Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas.
Looking forward to blogging again regularly in 2017!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Monday's Musings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Life Last Week #28

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

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

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

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

Have a great week!

Monday, August 15, 2016


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

What a thrilling moment to see this:

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

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Christmas in July - Day Thirty-One

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

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

Bloggy Mom at My Mom Calling

Game of Thrones fans will appreciate this!

Christmas in July - Day Thirty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. Easiest person to buy for? Sophia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 29, 2016

Christmas in July - Day Twenty-Nine

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

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

Catherine (Kate) Agnes Grana

Christmas in July - Day Twenty-Eight

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Christmas in July - Day Twenty-Seven

Christmas books are up next in the Holiday Fun/Entertainment category.  I don't actually have a list (can you believe that? organized me without a book list?  must remedy that this year) so I'll post this photo and tell you about a few of them.

Sophia and I did a Christmas unit study one December when we were homeschooling.  We watched Christmas movies (from various eras - history and film studies), made treats and crafts (home economics with a little math thrown in ), learned about holiday traditions in other countries (geography), and read some of the books shown here (literature).

From the top:
Christmas Joy by Susan Branch - a beautifully illustrated little gem of a book, such a delight to read together

Christmas Stories - From, a great synopsis:  The most extensive and distinguished collectible library of the world’s greatest works—Christmas Stories is a treasury of short fiction by great writers of the past two centuries—from Dickens and Tolstoy to John Updike and Alice Munro. As a literary subject, Christmas has inspired everything from intimate domestic dramas to fanciful flights of the imagination, and the full range of its expression is represented in this wonderfully engaging anthology.

A Little House Christmas Treasury - What's not to love from Laura Ingalls Wilder?

Christmas Treasury - Another firm favorite, Louisa May Alcott.

Chicken Soup for the Soul:  Christmas Treasury for Kids - A gift to Sophia from one of her pet-sitting clients, a lovely collection of stories.

The Polar Express - a firm favorite, even better read while you're taking a train ride.

The 25 Days of Christmas by Rebecca Hayford Bauer and The ADVENTure of Christmas by Lisa Whelchel - both great countdown books full of activities.

Five favorites for storytime - Christmas Day in the Morning, The Nutcracker, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, A Christmas Carol, and The Gift of the Magi.

What's on your Christmas reading list? 

Wednesday Hodgepodge - Volume 275

1.  On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your summer so far?  Why?

One day it's a 10, the next it's a's the cycle of deployment.  Some days I am invincible, I can do it all and other days, I miss Vic so much I can hardly bear it.  The new job is exciting and challenging and exhausting.  MudLynn is so happy to see me when I walk in the door, and I to see her, but then I remember that we have to go for a walk and I feel like if I take one more step, I will collapse.  Truly, my summer has been like this:

2.  July 26th is National Aunts and Uncles Day.  Did you have many aunts and uncles growing up?  Were you especially close to any one or maybe all of them?  Are you an aunt?  Share a favorite memory relating to one of your own aunts or uncles or relating to a niece or nephew who call you Aunt.

I had one aunt and one uncle on my Mum's side.  My aunt lived in England and I saw her off and on over a six year period (when we lived in Belgium, she would come over a couple of times a year for a visit) and then more regularly during the five years we lived in England.  My uncle I saw less frequently as he lived in California but he made occasional visits to England and then later to our house in California.  Sadly, they are both gone.

My father had two brothers and two sisters, as well as a half-sister and half-brother.  Sadly, there was a rift between my Mum and my Dad's siblings and I didn't really get to know them until I was an adult with a child of my own and reached out to them one Christmas.  I was thrilled to be in contact with them again and although our travels as a Navy family often kept us away from them, we keep in contact as much as possible and now more than ever with Facebook.  Of the six siblings, only my Aunts Mary and Carol are still with us.  My Aunt Mary is the matriarch of the family and the keeper of the family genealogy.  She is in her 80s and still going strong.

I have two nephews ages 12 and 13 now.  They live about six hours away and are constantly busy.  My sister and brother-in-law have busy careers and the boys are very into sports so visiting in not always practical.  We have, however, spent a few Christmases together in the last ten years and hope to spend more now that we are all on the West Coast.  My favorite memory has to come from Christmas 2009 when they were 5 and 6 and very inquisitive about the packages under the tree.  They were down on their stomachs, sorting through the boxes and being pretty rough about it as young boys can be.  It wasn't too long before one of them made a wrong move and the whole tree tipped over.  I suppose it could have been a nasty accident, with them trapped underneath but the tree fell away from them, leaving them fully exposed to all for their dastardly deed and they immediately began a chorus of "I'm sorry" while we tried so hard (and failed) not to burst out laughing.  I wish I had had a camera!
Their decorating attempt (before the whole thing came crashing down) was hilarious!  The ornaments only went up as far as they were tall!
4.  When were you last astonished by something?  Explain.

