Friday, August 28, 2015

Five on Friday

I thought I would share a few of my favorite websites with you.

1. I just found this one while looking for a photographer for Mindy's wedding.
Thumbtack is really unique. Think of it as a bulletin board that you've "thumbtacked" a bunch of business cards! Whatever you need---painter, landscaper, help with technology, interior designer, tutor, or in my case photographer---you put in that information. Then you will fill out a brief questionnaire that includes your zipcode and how much YOU want to pay. Then you just wait for offers to come in via email. I put in a rather low bid for a photographer and got 2 bids. Both show excellent work, but I chose the one that had 22---5 star reviews. It was also the less expensive of the two bids. The other looked equally as good, but only had 3---5 star reviews. The whole process was very easy. In fact, I'm trying to think of something else I need just so I can use it again! Connie, find us a window washer!

2. Next up is Etsy. Most of you have probably heard of Easy but I'm posting this for those of you that don't know about it. Basically, it's a marketplace for individuals to sell things. Most of the items for sale are handmade things. But you can find other things there too. Just put whatever you are looking for in the search box and see what pops up. That's how I found my scrabble tiles for my newly remodeled rec room.

3. I always talk about the nearly 200 blogs I follow. There's no way I could list them all, but here are a few of my favorites:
For scrapbooking, storytelling and clever titles:
From High in the Sky
For great recipes and weekly menu plans:
Six Sisters Stuff
For great home interiors and decorating ideas:
Between Naps on the Porch
For a good lifestyle blog on fashion, home decor, recipes and fun---these sisters are out of Springfield, MO---although Elsie has just moved to Nashville:
A Beautiful Mess
For a little of everything---and just because the blog itself is beautiful---you wouldn't expect anything less from this designer:
Susan Branch (I have no idea why this one comes up blue)

4. I could never follow over 200 blogs without a blog reader. I recommend it for anyone---even if you only follow a few. The best thing about Bloglovin' is that it lists all of the blogs you follow that have a new post. That way, you do not have to go to each individual blog to see if there is a new post. It doesn't cost anything---you just need to sign up. If you are on Facebook, you can sign in that way. Then you just put the blogs you follow in the search box and you can add them to your feed.

5. This list would not be complete without Ted Talks. You can find talks from 10-30 minutes on just about any topic under the sun! I like to listen to them while on the treadmill.

So there you go---great places to while away your time (as if you needed more ways!). You might notice that I did not list Facebook. As far as I'm concerned, Facebook is a huge time waster! There's a lot of crap on there. Don't get me wrong---I do check it out a few times a week, but I don't love it. I like family pictures and clever comments, but for the most part, it's just a whole lot of crap. In fact, I prefer to refer to it as Facebook!

If you have any questions, or need any help just let me know.

By the time you are reading this post, I will be off again. Butch and I are meeting Walter and Chris in Oregon for 9 days. We've never been there. Butch has spent hours finding out the best things to do and see. I'm really looking forward to having "high tea" since I didn't have it in London!!

Have a great week!!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

I Never Knew

That my Starbucks card could be hacked!

In the airport on my way to St. Louis, I reloaded my Starbucks "card" with $50.00. I paid for my "venti iced black tea shaken with three equals please" using the new balance. $50.00 usually lasts me 3 or 4 months. I didn't get another Starbucks until this past Saturday when Steph and I went to Knoxville. My balance showed zero, so I reloaded it again with $50.00. I checked my credit card account when I got home and discovered that I WAS charged the first $50.00. I checked my Starbucks account online, but couldn't figure out what happened to it. I contacted customer service and got this response:

