Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Pray for Manchester


My heart is broken this morning.  Manchester is my home, my roots, the place I most associate with making me the person I am today.  All that I loved and love is in this city.  I think British comedian Russell Kane summed up what many are feeling this morning: 
Woken up this morning feeling physically sick. I thought the only worry I would have at midnight last night was replying to comments about a show I filmed after an amazing day; not frantically messaging home to check none of my family or friends were in that arena. I can't understand the mind-set of an animal, a less-than beast, who sets out intentionally to harm solely teenage girls, boys and their families. I can't understand how someone can brainwash themselves to a place where maiming and killing innocent children, mums, dads, aunties and uncles is any sort of response to the grievances he feels. I can only speak for my family, my little girl, my friends - just normal, average Brits: WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND. None of us sympathise with your f***ed up cause. None of us understand what led you to do this. None of us accept your warped ideology, your corrupted version of faith, your rationale, or any part of the bullshit you've told yourself to get yourself into that diseased, child-killing headspace. You are not glorious or courageous. You are not a martyr. You are a sick cruel, cold, murdering psychopathic bastard - on par with any other premeditating or serial killer. Your own mum and dad will probably be wailing in shame today. And even as an atheist, I can promise you, if there is a God - He is sending anyone who murders innocents southwards. 

Me and my family send love to all those affected in any way. Maximum respect to all emergency services. x
 I'll be back in a few days.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day


Happy Mother's Day to all mothers and caregivers of human and animal children.  To  my Mum and my mother-in-law in heaven, my sister, and to all my friends near and far, have a lovely day and I hope you are pampered.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Blogging from A to Z April (2017) Challenge Reflections


I'm late with my Reflections Post although you've probably heard it all before.  I didn't care for the way this year's challenge was set up.  In my last challenge (2015), there was a list of bloggers who planned to participate and after each blog name was a two-character category chosen by the blogger to identify their blog style.

ANIMALS: (AN) 
ART: (AR) 
BOOKS/REVIEWS: (BO) 
CRAFTS: (CR) 
CULINARY: (CU) 
EDUCATION: (ED) 
FASHION: (FA) 
FILM/MOVIES: (FM) 
GAMING: (GA) 
GARDENING: (GR) 
HISTORY: (HI) 
HUMOR: (HU) 
LIFESTYLE: (LI ) 
MEMOIR: (ME) 
MUSIC: (MU) 
MYTHOLOGY: (MY) 
PERSONAL: (PR) 
PHOTOGRAPHY: (PH) 
POLITICS: (PO) 
SCIENCE: (SC) 
SOCIAL MEDIA: (SO) 
SPORTS: (SP) 
TRAVEL: (TR) 
WRITING/STORYTELLING: (WR) 
ADULT CONTENT: (AC) 

I found this very helpful - there were a lot of participants (1500+) and I wanted to zero in on the lifestyle bloggers as that is my blog style and what I enjoy reading most.  I was able to make up a blog list and add to it as I discovered other styles that interested me - crafts, travel, and fashion mostly.  I knew right away that I would have no interest in gaming, adult content, or politics among other styles.  I have a limited amount of time to visit other blogs so I wanted to make the most of it.

This year, we were asked to post a link to our letter of the day post and then visit other bloggers by going through the comments to click on the links.  In a word, tedious.  In addition, many bloggers didn't indicate in any way the topic of their post.  I spent a lot of time clicking a link, and reading a paragraph only to find that I had no interest in reading any further.  What a waste of time and after a few days, I gave up.  I made a blog list of several blogs that I knew would be participating (through another meme where we discussed the upcoming A to Z Challenge) and I stuck with those.

I enjoyed coming up with twenty-six posts on a theme.  It's a great way to get your creativity flowing.  I'd love to participate again but it would only be if the list and the categories are used again.

I appreciate all the hard work that went into the development and the administration of the challenge.  It was fun in 2015 - I met some bloggers that I still follow today - but this year, I was disappointed.

