Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Have a holly jolly Hodgepodge

I'm doing something fun this week which I'm sure I will tell you about in minute detail next week. It involves getting on an airplane, making a connection to still another airplane, followed by friends, fun, and foreign language. It also involves hubs keeping the home fires burning while he oversees a plumbing repair (yes! I get out of that most dreaded chore!) and also paints a bedroom. His weekend sounds like it will be fun, doesn't it? In the meantime, here are this week's Hodgepodge questions...y'all know I like to keep a little mystery going here, right?

If you're not sure how to play along click on the instructions above the button on my sidebar...post your answers on the link here tomorrow (Wednesday).

1. What is the most interesting thing you've done in the last year?

2. What is your most meaningful family heirloom?

3. What food festival would you most like to attend? If you're not sure click here to see a list of possibilities.

4. Snow...do you love it or is it considered a four letter word where you live?

5. Can you ski? Do you ski? Are you any good?

6. What quality in your spouse or best friend are you most thankful for?

7. Describe the coziest spot in your home.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Aftermath

A Monday morning blogging challenge-how to make a traditional Thanksgiving celebration sound like something new and different. Guess what? It can't be done. That's one of the things I love most about Thanksgiving...it's predictable. It is people across America sharing mostly the same meal with people they love. Or are related to and must put up with but still, deep down there is love. So instead of something new and different how about a play by play of our holiday weekend which was probably only slightly different than your holiday weekend?

We had such a nice morning Thursday. We all moved about the kitchen doing one task or another to the backdrop of the Macy's parade and snow falling outside. It didn't stick but it was beautiful to watch. We had our feast mid afternoon and we all agreed it was just right.

Dishes were done, naps were taken and phone calls were made to family scattered here and there...we were all so full we didn't even drag out the leftovers.

On Friday hubs transformed the turkey carcass into the worlds best turkey noodle soup while we waited for my brother and sister in law to arrive. Seriously delicious. Once they got here we had a repeat of Thursdays meal, except we did not use the china that doesn't go in the dishwasher and it was also minus the hours and hours of slaving in the kitchen beforehand. Let's all give thanks for the beauty that is Thanksgiving leftovers. After dinner we watched some football, played some pool, and just enjoyed hanging out together which we don't get to do nearly often enough.

My brother is a high school coach so they had a cross country meet to attend in New York the early part of Saturday. While they were out I convinced hubs we needed to drag out the decorations and try to stir up some Christmas spirit. He loathes putting the lights and garland up and around the banisters and here's what I want to know....why is it that it never fits the same way twice? And as long as I'm on the subject of Christmas decorating mysteries why is it there seems to be one stray box every year that doesn't turn up when everything is hauled upstairs from the basement? Eventually it does but it seems every year we finish the tree and say, where is that box with the xyz ornaments? Annoying.

My brother and sister in law returned late in the day Saturday and we decided we'd take a break from the turkey meal and have a fondue party instead. Good call. We sat around the kitchen table and it was delicious and fun and relaxed.

This was followed by a game of Trivial Pursuit which we discovered was purchased when we lived in the UK so my brother and sister in law were at a slight disadvantage in answering questions about all things British. Not a lot because to be honest it was hard for us too. And playing games makes for great family bonding. Just sayin'

Sunday morning daughter1 learned she would have Monday and Tuesday off this week so we scrambled around and changed her ticket to go home late Tuesday instead of Sunday. We take all the days and hours and minutes we can get. Daughter2 is a student and her schedule was not flexible so we all rode out to the airport to send her on her way. She'll be coming home in a couple of weeks for Christmas break so it wasn't quite as hard as it normally is...still hard, always hard, but at least her Christmas holiday is right around the corner.

Daughter1 and I spent the afternoon chatting and sipping hot chocolate in Christmas mugs while sitting in the sun room in front of one of our freshly decorated Christmas trees. Hubs watched football aka napped on the couch which is also an ideal way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

So today my plans change, they shift in a good way. I have a daughter home to accompany me while I do errands, shop, and prepare dinner. Just the usual Monday stuff only better. Today will hold an extra measure of sweetness which is the perfect way to head into Christmas.

This girl thinks so too.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

While visions of her to-do list danced in her head

Who else opened their eyes at 6 am and saw their to do list complete with timeline flash thru their head? A lot goes into a single meal doesn't it? But of course at the end of the day we'll say it was worth it.

Yesterday the sun was shining so we drove up to Highpoint in hopes of taking a picture for our Christmas card. It was cold and windy up on the mountain and someone, not naming any names, wanted to chase birds as opposed to sitting still for a picture, so it was a little challenging.

We laughed a lot though and that's always good. fyi-that is not the picture going on our Christmas card. As soon as we got home the girls and I donned our aprons and started in on phase one of the meal preparation for today's dinner.

We also made spaghetti and meatballs for last nights dinner so the kitchen was a-hoppin. Daughter1 made the angel pie...

Daughter2 made the cranberry relish and then chopped a lot of celery and a lot of onion that will go into our dressing and then helped me finish up the meatballs for last nights dinner...

This child has focus. Just sayin'.

Hubs spent the afternoon getting our patio heaters working. Yes, just in time for winter but still, they are finally working. We got them in the UK and the regulators have a bayonet style connection which you do not find anywhere in the US. We know this for a fact because hubs has been on a mission for the past year and has spoken to no less than 827 propane companies, electricians, plumbers, hardware stores, and hearth and home shops. Finally someone directed him to a farm and tractor store and they had a solution. Hurray! Not that we will be sitting on the patio anytime soon because, hello, winter is looming, but by golly he was going to get those things converted or go crazy trying.

We had a nice dinner last night and it makes me happy to see my whole little family around the table. After dinner hubs and daughter1 were sent to the market for some vanilla ice cream. We decided our spaghetti feast would not be complete without one of our favorite Italian dessert concoctions...Affogoto. It is so easy and so delicious-

Make a pot of espresso or super strong coffee.
Put vanilla ice cream into a mug and pour coffee on top.

