Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Thankful, Grateful, Blessed #3

 I love to read and I am so thankful that I have the ability and the desire and the privilege.  There are many people who really don't have an interest - perhaps they struggled in school, or were never encouraged to read for pleasure, to lose themselves in a good book.  Then there are those who have no exposure to books.  A picture book in the hands of a child lives in a third world country is an amazing sight to see.  Those who support literacy programs are opening up the world, one book at a time.

I am not really sure how this topic sprung to mind.  Perhaps it was when I went to my local library to pick up a couple of books I had on hold and I found the library was empty.  It could be that it was a weeknight, or maybe too close to dinner, but I have a feeling it is more likely that indifference or busyness plays a large part in why our libraries are empty or worse, closing.  Going to the library with my mother and later, taking Sophia to the library, used to be one of the highlights of my week.  We would browse through the shelves, pulling out books whose spines caught our eye or we would have a topic in mind and search the library catalog.  We spent a lot of time at the library when we were homeschooling and would come home with an enormous stack of books on countries of the world, cooking, crafts, history, and a variety of fiction titles.  We would read together or read our own books side by side.  People have just too many things going on today, and too little time to enjoy the simple pleasure of going to the library.

I know that in this electronic age people find their reading in other forms - eBooks, magazines or newspapers online, or audiobooks - but I find nothing more enjoyable than curling up with a good book.  I'm in my happy place and I am very thankful for a love of the written word.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

What's Up Wednesday - August 2019

It's time to wrap up August!

What We're Eating This Week //  Vic's eating something with rice or noodles and I'm trying to stay on track with the Whole 30.  Here are some of our favorites when we're together.

What I'm Reminiscing About //  The last time I participated in What's Up Wednesday was in May 2018 - we were beginning the house hunting journey in Washington and looking forward to being close to Sophia again.  It would also have been Dad's 89th birthday in June so this year he would have been 90.  Hard to believe he has been gone for ten years, and Mum for sixteen.  Not a day goes by that I don't think about them and wish I could talk to them again.

What I'm Loving //  As Ned Stark would say, sort of, Autumn is coming!  As the seasons change, I really miss New England.

What We've Been Up To //  Living life on both sides of the Pacific!

What I'm Dreading //  I'm swapping cars with Sophia this weekend so that I can find peace with her driving back and forth 30 minutes each day on the freeway as she begins her student teaching.  I have to admit I'm dreading swapping my higher off the ground SUV for her little Flintstone car but knowing that she will have a reliable vehicle is worth it.

What I'm Working On //  Gearing up for the release of Ali Edwards' December Daily products and deciding what approach I will take since it's another non-traditional holiday year.  I doubt we will all be together until December 23 so I need to decide what stories I will tell for the first 22 days of December.

What I'm Excited About //  It's time to decorate for autumn!  I love all the colors of the season.

Time to decide which decorations (shown here in our Rhode Island house in 2011) we will keep and which will be decluttered

What I'm Watching/Reading //  I'm watching The Good Witch from my Amazon Prime Library, the original movies, and reading the Sisterchicks series by Robin Jones Gunn again - I finished Sisterchicks Go Brit and now I'm onto Sisterchicks on the Loose.

What I'm Listening To //  Endless on-hold music as I try to sort out a return and exchange that keeps going horribly wrong.  

What I'm Wearing //  Shoes with closed-toes - flip-flop season is just about over.

What I'm Doing This Weekend //  See What I'm Excited About...decorating tubs are in the house and waiting to be unpacked!

What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month //  December Daily products and classes release, hearing all about Sophia's student teaching experience, and I'm one month closer to seeing Vic!

What Else is New //  The longer I live in our new house, the more I am seeing things that work and things that don't work.  I'm thrilled with our new Levolor Sheer Shadings blinds in the living room and would love to have them all through the house.  I keep coming up with a new idea for the kitchen remodel (so it's a good thing I can't run out and schedule it tomorrow!), and The Container Store design department is amazing at coming up with a system for a couple of challenging closets and other storage areas.  It's a work in progress.

Monday, August 26, 2019

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #108

The Great British Bake Off/Baking Show returns with a new season, Season 10, tonight (if you live in the UK).  But fear not, US viewers, tonight's episode will be available for your viewing pleasure on Netflix on Friday, August 30.

