Friday, December 31, 2021

And That's A Wrap!

Officially now the last day of the last week is here (or over, depending on where or when  you are reading this). This is the day I will re-read each week's post and remember or reflect on the joys each day brought. As with most folks, we did not have big joyous events because almost every time we planned something big a new variant of Covid reared its ugly head just in time to let us know it was not safe to go back in the water. Like everyone, I am tired of it, but still doing my part to keep those around me and myself safe. 
So I will have to content myself reading about the small things that happened and made me smile.
Here is to looking backward, with appreciation, then readjusting the throw pillows on the couch, my jeans and my attitude to look forward to  all the possibilities a new year brings.

TheHub and I got out and drove around looking at Christmas lights for a little while. 7 o'clock Christmas Eve is a really nice time to be out and about. The shopping traffic is over and for the most part people are doing some sort of celebrating or prepping for Santa. We were nearly the only cars on the road and could stop and look at displays without holding any other cars up. It was a very peaceful way to see the lights.

Saturday: AKA Christmas! My beloved sister and her husband came over and joined Son2 and DIL2 for brunch. We had a couple of FaceTime calls with Son1's family in Portland, and a couple with Son3, DIL3, and her folks in Sweden. What do you think are the chances of getting them all to leave that snowy wonderland and come have Christmas in Alabama some day?
We had a wonderful day with great food, and a lot of laughs. Plus there is a beehive somewhere in the world with my name on it. (One of the best gifts ever.) Well, one of the best gifts, other than this puppet!

Sunday: This was a day for some much needed rest. I have been sleeping badly the past couple of nights averaging about 3 1/2 hours of sleep each night. I gave in to tiredness and took a couple of catnaps then hit the bed very early for me. (11:30 pm) I rarely nap and had forgotten how delicious a well timed short nap can be.

Monday: TheHub had an almost normal work day, but came home early. I had to run to our satellite courthouse (close to my house) to file some paperwork with the tax assessor so he went along for the ride. I have never been there when all I had to do was walk in and have just one person in line ahead of me. Bonus, the woman working the window was so helpful and such a lovely person. I have never walked out of there with a smile on my face, but I did then. Kudos to their personnel department for hiring such a delightful person!
For dinner we managed to finish off one of the Christmas leftovers, then watched Succession.

Tuesday: I had a fairly slow day and was not terribly productive except to begin the annual return of Christmas decorations to their closet. I did have a wonderful FaceTime conversation with Pip as she was  riding to Mt. Hood for a ski day with Son1. 
After TheHub and I ate dinner we finished season 2 of Succession and began season 3. It is not often when you find a program where every single character is so very flawed.
I also finished a very disturbing book. I should have just put it down

Wednesday: The day was not a very exciting day, but a little more Christmas was packed away until Thanksgiving 2022. 
We did have a FaceTime call from Pip. She was on her way home from skiing with Son1. According to Son1, this was the day she finally figured everything out and while we were on the call with her she was begging her dad to take her skiing again Thursday. 
We watched another episode of Succession, finished all or our contributions for the year, then I read while glancing occasionally at theAlabama -Tennessee basketball game. OK, I lied! I was reading and glancing until the last 4 or 5 minutes. Then I actively watched the lead change back and forth. It was an exciting game.
The last thing that gave me extreme joy was a combo Christmas decoration/Mother Nature event.  We have one of those lasers that projects tiny red and green dots on the outside of the house. We had purchased it several years ago when Pip was here at Christmas, and used it in the backyard to create the illusion our fence had lights. This year TheHub put it in the front yard and it looks like we hung tiny lights all over the front of our house.  
Wednesday night saw hard rains and heavy winds. The combination of the wind, rain and laser created the perfect conditions that projected a starburst over the front yard. It was an incredibly cool accident.

Thursday: I woke to a foggy day, which was very beautiful. Normally my morning coffee view looks out over the valley beyond my neighborhood, but Thursday I could only see the tops of the pine trees and the bare skeletons of the hardwood trees. It was really a beautiful ethereal look.
 The day saw more Christmas items returning to their boxes and bins, and more normalcy restored to our common living areas.. We did make a judgement call to leave the Dickens Village collection up a little longer, because both of us like the way it lights the corner cabinet in the dining room. Plus it does not look like Christmas as much as it looks like a snowy village scene.,
The added bonus happened after dark. The laser light is still aimed at the house and the gentle raindrops  reflecting the light created another starburst over the front yard. 

Wishing each and every one of you 365 days filled with joy as we begin this new orbit around the sun.
You will find what you look for, so make sure you search for the joys. They are always out there!

May all your weeds be wildflowers,
Happy New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2021

Leftovers Out The Ears

 Like a lot of you, I tend to overcook during the holidays. Consequently, we have a ton of leftovers that I need to make for dinners, but in different forms. Who wants to eat Christmas food for a week? Not me!
So this week will be primarily a transformation week, where things we ate will magically change forms and become something different than their first incarnations. The upside? It will be a week of minimal cooking and that does make me happy.

I know we ate this past week, but I was busy and didn't keep up with what we had, and have now forgotten it totally. We went out to eat one night and I think we did take out another night. We had sandwiches once and leftover soup just to get it out of the fridge. Who knows what else we had!

I am not planning a menu as much as I am planning food reformations
1. Scalloped ham and potatoes, asparagus (using leftover ham)
2. Meatball sliders (using leftover dinner rolls and cocktail meatballs)
3. Grilled Cheese sandwiches, coleslaw (using assorted leftover cheeses)
4. Breakfast dinner, fried apples,  possibly broccoli (leftover breakfast casserole and leftover fried apples)
5. NYE: steak, potatoes, and tossed salad (weather permitting)
6. Traditional NY Day meal: black eyed peas, collards, ham, cornbread
7. Something__Anything but leftovers!

Have a great week staying on plan, going off plan or with non plan at all!

Friday, December 24, 2021

The 51st Week Is Done

I remember one of these posts when I realized the year was halfway over and I could not believe how fast it had happened. Now that this week has passed, there is just one week left until 2021 is in the mirror. 2022 is looming and filled with possibilities, resolutions (that will be broken if it is like every other year) and a whole lot of unknown. 
But before I can step into the new year, I have to finish this one, which means today will find me cleaning like a mad woman and getting things ready for the big day! I wish every single one of you a Merry, Merry Christmas. All I want for Christmas is abundant joy for everyone, free from any drama or pettiness. 