Wednesday Hodgepodge - Volume 307


1.  Share a favorite memory of your mother or share a favorite something from your own life as a mother.  If you're a mother (or stepmom), tell us how your experience as a mom differs from your own mother's experience.

My Mum was a firm believer that a pot of tea would make just about anything better.  Whether I was happy or sad, had a good day or bad, or just because, she would always say "Hello, darling, let me put the kettle on."  Whenever I have a cup of tea, I think of my Mum and how much I miss her.

My experience as a mother doesn't differ that much from my own mother's experience - she was an Army wife, often raising her children (I have a younger sister) on her own as my father worked long hours, was on a mission, or deployed.  I am a Navy wife and have raised Sophia largely on my own as Vic works the same type of schedule.  I had a very happy childhood, Mum was always there when we came home from school and her life revolved around us and my life has pretty much followed the same pattern.

2.  In May we celebrate teachers (May 9) and nurses (May 6) both.  Most every family has at least one in their midst, so tell us something (of a few things) you appreciate about the teacher or nurse in your family tree.

I'm not sure we have any teachers in our immediate family tree although Vic has been an instructor twice at Navy schools.  He was a mentor to many young sailors, sailors who still remember him to this day (it's been 14 years since his first instructor duty and 7 years since the second one) when he runs into them at the various duty stations we have lived at since that time.  He's remembered fondly, as being dedicated to his field and always willing to share his experience to help others succeed.

My Dad's half-sister is a hospice nurse.  We are not particularly close but I know that she sees much sadness and heartbreak in her work and I cannot imagine how she handles it.  She's always been a bit gruff, perhaps that's the outer shield to protect herself from all of the emotions she must feel every day.

3.  Chicken salad, egg salad, tuna salad...which would you go for if all three were on the menu?  On bread or a bed of lettuce?  If you answered bread, what kind of bread would make it the perfect sandwich?

All of the above, not together of course, but on three separate sandwiches.  White bread, preferably English like Mother's Pride.

4.  Do you have a desk?  Is it organized?  If so, share your secret to keeping it that way.  If you don't have a desk, where in your home do you take care of family paperwork and business?  Where do you normally sit to blog?

I have a desk and it's where I take care of the family paperwork, business, and blog.  It's very organized - I file or shred papers as they come in, and it has lots of little containers for bits and pieces - tubs for pens, a set of egg cups on a tray for pins, paperclips, and clamps.  If my desk is not clear, I am not happy.

5.  When I was nine years old...

We lived in Mons, Belgium where my Dad was stationed with the U.S. Army at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe.  We lived on the third floor of an apartment building, across the hallway from a British Navy family, the Lees.  On the second floor was my best friend, Michelle Cross, and her father sold cuckoo clocks out of their garage.  I think he got into trouble, something to do with running a business from his garage or not paying the proper export fees.  I was in the second half of my third grade year, in Mrs. Stone's class and then I moved up to Mrs. Sunderland's fourth grade class.  We spent every weekend, April to October, at our caravan on the Belgian coast.

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

Last week, one of the Hodgepodge questions was about things we just didn't get.  When Vic and I went out to breakfast on Saturday, and I was looking through the menu, I found another one - chicken and waffles.  This concept I do not get at all.  Do you put syrup over the chicken and the waffles?  Where did this craze come from?  Have you ever tried it?  It certainly doesn't appeal to me.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Happy Homemaker Monday 5/8/2017


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:::

Slightly cooler temperatures this week - high 60s, very low 70s with a bit of rain - suits me just fine!


On my reading pile:::
Started Book 4 in the Song of Blessing series, From This Day Forward.  I don't know what I'm going to do when I finish it, it's the twenty-first book in the Blessing series.  At some point, I know I'll start the series all over again, it's that good.


On my TV:::

Call the Midwife
Victorian Slum House

On the menu for this week:::

Snack meals this week since I'm flying solo - there are a few leftovers in the fridge but apart from that, I think it will be sandwich night most evenings.

