Monday, November 30, 2015

Life Last Week 2015-44

It was a short work week last week, just three days. Sophia came home from school and Vic and I were both off Thursday and Friday. The three of us went to the ship on Thursday to serve Thanksgiving dinner to those who had duty - many of the sailors' family members came to the ship to have Thanksgiving dinner there so it was a full house. We did our bit to stimulate the economy on Black Friday although we went out at a more civilized hour and paused between our rounds of shopping to enjoy a leisurely family breakfast. We put up our tree and did a little decorating, went to see the new James Bond move SPECTRE, and just relaxed at home in front of the fire, enjoying our time together. It was lovely.

30 Days of Thankfulness - Days Twenty-Seven through Thirty - Love - Mentor - Light - Happiness

Here we are...the end of the month already. I'm going to skip ahead to Day Twenty-Eight and talk a little bit about mentoring. I'm thankful that I have had some amazing women in my life to guide me on this journey we call Navy Life. I'm thankful for the friends I have made along the way and I'm especially thankful for the wise women who have mentored me in various ways. From the command leadership spouses who stood by my side while I was an Ombudsman, encouraging me to give my best to the families of the sailors, to the Godly women of the various military chapels we attended who prayed for me and my family. I've tried to pay it forward by helping new spouses who are new to this lifestyle - I know we have it a lot easier than the military spouses who endured the World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam eras and even with all of the modern forms of communication, the women who are separated from their soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines while they serve in the Middle East deserve a special mention for their faith and courage.

I'm indebted to all who serve as mentors, from the COMPASS volunteers who teach new Navy spouses how to navigate through this life, to the Military Wives Encouragement Groups through churches across the nation, to the Family Readiness Group volunteers who seek to unite spouses and provide a social outlet during deployments, and to the various other mentoring programs that are available in the Army, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. We stand together, always.

And for my grand finale, I'm going to combine the remaining days in this way...the Light of my life, the Loves of my life, the reason for my husband Vic and my daughter Sophia. I love you dearly and am so thankful for both of you.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

30 Days of Thankfulness - Days Twenty-Four through Twenty-Six - Surprise - Kindness - Music

I'm a bit behind - story of my life lately...

Day Twenty-Four - Surprise - I love surprises, especially those that have taken some thought and planning on the part of the surpriser. When we lived in Florida in the mid 1990s, Vic's ship was in dry dock in Charleston. He was there, without a car, I was in Florida, with a toddler. There was a duty van that brought sailors home for the weekend if they were able to get away but when you're in Engineering, there are very few times you are able to do that. It was a Saturday afternoon and we headed out to my friend Sindy's house for her son's birthday party. Imagine my surprise when her door opened and there was Vic! He had come home in the van, asked Sindy's husband to pick him up, and was waiting there for us when we arrived. It was a lovely surprise - wish I had a photo of my face when he opened the door.

Day Twenty-Five - Kindness - My Mum was the kindest person I have ever known. She was an amazing mother, grandmother, aunt and friend and so much more…a child in Post-Great War England, a Land Girl during World War II who went on to work for NAAFI (Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes), first in Egypt and then in Paris, France where she met and married her American GI. Countless trips back and forth across the Atlantic and two daughters later, she spent her golden years enjoying the English countryside, retracing her roots, and holding hands with the man who would be by her side until the very end, 47 years later. Kindness was her greatest virtue; she always had a kindly word for people and animals alike, she was a firm believer that a pot of tea would make any situation better, and we, those who loved her, miss her terribly. Good night and God bless, Mum, you’re forever in our hearts (taken from my Facebook post on what would have been her 87th birthday).

Day Twenty-Six - It's Thanksgiving morning and my family are still blissfully asleep. I am thankful that we are all together, that we have a warm home and food on the table, all that we need and a little extra to share with those less fortunate. Being thankful makes me think of one of my favorite songs - I love worship music and truly feel most filled the the spirit when I listen to music. Enjoy!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Life Last Week 2015-43

Work Tuesday and office potluck = nap needed Wednesday and potluck leftovers = nap needed Thursday and what's left of the potluck leftovers = still needing that mid-afternoon nap and on tenderhooks all day waiting for the message that the ship will be pulling in the next day, and finally, Friday and Vic is home!

Saturday was a blur of the largest of the local craft fairs, a trip to the tool store, a trip to Hobby Lobby (why are all the shelves of Christmas things almost empty and marked 50% off; are they getting ready for Valentine's Day already???), and a trip to the mall. Home, soup and bread, two episodes of Quantico and bed because Vic had duty yesterday. His weekend was short. One more stop at a craft fair and marathon grocery shopping for me. Home, laundry and bed...Praise God there are only three work days this week!

