Monthly Archives: November 2012

Well, it might come in handy…

Recently, inspired by the imminent arrival of autumn/winter, we decided to decorate and re-carpet the upstairs of our house. The scheduling wasn’t perfect as it coincided with the arrival of the new pup and a visit from my mum. But we thought that preparing and emptying the rooms wouldn’t take too long and that having work done upstairs wouldn’t be as disruptive as having work done downstairs. Right? Wrong. I couldn’t believe how much stuff we had accumulated in our upstairs rooms.

The main bedroom wasn’t too bad, as the decorators and carpet fitters were happy to work around the king-size bed and heavy pine wardrobes. Still, I had to empty the wardrobes to enable them to be moved, and wow, was I shocked at how many clothes we have, well, at how many I have, but let’s not split hairs 🙂 I used the “if you haven’t worn it for a year it must go” principle, and was able to fill a few bags for the local charity shop.

The remaining two bedrooms were much trickier. Both rooms double as our studies which meant there were computers to move and box up, printers, books (even I was surprised how many boxes it took to pack those away), folders, files, music systems, and on and on. It took forever. But what was eye-opening about the process was the discovery that we are both ridiculous hoarders. Not just of books and paperwork, but assorted paraphernalia such as rubber bands (how many of those are you ever going to need?), pieces of ribbon (far too small to ever be of use), bits of material (where in heck did all those come from?), the list went on. But the most shocking of all was that I discovered I’d stored nearly a whole drawer full of plastic carrier bags. So many that I surely must be the main contender for the title of Plastic Carrier Bag Hoarding Queen 🙂

Needless to say we survived, and are now decorated and re-carpeted amidst cries of “never again”. All the upstairs rooms are now streamlined and paraphernalia-free (well, almost). I have vowed to curb my hoarding way and so has AJ, but how long that will last is anyone’s guess.

How about you? Are you a hoarder?

Getting Through the Season with the Right Attitude

It’s that time of year again. The bells are ringing and Christmas music wafts through your radio and the store loudspeakers. It’s fun and crazy and stressful and, well, a time of year that I always feel like I’m behind on just about everything. This year so far, I’m ahead of the game and hoping it stays that way.

I went online to look for some time saving tips for the holidays. There were all the usual ones, like marking “due dates” on your calendar, and simplifying gatherings and gift-giving. But one in particular caught my eye: prioritize. This is something we all do instinctively when we’re uber-busy. It made me stop and think about the season, though, and about what’s important. I want to slow down and enjoy this holiday season, to feel more of its magic.

So instead of time-saving tips, I offer my own version of do’s and don’ts for this Christmas season. These are only suggestions, but they are things I hope to incorporate into my December.

DON’T walk swiftly past the Santa exhibit at the mall, focused on the next store or the shopping list in your hand.
DO take a few moments to watch the scrub-faced, Sunday-best-dressed children as they meet Santa. Their reactions are varied and priceless and always bring a smile to my face.
DON’T leave things (like shopping) to the last minute—unless you thrive on stress.
DO try to find a balance between the work of Christmas and enjoying its true purpose, whatever you perceive that to be.
DO stop, take a deep breath, and smell the roses, er, evergreens, once in a while.
DON’T stare at all the last minute items stuffed around the checkout counter. Instead, wish the person behind you, in front of you, or both, a good day.
DON’T lose yourself in the season. DO take time out just for you. Personally, I suggest a bubble bath, a good book, and maybe a nice glass of wine.
DO remember to keep up with whatever exercise program you follow.
DO design a season that feeds your soul. This is the time to bank all those good feelings deep in the warm coals of your heart. That way someday, if you have a not-so-great day, you can fuel your own sense of well-being with these memories.

What else can we come up with to make this season relaxed and happy? Got any ideas? I’d love to hear them. Maybe we can cozy up to a cyber yule log with a cup o’ not-so-cyber hot buttered rum and come up with some ideas, huh?

Yummy Apple Cake from Linda Shook

1 ½ cup sugar
3/4 cup shortening
2 eggs
2 ½ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups peeled & diced apples
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup warm coffee
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Cream sugar & shortening, add eggs & beat mixture.

Combine flour, soda, 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon & salt.

Gradually add to sugar, shortening & egg mixture, alternately with coffee.

