Category Archives: Thanksgiving

Always Learning

So, here we are in mid November, and in lockdown again in England. It isn’t as severe as the first time, schools are still open, people can go to work and can meet others outside.  For Dave and I, life is no different to how our daily lives have been all year and in most respects, it’s been a good one. The family are all safe, the garden has flourished and kept us sane, and I’m back in writing mode with the novel, and accepted a painting commission. Now, that is a challenge for me as my client begged me to do a painting of her pet dog Lia which sadly recently joined those over the rainbow bridge.

I’ve warned her it won’t be very good as I don’t do animals and am not good at drawing but my client has become a good friend over the past years and I didn’t have the heart to refuse. I’ve spent the past few weeks practising drawing dogs and now comes the hard part, drawing Lia. I’ve only a few photos to go on, none of which are close ups, so it’s going to take a lot of improvising. I only hope I can pull it off.

The weather here is still very mild and autumn has given us all a fabulous display of colours in the falling leaves. I’m not a great fan of this time of year, particularly now the clocks have gone back and we have short days and long nights, but since I took up painting, I do look at it through different eyes and can appreciate the changing seasons much more. But my heart does sink a little when I walk around our garden.

The front is mainly bare soil now as Dave believes in taking everything out, digging the ground and leaving it fallow for the winter, whereas I believe in letting nature take its course and leave everything to die back naturally as Mother Nature intended. Many plants are thus still in bloom. I have cosmos and marigolds still in flower, my climbing fuchsia is spectacular for its first year, the hellebores are shooting up buds for later in winter, and there are even Welsh poppies in flower. Okay, so the borders do look a little untidy, but I know the wildlife and insects appreciate the cover, the birds enjoy the seed heads.The other day I was delighted to see a rare bird enjoying the garden for the best part of a day. Not rare as in uncommon, but because it is the first of this kind, a chaffinch, I have seen in the garden and I’ve been here over 40 years! The photo isn’t very clear as I had to take it through the bedroom window as every time I opened the window, it flew off into the holly tree, so it’s the best I could get.

Despite having been growing plants for over 50 years, I am still learning something new. There was I happily telling a friend about my Christmas Cactus that has decided to bloom early when she pointed out my plant was, in fact, a Thanksgiving Cactus, a totally separate breed from the Christmas or Easter Cactus most of us are familiar with. I’d never heard of a Thanksgiving Cactus so looked it up. And yes, she’s right. The Thanksgiving Cactus has different leaves, almost claw-shaped, to the other two which are more rounded, and both of these are different from each other:  the Easter Cactus having bristles on the tops of each leaf, the Christmas one has not.

I love learning new things. How about you?

Gallery

Settling Back Into Normal…

This gallery contains 3 photos.

It was a much more involved season of celebrations for us this year. Our daughter was in town over Thanksgiving and we had two 12-13 people dinners in one week at our house. Then Christmas came, with my sister in … Continue reading

A Mini Rant for the Holidays! :)

Jillian here! Happy December!  I am proud to announce my first grandchild, Benjamin Rowan, was born on November 26, 2019. Just in time to have his first Thanksgiving. It’s really cool as it’s always been my daughter-in-law’s favorite holiday. He’s a super sweet, gentle soul (so far) and a very happy little dude.

I was there in the hospital when he was born- not in the delivery room- I didn’t even want to be in the delivery room when my own kids were born, I certainly didn’t want to be there for someone else’s.  🙂  The labor itself wasn’t bad for her- she did really well according to her and my son. So happy she had an easy time.

People have been asking me what my grandmother name is going to be. I’ve been keeping it a secret and have bought a book for the baby for Christmas that will reveal it. It was one of my son’s favorite books as a child. (I’ll tell you at the end of this post if you stick around long enough) 🙂

One of the reasons I’ve been keeping it a secret is because I wanted the other grandmother to announce her name before I did. She has done crazy- if not downright mean- things to me over the time I’ve known her. I haven’t written about this before, but I have to get it off my chest.

When my son was growing up, we baked and cooked a lot together. I have one of the really nice KitchenAid mixers and I always told him I’d get him one for his wedding present.  When he got engaged, he was at her parents’ house and mentioned I was getting them a mixer. Within days, he emailed me to tell me that her mother got them one as she found a great deal on QVC. It really hurt me as that was something special I wanted to do for him and his bride.

Next, I asked her numerous times about coordinating for the wedding. What she was going to wear so I could decide what to do. She never would tell me- she’s about a size 6 and I am not. It’s harder for me to find nice clothes. Since she refused to tell me, I finally got what I liked. When I told the bride what color I got, I almost immediately got a text from her mother saying, “That was the color I was going to wear.” When I told my husband, he said I should just wear what I want. The lady ended up in an ecru all lace gown that was long and similar to the bride’s. Everyone else – including me and the bridesmaids were in short dresses. She looked foolish. Everyone was talking about it.

