Hodge Podge: A Little Spooky. A Little Fun.

This post is part of the weekly Hodge Podge feature with Joyce from From This Side of the Pond.

  1. In two or three sentences describe yourself to someone who has never met you. 

Slightly neurotic short person who likes to write, doesn’t have the best self-esteem, but tries to remind herself she is a child of God and that’s what matters. I also love my husband, my kids, my dog, my two cats, photography and chocolate.

2. Will you celebrate Halloween this year, and if so tell us how? Let’s play this or that-chocolate candy or fruity candy? pumpkin seeds or pumpkin pie? Halloween party or scary movie? hay ride or corn maze? carve a pumpkin or paint a pumpkin?

I don’t exactly celebrate Halloween but for the last couple of months I have been watching and writing about some lighter-fare Halloween movies with Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs, and this weekend we will be taking the kids trick-or-treating in a town near us.

3. What’s something that scared you when you were young? Are you still afraid? 

I was afraid of the dark and while I would like to think I am now a mature, brave adult, I still hate, for example, to shut off the light in the kitchen and walk the dark hallway to our stairs, or go into our garage at night, or walk, well, anywhere at night. I’m pretty sure that I’m more afraid of the dark now than I was as a kid since now that I’m older my imagination has added even more “things” (and people…and bears) that could be lurking in the dark ready to kidnap me or devour me or whatever it or they want to do to me.

I mentioned above that I am neurotic, remember?

4. Your favorite soothing drink? 

Peppermint tea loaded up with honey or hot cocoa sweetened with maple syrup.

5. Are you thinking about Christmas yet? Does this make you feel happy or stressed? 

Yes, I am! I am excited and happy! I love Christmas. Erin and I are considering a Christmas movie feature similar to our Spooky Season one, which will be fun, and I am also looking forward to decorating the house and tree with the kids the day after Thanksgiving, which is a family tradition my husband started several years ago. I’m not worried about gifts right now, but I would love to have some ideas in place before we get too close to the day.

6. Insert your own random thought here.  

When I was a kid I would eat peanut butter and banana sandwiches because my mom liked them. She may or may not have liked them because Elvis did, I don’t know. I gave up wheat about ten years ago and while I have had some here and there over the years, I have found I don’t really enjoy bread that much anymore. I found a gluten-free wrap I really enjoy at Aldis and this past week my husband picked up some bananas.

Peanut butter is starting to taste a little more normal since I developed parasomnia last year so I decided Saturday to mix some peanut butter and banana and put it on the wrap. Bananas and peanut butter, along with garlic and onion were some of the worst tasting foods for me after having Covid, but miraculously the mixed concoction actually tasted good this time! (Even if it looks a little a bit gross!)

I’m looking forward to try it again in the future for a quick, meatless option (even though I like meat, there are some mornings meat feels a little heavy to me.)

Hodge Podge Thoughts

This post is part of the weekly Hodge Podge feature with Joyce from From This Side of the Pond.

  1. What’s something you wish you’d figured out sooner? 

That when you buy the food at the grocery store that your children have been asking for over and over, they will suddenly decide that they no longer want it.

2. Something from childhood you still enjoy today? 

The first thing that came to mind with this question was some sort of food. At first I thought cinnamon-sugar toast, but I haven’t had that in years, mainly because I had to cut wheat out. I have, however, been eating a little bit of wheat lately so maybe I can add that back again. I always enjoyed peanut butter sandwiches with a glass of chocolate milk and still like that too.

When I asked my husband this question he said reading. He learned to read early, loved to escape into books, and still does today. I had to agree that this one could work for me as well since I remember hiding under my covers with a flashlight to read Little House on the Prairie books or the Chronicles of Narnia.

3. Are you a fidgeter? What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word fidget? 

I’m not a fidgeter, exactly, but I am a doodler. If I am sitting for a sermon or a presentation of some kind, I almost always have a notebook or journal and am doodling in it. I’ve used this to my advantage when I take sermon notes and now doodle around my notes.

When I hear the word fidget, I think of someone who can’t sit still and has to pick at their pants, twist their fingers, touch things, wiggle in their seat — oh. Wait. Alas. I do believe I am a fidgeter. Ha!

4. Your favorite fall vegetable? How do you like it prepared?

I love butternut squash and I love to make it into soup. I do not like the process of cutting it up and peeling it, etc., but I do love the end result of butternut squash soup. I like to melt real mozzarella on top of the soup as well. My dad gave me a whole bunch of butternut squash like a month ago and — gulp — it’s still in my vegetable cover. Oh dear. I may have lost my chance to make myself butternut squash soup with that, but hopefully I can buy some more later on.

