Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My "to do" list

To Do Lists- we all have them. But the trick is to get the tasks listed on them completed in a timely manner. Some of my tasks need to be done today and others by the end of the week and some are simply on going things I do on a daily basis.
Here's my list for today/this week...
change sheets/make beds (2) DONE
tidy up daughters bedroom DONE
quick wipe down of bathrooms (2 up and 1 down) DONE
assemble Christmas tree -DONE
laundry-wash/dry/fold/put away- In Progress
condition leather sofa
vacuum stairs
vacuum downstairs- DONE
vacuum upstairs rooms DONE
tailor daughters new skirt-DONE
curb wheelie bin DONE
decorate Christmas Tree- DONE
write Christmas newsletter In Progress
start planning pottery shopping trip to Stoke-on-Trent In Progress
mend straps on daughters camisole- DONE
work on kindle covers (these are Christmas presents) IN PROGRESS
draw up plan for new tote bag design (gift for daughter) In Progress
wax eyebrows- DONE
remove gray from hair
remind friends that I only have 3 months left here in the UK-DONE
look through winter clothes- donate unwanted items- In Progress
schedule mammogram
write snail mail letter to those girlfriends who refuse to use e-mail-DONE
make a grocery shopping list-In Progress
mop hardwood floors-DONE

quote of the day

The 'Net is a waste of time, and that's exactly what's right about it.
- William Gibson

Monday, November 29, 2010

making room for the tree

My lovely British military house was not designed in the modern era that's for sure! Even with the 10 month renovation it underwent last year, it's still the same size -okay so a laundry room/mud room was added on, that still doesn't add anything to the areas of this house that need to be larger. Basically the rooms of my British house are small in comparison to American rooms. Trying to fit a Christmas tree in the living room is like trying to put on a pair of shoes that are one size too small- you can do it but it doesn't feel good and you're not going to wear them for very long. That's pretty much sums up how I feel about cramming a Christmas tree into this living room.

So here I am, I'm taking a break from moving our furniture here and there. I've had to put a couple of pieces of furniture in the formal dining room that were in the living room- all because I want to have a Christmas tree. Now both rooms are packed with wall to wall furniture. Oh there's nothing quite like that claustrophobic feeling of furniture closing in on you for Christmas, LOL!

On a lighter note, my husband did get the Christmas lights strung on the house before the temperature dipped into the teens last night. Brrrr, it sure is nippy out there today! We're expecting some snow tonight!

Is it December yet?

November is going by in a flash! Now to get on with business at hand...

My Elves workshop is now open! I've got about a dozen sewing projects to complete, more mini cheesecakes to make than you can shake a stick at and let's get to thinking about that Christmas newsletter that I have to write (ugh). As if I'm not busy enough, lets throw in a DV visit to our base, the cookie drive (we now have 60 airmen to make cookies for), a dorm dinner, a hearts apart dinner, a spouses club event (I'm making a soup for it- can you guess what kind?), an orthodontic appointment, maintenance coming to fix a few things, a handful of Christmas parties to attend AND our son arriving back in the UK with his girlfriend. Needless to say December keeps me quite busy! That's all of the extra stuff I have going on- I still need to keep the daily stuff I do around this place. All I can say is Coffee don't fail me now!

quote of the day

Either I've been missing something
nothing has been going on.
- Karen Elizabeth Gordon

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Me vs. the turkey

Some turkeys take longer to defrost than others...mine happened to take 6 days and there were still ice crystals in it's cavity this morning! It's not as if this was a huge turkey, actually I bought the smallest one they had at just a little under 12 pounds. Well now my turkey weighs less because I took a meat cleaver to him and took out his spine and cracked the ribcage and made it lie flat.

Since our daughter had school all week, we decided to celebrate our family Thanksgiving today. This is the only time we've delayed having a Thanksgiving meal in our home. But it's guaranteed to be a good meal!

Now for me to get on and to start baking my mini cheesecake desserts (I'm giving those out at Christmas and need to get a start on them as I need to make more than 40 of them!

Today I am thankful for...

Thursday- Being with family and friends
Friday - Being able to spend quality time with my husband
Saturday- Alone time- no one need see me whack a turkey with a cleaver, LOL!

quote of the day

You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can't possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.
- Sam Levenson

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Today I am thankful for...