And its even better if you eat/drink it while lounging in your pjs on the couch watching Beauty and the Beast with your family all around. It does not matter one iota that there is not a soul in your house under the age of 20. It is still sweetness and perfection.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wednesday Hodgpepodge Vol 3-Don't be a turkey...come play!

Were you around when that expression, 'Don't be a turkey' was popular? I think it was the late 70's. The 70's were their own special kind of wonderful and if you missed them I feel sorry for you.

On to this week's Hodgepodge...a few people said they thought the questions this time round were hard. I like to say they make you think. It makes for more interesting reading to have a few questions with substance as opposed to the yes/no variety, yes?

Okay, here we go...don't forget to link your post where it say's "You're Next" at the bottom of mine today...

1. If you had known what they knew then, would you have boarded the Mayflower?

My friend Deb came up with this question and the more I've thought about it the harder it is to answer. I think the most likely scenario in my case would be my hubs would nudge and cajole and encourage and finally talk me into getting on board. I think we can all agree he would have been first in line when they asked who wanted in. I don't think I'd have gotten on the ship without some friendly family pressure. And I'd have been green around the gills the whole way to America. They didn't have Dramamine back in the day, did they?

2. How far have you traveled on a boat and how do you feel about boats in general?

Ships, eh. I've never been on a cruise partly because traveling with thousands in a confined space is not my idea of a holiday, but mostly because I have serious motion sickness. I know, I know, people say you don't feel the motion on a great big cruise ship but these are the same people who tell me I'll love roller coasters.

Now boats are a different story. I love to be out on the water in a boat and I'm okay on a lake or river. We owned a power boat before we moved overseas and I absolutely loved it. I would wear the accupressure bands if we were going to be in the Bay but if we were just out on the river I was okay. I like the beauty of a sailboat but what I really love is speed so power boats are my preferred method of travel on water. Oh, and I also like canoes. They're boats, right?

3. What traditions have you kept, acquired thru marriage, and/or tossed? If you're single what are some of your family's favorite Thanksgiving traditions?

Thankfully hubs family and my family have always celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas in similar fashion. The very first year we were married we spent Thanksgiving with hubs family and it felt pretty much like home. Except for the dressing but over time I've successfully converted his family to my recipe so that's all good now. Hubs family makes a dessert called Angel Pie which I've mentioned a time or ten on my blog and that is one tradition acquired thru marriage that's a keeper. I also remember my mother in law asking me that first year if I wanted any particular dish that was traditional to my family Thanksgivings and I made my mom's fruit salad. I appreciated her asking and will file that away for my own future in-law children.

4. What time is your dinner and how many will be round your table? And what is the one side dish you cannot do without on Thanksgiving day?

It will just be our little family of four on the actual day but I'm still making my normal hundred and ten sides because leaving any of them out would surely make somebody unhappy. I'm planning to eat a little earlier than we normally do this year, somewhere between 2 and 3 PM, because I'm hoping we can all take a walk before dessert and also before it gets dark.

Friday my brother and his wife will drive up and spend the weekend with us which will be fun. I love the left over meal on Friday almost as much as I love the original meal. We will not be with my family for Christmas this year so I'm happy to have visitors over the Thanksgiving weekend.

The ONE dish I cannot be without at Thanksgiving is cornbread dressing. It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without it and its my favorite part of the meal.

Go ahead and say it...you didn't think I could do just one did you?

5. Have you ever used a fire extinguisher? Do tell...

I guess all this talk about cooking brought the question to mind. I have never used a fire extinguisher although my sister and I did start a small fire in our kitchen when we were about 10 and 11 and a fire extinguisher would have been handy. My brother was supposed to be keeping an eye on us while my parents were out and he was on the phone when the 'incident' occurred. Since no real damage was done we put our collective heads together and decided it was best not to tell mom and dad. Hey kids! Parents know stuff! They just know. Especially when soot drops from the living room drapes and a certain pan mysteriously disappears. Tell the truth.

When we lived in the UK I was involved with Girl Scouts in our school and I had to be fire extinguisher trained. Sometimes we used candles and unless one of us went to the training we could not use candles. So I went to a half day workshop run by a company who dealt in fire extinguishers and I learned about all the different types and had to demo each kind.

In this house we have a fire extinguisher attached to the side of a kitchen cabinet. In our corner of NJ there must be smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and a fire extinguisher in the kitchen along with a certificate proving such before settlement on a house can move forward.

6. Tell about a situation that caused you dreadful trepidation and much feet dragging only to realize later it was a true blessing.

Did I ever tell you about the time I was going along happily thru life and my hubs came home and asked me how I'd feel about moving to England and a couple months later there we were? Living in England. I thought so.

7. Baked, sweet, mashed, hash browned, or french fried...which one's your favorite?

Mashed. But I rarely ever have mashed potatoes or potatoes of any type because they are not on my approved list of foods to eat when trying to look svelte. I actually love all of the above but mashed are my favorite.

8. Insert your own random thought here...

Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A taste of Thanksgiving in the Hodgepodge

Today is the day my chicks come home to roost for a few days and I'm more than a teensy bit excited. I'm going to try really hard not to make my hubs wish he'd gone to work so he wouldn't have to listen to my incessant chatter because when I'm excited about something I chatter. More than my normal chatter I mean. See, I'm doing it now.

This week's questions are sponsored in part by my real life, but too far away friend Deb, who in the spirit of Thanksgiving, fed me many of these this week. If you're not sure how this works see the page with instructions in my sidebar.

1. If you had known what they knew then, would you have boarded the Mayflower?

2. How far have you traveled on a boat and how do you feel about boats in general?

3. What traditions have you kept, acquired thru marriage, and/or tossed? If you're single what are some of your family's favorite Thanksgiving traditions?

4. What time is dinner and how many will be round your table? And what is the one side dish you cannot do without on Thanksgiving day?

Yes, I know it goes against all I believe in to ask for 'just one', but I made up for it by asking three questions here.

5. Have you ever used a fire extinguisher? Do tell....

6. Tell about a situation that caused you dreadful trepidation and feet dragging, only to realize later it was a true blessing.

