Happy Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day is this weekend and I hope everyone enjoys it. A couple of fun facts about Valentine’s Day: In Victorian times it was considered bad luck to sign a Valentine’s Day card. Based on retail statistics, about 3 per … Continue reading

Jamaica 2016

imageWe all loved Jamaica, the people are happy and have an absolutely great accent. The weather was warm, between 79 and 85 but with breezes. It did tend to rain in the afternoon or night but it didn’t slow us down at all.

The picture is taken from one of the five balconies in our room. I know five? That morning there was two ships in port.

The pen to the right of the ship held dolphins and we could watch people swimming with them. Also hear them talking. I loved the mornings with a cup of coffee, warm breezes blowing over the sunny balcony patio. Especially since we left a very rainy cold Pacific NW.

Traveling the past few years has been laid back with plenty of time to laze around. We of course went in to town for shopping and took a few tours, but we try not to spend much time in vans and buses. We did go up to Bob Marley’s family home. The island people revere his memory.

Our suite wasn’t as luxurious as last years but still imagexnice. Umm maybe we’re getting a little spoiled? Next year we’re going to try to get a three bedroom will know next week as we’re booking next year already. Did I say we LOVE Jamaica?

So home for a month and a half and then off for a road trip. Ahhh retirement. Lovin life.



Settling In

Life has offered us another opportunity…a metamorphosis or iteration of what normal is for us. Wow. That’s sounds pretty philosophical, doesn’t it? At any rate, the change in our lives is that my mother has come to live with us.

The reason for that isn’t great…it’s her health. But she stabilized and settled in and just this past week, we brought out her own bedroom furniture and made it a permanent thing. It’s definitely a change, for us and for her. And yes, there’s downsides. But the positives far outweigh the extra work involved.

I am getting to know my mother, whom I’ve held in such high regard for so many years, better than I’ve ever had an opportunity to before. I’m finding out she’s not perfect. She gets cranky, especially when she’s tired or patronized. But she’s also gracious and generous with her thanks and compliments.

She has a sweet tooth and is a definite desert person. Friends and family keep bringing her chocolates, which she proudly tries to share with us. I hate to say no, because I get the sense it’s something she’s able to offer us in this day and age when we are the ones getting her everything she needs.

She’s very particular about what goes where, and a bit of a clean freak. Must be from all those years of having us five messy kids around, huh?

She’s always been kind when speaking of others, but I never realized it was a mindset, not something she remembers to do. Mom genuinely sees the good in people.

And she’s as grateful for us as we are for her. We are truly blessed. I also love that I have 4 siblings. This isn’t just something my husband and I took on. My brothers have been moving furniture out here as needed and bringing dinner out to save me a night of cooking and to visit. My sister comes to stay so we can get regular breaks from the duties of having someone to care for. And my other sister, who lives on the other side of the states, is in constant touch, providing moral support to Mom and to us.

So it works. It really does. I don’t know if we have a month, a year, or more with Mom. And I know there will be tough times, both with the day-to-day stuff and when her health declines again. But for now, life is good. :)

Now if we can just get these darn cats to get along. Getting two solitary older cats (Mom’s and ours) to cohabitate isn’t exactly easy. I walk around the house with a spray bottle in my hand, ready for the next spitting and hissing fight.

So I hope your 2016 is going as well as ours so far, or even better. Because life is very worth embracing for every moment we can squeeze out of it.

With Mom last year on Mt. Rainier.

With Mom last year on Mt. Rainier.

Guest Blog – Reminiscing with Linda Shook

Our good friend Linda Shook is here today with a guest blog filled with memories and gratitude:
I recently celebrated a birthday…it was another big one. Funny how they keep getting bigger. One of the people who sent me a ‘happy birthday’ wish on Facebook commented, “Next year you’ll be a diamond Linda.’  So there you have it. Yes, I was 74.  74!!!! It’s hard to believe. It seems like only yesterday I was a kid, going to school, helping out on our mini farm each day. Maybe I’ve lost track of all those years because I still live in the same town I was born in (in fact I retired from the same hospital where my mom was a R.N. before she had me there), where I grew up and where many of my friends still reside.   The first house my folks bought after my dad returned from WWII is exactly 2.4 miles from where I live now. After I finished 4th grade they bought 10 acres with an old house on it.  There they built a new house and that’s where I played and left for school each day until I graduated from high school. The ‘farm’ is exactly 4.5 miles from where I live now. So you can see, I haven’t gotten very far in my 74 years. (So to speak)

