Thursday, October 30, 2014

October Is My Favorite Month

I have always felt like October is the perfect month here in Texas.  It is still warm, for sure, but you can feel the change in the air.  There are also a lot of activities during October and we participated in a couple.  Here are some photos from our adventures.  These photos were taken at Hall's Pumpkin Farm in Grapevine,  St. Gregory the Great School in San Antonio, Texas and some local spots in San Antonio.  Thanks to our kids for inviting us to tag along on their adventures.

Hall's Pumpkin Farm

So Many Pumpkins!

Picking out a pumpkin requires deep thought

The Hay House -- Achoo!

This was my favorite pumpkin but it didn't come home with me

St. Gregory the Great Catholic School -- San Antonio

The gym


drink booth

Courtyard between classroom wings
Kiddie Park -- San Antonio, Texas

Miscellaneous San Antonio

Really good independent coffee shop in Alamo Heights

Great hot chocolate

So, that was pretty much October for us -- hate to see it end!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I Have a Pen Pal!

When I was a child we received a publication in school called Weekly Reader.  There was a section in each issue for pen pals -- children across the world that would like to write to someone.  I was always intrigued by this activity and I tried but nobody ever wrote me back.  Well, now I have a real pen pal and she writes back!

Recently Elizabeth at Cornish Cream decided to organize a pen pal scheme for any of her readers that would like to participate.  I signed up immediately and after a few days I received an email from Elizabeth giving me the address of the lady she paired me up with.  I was excited so I sat down and wrote a letter -- a real letter -- right away.

This past Saturday I received my letter from my pen pal and I was thrilled.  Elizabeth did a great job pairing us up as we have so many things in common.  Her letter was lovely, she was very friendly and seemed very interested in having a pen pal as well. 

My pen pal's name is Mary and she is from the UK.  We have read each others blogs so we know a bit about each other already.  Mary is very thoughtful and has decided to give one of my favorite authors a try so she is reading "Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good" by Jan Karon.  I am currently reading this as well so I am anxious to see what she thinks of it.  We seem to like the same hobbies and are both fans of M. C. Beaton's character Agatha Raisin.

I think Elizabeth's idea of a pen pal is a great idea.  However, it has been a long time since I have written real letters and the process is so different than dashing of a quick email or a facebook comment.  It takes thought and time which I think is wonderful.  I think our lifestyles have made it too easy to scratch the surface of friendships -- with a real letter you have to sit down and concentrate on what you are doing to communicate well with another person.  I have found my handwriting has changed as well.  Since I don't write as often I feel like I have forgotten how.  My first letter to Mary I actually printed because I can't write longhand anymore -- my hand cramps up and it becomes illegible almost immediately.  The printing was better but oh my goodness I didn't expect that!  Hopefully I won't be printing forever but I am afraid I am going to have to actually practice longhand again.  Who knew!??

I just wrote my second letter to Mary tonight and it will go out in tomorrow's mail.  I am anxious to see what she thinks about the book and I am very interested in her Christmas projects.  I think she will be very inspiring and make me want to be more creative than I have been of late.

So, I am very excited at the prospect of making this new friend and going back to doing things "old school" because I think it is important.  This exercise has just shown me that while technology is great we can't lose the skills that we used to have.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fall Has Indeed Fallen!

The mornings have been quite lovely, the afternoons warm enough to be enjoyable and the evenings have been slightly crisp.  I just love October -- it is my favorite month of the year -- well, except for December.   I think I especially love the colors.  So, with that, I would like to share a few photos from our yard.  We don't have a huge amount of fall coloring but what we have is lovely.

The berries on the hollies are abundant and beautiful -- shiny little orbs ranging from yellow to deep red.  I am surprised the birds haven't taken them all

The salvia still growing strong -- still looks springy in it's lovely purple hue
The crabapple tree in a blaze of glory
Not in the garden, of course, but I had to include a photo of the pumpkin bread I made this week! It was yummy!

So, that is what fall looks like at Casa Brinkley- I will take photos of the pear trees when they change but they really aren't too spectacular -- they become a lovely yellow and within a day all the leaves are on the ground -- but I won't neglect to share them as well when the time comes.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Musing Mondays is hosted by Miz B at  This meme gives readers the opportunity to discuss all aspects of their reading experience.