7. Baked, sweet, mashed, hash browned or french fried...which one's your favorite?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

See you back here tomorrow with my answers and the link to share yours with the great big world wide web.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It takes more than a village

Today is November 21st. November. Last night we looked outside and saw the tree in our neighbor's front yard all lit up for Christmas. And if you want to get technical yesterday was only November 20th. Is it me or is it all starting up just a little bit early this year???

Here's the deal...I am not in the Christmas spirit. There. I said it. I look around and see the lights and the decorations everywhere I go and I'm feeling sort of eh about it all. Our little town put up their lamppost wreaths sometime last week which look nice and add a little sparkle to the village but still. It's November. I can't decide if its me and I'm just not feeling it this year or if its because its way too early.

I did suggest to hubs that he put the outside lights on the trees this weekend because it was relatively warm and there was no precipitation. We won't be turning them on until after Thanksgiving though...doing so even one minute earlier is against house rules here.

Last year I hosted a big crowd of family for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year I am not. I'm cooking but it will be a much smaller feast. Last year was also our first Thanksgiving in the US in many years, our first Christmas in the states in three years, and our first Christmas in a new home, all of which helped fuel the holiday spirit. I think it kicked in somewhere around early September and was still hanging around mid January.

This weekend I tried to jump start things. I finished menu planning for Thursday, did a big shop to get most of the essentials for preparing the meal, ordered my fresh turkey from a local market, and I even set the dining room table with my china and crystal which usually makes me feel oh so happy.

Still... not really feeling it.

Sunday afternoon I decided to pull out my Snow Village. Some people leave pieces of their village out year round but I am not one of those people. The snow village only comes out around Thanksgiving (usually after) and gets packed up sometime in January. I have quite a few pieces and they're all in boxes within other boxes which are stored in the basement which means much lugging up and down stairs and also much unpacking and sweeping up of the Styrofoam storage mess. Just getting it out and ready to display is a big job.

I like to put most of the pieces on top of my kitchen cabinets but hubs had forbidden me from standing on the counters with electrical wiring and fragile ceramics without him there to act as spotter so I put it all on the kitchen counter until he was finished with the outdoor lights.

Here is most of my snow village...

Are you thinking what I was thinking? Because I looked at the table and honestly my first thought was, 'Why did I get all of this out today???' Now that its out of the boxes it pretty much needs to be put in place for the holidays.

And if I want lights in my village, which I do, then this must also be faced...

Let's be like Scarlett and think about that tomorrow shall we...

I was looking back at some of my posts from this time last year and there was one just before Thanksgiving where I listed all the things I was looking forward to in that next month. We had many things planned including re-visiting holiday traditions and decorations we hadn't seen since moving abroad, a show in the city, New Year's Eve in the city, and more. While this holiday season will be very different from the last there is still much to look forward to including...

daughters in the house, baking and eating an angel pie, cooking with my daughters, my brother and sister in law coming for the day after Thanksgiving meal, seeing the Smoky Mountains in all their winter beauty, a family road trip, corn pudding, the smell of turkey, a walk after the meal on Thanksgiving day, watching Elf, Home Alone, and White Christmas, daughter2 playing Christmas carols on the piano, cinnamon scented candles, cranberry bread, playing games, new pajamas, a fire in the fireplace, hikes in the woods, Christmas Eve, butter creams, and most especially, the story of a Baby who changed everything

So...what about you? Are you already playing Christmas music and decorating your tree(s) or are you still trying to figure out where October went? If you're like me and are feeling more of the latter no worries..I'm pretty sure there's still plenty of time to find your Christmas spirit.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Turkey Talk ala Flashback Friday

Today's Flashback Friday prompt is all about Thanksgiving traditions and memories. Thanksgiving is my favorite of all the holidays and I love everything about the day...the family time, the foods, the season of autumn, and the feeling of thankfulness that this day stirs up inside of me.

My mother has always been an excellent cook and I remember Thanksgiving as a happy day filled with wonderful smells and a delicious meal. My grandparents and other extended family lived mostly on the other side of the country so we typically didn't have relatives sharing the meal with us. And I don't think we ever traveled anywhere for the holiday. Quite often though, we'd share the meal with another family, longtime friends who also had four children like my parents.

One of the things I remember especially looking forward to on Thanksgiving Day was the shrimp cocktail. As a family we did not have a lot of meals in fancy restaurants or even a lot of meals out so many things were considered a treat to us kids that may not be perceived as a treat by kids today. Shrimp cocktail was one of those things. My mother made spicy cocktail sauce and mixed it with the shrimp and then put it all into beautiful long stemmed crystal glasses lined with lettuce. She set each one on a plate on top of our dinner plates and this was our starter. I remember feeling very grown up eating shrimp cocktail this way.

This picture is in a scrapbook my mom made for me. I guess my dad was taking the photo which is why he's missing. You can see the shrimp cocktail on the plate in front of my mom. Fyi-I'm the one on the left with the long hair. Growing up we always dressed for Thanksgiving dinner (no sloppy jeans or t-shirts at the table) and I've carried that tradition on in my own family too. Usually my sisters and I put on dresses and my brother and dad put on collared shirts and dress slacks. My mom also has a knack with flowers and she'd make a pretty arrangement for the table and light candles. It made the day feel extra special.

I have vivid memories of my dad making a production out of carving the turkey. He liked to save the carcass and make something called carcass soup the next day. The name lacks appeal but essentially it was a turkey broth soup and it tasted good. And my sister and I always got to pull the wishbone apart which was a big deal to us as kids.

I prepare a very similar meal to the one my mom made throughout my childhood. I think Thanksgiving dinner is one of those meals nobody in the family wants messed with too much. My mother's cornbread dressing is my favorite thing about the meal and that's the recipe I use. My own family would rebel if I changed up the dressing in any way shape or form. Our favorite sides are corn pudding, creamed onions and in recent years I've added brussel sprouts cooked with pancetta which are totally yummy. Dessert is pumpkin pie and fruit salad and I've added hubs family's angel pie too which I could personally eat in its entirety.