These are some of my joys for this past week

Friday: We had TheHub's office party  at the Birmingham Museum of Art. There were a good many people there but the space is large and there was plenty of room to spread out.

Saturday: It was a rainy day so we stayed home all day Saturday, except for TheHub's recreational shopping trip. I got some things done, but then we started watching Succession. Oh well! So much for productivity!

Sunday: The day was beautiful and we got our yearly charities tended to and in the mail. That evening we went to see the ultimate Christmas light display with Son2 and DIL2.  After riding all through Pepper Tree (where we saw the most over the top display I have ever seen celebrating everything from the nativity, to Santas, to elves, to pac-man chasing binky) we had dinner with them at a new restaurant near their house.

Monday: Back to the lawyers with my sister. Ugh! They are helping us navigate some investment issues and I appreciate it, and need them to translate the legalese to make sure our big fat fannies are covered.  But just when we think everything is in order the investment firm comes up with yet another thing that needs to be authorized and signed. 

Tuesday: I finished the Christmas shopping which is bleak this year, but no one needs or really wants anything and I refuse to buy simply to have presents o'plenty under the tree. After I got home I had just enough time to change into clothes suitable for a dinner in Tuscaloosa. We met TheHubs brother and our SIL for delicious food and a lot of laughs!

Wednesday:  This was cookie baking and gift wrapping day.  Baking was finished and a huge mess was made!

Thursday: TheHub did something he has never done in our entire married life (except for when we were still in school) He left the office at lunchtime, came home and picked me up for a lunch  at a new cute restaurant, then he went grocery shopping with me. (real shopping, not his recreations kind)
Then we came home and watched one episode of Succession in the daytime and another at night. It was a fun day

So go about this week finding your joy in both the large and small things every day brings!
May all your weeds be wildflowers!

               And for your enjoyment, you might want to watch/listen to this video !

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


Thursday, December 23, 2021

And Once Again

 I feel it is my civic duty as an Alabamian (with probable red-neck  tendencies) to propagate the stereotypical image of Christmas in Alabama. So for the fourth year running I present . . .

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Tuesday 4

When I actually remember it is Tuesday, I follow Annie @Tuesday 4. There are 4 main questions and this week they are all about Christmas.

1. Is your tree up?
Yes they are. I have only two up this year.
How tall? 
One is 7 1/2 feet and the other is 8.The den tree has colored lights and the living room tree has white lights.   
Is there a color scheme you use? 
 Normally the den tree has humorous ornaments of every color in the world. The living room tree is more formal with gold, silver, bronze and copper. This year though, I only used lights and tree toppers. I am calling them art trees!

2.  Got a menu for Christmas Eve and Day? 
We typically have Chinese takeout for Christmas Eve. Christmas Day we have brunch and the menu is changeable. 

3. When does it go up and how long does it stay up? 
It goes up as soon after Thanksgiving as I can ge it up. Since we were out of town for Thanksgiving I had actually put some out earlier.
Everything Christmasy  is down by the 31 with just some candles and mantel lights remaining. 

4. What is your favorite Christmas memory. 
When I was 5 I had mumps during the holidays and was unable to go see Santa. My uncle was friends with Loveman’s (former local dept store) Santa. Imagine my surprise when Uncle Bailey drove up to my house with Santa in the front seat. My sister and I had our own private time with the big guy. 
When do you open your gifts? 
We open our gifts on Christmas morning

If you feel like it, join in the Christmas fun!

Monday, December 20, 2021

What We Might Be Eating

 I will openly and freely admit I did not cook at all last week. We either ate stuff from the freezer that
only had to be thawed and reheated or we did takeout. Truthfully it was mainly takeout. I was a little dinged and was moving kinda slow so food prep was on the back burner. I am moving better and I guess I need to plan something, especially since this is Christmas week.  Now that we are in countdown time I just need a little Christmas spirit, because I have been a little ho-hum this entire season.

Monday: Tortilla soup, coleslaw

Tuesday: Meeting my BIL and SIL in Tuscaloosa for our Christmas celebration dinner

Wednesday: Hot open face sandwiches, caulitato salad

Thursday: Pasta dish (possibly Alfredo) tossed salad

Friday: Traditionally we have Chinese takeout on Christmas Eve

Saturday: Brunch is the headliner and is subject to change___Breakfast casserole, ham or turkey, Brussels sprouts or asparagus, garlic cheese grits, rolls, coffee cake or sweet bread, stuffed celery, various cookies and candies
Dinner will be tomato soup and a grilled cheese (tradition)

Sunday: Leftovers all day (and cookies, lots of cookies)

Have a great week staying on plan, going off plan, or with no plan at all. But most of all have a Merry Christmas and be sure to tell each and every person you care about just how important they are to you!

Friday, December 17, 2021

Wow Oh Wow! 50 Weeks Are Gone

So now week 50 is in the books and we are left with just two weeks in this year.

I apologize for not posting or responding a lot this week. I am rarely online much during the weekend and as you can see on the Sunday post, things changed quickly over the week. I did read your blogs but was just not in a position to respond to many.  I was not able to sit very long and I just can't seem to respond easily from my phone or iPad.

Friday: We met Son2 and DIL2 for dinner at Perry's. It is not normal for us to go out to eat at 8:30 and not get home until after 11. Yes, we have gotten old!

Saturday: We were invited to one of the best parties I have ever been to. There was a lot of social space (indoors and out), great food and two of the most awesome hosts ever.

Sunday: TheHub and I finished the Christmas decorating. It is less than I usually do, but the house is festive and it is enough. We also caught a couple of episodes of Succession. I am very eager for TheHub to finish it so we can begin the new season.
After watching the show we decided to get into our newly installed all year present to each other. We purchased a Jacuzzi and it felt wonderful while I was in it. Not so good afterward though. When I was getting out I misstepped and fell from the top of it onto the concrete. It did not feel very good__at all. My joy is that nothing was broken.

Monday: After the accident Sunday night I was not feeling great Monday, but My Beloved Sister and I had a mid morning meeting with the attorney that we had to keep. It was nice to have someone to be with me and make fun of me while I was hobbling down the hall. Laughter did not hide the bruises and did not make me walk any straighter, but there is something therapeutic that comes with it.