A few weeks ago, I was named Employee of the Quarter for my department.  I was thrilled and expected a gift certificate to spend at the company store (logo items like jackets and bags) but was astonished to find a significant monetary award.  It was quite a moment.

5.  Surf board, paddle board, ironing board, Pinterest board, score board, clip board, bulletin board...which board have your most recently encountered?

The only board in my life lately is the Pinterest board, researching Christmas in July.

6.  What's your favorite story from scripture?  Why that story?

The Christmas story - I've always loved to hear it on Christmas Eve.   We've been to a variety of real-life and theatrical reenactments and it's always so awe-inspiring.

7.  If you were to travel from the east coast to the west coast in your own country, which five cities would you most want to see?

Nashville, San Antonio, St. Louis, Sante Fe, and Denver, 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I haven't had a chance to read all the responses to the Pokemon Go question from last week's Hodgepodge but the ones that I read were hilarious and I really needed a good laugh at times last week.

UPDATE:  I can count honestly!  1, 2, 4, 5, oops!

3.  What is your favorite food dipped in chocolate?  What is your favorite food dipped in cheese?

Anything dipped in chocolate becomes an instant favorite!  Top of the list is probably pretzels - love the sweet and salty combination.  Cheese?  Pieces of crusty baguette, hands down.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Christmas in July - Day Twenty-Six

There are two trains of thought regarding Christmas in July - one is that it ends on the 25th - that would make it truly Christmas in July - and the other is that the celebration goes all month.  I'm in the latter category only because I didn't prepare ahead for it to end on the 25th and I still have things to post!

I'm going to start off by saying that it was truly Christmas in July on Monday, the 25th because this was waiting for me when I got home:

My friend Jodie put together a beautiful Christmas in July package for me!  Downton Abbey tea, a knitted Christmas Pudding ornament, and a mystery box
The mystery box revealed this beautiful commemorative mug for Queen Elizabeth II's 90th birthday and it was from Emma Bridgewater - how she knew that Emma Bridgewater is a favorite of mine, I have no idea!
Look at the beautiful handiwork in the holly leaves and berries - this is the Year of the Christmas Pudding - all of my new planner accessories are in this theme
This lovely card was in the package too - I love lanterns, they bring back wonderful memories of our family Christmas in Kettlewell
I was so touched by the gifts - how I wish we did not live so far apart.

Then I saw this on the Magical Holiday Home Facebook page and thought how very true it is.  For those of you who I have yet to meet in person, it's been wonderful to share posts and comments on our blogs, in the forums, and on the Facebook page.  May we share many, many more Christmases together.

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #48 - the Christmas in July edition

Along with that delicious Christmas cake that you all no doubt have sitting in the pantry waiting for it's brandy soaking, here is Nigella's Ultimate Christmas Pudding.  There's something about Christmas that calls out for one of Nigella's recipes and this must be the most over the top.  Note:  There is a comment that butter was substituted for the suet if you can't find suet.

Nigella's Ultimate Christmas Pudding
Photo by Lis Parsons

Monday, July 25, 2016

Christmas in July - Day Twenty-Five

I thought I'd expand a little bit on the meme I posted yesterday.  Let's start with Christmas movies - here's my collection:

The Santa Clause
The Santa Clause 2
The Santa Clause 3
12 Men of Christmas
White Christmas
Four Christmases
The Holiday
Love Actually
The Christmas Card
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Hercule Poirot's Christmas
BBC Holiday Comedy & Drama  Gift Set
Are You Being Served? Christmas
Christmas with the Kranks
Christmas Vacation
The 12 Dogs of Christmas
The Nativity Story
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Jim Carrey)
Deck the Halls
Trading Christmas
Home Alone
Home Alone 2 Lost in New York
Home Alone 3
Home Alone Taking Back the House
Love the Coopers
Holiday Inn

Can you believe I do not have Miracle on 34th Street or It's a Wonderful Life?  Definitely remedying that this year!

Life Last Week #2016-27

Another busy week, another week closer to homecoming.  Work zipped along at its usual pace until Friday when my boss was off.  Finally, a chance to get a few things tidied up.  My predecessor seems to have had an obsession about keeping the office overly supplied - I think I counted 24 packages of batteries x 4 batteries in each package = that's a LOT of batteries.  I hauled quite a bit of stuff back to the stockroom, keeping enough of a supply on hand if anyone needs anything.  I was able to drop several pounds into the recycling bin - many sheets of outdated letterhead and folders with old logos.  I am quite pleased with the outcome - much less cluttered which is my style.

