Thursday, October 29, 2020

Monthly Musings - October 2020

Today I'm joining Holly and Patty for Monthly Musings, the Thanksgiving Preview.

1.  Favorite Thanksgiving traditions?

As strange as it probably sounds, Thanksgiving has been sort of a non-event for our family.  When I was growing up, we mostly lived overseas so we were never around family to have a Thanksgiving gathering.  Mum was British so no Thanksgiving there and Dad didn't really seem to be that bothered.  He'd been away from home for so many years (he joined the Army right out of high school) and his home life before then wasn't the greatest so I doubt there was anything to celebrate.  We don't like turkey so we'd have a ham or a roast chicken and about the only tradition I really remember is that my sister and I always got the day off school, which was quite an event for the years we lived in England because all of our friends were in school that day.  Mum always invited a handful of neighbors to join us for Thanksgiving dinner and they enjoyed our American celebration.

We're still not that bothered about turkey, a small boneless breast of turkey is what I usually cook and we have rice and gravy instead of mashed potatoes and gravy along with standard cranberry jelly, corn, and green bean casserole.  We used to put up our tree as soon as the dinner dishes were in the dishwasher but this year, it's going up on November 1st.  We used to go shopping on Black Friday, not major shopping, just browsing around and soaking up the atmosphere because people used to be friendly on Black Friday.  You could stand in line with total strangers at 5:00am and talk about Christmas plans and no-one had to worry about being trampled for the last DVD player in the store.  Black Friday is going to be a non-event this year as well.  Thank you, COVID-19.

I think I need to find something and do it for a few years and then I can write about our Thanksgiving traditon.

2.  Favorite Thanksgiving dish?  Will you share the recipe?

Green bean casserole from the recipe on the back of the French's fried onions can with the following exceptions - don't add any of the onions to the green bean/mushroom soup mix as they get gross and soggy, just sprinkle them on top about five minutes before the casserole is done, and use Cream of Mushroom Soup with Roasted Garlic, it really makes it delicious.  I also add a small can of mushroom pieces and stems.

3.  Football game?  Yes/No?  In person?  On TV?

None of the above, not football fans here.

4.  Talking Turkey - white meat or dark meat?

White, that's all you get on a boneless breast of turkey.

5.  Do you call it stuffing or dressing?

I believe Stove Top calls it stuffing, lol!

6.  Tell us three things you are thankful for in this crazy COVID Thanksgiving.

a.  We are all healthy.

b.  All of our needs are met - we have employment, comfortable housing, reliable transportation, food on the table, and some extra to share and put in the bank each month.

c.  We have FaceTime.  You don't realize how important that is until you are separated from your loved ones.

7.  Pumpkin pie?  Apple pie?  Pecan pie?

Pumpkin for me, apple (crumble) for Sophia, pecan for Vic.  I like that our supermarket carries half pies.

8.  If you celebrate Christmas, do you put up your tree before or after Thanksgiving?

New tradition - tree up November 1st, just the twinkle lights, ornaments will come later.

9.  Black Friday shopper, yes or no?

See #1.

10.  Do you sit at the table for Thanksgiving dinner or dine more casually?

At the table, I love to set a holiday table and practice my latest napkin fold.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Currently - November 2020


UPDATE II on Wednesday 4 November:  Today is the right day for the link up at Anne's In Residence.

UPDATE:  Just realized this is not supposed to go up until NEXT Wednesday!  Oh well, I'm a week early - I took out the link though since it would link to October's posts.  I'm usually linking up at Anne's In Residence.  This month we're appreciating, ordering, perfecting, planning, and wearing.

appreciating // the chill in the air.  It means hot drinks, movie nights under a warm blanket, fleece, flannel, cozy.

ordering // more December Daily supplies, when will it end?  Every time I see an Instagram or Facebook post, there's something that is just irresistible.

perfecting // the final layout of the office closet - I had some room at the bottom so I replaced the two drawers there with deeper ones for more storage.

planning // the budget for 2021.  We'll have two households again and we're adding a new truck to the fleet.  Sound fancy doesn't it, fleet?  It's a fleet of one, my car, lol.  I'm also planning our new kitchen - I saw this sign at Michaels and thought, that will hang in my new kitchen next Christmas, or Christmas 2022, or whenever.