Tuesday: My book club ( there are 5 of us) met for our annual Christmas party with the exception of one member. I am sorry she was unable to come but we still had fun. C's house is a Christmas wonderland, and the perfect setting for us to get together. We met once this summer at an outdoor restaurant and this is only our second time together in 2 years. My joy was sharing time with some of my most favorite people. Additional joy is that C has padded dining room chairs which made sitting possible. 

Wednesday: Tuesday night I went to bed and did not make a pillow tunnel to keep me from moving in my sleep. Bad move on my part, and lesson was learned. I woke in a little worse shape than I had been, and the bruising looked a bit worse than it did the day before. Though I should have deep cleaned the den and the kitchen, I didn't. I did chores that were pretty easy on my body and required little bending or twisting.  One big joy was getting a Christmas card from a fellow blogger. It was much appreciated!

Thursday: I woke and felt substantially better. Joy! It happened at the perfect time so I could meet my SIL who was in town for a doctor's appointment. P and I had. long lunch at PF Chang's. We had great conversations and caught up on what has been happening in our lives. Her's  has had the most change since she has two new grandson's added to the tribe this year. I am very lucky to have her as a sister in law and we made plans to meet in Tuscaloosa (halfway between us) next week for dinner so the brothers can see each other also.

So that sums up the joys (and slight trial) for the week.  There are always good and joyous things out there if we just look for them.

May all your weeds be wildflowers! (And no broken bones)

Friday, December 10, 2021

Week 49 Joys

Wow! We have just finished week 49 for the year. It does not seem possible that Christmas is just around the corner with the year ending one week later! Time has flown, then flown even faster. As usual I am keeping a list of daily joys I find. This year has been filled with things that make me happy, mostly small things, but joys nonetheless. On New Year's Eve, I will grab a celebratory beverage and read over the things that brought me joy for the year, and think of each of you who have read these this year!

Friday: Son2 and I went to a production of A Christmas Carol. Unless U is an educational/recreational program for adults with special needs. They put on a couple of productions each year and it serves as part of their outreach program as well as a fundraiser. Just estimating, I think there were a couple of hundred folks at the 2 o'clock performance and they had a second one at 6 which, I imagine, had a higher attendance.  Between the handbells, dancing, and singing along with the play it was a most wonderful way to begin the holiday season.

Saturday:  While the rest of you were busy doing seasonal events, TheHub and I spent our afternoon doing something really important. We watched the SEC championship game. I never even had a single thought that Alabama would win, but they did. Roll Tide! Now they are headed to the semi-finals. Wow!

Sunday: TheHub and I had a kind of lazy day doing a little Christmas decorating, a little eating and finished the night off with a shared bowl of popcorn while watching Succession. TheHub had not watched the prior seasons, so I am watching it from the beginning with him while he catches up. I want him to hurry because I am itching to see season 3

Monday: I had a surprise visit from DIL2. She is a visiting Occupational Therapist and was in my area with an hour between visits. I love it when she can stop by during the day! 
After dinner TheHub and I watched the Patriots/Bills game. I do not normally watch NFL games, but Mac Jones was Alabama's QB last year and is having a really good rookie season, so I watched___kinda. It is entirely possible I was reading while the game was on.

Tuesday: TheHub had to go to a Christmas party at one of the banks they do business with, so I had planned on eating a bowl of soup alone. I was quite surprised when Son2 and DIL2 called to say they were near my house grabbing some takeout. Of course I asked them to come over and eat it while it was hot  instead of taking it back to their house (across town). Turns out I had company for dinner instead of eating alone, and it was delightful.

Wednesday: I spent the day with my good friend M. We took off our regular everyday life hats and traded them for figurative elf ears and a little elf cap.
For the past 12 years we have offered our services for a band fundraiser for our local high school band. Our sons are now in their late mid 20's and have been out of high school for years, but we still continue this project.
We take orders, then write personalized (mentioning individual things about each child who gets them) letters about what is gong on at the North Pole. We have normally sent the letters to either the North Pole, Alaska or Santa Claus, Indiana post offices for remailing. This year we have less faith in USPS so we bought a North Pole cancellation stamp, and printed fake stamps and addressed them as usual. It meant we had to put them in a larger envelope and mail them to their parents using the local post office, but it also means the Christmas magic can continue.
Also on Friday the multi event present TheHub and I were giving each other for the year was delivered and installed. Woo hoo!

Thursday: M and I finished the letters and now the only thing we have to do is figure out what Santa, Mrs Claus and all the elves are going to be up to next Christmas. We generally start formatting the letter for the next year while this year's tale is still fresh on our minds.  There is always a story with some minor conflict and resolution. Right now it looks like a North Pole string orchestra  and some careless bowing is going to happen. But who really knows? We have 10 1/2 months to get it ready.

And that wraps up the joys of this week. There were other happy and joyful moments but these are the ones that stuck out. Go out this week and look for joy. If it is what you are looking for, you will find it! 

May all your weeds be wildflowers,

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Tuesday 4

It is that time again for another Tuesday 4 with questions provided by Annie @Tuesday 4. Hop over and join in the fun this week about movies and books.

1. Is there a hero or character on TV, in a book or a movie .. or even on all three, that you are especially like? What do you find attractive about them?
I love Ignatius J. Riley in A Confederacy of Dunces. The book is so well written and poor Ignatius serves as both the protagonist and the antagonist at the same time. I try and re-read it every year, and without fail, I fall in love with the book all over again. Ignatius is such a flawed character, who has no ability to recognize his personal shortcomings but can see (and magnify) any he sees in everyone around him.

Movie hero: Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption. 

2.  Was there a book that was better in movie form? How about a movie you thought didn't live up to the book?
Forest Gump was so much better in movie form. The book was poorly written.
In my opinion, most books are better than the movies.

3. When you choose a book, program or movie which subject it is most likely to be: science fiction, mystery, romance, comedy, documentary, etc.?  
No specific genres draw me in. I just like something to be well written, performed, and interesting

What draws you to a particular book or movie?
I am a huge book review person, and will generally choose one based on a brief synopsis of what it is about. I also have a few trusted friends whose recommendations I trust.
Movies? It is just the luck of the draw.  

