What I Did On My Vacation

Taking a few weeks away from blogging was a good thing for me to do, and gave me time to think about how I want to do things going forward to avoid burnout, and make sure writing stays a pleasurable activity for both me and my readers.

I managed to keep busy with a few things during my time off:

  • Our daughter-in-law called me the Sunday before Thanksgiving and asked if I’d like to go along with her and K to World Market. A sensible Laura would have said no because I don’t know of a store that has more temptations to spend on than that one does (it’s the most dangerous store ever for me), and I always buy more than I intend when I walk in. However, Brett said I should go so I promised I would be careful, or as careful as possible. I somehow got out of there with just four bags of stuff, including a throw pillow and warm thrown for the sofa, but I also came home with a chair – never saw that coming. I kept walking back to look at it, loved the armless style and fabric pattern, and thought it would look good with our sofas. I finally looked at the tag and discovered it was on clearance for 50% off so . . . I sent Brett a picture and asked what he thought and he said get it! We now have a super comfortable, sturdy, and stylish chair that provided some much needed additional seating at Christmas. And with the addition of our new print, our home feels “complete.” (Our DIL liked it so much she almost got one too!)
  • I got my hair cut. I loved my curls, but they are not simple or inexpensive to maintain so I went to a barbershop and got my hair cut short-short again. I got a great cut (barbershops are all about grooming versus just style) for less than half of what I would have paid at a salon.
  • I attended a Nashville Symphony Orchestra “Home Alone” concert with M and K (K’s new “favorite movie ever”). We watched the movie on a big screen in the auditorium while the orchestra played the soundtrack below – it was fantastic! Since one of us still has to stay home with Kaipo, Brett stayed with him that day, but I watched him when Brett went with them another weekend to see the ice exhibit and all the Christmas decorations at the Opryland hotel.
  • Our very good friend Denise came through Tennessee on her extended road trip and we had a grand time catching up before it was time for her to be on her way again. We had dinner at our place and the next day Denice and I explored historic downtown Franklin. Both of us were grateful to have our dogs along (she has two!) as they limited us to window shopping only. We were able to snag an outdoor table at the Irish pub across the street from the historic Franklin theater and enjoy a delicious lunch there.
  • I tried three new recipes in November and December: pumpkin lasagna, easy dulce de leche, and an amazing apple pie that we had at both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Recipes will be coming up in the next few weeks!
  • Brett and I hiked at the nearby Marcella Vivrette Smith Park – there are four well-marked trails through the woods and fields – and we walked around historic the Ravenswood Mansion which is located there as well. The mansion, built in 1825 for the Wilson family, is currently used an an event site (weddings, etc.) so no tours were available of the interior, but the home and several exterior buildings have been well preserved. As I’ve said before, I’m not much interested in plantation homes unless slavery is discussed right up front, and the write-up of Ravenswood does not shy away from it.
  • I read several books, and brought my total books read for the year to 58! I ended the year with several new books on hold at the library, so those will be interspersed while I reread other books throughout the year.
  • We did a big stock-up on toiletries for 2023 throughout December, buying (hopefully enough) shampoo, shave cream, shower gel, moisturizer with SPF 55, body cream, razor and blades, toothpaste, deodorant, mouthwash, and dental floss to get us through the year. We also wanted to buy vitamins but they go on sale this month at Costco so we we’ll pick those up this month. The bath bombs are for when K spends the night with us. I got a big Target gift card for Christmas and as we honestly don’t need another thing for the apartment I’m going to use some of it to stock up on tissues and toilet paper.
  • I applied for a job at our nearby Trader Joe’s. I am having some second thoughts about it, especially with our grandson staying in Tennessee and having to fit in his new school schedule with K’s, but I haven’t heard anything from TJ’s either, so will just wait and see what happens.
  • I had fun making a special Christmas “Cocoa Bar” for our son and family that I took over to them a few days before Christmas. I found two big red mugs at Goodwill last fall for the grandkids, and along with a container of Cadbury drinking chocolate added miniature peppermint marshmallows, double chocolate marshmallow spoons, and vegan cocoa sticks from Trader Joes, a box of big peppermint (stir) sticks and snowflake marshmallow toppers from World Market. I was planning to arrange everything in a basket but found the cute wooden “Cocoa Bar” box at Target’s dollar market at the front of the store for less than a basket would have cost.
  • We signed up for a new travel card and earned enough miles for a free trip to Mexico (in 2024). YaYu wants to see San Miguel de Allende and asked us to go along with her and now we can . . . for free!
  • Preparations for our big family gathering kept both Brett and I busy throughout much of December, and the actual time everyone was here was crazy but wonderful, especially after Southwest cancelled the girls’ and KN’s flights home. We still had an absolutely perfect family gathering for Christmas and we all said we’d like to do it again next year – WenYu has suggested maybe at her home in Massachusetts!