Fold in diced apples & nuts.

Combine brown sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle over top of mixture.

Bake in greased & floured pan at 350* for 45 minutes.

Mush by Linda Shook

Linda Shook is in the house! I love this blog, but will explain why in the comments. For now, he-e-e-e-e-r-e-‘s Linda! 🙂

I grew up in the days before Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puffs and Apple Jacks.

During my growing up days MUSH was the staple for breakfast almost 365 days of the year.

If it wasn’t Quaker Oatmeal, it was Cream of Wheat, Ralston Purina, Wheatena or Malt~O~Meal.

My mom would make a big pot of MUSH every morning, especially during the winter months.  Since we had our cow Daisy, we had our own cream to put on the MUSH and she would put out either granulated sugar, brown sugar, molasses or honey to also put on the MUSH.

I checked with my brother (he’s 8½ years younger than me) and he remembers a lot of MUSH also. But while we were discussing this subject we each remembered  an occasional bowl of Cheerios, Rice Krispies or Wheaties….but only during the summer months.  

Also on the weekends mom would sometimes make pancakes, french toast or eggs, bacon and toast.  But for the most part it was MUSH almost every morning.

The funny thing is, I can’t remember if I did the same thing to my kids and quite frankly…I’m afraid to ask them. 

I do know that as an adult I do not eat MUSH.  I put Quaker oatmeal in cookies and in my meatloaf…..but I don’t eat it for breakfast!



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What a busy month!! We had some sad news when my mother-in-law passed away at the age of 92. She was a sweetheart and just a month ago had gone with us to a fall softball game and on a … Continue reading

My Heart is Heavy This Week

As you all know if you’ve read my posts, I’m a fan of symmetry and like to look for things that come full circle or seem somehow to be more than mere coincidence (which I don’t fully believe in). Anyway, sadly, something came full circle for me this week and even my oldest son said the irony wasn’t lost on him.

November 25, 1999 was Thanksgiving Day. On that day, a blessing came into our lives. Our cat, Dixie (named by a great nephew of my husband’s) was a kitten who was less than three weeks old. She was part of a couple of feral litters who were living at a house near my sister in law. The little great nephew had brought a couple of the kitties over to his grandma’s house to play with. Every time I went outside, this tiny little ball of fur would follow me everywhere and talk up a storm.

At the end of our visit, I told my sister in law that I was taking that kitty home with me and I did. My youngest was five at the time and he sat in the backseat with her all the way home. The older son and his father had left the morning after Thanksgiving to attend a scout event.

We have been blessed with our Dixie Pixie Girl since that day in 1999. Sadly, she’d been losing weight lately and when I took her to the vet in August, they said she either had developed asthma or lung cancer. They couldn’t tell. They gave us some meds to help her breathing in the hope that it was merely asthma. About two weeks ago, it became clear the meds weren’t working. She started losing more and more weight even though she was eating three times a day and begging for more food. She was vomiting a lot and lost control of her bowels somewhat. We had to make the tough decision to let her go. It has weighed on my heart even though I know it was the right thing for her.

So, she was with us almost thirteen years to the day. It’s ironic to me. Here’s a picture of her in her better days.

Thirty Days of Thanks by Valerie J. Patterson

If you’re a facebook user, then you’ve no doubt seen the countless daily posts that began November first and will end November thirtieth.  These are the “30 days of Thanks” posts.  I’ve been a facebook user since 2009, but this is the first year I have participated in this “tradition”.  It’s not that I had nothing to be thankful for in the past, but rather this year I am feeling especially thankful, and therefore have joined the throng.

2012  has been a year of great change for me.  It has also been a year of great blessings.  As you may know, I had some health issues for the first 5 months, also within that time, I took over the care of my 80-year old aunt who has Alzheimer’s, and moved her down to the city where I live.  In the 5 months since then, I’ve spent more time with my aunt than I would have been able to do had her caregiver not quit and had I not moved her here.  So I am thankful for warm sunny days spent in the gazebo sitting on the swing with her and talking and laughing and sharing our lives on a regular basis.  I am thankful for tight hugs and a regular “argument” of who loves who more.  I am thankful for Saturday afternoons eating Sundaes at the local Dairy Queen.  And I am thankful for afternoon BINGO games that I have had an occasion to join in and play beside my aunt.