Brackley Antique Cellar and their helpful and knowledgeable staff.

quote of the day

Happiness cannot be complete if you
compromise yourself or your values to attain it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Busy is as Busy does

It's one of those weeks for me- just being plain busy! We Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving this week. Now I had 2 different British women ask me today what Thanksgiving is about (one thought it was our independence day). I told them it's about being thankful for the blessing that you've had throughout the year. It's a time of gathering your family and friends round and being "together". For me, it's a time of community service- giving back to my military and local communities. I'm collecting items to give to the local Food Bank, buying grocery store gift cards to help out a local church, gearing up for serving and hostessing at the big Thanksgiving dinner happening at our base and a whole lot more!

So I better get on with it, tomorrow is the big Pie Social at the base where all sorts of local folks have been invited to attend. Me, well being that everyone seems to be bringing apple, cherry or pumpkin pie to the event I thought that a New York Cheesecake with strawberry topping would be a nice change of pace. I better get myself into the kitchen and start baking it eh?

Today I am Thanksful for...

Having the opportunity to live in England.

quote of the day

Laws are like sausages.
It's better not to see them being made.
- Otto von Bismarck

Monday, November 22, 2010

Baby it's cold outside!

What to do on a rainy day...
  • Clean your house
  • Do the laundry
  • Play with your pet
  • Write a letter to a friend
  • Read a book
  • Watch a movie
  • Have copious amounts of tea and biscuits
  • Surf the web
  • Plan meals for the week
  • Wash the windows (on the inside of course)
  • Ring up an old friend
  • Organize your pantry
  • Look through clothing and do repairs
  • Change sheets on all of the beds in your house

There's always something to do around MY house, how about yours?

Today I am thankful for...

Sunday-My Parish and my Catholic Faith.
Monday- FREE Heat!

quote of the day

Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily this is not difficult.
- Charlotte Whitton

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Prayers needed

Please pray for my friend Laura. I woke up this morning to find out that her daughter Jennifer died yesterday. To suffer the loss of a child, I know of no greater pain a mother could suffer. Please hug your children a little tighter today and keep Laura in your prayers.

Today I am thankful for...

My children.
Over the years they've made me laugh, they've made me cry and in the end I wouldn't trade them for anything! Although I've been known on occasion to tell them (okay so it's more like yell it at them) that I would gladly trade them in for a pack of Chihuahuas when they act up- which really isn't true, I'd still keep my kids (they're potty trained).

quote of the day

A strong positive mental attitude
will create more miracles than any wonder drug.
-Patricia Neal

Friday, November 19, 2010

Today I am thankful for...

Sheep and their soft fuzzy wool! I adore wool sweaters, scarves. hats and mittens!

quote of the day

I love being married. It's so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.
-Rita Rudner

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What do you mean "it's in the mail"?

This is what happens when you want to be creative and are waiting for packages to arrive in the mail that contain the things to help you create your latest crafting endeavour. Oh the life of military families living abroad (insert big sigh here). Nothing I can do but to wait it out.

So while I'm waiting for things to happen around here I'm going to get crafty with things that I do have at my disposal. Stay tuned...this should be good!

Today I'm thankful for...

All of God's creatures great and small- except for flies, they creep me out.

quote of the day

May your walls know joy;
May every room hold laughter
and every window open to great possibility.

-Maryanne Radmacher-Hershey

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Today I am thankful for...

Long distance calls from dear friends that brighten ones day!

quote of the day

A human being has a natural desire
to have more of a good thing than he needs.
- Mark Twain

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Today I am thankful for...

really good brakes on my car!

quote of the day

You have no control over what the other guy does.
You only have control over what you do.
-A. J. Kitt

Monday, November 15, 2010


My husband and I spent the better part of our Sunday in the little community of Aston-Clinton. What a wonderful community it was too! My husband was part of a ceremony that honored the fallen during WW1, WW2 and the current war in the gulf. It was amazing to see so many from the local community turn out for this event. After the wreath ceremony there was a procession up to the local church where we attended church (this was my first time attending a Church of England service). Afterwards we got to talk with many of the town officials and got to learn some more history of the area and of a US plane crash that happened there during WW2.

Afterwards we dined with a British Army commander and had a tour of a historic weekend house that was built by one of the Rothschild Family back in the late 1800's (it's now used as an Officers Mess). The place was fantastic!

Now if I could figure out how to get pictures off of my cell phone and onto my computer I'd be set to share some with you!

Today I am thankful for...

Cell/Mobile phones with cameras.

Sunday- For British communities that honor the fallen soldiers of wars past and present.

quote of the day

The problem with the designated driver program, it's not a desirable job, but if you ever get sucked into doing it, have fun with it. At the end of the night, drop them off at the wrong house.
- Jeff Foxworthy

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Following a routine

Have you heard the Phrase "A Clean Home is a Happy Home"? This saying can be applied to any room of your house be it the kitchen, the dreaded "kids bathroom", your crafting room/space or your living room.