 4. How important is the title or picture on the cover of a book?  
I could not care less about the cover or title unless it has pictures typical of romance novels. I do not read those at all.
 How much importance do you place on a movie because of the actors who are in it?
None, though there are some very talented actors I like to see in spectacular performances. I have seen unknown actors who are stellar. Fine talent is just fine talent!

Monday, December 6, 2021

I Guess I Have To Start Cooking Again

I need to get back to planning meals and cooking something. This past week we had some pretty crappy meals, mainly because we had just gotten back in town and I just did not want to go to the grocery store. So we had a week of takeout, canned soup, canned stew, or sandwiches. If it was basic and took little to no thought or prep time, we ate it.  And surprisingly we lived.  But now I need to pay a little bit more attention to what we put in our mouths.

This is the tentative plan for the week. (It could change if I am not feeling it, or just see something sparkly and lose focus)
1. Taco al pastor, salad
2.Stuffed bell pepper, mashed potatoes and gravy, broccoli, Waldorf salad
3. Grilled tuna steaks, salad, asparagus, rolls
4. Soup or chili, coleslaw
5. Reuben sandwiches, caulitato salad
6. Christmas party at friends (heavy hors de oeuvres )
7. Leftovers (taco salad possibly)

I have to admit after listening to this song I wish I had some cider and turkey wings!

Have a great week staying on plan. going off plan, or with no plan at all

Friday, December 3, 2021

And Now Week 48 Is Over

We had a wonderful visit on the left coast and now we are back home and can begin the Christmas frenzy as we countdown the remaining days until the jolly fellow makes his arrival. 
This year has flown, in spite of the isolation and lack of interaction with other humans. While I hope 2022 will be a little kinder to the world, I will continue to count my daily joys!

Friday: Pip and her lifelong best friend came to the hotel to swim, have pizza and jump on the ridiculously big bed. What is better than hearing two young girls laughing and giggling? 
We went over to their house later in the evening for delicious turkey soup.

Saturday: Alabama and their arch rival, Auburn, played football. Alabama should not have won but they did after 4 over times.  Roll Tide!  DIL1 who does not give a flip about the sport joined in watching the game and yelling right along with us when the winning points were scored!

Sunday: They had a complete family birthday party for Pip. It was much fun and neighborhood kids floated in and out all day. We stayed at their house until it was time for us to head to the airport. We got there 3 hours early and just sat in the concourse listening to a guy playing the piano, until it was time to catch a red eye flight home

Monday: We arrived him about 9 am, and probably the most joyful thing was getting unpacked, a couple of loads of laundry done, and a long nap ( because I can't sleep on a plane).

Tuesday: I literally stayed at home all day long.. The only thing that might have been better would have been to stay in my pajamas all day. Instead, I was dressed and doing laundry. 

Wednesday: I had a fudge making day and cranked out about 3 pounds of peanut butter fudge and a couple of pounds of praline fudge to give to a group of folks who were passing through town. Of course I had to do some taste testing to make sure it was good enough to give!

Thursday: My beloved sister and I rode around and ran some errands. I missed her while we were gone and loved being with her. She makes me laugh more than anyone else .
TheHub and I went to The Alys to see Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra. They were great as usual.
Thankfully The Alys staff is very mindful of Covid and operates at 1/3 capacity with mask requirements.  I know it is not great for the performers who are used to sell out crowds, but right now I had rather pay a little more per ticket and feel a lot safer. 

So that wraps up  my list of joys for the week. I hope you find yours because they are always out there.

May all your weeds be wildflowers,

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Almost December

Let's talk about December and what it has in store for you....

1. How much importance do you place on December holidays?  Do you plan and prepare? Is that part of the fun for you or would you rather dispense with it? 
I don't know how much importance I place on the holidays, but I do enjoy them. At least I did pre-covid. Now I am not so sure.
Things have changed and our family is spread across the country, so the big family Christmas celebration is not something we have anymore. My granddaughter lives in Oregon and as much as I would love to have her here at Christmas, I truly believe kids need to be at their own house Christmas morning.
I do plan and do prepare then usually change plans mid-way through. I am an over decorator for the holidays and even though I do use the same decorations year after year I make sure they look different each and every year. 
I was feeling hopeful that we could do a bit of entertaining this year, but now that Omicron is on the horizon I guess only
time will tell.

2. Food is a big part of the holiday season.  Which foods and treats do you most look forward to having?
We have some foods that we enjoy every year. Instead of a Christmas dinner, we have a Christmas brunch, and a huge breakfast casserole is always served. Along side of it we might have turkey, goose, lamb, ham . . . whatever strikes my fancy, and whatever vegetable sides appeal to me a few days before hand. It changes every year, but there are a few contestants also. Each year I make peanut butter fudge, praline fudge,  spice cookies, and spritz cookies. They are always on a platter for brunch.  
There is no other meal for the day until dinner which is always tomato soup and grilled cheese.

3. It is a season for family, friends, guests and giving.  Would you write a bit about how it all comes together for you in December?  
Our plans are always very organic and happen as they happen. I do not ever have a Christmas "script" and just go with the flow. I enjoy spontaneous entertaining (as long as the house is presentable)  

4. Life changes and traditions alter due to those changes. Has anything changed for you and if so how? If not, would you mind sharing your traditions with us?
Almost everything has changed. Both my parents and TheHub's parents are deceased and only one son lives in town. He and his wife split their holidays between each other's friends and family. Son3 and his wife will be in Europe  this Christmas (hopefully but that depends on Covid travel restrictions) and Son1 and family will be in Oregon.
TheHub's siblings have done what normally happens after the parents are gone, and have split into celebrations with their own family's children and grandchildren. 
My sister and her husband will still be here for Christmas brunch, and we might invite our neighbors this year.

This year we were in Oregon and were able to be a part of our DIL's first night of Hanukkah, which was lovely. I loved being a part of a tradition that is thousands of years old and am very thankful she included us in it. I also loved how our granddaughter scrounged up a Hanukkah gift for one of her friends who was very interested in Hanukkah and also wanted to be included in the ceremony.

Friday, November 26, 2021

The 47th Week Is In The Books

This has been our travel week and we are having a ball. These are just a few highlights of the week.

