Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

We had a quiet day, neither of us had much energy. Stu caught up on some of his recorded shows and I read stuff online, paid bills and blogged. The pups aren't staying outside for very long, too cold.

So I did manage to cobble together a video of them playing inside today.

Dinner time found us digging out all the wine in the fridge.... Don't you love our wine stoppers?

...and cooking a comfort food dinner (hamburgers and Kraft Mac 'n Cheese). Yum!

Now to settle in for a comfortable, blanket-wrapped evening of TV watching as we fall asleep way before midnight.

Ciao for now!

Looking Back...Gazing Ahead

Here I sit on New Year's Eve, thinking about how quickly the last year has passed. It was a busy year and we kicked it off in January by closing on our new home here in Tennessee.  We quickly moved forward into February and March and a couple of cruises. We managed to squeeze in some improvements to our RV lot in Florida (now FOR SALE - please spread the word) before heading back to our new home in April.

We were only there for a couple of weeks, getting things sorted out and enjoying the spring blooms, when we took the RV and headed north to Maryland so I could get my cataract surgery done. Phew! All went well, here are a few posts I wrote about the experience
In July we traveled back to the house for the rest of the year. We then brought home a new addition! Cooper, an F1b Goldendoodle (Poodle mother and Goldendoodle father). He was 15 weeks old with scruffy coat and a shy personality. He didn't play for the first couple of days even though he was eating well.

August brought a little of this and a little of that. September rolled in and celebrated my 70th birthday. What a milestone! Near the end of the month, Stu headed off to Maryland for several firefighter events with his former coworkers plus a good visit with family.

That was when I went off my rocker and brought home Murphy as a playmate for Cooper. He was 12 weeks old and officially a Cadoodle (Rough Collie mom and Goldendoodle dad). It we thought Cooper's coat was a mess when we got it, Murphy had him beat by a mile. They hit it off immediately and have been best buds ever since.

Once Stu arrived home in October, things got a bit hectic. First he had to meet the pups, then met new friends who wanted to look at our property for sale. We did some local sightseeing with them and before they left, we closed the deal. We can't wait till they are here more of the year!

November was here before we knew it and with the sale of our Jamestown property, we made the decision to also put our RV lot in Florida up for sale. With only a few snowbirding years ahead of us, it makes sense and will allow us to travel to other areas for the next few winters. We also had friends come to visit and spend the night, that meant more sightseeing.

We both also decided to get wedding ring tattoos. I opted for a double heart that I had originally thought to get done on the inside of my wrist. Stu went with a more traditional Celtic open weave knotwork ring, similar to our gold bands. This was his first ever tattoo!

We took a weekend trip to see our friends, Earl & Pauline, and spent the day at Dollywood, their first visit. We had a blast and the weather actually warmed up nicely. Thanksgiving was spent quietly at home with a nice turkey breast cooked in our Instant pot we got a year ago.

Thanksgiving rolled into Christmas quickly and we did a little decorating, made a fun trip to Dollywood again, and, oh yeah, bought Jeremiah the Jeep (aka J.J.). Christmas was also spent quietly, getting to Facetime Chat with all our kids but my youngest daughter as well as some of the grandkids.

And now here we are at the cusp of a new year. So what do we have planned in 2018? Just a few things....
  • Closing on our property in Jamestown
  • Two weeks of cruising the end of January, doing a back-to-back (b2b) on the Carnival Miracle
  • Getting set up with some local doctors/dentist as we slowly transition our care to this area
  • Starting work on Stu's pole barn
  • Continuing to work on little things around the house
  • Hopefully getting the flooring replaced in the RV and some other cleanup done
  • First ever Highland Games in Maryville, TN in May
  • Disney in October with our youngest granddaughter
  • Wedding of one of our granddaughters
  • Christmas? Not sure where, but hope to be further south, maybe not central FL though
So yes, another busy year. I only have one book planned, which I truly hope to get published in late February. Will be tight, but my fingers are crossed! Then I plan to spend at least a few months READING!

Ciao for now!

December is almost gone....

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Where did the month go? For that matter, where did the YEAR go???

Here's a quick catchup post for the month....we already told you about our visit to Dollywood and our purchase of a new-to-us car (JJ).

We made peanut butter (me) & chocolate chip (Stu) cookies for our mailman, the Fedex and UPS drivers, our boarding/grooming folks and the folks at our vet office. I had picked up nice holiday tins, tags, ribbon, paper, bows, etc. at the Dollar Store a couple weeks ago. They turned out nice and are now all delivered.

I shopped for groceries and a couple of little girl Christmas gifts for our new to the area friends who are experiencing a HORRIBLE move to this area. I've continued to help them via Facebook connections, getting them connected with a local group with holiday food boxes as well as finding a great free local Christmas holiday show to attend.

After we bought Jeremiah the Jeep (JJ), Stu immediately started to work on the wear & tear items that needed addressing (brakes, hoses, belts) as well as rotating the tires. He still plans on replacing the ball joints and by the time winter is over, we will need new tires. He enjoys this type of work - this was a photo I snapped on HIS BIRTHDAY (17th). LOL!

