Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Hodgepodging In Abundance

Welcome to this week's edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge. A gratitude theme felt appropriate today...thanks for playing along! If you've answered the questions add your link at the end of my post then go say hey to your neighbor. Everybody's welcome here on Wednesdays (and everyday) so why not take a break from all that turkey prep and join us? Here we go-

From this Side of the Pond  

1. tightly do you cling to tradition when it comes to holiday gatherings and celebrations? For instance do you always do the cooking, never eat at home, always go to grandma's, never miss the parade, always watch football, never change the menu, always eat at 2 PM, etc.? Have you ever celebrated Christmas or Thanksgiving away from hearth, home, and family? How did that feel?

I used to hold tradition tightly in my iron clad fist, but you know life and all that. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and if I had my way my family would all be gathered round my dining room table each and every year. So how often does that actually happen? Rarely. Very very rarely. And I adjust and feel grateful for my many blessings, but I miss my girls in the kitchen on that day most of all. 

Cooking together opens the door to the very best conversations. 

I've spent very few Christmases in my own home, a factor of living far from family most of my adult life so I've learned to enjoy Christmas wherever we're celebrating. We spent two Christmases in England, and seven Thanksgivings and we absolutely cherish those memories. We spent our first Thanksgiving in the UK on the Eurostar to Paris eating a fish dinner which Daughter1 claimed was not very Thanksgiving-y, but then Paris so yeah. It's one of our favorite travel memories too because we were total novices and blundered a bit. We learned. 

The year before we moved to England we spent Thanksgiving in St. Thomas and had a delicious turkey dinner at the Marriott where we were staying. If I've got my girls I'm good to go. Not sure how it would feel waking up somewhere tropical on Christmas morning, but as I said a few paragraphs ago I'm an adjuster so I'd probably adjust. 

2. it easy for you to ask for help or are you a do-it-yourselfer? How is that a good/bad thing?

I'm a do-it-yourselfer and will admit that's not always a good thing. I've said it here before, but my mom and all my siblings will tell you my mantra even as a young child was, 'I can do it myself'.  I'm not talking about home repairs, or plumbing, or car maintenance...when it comes to that type of thing I'm all about asking for help. I'm talking about everyday life kind of stuff, and in my defense it's not always a bad thing either. 

3. Abundance...what is there an abundance of in your kitchen?

This is a tough one, because last week's Hodgepodge inspired me to rearrange my pantry and clean out that annoying overly full cabinet, so I got rid of a few things that fell into the category of 'too much'. Is abundance too much or just plenty? I found two unopened bags of Resees so let's go with that. 

4. Name...the smallest thing you're thankful for? the biggest?

The smallest?

The biggest? 

"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow-not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below-indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)

5. Key...What do you think is the key to living a more grateful life?

This may sound simplistic but... be grateful. We always have a choice as to how we see things and I think gratitude is a choice. Sometimes life is hard and we have to dig a little deeper to make that choice, but there is always something to be thankful for. 

6. State your own random thought here.

Are you cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year? We're having dinner with my sister and I'm making the desserts. Of course it's plural-ha! My niece requested a coconut cream pie and I've never made a coconut cream pie but I'm going to give it a try. I'm also baking an apple pie and making my mom's Thanksgiving Day fruit salad because that's the law. It's simple-sliced purple grapes, oranges, and apples with a can of crushed pineapple poured over all. So refreshing after a meal where you don't mean to eat too much but you always eat too much. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 330

Here are this week's questions (with a slight Thanksgiving slant) for the Wednesday Hodgepodge. I know we have some bloggers participating who live outside the US, but gratitude is universal, right?  And since everybody's welcome why not take a break from all that turkey prep and play along today? Don't forget to waddle back over here tomorrow and add your link to the party. See you there!

1. tightly do you cling to tradition when it comes to holiday gatherings and celebrations? For instance do you always do the cooking, never eat at home, always go to grandma's, never miss the parade, always watch football, never change the menu, always eat at 2 PM, etc.? Have you ever celebrated Christmas or Thanksgiving away from hearth, home, and family? How did that feel?

2. it easy for you to ask for help or are you a do-it-yourselfer? How is that a good/bad thing?

