Feeling a little isolated lately? Don’t give up on your book club! Reading and discussing a great book together provides connection and mental stimulation. In a virtual format, it’s also a great excuse to close yourself up in your room with friends and a glass of wine! Lol. Book clubs can work nearly as well virtually as they do in person. In some ways, they can be even better! Give your book club a New Year’s Refresh with these ideas for injecting a little more fun, swag, and kinship, while still staying safe…
Every September our book club selects new titles for the year ahead. Selection night is usually accompanied by a potluck dinner at my house. We gather together, eat, drink, and present our book ideas. Then we choose what books to read for each month. This year, due to the pandemic, we had to meet via Zoom. It was still a fun night, and we are excited about the titles we have lined up for the coming year. If you’re curious about what we chose… here’s the list! Continue reading →
The past few months have been busy, with our fledglings sent home or visiting over the summer. Our Empty Nester lives have been all aflutter with family activities. Routines certainly change when all the chicks are home! One thing that remained consistent during these crazy times was our commitment to our serene summer walks.
I like to walk very early in the morning, when it is still cool and peaceful. There is a convenient walking path right near my home. Besides getting my steps and exercising the dogs, walking gives me time to think about the day ahead, and put worries or deadlines into perspective. I often think about loved ones who are still with us and those who have passed, and relive fond memories along the way.
Tina has a quiet residential loop by her home and a wooded path connecting to a neighboring community. Her walks happen later in the day, often when her husband (now working remotely) has a break in his meetings. For her, walks are a chance to connect with her husband, stay active – and make the blog dog ecstatically happy.
Though the purpose, place, and timing may be different, we both get a lot of pleasure from the serenity of our daily walks. Here are a few highlights from recent months…
Sunrises and Sunsets
I love the way the morning sun comes up over the trees and makes the fields sparkle with shimmers of dew on the leaves and spider webs. Tina is drawn to the golden glow that lights everything up just before sunset.
While stretches of our paths seem awash with weeds, a transformation occurs as the summer marches on. Unexpected pops of color and texture all get their time in the sun. These little surprises brighten our days…
Nature isn’t the only impressive gardener around. My path runs by one home in particular whose yard is a continual marvel to me. The time and energy they put into their gardens make for a very plentiful harvest and a beautiful space. I always wish my own vegetable patch would look that way.
Friends Along the Way
Sometimes we get lucky and encounter a few friends on our walks. They watch from the fields, peek out from the bushes, or just carry on about their business. Good thing our dogs are always on a leash!
On certain mornings there is a section of my route that becomes the “Game of Frogger,” as I try to steer clear of dozens of leopard slugs making their way across the path. Similarly, after a good rain, Tina’s trail through the woods sprouts an amazing variety of delicate mushrooms. Her mom has a fondness for woodland fungi, so she tries to capture them in photos before the blog dog tramples them.
A few times during the summer I was fortunate enough to watch a hot air balloon float by on a sunrise tour. So serene and peaceful… its occupants getting a bird’s eye view completely distinct from my own perspective. I wonder what features of the landscape catch their eye?
Our walks would not be complete without our furry beasts by our sides. There are certain areas they always need to wander off to inspect, mark, and take a sniff or two. They enjoy greeting or growling at other pedestrians and pooches that we happen upon in our travels. Every outing is a source of fascinating new adventures! They are our personal trainers and our inspiration – for exercise, attentiveness, and knowing when to take a break…
Now that fall is upon us, the daylight hours are getting shorter and colder. Our walking schedules are adapting accordingly. The scenery changes with the season as well. Pennsylvania foliage adds its own vibrant pallet of colors. Do you often take walks? We hope that you, too, are taking time to appreciate all the little moments that make each one special.
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After a long hiatus, we’re back with a new post! Our empty nests aren’t so empty these days, what with husbands and one of the nestlings back underfoot. Our routines are all akimbo, and it’s harder to meet up in person… But we’re zooming as I type, and we’re motivated, because this post is time sensitive! Hopefully this will jumpstart a return to a more regular schedule of blogging. We’ve got plenty of ideas starting to pile up from all our time at home!
Cass and I have put together a couple of “Book Club in a Basket” ¹ raffle items in the past for the Christopher Court Foundation. Those baskets revolved around food, drink and props related to the featured book – to add a little spice to a club meeting! For 2020, the challenge was to assemble a basket that’s more friendly to virtual gatherings. What better way to safely reconnect with friends and family than by hosting a video chat to discuss a terrific novel? We set to work creating a “Book Club Starter Basket” to benefit a local non-profit organization called the Penn Foundation.² It’s our attempt to take the Continue reading →
One thing many of us are dabbling in during the Covid-19 lockdown is home cooking. Maybe we have to substitute a few ingredients, since we can’t run out willy-nilly to the grocery store every other day. Personally we’re getting much better at planning our meals ahead of time, so that our once-weekly (or less) shopping can go the distance between trips. We’re also getting good at searching for recipes online that use ingredients we already have on hand. For this month’s Cheep Trills, we decided to share some of our favorite recipes from our quarantined kitchens… Some are easy, some more elaborate, but all are tasty if you’re looking for a little inspiration for next week’s menu… Hope you enjoy!
From the Sea…
Tuna Kabobs (Cass)
Thisshish kabob marinadecan be used for any kind of cubed meat/seafood you wish to “kabob”: chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, or our favorite – tuna steaks. Mix up the marinade, add your choice of protein, and let it sit for three to four hours in the fridge. An hour before you want to assemble the kabobs, cut up your vegetables and add them to the marinade, too. Let sit. We usually use a red onion, peppers, and mushrooms in ours. Skewer your marinated meat and vegetables and lay directly on the grill rack. We use the leftover marinade to baste the kabobs as they grill. Once they’ve cooked, we like to disassemble it all into a large bowl, so people can pick out the goodies they wish to eat. Continue reading →
Since I have some extra “at home” time due to the Coronavirus, I decided to tackle the three plastic totes full of old pictures and photo albums from my parents and grandparents. I have two siblings, so I wanted to divide up the photos between all of us. That meant figuring out what photos I needed scanned, so that we each have copies of these precious family memories. It also meant figuring out how to extract photos from damaging old albums, in order to better preserve them. And that was a project worth chirping about all by itself!