A baker's dozen of new competitors will be ready to thrash it out over cake, biscuits, pastry, pies, patisserie, chocolate, and whatever fiendish themes (Tudor, Victorian, botanical anyone?) the producers can come up with.  This group looks very young - what new twists will they bring to the show?

Are you a Bake Off/Baking Show fan?

Sunday, August 25, 2019

August Rudolph Day

Oh my goodness, it's been a YEAR since I put up a Rudolph Day post!

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 Christmas-y!  This month, it's time for some craft control - get those supplies organized and ready for any craft projects you plan to complete before Christmas.  For those of you who have fun with the little guy or gal in the red suit, it's time to think about what mischief he or she will get up to in December.

This has to be one of my favorites from our Elf in the Shelf days:

Here's another reminder about the holiday plans and links to each one - the two big ones are just a week away:

Holiday Grand Plan (starts Sunday, September 1)

House & Holidays Plan (also starts Sunday, September 1)

Christmas Countdown (starts Sunday, October 27)

I spent the day getting my Christmas planner organized with the printables for the House & Holidays Plan and added the Christmas Countdown sheets in there as well to be ahead of the game.  This month's movie was Love the Coopers, it was open in the DVD closet but I don't remember ever watching it before.  It was ok, won't make my top ten but it had a cute ending.

Here's a sneak peak at my planner - I've been meaning to put up a Christmas planner organization post, it's coming soon.

I love my Christmas planner clips from Cherry Blossom in the Market Square on Etsy.

That's me!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Friday Favorites

Time for a little of what's brightening my world this Friday.

1.  They're coming!

At your local Starbucks Tuesday, August 27!

2.  All other things pumpkin spice.  Apart from a yummy latte, I don't go overboard with the pumpkin spice but these look delicious, Nonni's Pumpkin Spice Biscotti.

3.  Anything fall in general.  Aren't these cute at Bed Bath and Beyond?

4.  And after fall comes Christmas, well ok, there's a bit of time in between.  Check out this delight to dabble in a little festive cooking.

5.  And finally, a little something Harry Potter - four cute new LEGO sets at Target - this one was my favorite - those Beauxbatons really travel in style!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Thankful, Grateful, Blessed #2

Today I am thankful for great customer service.  It seems like it is something of a thing of the past with all the rushing around and the dog-eat-dog world that shopping and returning and exchanging and needing customer service can be.  This week, I have had two super interactions regarding customer service and I'd like to give a shout-out to these two companies.

1.  Michael Kors - definitely a first-world problem but I somehow lost a dust cover in the move.  I have a couple of designer handbags and because of the cost and the sheer beauty of each one, I take really good care of them.  I store them tucked away in their dust covers so that they will hopefully last as long as I do!  When I found that the cover for the handbag I was currently using was missing, I took the opportunity of being near a Michael Kors store to ask about a replacement.  Sadly, they didn't have any but the customer service representative gave me a card with the company details and suggested that they may be able to help me.  I shot off an email when I got home, receiving a prompt and very nice response that my request would be addressed, and voila! a replacement cover arrived in the mail today.

2.  Ore-Ida - I opened a package of frozen French fries and discovered a more than acceptable number of fries that were green or had black spots.  Not an alarming number but when I purchase a product like this, I don't expect to throw some of the product away.  Ore-Ida has a very user-friendly website although they ask for a lot of information so make sure you have your package handy.  I can understand the need for all the details because a defect in a product (more serious that a few green fries) could be indicative of a production issue and should a recall result, they need all the details to find out where the product is carried so that they can take action.  Again, a prompt and very nice response from the company thanking me for bringing this to their attention and a coupon to cover the cost of the unsatisfactory item.

BZ, as we say in the Navy, to Michael Kors and Ore-Ida!

way back when...Wednesday #1

I've been having a lot of flash-backs to times gone by, some from as far back as my childhood, some other random thoughts that seem to pop out of nowhere or perhaps be triggered by my environment.  Some will end up in If this is Tuesday or Story Time Friday posts if they are closely related to my early days in England, or just times with my family, but I thought it would be fun to write them down.