3. Abundance...what is there an abundance of in your kitchen?

4. Name...the smallest thing you're thankful for? the biggest?

5. Key...What do you think is the key to living a more grateful life?

6. State your own random thought here.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

About A Boy

Also about a girl (his mama), his Nana (me), his great-grandmothers and why blogging needs to happen concurrently with life happenings or you end up scratching your head trying to remember what you wanted to blog about in the first place.

Anyway, back to the boy.

Remember our trip out west? The one I started writing about a month ago? Well it ended in Washington where hubs and I spent three days with this little guy and his parents. Mostly this little guy and his mama because my son-in-law has a work schedule that is demanding with a capital D.

He's a wonderful dad though, and we say if baby boy is fussing (which is a rarity) hand him to his Daddy because he can make every little thing better in a matter of seconds. It's a gift.

In a happy turn of events the weather out there was delightful! This is not always or often the case in Washington State, but we had two full days of bright blue skies and were able to get outside for some nice walks. Baby boy loves being outdoors which makes strolling with him enjoyable.

Really anything with him is enjoyable and I still need a blog name for baby boy.


Hubs and I were happy to have a couple of days to soak up his sweetness because we knew when they made their way to our house we'd have competition. As in these girls right here-

The great grandmothers. And if his sweet Aunt hadn't been working a fair chunk of his visit I'd have had to arm wrestle her for time with him too.

The little west coast family of three made their first trip to The Palmetto State this past week and I had so many friends commenting on my last post and on Facebook about how happy and excited they were for me getting to spend Thanksgiving with my grandson. I so appreciate your kind thoughts, but they will not be here for Thanksgiving because see paragraph 2.

But! we take what we can get, and I will have a happy Thanksgiving whether he's here or there because gratitude is dependent on attitude not latitude. Ha! I mean he's part of our world now no matter which state he calls home.

Speaking of gratitude...may I just say nothing in this world makes me happier than seeing my girlies together. My heart literally leaps in my chest.

Baby boy was an A+ traveler coming and going and really he's pretty happy most of the time. He's so loved, and I can't help but think about what a gift that is and about children growing up in this world without it.

The 'kids' spent the first part of the week in town with my son-in-law's family and the second part of the week at the lake with us. My son-in-law's grandma came all the way from Mississippi with his aunt and there were friends and cousins who popped in to say hello and hopefully get to hold him. He took it all in stride.


My mom flew in from New Jersey and hubs collected his mom from Tennessee and we paced the floor and played a lot of dominoes waiting our turn.

They would say he's worth the wait. 

And I would say amen. People try to tell you what being a grandparent is all about and while they agree it's completely amazing they universally struggle for words that tell you why. Here's what I know so far...

A grandbaby makes your heart light when the day feels heavy. It can be raining buckets outside but you feel sunny on the inside. He is always learning...growing...discovering and you see beauty and wonder in something a minute ago you might have thought plain and ordinary.

He looks in the mirror and spies a boy. Himself. His face lights up in an instant and you feel yours do the same. He breaks out in a smile the size of Montana and you smile too, so big and so wide your cheeks positively ache. This smile is organic, coming from deep inside you and making it's way across your face. You stand helpless to keep it from coming.

This tiny human reminds you a smile is contagious...that a word gently spoken can smooth the rough edges of this world...

That we are small, but love makes us strong and brave.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Grand Hodgepodge

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge. I've got a houseful this week, but will do my best to read your posts before next Wednesday rolls around. Here we go-

1. What takes you out of your comfort zone?

Physical challenges if I'm with a group of athletic types. 

2. Your least favorite spice?

Sage. I can only handle it in minuscule amounts. 

3. What's a small change you'd like to make?

After living in this house for a year I really need to rearrange my pantry. There's also that one kitchen cabinet driving me bonkers and I should deal with that too. I have a large pantry and organized it the way I thought best when we moved in, but there are a couple of shelves that don't make sense now that I'm using the space on a daily basis. I also have a cabinet that every time I open it I say to myself, '  'I really need to get in here and rearrange', but have I? No. 

