Category Archives: Fall

So that was November?

These days every month seems to pass in a flash, but November takes the prize for me this year. Probably because my main focus was NaNoWriMo (a yearly event that challenges you to write a 50,000 first draft of a novel in one month). I’m extremely happy to report that I hit that goal. Yay! And a double yay to my fellow NaNo-ers Jillian and Kit who also came in well ahead of schedule. We rock, ladies 🙂 (nothing like a bit of self-congratulatory rhetoric, ha!)

Working toward that goal was harder some days than others, but what I found interesting was how it kind of solidified my process. I’ve been writing for many years and I’m usually a sit down and just write kind of gal, but lately I’ve noticed that word sprints are my bag. Word sprints consist of setting a timer for however long you want to write (or whatever task you want to accomplish), in my case twenty five minutes, and then not stopping until the timer goes off. Then you can take a short break (five minutes) to get up and stretch, make a cuppa, sweep the floor, you get the drift, before heading back to the keyboard and setting the timer again. It’s worked so well for me and really keeps me focused, so I’ll continue to work this way in the future.

When I wasn’t writing, November has been a month for walks in the local woods. My happy place. I think we’ve had everything weather-wise this month here in the UK – gorgeous sunshine, rain, fog, rain, frosty mornings, rain, and yes, even more rain. And with rain comes mud, mud, and even more mud. Happy days. It was during one very rainy, muddy walk that I discovered my sturdy boots leaked (thank goodness for Black Friday sales 🙂

One day I checked to make sure nobody was around and then had a very happy time amusing myself kicking up leaves as high as I could. Well, it made me happy. It wasn’t long before an inquisitive little girl made her way back from her own explorations to see what her crazy mummy was up to 🙂

Can you spot Vivvy in the photo?

Anyway, I hope everyone has had a good November and taken the opportunity to enjoy the month whatever you have been up to (and a belated Happy Thanksgiving to my US friends).

I want to just finish this blog with a heartwarming video I spotted on Facebook this last week. You might have seen it, but here it is below. It’s a mamma chimp reunited with her baby after she thought the baby had died. In reality the baby had been whisked away for life-saving treatment. That is one adoring and beautiful mamma. I admit to shedding a happy tear while watching, and even AJ was clearing his throat a few times. Best with the sound on…

November 2022

I went out to take some picture of the tomato’s a few days ago and snapped a picture of the boat. Since we bought the house in August when it was in the 3-digit temperatures, we didn’t take it out. Now it is perfect spring like weather, and we see boats out a lot. 

I’ve been here 5 months now and I am starting to acclimatize. Weather for sure is different from the Pacific NW. And, things you do in ‘seasons’ is a lot different. Winter is the time to get outside. My tomatoes and basil like November. There is even a volunteer tomato plant growing like a weed.  

Maybe I should string Christmas light over them.  🙂 

With Christmas coming, Kris and I are going back north. The grandkids are there so we wouldn’t be happy here without them. Plus, I’ve arranged to have the things in storage moved down here. Kris and I will coordinate the pickup in Washington and Rick/Lin will cover the Arizona end. It will be a busy December for sure. 

Wishing all of you US folks a Happy Thanksgiving this week. Oh, and if you venture OUT for black friday shopping, have a good one. I’ve only done it once and that was enough until this online shopping came into play. 

PS: Just as I started to post this blog Lin sent a picture of Harley’s first professional grooming. OMG I love this puppy

 

November Madness and Music I’ve Become Obsessed With

Jillian here. Happy November. For those of us doing NaNoWriMo, we’re in the midst of the craziness right now. Last night, I accidently added a zero to my word count, so instead of 22,003, the website had me as 220,003, which is ludicrous. When I tried to fix it, it said I had like negative 199,000 words, so it has been even crazier trying to get it to register correctly now. It even has me as already winning it and that is certainly not true. 🙂 I confess, it is driving me bonkers! LOL

About two months ago, when I was watching an episode of Grantchester on PBS, Robson Green, who plays the detective, was walking around his office singing a little. Someone told me he used to sing with a partner and they were called Robson and Jerome. I had no idea even though I have loved Robson since he was in Wire in the Blood back in the early 2000s.

Of course, I had to find what he sang. You tube has a great selection of their songs and I have been obsessively listening while I work. One day recently, my son asked me who I was listening to and when I told him, he looked them up too. He recognized the Jerome guy from Game of Thrones. I only ever watched two episodes of that show as it didn’t appeal to me, but Jerome was also in Ripper Street which I did like. How cool is it that these guys are so talented? Acting and were also successful recording artists.