Yes, we are still loving the car! 
I continued watching Hallmark Christmas movies while Stu worked on cleaning up and reorganizing the garage. In the midst of all that, he found all our missing Christmas decorations! Too late to bother putting them up, but now I can work on sorting them into what will stay in the house and what will go in the RV.

I also found my Christmas (and Halloween) shirts, and wore a couple of them (a couple more are put away for one more year, just in case I lose weight...LOL). Here are two of my favorites, gotta love T-rex!

We don't really DO Christmas, never being all the close (distance-wise) to family and this year will be no different. We have gotten a couple of Christmas cards this year, one from family, one from friends, and one hand signed by all the staff at our vet with handwritten thank you notes for the cookies.

Gifts? We tend to order things when we need them and don't exchange gifts on birthdays or Christmas. Here are a couple of things we bought ourselves recently (okay, I bought...LOL!)

With colder weather, we have been stocking up on sweatshirts that were on sale at Kohl's. We love these! We got both zip-front and pullover. The zip-front is still on sale for $24.99 (not at quite as low a price as we managed to get but still a great deal). The pullovers are only $11.99 without any extra discounts (that are available through tomorrow). They are SO SOFT, don't shrink and are great quality.

From Amazon, I got myself a nice pair of slippers, a new fitness tracker, and got Stu two Fire Department beanies (much needed #1 & #2). I also found this great little travel charger for USB devices and this amazing add-a-shelf for one of our bathroom outlets.

The last item is still on order but should arrive next week. I know Gennita from Facebook and have followed her Brazilian Sticky man tales for some time now. Hilarious!!

ZEN AND THE ART OF BRAZILIAN STICKY & Other Roofing Tales is a compilation of hilarious stories from the real life roofer and best-selling author, Gennita Low. She has been posting the tales of conversations with her Brazilian cement worker, all told with great humor and tongue in cheek. It's now available in both ebook and paperback.

Here's wishing all our family and friends a 
Very Merry Christmas and a Wonderful Holiday Season!

Ciao for now!

Doodle is as Doodle does!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

We love our Doods, we LOVE our Doods, WE LOVE OUR DOODS...

To be repeated after:

They will outgrow it, they WILL outgrow it, THEY WILL OUTGROW IT...

Let's see, after a month of pretty good behavior, in the last three days one or the other has (guess who for each one):
  1. Countersurfed and scored a Mini-Moo Half & Half
  2. Ate the three wisemen, one shepherd and the cow from my new clay manger set (fortunately the gal I got this from will be making me new pieces for next year)
  3. Chewed a hole completely through the bed in their crate
Here are a few photos....LOL!

  1. Cooper
  2. Murphy
  3. BOTH Doods!!
Ciao for now!

A quick trip to Dollywood!

Friday, December 15, 2017

We decided to take a mini-vacation and booked a stay at Best Western in Kodak, TN. While there, we spent an afternoon/evening at Dollywood where we saw one show and took some photos. We had thought about staying for the parade at 8:15 that night, but it was WAY too cold. LOL!

On our leisurely drive up, after dropping the pups off for two fun days at doggy camp, we decided to try a new spot for lunch. After being misdirected by our outdated GPS in Jeremiah Jeep (aka JJ), we found Wendall's Diner in Harriman.

The decor is straight out of the 80's - fun memorabilia abounds!

The menu offers a wide selection and there were lunch specials.

Stu opted for a Reuben with onion rings and I got a steak hoagie with fries. Both meals were excellent but next time, we will split the onion rings and pass on the fries. BIG servings!

We got into Dollywood about 3:45 ET (we always forget we lose an hour when traveling east on these short trips). The next show was starting just after 4, so we found a good seat. The show was "It's a Wonderful Life" and we enjoyed it. I snapped a few photos with my iPhone, not the best, but best I could do.

When we came out, the sky featured a blushing sunset, setting off the beautiful light displays.

I snapped several photos of the lights as the evening darkened...

We wandered the park, sat for a bit to enjoy some holiday music and ended the evening with our favorite meal - sausages smothered with sweet onions & peppers. Yum!

A fun day, albeit a cold one. A warm hotel room awaited us. We look forward to visiting again when spring comes!

[Click any photo for a larger image and feel free to look at the entire album on SmugMug.]

Ciao for now!

A Holiday Helping Hand

Monday, December 11, 2017

This time of year can be tough for many under normal circumstances. But for others, times are extraordinarily bad. These two families are facing the extraordinary. One family I know personally, the other is new to the neighborhood. Both need a helping hand...if enough donate $5, it will add up. Please consider reading their stories and helping if you can. Regardless, please share their tales.

Thank you...

