Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happily Settling for the Hodgepodge

Welcome to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge! I'm thankful for all the wonderful bloggers I've 'met' through this fun little mid-week hop, and I appreciate the chance to think, laugh, and share with you all as we Hodgepodge on. 

1. Are you settling for something?

I looked up the meaning of the word settle, and found phrases such as make-do, and put up with, so yes I suppose I am settling for a certain amount in my life.  I imagine most of us settle in one way or another. Sometimes settling is the best you can do, and in the end its not always a bad thing. Less than the best maybe, but not necessarily undeserving of our gratitude.  

For instance I don't get to live in the same city as my girls, which is something I would absolutely love, but I'll settle for, and make the best of, whatever time we do get to spend together. Hubs and I would love to be living on a lake down south, but for now we'll settle for the New Jersey countryside, grateful for a job and a home we love. My house could use a deep clean, but girls are home for just a few days, so I'll settle for something less than a deep clean in order to enjoy my family.  

Life isn't always perfect, but less than perfect can be pretty okay too. 

2.  It wasn't that long ago almost every store in the US locked doors and turned out lights on Thanksgiving Day. This year many will be open all day Thursday, giving shoppers a jump start on 'Black Friday'. In your opinion is this a good thing or a not so good thing? Will you be shopping on Thanksgiving Day?

I am not a fan. At all. Is there anything wrong with our country taking a collective breath once or twice a year? Stepping back from the frenzy, and the pace, and the crazy? I thought this blogger said it so well...worth a read if you haven't read it before.

3. Speaking of shopping...I saw a recent article on the twelve best shopping cities in the world. In order they are-New York, Tokyo, London, Kuala Lumpur, Paris, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, Vienna, Dubai, Madrid, Milan, and Seoul.

Ever shopped in any of the cities listed? In which city would you most like to pull out the plastic or cold hard cash?

I've shopped in New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong, and Dubai. I suppose if I can only choose one I'm going with Kuala Lumpur, because I like saying Kuala Lumpur. Plus I've always wanted to see those crazy buildings connected by a skywalk high above the earth. They're called The Petronas Towers...if you ever saw the film Entrapment with Sean Connery they were featured there.  

For the record,  I'd never turn down a trip to London, Paris, or Milan-shopping or otherwise. Just sayin'. 

4. When did you last dine by candlelight?

Last Friday night actually. Right here at home in my very own kitchen.  I broke my rule of no-cooking on a Friday because hubs had been home exactly one day in a two week time span, and it felt like a home cooked meal was in order.  I put a table cloth on the table, lit candles, and made a nice meal.  It was a lovely way to spend a Friday night, and I think it needs to happen more often.

5. What do you have too much of?

Hmmm....dust? Always just a little too much of that around here.  

6. The Hunger Games...are you a fan? Did you read the book(s)? Will you/have you see the movie? Will you/have you seen Catching Fire?

Definitely a fan! I loved the books, and enjoyed the first movie. The second book was my favorite of the three, so I'm looking forward to seeing Catching Fire with my family on Friday or Saturday. Daughter2 saw it last weekend with her cousin, but she is happy to see it again. 

7. Share your plans for Thanksgiving Day. The who, the where, the what..especially the what! As in what's for dinner? If you're one of my International visitors, whose homeland doesn't celebrate American Thanksgiving (the whole world doesn't ya know!) then still tell us your plans for Thursday.

Just the four of us here this year, and we're all looking forward to lots of wonderful food, naps on the couch, and just hanging out in the same space and time. It doesn't happen often enough these days. We're still fixing turkey (breast) with all the trimmings-cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, brussel sprouts with pancetta, cranberry sauce, squash casserole, corn pudding, and creamed onions. This year we're trying Pioneer Woman's Pumpkin Cream Pie for dessert.  

Right now all four of us are signed up for a local 5K Turkey Trot, but I'm guessing the weather will be a factor in who actually decides to join the 'fun'. We'll watch the Macy's Parade on TV, and then lots of football throughout the day. We'll probably eat around 4 so there is still time for a late night turkey sandwich. It's not Thanksgiving without a late night turkey sandwich.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I posted this on my Facebook page earlier this week. It's not a new story, but it was new to me, and is a wonderful reminder that one person doing good, doing the right thing in the midst of unspeakable awfulness, can truly make the world a better place.  

To read more of his amazing story click here

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 152

Happy Thanksgiving to all and to all a Happy Hodgepodge! That's how it goes, right? Here are this week's questions...waddle on back here tomorrow to link answers with all your friends and neighbors.

1. Are you settling for something?

2.  It wasn't that long ago almost every store in the US locked doors and turned out lights on Thanksgiving Day. This year many will be open all day Thursday, giving shoppers a jump start on 'Black Friday'. In your opinion is this a good thing or a not so good thing? Will you be shopping on Thanksgiving Day?

3. Speaking of shopping... I saw a recent article on the twelve best shopping cities in the world. In order they are-

New York, Tokyo, London, Kuala Lumpur, Paris, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, Vienna, Dubai, Madrid, Milan, and Seoul.