I've always been one to organize things- everything in it's place and a place for everything (it's a common phrase I say at home). I never had a problem with becoming overwhelmed with house keeping things until our move from Texas to Virginia. The move was terrible, the packers did the worst job in recorded history on packing all of our items -that is until the movers from South Dakota to England but that's another story. My husband couldn't take time off to help me with the unpacking and organizing of the house I was left on my own to complete the task. The boxes weren't labeled correctly so I was unable to locate items that I needed- such as the iron -which I found a few days after I really needed it in a box full of Lego's and a bucket of red Texas dirt -no joke. I promptly tossed the old one and went out and bought a new iron. But the real catch here is that the people who packed up our belonging mislabeled just about every single box they packed which left me surrounded in utter chaos. I had things strung out of every single box- which became very overwhelming. A friend recommended The FlyLady and I've taken her concepts to heart and have added a few of my own along the way.

I loved how The FlyLady broke it down in simple easy to do steps. I remember reading a quote from her "your home didn't get this way overnight and it won't get clean in a day". But for me and the cross country move it had gotten this way overnight. With her insight I was able to pace myself and not let myself feel overwhelmed. I've recommended her website to dozens of military spouses over the years. She's helped me get through every military move since 2000. By having check lists and pacing myself, I've gotten through our military moves. With another big move in my future, I know that the FlyLady will help me to stay focused.

Make a routine for yourself and follow it. If you don't know where to start then check out the flylady's baby steps page, it's got some great information on how to get yourself back on track. I can spend 15 minutes or less in any room of my house and have it be what I like to call 'company ready'. Keeping the bathrooms clean has been a snap since our son left home for college ;-) Oh yeah, it's obvious who the little piggy was in this house. Any room that boy of ours walked into was left in total chaos. But I digress...Make a routine and follow it, it's as easy as that. Maybe (and it's only a suggestion) it would help if you got others in the house to follow a routine and to pick up after themselves as well. I never could get that boy of ours to conform, I have happiness in knowing that he's changed- now that he has a girlfriend ;-)

Purge items from your home regularly!
Being stationed here in England has made this easy for me and it's all because there are more charitable organizations out here than one can shake a stick at! All of which have "charity shops" that generate money for their cause. Okay the other part is that at any given week I get a bag shoved through my mail slot from one of the many different fore mentioned charitable organizations looking for donations ...not for money like back in the states, but GOODS!!! Talk about making this easy for me! American Charities could use to learn a thing or two about this kind of funding raising. I can take the bag and fill it, leave it on my door step and poof! There goes the clutter of unused items from my house! FREE Pick up of my unwanted goods (another things American charitable organizations could taken note of, and gas is more than double the cost here than it is back in the states). This week it was 2 bags of clothing and shoes. Next week who knows what it could be. I have integrated this into my reduce, reuse, recycle program/habit. I will miss these British charities when we move back to the states and the weekly pick ups. Hence I will have to re-establish a new routine for donating unwanted/unused items. But until then I shall purge as I go through each room and set it aside for the next charity bag that comes through the mail slot!

I'm getting better, I really am

A good friend pointed out to me yesterday that I've been sick for 3 weeks. The last time I was out of commission for that long, I had chicken pox when I was a kid. At least I no longer feel like a walking zombie. I am feeling much better, not 100% yet but I am feeling like I can leave the house now and not be looked at as if I'm spreading the plague.

I'm going out today with friends to check out a "hometown" craft fair put on by our base. It's about people who make up our community selling their wares and such. I'm looking forward to seeing what's out there. Maybe I'll come home with something interesting- we shall see!

Today I am thankful for...

The FlyLady. I started with her fly-baby steps over 10 years ago after I became overwhelmed during a cross country move. And now it never takes me more than 15 minutes to have any room in my house clean and company ready. The best part is that it really pays off when you're sick!

quote of the day

"Three things in human life are important.
The first is to be kind.
The second is to be kind.
The third is to be kind."
- Henry James

Friday, November 12, 2010

Today I am thankful for...

A steamy mug of Hot Chocolate on a cold day.

quote of the day

One never notices what has been done;
one can only see what remains to be done.
- Marie Curie

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Today I am thankful for...

...The Spouses and Parents of our men and women who serve is the US Military. Without their love, devotion, tireless support and sacrifices, we wouldn't be the military force that we are today.

...The men and women that have served in the US Armed Forces.

quote of the day

Patriotism means to stand by the country.
It does not mean to stand by the president.
-Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Still sick...