I stood my ground and said no to running for a new office with the Navy Wives (actually, not a new office as they would like me to continue as Recording Secretary for another year).  Taking office comes with a commitment to attend the board meetings and the regular meetings, as well as being available to take minutes for another dozen events we have each year, and I just can't commit to that at this point.  For the next few months, while Vic is still here, I need to be free to be with him and once he heads to Virginia, I want my weekends free in case he can fly home or I fly there.

Haircut on Friday, manicure/pedicure on Saturday, and a planning event at the local craft store with three girlfriends - fun, fun!  The only downside to the whole week was that I forgot to raise the venetian blind in the living room when I left for work on Friday and MudLynn (she who must be able to see outside) pretty much shredded the bottom half of it in her attempt to look out the window.  She will now have a completely unobstructed view and I'll have to draw the curtains every night until Vic gets home and can put up a new one.

And how could I forget this little gem from last week - Happy 3rd Birthday Prince George, isn't he adorable?

How was your week?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Christmas in July - Day Twenty-Four

Welcome to Week Four - Holiday Fun/Entertainment.  I'm going to turn this week's list into a meme - please feel free to cut and paste the categories and share your own answers.

Week Four (July 24-31)
Christmas movies, music, theater, books, church and school events, special activities and events in your area, games, holiday books, Christmas travel, Christmas markets, parties and party themes, Advent calendars, Elf on the Shelf, Christmas countdowns.

Leave me a comment so I can be sure to check yours out.

Christmas Movies
We have a huge collection and my favorites are The Holiday, Love Actually, White Christmas, and the 12 Men of Christmas.

Christmas Music
I love Target's selection of Christmas CDs - they have everything from traditional carols, to versions sung by current entertainers, to kids' versions.  I usually pick up a new one each year.  'Tis the Season - Celtic Christmas is a recent one.

Christmas Theater
I love to find a Christmas show for the whole family - this year that will mean a trip across the water to Seattle and it may just be Vic and I depending on Sophia's schedule.  Our favorite Christmas theater outing was to Boston to see White Christmas at the Wang Theater - it was amazing.  It is so sad that ticket prices are astronomical - it is often beyond the reach of most families.

Christmas Books
Debbie Macomber is from my local area and she brings out a Christmas book each year - for the last two years, she has done a book-signing at the Navy Exchange and I hope it's on her schedule for this year.  I also love Robin Jones Gunn's two Christmas books, Finding Father Christmas and Engaging Father Christmas, (and I see she has a new one out, Kissing Father Christmas, available for pre-order) and Maeve Binchy's This Year it will be Different.

Church and School Events
No more school events for us but we used to love to attend the annual Christmas play or concert put on at Sophia's school.  Christmas Eve at church is always a lovely service.

Special Activities and Events in Your Area
Craft fairs!  I can't wait for the craft fair season.  The local newspaper is always a good source of information for your local area.  Jan Brett came to our area one year and there are the Jule Fest activities in our little Norwegian town.

I have Rudolph Dominoes and a Christmas version of Yahtzee that I always bring out.

Christmas Travel
We've only done a few trips at Christmas - our family Christmas in England in 2001 and then we've traveled to Oregon to my sister's a couple of times.  We're pretty much homebodies when it comes to Christmas although now that we have an empty nest, we may think about some Christmas travel.

Christmas Markets
This ties in with Christmas travel above - my dream is to go on the Viking River Cruise that takes in the European Christmas Markets.  I would love to find a Christmas market in my local area - I'll be checking out the local paper for something in our area.

Parties and Party Themes
We have held a Holiday Open House on the Sunday before Christmas - I'd love to get back to doing that when we have our new house.  No particular theme - just festive, lots of yummy food, Christmas music in the background, a fun time with friends.  People often bring an ornament as a hostess gift which I love!

Advent Calendars
Yes, Advent Calendars have been a tradition in our family since I was a little girl.  My Mum always bought the card-type calendars with the little windows for my sister and me, and even sent them to us when we were adults and lived away as a little reminder of home.  She sent them for Sophia and after she died, I continued to buy them and send them to my nephews.  These days, I get a little more creative - chocoate ones, or the Playmobil or Lego versions that are available.

Elf on the Shelf
Yes, we have Edward.  Not sure what he'll do this year - when Sophia was at home, it was easy to plan his antics but the last two years, I've had to come up with an Edward from Afar plan and I need to think about that one.