I was off work for an appointment today and I took advantage of the extra time and ran to Target.  I ducked into the restroom and as I was drying my hands, I thought back to the days before paper towel dispensers and the ultra-modern Dyson air dryers.  Does anyone remember the cloth towel dispensers?

Surprise, surprise, they still exist!  This company, Phelps, provides uniform and facility services and look what they offer - 
ye olde cloth towel dispenser!  Fascinating that such an item, in our germ-phobia world today, still exists.  I can remember that, after about six or eight people rotated the cloth to find a dry spot, it started to get very damp.  Not only that, it could be a little gross because not everyone comprehends the need to hum Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star as they wash their hands to make sure they are thoroughly washed and vestiges of grim made their way over to the towel.

Can you remember the last time you saw a cloth towel dispenser?

Monday, August 19, 2019

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #107

At the top of my bucket list is afternoon tea at Betty's in Harrogate (one of six Betty's locations).  It's an institution, open since 1919 and an experience, visually and gastronomically, to delight the senses.

As I was researching Betty's to write this article, I came across a great blog post that says everything I would want to say about Betty's.  One day, I will share my own photos with you.

Hello Monday

I'm super late with Hello Monday - time just got away from me this weekend.  I spent a lot of time on meal prep - after watching The Magic Pill on Netflix, I was completely re-motivated to get back to clean eating.  I whipped out two of my favorite recipes to keep me going through the week, Paleo Running Momma's Meatloaf (I don't make the ketchup, I use Tessemae's) and 40 Aprons Breakfast Casserole.  Portioned for breakfasts and lunches, I am good to go.

I had, however, my last major splurge for a while when I attended Tea Time with Debbie, an event at what used to be Debbie Macomber's Victorian Tea Room and is now The Grey House.  Debbie still lives in the area and has an office close to The Grey House and today's event was afternoon tea, a signed copy of her new book, and she gave a wonderful talk about how she started writing and shared hilarious snippets from her fan mail.  It was a lovely afternoon.

Vic meanwhile took an excursion to the Maeda Escarpment, more commonly known as Hacksaw Ridge from the movie of the same name.  The Battle of Okinawa is described as the bloodiest battle of the Pacific War; I read the famous account by E. B. Sledge With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa in a military history class and it was very difficult reading.

I wrapped up my Sunday with two PBS specials, Downton Abbey Returns and Downton Abbey Live.  Is anyone else as excited as I am about the upcoming movie?

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Story Time Friday #5

It's been over a year since my last Storytime post so I'll give you a quick recap.  I'm chronicling my life story, recreated for the most part, from the stamps in my various passports (remember the good old days when they always stamped your passport?).  So far we have...born in Germany, adopted at birth by an American Army soldier and his British wife (hereinafter always referred to as Dad and Mum), moved from Germany to Boston and then to Norway.  Left Norway for the San Francisco Bay Area where my sister, Barbara, joined the family.  Dad went to Vietnam for a year and when he returned, we drove across the country to New York and hopped on a plane for his next duty station in Belgium.

We flew into Heathrow Airport on December 1.  Our passport stamps say London Airport; the airport was renamed Heathrow the year before but I guess they hadn't updated the passport stamps yet.  The weather was freezing, snow everywhere.  Flights were delayed, cancelled, the airport was a mess.  The airline (Pan Am, I think) wanted to fly us from London, England to Paris, France, then north from Paris to Brussels, Belgium, and then have us take a train down to Mons which was our ultimate destination.  Yes, that's England to France to Belgium, two planes and a train!  Dad was sick, my sister Barbara was sick, and we had fourteen pieces of luggage plus a Pack-and-Play type portable crib, and something else, a high chair or other baby paraphernalia.  It had been a long road trip across the States, delays in New York, and now this.  My Dad had had enough.  He had some sort of diplomatic passport (why I have no idea, another one of those questions I wish I'd asked) and voila! one look at that and all of our luggage came off the plane and our brief stay in England to recover began.