Hello Barbara,
Thank you for contacting Starbucks.
On 8/16 there was only one reload of 50.00 on to account . Have sent your reload and purchase history for you to 
review. 8/16 reload of 50.00,  8/16 purchase 6.77 balance 43.24 : 8/16 purchase 13.90 balance 29.34 : 8/16 purchase 
10.40 balance 18.94  8/16 purchase 6.90 balance 12.04 : 8/16 purchase 12.04 balance 0.00 : reload on 8/22 for 50.00 
: purchase of 15.68 balance 34.32 : Current balance on card is 34.32. If you wish to discuss this further please call 
If you ever have any questions or concerns in the future, please visit us at


customer service

Aside from the very first purchase, none of those charges were mine!! I called Starbucks and 
found that all of those charges were made from a Starbucks in California. I have no idea how 
that happened, but the customer service agent was very nice. She is sending me a new card 
and crediting me the original $50.00. I have no idea how something like that can happen! It's 
amazing what crooks can do!

I never knew that I would love my new toilets so much!
They are taller, so they meet you half way! That will definitely come in handy when I have my s
econd foot surgery in September!!
However, I DID know this:

What things have you learned this week?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Another Move

I got home from St. Louis on Friday morning. I left at 6:45 on Saturday morning to go to Jordan's new apartment in Knoxville---3 hours away. I thought it would take 2 hours---max---to get her settled. I knew we were in trouble when I saw this when we walked in the door:
In all fairness to Jordan, she's only been here since Wednesday. She did have her bedroom fairly settled.
Everything had to be unpacked and washed. She didn't have any dish liquid, so that delayed the process. The light cover on the ceiling fixture fell down as you can see.
There was no room for her kitchen table and chairs, so we had to take that back home. Considering she lives on the THIRD floor---Stephanie and Jordan had a LOT of hauling to do. But not nearly as much as her dad and boyfriend had to do to get all the furniture up there.

As usual, I'm the boss on these sorts of projects. No way was I going to do all that hauling! No elevator either! Luckily, I love this sort of work. There's nothing more satisfying to me than making order out of chaos.

We brought the white shelf with us (thanks Connie). There are actually two of them, but Morgan has the other one in her apartment in Murfreesboro. I didn't realize until now that they were meant to be used as a set. You can tell by the top moulding that's flat on the right side. It fit perfectly in this spot. She definitely needed the storage space.
The round table was actually on the balcony of her last apartment. This one doesn't have a balcony. Since there was no place for the regular kitchen table and chairs, I felt like this was better than nothing. She can easily pull this out so that two people can eat at the table. Otherwise, it's "sit on the couch and use the coffee table" for meals.
I put the other chair here in her entry. Still easy to pull up to the table when necessary. I'm sure it will be piled with stuff in no time at all.
 It's a nice apartment and pretty much space for one person---just never enough storage.
The sectional looks pretty good in this picture, but really, it's a piece of junk. Still, for a poor college kid's apartment, it's just fine.
This is her bedroom furniture from home. She "made" the silk scarf above her window. It was her idea to tack it up there. She made it in high school art class. She's actually a pretty good little artist herself. Most of her pictures on the wall are things she's painted.
There was no place to store her trash can. This was the best we could do. As long as she keeps it clean, it will be fine. There are plenty of cabinets in the kitchen---most of these are empty. She doesn't have a lot of stuff. In fact, her last roommate, took her pots and pans. She has a cookie sheet and a muffin tin---that's it. I'm pretty sure she'll be getting pots and pans for Christmas!
She didn't want to use the little plastic drawers, but she needed the space. We convinced her that it didn't look bad here.

It was a lot of work and took longer than I thought it would. Butch would say that's par for the course---I always underestimate how long things will take. I work pretty fast, so that's why I think things won't take so long. By the time we finished, we were exhausted. My legs and feet were worn out. We didn't get home until 8 p.m.---with drive time, that's 13 hours! Still, it's nice to know that she's settled and can now focus on her classes.