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day Twenty-Three - Handmade

When I think of handmade, I think of the beautiful knitted items that Mum made over the years from Jean Greenhowe patterns.

And I couldn't think of handmade with mentioning my friend Jodie's amazing ornaments that I treasure - these are just two of the many she made for me over the years.

A pinecone made from the pages of Emma - my former blog was titled When Good People Get Together which was a quote from Emma
A cross stitched sign from the King's Arms, one of our favorite eateries at Colonial Williamsburg

Sunday, November 22, 2015

2015 Christmas Countdown - End of Weeks Three and Four - Gifts and Giving and Get Cooking

I'm dreadfully behind as usual so I'm going to whiz through this and look forward to next Christmas when I'll have lots of time on my hands to give the countdown the proper attention it deserves.

Time to catch up on Week Three - Gifts and Giving

Day 16 - Renegotiate Gift Exchanges - Not really a problem for me since my friends and spouse groups are pretty budget-conscious, however, if you end up participating in too many exchanges, that can be a problem. As Nancy Reagan said, "Just Say No".

Day 17 - Shop Online and Catalogs - Online shopping is the way to go for most of my list - can we say We all have Wish Lists going through the year, sort of a personal filing system of things that catch our eye, to be stored away until something else comes along. Sophia seems to change her list weekly - you can always tell her mood - fashion, pet-centered, horse-centered, in a "things for my apartment" mood. The deadline for closed Wish Lists is approaching. No more changes after the Sunday before Cyber Monday.

Day 18 -  Set up a Wrap and Mail Center - Done! A long craft table worked perfectly with all the supplies close at hand.

Day 19 - Simplify Handmade Gifts - Eh, handmade is not happening this year. I can't count the number of UFOs (Un-Finished Objects, if you haven't clicked on the link) in my craft cupboard...far too many to admit here. Next year, maybe.

Day 20 - Status Check - Not doing too bad at all. Most presents purchased and wrapped, the remaining are on standby in a shopping cart, waiting to see if there is a better deal on Black Friday. Card dilemma still ongoing although I did slash the mailing list from 80+ to about 30. Food for Thanksgiving purchased, menu planned, decorating plans in place, things are going pretty well.

Day 21 - Make a Difference - Our giving has centered around the local projects that the Navy Wives Clubs of America's local chapter supports - refreshments for a holiday party at the Infant Development Program Center, gifts for two boys from an Adopt a Family project, needed items for the Youth Detention Center, and of course, Wreaths Across America. We have some plans for another event...not finalized yet so I'll hold on to that one until it's firm. I know that most of us are asked to give and give and give and wouldn't we like to be able to do it all? It's tough to decide which causes to support...whatever you can do will help someone in someway so don't feel badly that you have to draw the line somewhere.

Day 22 - Get Cooking Week - Until yesterday, it was cooking for a party of one - me. Soup and sandwich or a quick takeaway, that was it. Now that Vic is home and Sophia will be here soon, it's time for menus, planning, and eating around the table. Commence marathon grocery shop!

Day 23 - Plan Holiday Meals - Does planning them in my head count? Ok, ok, I'll write them down!

Day 24 - Inventory the Pantry - Did that before I went shopping.

Day 25 - Clean Out the Freezer - Did that too. 2 for 2 here.

Day 26 - Clean Out the Refrigerator - Done!

Day 27 - Plan Holiday Baking - It's called the local bakery. I will make a loaf of pumpkin bread though.

Day 28 - Create a Baking Specialty - Uh, pumpkin bread?

Day 29 - Decorate Week - Here we go, drag out the Rubbermaids! Let decorating commence.

How's your countdown going?

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day Twenty-Two - Dessert

Doesn't this look scrumptious?

This selection of teatime treats came out after the Royal Wedding in 2011 - check out Princess Beatrice's hat and the Queen's Launer handbag. Wonder if the treats were as delicious as they looked?

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day Twenty-One - Leaves

I love autumn leaves and I miss being in New England at this time of year. The foliage there is absolutely stunning.

Maine 2009
I love things that are decorated with leaves as well. This two card is beautiful.

And I can't forget Christmas leaves.

Holly through the railing at Chester Cathedral, July 2003

Friday, November 20, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day Twenty - Laughter

There's going to be much laughter in this house in the days ahead because my sailor is home! Vic's ship pulled in today and will be here all through the holidays and then some. There will be lots of jokes, funny stories, and crazy antics. Vic can always be counted on to make me smile and laugh.