Thank you again for the time away from the blog – it was necessary but I feel ready to get back to it again.

26 thoughts on “What I Did On My Vacation

  1. I loved your chair, and you’re right, it’s a great finishing touch to your room, and so comfy! It was great to see you both, and spend time catching up. I really want to go back to Franklin at Christmas without the dogs ha ha ha!!!

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    1. The chair was a favorite when everyone was over – two could sit on it if necessary!

      The “kids” spent an afternoon walking around Franklin, loved it, and even bought a few things. We have been advised to visit the spice shop (which I don’t remember seeing, but it’s there).

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    1. I am glad to be back. The time off was needed to figure out a few things, and just for a general rest, but I found out fairly quickly that I missed writing.

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    1. Thanks, Jan! I am going to keep going. Not sure of the direction things will go for now as it looks like we’ll be in Tennessee for another couple of years, but I tell myself the blog will find its direction.

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    1. That’s what I thought when I first saw it, that it would be a perfect fit for our living room! It took me three trips around the store and the knowledge it was half off before I actually considered buying it though. Funny story – the sales associate didn’t want to sell me the chair though because “it was their only one left.” She called the manager who gave her a look and told her to sell it.

      I am happy to be blogging again as well.

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  2. So glad you’ve decided to continue blogging! It sounds like you’ll have a lot of interesting activities coming up to write about.

    I know what you mean about World Market. There used to be one near me but it closed during COVID, which was disappointing, but also better for my bank account. They have a lot of interesting things in there from all over the world. Their website is also pretty good and I’ve ordered some things from there, but I do miss browsing in person. The chair you found looks great!

    About TJ’s, I read an article last month that said they are no longer letting people work less than 3 days a week. No idea how accurate it is, but just wanted to mention it. This is a link: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2022/dec/01/trader-joes-work-schedule-part-time-employees-minimum-days-policy

    Looking forward to the recipes!

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    1. I certainly stayed busy during my vacation and the time passed quickly. It was a productive break in many ways. I took notes, but mostly reflected on what I enjoyed about writing, maintaining a blog, and what things I could change to make it a better experience for me and my readers.

      I honestly don’t think Trader Joe’s will work out if they do call me. Brett and I will be juggling two different schedules for the grandkids and I’m not sure how we’d squeeze in a shift at TJ’s. Plus, with all the activity over the holidays I found myself tiring out more quickly than usual at times, so not sure if I could cut eight hours on my feet any more.

      Super easy dulce de leche recipe will be up next week!

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  3. Great to read and see what you’ve been up to! That chair is really cute and fits your room well. My mom had a set of armless chairs when we were young…she found them at some rich couple’s garage sale and we used them for years. Armless chairs are so practical. I’m tempted to look for one, but I don’t know where I would put it. Ha!

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    1. We love that chair! Our DIL gave me a gift cerficate from Crate & Barrel and I got a lovely black & white throw pillow and was able to move another one to the chair so now we really are set! I love how the living room has come together – it’s very comfortable.

