Tag Archives: holiday


October! My Favorite Month

This gallery contains 7 photos.

Jillian here. Hope all is fall-ish where you are. Sadly, we’re still in the 90s and have a hurricane bearing down on the gulf coast of Florida.  The good news for me is we seem to be at the outer … Continue reading

Thankful by Valerie J. Patterson

It’s that time of year when people everywhere seem to take more than a glance at their lives and count their blessings.  While I think that is important every day of our lives, I, too, find that I reflect more at this time of year.

Of course, I am thankful for the big things: my husband, my family, my job, a roof over my head, food on the table, and money in the bank.  But I am also thankful for the trees in our backyard and the beauty they add to my day.  I’m thankful that I have a garage to park my car in, and that it is always either warm or cool depending on the season.  I’m thankful for lunches with friends, warm hugs on Sundays after services, kind words from strangers, and the cool gel pillow top of our bed–I love a cold bed as opposed to a warm one!

I give thanks for slippers, robes, cold glasses of milk and homemade cookies.  Brilliant sunshine streaming into the living room, full moons in the evening sky, and salty, buttered popcorn.

I am incredibly thankful for each and every morning my feet hit the floor!

I’m sure my list could go on…and I hope while you read you are compiling a list of your own list.  It’s important that we give thanks for large and small blessings, not just now, but always.  We have so many good things in our lives, don’t we?


The following is my very favorite fruit dip.  I promised to share it this summer, but only just remembered I had not done that.  It is very simple and so very good!  Enjoy!

8 ounces of Cool Whip

one 7 ounce jar of Marshmallow Creme

one 3 ounce package of Philadelphia Cream Cheese

Blend all ingredients in a bowl until smooth and silky.  Chill an hour and serve with fresh fruit of your choice.

This dip is incredibly easy, and so very delicious!  The perfect light appetizer, evening snack, or treat for work.


I have been absent from Over the Backyard Fence for a little while, and I apologize for not being here to read and comment the past month.  I hope to return in a more regular way very soon.

Until next time, may your turkey be moist, your pies spicy, and your family gathered around you!  Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

The Art of Doing Nothing, by Valerie J. Patterson

Life’s been hectic for a long time, but I’ve been doing my best to just keep moving and get things done as I can.  August 9th was our anniversary and Steve and I took a few days off and allowed no grass to grow beneath our feet as we headed out of town, away from obligations, away from phones and computers, and into the heart of nature.

Oh, and a spa and resort!

In the middle of a state park in Flintstone, Maryland is the Rocky Gap Spa and Golf Resort.  The resort is surrounded on two sides by a 243-acre lake that is a slice of heaven.  There are multiple public beaches along the banks of the lake.  There are plenty of docks for getting a boat in the water, fishing, camping, picnic areas galore, and absolutely gorgeous scenery to help a person forget their cares and leave the work place behind them.

Our room was a lake front room, and the view was stunning.  Steve and I spent long, lazy hours on a blanket on the beach.  We spent evenings ensconced in Adirondack chairs sipping beverages and enjoying quiet conversations, giggles, and memories as we allowed the sun to set around us.  We did nothing we didn’t want to do.  We chased no schedule.  Kept no itinerary.  Barely paid attention to a watch!  Cell phone?  What’s that?  We simply enjoyed one another, our surroundings, and the gorgeous weather.  We took naps and moved relaxation to new heights.

We came back home refreshed, recharged, and rejuvenated.  Every once in a while you need to slow down, take a seat in the grass–or the sand–and soak in the beauty God has given us, has placed all around us.

Until next time, may your next meeting be with a loved one, in the heart of nature with no phones, no noise, and no schedules!

Blessed Week 

This will be a short post because I’m having a wonderful time with my son! As I think you all know, my oldest son has his master’s degree in sustainable architecture and works in Providence, Rhode Island. He moved there on January 31,  2014 and due to vacation schedules and various other issues, he hasn’t been home since. It’s a 20 hour drive to get here so obviously, people with sense and limited time, fly. 

Anyway, he’s here on a visit until Saturday morning and I’m taking every minute I can to hog his time. I’ve been nice enough to share him with his dad and grandparents as well as his friends but I’m trying to soak up every minute. 

My younger son comes home from college tonight for 10 days of spring break – I don’t know what I’ll do with both my adult sons in the house together for the first time in over a year- probably OD on joy. But what better way to die, right? 

Enjoy your week! 

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Here in the USA, we have a holiday in January celebrating the life and accomplishments of Martin Luther King, Jr. He played a pivotal role in the fight for equal rights in this country. One hundred years after the American Civil War, the black community was still being denied their rights. The right to vote was given to them way before it was given to women (just after the civil war vs early 1900s) but they were still not allowed to register in certain areas of the American south. Local governments made it difficult with various tests and even poll taxes to be paid.