5. What’s something you find mildly annoying, but not annoying enough to actually do anything about? Might you now? 

I find it mildly annoying that when my teenage son puts his dirty dishes in the sink he doesn’t scrape the leftovers off the plate before he does so which results in me finding mushy food in the sink that I have to clean out before I can wash the dishes. Might I do something about it? Yes, I might keep reminding him over and over and over, or I might just let it slide since he is a pretty good kid otherwise.

(As an aside: I find it hugely annoying that our dishwasher is broken, but with no funds to replace it, we will have to deal with washing the dishes by hand and then my husband and I arguing about how clean the rinse water should be and whether or not it can still be considered rinse water if there is a pile of suds in it.)

6. Insert your own random thought here.  

My cat Pixel is my spirit animal. She only runs when something is chasing her or she’s running toward food. Just like me.

Hodge Podge: The brain edition

This post is part of the weekly Hodge Podge feature with Joyce from From This Side of the Pond.

  1. Thursday (Oct 13) is National Train Your Brain Day. What do you do to keep your brain in tip-top shape? Is it helping?

I don’t have any specific activities I do to keep my brain in shape – like crosswords or Sudoku or something similar, but I do try to read non-fiction books and watch documentaries. I’m also homeschooling my children, which keeps my brain working every day, but sometimes it also turns it into overwhelmed mush.

2. You can sit with anyone in the world and ‘pick their brain’…whom do you choose? Tell us why? 

Can they be dead or alive? Because if it is dead it would be C.S. Lewis to ask him what convinced him that there was a God when he believed there wasn’t one for so long.

If it is someone alive it would be Jordan Peterson because he is absolutely brilliant, and I’d like to ask him what the heck he was thinking with some of his Tweets over the last several months. Ha!

3. What’s something happening in the world (or your corner of it) right now that you have trouble ‘wrapping your brain around? 

 I’m not going to go political here, even though I want to, other than to say we need to protect the minds of our children, especially during the puberty and young adult years where they are heavily influenced by social media, the general media, celebrities, and very skewed ideas of what is normal. There are ideas and ideology being pushed at our young children which can ruin their entire lives.

What I can’t wrap my mind around are adults not standing up and helping to guide young people who are lost and being told actions that will harm them physically for life will cure them from feeling like they don’t fit in.

4. On a scale of 1-10 where do you fall in the pumpkin fanclub? (1=blech, 10=make it all pumpkin all the time) Tell us something delicious you’ve tasted recently that had some pumpkin in it somewhere. 

I’m probably a five in the pumpkin club. I can take it or leave it. I like it as pie, but I’m not a fan of pumpkin spice in everything from coffee to cereal to bagels, like the ones I picked up last week on clearance when I was grocery shopping. And no, I didn’t eat them. My husband did, however.  Not sure what he thought. I would like to try pumpkin soup someday and I don’t mind pumpkin spice candles.

5. Share a favorite song, book, or movie with an autumn title, setting, or vibe. 

Anne of Avonlea is a book I read not too long ago and I remember a lot of it taking place during the fall. The first book, Anne of Green Gables, though, is where the famous quote that every Instagram bookstagrammer uses every autumn is from: “Im so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” The full quote is: “Oh, Marilla,” she exclaimed one Saturday morning, coming dancing in with her arms full of gorgeous boughs, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it? Look at these maple branches. Don’t they give you a thrill—several thrills? I’m going to decorate my room with them.”

6. Insert your own random thought here.

In honor of Angela Lansbury, The Husband and I watched two episodes of Murder She Wrote last night and we have more than a couple of questions. Two of our biggest are: how many nieces and nephews does this woman have? She’s always visiting a niece of nephew somewhere. Also, does anyone else notice that someone dies no matter where this woman goes. If I was one of her many nieces or nephews, I’d ask her to please not come visit, out of fear one of my friends might drop dead.

Hodge Podge: The Autumn Edition

This post is part of the weekly Hodge Podge feature with Joyce from From This Side of the Pond.

  1. Volume 478. Sounds like a lot. Where were you in 1978? If you weren’t born where were you in 2008?

I was a year old in 1978 and from what I was reminded of this week (on my birthday) I didn’t want to crawl. I just went to the center of floor, swung myself up backward and started to walk. It came up with my parents when I was talking about how my daughter (now almost 8) had also never crawled. She pulled herself up with the help of a baby chair and started walking so she could get to her older brother. She was 9 months old and never stopped afte that. 

2. Raise your hand if you remember records playing at a speed of 78 rpm? What’s a topic that when it comes up you ‘sound like a broken record’? 

