...so excited!