My mom always had a fruit salad as a dessert option on Thanksgiving Day. It consisted of red grapes, diced oranges, diced apples and crushed pineapple and was topped with whipped cream. That may not sound like anything really special but there is something about the combination that is just right. This is another tradition I've continued in my own family because sometimes a bowl of fruit really is better than pie after a big meal. As kids, my sister and I were given the task of pitting the grapes for this salad and I remember so clearly sitting at the kitchen table pitting grapes while my mom got the turkey ready to go in the oven. Nowadays I just look for them already pitted which is kind of a shame.

As a kid I might have watched some of the parade in the morning and we usually had our big meal in the mid-late afternoon. I like to do this in my own house now too because I love to drag it all out for seconds later in the evening. My dad always said grace before we ate and we always took a family picture somehow around the table. In my own family we also like to say some of the things we're especially thankful for each year before we say grace.

Thanksgiving feels like the hush that falls before December barges in with all her lights and colors and sounds and most of all, her expectations. Perhaps that is what I love best about Thanksgiving...it's a day whose only expectations are good food, sweet family, and a heart filled with gratitude for blessings too numerous to count.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Eating and Sleeping...it's a vicious cycle

It seems like a lot of my posts lately have revolved around the hodgepodge so I thought I'd take today to talk about this and that. You know, as opposed to random stuff. Its not really that there is anything too exciting to talk about, yet talk I will.

I cooked dinner Tuesday night. That sounds so lame but honestly we haven't had too many home cooked meals around here lately. Hubs has had dinner out 11 of the past 21 nights. I've been with him for a few of those but many were work related...like tonite. Tuesday night I made meatloaf which is one of his favorites so he was a happy camper.

A happy tired camper. We got into bed Tuesday night and I looked at the clock which read, are you ready...8:58. I suspect many of you had not even managed to get your toddlers into bed at that hour. Quite often we're having dinner at that hour. Somebody needs a vacation in the worst way. Thankfully he will be taking all of next week off.

Some friends invited us out to dinner this coming weekend but we're going to have them come to our house for a cook out instead. I hope we can stay awake.

This past Monday night we met some other friends for dinner. Are you seeing a pattern...we eat and we sleep. This has been our life in recent weeks.

Anyway, these were not just any old friends. These were special friends. Friends who came all the way from England to eat dinner with us. Okay, not really but still, they were in a nearby town so we met for dinner in a lovely Greek restaurant. The restaurant is known mostly for its seafood dishes and the fish are kept on ice for you to peruse and select. For the record, I don't necessarily need to see the actual fish that will be cooked prior to its appearing on my dinner plate. We had a lovely evening catching up and comparing notes on our college aged children and life in general. Incidentally, hubs had grilled octopus for a starter...a few people in the Hodgepodge this week said they wouldn't touch it but I say don't knock it til you've tried it. It's tasty!

My neighbor and I carpool to a Bible Study on Tuesday mornings. When I pulled into her driveway this week she showed me the spot where, just a few nights before, she'd seen a bear lay down and go to sleep. Yes. In their driveway. They really do make themselves at home in our neck of the woods. There's going to be a bear hunt for the first time in five years in our area this December. I hate to think about it but the female population is out of control, especially right where we live. Incidentally our dog will be staying indoors and she'll be donning a bright orange vest when we have to take her out of doors. Wouldn't want someone to mistake her lovely black coat for a potential living room rug.

Speaking of bears, did anyone watch Sarah Palin's Alaska on Sunday evening? No matter your feelings about her I've got to think the Alaskan tourism industry will be booming after the series ends. The scenery was spectacular and there is such a sense of adventure there. I'd love to go to Alaska but hmmm....do I want to go with my hubs? We are not always on the same page when it comes to outdoor adventure.

In other exciting news, I discovered today that I've been driving around without my license. I put it in an evening purse the weekend before I went down to my moms and I never put it back into my wallet. I drove all the way to my moms and back without it. And then around town here for a few days too. Oops.

This time next week we'll be preparing fabulous turkey dinners...our dinner will be followed by a power nap. I told you people...its a vicious cycle.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wednesday Hodepodge aka Button Button Who's Got the Button

A couple of bloggers last week mentioned they were having problems seeing the Hodgepodge button on their blogs. I did try to visit everyone who participated last week and the button seemed to be working everywhere. Can you let me know if you still can't see it? Daughter1 has a Mac and thinks it may have something to do with the way she saved it or some such technical nonsense...anyway, she'll get right on it and hopefully by the time you read this all is tres bon.

Hey, I told you I was going to throw some French into the mix every week.
This blog is nothing if not educational.

On to this week's Hodgepodge...answer the questions on your own blog then come back here to add your address to the Linky list at the end of this post. Don't forget to include the button in your post so readers will be directed back here to all the other blogger links. The button code is on my sidebar and I think I'm going to also add a blurb there regarding the Hodgepodge so I'm not giving out the directions every week. You're welcome.

Here are my answers to this week's questions...

1. What is the most amazing weather you've ever seen?

A crystal clear sunny day in London.

That isn't what you were expecting is it?

Truly, there is nothing like a crystal clear blue sky day in the UK.
Its amazing.
And rare.
And experiencing one of those picture perfect days makes you feel happy just to be alive.
I don't think any other weather affects me in the same way.

2. What is a sound or noise you love?

a baby giggling
my daughter's sweet voices at any age
a British accent
the ocean

3. Do you like seafood? What's your favorite seafood dish?

I love seafood-all kinds. Of course I haven't tasted everything, but what I have tried I've loved. My absolute #1 favorite is steamed Maryland Blue Crabs.

Trust me...they are blue before they're steamed. And they must be eaten while sitting with friends at a picnic table beside the water with several rolls of paper towels nearby. Picking crabs is not for the faint of heart but the reward is huge.

There is nothing better. The end.

4. What part of your day requires the most patience?

My days are pretty much my own but I guess I'll say right around the dinner hour. My hubs generally calls and tells me when he's on his way home and I play that whole guessing game as to how much traffic there will be on his end vs. how much cooking time on mine. Plus I like to tell him about my day and pepper him with questions about his when he gets home. I know he needs a few minutes to get in the door and hang up his stuff and look at the mail and that sort of thing. Believe me, holding in all my many words at the end of a day requires patience y'all.