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      1. Crate & Barrel is one of my favorite stores ever. I just wish I lived closer to one. I have to drive two hours+ in either direction to get to one. Probably safer though. 😂

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      2. I have always love C&B as well – the duvet cover on our bed here comes from there. It’s so cheery! (Our old one was gray, and we’d had enough of gray). I had a hard time decided whether I’d rather have a throw pillow or something for the kitchen, but remembered we have no room for anything in the kitchen right now so the pillow won out!

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    1. The chair saw a lot of use while everyone was here – it was very popular, and at times at two sitting on it!

      I had a lot of fun with the cocoa bar, and I found some fun, inexpensive items to pull it together. Our son is vegan, so the cocoa sticks worked for him, plus he could stir with the peppermint sticks for some mint cocoa – his favorite flavor.

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  4. Welcome back to writing. Glad you find value in doing something I have enjoyed reading for years!

    Love when “the kids” get established enough to ask to travel with you. Your travels have been amazing. Establishing great memories of travel with your children seems to be a logical next step.

    I am excited to hear how your grandson settles into school. I bet he is relieved not to have to do the exams. The US, even in our private schools, has such a different approach.
    Our daughter, currently, is looking at another school for our middle grand. She sighs and wishes I could be closer for all the moving around. You are wise and generous to make yourselves available.

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    1. Getting our grandson adjusted to the realities of living in the U.S. is going to take a while. Yesterday he asked his mom if she could drop him off at the theater (alone) to see a movie. We had to explain that while that’s OK in Japan (safe) it was not something he could do here. Thankfully we (DIL and us) will be taking and picking him up from school each day, but he’s going to find life in the US far more restrictive than it was in Japan.

      YaYu’s request to visit SMA with us was a surprise, but we’re planning to go next year whether she goes or not. WenYu is thinking of coming as well – she wants to check out the art institute.

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  5. I’m looking forward to hearing about your new recipes. My cooking has fallen into a deep rut lately and new ideas will be appreciated!

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    1. I don’t think any of my recipes is going to be very exciting, especially since I don’t cook all that much any more, but I don’t want to get into a rut – something new once a month should do the trick!

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  6. New follower here. I am VERY happy and grateful that you decided to keep blogging. I discovered you in October and was instantly hooked. I went back and read most of your past postings and was eager to follow your thoughts as you get more settled into Nashville. Your posts on how/why/where to move are especially thought-provoking and have sparked some intense conversations with my DH. You have an absolutely lovely family. THANK YOU for continuing!

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    1. Thank you for writing, Marjie and thank you for following! The long break I took really helped me to get my mind back in order about the blog. I’m still not sure the direction it will take over the next couple of years but hopefully, as in the past, things will sort themselves out.

      We change our minds so many times deciding what to do and where to go, but the process works for us because we eventually get to the right place. It’s kind of crazy though all the things we were sure we would do, or the placed we were sure we would go!

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  7. Love the chair! Your living room looks very comfortable and cozy. World Market can be a mine trap for me as well….. fortunately, after we moved a couple years ago, it’s further away and we don’t go to that side of town as much anymore.
    Curious question about the puppy…. does he not do well in a crate while you are gone for a short while or you just don’t like to use a crate?
    Glad you’re back to the blog and look forward to following along whenever you decide to post.

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    1. World Market has *always* been a dangerous store for me – so many fun things (the food section is my favorite). The chair finishes off the room nicely – we have no regrets about it at all.

      Kaipo goes into his crate willingly at night and sleeps throughout the night. However, for him it’s a place only for nighttime and not for during the day (because he goes most places with us during the day), so when we have to crate him in the daytime he’s quite unhappy about being in there. Combined with his current propensity to chew/destroy everything, we’re lucky there’s anything left when we get home. It’s one of our goals for the new year, to get him accustomed to being in the crate for short periods during the day as well as sleeping there at night.

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