4. Do you enjoy visiting historic homes? If so, of the homes you've visited which one was your favorite? What historic home near you is open to visitors? Have you been? Southern Living rounded up eleven of the best in the southern part of the US and they're as follows-

Monticello (Jefferson's home in Virginia), Nathaniel Russel House (Charleston SC), Swan House (Atlanta), Ernest Hemingway's home (Key West), The Biltmore (Vanderbilt home in Asheville NC), Mount Vernon (Washington's home in Virgina), San Francisco Plantation (Garyville, Louisiana), Windsor Ruins (Port Gibson Mississippi), Longue Vue House and Gardens (New Orleans), Whitehall (Palm Beach FL), and Pebble Hill Plantation (Thomasville GA)

Have you been to any on the list? Of the homes listed which would you most like to visit?

I love touring old homes (or new homes for that matter) and if a fabulous garden is attached so much the better. My favorite? Impossible! I lived in England for six years and pretty much every village has an historic home or ten.

Then there's all those castles, which I think could correctly be labeled 'historic home'. All of Europe too, so like I said-impossible! We lived not far from Waddesdon Manor and I always enjoyed visiting there. In the USA I'd say Monticello and The Biltmore are both favorites. 

Currently I live very close to Clemson University and there's an antebellum home there called Fort Hill. It was at one time the home of 19th century statesman John C. Calhoun. We haven't been yet but will definitely visit sometime in the new year. 

Of the homes on the list I've been to Monticello, Ernest Hemingways home, The Biltmore, and Mount Vernon. I'd like to see Longue Vue House and Gardens because I love historic homes, but I especially love pretty gardens. 

5. What's something you think will be obsolete in ten years? Does that make you sad or glad?

The U.S. Mail and yes that makes me sad. I still look forward to my daily stroll to the mailbox, particularly this time of year. 

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

Look who's here-

Is he just the cutest, or what? This is his very first trip to The Palmetto State which I'll write about as soon as I write about our recent trip from the Palmetto state to see him in his own home state. 

Which might end up being one big post all lumped together under the title grandparenting is grand.  Because y'all! This grandparenting thing is the absolute best! 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 329

Here are the questions to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog then hop back here tomorrow to share answers with the universe. See you there!

1. What takes you out of your comfort zone?

2. Your least favorite spice?

3. What's a small change you'd like to make?

4. Do you enjoy visiting historic homes? If so, of the homes you've visited which one was your favorite? What historic home near you is open to visitors? Have you been? Southern Living rounded up eleven of the best in the southern part of the US and they're as follows-

Monticello (Jefferson's home in Virginia), Nathaniel Russel House (Charleston SC), Swan House (Atlanta), Ernest Hemingway's home (Key West), The Biltmore (Vanderbilt home in Asheville NC), Mount Vernon (Washington's home in Virgina), San Francisco Plantation (Garyville, Louisiana), Windsor Ruins (Port Gibson Mississippi), Longue Vue House and Gardens (New Orleans), Whitehall (Palm Beach FL), and Pebble Hill Plantation (Thomasville GA)

Have you been to any on the list? Of the homes listed which would you most like to visit?

5. What's something you think will be obsolete in ten years? Does that make you sad or glad?

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The End Of The Oregon Trail (Post #7)

Remember how I went on a trip a month ago and how I was going to tell you about it?
I'm almost done.


Days 5 and 6-Newport Oregon to Cannon Beach ( 121 miles)

Let's first discuss the weather. It was abysmal. But we didn't complain because we had fabulous weather most of the trip and we'd come prepared with the proper outerwear. When we got to Washington State it was gorgeous again and no we haven't gotten to Washington in the recap yet, but it's coming. In fact that's next and then it's back to everyday ordinary life here on this side of the pond.


Before leaving Newport hubs and I had a hearty breakfast (we could easily have split an omelette they were that big!)  at a spot recommended by Josh over at California Through My Lens. It was called The Coffee Shop and is right on the harbor in Newport. I'm so glad we didn't miss this wonderful little cafe with friendly service and delicious food.

Our server very helpfully pointed us to the best lookout for sea lion watching which we so appreciated because y'all...

These sea lions!

So adorable and so adorably noisy.

About eight miles up the road from Newport you come to an area known as The Devils Punch Bowl. As we pulled up we debated about getting out for a look because the weather was that bad, but oh wow!