Lately I have been reading the Agatha Raisin mystery series by M. C. Beaton.  The books are about a 50-something Agatha Raisin, retired PR firm owner, who has moved to the Cotswolds to enjoy quiet, village life.   Her life, however, has been anything but quiet.  When she first arrived she had quite an adjustment to village life as compared to her busy life in London.  She made an effort to involve herself in village events which proved to be a disaster.  She angered people and she was annoyed by almost everybody -- except her next door neighbor, James Lacey.  As time has gone on and the series has progressed she has made friends, she has settled into the rhythm of the village, she has acquired cats and she has managed to lose her cottage -- but in the latest "episode" that is being resolved.

I guess whenever we read we have a mental picture of the characters and when I think of Agatha Raisin I see a thinner -- but not too thin -- Dawn French.  I know there is a tv series currently being filmed based on this series and the actress is definitely not Dawn French but I will always think of her when I read these books. 

The books have gotten mixed reviews on Goodreads.  I think they are the sort of thing that you either like or you don't.  Well, I do.  They are short which is great because I can sandwich one or two between longer reads, they are engaging which is a necessary attribute and they are, in a word, entertaining and, in my opinion, that is why I read for the most part, to be entertained.

I would recommend these books to anybody who likes mysteries.  My only suggestion is that you start with the first book as they do build on each other.

Happy reading!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sad Day

Yesterday was a sad day.  I had a falling out with a family member.  It was over nothing -- a meaningless subject.  Somebody's temper flared -- not mine -- and somebody was yelling at me in all caps on the computer.  Somebody was issuing orders to me about what I could and could not talk about.  Somebody flopped his/her big foot into my personal space.

A year and a half ago I had a health "adventure" and I decided then to make a few changes in my life.  I decided to eat healthy and clean -- something I am still working on due to the call of the muse cookie.  I decided to get more sleep. I decided to live a more natural life, get rid of plastic, let my hair grow, give up makeup, quit striving to aspire to the "expected" and quit being a sheep. I decided to quit worrying about things I couldn't change. I decided to do what I wanted to do and not what other people expected me to do.  I am 64 years old and have spent the majority of my life doing what others wanted/needed/expected or just demanded. It was time for me. 

Part of that, unfortunately, means getting rid of toxic people.  Now, by that I mean toxic to me.  One lesson we learn as children is that "not everybody is going to like everybody else".  Sometimes people just don't click.  That doesn't mean that they aren't good people or wouldn't be a good "friend" fit for others -- just not me.

So, I have a family member that I have never met face to face but we have a phone/email relationship and have had for years.  This person finds it perfectly appropriate to tease me about my age mercilessly.  This person also finds it acceptable to let me know that my place of residence (Texas) is substandard as a dwelling place because of the climate.  This person can't let it go.  It is constant and never-ending. If I say something that this person doesn't agree with -- which is a lot -- I am bombared by demands in all caps -- the computer version of yelling.

Yesterday a benign conversation about safes turned into a screaming match and I was appalled.  The conversation included the name of a popular talk show host that this person seems to have strong negative feelings about and I mentioned the name.  The family member went ballistic.  At this point I thought about my new "rules" for myself -- no toxic people.

Family member went on a verbal rampage telling me that when he/she says to stop talking about something I better stop and that  my conversations are too pushy.  So, I decided to relieve said family member's misery and I have departed from the conversation -- now and forever.

Unreasonable?  Probably but my goal is to keep my stress levels down and I didn't understand all the concern about a talk show host who I don't even listen to because I am not a fan and even if I was I don't have time! I didn't like being yelled at and ordered about.  I am a gentle person who feels that everybody has a right to an opinion -- even me -- and my opinion is that I don't like being yelled at or bossed around.

I understand that this person has health issues as well and a lot of physical pain.  For that, I am sorry but again, I also don't enjoy being on the receiving end of so much anger.  I don't feel it is good for me. So, I wish this person well but I have to take care of myself and reducing my stress level is part of it and if that doesn't set well, I apologize.  

Jumping off soap box now.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Boo!  Yes, I know, Halloween is still more than two weeks away but our weather changed and it feels SO FALL! I love it! It is cloudy and windy and just grumpy outside -- so spooky like!

Ok, enough of that.

I have never been huge in the decorating department for any holiday.  I like decorations, I like looking at decorations, I like the atmosphere that decorations impart.  I do not, however, like the hefty price tags on ready made decor (or for the components to craft lovely handmade items)  and even more, I don't like having to put it all away with so little storage space as I have.  So, I am a minimalist decorator.  However, this year I added a couple of things and thought I would share.