On my to-do list:::

  • Spouses' Group Board Meeting - yes, I finally caved to take a position next year - Charities Chairperson responsible for overseeing the distribution of the funds we raise at the gift shop
  • Volunteer shift at the gift shop
  • Picking Vic up from the airport
  • Tea room outing for Mother's Day

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
STILL working on ornaments for the Christmas in July ornament swap.  The photo album project for the MOPS reunion is complete but I'm holding off on ordering the books because I had such a disastrous experience with Shutterfly.  My order of 360 prints were cropped in the strangest ways, not at all the way they looked in My Shutterfuly when I placed the order.  I called to complain and the representative told me there was a second editing step for cropping that I needed to do, who knew?  She credited the cost of my entire order and arranged for expedited shipping for the reorder as soon as I went in to indicate where I wanted the photos cropped.  Once I get the reorder and if they are cropped properly, I will order the books.

Looking around the house:::

Vacuuming and laundry to do.

From the camera:::
See below - it's the only photo I've taken all week.

Something fun to share:::
We stopped at Barnes and Noble yesterday so Vic could pick up a couple of magazines for his trip and I bought this cute book.  I love Word Search books.  Perfect size to stash in my purse.



What I'm wearing today:::
Yoga pants, cream long-sleeved shirt, grey sandals.

Bible Verse, Devotional, Quote:::


Friday, May 5, 2017

Story Time Friday #1


Sandra from Diary of a Stay at Home Mom and I chatted briefly this morning about her new Friday feature, Story Time, and when she agreed to open it up as a meme, I was delighted.  I've mentioned before that my blog is a form of personal journal where I write about what's going on in our lives, things I enjoy, hopes, dreams, and the like, and the prospect of journaling my life story in 1000 posts (lol, just kidding) in a regular feature that may someday be turned into blog books was really appealing.  I find I am most creative when my fingers are flying across the keyboard so here goes.  Perhaps my grandchildren will enjoy reading the books, at least I'll know that after I'm gone, most of the answers to questions they may have can be found here.

Just a little backstory - my parents, Herb and Sylvia, met in Paris where my father was stationed with the U. S. Army and my mother worked as a British civil servant for Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI), most likely the British equivalent to the Exchange/Morale, Welfare and Recreation services that are available on military bases today.  My father said in his eulogy at my mother's funeral that she did not have much time for American servicemen.  Apparently, my maternal grandmother had housed some American GIs (GI = noun, a member or former member of the U. S. armed forces) in England during World War II and tended to give them the best of whatever was available, short-changing my mother in the process!  My father eventually overcame her dislike of American GIs because they were married in 1956.


1960 found my parents stationed in Germany.  They didn't have any children and were resigned to the fact that, for whatever reason, they were most likely not going to have any.  Infertility was just something that couples lived with in those days.  At sometime during their time in Germany, they befriended a German woman, Walli, who confided in them that she was pregnant and that she was not able to keep her baby.  She was unmarried and already had at least one other child (details are sketchy - another one of those times that I regret not asking more questions when my parents were still around to answer them).  Anyway, they were thrilled at the prospect of adopting Walli's baby.


I arrived earlier than expected, as evidenced by this lengthy receipt (42 items) from the Post Exchange of all of the essentials needed for a newborn for the princely sum of $36.90 dated on the day I was born!  How I would love to see the list of items.


When my parents left Germany and moved to Boston in 1961, I traveled on my German passport.  I became a United States citizen in 1962.  My German passport is still in my possession although it expired in 1966.  Two years ago, when I went to work for the federal government, I was asked to surrender it.  I was very much relieved that I didn't actually have to turn it in, I merely had to consent to have it voided which is evidenced by the hole punched in the top right-hand corner of each page.  I am so glad that I was able to hold on to this piece of my heritage.