Fast forward to the baby shower:  When the other grandmother wanted me to go in on a ridiculously expensive shower (over $1,000.00 at a restaurant- before tax and tip), I said we’d rather spend money on something for the nursery. She came back with they were getting the stroller. I said (you think I’d have learned my lesson by now) that I’d get the rocker then.

Imagine my surprise when I went the next day to order the chair and someone else had ordered it. When I asked my son who bought it (as I was pretty sure I knew)- he said his wife’s grandfather. I had to laugh as I asked, “How does a dead man buy a chair?” Clearly, her mother did it- son says it was from money inherited.

And, the last thing as I rant on, the day they were leaving the hospital after Benjamin was born, her mother said she’d gone to the gift shop to get something for them – balloons and a stuffed toy- but it was closed. I said (again, stupid me) I had tried to go get flowers but they were closed and I didn’t know where a florist was nearby. By the time I got to my son’s house, his mother-in-law had stopped and got flowers.

So, it was vital I keep my grandmother name secret until this lady announced hers to all her friends.   🙂 I’ve chosen Nonna. It’s Italian for Grandmother and the book my son loved was Strega Nona. And now I have rattled on way too long.

Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza or Happy Hanukah, whichever you celebrate.  stregna nona

Gallery

Crafting, Anyone?

This gallery contains 6 photos.

It’s been a busy month for me, promoting Rudy’s Heart, my newest romance. It’s also been a crafty month, and I’ve found that a lot of crafts require group effort. At the very least, it’s more fun with a group, … Continue reading

Hobbits, anyone?

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a bit of a J.R.R. Tolkien fan.  I love The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. My brothers are the same. We’ve each read the books, ahem, a few times. And we went together to see the movies. I even sent them quiz questions for a week before the movie premiere. 🙂

Since I have yet to determine a way to visit Hobbiton, in Auckland, New Zealand, that doesn’t involve a 14+ hour plane trip (which I may still make one of these days), I have to get my thrills locally.

I haven’t been there yet, but there’s a hobbit house in Washington State. And, get this, it’s an airbnb rental! If you want to read more about it and see pictures, check this blog:

PNWBeyond

Recently, I found out there was a real, live, hobbit house within easy driving distance, at The Brothers Greenhouses. So on a nice, sunny, warm day in mid-October…yes, Washington State gets sun in October…we took a drive with friends to check it out. And it was a blast. It’s tiny inside, not fully built out, but the door and the ambiance were amazing. After touring the tiny home, we sat enjoying the sun, then strolled through the many greenhouses filled with plants, as well as the gift shop, with all sorts of little hobbit and fairy village trinkets to purchase.

 

I did purchase a little something for my tiny whiskey-barrel hobbit house. A miniature whiskey-barrel (not pictured). 🙂 A little memento to make me smile. This was so much fun.

IMG_0342

Oh, and just as exciting…okay, maybe more exciting, my newest romance novel, Rudy’s Heart, released last week. You can find out more about it on my website.

Have a wonderful November, everyone. And, for those who celebrate the U.S. Thanksgiving, have an awesome, tryptophan-filled, tummy-stuffed day!

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
Newsletter
Website

Gallery

Bloopers

This gallery contains 5 photos.

I love watching the bloopers when they put trailers in movies.  And, looking at old photo’s when we weren’t at our best is fun.  Well, at least they are if the photos aren’t of me. Years ago, at the suggestion … Continue reading

Welcome to My November

Jillian here. I hate to say my life is dull compared to some of you. Laurie with her cider making, Jane with her bike/car adventures, Lavada with her hidden state treasures visits, Kit’s gardening and Tricia’s trip all sound so much fun. I’m here trudging along with the day to day grind. Working the day job and writing on a new story for NaNoWriMo on my lunch hour and at home in the evenings. I was supposed to go to New York City in October but my traveling companion had an emergency arise with her mother in law so we postponed.

My older son is in for a visit this weekend so that’s a very nice thing. He’s always a pleasure to be around. We both have long been Liverpool football fans and usually both watch the matches and text each other while they are being played. This week, at 6:30 am central time, we’ll be up and watching in the same room for the first time in ages. Looking forward to it.

I have a new Christmas anthology out that was a lot of fun to write. I am working on this NaNo story that’s a pretty heavy subject matter and is much slower going as the level of angst is pretty deep. My inspiration for the story is the true experiences of Oney Judge. She was a slave owned by George Washington. She escaped and he never freed her -even after his death, so she technically died a slave even though she’d been living in a free state for years at the time she passed away.

The law in Pennsylvania at the time George was president was that if a slave lived there for six months, that slave became free. A lot of owners removed their slaves just before the time ran—even for a day or two—as that act would start the six months running again. George did the same thing.  It was a shameful time in our history and I’m tackling it in this story. It’s clearly not a romance though she does eventually find happiness as the true life lady did. It’s difficult to write how the slaves were treated as less than human. I can only hope I’m doing them justice.

Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate. And bless the families who lost loved ones in WWI as we come up on Veterans Day and the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. Would that their sacrifices in the War to end all Wars had been true.