Here are links to a couple of songs: What Becomes of the Broken Hearted

If I can Dream.

Update on the bathroom renovation: It’s going slower than the hubs wanted but he is still feeling effects of the cancer treatments and not moving as fast as he wants. He has to rest a lot and has been going to bed super early. I am not stressed about it, but he is. He has also done a few things 2-3 times as he isn’t happy with how he did it the first time or two. He has reset the shower base three times. He thinks he can live with it now. LOL

This week, we honor our veterans here in the US with Veteran’s Day and my friends in the UK have Remembrance Sunday as well. Happy Thanksgiving in a couple of weeks.

I’ll leave you with a picture I took in Rhode Island when my son lived there.

To Everything, There is a Season…

I have always been more of a cooler weather person than a heat of summer person. I have good friends living in Arizona and listening to them, the possibility of becoming a “snow-birder” in winter is very enticing. Honestly, though, I think I’d miss the Pacific Northwest weather. We get a touch of all the seasons. Lots of color in fall and spring, a bit of snow in winter, and abundant sunshine in the summer. I like those changes. In fact, maybe for me, it’s more about the change than the season. I don’t ever want to stagnate, so I need occasional change in my life to make me feel like I’m moving forward.

As I type this, it’s overcast. Rain is coming in later. And it rained yesterday. I went for a walk in it and loved it. Granted, I no longer splash in puddles. I walk around them these days. But it’s rejuvenating to smell the rain and hear it fall.

And winter? I love hibernating. Honestly, I could sit at the ocean and storm watch, never getting a thing done, and be completely happy with my life. Hmmm. So much for not stagnating? Lol.

What season is your favorite? Whichever one is, I hope you get to embrace them all, because nature rocks!

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It’s spooky time…

Don’t you just love Halloween? No? Me either, well at least I didn’t used to, but lately I’ve gotten more and more into the spirit (pardon the pun) of it. I think it started a few years ago when I dressed Vivvy for her puppy Halloween party at doggie training. It was lovely taking her for walkies dressed in her little witchy hat and cape, and getting the reaction of the kiddies who were doing their trick or treat fun. One little lad caught up with me in the local field yesterday and asked if Vivvy would be dressing up again this year, so it looks like I’ll be heading out to the shop to get her a new costume 🙂 We have a Spooky Evening Walk here in the village on Monday night where lots of houses are decorated. It’s fun, and Vivvy loves it, mostly because she gets loads of attention, and treats!

What I really love about Halloween though, aside from eating all the leftover chocolate/sweeties after trick or treat, is watching the scary movies on TV. This year so far I’ve watched Interview with the Vampire (can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched this in the past), Dracula, The Midnight Club, What Lies Beneath, and 28 Days Haunted. The shows I love most though are the ones that are those ‘reality’ types they do just for Halloween, where celebs get to stay at a ‘haunted’ house/mansion/castle for a few nights. I especially like the ones where there is audience participation and you can comment via email/YouTube about anything paranormal you think you’ve witnessed on screen. Yes, I know they’re mostly a set up and purely for entertainment purposes, but it’s just fun getting scared in a safe environment, LOL.

How about you? Are you a Halloween fan? Like scary movies?

October Round-Up

Mid October, and here in the UK autumnal colours are filling the trees, hedgerows and gardens, a distinct chill in the air although the days are often sunny and out of the wind, mild. But I do miss the summer heat. Whilst we enjoyed the high temperatures, the garden suffered. Our vegetables were a disaster except, surprisingly, our potato crop and most flowers in the front beds perished due to lack of water. Dave pulled out the majority of them, leaving only the dahlias in-situ even though they were failing too. What a difference to them now. Thanks to plenty of rain showers and cooler weather, they have come into their own and look lovely.

You might notice in the background of the photo in front of the wheelbarrow a flush of yellow that should not be there. These are wallflowers that should not be blooming until next March/April. For some unknown reason they are in flower now and thus too late to move into their proper position around the drive. Hey ho, win some, lose some. Good job we have a plan B.

We kept the pots and baskets watered as well as we could, and by using grey water on the rear garden, but they all struggled to thrive despite all loving the sun and warmth. To our joy, most have only recently come into full flush, as are many things in the back, thanks to the rain. I still even have honeysuckle, clematis and a climbing fuschia in bloom. The Californian poppy by the bird-bath, a survivor from last year, has been in flower since May and is still going strong. We are just hoping the first frosts keep away as long as possible. Oh, the wonders and vagaries of Mother Nature.