Ever shopped in any of the cities listed? In which city would you most like to pull out the plastic or cold hard cash?

4.  When did you last dine by candlelight?

5. What do you have too much of?

6. The Hunger Games...are you a fan?  Did you read the book(s)?  Will you/have you seen the movie?  Will you/have you seen Catching Fire?  No spoilers please!

7. Share your plans for Thanksgiving Day. The who, the where, the what...especially the what! As in what's for dinner?  If you're one of my International visitors, whose homeland doesn't celebrate American Thanksgiving (the whole world doesn't ya know!), then still tell us your plans for Thursday.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Oh the Weather Outside Is...

Actually delightful today.

Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday though? Not looking so great. I know it seems I'm a little obsessed with the weather, but y'all! I'm a little obsessed with the weather. I have daughters who live miles from here, hundreds and hundreds of miles from here, and they need cars and planes and trains to operate as intended, and carefully selected windows within multiple timetables to remain open, and snow and ice and inches upon inches of rain to skirt right on around the East coast instead of smack dab up the middle of it all.

It's Thanksgiving and I need my girls chopping onions in the kitchen, tucked in tight in their own bedrooms at the other end of the hall, giggling together as they place homemade ornaments on a Christmas tree, and snuggled up beside me on the couch watching Home Alone and Elf.  Whaaaaa!

Okay. I'll stop now.

So there's some weather headed our way, and there's also some weather headed across the Southeast, and 'they' are saying these two weather events are set to collide just when my Daughter2 is supposed to be winging her way here. Bother.

I'm trying to decide which forecast to believe and then find other options that might work, options which would hopefully cost less than the National Debt.

I'm trying to control the uncontrollable.
Pretty sure it can't be done.

I know many people are separated from family at Thanksgiving, and should it all fall apart my sweet sister who lives near Daughter2 will swoop in and gather her up with a hug and a turkey dinner. It's not the end of the world, and I need to remember that.

Still, I have not seen Daughter2 since August 11th (not that I'm keeping track), and quite honestly that is just far too long to go between face to face visits. Daughter2 has been working so hard, and what she needs is some deep down home sleep in her upstairs bedroom, and her mama's TLC by way of favorite foods and conversation. She needs time on the couch beside her Daddy as they catch up on all the DVR'd shark programming we've stored, and she especially needs all of the above to occur with a sister-bestie in the same house she's in, at the very same time.

Remember when you thought juggling two kids on two different sports teams with two different games in two different fields was tough?  It was, but these grown up-move away from home-kinds of logistics are in another layer of the stratosphere altogether. We mothers whose children have done what we raised them to do, who have grown up and moved into lives of their own, we're good with that, mostly good anyway.

You see there is always and forever a little piece of your heart that beats with the beat of your child's heart. Sure and steady, unnoticed much of the time, until some little something causes you to pay attention to the beat. You feel it speed up...race... pump with a ferocity you haven't felt since you held a feverish two year old on your lap in the middle of the night.

Today I will keep calm and carry on.

I will be glad for these sorts of problems, the sort that can likely be fixed, and if not can at least be lived with. I will remember not everyone can say that about things they are facing today. I will clean bathrooms and regain perspective. I will grocery shop and sing the hymns of my childhood.  I will take deep breaths and exhale soft prayers.  I will slow the crazy beating of my heart and I will be grateful.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Timing is Everything

So hubs had a meeting in the UK on Monday, and while he was in his meeting I was at my friendly neighborhood dental office, but whatever. A few people have asked why I didn't go with him on this trip, but honestly the timing wasn't right. He arrived there Monday morning and was back here Wednesday evening.

I suppose we could have extended the stay, but my girls will be home next week, and then of course Christmas is looming rather large. I'll have a houseful, which means there's a mountain of cleaning, menu planning, decorating, shopping, spending, wrapping, and baking to do in the next few weeks.

That doesn't make me anxious at all by the way.

On Tuesday hubs drove out to our little village, sniff, sniff, and the texts and photos he sent were almost more than my heart could handle. We saw lots of ex-pat friends come and go in the years we spent in England, many of whom couldn't wait to get back stateside. They enjoyed their experiences abroad, but were more than a little bit happy to be back 'home'.

Our little family though? We were mixed. At the time, both girls were in uni in the states, and the distance in miles, airline flights, logistics, and time zones was feeling huge some days.  From a job standpoint, hubs was ready to move into a new role, and we were both feeling the need to be physically nearer our own parents too.

But England. We loved you. We love you still. Your cold damp air seeped into our bones, but your beauty and charm and history and people seeped into our souls.  It lies there still, mostly quiet, until it sneaks up into a moment present day and we feel a wave of longing for a different kind of life.

First thing after checking into the hotel, hubs jogged by our old house. The new owners have made some changes, but at a glance, especially from the outside, it looks almost the same. I can hear the gravel under my tires, see the knockout roses blooming up against the brick front, and picture a yard full of teenagers on an every Thursday night.    