My Dad secured a taxi to take us from London to Manchester in the northwest.  200 miles in a taxi in 1967, can you imagine?  Wish I had the credit card receipt for that jaunt!  Most of Mum's family lived in the Manchester area and whether they were alerted to our coming or we just showed up on the doorstep, I don't know but we soon took up residence in a rented house on Cavendish Road (such a delightfully British street name, isn't it?).  It was a large two-story brick house and I remember a dining room in the front of the house and a living room at the back.  I know there was a kitchen but don't remember any details about it.  Upstairs were several large bedrooms with a very Downton Abbey-esque bell system, I had a lot of fun with that.  I also loved the little office that had a roll-top desk and a collection of rubber stamps that I played with endlessly.

I don't remember how or where we celebrated Christmas.  It might have been at my aunt's (Mum's sister) or at the Cavendish Road house.  I don't recall if we had a tree or any of the other details and I don't think there are any photographs of that winter.  Two days after Christmas, Dad and Barbara nursed back to health, we left England and flew into Brussels.  More to come, or as they say in southern Belgium (the French-speaking region) à venir.

Our ultimate destination - Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE)
There are currently 29 member nations but when we moved there in 1967, there were only 15.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Thankful, Grateful, Blessed #1

Starting a new Thursday feature today.  I joined in with a Thankful Thursday meme two weeks ago but I was disappointed that the other bloggers (apart from the host) linked to random posts and that wasn't what I wanted.  So, I'm branching out on my own.

A little bit of backstory to set the scene.  Vic was up for consideration for promotion this year.  It's one of those time in grade/rank type of deals - you have to have been in your previous rank for a certain period and when you've met that milestone, you are eligible for consideration.  There's a website where all the details about the promotion board are available, including a great tracker that shows the progression of the results as they go through layers of approvals before they are announced.
The Release and Approval Process is a lengthy one. Please be aware that each location on this tracker involves numerous offices within that location. Due to the complexities of the approval process there will be times where no significant movement occurs (possibly weeks) at a particular location. This is NOT uncommon. 
Senate Confirmation
Select Message Released
Secretary of Defense
Secretary of the Navy
Chief of Naval Operations
Judge Advocate General
Chief of Naval Personnel
Board Convened
I've been tracking the board since it convened in May and I knew we were getting close to the results announcement.  Officers get a couple of opportunities for promotion and then if they don't make it, retirement is usually their next step.  This was Vic's first "look" so I was doubly excited - how cool would that be if he made it the first time!

Well, I think you know what's coming next...he made the promotion list!  I actually found out when I got home last Wednesday and found a congratulations message on Facebook Messenger from one of his former co-workers.  I quickly signed on to the website and there was his name, how lovely it was to see it in black and white.  I couldn't wait to talk to him.  He's been calling during his lunch time which is my evening here so that works perfectly.

The phone rang and there he was...I was very nonchalant..."So, dear, how was YOUR day?"  He laughed because he knew I knew.  He was woken up in the early hours of the morning with his phone blowing up with congratulations texts.  I put up a quick post on Facebook about how proud I was, sharing the news and more congratulations came flying in.  Wonderful to read all the lovely comments.

Thankful, grateful, blessed, oh my goodness, yes!  Vic is such a hard worker and he pours so much effort into doing a great job.  He's a wonderful mentor, and strives for excellence in all that he does which is so important when his field is safety.  I could go on and on because, of course, I'm his number one supporter but I guess I'll just wrap this up by saying that I am the proudest wife and so thankful that all he puts into the Navy has been recognized.  I guess I'd better go and look at airline tickets now since I will most definitely be heading to Okinawa to pin that shiny oak leaf on his collar sometime next year.

Monday, August 12, 2019

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #106

Happy 69th Birthday on August 15th to Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal

When I started to look for a current photograph, I found this fascinating little tidbit - The Princess Royal was also the Guardian of Row Pacific 2019, a venture by Charlie Martell to be the first person to row across the North Pacific Ocean.  As you can see from her message below, there was a great deal of excitement about this project but sadly, after less than a week, Charlie sustained an injury to his shoulder and had to abandon the venture.