5. What's your favorite shade of blue?

In the decorating department it would be navy blue. My living room and dining room are both painted navy blue and I have many navy accents in my home. But in the clothing department I like to wear more of the brighter blues...turquoise and sapphire are probably my two favorites.

6. Do people underestimate you?

I have always looked younger than my age. Well, except for now. And the last five years too I guess if I'm being totally honest. But prior to that I looked young for my age and I think sometimes that caused people to underestimate me. I think I'm pretty much a what you see is what you get kind of girl these days.

7. When was the last time you had butterflies in your stomach?

If we're talking nervous butterflies then I'd say it was the last time I flew which was the end of October. I always get butterflies when I fly. Just ask anyone who has ever had the misfortune of sitting beside me on an aircraft experiencing turbulence.

If we're talking excited butterflies then probably the day before my daughter came home to visit in October. My stomach always does flip flops in the days leading up to a visit with my girlies.

8. Insert your own random thought here-

I was going to say something along the lines of how lately my hubs and I have been wondering why construction crews can put up a 15-story hotel in China in six days but the little bitty bridge in our town that is seriously about three cars long has been under construction since August and is still no where near being completed. Hubs sits at that light every single day. I sit there many days too. We do not get it.

Instead I think I'll just say that thinking about being in the kitchen this time next week, cooking a holiday meal beside both my girls, makes me incredibly happy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Q and A-Volume 2 and actually this is just the Q.

You know, these Hodgepodge posts come around awfully fast when you are trying to come up with questions plus manage unfamiliar technology plus live life too. Even writing Wednesday Hodgepodge is a bit much...do you think Hewlett Packard would be upset if I occasionally use the abbreviation HP in my posts? I am imagining all sorts of brainy and capable computer types landing here to answer questions about whether they're a bird or a fish and what their favorite holiday dish might be and what's in their pockets (which are protected of course). No offense to brainy computer types....about this time every week I'm wishing I were one of them.

Here are the questions which you should answer and post on your own blogs tomorrow, Wednesday, hence the name, Wednesday Hodgepodge. Once your own post is up click back over here to link your blog to McLinky and visitors will come a-callin.

1. What is the most amazing weather you've ever seen?

2. What is a sound or noise you love?

3. Do you like seafood? What's your favorite seafood dish?

4. What part of your day requires the most patience?

5. What's your favorite shade of blue?

6. Do people underestimate you?

7. When was the last time you had butterflies in your stomach?

8. Insert your own random thought here, and remember...I have a wooden spoon and I'm not afraid to use it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

It's A Dog's Life

If a piece of gum falls in the woods will my dog find it?
Yes, yes she will.

And it doesn't matter how deep the leaves are, if there is a piece of gum out there she'll find it.
And chew it.
It's hilarious...why doesn't she swallow it?
It's like she watches us and knows you are just supposed to chew.
She doesn't limit herself to the already chewed variety either.
If there's gum in my purse and I've left it within reach she's been known to snag that too.

Hubs was out of town most of last week so I spent a few days with my mom.
My mom doesn't mind if my dog tags along when I come to visit because my dog is a very well behaved pooch.
Well, except of course when she has her nose in my purse.

Normally though, she is good as gold.
This past week?
Not so much.

She has allergies this time of year and they make her itchy.
And when she scratches her collar jingles.
Its hard to sleep with jingle bells playing all night long.
Only 39 days til Christmas by the way.

So I guess this week it is back to the vet we'll go.
I'm pretty sure my car can find its own way there.
We are quite well known at our vets office.
We were also quite well known at our vets office in the UK.
And our vets office in Maryland where she started life.

If ever a family should have purchased pet insurance it was this family.
It's not that she's sick a lot.
It's more like stuff happens.

We picked her up from the breeder in May of 2002.
Three months later she somehow managed to ingest a grass awn which then proceeded to abscess in her throat.
In case you don't know, a grass awn is what you see on the ornamental grasses people grow in their gardens.
Yeah, I didn't know they had a name either.
At least not until I saw it in black and white on the vet bill (s).
Seventeen stitches and one overnite hospital stay later she was good as new.
Did I mention it was a holiday weekend?
Of course it was a holiday weekend.
These things never occur during normal office hours.

We had the pick of the litter when we chose our pup and we got to meet her mama and her daddy and her granddaddy.
They were all lovely dogs with perfect teeth.
I'm guessing the perfect teeth gene must skip a couple of generations.

Everyone who knows her agrees that her teeth only add to her charm.
I think she is slightly embarrassed by them though.
Perhaps that would explain why she chewed up one of my Invisalign trays on Saturday night.
Fortunately I was only a day away from moving into the next set.
And truth be told she probably needs it more than me.

Picture it like this...
Hubs spent his Saturday night in San Antonio at a fun work event.
I spent my Saturday night wrestling a piece of plastic dental equipment from a 60 pound dog who thought it was all some kind of a big game.

Actually I do blame her behavior on the hubs being out of town all week.
She has not done anything like that since she was a tiny tot.

She was awfully cute back then, wasn't she?

Lucky for her she still is.

She's also a gentle dog who is friendly and loves people.
And she's a natural born bird dog.
We've never really encouraged the hunting thing but her DNA will not be denied.
She loves to stalk birds, squirrels, rabbits and the dreaded ground hog.
Oh what she wouldn't give to get her mitts on a groundhog.
Specifically the one living in our rock wall.
And I guess in that instance we might possibly be encouraging the hunting just a wee bit.

She's only ever managed to catch a bird she was stalking on two occasions.
Two out of thousands.
Tens of thousands.
Pretty much every time she's outside she is stalking prey of some sort.
Both birds she captured were already injured when she caught them.
Don't tell her.
She thought she was hot stuff.

She is getting older.
I can hardly bear to think it.
She is the sweetest dog I've ever known.
Well, except when she's eating my expensive dental apparatus but you know, the rest of the time she's a sweetie.

A sweetie who thinks she's a lap dog...

She's not, but she thinks she is.
She's a lap dog who loves her walks...

and her naps...

and her rides in the car.