2 weeks, 5 days old

More to come on the early years in Germany next week.  Please join us - the link is here.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge - Volume 306


1.  Can you tell I'm embracing a Cinco de Mayo theme here this week?  Do you like Mexican food?  What's your favorite dish?  How about on the side - black beans, pinto beans, refried beans, rice?  What about heat - mild, medium, hot?  Will you celebrate with Mexican food and drink on May 5th aka Cinco de Mayo?

I LOVE Mexican food.  I don't really have a favorite - I love enchiladas, tacos, taquitos, carne asada, and more!  I love Mexican rice on the side and throw in the black beans as well.  When it comes to heat, I'm a sissy so keep it mild.  No, we won't be celebrating this year because we're going out to dinner, not Mexican I'm afraid.

2.  Ever been to Mexico?  For work or holiday?  Love it or no?  If you haven't been, is this a place you'd like to visit?  Can you speak Spanish?

Never been, don't really think I care to.  I don't think I'd feel safe and there is so much poverty and so many people struggling; I know life is like that in many places in Mexico so going there to enjoy myself on vacation doesn't seem right.  Can I speak Spanish?  Maybe about three words - o, gracias, and, ok, maybe only two words!

3.  What's one thing you may accomplish this month?

I may get a job - the federal hiring freeze hasn't been lifted for the Department of Defense but I have one other application pending that's for another agency.  It takes SO long.

4.  If you were mayor of your village, city, or town, what's one thing you'd like to see changed, done away with, revamped, or accomplished?  Is serving in public office something you've ever seriously considered?

We have a long stretch of waterfront with big signs that say "Don't Feed the Feral Cats".  It breaks my heart to see the cats there so I would like to remove them as in find them homes.  I don't know how they got there or why there isn't a catch, spay, and neuter effort, too much money I suppose.  I guess even with that effort, more would probably appear.  No, I've never considered serving in public office, I hate public speaking.

5.  What's something that may be popular, but that you just don't get?

Social media, the multitude of forms.  I enjoy Facebook to keep in touch with family and friends who are far away and I suppose Twitter is a shortened version of Facebook although I've never used it.  The others - Instagram, Snapchat, Tinder, Google+ and the like - this article says there are 52 different ones, seriously who has time?  I suppose if you're a young professional, they are great networking tools but I'm not at that stage and honestly, quite thankful that all of these types of social media weren't around years ago.  Ugh, that makes me sound old and narrow-minded.

6.  Can't let this week slip by without mentioning Thursday May 4th is Star Wars Day.  As in 'May the 4th be with you' ahem.  Are you a fan of the Star Wars series?  Exactly how much of a fan are you?  On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being 'I've seen every film, own the action figures, might have dressed as Darth Vader for Halloween one year' and 1 being 'what's a Vader?' - where do you land?

I'm about a 3.  I go to the cinema to see the movies because Vic and/or Sophia want to.  It's not my choice, but I'm a team player.  As far as the action figures and costumes, no.

7.  Scroll back through your blog posts and in three sentences of less, tell us the general theme of your fourth blog post.  Does it still ring true today?  Is it a topic you re-visit on your blog from time to time?

My fourth blog post was way back in July 2011, Christmas in July Day 2.  I'm a Christmas-aholic and I have participated in Christmas in July almost every year since then in one form or another.  It's a great opportunity to try new crafts, explore new recipes, get organized, and plan ahead without all the hustle and bustle that December brings and it's fun to share share it all with like-minded Christmas lovers.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Never say never (see #4).  I just volunteered to take on the role of Charities Chairperson for my spouses' group.  Our gift shop profits go to benefit a number of charities and guess who'll be standing up in front of everyone next year, handing out the checks?  Moi.  I guess I have to say something, right?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #64


If Sophia and I had a year off to travel to all of the horse places and horse events in the world, this would be near the top of the list, the Badminton Horse Trials (full title Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials), held this year from May 3-7 at Badminton Park in Gloucestershire.


Badminton Horse Trials is the world's premier three-day event, one of just six four-star three-day events in the world.  Four-star is the highest level in the sport of eventing and is renowned as being one of the toughest and most prestigious events known to equestrianism.  A three-day event consists of the disciplines of dressage, cross-country, and showjumping, run on different days.