I wasn't kidding when I said he could get up to some crazy antics

Thursday, November 19, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day Nineteen - Grateful

It's at this time of year that we really pause to be grateful for all that we have. I am so thankful for a hard-working, loving husband, a beautiful daughter, a steady income with good benefits, a warm home and food on the table, loving family and wonderful friends, happy memories of good times gone by and hopes for the many blessings.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day Eighteen - Food

'Tis the season for those special holiday foods and I am thankful that we can still get Cadbury chocolate - I'm not really sure what all the controversy was recently or was it a while ago? See how much attention I paid? All I know is that World Market had a 30% off all British foods sale on Sunday and I was in the right place at the right time. I bought boxes of Cadbury biscuits as gifts for some of my co-workers (the two departments who have been a tremendous help to me over the last four months - newbie that I am, they have had the patience of saints) and I hope they enjoy them as much as I do.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #29

Happy Belated Birthday Prince Charles - 67 years old on November 14. Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall are wrapping up their tour of New Zealand and Australia.

I know this is supposed to be a birthday post for Prince Charles but can I say I just love the Duchess's outfit? Gorgeous.

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day Seventeen - Color

My favorite color is blue - I love all shades of blue. Vic's favorite color is also blue although he's more inclined to favor the darker shades. Do you have a favorite color?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Life Last Week 2015-42

1. It was so nice to have a holiday in the middle of the week.  I could really get used to that type of schedule - work one day, work a second day but anticipate being off on the third day, off on the third day, back to work on the fourth day but anticipate the following day being Friday...the week just flew by.

2. Made our holiday tea booking at the local tearoom. Just Vic and I this year but I'm sure it will be lovely.

3. A busy Saturday with the Navy Wives - board meeting, regular meeting, and then working at the Wreaths Across America booth - only one more fundraising weekend left.

4. Poured with rain (very appropriate Thankfulness prompt today = weather) so I grabbed a takeaway and stayed inside for the evening watching the new series of Midsomer Murders on Netflix and wrapped Christmas gifts.  Much drier day today so I ran some errands and came across the 30% off all British food at World Market - quite a bit of Cadbury's made its way into my cart! Gifts, of course; what were you thinking I would do with all of that chocolate! I thought this was such a pretty sign marking the area in the store.

5. Horrified by the news from Paris but it's heartwarming to see the French flag over so many of my Facebook friends' profile pictures. We stand with you, France!

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day Sixteen - Weather

We've been having a lot of this lately - that's us up there in the top left - but I'm not complaining. I love the rain when I am inside listening to it pattering on the roof. I'm not so enamored of it when I have to run errands and that was the case yesterday so I put everything on hold until today which was a much drier day. I am thankful for the rain, though, for nourishing the plants that make Washington so beautiful.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day Fifteen - Joy

Not the best photo I know but one of the best ways to show joy - a homecoming! I was thankful here (1997) for Vic's safe return from a five month deployment to South America and I'm thankful for subsequent safe returns.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Pray for Paris

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day Fourteen - Tradition

How long does something have to be around before it can be called a tradition? I brought a couple of my family's traditions into our Christmas celebration - the Christmas Eve cold buffet, Sophia opening one gift on Christmas Eve, an advent calendar every year - but these were not handed down from my grandparents to my parents. I don't think either of them had a particularly easy childhood - my Mum was raised by a single parent, her Mum, and my father often talked about his abusive stepfather. They never talked about their childhood Christmases so I don't suppose they remembered them fondly. However, they made the holidays wonderful for my sister and me, and I hope that I've continued to do the same for Sophia.  I'm thankful that my childhood and hers will have happy memories.

Catching up on the 30 Days of Thankfulness

Day Nine - Warmth - Is there anything warmer than a fire in your fireplace? Vic and I debate fireplaces over and over again - we would both like a fireplace in our forever home but his idea is a fireplace that burns wood whereas mine is the less messier gas version. I guess we'll see whose idea is in the final plan. My warmest memory of warmth (pardon the pun) is, of course, in Kettlewell. Mum had specific criteria in mind when she searched for our holiday cottage for Christmas 2001 and an open fire was top on her list. I remember her stacking up the coals and then holding a newspaper over the fireplace so that the flames caught. I've got Days Four, Eight, and Nine all rolled into one! I am so thankful for the wonderful memory of the cozy warmth.

Day Ten - Smile - Sophia has a beautiful smile, see for yourself. She's a beautiful young woman, inside and out and I am so thankful for our lovely daughter. I didn't ever see myself as a Mom, thinking I'd be a single career woman but how my life changed when she was born.

Day Eleven - Life and Day Twelve - Gift - I'm rolling the days into one again! The gift of life, our beautiful daughter.