And most especially, a lap dog who loves the hubs...
where he goes, she goes...

When she hears his car pull into the garage after work she hurries over and scoots herself as close as she can possibly get to the door...she leaves exactly enough room for it to open.

Are you a dog person or a cat person?
I figure I can ask that question here because anyone who is neither one of those probably stopped reading many sentences ago.
If you're a dog person then you understand how a dog becomes part of the family...
that no matter what sort of day you may have had she is oh so happy just to see your face.

I remember a quote I read once somewhere that said,
"I want to be the person my dog sees me to be."

I think maybe we can learn a few things from a dog.

edited to add this post is linking to the synchroblog at Chaos Theory

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Role Reversal

So in hosting a weekly random meme I knew I'd experience a teensy bit of stress.
I thought the stress would come with creating the questions every week.
I was wrong.

I say I'm not very good with all things technical.
Secretly though, I thought I was doing pretty good.
This week I realized my first thought was correct.

My daughter1 made a button for my hodgepodge posts.
She made a couple actually and I chose my favorite and she sent me the button and code in an email with instructions just to copy and paste.
Easy peasy, right?

I tried for several hours to get that code to show up on my blog.
I could get the button to show but no code.
So I called her with an SOS and she said,
"Moooooom! You left half of it off the page."


While I had her on the phone I asked her to help me set up the McLinky.
And she said, 'Okay, let's iChat while we do that."


For some reason once I added the McLinky my post immediately published.
I didn't want it to publish until midnight.
Back to the phones.
"What are you doing mom?"

Why does she automatically assume its me?

Probably because it is usually me.

We discussed and discussed but it continued to publish.
She said, "I think I need to see your screen."

You're there and I'm here.
Many many states away.

"I'll send you a request to share your screen."

Um, okay?

Then she uttered the words that were to become her theme song for the rest of the afternoon. And maybe into the early evening.
And possibly the wee hours of the morning too.

"Just do what I say."

Wait a minute...
Wasn't it just yesterday I was saying those words to her?
Well, it sure feels like it was yesterday.

And daughter1 quickly discovered her theme song would need a second verse and it would need to sound like this-


I'm pretty sure those were also words I used to say.

Yes she needed to shout.
Because when I see buttons I'm like a 2 year old.
Must touch.

I like to think I'll remember everything she showed me yesterday but who am I kidding?
I'm sure I'll be back on the phone with her again next Tuesday.
And that conversation will be almost word for word like the one we had this Tuesday.
And she'll sigh.

Because when it comes to all things technology I'm the kid and my kid is the 'parent'.
And just like parents the world over, she'll wonder why she has to say something fifteen times before it sticks.
And just like parents the world over, I know she'll love me just the same.

Wednesday Hodgepodge-The Initiation

Welcome to the Hodgepodge! Before I get started I must first send a big thank you to daughter1 whose patience truly knows no limits. Trust me, I tested it to the nth degree on Tuesday. Why is she so sweet? Why am I so technologically challenged? Sigh. Daughter1 I finally got the code sorted for our fabulous hodgepodge button and you'll find that on my sidebar. You can include it in your post as a link back here. If you'd like a cute bloggy button of your very own visit daughter1 and she'll create something fun for you too.

If you missed yesterday's post with the questions and you want to give your own answers before reading mine then click here. And if you have questions you'd like to see in future hodgepodge posts please send them my way. Thanks for playing along today...everyone is welcome to join in the fun.

1. Are you more like your mom or your dad?

I'm quite stubborn...hmmm...which parent wants to claim that one? I suppose I see bits of both of my parents in me just as I see some of both hubs and myself in each of our daughters. And if I'm being honest I see the good and I see the not so good. I have a lot of my mom in me and I think my sisters would agree they do as well. I want to value all the good things she has passed on to me but there's a few things I try to keep in check. I look at how I have mothered and that has definitely come from my own mom and has been a huge positive. But I also know my mom is a world champion worrier and I fight that tendency in myself.

2. Do you like roller coasters?

No. Wait, let me answer that again-NO! Actually I do have a thing for speed so its not that so much as it is the fact that my stomach cannot handle the dips, drops, and spins. And here's the thing about people who love roller coasters...they are constantly trying to convince those of us who don't that we need to ride them. Whyyyyy? If I never ride another roller coaster ever ever ever in my life I will not feel like I missed a thing.

A few years ago I was in Disney chaperoning a school choir trip and I ended up riding the Rock n' Roller Coaster. When the ride ended I was so dizzy I seriously thought I was going to need to lay down in the infirmary. Don't you just know Disney has an awesome infirmary? Anyway, the dizziness lasted for hours and I was responsible for children who most definitely needed chaperoning. I am not designed to ride roller coasters people so enough with the peer pressure already.

3. How did you name your blog and do you now wish you had thought about it maybe another five minutes before hitting publish? Would you change your blog title if it were not a huge pain in the derriere? (French makes everything sound a little nicer doesn't it?)

Oh oui. La langue francaise est belle! I just decided that I'm going to throw some French into every hodgepodge post I write. I think that would most definitely add to the hodgepodgedness of it all, don't you?

I was living in the UK when I started blogging. I had absolutely no idea what I was signing on for or that anyone would ever actually read what I wrote. I wanted to call my blog 'the other side of the pond' but that name was taken. I fiddled with the phrase a bit and came up with my current title which actually suits me better since we moved back to the states less than a year after my first post. As titles go, its kind of long but I don't think I'd actually change it given the chance.

4. What is the best wedding gift you received? Not married? Didn't get any gifts? Then what is the best wedding gift you've ever given?

I've been married for 26+ years so its a little hard to remember but I know one of my faves was a quilt that hubs sweet grandma gave us. We've been to a couple of weddings recently and it seems that everyone wants cold hard cash these days. We certainly could have used some cold hard cash when we married but instead we got mostly dinner plates to our china and goblets to our crystal and other such items. And I'm glad...I love pulling out all our special things and seeing my wedding china on my dining room table. They are items we might never have purchased for ourselves so I'm glad we have them now.