We had a record player when I was a kid, but I don’t know what speed the records played at. I think the topic where I sound a broken record is when I tell my daughter to brush her hair and my teenage son to clean his room.

3. What’s the last thing you recorded in some way? 

My young cat climbing up a tree in our backyard. She does this quite a bit, but now she can get down the tree. Last autumn she got herself stuck up maybe 70 feet in the air and was there all night. In the morning, the neighbor, who is on our town (or borough as it is called in Pennsylvania) council, called the fire department for us and in the afternoon they sent a fire truck to come get her. In the end, the fireman chased her down and then my son was able to retrieve her from the bottom limb.

I wrote about all that HERE and here is a photo I took of her in the tree last week:

Here is a shortened version of the video I took:

4. Thursday is the first day of fall (in the northern hemisphere). How do you feel about the changing seasons? Something you’re looking forward to this fall? 

I love the changing seasons and how where I live you can really see the difference from season to season. I used to really love fall and I still do in some ways but I know fall leads to winter and I battle depression in winter so I sort of dread it. I am trying not to think this way, however, because my mom, who is originally from the South, said she used to dread fall for the same reason but one day God put it on her heart that she was spending so much time dreading winter that she wasn’t enjoying the good moments of her life.

This fall I am just looking forward to cooler days with hot tea with honey, or cocoa, and a good book, as well as jumping in the leaves with my youngest. I’m also looking forward to my daughter, son’s and husband’s birthdays.

5. In what way (or ways) are you like the apple that didn’t ‘fall far from the tree’? 

Well, I am a lot like my mom in a few ways. I worry a lot, but then remember to pray (or try to), I like to read like she does (though she is much more of an avid reader), and like my dad I have a tendency to be anxious and also, when very tired, extremely sarcastic and sometimes biting. I hope, though, that I also have my mom’s good qualities of caring for people and my dad’s same good quality of caring about others.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

Monday was my birthday and when my daughter woke up she slapped my arm and the fat jiggled. She thought this was hilarious. I sent my husband a text that said, “Nothing says you’ve hit 45 like your seven-year-old giggling while your arm fat jiggles.” In addition, my dad dropped by with a blood pressure machine he’d picked up at a yard sale. It wasn’t my gift, but it was a sobering moment in my day. Sigh. Reality really does bite sometimes. *wink*

Really, though, it was a super nice day of relaxation where I read books, watched a Thin Man movie (William Powell and Myrna Loy), watched The Man Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain with my family, and wore a cozy nightgown all day (even to the bank where I’m sure the tellers thought I was drunk).

Wednesday Hodge Podge: A collection of thoughts

Thank you to Joyce at From This Side of the Pond for her Hodge Podge feature, which she hosts every Wednesday. For more information about it, click HERE.

  1. Tell us a little bit about the best birthday you’ve ever had. 

It’s hard to really think of the best birthday I ever had because there isn’t a birthday that really stands out to me as “amazing” exactly. In 2020 we traveled two hour to Seneca Lake in Watkins Glen, NY and picked up something from a restaurant, sat outside and watched the waves lap up on the rocks.

My niece called me out of the blue, which was a shock because my five nieces rarely talk to us even when we try to reach out. Her call, and especially her voicemail, meant so much to me that I actually cried. It was the last time she called me and now she rarely answers my texts so it is a bittersweet memory, but I usually try to focus on the sweet.

2. In what way(s) have you changed in the last five years? 

Oh, that is a deep question that could turn into an entire blog post at some point. First of all, I don’t hinge my worth on whether or not people approve of me now. I don’t wait around for others to show me that I am important to them. When people make it clear I am not wanted in their life, I walk away and accept that. I also no longer stress when others are upset at a decision I make that is right for my family. I used to focus way too much on what others thought of me and I’m not going to say I never do, but it is much, much better than it used to me.

I ruminate much less now on how I believe a person perceives me and instead have learned to let it go. I have also let go of the idea of super close, movie-like friendships. I wanted that so much for so long that I was desperate and would let people walk all over me just to be sure I didn’t lose their friendship.

Now I am myself and if they don’t like it or aren’t interested, oh well. Life is too short to sacrifice my happiness to try to be liked.

3. What’s your favorite thing about the street on which you live? 

My street actually feels like a community, unlike the street we used to live on in another town. In our previous home we had one neighbor who invited us to her house or acted like we were real friends. We lived there for 18 years and were never invited to anyone’s house for dinner or to hang out, other than the house of the neighbor behind us who is a grandmother and just a super sweet woman. I still keep in touch with her.