Read more at Badminton Horse Trials brought to you by Horse & Hound here.

On another note, and not related to horses at all since, in character, I'm sure he would have loathed them, today is the 71st birthday of David Suchet, better known as Hercule Poirot through 13 series and 70 episodes from 1989 to 2013.


Bon Anniversaire, M. Poirot

Happy Birthday


Happy 2nd Birthday to Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte of Cambridge.
Isn't she adorable?

Monday, May 1, 2017

Christmas in July is coming


For those of you who like to plan ahead, here are the 2017 themes for Christmas in July.  Please join us over at the Magical Holiday Home forums.

Week 1 (July 1-July 8): Christmas Characters (Santa, Snowman, Gingerbread People, Rudolph, Elves, Penguin) - how you decorate with them (inside and out), visits to any of the characters, other ideas

Week 2 (July 9-15): Wrapping (paper, boxes, tags, bows, unique ideas, how your organize your supplies, and since wrapping is all about the gifts, show us your gift closet and any updates to it through the month)

Week 3 (July 16-July 22): Nature/Rustic/Country (decorations, visits, etc.)

Week 4 (July 23-July 31): Wreaths and other Greenery

We have a daily thread through the month of July where you can share your activities or blog links if you are blogging about your Christmas in July.  We'd love to hear all about it.

Happy Homemaker Monday 5/1/2017


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:::

Summer is here - high 70s and low 80s all week.  Still resisting turning on the air conditioner!


On my reading pile:::
Still working on to A Harvest of Hope, Book 2 in the Song of Blessing series.

On my TV:::

Call the Midwife
Home Fires
Reign
Bomb Girls

On the menu for this week:::

Vic is home so it's a full week of meals here.
Monday - Oven-Roasted Salmon with Broccoli and New Potatoes
Tuesday - Grilled Shrimp Caesar Salad
Wednesday - BBQ Korean Ribs with Potato Salad
Thursday - Physical Therapy for me in the morning so I don't know what I'll feel like - Chicken Cobb Salad on standby as it's easy to put together
Friday - Grilled Steak, Baked Potatoes, Mushrooms
Saturday - Chicken Tikka Masala

On my to-do list:::

  • Haircut
  • Physical Therapy appointment followed by sale event at the gift shop to check out

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
Still working on ornaments for the Christmas in July ornament swap and finishing up the photo album project for our MOPS reunion.  I ordered prints from Shutterfly so my scrapbooking is on hold until they come in, hopefully mid-week.

Looking around the house:::

Tidy, unloaded the dishwasher while Vic was eating breakfast, one load of laundry to finish up.

From the camera:::

We had a wonderful time at the Tattoo on Saturday night - since this is the 100th anniversary of the United States' entry into World War I and the founding of Naval Station Norfolk, it was a double commemoration.

Something fun to share:::
My friend Lucie from What makes me happy shared a great You Tube site - we're gearing up for Christmas in July over at Magical Holiday Home and she found Bring it to life with Gail's Christmas in July craft a day series - so many great ideas!  I don't know if she'll be doing it again this year but if not, we have all of 2016's videos to watch.

What I'm wearing today:::
Denim capris, red T-shirt, white sandals.

Bible Verse, Devotional, Quote:::

Learning is not attained by chance; it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence - Abigail Smith Adams

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Z is for Zero Interest


Here we have it - the final A to Z challenge post.  I've made no secret that this year's challenge has been a real pain.  The last time I participated, bloggers signed up and listed their blog category by adding initials after their blog name - LI for lifestyle, AC for adult content, crafts (CR), fashion (FA), and travel (TR) among many other categories.  I loved being able to zoom in on blogs that were like my own - lifestyle, a smattering of crafts, fashion, and travel.  I knew from the beginning of the challenge that I had no interest in adult content, gaming, science fiction, and others.  Perhaps that might seem a bit narrow-minded but honestly, with only so many hours in the day, and (in 2015) 1508 bloggers signed up, there was no way I was going to get through them all.  I wanted to focus on bloggers who had the same interests as I do, and I'm happy to say that I met some bloggers that I still follow today.