5. What bill do you least like to pay?

Property taxes. If I told you what we pay in property taxes you would want to curl up in the fetal position and suck your thumb. Oh wait, that's me. Seriously, the number is that bad. We are appealing them this year so we'll see how that goes. A reduction of any kind would be the equivalent of a lottery win.

6. Is the glass half full or half empty?

always brimming to overflowing...I'm an eternal optimist

7. What is your favorite word? Okay okay, calm down. How about one of your favorite words?

Y'all know I can't do one.
I know I came up with the question but still...


There. That's my favorite. Or close to it anyway.

You thought I was going to say gobsmacked, brilliant, cheeky, gutted or knackerd didn't you?

8. Insert your own random thought here-

Last weekend we came within mere millimeters of taking out two sweet and lovely deer standing in the middle of the highway. First of all, deer, why are you in the highway when there are woods to the left of you and woods to the right of you and essentially woods all around you?

More importantly, why, when you are standing on my back hillside and you happen to catch a tiny glimpse of me many feet away watching you from inside my house, why do you run away faster than a speeding bullet, but when we are close enough to literally tap you with our car bumper you stand stock still and stare at us like...a deer in the headlights? Hey, I think I might finally understand where that expression came from.

Don't forget to add your blog to McLinky before you go visiting other hodgpodgers. And tune in every Wednesday for more of the same. Only different. You know what I mean, right?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Where are we?

Are you as confused as I am? If you read my blog in google reader then I'm guessing the answer to that question is yes. Blogger and I had a misunderstanding this evening and my personal IT department, aka my daughter1, finally diagnosed the problem. She also resisted leaping thru her computer screen and shaking me although I'm pretty sure she wanted to.

Anyway, it seems my blog wasn't sure if it was in England or America and since the clock was saying England it posted. It's okay blog...sometimes I forget I'm not in England anymore either.

The first Hodgepodge post will go up just after midnite tonite. Hopefully McLinky will be there too. Hopefully. That's the one you will link to with your own Hodgepodge.

Sorry for any confusion. Or maybe I'm the only one who was confused?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mixing it up with a new random link

For the past year I've been participating every Wednesday in something known as the Random Dozen (RD) hosted over at 2nd cup of Coffee. Lid posted a dozen random questions and people answered on their own blogs. She has decided to retire the RD for now but those of us who played regularly miss it. And because I have a lot of random in my head that needs to go somewhere I've decided to do a linky of my own on Wednesdays.

And now, for your linking pleasure, I'm pleased to present....

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Oh how I love that word. Wednesday Hodgepodge will be slightly different than the RD because for starters, its not a dozen. A dozen random questions on a weekly basis may not sound like much to you but I suspect it could become overwhelming for me so I've settled on a nice even 8 with a twist. Hey, its not called hodgepodge for nothing.

Because I have a whole head full of my own random thoughts on a daily weekly basis that may or may not fit into question format I've decided to make question #8 a freebie. I will come up with seven random questions each week. You will then you add one random thought of your own in slot #8. Not a question...a thought. Anything at all. Well, keep it clean and keep it nice because this blog has been rated G by the motion picture association of America.

Also, if you read here you may have noticed I'm a little on the wordy side. Ahem. I can't help it, I have a lot to say. So my posts will probably have a little more narration than you may be accustomed to...unless of course you already read my blog in which case you know you need to refill your coffee before you dig in here.

I intend to post the questions sometime on Tuesday, put the Mr. Linky up somewhere in the wee hours of Wednesday morn, and then you will link your own blog with the answers on Wednesdays for all the internets to see. That all sounds great on 'paper' but I must warn you I am not the most technically savvy soul out there so fingers crossed, toes crossed, prayers said that all this works the way I'm hoping. If not we'll just roll with it until my daughter straightens it out for me I get the hang of it.

I'm going to answer on Wednesdays too because I have always liked to answer before I read everyone else's responses. What can I say? I'm like a tween and am easily swayed. When did tween become a word? Now see, there's a random thought you could slide into the #8 spot.

Isn't the hodgepodge button oh so cute? I am having a small 'issue' getting the code to show up but will straighten that out today. Once it appears on my sidebar you can copy the code and add it to your post/blog. The button is brought to you courtesy of my darling daughter1 who has a little online business creating buttons, headers and such. If you are interested in a button or header or more for your own blog click here for products and pricing.

And, we're off...

1. Do you think you're more like your mom or your dad?

2. Do you like roller coasters?

3. How did you name your blog and do you now wish you'd thought about it maybe another five minutes before you hit publish? Would you change your blog title if it were not a huge pain in the derriere? (French makes everything sound a little nicer doesn't it?)

4. What is the best wedding gift you received? Not married? Didn't get any gifts? Then what is the best wedding gift you've given?

5. What is the one bill you most hate to pay?

6. Is the glass half full or half empty?

7. What is your favorite word? Okay okay. Calm down. How about one of your favorite words?

8. Now, this is where you insert one random thought of your own...maybe something that struck you as funny, something that recently had you scratching your head in confusion, something that annoyed you a teensy bit, something on your to do list, something you are looking forward to, whatever. As long as it is in keeping with the friendly tone we've all come to know and love on Wednesdays then we're good. Don't make me get out my wooden spoon.

I like the idea of everyone adding a random thought of their own each week. One of the things I most enjoyed about the RD was getting to know lots of different bloggers. I think #8 will only add to that. I hope so anyway. And I have to say those first 7 questions just rolled right on out off the top of my head. Maybe coming up with questions will not be as stressful as I imagined it would be.

Come back tomorrow to post your answers...I'll look forward to seeing you in the hodgepodge! That doesn't have quite the ring of the RD but will be fun just the same.

It was 1980 something...