So worth getting drenched and blown by the wind. The waves churn and swirl in this natural rock 'bowl' which scientists believe was formed when two caves collapsed. As we were sitting in our car a couple pulled up beside us wondering what to do and we said definitely go for it.

Also, they were British so we had a lovely little chin wag there in the parking lot at Devil's Punch Bowl, which is what we do whenever we run into travelers from across the pond. We let ourselves feel all the feels.

We braved the weather a little further up the road for a stop at the Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint. Hubs kept telling me not to back up for fear I'd be blown into the wild sea.

It was a distinct possibility.

If you drive the Oregon coast road do not miss this lookout. Here you stand in quiet awe at the mighty power of the Pacific. It's absolutely incredible! If you're here at the right time of year you might even be lucky enough to see gray whales as they travel south to warmer waters.

We left Rocky Creek and carried on up the road to the village of Depoe Bay. What a cute little town with equally cute shops that were fun for browsing. We did a little of that here too. While it's reported to be the world's smallest navigable harbor the manner in which the surf crashes is anything but tiny-

Standing on the bridge is a little like the feeling you have on the log flume at Disney, and almost as much fun.

Not gonna lie. We were ready to get out of the rain and anxious to get to our hotel and warm up. We arrived in Cannon Beach mid afternoon, so happy to see a fireplace in our room. We kept it running the two days we were there and it was wonderful.

We loved this hotel- The Ocean Lodge... I mean they have homemade cookies and a complimentary glass of wine upon check in so really what's not to love? The Ocean Lodge is charming yet modern, with so many darling nooks and crannies and comfy spots for sitting, reading, and breakfasting.

The beach outside your door is none too shabby either.

If you're familiar with the movie Goonies (also Point Break and Twilight) you might recognize this locale. These Haystack rocks are magnificent and pictures do not do the crashing surf justice. It pounds over these rocks as if they were tiny pebbles.

We spent two nights here, relaxing, running out to the beach between rain bursts to gawk at the beauty, shopping in the charming village, and eating some wonderful meals. People we met while traveling had recommended The Bistro so we ate dinner there the first night.

We loved the cozy, intimate French atmosphere and the food was delicious. On Friday we had a nice pub lunch (and break from the rain) in town at Bill's and that evening had reservations at a popular venue called The Irish Table, which definitely lived up to it's reputation.

Before dinner we popped into the little place next door to The Irish Table, also well known and well loved by the locals in Cannon Beach. It's called The Hardware Store and is part hardware store/part pub hence it's affectionate nickname The Screw and Brew. It was a fun place and we were almost wishing we could stay for dinner, but in the end were glad we didn't miss The Irish Table.

From Cannon Beach we drove another 80 miles into Portland which I wrote a little bit about here, and from Portland drove another 126 miles to my grandson. I mean Washington. I'll wrap up with that tomorrow.

You're relieved I know.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Fly Me To The Moon (Post #6)

It was raining hard when we arrived late afternoon at our hotel in Newport Oregon. We stayed at the Hallmark Resort there and I loved the property. Our room overlooked the beach and even though it was raining we could enjoy the view thanks to the comfy chairs placed in front of our sliders.

There's a nice restaurant called Georgies Beachside Grill right next door and that's where we had dinner. Call ahead is suggested and while it was crowded we didn't have to wait long. Also, order the seafood saute-yum!

We were seated in a booth and shortly after we sat down two couples were seated in the booth opposite ours, an older gentleman and his wife and a younger gentleman and his wife. We noticed the younger man was wearing an obviously well-loved flight jacket covered in patches and we wondered about his story. We weren't eavesdropping (not exactly anyway), but the booths were close together so we couldn't help but overhear snippets of their conversation. We heard NASA mentioned several times and also the words Mercury 7, Gemini,  Mars and a few other space related terms which peaked our interest. We convinced ourselves the older gentleman had been an astronaut and were determined to figure out who he was.

So we did what everyone does in 2017 and started googling images of astronauts from the 1960's. I discovered pretty quickly the original Mercury 7 are all deceased and he didn't appear to be one of the Gemini crew either. We were stumped.

At this point I might have carried on wondering and might have left never knowing, but Hubs LOVES all things space related so was not going to let it go.