Friday:  We went to the Van Gogh immersive event and really did enjoy it. Immediately after leaving, we drove to the airport to pick up a rental car.  We came home, changed clothes, ate a quick lunch, tossed our bags in the car and headed out to Indiana. We got into Lafayette at 1a.m. and fell asleep almost immediately.

Saturday: We drove the 2 hours into Chicago, turned the car in and took an Uber to Union Station. What a beautiful remnant of the glory days of train travel. Mid afternoon we boarded and were in a room on the upper level.  We had an attendant who made sure we had everything we needed for the day, then came and transformed our room into bunk beds for the evening. 

Sunday: Obviously we were still riding the rails, and spent part of the day in the observation car. We saw a lot of North Dakota and Montana. Like most things I learn, I tend to learn the hard way.  If you are on the Empire Builder, do not decide to take a shower when the train has a 30 minute stop in Minot (even if it makes perfect sense to you to shower while the train is not moving. I was in the shower already bath gelled when they turned the water off for refilling the tanks. I had choices. I could stand in the coffin size shower for 30 minutes or punt. I punted and had TheHub grab me some water bottles for a cold and fast "shower"
In case you were wondering the meals were fabulous, including white tablecloth service in the evening.  
I was pissy about not driving, but I would definitely do it again.

Monday: We arrived in Portland, walked outside the station and got big hugs from the most beautiful girl in our world. Son1 drove us to our hotel so we could check our luggage ( It was only 10 am and way to early for us to get our room)  then we went to their house. Pip had plans for me.  I had given her a Raddish subscription as part of her birthday gift.  I was there just a few minutes before we started making Apple Harvest Bread ( from the September box) and Ghoulish Goulash (October, obviously).
We spent the rest of the day visiting with them, then eating before going back to the hotel

Tuesday: We stay at a hotel near Son1’s house. It has a large indoor pool and Pip loves to swim so it is a match made in heaven. She came to swim then stayed the day with us. You know who will get their grandchild anything she wants, including pizza, lemonade, and Hershey bars?

Wednesday:  TheHub had a migraine so he holed up in the hotel room with the room darkening drapes drawn. I went to their house to do some cooking for Thanksgivng. When I got back TheHub was feeling a little better but not great and I was tired from standing most of the day. Instead of going to grab something for dinner we decided to use room service. It was a fabulous indulgence.

Thursday: Thanksgiving feast with all of DIL1’s family. It was a great day Christmas complete with kids magic shows and dance performances. 

It has been a great week and I am filled with gratitude for each minute. Two years is too long to go without seeing Pip. Damn you Covid

Have a great week and look for your joys. They are always there even if you have to hunt for them   

May all your weeds be wildflowers,

Friday, November 19, 2021

THe Time Goes and Goes

We are now finished with the 46th week of the year and time just keep marching on and on. I am headed out today to begin our adventure to see the most beautiful girl in our world. I plan on spending my time with her  instead of blogging. 

This is a list of the daily joys for this past week. Next week's list should be a bumper crop of joys~!

Friday: TheHub and I had our new normal date night, and picked up BBQ. We are looking forward to getting out and about a bit more, but with our scheduled trip approaching we decided to do little and limit any possible exposures to anything.  

Saturday: We had a couple of quick errands then came home to watch football. Alabama played New Mexico State and it was a full on slaughter.  The only consolation NMS had was a hefty payout for the TV rights to the game. Roll Tide, because I am a Bama fan, but it was hard to watch. It was so hard to watch that we clicked on the Auburn game instead.

Sunday: We FaceTimed with the most beautiful girl in our world, which is a wonderful treat for me! Then (yes I know we are late to the party) we began watching Yellowstone. We liked the first episode enough to want to continue watching it, but I honestly think I like Succession better.

Monday: I got a ton of stuff done at the house and stayed at home all day cleaning cabinet fronts. Not a glamorous day, but the kitchen looks so much fresher. 
Pip must have been seriously bored when she got home from school because we had a long FaceTime visit. Her best neighborhood friend was not at home so she no after school playmate. Her loss was definitely my gain.
Later we watched another episode of Yellowstone.

Tuesday: We will not return home until the Monday after Thanksgiving. I like to get the house decorated quickly for the entire month of December. Since we will not be here I decided to get a little advance decorating done. The foyer was the project of the day, and was dressed for the season.

Wednesday: I put on Christmas music and decked the dining room, and the living room (except for the tree. It will happen once we get back) Then I added Christmas to the den ( minus the tree also) 

Thursday: I gave myself the best gift ever. I hired a company to wash my exterior windows. TheHub an I mutually agreed that from now on exterior windows and gutters will be a hired job. No more climbing on the roof to clean the dormer windows! 
The Independence Place of Alabama had their annual stage performance and I was able to go. I sat grinning from ear to ear while crying happy tears. 

Go look for your joys. You will find them no matter how small.

May all your weeds be wildflowers,

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Holiday Reminder

It's not too late to sign up!

 It is that time of year for the yearly Blogger card swap. It is a pretty simple process. You will receive 3 names and addresses of Bloggers or Blog Readers, send them each a card and get 3 cards in return. I personally have loved sending and receiving cards from Blog Friends, near and far.

If you are interested in joining in this year please send your name and address to I will sort through all the participants and have your list ready,  by Dec.1

If you have already sent it and had it confirmed that I received it, we are good to go. If you sent it without getting a response please re-submit!

Monday, November 15, 2021

Gathering the Fragments

I know I am pretty bad about sticking to a planned menu, but most days life interferes with whatever I thought I was going to do that day, so why should meals be any different than the rest of the time?  When things go as planned, so do meals. And when they don't, well, it's anybody's guess.