As he stood looking at the house, he saw the next door neighbor come running out, literally, to greet him. John gave the hubs a big hug, and while they were chatting their housekeeper pulled up in the drive. My housekeeper, who they wisely snatched up when we moved, because she is a gem in every sense of the word. She hailed from Spain, had been in the UK for decades, but still talked with a heavy Spanish accent. She is a warm and lovely woman, and she rushed right over and gave hubs a hug around the neck too.

And that my friends is the kind of thing that makes your heart feel like it might spill out into a big sloppy mess.

The rest of his Tuesday was essentially just giving in to a deluge of sights, sounds, smells, and emotions.  A walk down memory lane I lived via text...

"Just walked thru the commons..."

"Ran by the pond..."

"The 3 Pigeons is now called the 3 Oaks...remember when I answered the phone there because they were too busy to answer it themselves?" 

We remember.

"Went into the's not the same without our pup here to run circles around me, and chase the birds.'  

"Had fish and chips and mushy peas for lunch..."

"Ran down the High much has much feels exactly the same..."

Thank goodness.

Then there was dinner. Hubs only had time for one dinner in town, and he knew it would be in our favorite Indian restaurant. It took six years, but he bonded with the guys who owned and ran this restaurant in a way that still makes me smile. We all did. We ate dinner here on our last night living in this village, and they told hubs he was like their brother. That is not a small thing to say.

A lot can change in four and a half years, but happily there were still some old familiar friendly faces there to greet him when he walked through the door. 'Sir! Where is Mam? And the girls?..."

I've been thinking a lot about timing lately, more specifically God's timing. How He knows what we need and when we need it, and how it is often only in hindsight we see the beauty of His wisdom that knows no end. I was anxious about the timing of our move to the UK back in 2003, for many reasons, but mostly because I had daughters navigating the tricky waters of teenage life. There was so much I couldn't see, couldn't predict, couldn't know about what those next years would hold, but God knew.  He knew we needed to be there, not here.

As we prepared to leave this land we had grown to love in 2009, anxiety lurked once more at the edges of my brain. Is the timing right?  Is it now?  God knew.

When I look back on all that has occurred in our lives in the four years we've been back in the states, I marvel at the timing, and stand in awe of a God who knows. In 2009 we had no idea what the future held, no inkling that our family would walk through grief and sorrow the likes of which we could never have imagined, but God knew. He knew we needed to be here, not there.

I try to to tuck this lesson learned into the deepest recesses of my heart as we face the future. Children turned adults, out from under the watchful eye of their mom and dad, so many changes looming, moves, retirement, what's next, the when, the where, the's enough to make a person feel a little anxious.

Then I remember.
Timing is everything.
And God knows.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Hodgepodge, and ONLY the Hodgepodge

Hello Hodgepodgers!  Before I get to you I would also like to say hi to all the visitors here who are not Hodgepodgers. Welcome to this side of the pond!  I'm happy you're here, and hope you'll leave a comment so I can say hi back. I'm also happy for you to read to your hearts content, and you're especially welcome to link to the Hodgepodge, BUT...there's always a but, isn't there...I am asking that  you please only link to the Wednesday Hodgepodge if you have actually answered the questions. In other words, Hodgepodge posts only!

I know all bloggers love visitors, but it is really difficult to read all the Hodgepodge links each week, and its frustrating to click on a post only to discover it's something else entirely. I do go in and delete those that are not Hodgepodge related, but I really hate that, and I'd much prefer you not make me-ha!

Thanks so much for your cooperation! Now on to the HODGEPODGE...which I do hope you'll join.

1. What lesson has failure taught you?

The importance of planning, the importance of persistance, and the importance of sometimes thinking outside the box. I tend to be more of an 'in the box' thinker, but failure forces me to think differently about my project, goal, or circumstance in order to accomplish what I want to accomplish.  

2. What decision are you glad you made?

Aside from the obvious- my personal faith, who to marry, and becoming a parent,  I guess my answer would have to be saying yes to an international move.  No regrets. 

3. I've been a little bit surprised to see fully lit and decorated Christmas trees popping up for the past several weeks in friend's Instagram feeds. So tell the truth-is your tree up and decorated, and if so when did that happen? If not when will you be decking the halls?

Is my tree up and decorated? Absolutely not! In my mind it's still autumn. Autumn means lots of things, but Christmas trees are not one of them. I love the chill in the air, the colors of fall, the changing landscape, outdoor fires, football, menus filled with homemade soups and chilli, blue jeans and boots, and most especially Thanksgiving. Part of what I love about the month of November is the sense of anticipation that starts brewing for what comes next. I don't want to eliminate it...I want to savor it. 

We'll probably put our trees up the weekend after Thanksgiving since our girls will be home, and we like to make it a family affair. I feel like that's plenty early. Just my .02, but I think Christmas lights lose a little of their magic if they go up in mid-November.  

4. Solitaire-poker-rummy-hearts-go fish-Old Maid...which game of cards would you most want to join?

I like hearts a lot, and hubs and I have had an ongoing game of rummy pretty much since we got married. We don't have the score written down but we know who's winning. That would be him. 