The next time we'll see Jordan is over Labor Day weekend. She's going to be home. We're having a family barbecue/pool party, so she'll be here. I can't wait to hear how she likes her "new" place!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


This is an early picture of my cousin Chrissy and I. We've always loved to dance and it looks like it started early! This past week when I was in St. Louis, we didn't do any dancing, but we did just about everything else! Just being together is lots of fun.
One morning, we went to her house. Her gardens are beautiful. And I love her garage doors---too bad I don't have a photo of them. They are the type that look like  carriage doors. If ever I replace mine, that's what I'll get.
I didn't take any pictures outside, so I had to have Chrissy send a couple. You can't really see how nice her gardens are from this shot---but the part under the deck looks really good.
 I took this picture of her bedroom to show off the artwork below.

Chrissy's husband, Steve is quite the artist. They have his paintings throughout the house, but I have to say, these are my favorites.
 Now you're getting a little glimpse in to her closet. She's always had a "thing" for watches.
 These are great storage ideas for jewelry.
Her closet is perfectly organized. In fact, she's always been like this. When we were teenagers, I was a mess. When she came to my house on the weekends, she always re-organized me. I did tease her about this photo. I told her my closet was better---only because I have ALL matching hangers!

Okay, this is a little over the top---who needs this many white shirts! I have to admit, there are different sizes here. I always have hope! I think my cousin taught me well. I'm pretty sure she's proud of me! Actually, shocked is more like it. After all, she knew me when....

Sunday, August 23, 2015

St. Louis

I was in St. Louis last week. I went specifically to be with my Aunt Marie. I flew in--it costs less than $200, so I doubt I'll ever drive again! Of course, that does put me without a car. But luckily for me, my favorite cousin, Chrissy is now retired. She actually likes being my chauffeur. I love spending time with her, so it's a "win-win" for both of us.

I had such a good time---here are a few photos:
On Monday, Chrissy and I went to Janet's to help set up her scrapbook room. We finished sooner than expected, so we went to the movie and saw "The Gift" with Jason Bateman. It was really good---he's a great actor. But be prepared---it's suspenseful. We jumped out of our seats a couple times with Janet elbowing me twice and Chrissy yelling in my ear twice!! We met up with Ronnie, Jackie, Greg and Evie for dinner. Evie was wearing her Frozen socks. She put them on a while back, pointed to Elsa and asked her mom if that was "Aunt Barb." Apparently, she thinks I'm a Disney princess!
 One day, I got a facial in old St. Charles---recommended by Jeanne. It was awesome. While in the area, I saw this tiny house. I would have loved to see the inside. Rather than being part of "tiny house nation"---this one is really just a very old tiny house. It was so cute.
I stay with Jeanne when I'm in town, so I spent some time enjoying Jeanne's gardens. Chrissy and I even dug up some ferns for her house.
These hydrangeas actually were the blue ones. I love that when they "die" they are this lovely multi color.

Jeanne has a magnolia in her front yard. It's not a Southern Magnolia, but the blooms are pretty similar. I didn't know that magnolias could grow in St. Louis' climate.
 Just a side view---so pretty. I want my gardens to look like this!
 I don't know anyone that does pots better than Jeanne!
One day, we picked up Chrissy's sister, Judy and went to lunch. After, we decided to take a drive "up north" to the old neighborhood. By now you've heard of Ferguson, Missouri. Well, I grew up very near there. It is no longer a very nice place to be. This was the first apartment that Butch and I lived in when we got married in 1971.
Nothing fancy, but the price was right---$110. a month.
This was us back then. In fact, we celebrated 44 years together this week.

We continued our drive---went by Spanish Lake, Aunt Stella's house, St. Aloysius Church and school and our old house. The whole area is pretty run down. 
It saddened me to see signs like this all over. In fact, in hindsight, we probably should not have been driving around there. Thankfully, we were not victims of a random shooting. On the other hand, I think most of the thugs were busy in Ferguson!