What I planned:
1. Keto chicken spaghetti, tossed salad
2. Salmon croquettes, brussels sprouts, potatoes of some kind (or none)
3. Taco salad
4. Veggie meal TBD later but possibly black eyed peas, turnip greens and cornbread
5. Kraut and sausage, green beans, carrot and raisin salad (?)
6. Take out
7. Something else with chicken, just don't know what

What really happened:
Monday: Keto chicken spaghetti, tossed salad
Tuesday: Taco salad, toast or corn chips
Wednesday: Sausage and kraut, green beans, toast
Thursday: Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup or beef broth
Friday: Full Moon BBQ take out
Saturday: Hamburger patty with onions and gravy, hash brown, tossed salad
Sunday: Homemade vegetable beef soup

Used from the freezer:
1 pack chicken
1 pack spaghetti squash
1 pack taco seasoned ground chuck
1 pack Conecuh sausage 
1 pack green beans
2 hamburger patties
2 hash brown patties
1 pack chicken broth

Put into the freezer:

What's next:
I am making no meal plans for this week. We will be in town until Friday afternoon so our meals are going to be a mishmash of any odds and ends we have around the house. Some things will be from the freezer and I have no idea what else we will be eating. I don't really care either.  All I know for sure is that after breakfast Friday,  I don't have to do any meal planning for 10 blissful (?) days.

I had bought tickets for the Van Gogh immersive show the day they went on sale. Little did I know a couple of weeks later we would be leaving for  our trip that same day. 

Originally we planned to rent a car and drive to Portland. (Our goal was to take things inherited from Mom that we could/would not ship to Son1's family)  Then we would fly home. About as soon as we made our return flights TheHub started complaining about how long the drive would be and how tired he would be, so he started changing our plans.

Now we are leaving the Van Gogh exhibit, renting a car and driving to Chicago where we will board the train for 45 hours. The train does allow much more baggage than a plane does, so we can pack most of the things we were taking by car and store them in the baggage car (the exception being two art pieces that we will have to ship now). 

There was an agreement struck before I would agree to the train trip. One of the items they inherited was Mom's sterling flatware service for twelve. (One of the main reasons for the hand delivery is because I will not ship it or fly with it in checked luggage at the airport.) Because our sleeper room will only lock when we are inside it, TheHub had to agree to lug every bit of the silver with him any time he leaves the room.  Petty? Maybe but this silver has been around and in use since the early 1950's. Mom wanted them to have it and pass it down eventually to Pip. I am not going to let anything happen to it if I can help it.

So if you are traveling westbound on the Empire Builder and see a dude with a heavy backpack every time he walks through the train, it might possibly be TheHub!

Have a great week staying on plan, going off plan, or with no plan at all


Friday, November 12, 2021

Pollyanna Days

Week 45 of the year is over. How can that be possible? Life passes by so fast.  This week was interesting. Things were neither exciting nor dull, but just rocked along in a fairly predictable pace. I have seen My Beloved Sister a good bit this week, which is wonderful because no one makes me laugh as much as she does, and what's better than genuine laughter?

Friday: I was alone and feeling sorry for myself, so I found a Netflix show, "Sisters",  to binge and then I binge read. Binging is not something I need to do often, but it was kind of nice for one day!

Saturday: TheHub had to work entertaining a group from Boston,  so we did not do our usual running around. Instead I did a little Christmas decorating  (yes, I know it's early, but we have some weird circumstances going on ) while waiting for the ball games to start.  DIL2 came over after babysitting her adorable nephew to watch the game with me. Bama and LSU played and, by the skin of their teeth, Alabama won. Roll Tide!

Sunday: We were tired and there was a wonderful nap involved!

Monday: The doorbell rang and I was expecting it to be a guy bidding on some work I need to have done. Instead it was one of my  neighbors. I have not seen is a long time. I technically live in the same neighborhood I did when she lived two houses away, but we moved over 20 years ago to the section I am in now. In reality we live just 3 or 4 blocks apart now, but the way the streets wind around makes it feel  much further. She came in and visited for a while. It was so nice to catch up.

Tuesday: My beloved sister and I had another meeting with the attorney. I think we are mainly racking up fees for them. After the meeting we were hungry and found a fabulous new joint in Bluff Park. The Electric has a funky and groovy vibe and is a salad and sandwich restaurant featuring a full bar.  The wedge salad was so big I ate half for lunch, we had 1/4 for dinner and the remaining became my lunch the next day!

Wednesday: TheHub woke feeling really bad so he went to work anyway and stayed in his personal office and having no contact with anyone until his Covid test came back__ negative! (Personally, I can't believe he went in at all. I am pretty sure that is how crap spreads!)
He was still feeling rotten and came home early. Even feeling like crud, he still wanted to go look at the two options we had narrowed  down for our joint everything present. Fortunately we made a decision. I am glad because I am tired of looking!

Thursday: We had to go to one of our friend's funeral. It was held at our church and was such a lovely celebration of his life. He was a great guy and will be missed very much. We left right after a thunderstorm had passed, and suddenly it is fall. All the way home the leaves were brilliant. Ok maybe they were just wet and looked brilliant but it was a beautiful ride home remembering Jim, a true gentleman.

I do have a request to make of any of you who stream music with Spotify. Please go and grab "Grow" by Helena Hallberg (artist). This is my daughter-in-love's newest single that dropped 11/12 at midnight. She is trying to get some traction with it and would seriously love any of you who felt inclined to download it. Even if it is not your musical taste, it would still help her a lot if you added it to a playlist. I snagged it a 12:03 a.m.

Now go find your joys. They are always out there even if you have to hunt for them a little.

May all your weeds be wildflowers,

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Creamed Collards with Sausage

In looking through various keto recipe sites I found a creamed collards recipe that sounded intriguing__ kind of. I used a little of the original but altered it to fit my southern tastes. This is the version I made because honestly what is better than smoked sausage? (Specifically Conecuh sausage)* Before I go on, let me say this is not a pretty dish, but the flavor is outstanding!

The weather has not been cold enough here for the collards to lose their bitter taste so I used 2 bags of frozen cut collards. Call me a cheater if you have to, but it surely made this an easier prep than washing, cutting,  and washing again before cooking them.

This is the only song I know of that talks about cooked greens!

2 bags frozen chopped collards or a big bunch of fresh
2 (ish) cups chicken broth
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into coins (see change below)
1 teaspoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon -1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (this is a to taste thing)
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
4 ounces cream cheese**
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream (could use milk but milk is not keto)

Cook the collards in a largish pot until they are done. Done is a relative term. In the south we like them fairly soft, but you do your thing with them. Drain off any remaining chicken broth (or do like I do and Dave it for the bowl kept in the freezer that holds all remnants to go in a future soup) and set aside for a few minutes.
In a skillet add the oil, onion, and sausage until the sausage is hot and the onion is soft. Then add the garlic stirring quickly and wilt it. Put it in the pot with the collards and add salt and pepper, vinegar to taste and the all spice. Get everything piping hot, but you have to stir pretty much the entire time. Add the cream cheese and stir, stir, stir until it is melted evenly throughout. Add enough heavy cream or milk to reach whatever consistency you like. Serve in a bowl  along with some cornbread. Yum! This made enough for dinner for 2, with an additional lunch and dinner for 1. I will be doing this often during the winter because I love a one dish meal.