5. This question comes to you courtesy of a Facebook friend, who once upon a time had a blog...When you're feeling stressed do you snack a lot or are you more the 'can't eat' type?

I think it depends on what's causing the stress. If it's more the nervous excitement kind of stress then I don't not eat. Ha! I'm not saying I overeat, but a nervous excitement kind of stress doesn't prevent me from eating. Stress of the more upsetting variety might mean I don't eat, but it has to be something that's a pretty big deal.  

6. Have you ever reviewed a product or service online?  Was your review favorable or less than favorable?

I've done several online reviews, mostly service related (hotels, travel sites, restaurants, and home repairs). All were favorable. If I have a complaint I'd prefer to deal directly with the business as opposed to saying something negative online. I might offer a way they could improve what they offer, but generally wouldn't bash something online.

7. What was the best conversation you had yesterday?

Yesterday. Sigh. My hubs was in the UK yesterday, and spent a day out in our little village. We spoke and texted many times throughout the day. I feel so much I think the answer to this question will need its own post on this side of the pond.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Does anyone else take issue with charities that send a 'gift' when they solicit your donation? These gifts may be anything from return address labels, to personalized notecards and notepads, even actual coins taped to their solicitation letter. I don't  understand this kind of thinking. I want to ask how many people they sent a nickel to?  How many notepads were printed, or labels created, and at what cost? 

Yesterday I received my third set of personalized address labels from the same institution in a three month time period. I haven't used the first set they sent. This is a very well known, well respected, charitable organization. They do wonderful things for sick children, but this fundraising tactic feels wasteful, and does not inspire me to give. Your thoughts? 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hodgepodge Questions Volume 151

Here are the questions to this week's Hodgepodge.  Answer on your own blog, then jump back here tomorrow to add your link to the party.  See you there!

1. What lesson has failure taught you?

2. What decision are you glad you made?

3. I've been a little bit surprised to see fully lit and decorated Christmas trees popping up for the past several weeks in friend's Instagram feeds. So tell the truth-is your tree up and decorated, and if so when did that happen? If not, when will you be decking the halls?

4. Solitaire-Poker-Rummy-Hearts-Go Fish-Old Maid...which game of cards would you most like to join? 

5. This question comes to you courtesy of a Facebook friend, who once upon a time had a blog...When you're feeling stressed do you snack a lot or are you more the 'can't eat' type?

6.  Have you ever reviewed a product or service on line? Was your review favorable or less than favorable? 

7. What was the best conversation you had yesterday? 

8.  Insert your own random thought here. 

Monday, November 18, 2013


So I think we had a weekend.  Honestly it went by in such a blur, I'm not sure it can be called a weekend, but it's Monday and I'm headed to the dentist so yeah, the weekend has definitely come and gone.

Hubs arrived home from Arizona around 1:30 in the morning Friday night. Wait, that would make it Saturday morning.  I cannot say for certain because I was in a deep deep sleep on our very comfy couch.  I'd told hubs to text me when he was leaving the airport so I could unlock the garage door for him.  That way he wouldn't have to fumble with a key and luggage in the pitch black NJ countryside, because I'm helpful like that.  Except when I'm not.  I guess he did text me because-

Course I never heard a thing even though I'd purposely set my phone right beside my head and turned the ringer all the way up. Next thing I know the kitchen lights are on and hubs is talking.  Have I told you this getting up with the crows is kicking my behind? Also I feel the need to point out that I managed a screen shot here. It's possible I had to phone my daughter to ask her how to do that
again, but still it feels like a small win.

Saturday we awoke to an absolutely gorgeous day. Sunshine and temperatures close to 60 degrees. In November!

I know!

We sipped coffee and had breakfast, then decided to get out for a walk. It was far too pretty to stay indoors.

We took our pup to her happy place, a nearby nature preserve, and afterwards stopped in our local pub to split an order of nachos and soak up the sun in their outdoor seating. I'd show you a picture of my pup but it's on my good camera, and for some reason the camera is not connecting to our computer.

The technology war rages on.

We came home to
nap on the couchwatch football, and may I just say the Georgia-Auburn game is everything I love about SEC football. If you missed it, you missed a play that will likely be talked about for years to come. Uh-may-zing. When the game ended we went out to dinner because cooking is not permitted in a weekend that's really a day. My rules. Hubs agrees.

On Sunday hubs needed to go buy some new running shoes, re-pack his suitcase, and head back to the airport, so that's what we did. While he was shoe shopping I popped in to Target to pick up a few more little bits and pieces for my Operation Christmas Child Shoebox. My ladies bible study group is packing boxes on Tuesday morning so I grabbed a few extra items for those.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, click here to get details. It's not too late to pack a box, if you haven't already.

And that my friends was the weekend.  Short and sweet and filled with just enough happies to get me through an hour in the dentist chair today.  So how was your weekend?

Friday, November 15, 2013

It's Still Friday Fragments

It's still Friday so I guess that means I can still post fragments, right?