And what of our pond? Last week, we called in a waste contractor to remove the remaining rubble as was too much for Dave to clear on his own. Glad we did, the work was done within an hour. Now we can order in the topsoil and, fingers crossed, have a lovely flowerbed by next spring. What we can plant here is limited as this area is in full shade most of the day, one of the reasons why the koi pond was placed here. The first thing I shall be planting is bluebells – you know how much I love them!

The past month saw me running another acrylic art workshop. A small group this time which worked better because I was able to give them much more individual attention. At the end of the day it was lovely to see finished paintings, and each one different. I do not like seeing a group of virtually identical artwork all the same as mine; I encourage individuality. They obviously love it and already champing at the bit for another workshop. That won’t be until early next year, giving me plenty of time to work on what to do, and get my book finished! Yes, I’m still working on it, having made a few changes to the ending.

Talking of painting, you are honoured to be the first to see my newly completed piece. Called simply “Yport”, it was inspired by a collection of photos taken in Yport, France by a friend who is a brilliant photographer who gives me free reign to use any of her pictures. I would be lost for ideas without her work.

Enjoy your month whatever and wherever you may be.

Kit Domino’s websites and blogs

Shepherds Pie

With fall looming I thought it was time for a recipe and this is now one of our favorites.

We bought Cosco’s Shepherds Pie and loved it. Their version is made with hamburger and Linda and I decided to try beef stew meat.  We didn’t look up a recipe and I realized as I did a little looking before writing this that there are a lot of recipes on the web. Just Google. 

Our version:  

Make any size you want. We made a 9×13 one. 

* Stew meat – we got stew meat that was cut in small pieces at Safeway. I’d never seen it like this but it cooked faster. 

* mashed potatoes – we used instant and they tasted great. We did mix grated cheese in them 

* can of beef broth

* can of mushroom soup

* pea’s & corn – we used frozen 

* carrots, we used baby carrots

* seasoning – Johnny’s Dock & garlic powder

Brown stew meat with flour (use enough flour so it will make a thick gravy). In a pan or bowl mix broth, soup, and vegetables. Stir in browned meat and season.  Put in a casserole dish (again we used the 9×13 size). Cook in 350° until meat is tender and the stew thick.  

Spread mashed potatoes over top as thick as you want and put back in oven until brown.  

Tree Topper- A Cherished Keepsake

Jillian here. Happy December. I thought I’d share about my tree topper today since I don’t have much else to say exciting — been having some stress at the day job and it’s time to put that aside and talk about something less legally intense. 🙂

In the fall of 1986, I was twenty-five and pregnant with my first child and had been a lawyer for a bit over two years. Back then, salaries weren’t that great. A beginning lawyer made from $18,000-$20,000 a year (which translates to around $43,000- 47,000.00 now with inflation). I had just started a new job with a firm (had previously done overflow work from another lawyer and did okay with that financially, but since I was pregnant, I wanted a more steady salary and benefits). I was making $24,000.00 a year there (about $58,000.00 in today’s money. I’m telling you all this to say that $35.00 for a tree topper was a lot of money in that time ($88.00 with inflation). 🙂

There was a cute shop down the street from the law firm where I worked that sold a variety of items. It’s now a lamp and lighting showroom, but back then, they carried lots of knick-knacks, household furnishings, soft goods and, at the holiday season, it was a wonderland of goodies.

In the first years of our marriage, we had an el-cheapo topper that was a circle with lights and shiny greenery around them. It flashed on and off and was a fun thing on our tree. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it. 🙂

One day, on my lunch hour, I walked around this store and found this lovely Father Christmas who absolutely spoke to me. He looked nothing like our traditional Coca-Cola Santa Claus here in the USA, but he was beautiful and absolutely stole my heart. He’s wearing a silk coat with fur attached and his face, beard, and hands are beautiful porcelain. The toys in his pack are lovely, too–even a little Christmas tree peeking out. I fell in love at first sight. But he was $35.00. It seemed like too much to pay at the time, so I left.

But he was still speaking to me. He was calling my name down the highway and into my office… he was relentless…. so, there was nothing I could do. I had to go back the next day to buy him. He was happy, I was happy, and even the baby I was carrying seemed to approve. 🙂

Now, 35 years later, I still relish getting him out of the Christmas box every year and getting him on the tree. He still makes my heart happy–and at $1.00 per year net cost (so far), he’s been a great investment, right?