In other areas of my life, I am thankful for an incredible husband who is warm, loving, caring, generous, and who makes me laugh, dries my tears, and would give me the sun, moon, and stars if I asked for them.

I am thankful for my family, my friends, my church, and the preteens in my Sunday school class.  I am thankful for the innocent giggles and smiles of my nephews, Isaiah and Brenden.  I am thankful for my creativity and the success I’ve had as a writer.

The above are all huge blessings in my life and greatly worthy of mention.  But in my facebook posts, I am thankful for the little blessings, too–they all add up and make my life so much better.

I am thankful for the remote starter in my car as I now get into a frost-free and warm car in the mornings.  I am thankful for warm, cozy blankets, hot chocolate (in many yummy flavors), snow angels, and gentle rain showers.  I am thankful for vacations with the bubbly hubby, walks on the beach, picnics in the park, and peanut butter sandwiches.  I’m thankful for ice cold milk, hot showers, twinkly Christmas tree lights, and Oreos.  I am thankful for penguins.

It seems so easy to think about what we all have to be thankful for on Thanksgiving, but I have found it is a very good thing indeed to take time–say, 30-days–to ponder who and what we have in our lives to give thanks for.  It’s not just the big things that count, that matter, but also the little things and the things we often take for granted.  What are you thankful for?  Could you fill up a month of days in giving thanks?  I’ll bet you could!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving whatever you plan on doing to celebrate.  I hope your holiday season is blessed in more ways than you ever thought possible, too.

Until next time, take care and enjoy!


Moving isn’t something I like a whole lot. And, we haven’t done a lot of it. The Jubilee house (to the right) will be my 5th house. Of course we moved a few more times what with the transitions. One particulary hard one was when we sold a 3,500 sq ft house and didn’t have another one waiting. We moved into a small duplex with wall-to-wall furniture. That is one ‘moving on’ I don’t want to ever do again.

This move has been coming, as the place we have now is 7 acres. The two houses are almost the same size but the current one is 25 years old against the 6 year old in Jubilee. The biggest advantage of the move is less yard work. Jubilee is in a community and the curb-side is taken care of. I won’t even have to have a lawn mower. They water, mow and weed so that just leaves the back yard and it doesn’t have grass.

I know once I get settled in I’ll be fine but this is going to be a long move. We don’t want to list this one until spring and there is so much more work here that it makes sense to make this one the primary place until then. The good part of doing it this way is that I am packing up boxes (and getting rid of stuff), taking them over to Jubilee and unpacking. By the time the ‘real’ move comes all it will be is the larger furniture.

A couple of Sunday’s ago we went over and moved cabinets into the garage and I bought new bar stools. As it comes together I may move sooner rather than later. We’ll see as we go along. This is going to be a journey and I’ll try to post my progress. The hardest part will be when we close up the old house. It will be like saying goodbye to an old dear friend. There are so many memories our family has made here. But, we’ve done it before. I think the hardest one was the one the kids grew up in. There’s something to say for people who keep the family homes. But then we think of all the work and how downsizing will give us so much more time to play.

Another advantage to the Jubilee place is that it’s easier to leave and go south for a month or so. When we leave this one we need to watch the time of year so the lawns don’t become knee high and the weeds don’t take over.

Interesting times and it often seems a bit overwhelming but then I just take a deep breath and move on. Makes this life journey challenging and exciting.

My Encounter With The Duke

We have one of our favorite guest bloggers with us today. Linda Smith Snook writes a visual picture that will take you back in time.

It was March 1955, I turned 13 years old in January that year and was so excited that we were going to take a family vacation. However, I knew riding in the same car as my dad, mom, grandmother and 5 year old brother all the way to southern California and back was going to be a challenge.

This is really the only family vacation I remember, we lived on a small farm….had animals that needed to be cared for, so a day at the park or maybe an over night at the ocean was the most we ever did.

I was in the 7th grade and it was not Spring Break, so my mom talked with my teacher and it was decided that I would be excused from school as long as I wrote a page each day about our activities. Then turn the ‘diary’ in when we got home for a grade for the time I missed.