Half-Past Kissin' Time

Of course I can. Hubs and I have a saying we utter at least once a week around here, and it goes like this-"We're empty nesters. We can do whatever we want."

Not really, but we like to pretend we can.

Obviously I've got 'em.

It's a one day weekend here. again  Hubs has been in sunny Arizona since last Sunday, landing at a ridiculously late hour tonite, then hits the road again this Sunday. Technically he'll be in the air, but you know what I mean. I mean we have a one day weekend.

My gourmet group met today and that's always fun. Our theme this month was 'States of the Union', so everyone brought a favorite dish from a state they'd at one time called home. We had recipes from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Kansas, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Texas, Virginia, and Hawaii.

I made Virginia Peanut soup, and used this recipe. It was really delicious, and I'm thinking about making it as a starter for one of our holiday meals.

This morning when I came out of boot camp the sky was painted a pastel pinky pink orange-

I detoured past the lake to snap a photo, because I consider a pink sky at sunrise reward for dragging myself to boot camp at an absurdly early hour.

Also, I might be slightly obsessed with a fall sky.

The other night I snapped a photo of our back woods that were black as coal against a fiery pink backdrop-

There's something lonely and mysterious in the November wood, don't you think? The scene outside my door felt like a painting, and made me feel all kinds of things. The kinds of things I imagine inspires poetry, and I'm thinking about that still. just never know where a fragment will land you now, do you?

Enjoy your weekend everyone.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Throwing it Way Back

Have you've seen this photo that's been making its way around the Internet recently? I don't know where it originated, but just know I'm not the creative mind behind the lens.  

I've linked to the Facebook page where I first saw it, but not sure if it actually belongs to them either. I'm a little bit paranoid about not giving credit where credit is due, so shoutout to whoever thought this one up.  

In 1993 I never worried about who should get credit for a photo I was adding to my blog-ha! Hey, guess what was born in 1993? 'Twas a little thing called the World Wide Web.  

We had no idea of what we had no idea. 

I thought it would be fun to celebrate Throwback Thursday today, circa 1993. The year we 'jogged' with our Walkmen, talked on ginormous mobile phones, and wore actual watches to tell time. We video-ed using camcorders that sat perched atop our shoulders as if we were employees in a major news network.  FYI-I've been known to say videotape in the year 2013.  Old habits die hard.

Way back when, we had not all embraced technology, much of which was awkward, mysterious, and expensive. Plus I was a young mom in 1993, and had far more important things to worry about than an electronic world I couldn't imagine, and didn't understand. 

For starters, it was the year I sent my first born baby to kindergarten. 

This picture was taken at Christmas, but still, Kindergarten! 
I know!!

Then there was her sister,  a three year old mighty warrior princess who lived by the motto, 'Leap then look'. 

Was it really only 20 years ago I was parenting a three year old?  

A three year old who learned to drive at Disney World, and whose mother somehow always managed out of focus photographs with the heads lopped off.  

Apparently so.

We were living in NJ twenty years ago.  
Same state, different town.  
Same woman, different person.  

Just look at this little miss.  
1993 was the year American Girl Dolls came to live at our house.  

Also the year I started highlighting my hair.

When you're doing your best to keep up with a three year old whose mission in life is to go for the gusto, you're gonna grow a few gray hairs. Because they're worth it.

1993 was the year of Bill Clinton, the Branch Davidian, and the first World Trade Center bombing. Gasoline was about $1.20 and Beanie Babies were launched on American parents children.  

I know these things not because I remember them, but because I googled them. 
Google wasn't a verb in 1993.  
Actually Google wasn't even a company. 

Sometimes it's hard to remember the world before the Internet.

One last thing I discovered in my search was the number one song that year-  I Will Always Love You.

Turns out some things really are timeless.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Talking Turkey in the Hodgepodge

Welcome to the 150th running of the Wednesday Hodgepodge! It's a fun way to mark the weekly mid-point...thanks for playing along.  Add your link at the end of my post and then hop around and say hi to all your friends and neighbors-

1. Describe a typical Sunday in your childhood.

We went to Sunday School and church every single Sunday. My mother always warmed up a coffee cake while we were getting ready for church, and while she was and is an excellent cook, on Sunday mornings the cake was not homemade. My favorite was Sara Lee's Butter Streusal coffeecake...we all  thought that was such a great treat. Can you still buy Sara Lee Butter Streusal coffeecake? 

After church we typically came home for lunch, which was oftentimes more like dinner. Sometimes another family would be invited. One Sunday a month we went to a restaurant and that was a big deal. Back in the 1960's the average family didn't eat out like they do now. I also remember that every once in a while my dad would make potato soup for Sunday lunch, and that's still one of my favorites. far most of my Sunday memories are spelled f-o-o-d. 

After lunch my parents would read the paper and in winter months my dad would build a fire in the fireplace, which was sort of special.  Our fireplace was in the living room, aka the fancy room, so lounging in front of the fire there felt like a treat. I guess my sister and I played or finished homework.