Imagine losing your job of fifteen years just before the holidays. But that's okay, you think, you have a home paid for in another state. A home that was planned for retirement. Not ready to retire, but now a place for a new start. You pack up your family and move from New Jersey to Tennessee, ready for a thankful Thanksgiving with plans for a joyous Christmas. But it was not to be....your dream house had been vandalized beyond recognition.

Then toss in ending up in the hospital for several days due to issues with her diabetes. If that's not enough, one contractor has stopped work until he is paid - paid for something that isn't' passing inspection. All your credit cards are maxed between hotel bills and sheetrock & drywall that is slowing going in to help make the house a home again. You're heating up lunch, soup in cans on top of the kerosene heater you're running - remember, no electricity in the house.

And don't forget, Christmas is just around the corner.

I visited Sunday and took them groceries, a couple of Christmas things for their eight year old daughter and dog food. Please read their story and possibly help...
 Please read their story and maybe help...
The second family's story started several months ago and unfortunately today, it's an all too common one. Cancer strikes, once again. She's forty-one years old. Married. Has a teenage son. And, as you now know, is battling cancer. Her family recently moved to Jacksonville, North Carolina, so they don't have a strong connection to the community. Ellen's parents live on the west coast and fly back and forth, staying with Ellen as long as possible.

Ellen's son, Tyler, is a champion high school wrestler and I've been a long distance supporter of him for several years. Ellen's father, Lee Lofland, is a personal friend, a former police officer, a writer and the founder of the Writer's Police Academy (which I attended in 2014). He has spent his life helping others, now we have the chance to return just a small portion of that help. Even with insurance, the medical bills mount. And they don't begin to cover the costs of driving back and forth for treatments and other appointments. The financial toll is staggering (and I know this from personal experience with my late husband). Please read Ellen's story and all the updates and maybe you can help.

 Please read Ellen's story and see if you can help
Ellen and her husband at one of Tyler's winning wrestling meets.
Thank you again....and Merry Christmas!

Ciao for now!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Now that it's December, I wanted to put up some Christmas decorations. Our decorations were semi-sorted into three groups. First was anything we have bought since we moved into the house. That stuff was stashed in the guest room closet. Next were the larger items that had been stored in the RV, things that wouldn't fit into the red or green totes bought just for Christmas items. Third was, obviously, the red or green totes.

Well, that was the plan and we all know about Murphy and his laws. I found one red and one green tote, unpacked them and uh-oh, a major portion of our ornaments were missing (including a similar to this stuffed Christmas tree that I bought specifically for the RV).

I suspect they are buried in one of the dozens of totes stacked in the garage. So I settled for the new decorations and things I recently bought online (like these great pillows tossed on the sofa and the ceramic lighted Christmas tree I found at Kohl's online for under $30 but got free with Kohl's cash). The runner came from the Dollar Store (along with a few things in the kitchen) and the handmade creche scene was bought from a new local friend.

Here is the tree lit up - I've wanted one since my twenties....and now I have one and love it.

We have red bows on the mailbox, a giant reindeer head in the kitchen, a giant Santa hat on the front door and few other miscellaneous things scattered around.

I haven't started baking Christmas cookies yet, that will be later next week, after we get back from out final-for-this-year Dollywood visit. But I did bake a nice loaf of Blueberry Banana Nut Bread. Yum!

We plan on peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies, with the peanut butter stored in separate tins in case anyone has a nut allergy. They'll go to our mailman, our vet's office and our doggy daycare/grooming/boarding folks.

We got a little snow today - enough to dust the deck (more arrived after dark) and encourage the dogs to lick it up. They are loving the cool weather, staying outside playing most of the day.

Tonight they proved there was more than a light dusting outside in the yard....LOL!

"Jeremiah was a bull frog..."

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Introducing a new addition to our family - Jeremiah Jeep, aka JJ - a 2011 Jeep Patriot Latitude X 4x4 70th Anniversary Edition. It was a one owner car with less than 59k miles. These are photos from the dealer's website.

Here are some of the main features:
  • 4WD/AWD
  • AM/FM Stereo with Navigation system & SiriusXM
  • Adjustable Steering
  • Air Conditioning
  • Anti-Lock Brakes
  • Cruise Control
  • CD/DVD Player
  • Fog Lights
  • Front Air Dam
  • Heated Mirror 
  • Heated Leather Seats
  • Leather Steering Wheel
  • Leather Upholstery
  • Power Brakes
  • Power Locks
  • Power Mirror
  • Power Driver Seat
  • Power Steering
  • Power Windows
  • Premium Wheels
  • Rear Wiper
  • Second Row Folding Seat
  • Security System
  • Stability Control
  • Steering Mounted Controls
  • Tachometer
  • Tinted Glass
  • Tire Pressure Monitor
  • Traction Control
  • Trip Computer
I am in LOVE! It handles like a dream, steers beautifully (remember, I've been driving a pickup since 2012. This is a dream car with room for the dogs in the back and still plenty of room for groceries in the back seat. Oh yeah, and regular gas instead of diesel and better gas mileage.

Ciao for now!

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