Tuesday, January 31, 2017

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #52

I couldn't resist sharing this when it popped into my Facebook feed this morning - imagine owning the home "where the wonderful stories of Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh came to life".  Yes, for a mere $2.3+ million, the country home of author A. A. Milne could be yours!
Cotchford Farm sits in the Ashdown Forest, in an area generally referred to as 'Pooh Country'. Places in the books including Hundred Acre Wood, Galleon's Lap, Poohsticks Bridge and Pooh Corner are all based on local sites.
How cool would it be to explore 'Pooh Country'?  Check out all the house details at Country Living here.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Happy Homemaker Monday 1/30/2017

The weather:::
Our crazy temperatures continue - 59 degrees on Wednesday, 39 on Friday.  Is spring coming or are we slipping further into winter?

On my reading pile:::
Still working my way through No Distance Too Far by Lauraine Snelling (Home to Blessing Book 2) but I think I'm going to go back to Book 1.  I'm just not following the ins and outs of who's who and where they are in the story.  I think it's been too long since I read Book 1.  I also ordered Dear Bob and Sue from Amazon - just flipped through the first few pages and it's hilarious.  I know I'm going to enjoy this one.

On my TV:::
Mercy Street, Victoria, and the Great British Baking Show (Seasons 1 through 3).  Didn't even get House of Eliott started - will save that for Vic's next trip.

On the menu for this week:::
Monday - Chicken Korma (adapted from this Lamb Korma recipe)
Tuesday - One-Pan Herb-Crusted Roasted Salmon with Roasted Carrots
Wednesday - Beef and Broccoli
Thursday - Nigella's One-Pan Sage-and-Onion Chicken and Sausage, Brussels Sprouts
Friday - Sunday School Class Social so it will be potluck there
Saturday - Steak, Baked Potatoes, Sauteed Mushrooms
Sunday - Korean-Style Short Ribs

On my to-do list:::
  • Clean the office - Vic came home a day early last week so I didn't finish up - also discovered that we have more documents than two drawers will hold so I'm removing all of the appliance warranty and manual files and converting them into a three-ring binder system.
What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
Still have the Ornament Swap idea on the back burner - need to make templates and start cutting out the pieces.

Looking around the house:::
Empty the dishwasher, a couple of loads of laundry, vacuum.  I've been really good about picking up the clutter before we go to bed so it looks tidy.

From the camera:::
A pretty disappointing afternoon tea on Saturday.  I bought a Groupon for a new dessert cafe that had zero afternoon tea ambiance.  No tablecloths, paper napkins (the brown industrial-type you get from a paper towel dispenser), and food that was meh at best.  Cucumber slices on the sandwich were far too thick as was the pastry on the quiche and the other sandwiches were served on those small dinner rolls that you buy at the grocery store.  No jam or cream for the scones (they had icing on them so I guess they felt jam and cream were not necessary); the other sweet items were just mini versions of what was offered at the cafe.  It was ok for the Groupon price but full price would have been ridiculous.  We won't go back there.

Something fun to share:::
Tea Time Magazine - I absolutely love it!  The recipes, the table settings, gorgeous.  I love that china on the cover, it's called Love Story by Mikasa.

What I'm wearing today:::
Black pants, white long-sleeved shirt, my Grand Canyon scarf, and a grey cardigan.  I'm off shortly to run some errands..

Bible Verse, Devotional:::
The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)

Friday, January 27, 2017

5 on Friday

Click on the button to join in

Travelling Thursday will be back next week - I was busy travelling to the airport to pick up Vic from his business trip (Mobile, Alabama Check mark symbol on his Places I've Visited list) so I didn't get a chance to add another update to Rollin' on the River 2017.  Here we are - the end of the week already and that means it's time for 5 on Friday.

Have you heard of the Day Zero Project?  It's a great way to make a bucket list and check off the items as you complete them.  I started mine in 2010 - 101 Things in 1001 Days.  Sad to say, but I only completed 15 of the 101 things between 2010-2013.  I need to go back and make another, shall we say more realistic, list.  Check it out here.  I really like the Top 101 under the Explore tab - the most popular item right now is Donate Blood.  I know that's not on your list, Caroline!

Since last week's post went up before the Inauguration events began, can I just put this here - no matter what your politics or feelings may be about the current administration, our new First Lady looked stunning.

Is there anything worse than arriving at your destination before your luggage?  Vic flew out on Sunday on his first inspection tour - safe to say that he was a bit apprehensive about the whole event - and when the carousel was empty and he was left suitcase-less, that certainly didn't help.  He filed a report and I have to say that American Airlines was very good about keeping us updated by email about the status of the lost luggage case.  The suitcase was located and delivered to his hotel (albeit at close to 1:00am - no going back to sleep after that little interruption) and fortunately, he planned ahead and took a spare set of everything he would need on the first day...just in case.

I think there should be a compensatory fee when the airlines misplace or misroute your luggage.  After all, most charge around $25 for a checked bag, right?  I think I'd be a little more agreeable if the airline representative handed me my found luggage and a $25 check or voucher, wouldn't you?