What I will do next time: I will quarter the coins so I will have bits of sausage in every single bite.

* Conecuh sausage is made in Alabama and is the best smoked sausage I have ever eaten. Go ahead and buy the best in your area. 
** For a lower fat option Neufchatel cheese might work, but I honestly don't know since it melts a little differently.

Monday, November 8, 2021

Blogger Holiday Card Swap

 It is that time of year for the yearly Blogger card swap. It is a pretty simple process. You will receive 3 names and addresses of Bloggers or Blog Readers, send them each a card and get 3 cards in return. I personally have loved sending and receiving cards from Blog Friends, near and far.

If you are interested in joining in this year please send your name and address to I will sort through all the participants and have your list ready, hopefully before Dec.1

Ho Hum!

Do you ever have weeks that you only accomplish the bare minimum because you just aren't feeling like doing more than has to be done. I had one of those weeks last week, and this is the result of my lackluster performance.

What I had planned:
1. Chili, coleslaw, cornbread
2. Creamed collards with smoked sausage, cornbread
3. Spaghetti with meat sauce, tossed salad
4. White bbq chicken, caulitato salad, tomato slices (dicey)
5. Takeout
6. Grilled swordfish or salmon croquettes (weather will edecide) with some sides and salad
7. Polynesian chicken, rice or caulirice, green beans, pineapple slices 

What really happened:
Monday: I had bought some keto Polynesian cooking sauce and it was a great night to give it a try. The verdict__the sauce is OK but nothing to really write home about. I did sautés onions and peppers and added it to the chicken and sauce which made it feel more like sweet and sour chicken, especially since I served it over pineapple bits.
Polynesian chicken over pineapple, saffron rice (or none), coleslaw

Tuesday: The night was really cool and perfect for dinner in a bowl.
Chili, Fritos (or none) coleslaw

Wednesday: I had a spur of the moment invitation to meet a friend for dinner at a local joint. TheHub picked up something to eat on his way home. 
Thai Basil Chicken from Pho Pho, and whatever TheHub bought.

Thursday: I have been wanting to try this ever since I read about it, though I did southify the original recipe quite a bit.
Creamed collards, toast

Friday: TheHub had some people in town (business thing) and had to take them wining and dining. There is a huge difference between the two of us when the other will not be home for dinner. I just looked in the freezer and pulled out some frozen leftovers.
Leftover vegetable soup

Saturday: TheHub left fro the ballgame much earlier than normal. Those same people we was entertaining Friday night also went to the ball game with him and Son2. I was bored hungry early in the day so I ate my dinner for lunch. DIL2 came over to watch the ball game with me, fortunately I had other leftovers for her.
Leftover collard greens, DIL leftover chili

Sunday: This was just a regular Sunday with plenty of time to cook, but not a lot of desire.
White bbq chicken (cooked in the oven instead of grilled), caulitato salad, toast

What might happen if I can get out of the doldrums.
1. Keto chicken spaghetti, tossed salad
2. Salmon croquettes, brussels sprouts, potatoes of some kind (or none)
3. Taco salad
4. Veggie meal TBD later but possibly black eyed peas, turnip greens and cornbread
5. Kraut and sausage, green beans, carrot and raisin salad (?)
6. Take out
7. Something else with chicken, just don't know what

Have a great week staying on plan, going off plan or with no plan at all!

Friday, November 5, 2021

Just Doing My Own Thing

It was suggested anonymously that I was Pollyannish about my life because "no life is filled with nothing but joy". 

My life is far from perfect and crap happens all the time, but my blog is not my bitching post. Life is difficult for everyone and my troubles are mine, no one else's.  I do not feel the need to share the things or people I might be upset with. I don't want anyone to read my blog and assume I am perpetually pissed off. Yes, I can bitch, moan and groan with the best of them. I am easily angered (it never lasts long) and am about as sarcastic as they come. But that is not what my blog is ever going to be about. 

I can choose to wallow in what is going wrong or I can opt to not let unpleasant things rule me. Given the power of choice, I will choose concentrating on happiness and joy every time. 

So Anonymous, if my choosing joy pisses you off, then adios, don't let the door hit you in the butt on your way out.

 Friday: My Beloved Sister and I drove to Restaurant Far Away to meet My Beloved Cousin, her husband, My Other Beloved Cousin, and our Uncle Bob (the international cool guy uncle) for lunch. Uncle Bob is the spryest, most together 95 year old you will ever meet, and is the only remaining sibling of our mother's and father, respectively. The restaurant was about 45 minutes away so we left my house at 10:45, just to make sure we would be on time for a noon lunch. We knew we would be a little early, but we were allowing for traffic. 
We ate and laughed, talked and laughed some more, then finally left to go home. I pulled into my driveway at 4:30. It was a long lunch, but was wonderful to see them. (BTW we tipped the waitress  3 different times while we were there, because we figured we occupied 3 different turns of her table)
TheHub was pulling in as I got to the front door, he changed clothes so we could have a most unusual date night. We went to get our Covid boosters, then headed to the grocery store to pick up a little more Halloween candy. We have a several new families in the neighborhood and I have no idea how many to plan for this year. I had rather have too much than too little, so anything leftover will go straight to the freezer. When we came out it was raining and we both decided to just go home, make a simple dinner and read.

Saturday: We woke to a very cool (cold if you live in Alabama) wet day. We were both not feeling great, (reaction from the covid booster)but we still had a few things we needed to get done for the day.
I had scheduled a pick up for some furniture we were donating to a non-profit that outfits homeless veterans apartments. Win/win! They came early which enabled us to get an earlier start on our recon mission. 
I think we have enough information to make a decision, and pull the trigger on purchasing our gift to each other. 
The last place we went was in the same area Son2 and DIL2 live so they met us for lunch at a very nice new restaurant. Kudos to their small city for creating a beautiful public space . It is a large outdoor area with a huge covered seating space, a stage for outdoor performances, and restaurants surrounding it. One of the restaurants featured some flower art, though it looked like  people had helped themselves to a few of the flowers. Why?