We usually went back to church on Sunday evenings, but I didn't mind.  I always loved church and the people there. Sometimes after the evening service the youth group would go to someone's house to hang out or we'd go out for ice cream. I remember the feeling of wanting to make the day last. I still hate to see Sundays come to a close.

2. How comfortable are you with uncertainty?  Explain.

I'm finding a way to be comfortable with it. I don't always succeed, sometimes uncertainty makes me cranky, but I do think I'm learning to let go of what I cannot control in this season of life, which is a lot actually.

3. What's something you've accomplished recently that might be described as crafty, as in 'arts and crafts' crafty? If crafty doesn't work for you, how about handy? Or both.

I am what you might call a wanna be crafter. I have ideas, but the end result rarely matches what's in my head. Mostly I've made peace with that. Yesterday I put together a little 'crafty' thing to hand out to board members at a meeting I'm hosting. I like to give the board some little treat every month, usually something related to the season as a way of saying thanks for volunteering.  I'd seen cute potpourri bags on Pinterest so I bought the supplies and set to work. Essentially all I had to do was drop the ingredients into a bag, tie it up with a bow, and then add a tag. Sounds simple enough, right?  

I ran into trouble right off the bat because the only oranges in our market were the size of pumpkins, so I really needed larger bags.

I made it work though, maybe not as perfectly perfect as Pinterest, but these ladies are just going to take it home and dump it out of the bag and into a pan anyway. Their house will still smell delightful, even with a too big orange in a too small bag.    

p.s.-I am even less handy than I am crafty. Isn't that one of the reasons you get married?  

4. Have you ever worked in a 'food place'. What did you take away from the experience?

Yes. I worked as a waitress when I was in college in a tiny town called Jonesborough Tennessee.  Lots of people know this town now, as its home to a huge storytelling event every year, but that event was just taking root back in the early 80's.  I waitressed in two restaurants owned by the same gentleman who happened to be the mayor.  One was called The Parson's Table and it was in an old church.  The sister restaurant was next door, and was called The Widow Brown's.  The food was delicious and it was a pretty nice place to work as far as the food industry goes.

What did I take away from the experience?

Some people are shockingly rude.

Everyone should do this once in their life.  

Food smells linger in your car, in your hair, on your clothes, and inside your brain. 

5. Cold turkey, talk turkey, what a recent days, which turkey phrase or idiom best applies to you and why?  Click on the word turkey if you need to read more about the meaning behind each phrase.

Gonna have to 'talk turkey' later today so I'll go with that one.  
See #7. 

6. If you could have any one guest join your Thanksgiving dinner table, who would it be?

Just one? How about someone with no where to go? I hate to think about people alone on Thanksgiving Day.

7. What is one thing you must accomplish today?

I have two meetings requiring my attendance. One will be fun, the other I'm not real excited about. How's that for honest?

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Speaking of crafting...I went to AC Moore last weekend and picked up several bits and pieces needed for three Christmas gift projects I want to complete before Christmas (obviously).

Christmas 2013. ahem. 

So far the bag is still on my counter. 

When it comes to crafting I think that saying 'my eyes are bigger than my stomach' applies.  Or maybe I should say  'my intentions are bigger than my ability to get things done'  

Here's hoping I surprise myself!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 150

150 is a whole lotta Hodgepodges, wouldn't you agree? Thanks for playing along! Here are this week's questions-

1. Describe a typical Sunday from your childhood.

2. How comfortable are you with uncertainty? Explain.

3. What have you accomplished recently that might be described as crafty, as in 'arts and crafts' crafty?  If crafty doesn't work for you, how about handy? Or both?

4. Have you ever worked in a 'food place'? What did you take away from the experience?

5. Cold turkey, talk turkey, what a recent days, which turkey phrase or idiom best applies to you and why? Click on the word turkey if you need to read more about the meaning behind each phrase.

6. If you could have any one guest join your Thanksgiving dinner table, who would it be?

7. What is one thing you must accomplish today?

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Be sure to waddle over here tomorrow and add your link to the party!

Monday, November 11, 2013

One Ringy-Dingy

If you're a millennial you might not have a clue what that title even means.

Sometimes when people find out I don't 'work' and they ask what I do, I'm half tempted to say I talk on the phone. I'm not kidding when I say it feels like I spend a fair chunk of my week talking on the phone. In the year 2013 it's often lamented we don't talk anymore, but people are still calling me.  Lots of people in fact. Mostly family, but friends too. There are times when a text just doesn't cut it. When all the people you love are spread far and wide across the globe or right next door, you sometimes need a real live voice to set the world back on its axis.

Such has been my day thus far. I was still in my workout clothes this morning when my mom phoned. We talk pretty much every Monday morning and I look forward to that. Plus her email is often 'broken' so the phone is our go-to method of communicating.

I postponed my shower because by the time we hung up it was going on 11 and I hadn't had breakfast.  I pour  my granola and stir in my yogurt and there's the phone again, this time an old friend is on the other end of the line. She's had a laundry list of hard stuff going on recently, and wanted to catch up.  Electronic communication isn't enough when life sits heavy on your heart. You need to hear that person on the other end of the line nodding their head and sighing right along with you.