It was a busy few days, but so much fun. I got to spend a lot of time with Aunt Marie (my purpose for going) and I got to see Mary, Mary and their kids too. Aunt Marie went to lunch with us one day. She has good days and bad. I feel so bad for her. She's only 81, but takes a lot of medicine for different ailments. The sad part about it is that she is one woman who did everything right in her life---watched what she ate and was always active---even playing golf until about 2 years ago. She's slowing down. She thinks her medicine is what's causing it and I have to agree. Still, I was happy to be with her. She told me so many stories of her childhood and my great-grandparents from Italy. I had no idea there were skeletons in the closet! She exposed some of them---so interesting. Ahhh, but those are another post!

I'm so grateful that Chrissy drove me all over! Thanks for that---and to her husband, Steve, for letting her devote the week to me! 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Things I Bought

Here's a little glimpse of my purchases:
I've been needing another tea cosy, so planned to buy one while there. We were given Lady Canarvon's book---I bought the Downton Abbey one.
Just because you can never have too much tea. The little red tins are actually tea bags---but I loved the tins. I do actually use tea bags when I travel---like to scrapbook retreats or anywhere we are cooking our own food. Too much trouble to do anything else. Okay, so maybe I'm not quite the tea snob I think I am!
 This time, rather than the normal black teas I buy from Twinings, I decided to try a few whites. I had the Darjeeling this morning---really good!
 My Starbucks mug on the right.
 This is my pre-planned souvenir from Selfridge's.
And finally, a new china teapot. I'm already planning a Christmas tea. I'll show my friends what a proper tea looks like!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Travel Lessons Learned

1. When you order local currency from your bank, make sure you pay attention and actually GET local currency. I'm sure that's tip #1 in "Traveling for Dummies."

2. Just because you are visiting a country known for their tea, don't take it for granted that you will actually get it!

3. When you buy bottled water, make sure it says "still" on the label. I only had to make that mistake once.

4. Whenever you are in a situation where no one else is around---you are doing something wrong!! Whether it's walking down a still escalator or walking down a pedestrian path looking for a boat dock---if no else is walking there, you are going the wrong way!!

5. Hand sanitizer is your best friend.

6. Your most comfortable shoes are only comfortable for five minutes. Try standing for hours on buses or in the tube---I'm telling you---five minutes.

7. I still "have" it! When I was young, cute and clueless, I could get anyone to help me---young guys or old guys. Now that I'm older, chubby and helpless, the young guys are still willing to help me. And believe me---that's not a bad thing!! Don't even bother with the old guys.

8. Just because your destination on the tube is listed on the wall---that does NOT mean a tube will show up with that name on it! Sometimes you have to get there via another tube. Luckily I used #7 to get the information I needed.

9. Showering at night makes your hair all "wonky" the next day. But I can't go to bed "dirty!"

10. Even when everything goes wrong that can possible go wrong, I can still have a good time!

Friday, August 14, 2015

I Never Knew...

I'd have so much trouble having a proper tea in England! I love tea---that's no secret. I make a pot every morning---from loose---no bags for this girl.

When I travel, I love to have high tea. I've had tea at The Plaza in New York City, The Drake Hotel in Chicago and other little places here and there. There aren't that many places that do it. We don't have a single place in Nashville. Butch is really good about finding tea rooms for me.

4 years ago when we were here, in England, Butch went with me for his first and only high tea. We were staying at this boutique hotel in the Cotswolds. It was delightful and delicious. Butch even enjoyed it---although at one point he asked, "What exactly is "clotted cream?" Sidenote---Mindy would not touch anything with the word "clotted" in it. She's funny about words and what they describe in her mind---"congealed" is another. Anyway, later, Butch surprised me by seeking out Twinings Tea for me. I was blown away. This is the original location from the 1600's.
The shop is long and narrow. The upper walls are lined with portraits of the Twining ancestors dating back to the beginning. The lower walls are lined with shelves to house the many teas. In the back, they have tastings. Visiting here was one of the three things on my list for this trip. I walked there the very first day with my friend. Tea purchase---check.