Twenty years ago, I was introduced to MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers).  I made some amazing friendships with women whose lives revolved around their children and their active duty military spouse.

MOPS is a grassroots movement that believes moms are world influencers…
We believe that incubating hearts and giving just-because-hugs can change the course of history. That’s why we connect moms all over the world to a community of women, in their own neighborhoods, who meet together to laugh, cry and embrace the journey of motherhood. MOPS groups are rallying women to be more honest, to feel more equipped and to find our identity by journeying alongside one another.
MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers, and by preschoolers we mean kiddos from birth through kindergarten. We know it’s a little confusing so let’s just stick with “MOPS.”
We are moms, and we believe that better moms make a better world.
From http://www.mops.org/

Twenty years later, nine of the women will gather at a lakefront cabin to celebrate our friendship and the years that have gone by.  Things have changed - our preschoolers are in college, college graduates, parents, active duty military members.  I am the only one left who is still an active duty military spouse, the others have seen their spouses retire from the military, or leave for a career in the civilian world, or just leave altogether and be replaced by a new spouse.  We've traveled across the country and across the world, yet the bonds of friendship are still as strong now as they were then.  I can't wait for the Sisterchicks Reunion!

Sisterchicks, by the way, is the name of a series of books by Robin Jones Gunn, amazing stories of friendships between women.  That's what we're calling ourselves - the Sisterchicks.

How happy I was to find three seasons of the Great British Bake Off available with my PBS Passport subscription!  I've been enjoying the Masterclasses but three whole seasons, I'm in viewing heaven.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

January Rudolph Day Recap

January - Tie Up Loose Ends (gather ideas and organize your Christmas notebook)

I definitely had loose ends to tie up.  As I went around the house, this is what I found.

Top row:  Gingerbread House Kit that Vic and I were going to make - since we don't plan to eat it, I'll save it for next year - and December flags still hanging on the racks
Bottom row:  The tins that hold ornament hooks,spare bulbs, and other bits and pieces and the basket of Christmas cards waiting to be put into an album
I didn't miss them in the Great Christmas Pack-Up, I just left them where they were for one reason or another or no reason at all.  Maybe I knew Tie Up Loose Ends was coming and wanted to save something to do!  Anyway, all of the items are now secured in the Christmas Room and tackling that will be my January Rudolph Day ongoing project.  I need to reorganize some totes - I seemed to have collected a variety of totes in different sizes and shapes and colors and I'd really like to streamline things so that Christmas goes in one size/shape/color, kitchen in another size/shape/color, etc.  It will certainly make moving and storing and finding things a whole lot easier.

I also figured out the perfect storage for my round table centerpiece - one of the decorative boxes that was just sitting empty on a shelf.

The January Rudolph Day Movie over at the Magical Holiday Home Forums was The Christmas Card which I love.  I could watch it over and over again.

It's on Netflix if you're a subscriber or here at Amazon if you'd like a copy for your library ($5.00 if you have Amazon Prime - what a deal).

I chose a Christmas CD to play all day and in the car when I went out.  This month's pick was Josh Groban's Noel.

Christmas reading for today and the month was Delicious magazine (appearing in Barnes and Noble after Christmas for some strange reason) and its supplement, Showstopper Puddings, and my new book, It Happened in Scotland by Patience Griffin.  Here's a teaser:

Christmas in the sleepy Scottish fishing village of Gandiegow this year is a time for quilting, patching up broken hearts, and rekindling an old flame....

As for my planner, there will be a slight delay on that post.  Vic called to say he's coming home a day early - yay!  Must have been a good inspection tour so I'm sure he's pleased all around.  Several things I had planned for Thursday have to be shuffled around so I'll be back with a planner update in a few days.

Hope you had a great January Rudolph Day!

Weigh In Wednesday 1/25/2017

Joining Rachel over at Living Better One Day at a Time - click on photo above
Good morning everyone and how was your week?  Today is Day 30 of the Whole 30 so tomorrow I'll be hopping on the scales and have all the details for you next week.  It's been a good week, a busy week and I hit my FitBit goal (5000 steps, I'm starting slowly) three days so far.  I'm on Day 14 of tracking water - 64 ounces each day.  It's so hard at times as I am not a water drinker.  Sometimes I'll get to noon and realize I haven't had any water (in its pure form, but I've certainly had enough of it in coffee!).  I have a 32-ounce water bottle so I only have to fill it up twice and I find myself chugging water so that I'm not drinking it in the late evening.  Y'all know what that means, up all night with endless trips to the bathroom!

Anyway, since I last checked in, we tried One-Pan Herb-Crusted Roasted Salmon which was delicious on Wednesday, Chicken Adobo (made with coconut aminos instead of soy sauce) that I made for Vic's lunches but we ended up eating for a quick dinner on Thursday night, and we grilled a flank steak on Friday that ended up being leftovers on Saturday.  Vic headed out on a business trip on Sunday so I made a giant pot of chili and I'm working my way through that while he's gone.  CrockPot and leftovers, very easy for one-person dinners.