One of the things this meant was that this particular community wasn’t allowed to serve on juries since the jury pool was selected by the voter registration roles. So, all the juries were white and therefore there was no real jury of the peers of these disenfranchised voters.

One of the goals Mr. King set was to right this injustice and he wanted to do so in his non-violent way. Peaceable means to his goals was his watchword. I’ve read about this period in history. I was a very small child at the time so I have no personal recollection of it.

My son and I went to see the movie, “Selma” which tells the story of the march from Selma to Montgomery to try to enforce the voting rights. This movie was compelling and horrific at the same time. I cried through the majority of it and even had to cover my eyes a few times. The injustice, violence and cruelty of the bigots in this time was just astounding. I mean, I knew about how horrible some of the white people in authority were but this film made it real in a way that no reading of a history book could. They didn’t pull any punches- literally and figuratively. Go see it if you can but bring tissues.

The actor in the lead role was amazing. His speeches were stirring and very real. He had to be channeling the real man as he recited them. I also found it interesting that the two lead white characters, President Johnson and George Wallace, were played by British actors- I guess no American wanted to portray them. Can’t say I blame them there.

Happy MLK, Jr, day. Celebrate freedoms.

Family Thanksgiving Dessert Tradition

My husband’s family has this dessert as a family tradition – one of my sisters in law always makes sure we have this on hand.  It’s absolutely divine so I thought I’d share it this week before Thanksgiving. Happy Turkey Day to all who celebrate.

Four Layer Delight

Layer 1: 1 cup flour, 1 stick oleo melted, ½ cup crushed pecans

put in 9×13 pan and cook at 375 for 15 mins. Let cool

Layer 2: 8 oz cream cheese softened, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 cup cool whip

spread over layer one after cooled

Layer 3: 3 small pkgs instant chocolate pudding mixed with 4.5 cups of milk.

pour on as 3rd layer

Layer 4: rest of cool whip and crushed nuts on top

Travel Time

Twelve years ago, after a lot of persuading on my part, we took our first trip down to the South of France. I’d wanted to go there for ages, but hubby was not keen. He thought it would be pretentious and expensive. I finally wore him down (as you do) and we booked a trip to Nice. Since then it’s been virtually impossible to get him to go holiday else. We both loved it from the very first visit.

Until three years ago, we visited at least once a year, basing ourselves in Nice, Cannes or Monte Carlo. We’ve travelled to Antibes, Menton, St. Tropez, Villefranche, Beaulieu Sur Mer and many other places while there. Every place has its own special character, of course, but all are linked by the laid-back lifestyle, stunning azur sea, and the amazing quality of light in this part of the world. No wonder it inspired artists such as Cezanne, Picasso, Monet and Braque.

We’ve spent the last three years looking after guide dog puppies and haven’t really missed our holidays, but this year we felt the call of the Cote d’Azur and booked to take a trip earlier this month. We always take the Eurostar from London to Paris and stay overnight. Then it’s the early train down to Nice, arriving around lunchtime. The train basically travels south from Paris to the coast and turns at Marseille to chug along the fabulous coastline.

Apartment BalconyArriving in Nice, we headed for our rental apartment. It’s a beautiful place, situated right on the Promenade des Anglais. It has a gorgeous balcony, perfect for relaxing after a busy day sightseeing. While I love Nice, my favourite place is Monte Carlo. It’s so pristine there, you get the feeling that inadvertently dropping a sweet wrapper would earn you a night in jail! We’ve been lucky enough to spend a couple of Christmas holidays here, and the place is transformed into something very magical. Casino Square is a fascinating place, where we often enjoy coffee (or something sparkling) at the Cafe de Paris while watching the beautiful people, and their cars, pass by on the Square.Casino Square with Cafe de Paris on left

For AJ’s sixtieth birthday, we splashed out on a few nights at the Hotel de Paris, next to the Casino, and booked a transfer from the airport by helicopter. It was an amazing experience and a chance to get a really spectacular view of the stunning coastline. During this visit, we took a less exciting mode of transport and visited Fontveille by bus. Fontveille is the youngest of Monaco’s four districts, and was built on reclaimed land in the nineteen sixties to help ease the demand for property. As Monaco is little more than a mile from end to end, it is no wonder that property is very expensive here. In the photo below, if you look really closely you can just glimpse the edge of the Prince’s Palace through the trees in the upper left.Fontveille

The Casino Square is undergoing some renovation at the moment which has necessitated temporary removal of many of the exotic plants and trees. Some of the designer boutiques have also been relocated and housed in ‘igloo’ type buildings. It’s one of those love it or hate it things, and although the ‘igloos’ are pretty stunning, we mourn the loss of the fabulous vista the gardens provided down to the Square. AJ at Monte Carlo IgloosProgress at a price, I suppose, but it’s good to know that it’s only temporary and the gardens will be restored in 2018 and the igloos deconstructed. It’s also good to know that even somewhere as fabulous as Monte Carlo doesn’t always get it right.