Fast forward to 2017 and there is no sign up list, no categories.  Instead, every day each blogger goes to the A to Z site and posts a link in the comments to their blog post for the letter of the day.  Every day, there are between 150 and 250 comments and you have no idea of the blog category.  I gave up.  I found a few bloggers early on that shared my interests, several of them were followers of another meme and we had all talked about the challenge.  I made up a blog list and those were the blogs I read.  I did visit some of the bloggers who left comments on my posts but after finding several that I had no interest in whatsoever, I gave up on that too.

I hope that the A to Z admin revisit their policies and bring back the blog categories.  It's a fun challenge but this year, it was really quite a chore.

And that brings me to my final A to Z post and that falls right in with everything above - Zero Interest.  I have hesitated to participate in reading challenges because you are usually asked to read from a variety of genres and I just can't get through some of them.  I've had this problem since sixth grade when I had to read a Newberry Award-winning book and just struggled to get through every page.  I have zero interest in science fiction (although I see that Outlander is listed as time travel which is a sub-category of science fiction) but I think you know the kind of science fiction I mean, the really futuristic stuff, space, extra-terrestrials.  Not for me.  I'm firmly stuck in the genres that make reading such a pleasure and although I may dip my toe in others at times, I usually don't stay for long.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Y is for Yearbook


Another treasured item on my bookshelves is my high school yearbook from my seventh grade year in Belgium.  It's the only yearbook I own as we moved from Belgium to England for the remainder of my high school years and they don't have yearbooks (or at least they didn't have then).


This is the cover of Le Lion '73 - those are the Gilles of the Carnival of Binche which takes place on the Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday.
The centrepiece of the carnival's proceedings are clown-like performers known as Gilles. Appearing, for the most part, on Shrove Tuesday, the Gilles are characterised by their vibrant dress, wax masks and wooden footwear. They number up to 1,000 at any given time, range in age from 3 to 60 years old, and are customarily male. The honour of being a Gille at the carnival is something that is aspired to by local men. From dawn on the morning of the carnival's final day, Gilles appear in the centre of Binche, to dance to the sound of drums and ward off evil spirits with sticks. Later during the day, they don large hats adorned with ostrich plumes, which can cost more than $300 to rent, and march through the town with baskets of oranges. These oranges are thrown to, and sometimes at, members of the crowd gathered to view the procession. The vigour and longevity of the orange-throwing event has in past caused damage to property – some residents choose to seal windows to prevent this. The oranges are considered good luck because they are a gift from the Gilles and it is an insult to throw them back. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Friday, April 28, 2017

April Rudolph Day Recap


I realized today that I completely forgot to put up my April Rudolph Day recap.  To start with, I popped Deck the Halls into the DVD player.


The movie is a bit corny, but fun all the same.  

Then I tackled the April project:  Plan Holiday Crafts.  I'm not feeling too crafty these days but I do have one craft project that I'm working on - the ornaments for the Christmas in July Ornament Swap over at the Magical Holiday Home Forums.  I can't post a photo here since a couple of my swap partners might be reading but just imagine Christmas paper, popsicle sticks, glitter stars, a dowel, and some Modge Podge.  Photos will be up after the big reveal in July.  Apart from that, my Plan Holiday Crafts activity consisted of scrolling through all of the crafts I have pinned on Pinterest and deciding which ones I am going to order for my tree because I'll never be able to recreate them one tenth as good as the originals.  I did see a lot of Scrabble tile art that I think I might be able to manage - if I was a garage sale fan, I'd look for old games just for the tiles but since I'm not, and I'm sure you can buy a bag of tiles at a craft store, I'll do that.


This is a cute one and Amanda from Crafts by Amanda has graciously given us the instructions.  I'll think I'll pass this one on to Sophia as well - do you think kindergartners could manage this?