Growing Older is…Fun!

One of the fun things about growing older is that you have a lot of memories about celebrations. Thanksgiving, for instance. I grew up going to my Grandma and Grampa’s house. Now, I’m one of five children. My Grandma and Grampa had eleven children. So I’ve got a few cousins. And that house was chaos every Thanksgiving. Wonderful, crazy, memory-filled chaos. This picture is just one of the tables. There were, if I recall, four or five to fit us all in. During the day, we kids would play in the bedrooms and attic upstairs. Hide and Seek or whatever we could invent. After dinner, Grampa got out the projector and we all snickered and laughed at each other as he showed family slides.

I’m the one peeking out from behind my Aunt Irene in the red. My mother is sitting across the table from me, in black.

Once I began having kids of my own, we had our own Thanksgivings. With our children, inviting our parents, family, and friends. Tables set for as low as seven and as many as eighteen. Each year as much fun as the last.

Now, as a parent of five and grandparent of eight, the baton has officially been passed. Oh, we’ve been mooching, er, getting invited to our children’s houses, or our siblings houses, for a few years. But this year was a first. We were invited to our grandson’s house. Wow.

It was small by our family’s standards, only eight of us. But that meant we actually got a chance to talk, instead of flying by with rolls or mashing potatoes over a story. It was one of the nicest holidays I’ve had. And the best part is the two pictures below. My grandson baked and brought a pumpkin pie to Thanksgiving at our house when he was a teenager. This year, I returned the favor, bringing pies to his house. Full circle.

Our children are fairly spread out and we’ve decided to start traveling for as long as we’re able, spending Thanksgivings with them each in turn (if the weather permits.) So I know there are more fun holidays in store.

If you celebrated Thanksgiving, I hope the dinner was great and the conversation lively. If you didn’t, at least you didn’t gain the weight the rest of us did!  And my wish to you all is a holiday season filled with love and peace and laughter.

Happy American Thanksgiving (11/23/17)
Happy Hanukkah (12/12-20/17)
Merry Christmas (12/25/17)
Happy Kwanzaa (12/26/17-1/1/18)

And a very safe and hope-filled New Year (1/1/18)
Laurie Ryan and family

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
Newsletter
Website

Gallery

Kennedy – Six Months

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Oh – my – gosh, how fast time flies. Kennedy is six months old. I could write a blog featuring her every month. I’m betting every grandmother out there could. This blog is going to be more pictures than text, … Continue reading

Turkey Stuffing Makes Me Cry by Valerie J. Patterson

Who knew?  I mean it’s not something that’s ever happened before.  I had no idea that stuffing and I were so close it could make me cry.  But it did.  In a very big way.  And I was caught unaware right there in the aisle of the grocery store.  Unaware and unprepared for the force of emotions that washed over me and left me sobbing and left my husband bewildered.

It was a very innocent trip to the store to stock up for Thanksgiving dinner.  Had everything in the cart and turned down the aisle with the bread crumbs and the premixed stuffing selections and the seasonings.  I looked up at the canister of bread crumbs and instantly, tears began to stream down my face as I choked back sobs.  Steve came beside me, placed a hand on my back and rubbed gentle little circles between my shoulder blades.

“What’s wrong?”

“S-s-stuffing…”

“I don’t understand.  What happened?”

“I saw the bread crumbs and it reminded me of my mom.”

“Okay…”

My mom passed away October 20th, and I’m in that phase of mourning where just seeing something or hearing something brings a flood of tears.  Mornings are the worst for me.  I’ll be getting ready for work, see the time on the clock and break down.  But stuffing caught me off guard.

From the time I was old enough to wield a knife, I sat in the kitchen with my mom and dad and–while they did other things–I chopped onion and celery into microscopic slivers for my mom’s homemade turkey stuffing.  Mom liked the flavor of both in her stuffing but hated biting into chunks of either one.  After I got married and moved away, my dad took over my dicing duties unless by some stroke of luck we arrived early enough for me to do the honor.

It’s been many years since I last chopped any onion or celery in my mom’s kitchen, which is why I was taken aback when, right there in the aisle, I was overtaken with emotion.  I guess I just never expected a canister of bread crumbs to affect me in quite a personal way.

Mom was an excellent cook.  She was the best friend I never expected, but was blessed to have.  She was strength and grace and beauty and charm.  She was warm and funny and loving and tough.  She was heart and soul and faith and light.  She was generous and giving and sympathetic and compassionate.  She and my dad were active participants in my life and I have equal parts of both of them inside of me–of the person I am.  And because of all of that, stuffing can make me cry!

I miss my mom.  I will miss her for the rest of my life, but we will meet again, and what a reunion that will be!

2016 has been a year of hard knocks and loss, but it has also been a year of great blessing, and I have much to be thankful for.  And I am indeed thankful.

Until next time, may you always be able to see the blessings in your life and may the memories you share add flavor to your days!