My dad’s father and step mom, plus his brother and step brother and their families all lived in California. It was very exciting as we headed out the first week of March…down Highway 99. I remember at every stop there was the ‘changing of the seats’ routine between my mom, grandma and myself. Quite frankly I was super annoyed with my brother by the time we passed thru Olympia (30 miles south of our home).

One day after we arrived at my uncle and aunt’s home, my dad’s step brother and his family came over and spent the day visiting. My dad’s step brother (Uncle Don) worked for the movie studios as a freelance photographer. He took those pictures you used to see as you walked up to the ticket booth of a theater, and he took continuity pictures so the actors ended up in the correct spot and in the correct clothes when they came back from a break in shooting their film.

Anyway, during that day of visiting he asked me if I’d like to go to work with him one day while we were there. I was thrilled and my folks agreed that it would be a fun adventure for me. But, I didn’t really have the appropriate clothes with me, so the next day they took me to the Robert Hall store in Hollywood. They got me new shoes, new skirt, blouse and a pink jacket. I felt like a movie star myself.

The appointed day came and Uncle Don came and picked me up. When we got to the movie studio he took me in with him and sat me over in the corner to watch the action. The entire morning they shot the same scene over and over again and I remember that they finally got the scene right, just at lunch time.
My uncle came over and said that he had talked to the two movie stars and they had agreed to pose for a picture with me. I followed him over to another area and there on a high stool sat this beautiful lady named Lauren Bacall. I had never heard of her before…..

She did sit while my uncle took the picture but then she got up and walked away. She didn’t say one word to me.

From there, I followed my uncle over to another spot to a group of people standing around talking and laughing. In the middle of that group stood this larger than life man who stepped forward as we approached. He looked over at my uncle and then at me and extended his hand…my uncle introduced me to John Wayne. I had heard of John Wayne and needless to say I was dumbstruck. Here I was, this 13 year old girl who lived on 10 acres and did farm chores meeting the one, the only John Wayne.

We (or should I say ‘he’) chatted with me and my uncle for awhile and then he asked me if I was hungry. I must have nodded yes, because before I knew it he was leading us to a big round table over in a corner and box lunches appeared for all. I remember there was an apple in my box lunch but that’s all I remember and I don’t even remember if I was able to eat much. I do remember he asked me about my school, where I lived, etc. He was especially interested in the fact that we lived on a small farm and had animals. He wanted to know who was milking our cow. His laugh was hearty and it helped me to relax a little.

Sadly after the lunch break it was time for me to go. My uncle had arranged for my grandfather to pick me up so I bid farewell and literally floated out of the building.

It was a day I will never forget. My 8 x 10 glossy, autographed photos hang proudly in my hall, along with family photos. I have treasured them all these years.

Oh and the movie they were shooting~ it was ‘Blood Alley.’ A very good movie and several years ago a friend gave me a DVD of the movie so I can watch it whenever I want.

A Room With a View

As you know, I visited my son and future daughter-in-law in London recently- they actually live near Greenwich at Deptford Bridge but close enough, right? While I was there, we took a four day side trip to Edinburgh and I fell absolutely, positively in love with it. It’s gorgeous and the people are so wonderfully friendly. I adored, adored it.

We arrived by train and hoofed it out of the station toward Old Town. We climbed a steep hill and as we turned the corner, I told the fiancee that I wasn’t sure about the cobbled streets and the hills and my klutzy self-(I’m prone to breaking and spraining things). I also said I wasn’t sure about the distance between Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle because it looked like a long hike. She laughed and said, “Remember, it’s the Royal Mile so it’s not too long.” Point taken. LOL!

We turned the next corner and I gasped and said, “Now I know why J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter. How could she live in this place and not be inspired?” I pointed to a turret on a building and added, “Can’t you just imagine a wizard living there?” Then I pointed to another building. “Or a witch there? Or a goblin down there?” It truly, truly is a magical place and I’ve already written an 8500 word short story based there.

When we checked into the hotel, we got the top floor and imagine my delight when I opened the curtains to that very turreted place I imagined the wizard in directly across from me. I also could turn a smidge and see Arthur’s Seat, the traditional home of Camelot and the place where my son proposed to his fiancee in September 2011. What a view. Here’s some pictures to share that cool room with a view and if you ever get to Scotland, I guarantee you’ll love it.

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