I was challenged by a ladies lunch yesterday but I triumphed.  While the people sitting around me munched through the most amazing looking and smelling seafood quesadilla and parmesan fries and a prime rib sandwich on focaccia, I peeled some jumbo steamed shrimp and ate the veggies that were steamed with it.  I also drank four huge glasses of water. 

Hope you all had a good week, don't beat yourselves up if it was one of those UGH weeks, just get back on track and continue on your way.

January Rudolph Day

Happy January Rudolph Day Christmas-lovers and planners.  Check out this post for all the details and let me know how you spent your Rudolph Day.

Wednesday Hodgepodge - Volume 294

It's been a while since I've joined the Wednesday Hodgepodge.  Click on the link above if you want to join in.

1.  "The cure for anything is salt water-tears, sweat, or the sea." (Isak Dinesan)  Would you agree?  Of the three, which has 'cured' you most recently?

Sounds good to me.  Most recently, I'd say a good bout of salt water tears.  I did not want to leave Washington, not one bit.  I'm adjusting to the East Coast but grudgingly.  I'll get over it, but a good cry really helped.

2.  What's something you can't eat without salt?  Do you normally salt your food a lot, a little, or not at all?

Hard-boiled eggs and tomatoes.  I don't really care for eggs but I can palate a hard-boiled one with salt, ditto for tomatoes.  For the rest of my food, I'd say I salt a little.

3.  Sands of time, bury your head in the sand, built on sand, or draw a line in the sand...which sandy phrase could best be applied to something in your life right now?

As a military wife and at this stage of my husband's career, I really feel like our lives are built on sand.  How long are we going to be here?  Where are we going next?  How long will we be there?  Where will we go after that?  Are we ever going to get our forever home?  Honestly, the way things change, shifting sands would be a better sandy phrase!

4.  A favorite book, movie, or song with an island setting or theme?

The movie Blue Hawaii, an Elvis oldie but goodie.

5.  Yesterday-did you run your day or did it run you?  How so?

I ran it and I triumphed.  My first full day alone in almost two months.  I had an agenda and I ticked off the boxes one by one.  I feel so accomplished, even though I probably fueled the whole day on coffee!

6.  You're on an island holiday.  Will I most likely find you parked in a beach chair, shopping in town, on the back of a jet ski, or snorkeling off the back of a catamaran?

Shopping in town, without a doubt.  A close second would be parked in a beach chair,  but only if it was by the side of a sparking pool at a luxury resort.  Waiter, another cocktail, please!

7.  What do you think we humans most take for granted?

How can we take anything for granted these days?  I wrote a long paragraph that was just so depressing that I deleted it so I'll just say this - don't take anything for granted - job stability and a comfortable retirement, your health, your children's education, our environment - make a plan and a backup plan, live within your means, cherish your family above all else, and do your part to make our world a better place for future generations.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I went on an outing with my spouses' group to our local correction facility.  A field trip to the jail, you say?  How bizarre!  Yes, it was a little but it was also an eye-opening experience to see what law enforcement deals with on a daily basis.  So many young people incarcerated, their lives forever marked by a jail term, perhaps only for a relatively minor infraction.  What were their lives like to lead them down a path of crime?  No role models, perhaps?  Abuse of some sort, domestic or drugs or alcohol?  Mental illness?  We take for granted that we live in a free society, but abuse of that freedom has terrible consequences.  It was a very sad experience, one that will be with me for some time.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #51

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

3-7 May

10-14 May

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

17 June

19 June

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

28 June - 2 July

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

2 September

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

Monday, January 23, 2017

Happy Homemaker Monday 1/23/2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something fun to share:::

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

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

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

Saturday, January 21, 2017

January Rudolph Day is coming

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

What's Rudolph Day? Here is the definition according to Organized Christmas:
A few years ago, members of our Christmas community began to observe "Rudolph Day" on the 25th of each month.
On that day, we take a few moments to plan some simple tasks for the month ahead, in order to get ready for Christmas Day with plenty of time to spare. By starting early--and working a bit at a time on each month's Rudolph Day--it's easy to prepare for Christmas, save money on gifts, and cut holiday stress.
Here's the annual line-up with the sub-theme in parentheses:

January - Tie Up Loose Ends (gather ideas and organize your Christmas notebook)
February - Begin a Holiday Letter
March - Birthday Gift-Buying Strategy (party planning for the holiday season)
April - Plan Holiday Crafts 
May - Catalog Shopping Tips
June - Recipe Round Up
July - Choose a Holiday Plan (Christmas in July celebration)
August - Craft Control (thinking ahead to Elf on the Shelf)
September - Prepare for Holiday Gifts and Giving
October - Plan Holiday Meals
November - Write Holiday Letter

The bottom line is...prepare for Christmas by doing something every month and make the 25th of each month a Rudolph Day by doing something Christmasy!

This is the year I plan for Rudolph Day each month - I have a planner, there's no excuse not to get organized!

Check back on the evening of January 25th to see how I celebrated Rudolph Day.

Friday, January 20, 2017

5 on Friday

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Travelling on Thursday - Vic's Birthday Edition - Accommodations

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where are my suitcases?  I want to go NOW!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Weigh In Wednesday 1/18/2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #50

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

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

Here are a few of our family favorites:

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