I know that I've got my friends concerned about me being sick for so long. I want to let you know that I am being seen today and hopefully this new Doctor can get to the bottom of this and figure out why this crappy illness is hanging on to me the way it has.

Today I am thankful for...

Recycling and going green (as much as I possibly can).

quote of the day

I hate the word housewife;
I don't like the word home-maker either.
I want to be called Domestic Goddess.
-Roseanne Barr

Monday, November 08, 2010

Today I am thankful for...

The women who have been my mentors these past 20 plus years. They have continually given of themselves to so many, they can put a smile on your face when you are frustrated and want to pull your hair out and have you seeing a different side to things before you know it.
They guide you to be the best person that you can be and along the way they become a part of you. It's because of them that you are able to help others as they have helped you.

It's because of women like them that I am who I am today and I hope that I am a little like each of them in their kindness and love for all military spouses. You all know who you are (at least I hope that you do). My thanks goes out to each and every one of you with heartfelt gratitude!

quote of the day

Silent gratitude isn't very much use to anyone.
-Gertrude Stein

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Today I am thankful for...

Saturday-I am thankful for.... those wonderful people who do hand crafts with their own 2 hands and bring those unique items to craft fairs. what a wonderful gift the Lord had bestowed upon them and they are sharing it with us.

Today- I'm thankful for being able to spend quality time with my husband. It's such a rare and precious gift we have (20 years of marriage) and being able to have fun with him and still laugh at things that the Lord has brought into our view.

quote of the day

It's the experiences in life that makes us who we are.
it's how we deal with it that shows others who we really are underneath.

The Bazaar

Being a military spouse you hear things from your girlfriends about these "Holiday/Yuletide Bazaars" that are held at overseas bases, they are said to be the end all be all of holiday shopping experiences. Oh I had been so envious of my girlfriends whose husbands had overseas assignments that were able to first off be overseas and live the life and secondly for being able to shop at these "holiday bazaars".
My girlfriends would tell these fun stories about how they got their Polish Pottery (it was such a novelty item 14 -15 years ago) or their tapestry rugs and wrought iron pieces from Turkey, their handsome furniture pieces from Germany and their bone china service from England. There we were, assigned to a duty station in the Midwest- we had a whole lot of Tex Mex food and that was about it. To be honest, we lived in Abilene for 7 years and the only furniture we bought was a bed and a dresser for Andrew that we ordered from a company in Maine (we love handcrafted maple furniture). Nothing exotic going on at our house that's for sure. Okay so I did buy a lot of Longaberger baskets, pottery and wrought iron- but then again that was made when all things Longaberger was still being made in the USA (it's a whole different story now).
Now for me to tell you about the unique things we came across yesterday at the Mildenhall Bazaar- Where to begin...
There are these 2 little old ladies that card and spin wool and make their own yarn! Their hand knitted creations are true works of art. Last year I bought quite a few hand knitted sheep and other little creatures from them. Too darn cute!!!
The ladies that do the egg crafts-seriously cool stuff there! Picture it,enameled and bejeweled duck, goose , emu and ostrich eggs (hollowed out of course). These eggs are true works of art! They were made into music boxes and jewellery boxes. I fell in love with 3 different ones yesterday- the price charming (it's a bejeweled frog with a gold crown and tigers eye stone for eyes), the Christmas Tree music box, it was VERY ornate and the Regatta, it had cut out parts in the top egg shell half, lots of jewels and little pearls here too. I was in love, talk about something not every has. Last year my darling husband surprised me an enameled egg from these ladies, mine had a dragon fly theme (I adore dragon flies). This year, he bought me another one but this year it was not a surprise, I got to choose one.
I simply Loved the folks who were selling the Russian Matryoshkas those adorable nesting wooden dolls (click on the words and it will take you to the history of those dolls). I got my first matryoshka or babushka (Russian for grandmother) from my aunt who went on a trip to Russian in the early 1970's. It was a little 3 piece nesting doll set and I was in love with them from then on. I now have a small collection of them and cherish each and every one! I knew that I wanted to get another one but which one- they are all so pretty (my tastes go towards the traditional and floral designs). The one I bought yesterday has 15 pieces and is of a traditional design. Here's a side note- all of my nesting dolls with exception of one have blonde hair.
Many vendors selling Pashmina Scarves, all of them had excellent prices and color selections. Needless to say I bought a few to give as gifts, with the great prices at the bazaar, I can look like a spent a million dollars!
Loads of antique furniture! There were many great pieces on display. I only wish that I had room in this house to put them (even if it's only for a few months). But alas this house is pretty cramped for space and I couldn't do that to us to me after Christmas though ;-)
The handmade blown glass perfume bottles- oooh how pretty! The pieces came from Egypt and were just like the ones I saw at the perfume factory in Egypt but at a faction of the price!
There was the lady that was selling hand carved Welsh loving spoons (yes she traveled from Wales for the bazaar). Talk about more of this one of a kind handmade with love art. Friends of ours have one in their home and we both have admired it. Now we have one commemorating our 20 years of marriage. Take a look at the website and learn the history of this unique craft.
There was so much more there and it would be a shame not to mention them all but alas I want you to go there and experience it on your own if you can.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Naughty Me!