I did some updating in my Christmas planner as well - I have a whole blog post in the works about  my Christmas planner but the planner is not quite photo-ready yet.  Hopefully soon.  I will share my clips from Cherry Blossom in the Market Square Etsy shop - Kayleigh does the most beautiful work.  Here's my collection so far:


The elf marks Elf on the Shelf planner section, initial stockings for family member gift lists, tree for décor lists, and Santa's Helper for other lists - I'll be looking for some new Christmas clips for a couple of other sections.

Also on the April to-list, updating the holiday letter - not so much for me but plenty of travel for Vic - keeping up with the gift closet (one item in there so far), and looking for frugal finds in the Easter Clearance (does 50% off Easter eggs at the British food store count?).

I also spent a good part of the day going through the Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments Dream Book.  I've narrowed down my selection (from give me one of everything to a little more budget-friendly choice!) and I've decided to wait until they come to the Marine Corps Exchange.  The Navy Exchange is an American Greetings store but the Marines are fully behind Hallmark.  That means discounted prices and no sales tax - win, win.  I'll still go to the ornament premiere at my local Hallmark store but I'll be window shopping only.  Here are the key dates if you haven't received your Dream Book yet:

July 15-23 Ornament Premiere Event
October 7-15 Ornament Debut Event
November 3-10 Holiday Open House Event
December 1-2 Gift of Memories Weekend Event

How was your April Rudolph Day?

X is for X-tra Special


My Dad retired from the Army in 1973 while we were stationed at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe  (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium.  He worked for the Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations, a German general with a staff from Germany, the United States, United Kingdom, and Turkey.  As a retirement gift, my Dad received this book, Great Military Battles, signed by everyone in the department.



I love books that are inscribed - it's lovely to go back and read through notes left to mark special occasions.  Do you have any X-tra Special books like this on your bookshelves?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

W is for Laura Ingalls Wilder


I love my collection of Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder with illustrations by Garth Williams.



While doing some research for this post, I found this site, Little House, full of great resources.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

V is for Village Life


If I had an unlimited supply of time and money, I'd take this next book and travel from village to village.


The British Automobile Association (AA) has some wonderful publications - published in 1980, AA's Book of British Villages is only available now from third-party sellers but if you can find a copy, it's a wonderful guide to 700 of the most interesting and attractive villages in Britain.

It has my old favorite:


As well as a village that's been featured in my Tuesday feature, If this is Tuesday, it must be England (or, in this case, Scotland):


AA's Book of British Villages is among my treasured possessions - Reader's Digest really offered some great books and they continue to have great titles available.

Wednesday Hodgepodge - Volume 305

1.  April showers bring May flowers or so the saying goes.  Has your April been filled with showers?  Do you carry an umbrella, wear a slicker, or make a run for it?  Besides rain, what else has filled your April?

We've had a few showers here in Virginia but where I really want to be - the Seattle area of the Pacific Northwest - there has been record rainfall - 44.67 inches since October 1st.  Wettest October to April on record.  That's my kind of weather!  A slicker is the signature item of clothing for any Pacific Northwesterner - often too windy for an umbrella, a rain jacket with a hood is a must.

2.  What's something you could give a 30-minute presentation on at a moment's notice and with zero preparation?

Christmas planning, Henry VIII and his six wives, the goings-on in the fictional county of Midsomer.

3.  Share with us a favorite food memory from childhood.

HP sauce (the British version of an A1-type sauce) and French bread.  My parents, British aunt, and younger sister (she was 5, I was 11) went from our caravan on the beach (where we spent every weekend on the Belgian coast April through October) into town to pick up some French bread and supplies from the British food store.  Bread and supplies in hand, and after walking what seemed like miles, it started to rain so we decided to duck into a theater and take in a movie while we relaxed and waited for the rain to pass.  The movie was the animated Jungle Book.  We were enjoying the movie but getting a little hungry, so my Mum tore off chunks of French bread and splashed a little HP sauce onto the chunks - delicious!  The movie played on and the sound was soon joined by gentle snores coming from the adults in our group - out of the rain, warm, relaxed, and tummies full, they had all nodded off!  My sister and I continued to enjoy the movie; when it ended and the lights came on, the three adults, covered in French bread crumbs, laughed out loud at their crazy antics.  I cannot look at French bread or HP sauce, or see anything to do with the Jungle Book, without thinking about this day!