Flower art: dia de los Muertos

Sunday: The biggest joy was waking and feeling so much better. Saturday evening TheHub had a slight fever and I could not get warm. A good night's sleep helped both of us so much. The bonus was the day itself. After a cold wet Saturday, Sunday was glorious, bright, sunny and warm for the perfect Trick or Treat night. 
And what could be more wonderful than having a bunch of adorable kids knock on your door! Happy Halloween to me!

Monday: After a meeting with attorneys, My Beloved Sister and I had a late lunch at a local restaurant.  The trick to safe dining out is to go after 2. Virtually no one eats then!
Later I put my fall/winter bed put together. I change things over according to the weather, not the calendar and we have just started having cooler weather. My heavier bedding is perfect now. The comforter is a paprika color, but I had to change the pillow shams I love. They are a deep royal blue and I would hate for anyone to see my bed and assume we are Auburn fans.
After TheHub got home from the office we ran and looked again for our joint "everything" present. At some point we have to quit looking and make a purchase, but there are so many options to consider. While we were out we noticed the sky was brilliant red so we hurried up to our spot on the bluff. We missed the actual sunset, but the sky was filled with pinks and oranges and reds. We sat there talking until the last bits of color were gone. 

Tuesday: The day was mostly a ho-hum kind of day, though I did catch up via the phone with one of my  best friends.
Mid-afternoon my favorite neighbor texted me that 2 police cars were in front of my house with the officers talking to each other through their car windows. She suggested I hide anything incriminating just in case they raided my house. I told her I was sure the keto police had called VHPD and ratted me out, because I had 2 unopened packs of full size Hershey bars left over from Halloween. 

Wednesday: Ugh! I started cleaning my holiday closet, which is a fancy name I use for the weird closet in one of the upstairs rooms that holds everything but the kitchen sink. I came across several items I no longer need nor want, so I offered them for the taking on our neighborhood FB site. Hooray I have takers for them without having to drive to Goodwill. 
I also met a very dear friend for dinner. She had moved to Nashville many years ago, but has returned to Birmingham. I always have so much fun with her and we plan on doing it again one night next week!

Thursday: I was sipping my coffee when TheHub called to talk about getting some things done around the house. I told him I had rather wait until after our trip. Then he told me the event I had invited some people  for lunch prior to said event was scheduled Dec.2 rather than the first week of January like I thought it was. Yikes!  We return from Portland November 28, so those Thanksgiving decorations I had just put out went back in the box and I began stripping the house to make room for Christmas decorations. 
I think I need to find the wizard and ask for a brain. I believe the only joy here was finding I had the incorrect date while I still have 2 weeks before we leave. Now it is time for me to get off the computer and get my rear in gear.

Have a great week finding your joys wherever they may be.

May all your weeds be wildflowers,


Monday, November 1, 2021

Thought for Food

As usual my plans and my reality did not coincide. I am not one of those whose days go according to plan, so why would I think my meals should? Sometimes I am a slow learner. Even so there is that little bit of me that thinks it is possible.

Planned meals 
1. Butternut squash soup, cabbage, roll
2. Chili, cornbread, roasted Brussels sprouts
3. Creamed collards with sausage (Jury is out on this but I am trying it anyway)
4. Anniversary dinner out
5. Grilled swordfish, salad, asparagus, and something else
6. Hub has a dinner meeting so leftovers for me
7. Chicken, rice (orcaulirice), green beans, tomato slices 
Changed plans (as usual)
 Monday: Got busy doing nothing and threw this together at the last minute
 Butternut squash soup, coleslaw, toast

Tuesday:  It was our anniversary and we had planned a night out. I put on my big girl undies and actually sat inside the restaurant. Good thing the tables were far apart or I probably would have not stayed there. I am so glad I did because the food was delicious.
Our waiter asked if we were celebrating any special occasion and we told him it was our anniversary. The hostess put rose petals on the table and the manager came to wish us a Happy Anniversary and offered a complimentary dessert. Excellent customer service!
Bacon wrapped scallops, Caesar salad, asparagus. (me) Oysters, red snapper over couscous, mushrooms (TheHub), bite size delicious chocolate something,  mini creme brûlée,  and bite size pumpkin cheesecake.

Wednesday: TheHub was supposed to be out of town but changed his plans. Lucky for him, he let me know early in the day or he would have been stuck with a PB&J.
Roast Chicken, saffron rice (or none), green beans, tomato slices

Thursday: I was cleaning out the crisper and noticed I had a bunch of bell peppers that had to be used PDQ. So once again dinner planned itself.'
Stuffed bell peppers, leftover saffron rice or caulirice, tossed salad

Friday: We  went out together Friday evening, bit it was not our usual date night. It was rainy and cold and we both decided we had rather just go home and have a quick bite there.
Crustless pizza (cheese, sauce, a ton of veggies and pepperoni)

Saturday: We ran a few errands then began feeling the effects of our Covid booster so we headed for home, put on really soft clothes and only wanted something seriously comforting for dinner.
Vegetable chicken soup

Sunday: When I made our meal plan for the week I did not even think about it being Halloween. Since my sons were little bitty things we have had the same Halloween dinner and even now that the nest is empty we have continued that tradition.
Hotdogs or wieners and fixings, coleslaw (me), delicious smelling chips (TheHub)

Used from the freezer:
2 quart bags of chicken broth
2 packs of green beans
pack of ground chuck
1/2 bag mixed veggies
1 pack hot dogs

Put into the freezer:
2 packs sliced cooked chicken

And now on to this week where things are planned but not set in stone
1. Chili, coleslaw, cornbread
2. Creamed collards with smoked sausage, cornbread
3. Spaghetti with meat sauce, tossed salad
4. White bbq chicken, caulitato salad, tomato slices (dicey)
5. Takeout
6. Grilled swordfish or salmon croquettes (weather will edecide) with some sides and salad
7. Polynesian chicken, rice or caulirice, green beans, pineapple slices 

So have a great week staying on plan, going off plan or with no plan at all!