And speaking of planning, does anyone have "Make a gingerbread house" on their holiday bucket list?  How cute is this?

wearing // whatever fits and that's depressing.  I can't shake the COVID-15, some of it goes and then it comes back, motivation is at all-time low and reaching for comfort food at an all-time high.  I've got to get a plan in place or I'll be wearing a muu-muu soon.  Oops, I live in Washington, make that a fleece muu-muu.  FYI, because I looked it up, it's not muu-muu, it's muumuu or mu'umu'u, a little cultural and grammar lesson all rolled into one.  Ok, I'm rambling now...

Monday, October 26, 2020

Hello Monday

The weather:::
It was a pretty chilly weekend and windy.  Temperatures will be in the 50s next week and dropping to the 40s at night.  I'm really loving hopping in the car in the comfort of the garage and driving over to the Park & Ride each morning.  Super convenient on the way home as well as I can stop at the grocery store or post office if I need to.

On my reading pile:::
I've reached the final book in the Village School series by Gervase Phinn, it's been delightful.

Also still working on The Long Weekend:  Life in the English Country House 1918-1939 by Adrian Tinniswood from the library.

On my TV:::
Still bingeing my way through The West Wing and enjoyed the first two premieres in the Countdown to Christmas lineup on The Hallmark Channel.  Setting up a pajama-wearing, hot cocoa-drinking, One Royal Holiday premiere-watching event next Saturday night with my Sisterchicks from MOPS as it's filmed the hometown of one of them.  Those who have The Hallmark Channel will be tuning in to text through the premiere as we share our impressions of the movie.

The fun continues in the new series of The Great British Baking Show (The Great British Bake Off in the UK) on Netflix.  Pastry last week and a new theme, Japanese, coming this week.

Checked off the list:::
Spent some time last week at Urgent Care and in the Ophthalmology Clinic for what I thought was a stye but could be a blocked tear duct in my right eye.  I'll heading back there on Tuesday.  An appointment at the hospital, which is where my military medicine provider is located, is an all-day adventure.

Crafts Roundup:::
Still working on #donebydecember on my 2018 album - had hoped to be finished but my printer developed a weird let's print in strange colors problem so I've had to send some of my photos out to be developed.  My Christmas Planning Center is all set up (see yesterday's post for the Christmas Countdown details) and it's time to order our Christmas cards and finish updating the holiday mailing list.

And in other news:::
Looking like it will take a Christmas miracle for Vic to be home for Christmas this year as the Government of Japan has extended the Public Health Emergency out to December 31.  If the military lifts the travel restrictions, the problem then lies with the return portion of his trip as he would have to quarantine for two weeks at the port of entry.  That would be Tokyo and it would all be at our expense.  If any of you have looked at travel to Japan, you know Tokyo is pretty pricey for accommodation.  Looks like it will be a FaceTime kind of Christmas.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Christmas Countdown 2020

 It's time for the Christmas Countdown, a free six-week organizing workshop from Organized Christmas.  It's full of daily messages, checklists, worksheets, and is, in its 25th year, a tried and true method to simplify the job of getting ready for Christmas.  Christmas 2020 is not going to be business as usual for many of us so the Christmas Countdown is also a way to document how we worked through the challenges of a COVID-Christmas.

Can you set aside 15 minutes a day to begin planning for Christmas?  I hope you'll join us.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Hello Monday


The weather:::
Rain on the way up to Sophia's last Friday and rain on the way home today, not my favorite driving condition but I'm home safely.  Looks to be relatively dry for the week ahead but temperatures are dropping, in the 50s all week and forecast for the 40s next week.  I'm definitely re-evaluating whether to continue walking down to the end of the street to get the bus to work or to hop in the car and drive to the nearest Park & Ride to pick up a bus there.  Will definitely be thinking about that.

On my reading pile:::
Finished up The Little Village School and Trouble at the Little Village School and The School Inspector Calls and moved on to A Lesson in Love, the fourth book in the Village School series by Gervase Phinn.

Also still working on The Long Weekend:  Life in the English Country House 1918-1939 by Adrian Tinniswood from the library.