Christmas Countdowns
Apart from an Advent Calendar and Edward, I usually have some sort of countdown piece in my decorations like blocks that you adjust each day to show how many days are left until Christmas Day.  This year, I have my Christmas planner so there will be some sort of activity every day.  I'll post a photo when it's finished - need to blend three schedules into one calendar.  If you are interested, search "Christmas Countdown Planner Stickers" on Etsy - lots of options there.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Christmas in July - Day Twenty-Three

There have been quite a few posts over the last few days about repurposing certain items to make ornaments and/or gifts - maps and sheet music to name two.  One of the loveliest gifts I have ever received was a pine cone ornament made from the pages of a book.  When I took it out of the box, in all the chaos of Christmas morning, I took a quick look at it and thought what a cute idea and how pretty it turned out.

A little later, I had a chance to pick it up again and take a closer look.  It was then that I noticed that it had a long curling ribbon (unfortunately, you can't see it in this photo) that had "When Good People Get Together" written on it.  This was a quote from Emma and it was the name of my old blog.  An even closer look revealed that the paper used to make the overlapping body of the pine cone was from the book, Emma!  My friend Jodie, who made this for me, is amazing.  She created a beautiful ornament that I will treasure forever.

Is your mind racing with ideas?  Pages from a favorite children's book?  A cookbook for a foodie friend?  A home improvement book for someone who loves to tinker?  A travel guide for someone who has returned from or is planning to go on the vacation of a lifetime?  The possibilities are endless and they all start with the pages of an old book.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Christmas in July - Day Twenty-Two

Here are some really cute ideas with maps.  They make great gifts or ornaments for yourself.  You can use maps of where you met your spouse, where you were married, where your children were born, or other significant locations in your lives.

I love this one mounted on a wooden heart - I don't see this shape available but there are others here
This is a decoupage idea on a round ornament
This tutorial will show you how to make this great framed piece

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Christmas in July - Day Twenty-One

During our time in Virginia, we traveled up to Williamsburg during the holiday season.  I saw these beautiful ornaments made from sheet music at the Yankee Candle store.

I was so happy to find this great tutorial for making something similar.  Thank you, Andrea, for sharing your talent with others.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wednesday Hodgepodge - Volume 274

1.  Pokemon Go...your thoughts?  Are you playing?  Do you even know what it is?

My thoughts...a total waste of time.  Sorry, that's harsh but I just don't have time for these electronic games.  I suppose, however, that it is getting people, especially young people, out of the house and moving around.  What's sad, though, is that they are walking around staring down at their phones.  I guess you can figure out that when I get down off my soap box, I am not playing.

2.  What was something you collected as a child?  Do you still have that collection?  If you're a parent what's something your own children collected?  Have you ever camped out, stood in a crazy long queue, or paid a ridiculous sum for a "collectible"?

I collected Ladybird books, especially the history series.

Sadly, I don't have the collection any longer.  My daughter collected Playmobil figures and we still have several of the Christmas Advent calendars they make every year.  I can't recall ever camping out, standing in a crazy long queue, or paying a ridiculous sum for a collectible but I have gotten into some fierce bidding wars on Ebay for toys I had as a child that are now collectibles.  Word to the those toys!

3.  "Collect moments, not things"...tell us about a moment you've added to your collection this summer.

I haven't added it yet but it will be soon.  The moment I see my husband among the thousands of sailors on homecoming day will be treasured forever.

4.  What's something collecting dust in your home right now?  Any plans to do something about it?

When Sophia and I had an American Girls' Club in Virginia, I bought the bookends that featured each of the original eight girls.  Their design is a mega-dustcatcher and they are displayed on a shelf in the living room.  I plan to put them behind glass as soon as I find the right cabinet.

5.  A favorite song relating to time?

Sarah Brightman's "Time to Say Goodbye" with Andrea Bocelli.

6.  What's been your most frightening or your most interesting encounter with wildlife?

Other than geckos that scurried around our house on Saipan, I can't really think of any encounters with wildlife...oh, wait, there was the time MudLynn chased a skunk and then the skunk decided it didn't want to be chased and just stood its ground, spraying MudLynn.  She learned not to chase skunks after that episode!

7.  On July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong set his foot down on the moon.  If you could travel to the moon would you go?  Why or why not?

I'm not really crazy about flying so spending several days (or is it weeks?) in a space capsule does not appeal to me at all.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I'm not saying we should all sing and dance on city streets but maybe if our hands were raised in praise, they might not be raised in anger.

Christmas in July - Day Twenty

This Christmas Tree Decorating Guide is a great resource, unfortunately, it's one of those photos that can't be shared so I hope you'll click over to the link to check it out.

There have been some great snowman ideas shared this Christmas in July and I'd like to add this one - there's no link so I can't give anyone credit or share the instructions but I think can get the general idea - three circles of white felt and a few trimmings.

I pinned the photo from this post over at and then we all had tea