Friday, July 27, 2018


Dear Little Man Cub,

Today you are one.

When you were born something shifted in our universe. You might think I'm just saying that because you're ours, but I think if we surveyed grandparents around the world they would agree.

Even before you're born we know we're going to love you, but we're a little bit shocked by how quickly and completely that happens.

It has been my great great joy to watch you grow and change this year.

To watch you become more you.

Your mama and daddy are wonderful parents and I'm thankful every day God made you a family. I'm grateful too for technology that allows me to 'see' you from so many miles away. You know more and more with every passing day and it's thrilling to watch as you explore and discover this great big world around you.

Did you know that while you're growing and learning we're growing and learning too?  Since you came along and stole my heart I know what the songwriter means when he sings of  sunshine on a cloudy day.

I also know for certain now a smile is contagious.

I've learned too, that when the world feels harsh and off kilter one toothless gummy grin can set it spinning right again.

Happy birthday baby boy.

 You are so very precious and your Nana loves you deep and wide.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He make straight your paths. " Proverbs 3:5-6

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Winds Of Change Are Blowing Through The Hodgepodge

Hello Hodgepodgers and any others who might be reading here today. If you're a regular in the HP please be sure to read my random thought today. I'm sure nobody skips to the bottom and just adds a link ahem, but I've got HP news in my random so you'll want to at least read that.

Now on to this week's questions...if you've answered add your link at the end of my post. Be sure to hop over and leave a comment for the blogger before you too, because that's how we roll. Here we go-

1. I feel most energized when I _______________________.

Tick things off a to-do list. Accomplish a difficult or particularly annoying task I've put off.  Am fed and well rested-ha! Just keepin' it real. If I'm tired and hungry I get cranky. 

2. Where were you ten years ago?

In mid-July of 2008 I was enjoying a blue sky day in London with the hubs and our girls-

And walking our pup on the paths that ran through the fairy tale ferns in our little English village-

Note what I'm wearing on July 20, 2008!

3. July 17th is World Emoji Day. Do you use emojis? Which one's your favorite? Your most used?

I use emojis in texts, mostly just texts to my family though. My favorite is probably the smiley face blowing a kiss, but my most used is the smiley face with the heart eyes. Daughter1 says I love to add lots of heart eyes to any posted pics of baby boy. I can't help it. He gives me all the heart eyes. 

4. What song would you put on a wedding DO NOT PLAY list?

Quite a few actually, but The Macarena was the first to come to mind. 

5. What deserves less of your attention? More of your attention?

The less part of this question is hard for me right now. I have been doing all the things that need doing this summer and haven't had a lot of time to 'waste' on things that don't need my attention.

As far as more of my attention I'm going to say writing. I miss it and am trying to figure out a way to make it happen on a more regular basis. 

Which brings me to my random thought...

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Although it's not that random because I've been mulling this 'random' over for quite a while now. 

I'm going to take a break from the Wednesday Hodgepodge. I've struggled with the commitment all summer and am still looking at a very busy end of July-August calendar. But mostly it's this-

I miss writing and I want to make room for that in my life again. 

I know the Hodgepodge is writing, but it's not the only writing I want to do. And because we've had so much going on here this spring and summer it seems what little time I do have to write I've had to spend on the Wednesday Hodgepodge. 

That's not to say I don't love it, and especially the people I've come to know here, but I do need to make some adjustments and this feels like the right time to do it. 

So here's the deal...this will be the last Wednesday Hodgepodge for the summer. I will definitely host one more the first week in September for anyone who wants to participate, and then will see how I feel about continuing in the current format or maybe in an updated format. Or maybe putting a bow on it and calling it done. Stay tuned. 

In the meantime I do have plans to blog, to read blogs which is something else I've missed, and to write outside my blog.  I hope you'll add me to your reader,  follow me by email or on Instagram where I normally link. Or send me a FB friend request as I also link my blog there. You can follow along using any of these methods by clicking the links just under the Welcome section on my sidebar. 

I have truly loved this little weekly gathering. I've learned a lot and laughed a lot and I look forward to seeing what's next. Mark your calendars for Sept 4/5 if you want to be sure and catch the return of the Hodgepodge. 