In 2019 Charlie Martell will attempt a Guinness World Record feat – to be the first person in history to row solo and unsupported across the North Pacific Ocean, from Japan to the USA, land to land.
The enormity of this endeavour embodies the spirit of ‘challenge’, to face such a vast and unforgiving seascape, alone. It will encourage many individuals never to give up on their sporting dream, and will raise awareness for four very worthy charities; Give Them a Sporting Chance, Veterans In Action, the Allied Forces Foundation and the VC Gallery.
I am delighted to be involved as the Guardian of Row Pacific 2019; this voyage will enrich the lives, not only of the charities Charlie and Team HESCO are working with, but also the lives of those that follow this adventure. I wish Charlie every success.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Hello Monday

Another busy weekend, not quite as frantic with activity as the last one, but busy just the same.  Headed out to the mall to take my iPad to the Apple store on Saturday - nothing wrong with it, forced shutdown and recovery brought it right back to life with no loss of anything on there.  Thank goodness, because my household inventory is on there and I really thought the movers had shorted us a box but as soon as I was able to pull it up, all was accounted for, no boxes missing.  You have a checklist called a Bingo sheet which is a list of all of the number tags on your boxes and furniture.  As the movers bring things in, they call out the numbers and you check them off.  Unfortunately, number tags fall off so you end up with a list of things without numbers and you need to reconcile them with the numbers not checked off the Bingo sheet.  I was so exhausted after the whole Part I and Part II move that I just signed on the bottom line and sent the movers on their way.  When Sophia and I were organizing the garage last week, I thought there should have been three purple totes labeled I, II, and III and I couldn't find III.  Once I was able to access the inventory, I saw that I had renamed III to something else so everything was fine.

Good grief, that was a long explanation!  Made a couple of other stops - LUSH was right across from the Apple store so I sent Sophia a quick text to see if she had anything on her Wish List - of course, she did so I ran in there and then I passed the Cheesecake Factory and stopped for a little treat for the weekend.  Ran to Fed Ex to drop my return to Bed Bath and Beyond and then whizzed into Chick-fil-A which was right across the street - I've got to plan different routes to avoid all these yummy places!

Can't wait to hear how Sophia liked this product - Honey I Washed My Hair Shampoo Bar - LUSH

Home to work in the office - finally got my scrapbook desk all organized and whipped out a double-page layout for Week 41 in 2018.  Now that everything is where it should be, I should be caught up in no time.

Walls are bare - Vic will transfer the bulletin boards from the old office to the new one when he gets home

Loving these Dragan boxes from Ikea to organize my embellishments - these are the lids which I stack and I use the bases (like boxes) to hold my journal cards, filler cards, and chipboards

Sunday was a lazy day - a quick run to Staples for white labels because my next project is to give my password book an overhaul - it's a mess - and then it was home to do some general tidying and get ready for work tomorrow.  My goodness, the weekend just flies!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Currently - August 2019

It's been a long time since I've put up a Currently post but I love this month's prompts.  Stop by over at Anne's In Residence to join in .

ordering // More digital files for Project Life.  I have immersed myself in Photoshop Elements and I love to add digital art to my photos or create my own journal and filler cards.  Ali Edwards' site is my favorite for digitals but I'm also a little addicted to In A Creative Bubble.  Can't wait to use these Vancouver cards when we head there in December.

watching // The Good Witch, the original movies.  I have discovered the video library option on Amazon Prime and I have found a new way to organize our movies and TV shows.

cooking // It's on again, off again with the Whole 30/clean eating regimen but when I'm on it, I love to make mini-meatloaves in my Wilton silicone cupcake pan.  With a scoop of homemade mashed potatoes, it's the perfect lunch for work.  This is my go-to recipe although I don't make the ketchup, I use the Tessemae's brand of Whole 30 approved, organic ketchup.

wondering // What student teaching will be like for Sophia?  I am so excited for her and can't wait to hear all about it every day.  We bought some student teaching clothes this weekend - blouses mostly to go with the pants that she has and made sure she could "raise and praise" (a modesty trick we learned at a church youth event - raise your arms high above your head and make sure that's there's no midriff showing when you do it).  She's going to lay out her clothes and make notes in her planner what goes with what so that she can have the wardrobe plan for each week and not be scrambling for an outfit in the morning.  Meal prep is also going in the planner - cook on Sunday and portion out meals for the week.  That way, she can just pop dinner in the microwave when she gets home from a long day.

savoring // The memories that come from unpacking boxes that have been unopened over the last two, or maybe even three, moves.  It's time to declutter, that's for sure, but in the midst of the decluttering are some treasures, things that belonged to Mum, baby things, memories of 25 years of Navy life.