1985 to be exact

I was a mere quarter century old
a newlywed
without children
living in an apartment in Knoxville Tennessee

I was also bright eyed, tan, and oh so very thin
but that's not really the point of this little post

Hubs was working
I was working

Opportunity knocked
Hubs leapt
its what he does

He prepared
and got the new job

a sales rep
hubs is a natural born salesman
as the saying goes, he could sell ice to an Eskimo

This new job was not in Knoxville Tennessee
It was in Richmond Virginia

We moved from our apartment to a townhouse in Richmond
And were suddenly completely on our own
not that we weren't living on our own in Knoxville
but hubs family was just down the road

it was in 1985 that travel entered our work vocabulary
and our life
hubs worked and traveled
and worked and traveled
I worked too but with a whole lot less pressure to climb

On Friday night hubs joined a club
the 25 year club

his company hosts a very nice event for the honorees
25 years, 30 years, 40 years, two gentlemen were celebrating 45 years
with the same company

this used to be common
not so much anymore
we may have gone to said event in style...

I'm the one in the black dress...

many years have passed since hubs signed on as a brand new sales rep
we have had six work related moves
he hasn't been a sales rep since 1989

hubs loves a challenge
and has had no less than 10 roles in the past 25 years
all with the same company
go hubs!

we've made some wonderful friends thru his job
we've seen babies born and babies married
we enjoy these friendships with co-workers spread far and wide
an unexpected blessing in a job

I'm thankful every day for hubs job
and most especially for how hard he has worked all our married life
I do not ever take that for granted
I pray my daughters find husbands with a work ethic like hubs
I pray my daughters have a work ethic like hubs

He has been a good role model and example to his girls
full of integrity
and humor

Something we used to hear quite often when we moved overseas was that Americans live to work and Europeans work to live. Finding the right balance between work and life is a tricky thing sometimes. I think my hubs has done it well.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Thank Goodness its November. Except what happened to October? Do you know that saying, "The further I go, the behinder I get"...well that's kind of how I feel about the Giving Thanks Challenge hosted over at South Breeze Farm this year. The idea is to list one thing you are thankful for every day during the month of November. I participated last year and loved it. And it seems that every day this month I've told myself I'd catch up and post my list, but then I don't.

I'm determined to get this up before the weekend and I'm going to run it on the sidebar of my blog like I did last year. Everyone is welcome to participate...just click on the button below and it will take you to Leah's blog.


Today I'm thankful for weekends. My husband travels a lot so I enjoy having him home on the weekends. He occasionally has travel on the weekends but that's pretty rare. When he's in town we like to catch up, relax, watch football, sometimes cook together, and we also usually get out and hike or explore some new area around our town. The weekend pace is not the same as our weekday pace around here and I enjoy the change. And usually a nap on the couch. In fact, I think a nap on the couch may deserve its own day of thankfulness.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mo-o-om! She's looking at me...tell her to stop looking at me

Tomorrow is my sister's birthday.
Happy Birthday sister2!

I am the third of four children.
Sister2 is the baby of the family and we are one year apart.
One year.
What were my parents thinking?
Perhaps they weren't?

I mentioned in an earlier post here that I was the easiest baby of the four my mom birthed.
Baby sister may have been the most difficult.
Okay, that was just me being nice.
There's really no maybe about it.

She was born in New Mexico.
While my dad was abroad.
And by abroad I mean he was stationed as a Marine in Okinawa, not loving life in a charming English village.

Here's the back story-
I was born in sunny beautiful idyllic Hawaii.
I'm sure all babies born in Hawaii are considered the best babies their mamas have birthed because, come on.... I mean the weather?
What is there to stress out about, even at birth?
When my dad was given orders to go overseas my mama was with child.
So she shlepped her eight year old and her six year old and her one year old and her pregnant self to New Mexico where we all moved into my grandparent's oh so cute, but teeny tiny house.
Shades of The Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe and had so many children she didn't know what to do.
Kind of like that.

It was into this sister2 was born.
And she was not happy.
At all.
She was probably annoyed we had uprooted her from the tropical location where she had envisioned taking her first breath.
Nothing against New Mexico.
I love New Mexico.
But I think we can all agree New Mexico is not Hawaii.

Anyway, she was what they called a failure to thrive baby.
And do you know what?
They cry a lot.
Thank heaven for grandparents and their arms.
My mother, who is now 80 years old, can still recall a 24 hour period where sister2 cried without ceasing.
They just rotated her around from mother to grandmother to grandfather.
While I slept like an angel in my little bitty bed.
Just sayin'.
In her defense she was sick so many times that first year of her life.
She had several bouts of pneumonia and in general a rough start which would naturally make one a little bit feisty.

And so we grew.
Daddy came home and we moved to South Carolina and then to Virginia and then to New Jersey and there we settled.
Older sister1 and I never had any real arguments that I can recall.
I adored her.
She adored me.
We're a happy fam-i-ly.
But there were so many years between us that we were not living the same stages of life at the same time.
Nor were we sharing a bedroom.
Or a closet.
Or air.

Sister2 and I shared a bedroom most of our childhood.
We loved it.
We hated it.
We loved it.
We hated it.

Having a sister so close in age is a complicated thing.

I remember talking in the dark of night across the space between our twin beds.
I remember her throwing a hairbrush at me when I did something that I cannot now recall but that surely made her angry.
I remember dragging our barbies and our kiddles outside and playing for hours under the shade of a big tree in the backyard.

I remember answering the question, "Are you two twins?" at least a hundred million times.
I remember looking at sister2 and her looking back at me and us shrugging our shoulders.
Why do they ask that question we wondered?

I remember the endless negotiating we did over household chores and most especially, cleaning up the kitchen after dinner.
I remember telling off one of her mean boyfriends in the parking lot of his job.

I remember her bathing my first born baby girl in the sink.
Baby girl is now 22.
But never fear.
Sister2 has a baby of her own these days.
Well, he's four so not really a baby anymore but still.
Remember how I said sister2 is one year younger than me?
Remember how I celebrated a BIG birthday this year?
Remember how I said sister2 has a four year old?
Life is funny.
And fun.

Sister2 and I learned a few things from one another growing up side by side.
I suspect her list would be much like mine...

I learned to compromise.
I learned to share.
I learned to tattle.
I learned to keep a secret.
I learned to argue.
And defend.
And duck.
I learned to laugh.
And a lot about love.

"She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink. Some days, she's the reason you wish you were an only child." ~ Barbara Alpert

Happy Birthday Beebug!
And for the record...
I'm almost positive I never wanted to be an only child.