On my TV:::
Reached the end of When Calls the Heart on Netflix so I'm on hold until they add some more seasons.  Loving the costumes of The Spanish Princess on STARZ but not so enthralled by the story, I knew that it was going to be glamourized for TV but it's a bit over the top.  Sophia and I watched the downloaded Ladies in Black on Amazon Prime and it was excellent.  My latest Netflix binge is The West Wing.

The fun continues in the new series of The Great British Baking Show (The Great British Bake Off in the UK) on Netflix.  Sophia and I watched last week's chocolate episode and then I re-watched the previous week's bread episode because she wanted to see the rainbow bagels.

Checked off the list:::
Not much!  Holiday last Monday, off work with my sciatica on Wednesday, leave day on Friday to see Sophia meant only two workdays last week.  Sophia and I had a wonderful weekend - lots of shopping, window-shopping, eating out, watching Christmas movies and others.

Crafts Roundup:::
Still working on #donebydecember on my 2018 album - I'm determined to get it done before the all-day December Daily Prep Party which is an all-day, online sharing of album ideas, techniques, and all things December Daily on November 7.  There are still a lot of packages arriving with Christmas scrapbooking supplies - enough for several years of albums, I'm sure!

And in other news:::
I'm on a total news ban because I am fed up to the teeth with the political negativity and the scare-mongering reports about COVID-19.  I'm retreating into my bubble to just take a breather on that front.  Not much else other than waiting for any news about military travel.  Sophia will be up for Thanksgiving and we will do some Christmas decorating (whatever is left because I don't think I am going to be able to restrain myself much past November 1 from dragging out all the holiday totes).  Target is taking FOREVER to get their Christmas stuff out - I need wrapping paper to get busy as the guest room has turned into grande olde hold all station for the packages that have been arriving for weeks.  I keep thinking "Why did I order three of those?" but since they are really cool items and we are in three different households, I need three of most things that have caught my eye this year.

Sophia has her first horse show in several years coming up.  A new twist for her, a show on her own horse after years of leasing or taking a horse from a draw at a high school or college team event.  Spectators are banned because of, you know, COVID-19, so I'll just have to wait for the photos.  I am so excited for her!

Throwback to her first class in her first show 2009 - 4-H Novice Fitting and Showmanship - and she took the blue ribbon.  No idea where her skill and showmanship came from as neither Vic nor I have any background with horses.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Let's Look At...

Joining Mix and Match Mama and A Little Bit of Everything Blog for their monthly feature, Let's Look At...

How Do I "Pumpkin"?  Let me count the ways, lol.  

Lots of pumpkins in my two-tier server, some are autumn picks from Michaels and the crate, stack of books, rolling pins, and signs are from Lacy Belles on Etsy.

My Peanuts Happiness Is...display for October.  This is a past Hallmark release.

Nora Fleming pumpkins for the napkin holder.

Cast iron pumpkin Dutch ovens from Artisanal Kitchen Supply, found at Bed Bath & Beyond, with a Pumpkin Pecan Waffles candle from Bath & Body Works (FYI:  The scent is definitely more pecan than pumpkin).

Pumpkin Wallflower Plug from Bath & Body Works - this one is no longer available.

This guy sits on the bookcase in the entryway.  He's designed to hold a mulled spice-type mix in the top (green bowl just visible) with a candle below but I've switched it to a battery-operated candle to light up his eyes, nose, and smile.  HIs box has a price tag from Raley's which is a supermarket chain primarily located in California.  I haven't lived in California since 1991 so he's almost 30 years old!  To have survived that many military moves without a chip or a crack is impressive.

In the living room, I have two of these racks with Longaberger bread baskets and a rod for my holiday/seasonal flags.

Each end of the mantle has a pumpkin mug with a floral pick decoration - mugs were from Pottery Barn last year.

This sign from Lacy Belles sits in front of the three candles on a wrought iron candle rack.

These three pumpkins, from Home Interiors many years ago, are to the left of the three candles in the previous picture.  Does anyone remember Home Interiors home parties?

This Lacy Belles pickup truck with pumpkins is also on the mantle.

And finally, Snoopy in his jack-o-lantern is another pumpkin decoration.  I think I might take him up to Sophia for her classroom.  He needs batteries and then he does something - I think he moves across the floor but I can't remember.

And that's how I pumpkin!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #121

Just a short post today but one that I hope you will explore a little farther at your leisure.