My header shows the small decorations outside my front door.  My front door is inside a wall with a gate and the area is more courtyard- like so I like to keep things uncluttered.  Some of us are clumsy normally, a condition that doesn't improve with age, so I try to keep the fall/stumble/trip risk to a minimum. 

Moving indoors, I would never do anything major for a holiday such as Halloween but I do like adding a few fall touches just to warm up the space.  This is what I add to liven things up -- not much for sure but just enough for me.

This little guy has been around since my kids were little. He is very cheerful.

Decided to dress up the table with new placemats - they reverse to Thanksgiving so I will share that later

Trying out a bit of a banner on the mantel -- I might do this again for Thanksgiving and Christmas -- depends on my available time

This cute clear glass pumpkin was purchased last year -- it is small and almost sparkly

So, there is my interior decoration.  I might add a bit to it if I run into something really cute but if I do, it will be autumn inspired and not Halloween -- I like things I can use to span the entire season because as I said -- putting the stuff away is not my idea of a fun time!

Happy Fall!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

It's a Mystery

Somebody help me -- please!  My name is Melissa and I am an addict.  It seems I have become addicted to mystery stories and I just can't help myself.

When I was growing up I was a voracious reader.  It was the safest thing for me to do since I was hopelessly accident prone and not athletic at all.  I danced but, the truth of the matter is, walking was sort of a challenge for me some days so I tended to stay with quiet activities like school work, handwork, and reading.  However, I was never interested in mysteries. I was a member of the Nancy Drew Book Club and I have to say my mother and my aunt thoroughly enjoyed those books --- I, however, did not -- until now.

I don't know where my interest in mysteries has come at my advanced age unless I am channelling my mother and she is interested in what I am reading.  However, over the last couple of years, my interest in mystery books has exploded.

It all started with the Aunt Dimity series which I am well into although I am giving it a rest right now.  Then, I read a bit of Nancy Drew which was good fun although a little dated.  Now I have stumbled upon the Agatha Raisin series by M. C. Beaton.  All of these are wonderful little books -- none very long and all very quick reads.

I just finished my fourth Agatha Raisin mystery -- "The Dembly Walkers" and it was delightful.  In addition to the actual mystery, you have the ongoing quasi-romance of Agatha and her neighbor James Lacey.  In this installment the romance becomes -- well, you will just have to read it to find out.

I have already downloaded book #5 and look forward to the appearance of Agatha's husband -- thought long dead -- at a very inconvenient time.

The covers of the books are very nice and here is what I have read so far.  I have them on my Nook but being the collector I am, I see me buying the physical books for my ever growing collection.

Won't you join me in reading these great little books?


Saturday, October 04, 2014

Planning, Planning, Planning

Earlier this year I needed a planner but I needed it at an odd time of the year and not many were available  so I did some research on making my own, found a tutorial using a Moleskine and I set about DIY-ing a planner.

It has worked really well but it is bulky and heavy.  As I have gotten -- ahem -- older, I have discovered that heavy bags aren't my friend so I have started "downsizing" what I carry in a bag. 

So, because of that I started looking for a lighter weight yet flexible planner.  I don't have a lot to plan -- just keeping up with birthdays, little trips, dr. appts., that sort of thing so my needs are simple.  I googled "smaller planner" and went to the first option that came up --

This is such a cute site! So many  cute things to choose from! I mean, this like San Rio for adults! I chose this option for the planner --

It is dateless and the calendar squares are decent sized.  It is VERY plain which suits me just fine.  It is lightweight which suits me even more. It was a decent price which cinched the deal for me.  I am looking forward to getting it. I hate giving up my moleskine planner because there is a lot of room for lists and such but I think this will be a better option.  However, if you are in the market for something a little less utilitarian, they have many patterned things and all sorts of accessories and things. 

Speaking of downsizing your purse -- maybe I should say "downweighting" your purse, I recently changed wallets as well.  I have any number of wallets from leather to fabric, big, little, strapped -- all sorts.  They are all either too small, too large, too heavy, hold to much, don't hold enough -- can't find the perfect wallet.  However, I might have come close with this --

It is the Big Skinny wallet and I bought it at Office Depot.  It is nylon, it is weightless, it is stuffable -- it is actually working very well for me.  Mine isn't teal, though -- mine is red so I can see it.

I was looking at the pouches on the mochithings website and might look into some lightweight nylon makeup bags and stuff like that.  While I don't carry a lot, I do like to carry some things so maybe I can lighten the load a little more.