We talked for a while, and I finally ate breakfast and was heading for a shower when Daughter1 called. She phones me on her lunch break many days and it's the surest way I know to brighten my day. We had a lovely talk about all manner of things including Christmas, boyfriends who live many states away, clothes, movies, and Southern manners. The deep and the not so deep.  She was having lunch and I was still in my work out clothes finishing breakfast at noon.

While Daughter1 and I were chatting hubs phoned. We text several times a day most days, but he's out of town and under the weather so he wanted the feel of home that comes with words said out loud.

Essentially I've spent my Monday morning on the phone. I know there are people who would say that's a waste of three hours, but I think the world needs middle aged moms with time in their day to talk and listen. To be the real live person on the other end of the line. Despite our love affair with technology we still long to hear a voice. To share our day in more than 140 characters and abbreviated syllables. To know that when we reach out someone will pick up.

When did life become an emergency?

I remember as a young girl talking on the phone for hours. Taking the phone from the wall in the kitchen, and moving on into the dining room where it was quiet. I'd walk as far as the cord would stretch, and then I'd sit on the floor and talk to my friend. As we'd talk I'd twirl the twisty chord between my fingers and contemplate my place in the ever evolving world of teenagedom.

These days people are always on the phone, literally everywhere you look including but not limited to the restroom stall beside you. We text, check email, update calendars, play games, ask where are you and have you even left yet?, snap pictures of our dinner entrees and ourselvsies, check in, update statuses, and probably a hundred other things I'm unaware my phone can even do, but good old fashioned conversation?  Not so much.

In a world where time is ticking loudly, ferociously, and without mercy, there is something about a phone conversation that says I've got time for you. Thanks Mr. Bell!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Eight on the Eighth

There's only so many ways to say Friday Fragments.  Here's hoping I actually have eight things to say.

Half-Past Kissin' Time

1.  I was having just a so-so day yesterday, when hubs phoned from work and asked if I'd be interested in seeing The Eagles at Madison Square Garden this weekend. Um, yeah.

2.  The Eagles are probably my all time favorite band. U2 is second. I wrestle with who should get third, but Marshall Tucker is definitely in the running. Does anybody need to know this?

3.  I haven't been to anything at Madison Square Garden in a long time. Before moving to the UK hubs and I saw a production of A Christmas Carol in the theatre there. The lobby had been decorated to look like a Dickens village, and when we came out of the show snow was falling from the New York sky. 'Twas completely magical.  

4. Yesterday was Billy Graham's 95th birthday, and last night I watched what was billed as his final message to our nation. The short film is being replayed on various stations over the next few days, but wow...what a remarkable man. He's lived a long life with the utmost of integrity, has never allowed himself to be sucked into the vacuum of fame, and has never deviated from his calling of pointing people to the cross.

5. If I were to describe November in a single word, I think that word would be brown. I don't dislike brown, but it's not autumn gold, or fiery red, or sunlit orange, all words I might use to describe our October.

What a difference a month makes...

The seasons, they go round and round...

6. I'm starting to plan and look forward to the holidays. Thanksgiving is my favorite day of the year with Christmas Eve coming in a close second. My daughters will be home in 18 days. Whoohoo! I haven't seen Daughter2 since August 11th, which in case you're wondering, is too too long.

Hubs and I are signing up to participate in our tinytown Turkey Trot (5K) on Thanksgiving day. The girls are maybe not quite 100% fully on board with joining us, but I've registered them anyway. Hi girls! Hey you get a t-shirt so that's something, right? They know forced family fun is kind of our thing, and we haven't had any of that in a long while so bring on Thanksgiving!

7.  I leave you with this. A woman in the UK has created a five foot tall Johnny Depp cake as part of a baking competition. I'd post the picture, but it's courtesy of the BBC and I'm not sure that's okay. You can see it for yourself and read the full story here.  He's very life like, and it's only a little bit creepy.

8. Actually I leave you with of my favorites by one of my favorites.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

PB and Hodgepodge

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge! Add your link at the end of my post, and let's get this party started.  Be sure to mingle, or at least go say hello to the blogger who linked before you.  Here are my answers-

1. Today is my sister's birthday (yesterday actually). What's one way you're like your siblings? If you don't have siblings, how are you like your lifelong best friend or cousin?

Well for starters, we look alike. There's no mistaking we're related. And we all tend to like our space. We enjoy people, but we also need our own space. Oh, and we all have the sleep gene-ha! All four of us can fall asleep before the car leaves the driveway. Just ask our spouses.  

2. What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of yourself at age eighteen?

I've thought a little about this one since we spent the weekend back in collegetown, and I'm going to say the excitement of managing (mostly) my own time and resources. Well, technically my parents resources, but I had to manage them.  I was a fresh faced youth and the future was full of promise.

3. Sculptor-dancer-actor-painter...if you could excel in one of these arts, which would you choose and why?

Dancer...I always wanted to be a ballerina. 