The other night my new next-door neighbor (new for two years anyhow.) texted me and asked if I had any flour. She was making cookies for a Labor Day party she was having the next day that she had invited my entire family to (including my parents who do not live here). You know how in the movies people go next door to borrow a cup of sugar? I’ve always wanted that to happen and here she was asking for a cup of flour (well, more like two but who cares!)

“I have to go outside and meet Dawn!” I told my husband, practically jumping up and down. “She needs to borrow flour! Like in the movies when people buy a cup of sugar!”

I ran downstairs and told my teenage son where I was going (since it was dark) and he said, “Oh my gosh! It’s like when neighbors on TV borrow a cup of sugar!”

We were both so excited that it was  . . . a bit sad, actually.

But my neighbor made the best chocolate chip cookies with that flour, so it was totally worth us being absolute dorks about it. We also had a great time the next day at her house for the cookout. My daughter went swimming in the small pool in their backyard (it was ridiculously cold! I stood in it for seven minutes with her and couldn’t feel my legs), our dog socialized with their dogs, and my parents enjoyed chatting with the father of my neighbor and another friend.

4. The Hodgepodge lands on National Beer Day…are you a beer drinker? What’s a recipe you make that lists beer as one of the ingredients? If not beer, how about yeast?

I am not a beer drinker, no. I am not a consumer of alcohol at all. Part of the reason for this is that I was brought up by tee-totaling parents, but another reason is that I had a heart condition when I was younger that made me very dizzy and feel out of control, which I hated. I don’t want to get drunk and feel that out of control feeling so I stay away from alcohol altogether and don’t feel I have suffered at all from not drinking it. I am not against others enjoying alcohol in moderation but my mom always said she never saw anyone who was improved by drinking alcohol (at least to excess) and I tend to agree.

5. As I grow older, I would like to be a woman (or man, if there are any men in the HP today) __________.

Who focuses more on my relationship with God than what the world thinks of me.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

We started our new year of homeschooling yesterday and I am looking forward to learning with my almost 16-year-old and almost 8-year-old. Neither of them, however, is actually that happy about learning. Pray for us. *wink*

Wednesday Hodge Podge: A bit of laboring

This post is part of From This Side of the Pond’s weekly Wednesday Hodge Podge feature. Please check out her blog for more participating blogs.

Something you’ve labored over recently? 

Sometime in the spring, our dishwasher died so lately I have been laboring over dirty dishes, which is one chore I just absolutely abhor! But, our dishwasher wasn’t cleaning well before it died so at least our dishes will be a little cleaner now. Hopefully, we will get a new dishwasher someday.

2. How will you rest on Labor Day? 

I think on the actual day we will be swimming at my parents if the weather cooperates. Our neighbor has invited us, and my parents, to a cookout at her house the day before Labor Day. We will try to take it easy because the day after Labor Day we start school (we homeschool).

3. Margaret Mead is quoted as saying, “I learned the value of hard work by working hard.” Would you agree? Where and how did you learn the value of hard work? 

Yes, I think I would agree. You need to work hard to understand why hard work has value. Some would say that instead of working harder you work smarter and that’s good advice too.

I worked for 14 years in small town newspapers where you did a little bit of a lot of things. You were the reporter, the writer, the photographer, sometimes answered phones, occasionally had to cover a sports event, and if someone didn’t get their paper you might even end up delivering it. I worked anywhere from 10 to 14 hour days there and one time even worked about a 22-hour day (thought I was going to the hospital that day). I wish I could say that it taught me that hard work means you get paid well, but that being paid well isn’t really a think at small town newspapers. It didn’t really teach me that hard work means success either, but it did teach me that hard work teaches you how to be resilient, how to build up a business brick by brick (moment by moment even, and can also bring you a lot of cool experiences.

4. It’s National Eat Outside Day (August 31st). Will you? Do you enjoy dining ‘al fresco’ or prefer indoor seating? 

I might eat outside today, yes. We like to eat outside as long as the weather is nice and there aren’t a lot of bugs around. We go to a little restaurant about 40 minutes away from us and we have eaten inside and outside and I prefer outside. We’ve also been to restaurants along one of the Finger Lakes in Upstate New York and I prefer eating outside there too so we can see the gorgeous views.

5. Somehow it’s the end of August. What was the best day of the month for you and tell us what made it so? 

I think I have a tie for the best day. One day a friend texted and asked if we wanted to join her and her kids at a lake in a state park near us. That was such a fun, full day in the sun and left with us a lot of memories.

My mom’s birthday was also at the beginning of August and it was a wonderful, fun-filled day with a lot of laughter.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

This is the best Needtobreathe song, especially the ending.