In my quest for some inspiration for what to do with this skinny living room for the holidays, I got sucked into web surfing various interior design blogs for many hours yesterday- Oh Naughty Me!. I know that we only have a handful of months left here in England, but dang if it doesn't kill me to have this TV of ours mounted over the fireplace-ugh! Trust me when I say that this "thing" is the last thing I ever thought that I would have hung over a fire place in any house! But alas this house is old (built somewhere between 1925 and 1930) and frankly the television hadn't been invented yet, not had over stuffed reclining sofas and the other little things one had now days. It's a skinny little room with windows in odd places.
I will however make myself be happy with what I have here with me now and not pine over the things that I have in permanent storage back in the USA. I do dislike quilting with my ¾ sized sewing machine, and only do the basics with this machine. With that said, I have several finished pieces that do need to be quilted.
Alright now to do something productive with this day while I'm still recovering from the head/chest cold from hell. I am feeling much better by the way!

Today I am Thankful for...

Comedy and being able to laugh myself silly!

quote of the day

When people talk, listen completely.
Most people never listen.
-Ernest Hemingway

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Celebrating Autumn

I've always been one to decorate for the seasons. Autumn is such a wonderful time of year, especially when you live in a part of the world that actually HAS seasons. I am currently living in Bicester, England and I'm happy to say that we get all four seasons here. Autumn where I am is full of colorful leafy splendor! As I drove my daughter to school on Monday I truly took notice of how beautiful the landscape was with the various types of trees covered in rich hues of red, orange, yellow and deep green. I want to bring those rich colors inside of my home.

Now it's time for me to take a look through my Rubbermaid totes of window treatments and table linens to see what I can find to decorate a couple of rooms with. Or maybe I just might go upstairs and make something new to use for decorating or better yet, I could finish up a project (like quilting those long table runners I pieced together in September). The possibilities are near endless! I'll let you know what I end up with.

Today I am Thankful for...

The Power of Prayer.

quote of the day

It was on my fifth birthday that Papa put his hand on my shoulder and said, 'Remember, my son, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm.'
- Sam Levenson

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

I'm Thankful for...

In honor of Thanksgiving, every day this month I will post something that I'm thankful for-
Today I am thankful for- Friendship

American Football

My husband and daughter LOVE Halloween but this year they were torn to be here OR to go to an American Football game that was being held at Wembley Stadium. You can all guess where they were, yup they went to the see the San Francisco 49ers (my home team) play against the Denver Bronco's. I handed out candy to the scads of kids and parents that came to my front door and they watched men running around in the cold with a pigskin. They both had a terrific time and said they'd do it all over again!


Halloween in out little community is HUGE. How big is huge you wonder. Well this year I liken the crowds of people to be something like Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. I've never seen crowds like this- ever! It was a seriously insane amount of people coming through this little neighborhood- much more than live in the local area that's for sure!

I had an 18 gallon Rubbermaid tote over flowing with candy and withing 1½ hours it was GONE! All handed out to children of all sizes who came knocking at our door. The next morning you could see how every-one's lawns were trampled by the stampeding crowds of people that were here. It was obvious just from the look for the neighborhood that there were tons more people here this year than last year!

Granted, I never had any unruly people knock on my door. When I ran out of candy they all understood and were polite (I even posted a sign on my front door stating that I was sorry but I had run out of candy). But I had heard from some friends that they had some rather uneasy and even tense moments with some groups of people when they had run out of treats to hand out. Halloween is supposed to be a fun time for children, lets have it be for the children and in the spirit that it was intended. No one needs to be rude, obnoxious or threatening.

I want to end this post on a high note. For being in a country that does not "do" Halloween, the British families really get into making costumes. It was great to see parents and grand parents dressed up in costumes going out with their children. Heck sometimes the family dog was wearing a costume. The most fun I had was when folks wanted to have their picture taken in front of our house or better yet, standing next to our automated gargoyle. It was cracking me up! We had carved pumpkins in the windows, the smoke machine was in full force, strobe light and more!

quote of the day

Conscience is what makes a boy tell his mother before his sister does.
- Evan Esar