4. What's a scent that takes you back in time, and where does it take you?

There is something about the scent of damp woods in the morning that takes me right back to summer camp. I absolutely love it, and am surprised by it most of the time. Our house backs up to woods, and sometimes in the morning I'll step outside with my coffee and feel overwhelmed by the nostalgia that washes over me with that scent.

5. November is for peanut butter lovers (National Peanut Butter Lovers Month).  Are you a lover or a hater?  What's your favorite dish/recipe that calls for peanut butter?

I'm a liker. I was never the kid who asked for pb+j at every meal, but I do like it now and then. My favorite recipe that calls for peanut butter is the one we use for cupcake icing. My daughter2 found it online a couple of years ago, and it's yummy. Really truly yummy. 

Technically its a peanut butter cream cheese icing, and the cream cheese really makes it pop. We use it on banana cupcakes and most recently on chocolate. Here's the link if you're interested. 

6. What do people thank you personally for most often?

Probably just small acts of kindness.   
My family does appreciate my cooking, and they say thank you on a regular basis.  

7. What event this year are you most thankful for?

Daughter2 earning her Master's Degree, and obtaining a full time teaching position. 

She's wanted to be a teacher her whole life, and there is a special sweetness in seeing your child's dream come true. 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I voted yesterday, did you? Do you vote in every election or just the big ones? Or are you one of those people who've never registered? tsk tsk

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 149

It's that time again, and since everyone has an 'extra hour' in their week (Ha!), why not play along? Answer the questions on your own blog, then hop back here tomorrow to add your link to the party. See you there!

1. My sister is celebrating a birthday today. Happy Birthday little sis! What's one way you're like your siblings?  If you don't have siblings how are you like your lifelong best friend or cousin?

2.  What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of yourself at age eighteen?

3. Sculptor-actor-painter-dancer...if you could excel in one of these arts, which would you choose and why?

4. What's a scent that takes you back in time, and where does it take you?

5. November is for Peanut Butter Lovers (National Peanut Butter Lovers Month).  Are you a lover or a hater?  What's your favorite dish/recipe that calls for peanut butter?

6. What do people thank you personally for most often?

7. What event this year are you most thankful for?

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Tree Grows In East Tennessee

Hubs and I got home late last night after spending the weekend in beautiful East Tennessee. We trekked ten+ hours across five states, all the way to collegetown for homecoming weekend.  Hubs fraternity was celebrating their 60th anniversary on campus, so lots of 'old' friends also made the return trip to town.

When we pull into collegeville hubs and I always say it really does feel like we're coming home. I've lived a lot of places in my life, each one woven into the fabric of my being in some way, but this place? It's special. In a category all its own.  

First of all, there are few places in this world more gorgeous than East Tennessee on a crystal clear fall day.  The fraternity house is situated in an area known as 'the tree streets'-

Can you guess why?

We stayed in a hotel perched on the edge of campus, so on Saturday hubs and I got up early for a walk through our old stomping grounds. Time swirls as we wander past the old library and the steps where we would 'shoot the breeze', wait for friends, and flirt. We look up at the Student Center, across to the business building, and over at my old dorm. We note the spot where a prank was played some thirty five years ago, and we can't help but still giggle at the memory.

We walk all the way out past where the intramural fields sat, where jerseys were worn and hundreds of games were played and watched. We walk without a plan, but our feet know to head in the direction of our tree.

Technically its not our tree, but secretly it is. Hubs and I spent many an afternoon hanging out under her big leafy branches, watching the autumn sky fade to winter and winter back to spring. In 1981 our tree sat all by her lonesome at the edge of a hill, not so much anymore. Time marches on and the campus has naturally grown and changed in the intervening years. Not a lot, but enough to make you question your sense of what was where.  There's a cluster of shrubs and some grasses growing in front of her base now, and another tree has grown up big beside her.

Still she's ours.  
The place where we imagined the future.

As we were making our way home yesterday, hubs asked me what I'd say about the weekend.  I thought I'd mention the fun Friday night party, meeting Phil Fulmer...

(yes, that Phil Fulmer), the hours spent talking and laughing and reminiscing with friends, dancing til my feet hurt, hugs around the neck from sorority sisters, lunch in our old hang out, the tug in our hearts as we pulled away from this place on Sunday morning.

Somehow though, my thoughts keep going back to the tree.  

I can see it so clearly in my head. The air smells of autumn and hope. My hair was long and my heart was light. Hubs was funny and mustached and full of mischief, and the sky that brilliant shade of cloudless blue that makes you feel like anything is possible, because when you're twenty everything is possible.

This place is part of us. It's the origin of our shared history. It's where our story began, and the friends we saw this weekend are some of the earliest and most special characters in our story. The kind you want to remember and will never forget.

We figured out life together. We made good decisions and did stupid stuff. We laughed and yelled and cried and cheered. We made mistakes and memories.We were young.

"It's surprising how much memory is built around things unnoticed at the time." 
 ~Barbara Kingsolver