Day Thirteen - Animal - Le petit chien, our MudLynn, how she has enriched our lives. She's living the college life now, being taken for walks on campus where everyone who meets her thinks she's adorable, 
There's that smile again!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #28

The Princess Royal, Duke of Edinburgh, Duke of Kent (grey coat), the Queen, and King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands arriving at the Cenotaph
Photos courtesy of
Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, Duchess of Cambridge, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, Countess of Wessex
On Sunday, the Queen led the nation in Remembrance during the annual service at the Cenotaph on Whitehall. Other members of the Royal Family laid wreaths in tribute to the fallen, and this year, King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands attended the service at the invitation of The Queen to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of The Netherlands. 
Through the annual event on Whitehall, the nation pays homage to those who died in two world wars and in many other lesser conflicts from the twentieth century to the present.
The Queen, other members of the Royal Family and leaders of the country's political parties join representatives of the Armed Forces and ex-servicemen and women for the two-minute silence and the last post.
Her Majesty then lays a wreath of poppies at the foot of the Cenotaph, followed by members of the Royal Family, representatives of the political parties and High Commissioners from the Commonwealth.
A short religious service follows. After the reveille and the national anthem, The Queen departs. The war veterans then march past the Cenotaph to pay their respects to the fallen. A member of the Royal Family takes the salute as the war veterans finish their route at Horse Guards.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Life Last Week 2015-41

1. A good week and very good four-day work week as I took off Friday to get a lab appointment out of the way and then headed to Oregon for Sophia's horse show. I'm a mess of contradictions at the moment. I'm not lonely, but I hate to be alone. Missing Vic terribly. I love my job, but I hate working. At this time of the year, there are so many holiday events that occur during the week and I would love to attend them all. As I said, a mess of contradictions (and what did that have to do with my week - who knows?).

2. Couldn't wait anyone longer and tuned in to Season 6 of The Great British Baking Show/The Great British Bake-Off and watched the whole thing. Of course, I will watch it again when it comes on PBS. I found out that the reason the name was changed here in the States from the Bake-off to the Baking Show is that Pillsbury has dibs on the Bake-Off term - as in Bake-Off®.

3. Thoroughly enjoyed the finale of Home Fires and can't wait for Season 2 - such great characters.

4. Had a lovely stroll around the first craft fair of the holiday season - picked up a couple of small gifts and the Seattle Seahawks earrings I knew I would find at one of the booths. My office dresses in Seahawks gear for Blue Friday during football season and since I wasn't about to pay $100 for the jersey for a team that I really don't support (I'm a faux fan - just while we're here in Washington), I did pick up a nice Seahawks infinity scarf which I wear with a blue shirt and the earrings will go nicely. $10 earrings vs. $100 jersey = Score!

5. And finally, the biggest news of the week - the first IHSA horse show of the season, Sophia's amazing ride, and the blue ribbon for first place she brought home. It was a long couple of days - 531 miles round trip, ten hours of driving, a whole lots of Starbucks, but so worth it! What a great start to the 2015-2016 season.

Getting ready to ride
Another blue for the ribbon wall

Sunday, November 8, 2015

2015 Christmas Countdown - End of Week Two - Reality Check Week

Posting every day got lost somewhere around Day 12 so I think it might be better if I switch to a weekly recap. If you want to follow daily, you can head over to Christmas Countdown and select a notification method for the daily messages.

Meanwhile, Reality Check Week:

Day 12 - Magazine Reality Check - This one is pretty funny and they are so right - those glossy covers and photo-filled pages are so tempting. Yes, you can do it all, make it all, bake it all, have it all...uh, no, you can't. I limit my Christmas magazine shopping - Sandra Lee's Christmas special issue, BBC Good Food Christmas issue, and the Delicious Christmas issue. The pages of the last two don't hold anything I will bake or make; they just have Christmas in England on every page and since 99.9% of the items are unobtainable (here), it's just a magazine for dreaming. I pick them up before Christmas, put them under the tree, and don't look at them until Christmas Day.

Day 13 - Holiday Wardrobe Check - DONE! I have a black and silver dress and new black heels, not that we're going anywhere this year. Vic has his pants, shirt, burgundy or red cashmere sweater (he really resists the red so I bought the burgundy as a "close to red, but not quite" option), and a tie that goes with either one. As I said, not that we'll need them since Vic has duty on Christmas Eve. I have a feeling our Christmas wardrobe will consist of our matching red plaid flannel pajama pants and red shirts - sorry, Vic, you're just not getting away from the red this year!

Day 14 - Decor Declutter - Not much to do on this one but the checking the calendar and inventorying the supplies is a good one. I'm still having the "send cards, don't send cards" dilemma.

Day 15 - Here we go with Gifts and Giving Week - I'll have a recap for you next weekend.