London’s famous blue plaques link the people of the past with the buildings of the present. Now run by English Heritage, the London blue plaques scheme was started in 1866 and is thought to be the oldest of its kind in the world.

Across the capital over 900 plaques, on buildings humble and grand, honour the notable men and women who have lived or worked in them.

A return visit to London has been on my bucket list for a long time.  It's been many, many years since I have been there and I can't wait to visit again, when travel and doing touristy things is open and safe again.

You can use the website linked above to search the plaques.  Among the many figures from history, I found two of my favorite authors:

Monday, October 12, 2020

Hello Monday


The weather:::
After a rainy weekend (no complaints here, the grass looks amazing!), looks like a mostly dry week ahead with temperatures just slightly over 60 degrees.  Love this time of year!

On my reading pile:::
Finished up The Little Village School and Trouble at the Little Village School and moved on to The School Inspector Calls, the third book in the Village School series by Gervase Phinn.

I also picked up The Long Weekend:  Life in the English Country House 1918-1939 by Adrian Tinniswood from the library.

On my TV:::
Still working my way through When Calls the Heart on Netflix.  Last night, the second season of The Spanish Princess aired on STARZ (watch the trailer here) and I downloaded Ladies in Black on Amazon Prime to enjoy today.

The fun continues in the new series of The Great British Baking Show (The Great British Bake Off in the UK) on Netflix.  Bread last Friday and this week, chocolate.

Checked off the list:::

Hair cut last Wednesday - love those first few days when shampoo and blow dry is a breeze.  Not much else on the agenda last week.  I found this schedule for Netflix, similar to the one I posted for The Hallmark Channel.

I'm probably one of the few who has not watched The Christmas Chronicles yet so I need to take care of that before Part Two airs on November 25.

Crafts Roundup:::
Still working on #donebydecember on my 2018 album - I got a little sidetracked by finishing up the older Creative Memories Christmas albums - but I'm just about done so I hope to have my 2018 album completed soon.  I am desperately searching for this ribbon so if anyone finds it, I would be so grateful if you would pick up a spool or two and let me know so that I can send you the money for the ribbon and postage.

And in other news:::
Saw a friend's post about a dining set she saw locally at the Navy Exchange and took a closer look - the chairs were exactly the same as the bar stools we have!  I went out to the furniture store yesterday to take a look and there it was, exactly the same.  The table is counter-height, which seems to be a new trend?  It was by Ashley so I drove over to the local Ashley store to compare prices and to see if there was a regular dining table height option available.  There was not so counter-height it is.  The price was much better at the Navy Exchange and I had a stratch-off coupon which took off another 5%.  Sold!  The only bad part of the transaction is the 16 week delivery estimate!  Yikes, looks like another year at the small round dining table but that's ok, there's only three (hopefully!) of us.  I took this photo from the Ashley website.  Although I really liked the server piece on the left, we plan to have cabinets all along the side of the dining room wall so there wouldn't be a place for it.

I'm off work today for what the federal government still calls the Columbus Day holiday but since 2014, Seattle has celebrated as Indigenous Peoples' Day.  I grew up reciting the famous poem, "In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.  He sailed three ships and left from Spain.  He sailed through sunshine, wind, and rain....".  Does anyone else remember that?  I don't suppose they teach that any longer. 

Friday, October 9, 2020

Story Time Friday #7


A text-heavy post today - I know I have photos of our time at SHAPE but I have a feeling they are all slides and I have not had them converted to another format yet.  I hope to update this post at some time with photos.

We lived in the apartment in SHAPE Village for a little over a year and then we moved to off-base housing.  In those days, it was rare to move off base so I don’t know how it was allowed.  Our family size didn’t increase and no-one had any kind of injury that meant they couldn’t climb the stairs to the third floor any longer.  Another one of those questions that I should have asked Mum or Dad and didn’t.  Ugh, as I shift through old photographs and papers, it makes me more aware that documenting the who, what, when, where, and why is so important.  Please, friends, label your photographs, journal, scrapbook, blog, do something to preserve your family history for your children and future generations.