As we were eating and googling they handed something small to our waitress and we heard them say it had been to the moon. English was not our servers first language and it seemed she didn't really understand what was happening but we did. Ha! When she came over we asked her if she knew the customer's name and she didn't but she did very helpfully walk back to their table and say 'Those people want to meet you.'

So we got up and introductions were made and we shook hands and y'all it just turned into the most fun thing. Hubs point blank asked the older gentleman whose name turned out to be Norman Chaffee (no relation to Roger Chaffee) if he was an astronaut and he said no, but that he did work in the space program. If you read his online bio you'll know that's a bit of an understatement. He was a very important part of the space program and was the engineer who designed the thrusters on Apollo 11. He worked on additional missions to both the moon and Mars and what he had shown the waitress was a piece of the heat shield that, as he put it, was 'just behind Neil Armstrong's backside' protecting him as he rocketed to the moon.

Really what happened was, we made introductions and someone mentioned the space station and hubs whipped out his phone and showed them the app he follows that tells you when the space station is passing over your head, and that's when they said, 'Ah, you're a science geek...pull up some chairs and join us.'

So we did because, of course.

The second man at the table was Jim Loftus, son of the former Assistant Director of the Johnson Space Center. He runs a museum now near Salem Oregon and was accompanying Mr. Chaffee the next day to speak to high school students from around the state. Jim Loftus' dad was at one time Norman Chaffee's boss, and was instrumental in selecting the original Mercury 7 and also later program astronauts. When Mr. Loftus saw hubs had that app on his phone he said, 'Wait right here, I'll go get his baby'. I wasn't sure what he meant, but he was back in a flash carrying a rocket thruster. Absolutely made hubs day!

In a funny coincidence Mr. Chaffee (who lives in Texas) has a daughter living not far from us here in the Palmetto State. Hubs did what he always does and invited him to visit us at the lake next time he's in town. They've exchanged emails since and we certainly hope he takes us up on it.

As we were leaving Mr. Loftus said to my husband how impressed he was that we spoke up. That people miss out on so many wonderful things in life because they don't seize the day.

Hubs is a master at seizing the day.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

In Sync With The Hodgepodge

Welcome to another edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge. If you've answered this week's questions add your link at the end of my post, then go say howdy to your neighbor there. Thanks for playing along each week!
1.  In a rut, in a jam, in the groove, out of sync, off balance, out of touch...which saying best fits some area of your life currently (or recently)? Explain.

Well I think we all know I was physically off balance back in August of this year, so that fits. My ribs took a good three months to heal completely and I hope I never experience that sort of injury again. 

More than off balance though I feel out of sync. We were away for a large chunk of October and then hit the ground running upon our return. Still trying to catch my breath, and seem to be always a step or two behind where I need to be. 

2. What is it about somebody else's style of work (coworker/employee/shared volunteer project/household chore) that makes you crazy? Why?

habitual lateness, laziness, being unprepared on a regular basis

3. What's a tradition that always makes you feel at home?

I think partly why I love Thanksgiving is because at the core it's celebrated in a very similar way all across America. Family and/or friends gathering, shared cooking, turkey and dressing, pie, parades and naps...this is Thanksgiving. Yes I know that's not 100% across the board true, but in general we celebrate this day counting our blessings and eating a little more than we should. 

I've eaten Thanksgiving in a country not my own and the smell of turkey roasting and the sound of my girls chatter in the kitchen as friends from various parts of the globe gathered round all said home to me.

'Forever on Thanksgiving Day
The heart will find the pathway home.'
~Wilbur D. Nesbit

4. A favorite song with a girl's name in the title or lyrics? Any reason why this is a particular favorite?

Just one??? There are so many I love... Georgia (Boz Scaggs), Aimee (Pure Prairie League), Amanda (Boston) Rhiannon (Fleetwood Mac), Aubrey (Bread), Annie's Song (John Denver), Sweet Caroline (Neil Diamond)...

I'm going with this one though because I've always loved the name. ahem. This song was written about a big Irish Setter (cue the waterworks).  

Shannon by Henry Gross-

5. Share a favorite quote, verse, or saying relating to gratitude or thanksgiving.

'Come thou fount of ev'ry blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise...'
~Come Thou Fount by Robert Robertson

6. Insert your own random thought here.

So much to love about this time of year-