Just two girls having fun…

Since AJ had to go away last week and the weather was due to be gorgeous for a couple of days (sunny, but cold) I decided to take Vivvy on a little adventure. I’d never taken her away without her beloved daddy before and did wonder if she might pine and get disoriented staying away from home for a night without AJ, but went for it anyway.

We headed to the coast which is about an hour’s drive from us. Vivvy’s not the best of travellers, but I plied her with the pet version of Rescue Remedy which seemed to keep her calm and reasonably relaxed.

Weston-super-Mare is a dog friendly town and I’d chosen a pet-friendly hotel and have to say it lived up to the description. The only place in the hotel off limits to dogs is the restaurant, but the staff set up tables in the bar for guests who wanted to keep their dogs with them during breakfast. Most people seemed to have taken up the offer because the bar was full next morning!

Vivvy loves the beach. We’d taken her to my mum’s coastal home many times but the beach there is all shingle, and this was Vivvy’s first encounter with miles of sandy seaside. She bounced around like a little lamb, so excited, then ran off to play with the other dogs, often returning to me as if to say “this is really fun and exciting, mum”. Ha!

Of course, there was the proverbial stick collecting, lying in any available pool of water, plus several deeply dug holes in the sand 🙂

We were both totally pooped that night having walked the length of the beach (my fitbit clocked over 18,000 steps) and were both out for the count well before midnight. But then I was woken by a paw tapping my shoulder at 4.40am wanting the inevitable night-time trip outside. Duly wrapped up against the icy night, we headed down to reception where I apologised for them having to unlock the main doors, only to be told cheerily that it certainly wasn’t the first time that night they’d had to open the doors for four-legged residents!

After breakfast next morning we took another long walk on the beach before heading home. It turned out to be a great mini break for both us girls and I won’t hesitate to do it again. Vivvy proved once again that we can take her anywhere. She is such a good girl, well-behaved, and adaptable … even without her beloved daddy in tow 🙂

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Late Autumn in England

Burnham Beeches

It is hard to believe here in the UK it is the middle of November due to the mild weather we are experiencing. Autumn began early, at the start of September but because of the warm weather and little wind, the Fall colour change and leaf drop has been slow and thus protracted, much to people’s enjoyment. And it goes without saying the garden has been in flower for longer, with many plants throwing up still more blooms. This has caused us one or two dilemmas in that most of the borders, pots and tubs should have been put to bed last month but it hurts my heart to do so when they are still giving us a good display.

As an example of how mild it has been, this Sunday Dave and I were called for our booster vacs at our doctor’s surgery. The morning dawned bright, the sky blue with no breeze or chilly wind, a bonus for us as we are about 800 feet above sea level here and close to the Bristol Channel where the Atlantic winds blow strong; rarely are there such calm, quiet days. We decided to walk to our appointment, about half a mile away. More to the point, no coats were needed!

This late mild weather is something we’ve experienced before. Some 30 years ago on mid-summer’s day we had the central heating on, but come Christmas, the boiler was turned off, the windows and patio doors opened, and we had clematis in bloom in the garden, sprigs of which decorated our Christmas table! And if my memory serves me right, back in 1962, it was a mild autumn but, come Boxing Day (26th Dec), heavy snow fell heralding the Big Freeze of 62/63 when the country did not thaw out until March! I’m only hoping this warm weather is not a portent for a freezing, snowed-in winter. Back to the present…

I’ve learned to enjoy the autumn colours far more than I ever did, this coming from taking up painting when I now see things through different eyes. There is a tree we pass every week on our way to do our weekly grocery shop. During the summer little notice is taken of it but in autumn, it comes into its full glory. I don’t know what kind of tree, only that is is large. Each year, more and more people are taking note of it, many stopping to take photographs. Its colour and shape make this a magnificent specimen, and I simply must include it in a painting soon. I say that every year I see. One day…

Talking of paintings, I have at last finished the large (30 x 20 inch) floral piece I have been working on for several months and it is now proudly hanging on our lounge wall. It is a representation of a collection of flowers we had growing in tubs and pots along our patio fence, a small snapshot of the summer display we had. The hardest part has been thinking of a suitable title. After long deliberation and discussion one came to mind. So I can now unveil “Flowers of Summer”. I hope you like it.

Flowers of Summer

Kit Domino’s website and blogs