4.  What's a song you thought you knew the lyrics to, but later discovered you were wrong?

I modified the first line of Brahm's Lullaby and Goodnight when we sang it to Sophia when she was a baby.  Instead of "Lullaby and goodnight, with roses bedight", we sang "Lullaby and goodnight, now the baby is sleepy".  For some reason, whenever Sophia sang it when she was a bit older, she always sang "Lullaby and goodnight, shorts the baby is sleepy".  We have no idea where the "shorts" part came from!

5.  According to one travel website, the most overrated tourists attractions in America are - Niagara Falls (NY), Hollywood Walk of Fame (California), Times Square (NYC), Epcot (FL), Seattle Space Needle (WA), and Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market (Boston).  How many of these have you seen in person?  Did you feel like a tourist?  Did you care?  Tell us about a place (not on the list) you've visited that might be considered a tourist trap, but you love it anyway.

I've visited all but the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  Yes, I suppose I felt like a tourist; you're surrounded by crowds, all speaking different languages, all trying to get the best camera angle, all wading through pages of brochures, maps, and guidebooks.  No, I didn't care - I don't think you could really experience these sites without the masses.  Granted, less masses are always a good thing but part of the experience is seeing how others react to it.

I've heard that Pier 39 in San Francisco is considered a tourist trap but we've always had a lot of fun there.

6.  Your signature clothing item?

This long-sleeves, lightweight top from Chadwick's of Boston.  It's so comfortable and goes with anything - I have it in five different colors.


7.  What's an experience you've had you think everyone should experience at least once?  Why?

Really taking a leap of faith - I put my household goods into storage, packed up the rest of my life into four suitcases, and jetted off from California to Guam to take a job with Guam Cable TV.  I knew no-one (other than the head of the company who interviewed me in San Francisco three weeks earlier) and had never traveled to that part of the world.  It was an interesting experience but what I got from it was amazing.  I came back to the States four years later, a Navy wife and mother of a toddler.  It was the beginning of a great adventure, one that is still going strong.  You never know what you're going to end up with when you just step out there and do something out of your comfort zone.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I am still having problems with the comments I leave on other bloggers' post going through to their email.  I get email notifications when any of you leave a comment for me but as soon as I leave a comment on most blogs (oddily, there are a few that get through), I immediately get an error message saying that my message could not be delivered.  It's got something to do with DMARC and a domain owner policy restriction.  I am still trying to get this resolved.  So, bottom line, I will be visiting your Hodgepodges, but you probably won't know it unless you look at the comments under your post.  I am so frustrated!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #63


I'm wrapping up my British telly series of posts with two more favorite shows. As Time Goes By and Midsomer Murders.


Once upon a time, a dashing young British Army officer and a lovely student nurse fell deeply, magically in love.  Then he was shipped off to Korea and they never heard from one another.  Forty years later, fate brings them together again...with hilarious results.  Judi Dench is marvellous as Jean Pargetter, Geoffrey Palmer the crusty Lionel Hardcastle, and they are joined by Jean's daughter Judith, her friend Sandy, and Lionel's publisher Alistair.  A great cast, terrific show.


The county of Midsomer is a dangerous place to live.  There may be garden shows, fêtes, amateur dramatic societies, book clubs, cricket matches, church bazaars, and ladies who lunch, but there are also some absolute scoundrels.  Initially led by DCI Tom Barnaby (John Nettles, left above) and then his cousin, DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon, right) plus a parade of dishy Sergeants, there's never a dull moment in Midsomer.

U is for Under the Tuscan Sun


A great book and a wonderful movie.