Cheers! Joyce 


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 359

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

1. I feel most energized when I _______________________.

2. Where were you ten years ago?

3. July 17th is World Emoji Day. Do you use emojis? Which one's your favorite? Your most used?

4. What song would you put on a wedding DO NOT PLAY list?

5. What deserves less of your attention? More of your attention?

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

No Getting Rid Of The Hodgepodge

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge! If you've answered this week's questions add your link at the end of my post, and then be sure to leave a comment for the blogger before you. That's what good neighbors do here on From This Side Of The Pond-

1.What's something in your house you'd like to get rid of, but can't?

We have some furniture in our lower garage bay I've been holding on to thinking Daughter2 may want once she's married. Or she may not and that's okay, but I'm not doing anything about it until I know for sure. 

2. When is the last time you experienced a sense of nostalgia? Elaborate.

When my sister and brother were here we were sitting around the table talking and sharing some memories of a trip we took with cousins to an amusement park nearly fifty years ago. 

How my brother rode a roller coaster with my cousin and that particular cousin screamed he was going to die at the top of his lungs the entire ride. How my sister hated the roller coaster and then the operator forgot to stop the cart and she had to go around again. 

There was more but it all left me feeling a bit nostalgic for the magic of childhood, our family of six around the dinner table on a school night, siblings asleep in the same upstairs...

3. You're only allowed three apps on your smart phone or tablet...which three do you keep?

This is a toughie! If you make me choose I'll go with Instagram, Music, and then FaceTime because I need this face in my everyday-

4. July 11th is National Blueberry Muffin Day. Who knew? Do you like blueberry muffins? If you were going to have a muffin would blueberry be your choice? What's the last thing you baked?

Honestly I don't love muffins. They're usually too heavy and 'bready' for me so if I'm having a muffin I'd prefer a mini. A blueberry muffin is okay, but I'd rather have cranberry-orange. Actually I'd rather have a bagel, but that wasn't the question. 

The last thing I baked were fresh strawberry cupcakes for my brother-in-law's birthday a few days ago. I linked the recipe in Monday's post so you'll need to hop over there if you're curious. They were delish! 

5. What's the biggest way you've changed since you were a child? In what way are you still the same?

Biggest way I've changed? Well I can't eat whatever I want whenever I want. Is that an answer? 

While I'm still a great big chicken about so many things I know I'm braver in a lot of ways too. And I'm definitely stronger, both mentally and physically. My mom pointed out to me recently that I've got muscles in my legs. To quote her, 'they don't look like toothpicks anymore'.

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

Daughter2 bought a life jacket for her pup and we thought we'd see what she thought of the water...

Let's just say she's more of an indoor girl. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 358

I'm hoping to blog this week because there are some actual blank spaces in my calendar. In the meantime let's play along with the Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then hop back here tomorrow to add your link to the party. See you there!

1. What's something in your house you'd like to get rid of but can't?

2. When is the last time you experienced a sense of nostalgia? Elaborate.

3. You're only allowed three apps on your smart phone or tablet...which three do you keep?

4. July 11th is National Blueberry Muffin Day. Who knew? Do you like blueberry muffins? If you were going to have a muffin would blueberry be your choice? What's the last thing you baked?

5. What's the biggest way you've changed since you were a child? In what way are you still the same?

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Always Just One More Thing

July 9th. Already? This summer has been a whirlwind of activity, but I'm currently looking at a little bit of blank space on the calendar and am determined to regroup here on the blog. It's not a lot of blank space, but it's the most I've had since Easter (I know!!) so I'll take it.

Also, this should be two posts I'm sure but you know how I do things here, right?

The problem is basically this-I tell myself I'll do just one little thing before I hop on here to write, and then there is always one more little thing that follows. Then another and another and before you know it the clock reads 9 PM and I haven't written word one.

Today it started with the frig. We've had a lot of house guests recently and everyone is so great about helping in the kitchen and bringing dishes to add to the meals, but my frig! Yikes! I tell people to just 'put that leftover wherever you can find space' so there are bottles and plastic containers and foil wrapped ? tucked on every shelf. The whole thing needs to be hosed down which is what I started doing first thing this morning.

I lost my way when I went to get something out of the dryer that needed a hanger and then I ran downstairs for 'just a minute' to put another something in a closet but the closet looked a little like my frig so I thought 'let me just sort out this closet while I'm looking at it'.

Also brewing in the back of my brain was the fact that I still hadn't showered, washed my hair, finished my grocery list, shopped for said groceries, and while I'm out stop at the post office, drop the tablecloth at the dry cleaners, pick up a prescription from the drug store, and...and...and...