It was a great holiday, and we’re really glad we went. But it’s nice to be home, and always lovely to welcome our next puppy lodger. Happy days!

A Bit of Paradise by Valerie J. Patterson

I had a completely different topic in mind for this blog article, but here I sit with my toes deep in luxurious beach sand and out popped this article instead.

The bubbly hubby and I are on holiday at the Outer Banks where the temperatures are a wonderful 83 degrees and absolutely no humidity daily and the evenings are balmy in the 70s.  Our days are spent lazily on a private beach we’ve been sharing with less than a dozen people.  Every hour or so we run into the surf and crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean.  There are no cares here on the beach.  We sip chilled glasses of juice or ice cold bottles of water, snack, nap, search for sea shells, talk quietly, and soak up the beauty surrounding us.

But this article is not about the holiday in its entirety.  That’s coming next month complete with some photographs.  No, this blog is about what happened at the beach today.

I was studying the horizon–vast spanse of blue sky meeting vast spanse of ocean–and what should appear?  Two dolphins frolicking in the water.  Their beautiful, water-silkened bodies literally leapt out of the ocean, arcing gracefully before plunging back into the water’s depths.  Then again, they appeared as though playing a game of tag.  Over and over these two beautiful creatures danced in and out of the water to my very delight and ecstatic pleasure.

Because it’s off season, the dolphin and whale watching tours are done. Steve and I were certain we would have little chance of seeing any dolphins. Then it happened. I was right where I was supposed to be, looking exactly where I needed to be looking, and the dolphins were there right where they were supposed to be, and I had a wee bit of paradise.

Until next time, may you find paradise right where you least expect it to be.

The First Week of May- Silliness and Seriousness

Jillian here!  The first week of May is full of fun dates and lots of folks had a great time with some of them on FB and other social mediums. May first is May Day which is celebrated a lot of places with flowers and even a maypole to be danced around. May Day is also International Workers’ Day. May first is also Law Day when the United States remembers and reflects upon the role of law in the founding of this country and how important it is to society as a whole. We usually have luncheons with the local bar and some folks visit the schools to pass on some words of wisdom.

May Fourth as become a kind of Star Wars day- “May the Fourth” be with you, for example. People celebrate the series of movies on that date.

May Sixth has also picked up on the Star Wars trend by being “Revenge of the Sixth” day.  LOL  – it can’t get much crazier than that, can it?

Well, yes, in all seriousness, it can. We here in Pensacola got a big whammy last week on April 20 and 30th. We got over 27 inches of rain in like 10 hours. We actually got more rain in that 24 hour period than Los Angeles has gotten in the last two YEARS.  This was on top of several big rains the week prior where the rivers were already close to spilling over. All that additional water needed somewhere to go and for some very unlucky people, it ruined their homes.

We had a couple of fatalities when cars were swept away when the dirt under train tracks washed out as well as when the dam broke on one of our lakes. Some of my friends less than a mile from me had to escape through their roofs and by boat at that. It was crazy and so fast.

We’re used to hurricanes but this damage was different and very sporadic. It was nuts- pockets of town were totally devastated and others were totally okay. It didn’t seem to be much reason with what got destroyed and what didn’t. It’s amazing how life can turn on a dime as they say.

Many, many people who had damage were no where near flood zones and had no flood insurance. It’s pretty sad. Clean up is still going on. We were lucky that we live on high ground but so many weren’t. The bridge was out right outside my neighborhood so for several days, I had to go north to go south to get to work but at least I had an intact home and office.  Here’s a link to a few pictures.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day- Easy Party Recipe

Jillian here: I have a dear friend, Martha, who lives in Syracuse, NY who makes this recipe for her parties. She has dual American and Irish citizenship and when I visited her a number of years ago for St. Patrick’s Day, she made this baked dip and I totally stole the recipe. It’s a Reuben dip and everyone thinks it’s super-duper awesome. I get requests for it every time I host a party.


2 (6 oz) pkgs. of corned beef (from the packaged deli-meat section)

1 can of Sauerkraut

8 ozs Swiss Cheese

2-4 tablespoons of mayonnaise


Dice the meat and cheese into small squares and mix together in a 8-9 inch round baking pan

Drain the sauerkraut and add it to the cheese and meat mixture. Mix well.

Add the mayonnaise until the mixture is damp (for lack of a better word- LOL)

Bake at 350 degrees for thirty minutes.  Serve with rye crackers.

Have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day! Sláinte!