I’ve loved living in the same area..I always run into people I know ~ from school, places I’ve worked, people I’ve know from the couple different churches I’ve attended and I feel sorry for those who grew up here but circumstances have taken them off to another town, another state, even another country. Many of them wish they could come home…home to the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

One of the sad things about living in you home town is all the changes over the years. I remember when I was in high school, a BIG adventure was going ‘downtown.’ Now living in the country it wasn’t always easy. There was a bus but it went into town twice a day and came back twice a day. And if you missed it coming home , well it wasn’t good. But usually one of us had a mom or dad who would take us 3 miles to one of Tacoma’s main streets where we could catch a city bus. Then off to town we’d go. Downtown Tacoma was magical back in the late 1950’s. There were the usual big department stores (Sears and J.C.Penneys) and we also had a great store called People’s Store and then Rhodes Brothers Store. I remember being able to get a pair of really neat shoes at Leeds for $5 and then of course there was Woolworth’s, Payless and S.H. Kress. I remember one time several of us were in the Kress store and I opened a bottle of Blue Waltz perfume and it spilled and the whole store reeked of that sickening, sweet smell.  We laughed all the way to the lunch counter at Woolworth’s where we had our BLT’s and Cherry Sodas.

Now there’s no more downtown, no more Woolworth’s, no more S.H. Kress, no more Peoples store and no more Rhodes Bros.  I’m so grateful I grew up when I did, I was born January 4, 1942 and I graduated from high school in June 1960.   Those were truly magical years. My hometown has changed so much. I feel sorry for the kids growing up the last 40 years…they have missed some great adventures.

Each day God gives me is a blessing.  Another day to be in contact with family and friends. And another day to see the additional changes my hometown is making.




Happy February

Jillian here. Can you believe it’s February already? Wow. Time does fly, doesn’t it? This month I’m excited to head to New Orleans with a friend to see the traveling Broadway production of Kinky Boots. This is a musical based on … Continue reading

Getting Tastebuds Going

james martinWatching my favourite celeb chef James Martin yesterday on TV, he had a guest chef appearing who prepared a meal I hadn’t had for many years, that of beef in beer, or Beef  Carbonade as I know it. My mother used to cook this a lot for us, along with many other recipes using beer, in particular beer soup, a winter favourite using up any leftover flat beer from parties and Christmas.

My thoughts turned back to all the lovely food Mum used to cook when we were children. Friday nights it was always fried sprats. I still love them but daren’t cook them at home but when on holiday abroad, we always head for the nearest fish restaurant to enjoy grilled sardines. Mum also made the best macaroni cheese I’ve ever tasted, and the best spaghetti bolognese and chicken risotto, all three of which I’ve never been able to recreate the taste she managed to achieve. She can’t remember the ingredients and has sadly forgetten how to make them so can’t even pass on her secrets to me.

Food and the smell of cooking always evoke children memories and I sometimes wonder if the term “comfort food” comes more from the meals we remember from childhood than something warming and sustaining during the cold winter months.

It is a truth that recipes come and go, many long forgotten, but who could forget the ubiquitous restaurant meals of the 1960s and 1970s, when it was considered really posh to have prawn cocktail, then T-bone steak and chips followed by Black Forest gateau. And whatever happened to Chicken Maryland, Hungarian Goulash, boiled bacon and pease pudding, or even stuffed onions?


So while you’re salivating over the cake, does anyone even know how to cook these recipes nowadays, I wonder. I’d love to know what were your favourite meals from childhood.

C’mon, Let’s Spill

My mum gave me a lovely new Radley handbag for Christmas and of course, being a ‘bag lady’ I couldn’t wait to use it. I literally tipped out the contents of my old bag onto mum’s floor in preparation and it struck up a whole conversation about what we women carry around with us.


Enter a caption

So, in my bag there is my purse, phone, sunglasses (always the optimist), bus pass, diary, foldaway shopper, lipstick, sweeties, umbrella, small hairbrush, nail file, doggy poo bags, doggie treats, a memory stick, pencil, sweetener sachet, tissues, lip salve, and a pair of earrings I thought I’d lost somewhere.

So, come on ladies, spill. What’s currently in your handbag?