There is always just one more thing, isn't there?

The frig is mostly cleaned out. Groceries are purchased. Dinner was put in the crockpot. All the laundry is done (whoohoo!). Bills were paid. A package mailed. A tablecloth left with the cleaners in town. A prescription collected. A torturous thirty minutes was spent on the phone with an internet business customer service agent trying to sort out a charge on our credit card, but problem solved so calling that a win! And now I'm sort of writing about it so I guess I can check that box too.

What did everyone do on the 4th? Yep. Gonna just abruptly change topic but that's how my Mondays seem to roll. My brother and sister-in law got to town the night before,  just in time for a boat ride and a sunset swim as the sky turned my favorite shade of pink.

Daughter2 and her fiance were also in the house (and on the boat) and then my sister who lives in a nearby town came to spend the holiday with us. Also her hubs and my niece and her boyfriend so a full house. 

We decided it was too hot to grill so I made slaw and did pulled pork in my crockpot. Daughter2 made the beans, my sister made a delicious spinach pasta salad, and there was watermelon because that's the law on the 4th of July. You needed to know what we ate, didn't you? 

We hung out in the water most of the day, and hubs even managed a boat ride with some of our crew before dinner. We played cornhole and sang happy birthday to my brother-in-law and enjoyed these strawberry cupcakes (click for recipe) which everyone loved. Our across the water neighbor always puts on a fantastic fireworks show and this year was no exception.  

Boats come from around the lake and line up at the mouth of our cove to watch, and when a firework is particularly large or beautiful all the boaters honk. So much fun! Hubs, the fiance, and my niece's boyfriend watched while floating on water saddles in front of our dock, but the rest of us were in comfy chairs on the dock and around the firepit. 

Thursday the fiance worked so Daughter2 hung out with us and enjoyed spending time with her aunt and uncle. Here's a picture to prove they were here-ha! I just couldn't be bothered with my camera with so much going on this weekend, although I think that's when you're supposed to bother with your camera. I'm relying on everyone else to snap pics and they do. 

Friday there was a little more boating and swimming (suffice it to say we were water rats all week long) then a nice dinner out at a local Italian restaurant. Not gonna lie...I've done a lot of cooking this summer and I do love to cook, but I also really enjoyed this meal that I did not prepare. 

Friday my sister and brother-in-law came back out for dinner at the lake, then took my brother and sister-in-law home with them for a couple of days. We had a lovely break in the weather on Saturday which was the perfect excuse to lounge on the porch in yoga pants, watch some World Cup, and play Monopoly- the London version of course because England!! Whoohoo!!

And now I think you're up to speed on all the mundane except I forgot to mention the scrumptious blueberry pancakes Daughter2 prepared for us on Sunday. I never make pancakes so this was a real treat for everyone. 

Plus she's adorable and should definitely have her own cooking show. She's a wonderful baker and has no trouble cracking eggs while carrying on a conversation.

What would I blog about if I didn't talk weather and what was on our menu?

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Twenty Things

Approximately twenty things.

Because I haven't blogged in eons and I have a million bits of random in my head and on my camera which I will now narrow down to just twenty.

Approximately twenty. 

So where was I when last we spoke? I just checked and the last time I blogged about something other than asking/answering the Wednesday Hodgepodge questions was June 11th. Yikes! that was a long time ago. Longer than I thought so now I'm wondering if it's worth going back three whole weeks to tell you about small bits of absolutely nothing important.

Yes. Because I'm all about the everyday stuff of life here on This Side of the Pond.

1. We had an anniversary. 34 years so yay us!

2. We celebrated with a lovely dinner at Halls Chophouse in the nearby small big city and it was delish. We did not take a single picture. We live about 45 minutes away and decided to stay overnight because we're empty nesters and we can. Also, we wanted to preview the hotel as we'll have some wedding guests staying there in the spring.

3. Shout out to our server at Halls Chophouse who sent us a handwritten note card a few days later,  thanking us for coming and telling us how happy she was to wait on us as we celebrated our 34th anniversary. That's some fantastic customer service right there.

4. Also, complimentary glass of bubbly when we sat down. Whoohoo! I'd definitely go back.

5. We tried a newish spot in town for breakfast called Crepe du Jour. We had to, right? I mean I need to know what to recommend to people in terms of breakfast spots come April and now I do.