Anyway, back to my story.  The off-base housing was in Casteau, which, according to Wikipedia, was a village between the towns of Mons and Soignies on the road Mons-Brussel.  That’s the main thoroughfare to get from Mons to Brussels, the Belgian capital.  Most of the houses were duplexes, with flat roofs like you see in the Flintstones, and there were a few single-family units.  There was a set of driveways between each unit with a garage at the end of each driveway.  We had a four-bedroom unit with a large living/dining room that stretched most of the length of the unit with a small kitchen, two bathrooms, and a long hallway that ran behind the living/dining room that was a solid row of closets, for hanging and with shelves for linens and storage.  It was not carpeted and boy, were those floors cold in the winter if you happened to step off an area rug!

The off-base neighborhood in Casteau

Our house looked like this but there weren't any hedges when we were there and the trees were still pretty small

It was a great neighborhood, everyone had a grass area at the back although I don’t recall any of them being fenced.  There were lots of dogs so I guess they were either very well-behaved or were kept on a leash.  The school bus picked us up for school, a German Army bus with a driver and attendant, neither of the several soldiers we had over the years spoke much English but we managed.  I remember the weather as being temperate with all four seasons and some snow in the winter.  The area had playgrounds and a pond and these were the days when we played outside and rode our bicycles until the street lights came on.  We had one hour of English-speaking television per evening; Skippy the Kangaroo was a favorite and Daktari, the tales of a veterinarian running an animal study center in Africa (thanks, Wikipedia, I remembered animals and Africa but not much else).

SHAPE was made up of service members from all branches and from many countries and this was reflected in our neighborhood.  My Dad was U. S. Army with a British wife, our neighbors across the driveways were German, the family across the street was Dutch, and next to them was a U. S. Air Force airman also with a British wife.  There was at least one Canadian family on our street as well.  You could pick out the British and Canadian families easily if you went into their houses.  They were not allowed to ship their own furniture so everyone was issued with the same living room, dining room, and bedroom furniture!

There is one memory that overrides a lot of my memories of SHAPE and that is that my Dad seemed to always be on call in the evenings and weekends.  He worked in Plans and Operations, who knows what that involved, but his role was primarily administrative, and the generals he worked for during his time there thought nothing of sending their driver over to our house to tell my Dad he was needed at the office.  I think that’s one of the reasons we didn’t have a phone!  I think this is also one of the reasons my parents bought a caravan and we decamped to the beach every weekend April through October.  More to come…

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Currently - October 2020


Stop by over at Anne's In Residence to join in.  This month we're admiring, going, making, scheduling, and wishing.

admiring // Magnificent displays of autumn glory - leaves, pumpkins, harvest flora.

going // out a little more - now that all the fall and in some places, Christmas, d├ęcor is in the stores, I'm enjoying a little browse here and there on the weekends.

making // plans for the holidays, in two versions depending on travel restrictions (see wishing below).

scheduling // fall gutter cleaning - it's that time again to clear the leaves from the roof and gutters.

wishing // that there will be concessions for holiday travel - I know you're all probably tired of reading it but as long as the topic is wishing, hoping, praying, anticipating, expecting, etc., my answer will always be for Vic to be home for Christmas.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Prime Purchases - October 2020

It's the first Tuesday of the month and that means it's time for Prime Purchases with Tanya from The Other Side of the Road.

Most of my purchases this month have been for Sophia's classroom.  I seem to be the virtual room mom and librarian and I must say that I am loving it.  All my dreams of being a teacher have come right back.

There were so many great titles for fall and the changing of the seasons.

I also picked up this Christmas book because I think it's going to be harder to find as we get closer to Christmas.

Also looking ahead to Christmas is this fun Fisher Price Little People Advent Calendar.

One of Sophia's fellow teachers had this great system for organizing materials by month so I picked up these magazine holders that we will decorate with some monthly scrapbook paper I found in my stash (each sheet has the name of the month printed repeatedly in different fonts and sizes) and then label them with that month's holidays and special days.

My favorite adhesive.

On the scrapbook front, I replenished my stock of photo paper and vellum and for home organization, these modular latch boxes come in this smaller size to match the larger ones I have and a refill for my OXO duster.

I couldn't resist this festive washi tape, a primarily gold set and a colorful set.

I made a couple of other purchases but as they are Christmas presents for Vic and Sophia, I can't share them in case they are reading!  I'll have to have a Prime Purchases Christmas Edition after December 25.