On to my story.

Who would have thought that I'd have so much trouble having a proper tea this time?? My first two days here, there simply was not time to seek out a place for tea. The day we got to Bath, I had planned to have tea instead of lunch. I found a cute little place, went in and was seated. When I requested "high tea," I was informed that they only serve it for two people. Bummer. Oh well, I had a sandwich instead---with iced tea. I had no idea when I ordered the iced tea that it was of the bottled variety. Bummer again. At home, I even make my iced tea from loose tea---it's the best!

As I was browsing around town in Bath, I came across this:

Since I had already eaten, I just ordered a pot of tea. I sat outside and people watched. Very enjoyable and the tea was delicious. I wasn't too worried because I definitely planned to have high tea at Highclere Castle (home of Downton Abbey).

The next day we went to Oxford:
 Bampton (where the village scenes from Downton Abbey are filmed):
 The church where Mary and Matthew got married---and Edith was stood up.
This is Mrs. Crawley's house.
and Highclere Castle. Karolyn, her sisters and I purposely did not have lunch along the way---we were planning high tea at Highclere. My plan was to make reservations as soon as we got there, then tour the house. The tour guide assured me that it wasn't necessary as they have three tea rooms. When we arrived, there were about 8 tour buses and a hundred cars. I was starting to feel a little panicky---like---would we really be able to have high tea? I wanted to put tea AHEAD of touring the castle. Once again, the tour guide assured me that we wouldn't have a problem. I may not have ever mentioned that I wanted "high" tea or a "full" tea. I think I just said tea.

I guess you can figure out where I'm going with this. Well, the tour guide was correct. We did not have any trouble having "tea!" It was just not "high" tea. Turns out you have to make advance reservations prior to even getting there for that! I have to admit, tears slightly sprang to my eyes, but I quickly made myself get over it.

Elizabeth had never had tea at all, so I ordered for us. We each got a scone and some clotted cream---a pre-packaged variety. Forget the sandwiches--they, too were pre-packaged in one of those plastic containers. I was so disappointed that the tea came in those little stainless steel pots like every restaurant in the states uses. And to add insult to injury---it was a friggin' tea BAG!!!

Tea is supposed to be a ceremony!! It's a relaxing situation with soft music playing in the background. Tea is silver trays and cutlery, a china teapot and china cups. Tea is fine linens---tablecloth and napkins.Tea is supposed to steep whilst (don't you love that English word?) you examine all the goodies on the artfully arranged tiered plate. Tea is at least an hour! Instead, we went through a food line, juggled all of our stuff to an outside tableclothless table. Immediately, we were under attack by honey bees. I don't mean a few, I mean dozens. We ended up putting our stuff back on to the tacky tray and moving in to a hot and humid tent.

Although this was not what I had in mind at all, the currant scone was very good and the pre-packaged clotted cream was good too. Still, I was disappointed not to have enjoyed a proper tea in England. Those opportunities just don't come along too often!

When I got home, before I even had a chance to tell Butch about my tea-less trip, he told me that he'd found a really nice tea room for me in Oregon! We're going there with Walter and Chris in a couple of weeks. Bless his heart!!! I never knew I'd just have to come back to the states to get a proper tea!

So what do you do in England when you can't get a proper tea?
You DRINK at the oldest pub in London---The Albert!
I had their signature drink. It was unusual, but good. I'm not really a huge drinker, but I like to try new things.
We ended our trip with a nice dinner at this pub. We witnessed a proposal---and the make-out session afterwards. The people were so very nice everywhere we went.

Despite all the crazy mishaps, it was a fabulous trip. Even if I knew my trip would be exactly like it was, I'd go back in a heartbeat. It's an incredible place and I'm so thankful I got to experience it again!

Oh, one last thing:
I might have had a lot of trouble, but I had no trouble minding the gap!