6. We drove home after breakfast because it was Father's Day and Daughter2 was coming out to the lake to celebrate and spend the night. She made the most precious video for hubs, filled with pics of the two of them together while she sang Carrie Underwood's song 'The Girl You Think I Am' as the background soundtrack. Cue the tissues! Also, did I snap a photo of hubs with his girl on Father's Day? No I did not. I wish I had...does that count?

7. The Tuesday after Father's Day I flew to my mom's in NJ.

8. Wait, no I didn't. I was supposed to fly to my mom's on Tuesday, but instead the Wednesday after Father's Day I flew to my mom's in NJ. I only had to sit in the airport waiting on one delay after another for seven+ hours. I passed the time reading and thinking about what sort of junk food I might buy if I didn't have a wedding happening in less than a year.

9. I finally got to my mom's about 7:30 PM. She made me a BLT and I slept in my childhood bedroom and all was right with the world once more.

10. My sister came over the next day and we went shopping for a new bathroom vanity for my mom and it was super frustrating so we called it a day and went to lunch instead. I had dinner at my brother's house that evening and enjoyed that too. Also not a single picture was snapped of me with my siblings or my mama while I was there. Blogging is not the only ball I'm dropping lately.

11. On Friday I drove about an hour and a half to the Eastern Shore of Maryland for a weekend with friends from long ago summer camp days. We sleep in rustic cabins that are maybe a little too rustic for 50-somethings, and we duck between raindrops and celebrate the clearing of the skies. We talk and laugh and remember. We sing camp songs and share stories under a million stars and we marvel at creation in a place so near and dear to each one of our hearts.

12. I drove back to my mom's early Sunday morning so I could go with her to church and then a leisurely lunch afterward with a few of her friends.

13. Monday morning mom and I got down to business and got the vanity sorted and new floor tile ordered and paint colors picked and we both felt better about her home improvement project. It's not a huge project, but is there such a thing as a small room reno? They all feel big to me.

14. My brother dropped me at the airport Tuesday where I once again sat for more than two hours waiting on delayed aircraft but then did finally make it home in time to have dinner with Daughter2. We were in the neighborhood so why not? Hubs phoned Daughter1's in-laws and they met us at the nearby fancy taco place too, and then hubs and I drove home and I crawled into bed where I could have happily remained for a day except we had company coming on Thursday.

15. A former co-worker of hubs and his wife drove down from NY for the weekend and we had such a great time catching up. He and hubs became friends when hubs worked for a small company post-retirement. They hit it off right away and I met his wife when we all went on a 'work trip' to Antigua last year, and we made plans then to get together at the lake this summer.

He and hubs both love to water ski so there was lots of water skiing. I love it when someone else is here to pull hubs so he can ski, tie up lines, and act as dock boy when we dock. The weather cooperated and we spent most of the weekend on the water or planted on one of the small beaches on various islands in the lake.

16. They left this morning and hubs is mowing the lawn because for some reason that's how he relaxes. I'm changing bed linens because we have company coming for the 4th of July holiday and staying through the weekend and as long as beds are made and groceries are bought we're good to go.  Company really isn't all that complicated and we enjoy all the comings and goings.

17. In other completely unrelated news...hubs and I watched the movie Hostiles. Has anyone see it? Not for the faint of heart! We also just finished Season 1 of an Amazon Prime program called Bosch. It's based on a character created by Michael Connelly and if you liked his books featuring the Lincoln Lawyer you'll recognize the name Harry Bosch. The show is really well cast and hubs and I both liked it a lot.

18. I finished a book that's gotten a lot of buzz. It's called The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir, and I thought it was just okay. Think the Duggers and you'll have an idea of this novel's theme. I wanted to like it, but I felt like the storyline fed into a lot of sterotypes and generalizations about the Christian community that are more exception than rule.  It reads more like a YA novel, and I while I do occasionally read some of those this one was more of a miss for me. I did want to know how it turned out, so there's that, but overall it was just okay.

19. While I was visiting my mom hubs was home arranging with an electrician for the install of a ceiling fan on our lower patio and the hanging of our Edison Bulbs. I love the way they turned out and can't wait to have dinner under our very own 'stars'.

20. And now an awesome sunset and 100 bonus points to anyone who made it all the way here.

photo cred: hubs

Have a great week everyone!