What Went Well

What Went Well

When I began this blog in 2015, one of my regular topics was “What Went Well” — an exercise in reflection, mindfulness, and gratitude. I don’t write those posts very often any more, but I try to feel grateful every day for the blessings in my life. And as today is Thanksgiving, the timing seems right!

While I’m at it, thank YOU, dear readers, for joining me in my musings! I’m grateful to have found such an interesting, kind group of people with whom to share some of my interests!

So, 2021. What a year — but better than 2020, for sure. 2020 ended on the hopeful note of successful vaccines, and 2021 brought our own eligibility to get vaccinated, which was a huge relief. All three of our young adult children followed in quick succession — also a huge relief, having nursed one daughter through COVID in 2020. She recovered quickly and well, but she was very sick for several days and that was scary. Our two daughters, who had moved home during lockdown, both started new jobs this year and moved out again, to share residences with roommates who were already friends of theirs. Their jobs are going well and they love living with friends! We love having them nearby.

All three kids faced real challenges from mid-2020 to mid-2021, including loss of jobs, loss of experiences like graduations and trips, loss of relationships/friendships. I’m proud of how they tapped into their own resilience and persistence to overcome those challenges, and asked for help bravely when they needed it; and I feel so thankful for their present happiness and good health. My dear husband finally got his long-awaited knee replacement, and he is making a great recovery. Progress is slow but steady, and he’s already looking forward to being able to do more with his rebuilt knee. Our house, which suffered a major plumbing disaster late last year resulting in major repairs for most of 2021, is back in good order — repaired, replastered, repainted. We are slowly moving furniture back into rooms, and even getting new curtains. We were able to use our dining room again for Thanksgiving today!

2021 started out with ongoing stress from 2020, but brought the opportunity to spend a couple of weeks this summer with my beloved father-in-law. On our drives north and then back south, we were able to visit some “bucket-list” destinations like Gettysburg and the Blue Ridge Parkway. It also brought several weddings, two of which had been delayed from 2020, including those of a dear niece and dear nephew. Another niece has just announced her engagement to her longtime, very nice boyfriend. It’s wonderful to be able to see all the young people in our extended family thriving as they truly enter adulthood.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! Thank you for reading this; I hope 2021 has brought you blessings, and I hope 2022 will too. I appreciate your presence here.

Perfume Chat Room, November 19

Perfume Chat Room, November 19

Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.

Thanksgiving table decorations
Thanksgiving decor; image from nemacolin.com

Today is Friday, November 19, and my thoughts have turned to Thanksgiving! It is one of my favorite holidays, because I love to cook and I love feeding my family. All our kids will be here. My husband and I both got our vaccine boosters within the last week, and now that we’re over the side effects (mostly a 24-hour period of sleeping and chills), we’re looking forward to a family gathering. It will be just the five of us, unless one of the kids brings home a friend. We haven’t traveled for Thanksgiving since our oldest child was born in November; all of our family live a plane flight away, and with two fulltime jobs and limited time off, it was always going to be too stressful and challenging to drag children through airports on the busiest travel days of the year here in the US.

After last year’s plumbing disaster and this year’s restoration of our house, we finally have a functioning dining room again! I’m excited to be able to celebrate the holidays properly once more. AND the new garden helpers I’ve hired have cleared out the massively overgrown summer vegetable garden, so I can now plant the cool season and winter vegetables in my raised beds. So those are my plans for the next week: cooking, gardening, enjoying my family. Oh, and a couple of days of work next week, but it should be very quiet as most students and faculty will take those days off.

Fragrance-wise, I haven’t been very adventurous lately, though I did succumb to a purchase of a dramatically reduced bottle of Aura. I quite like it, and I do love that green bottle. I would call it a strong like, not a love. I know many people are huge fans of Mugler fragrances — do you have any favorites?

Green bottle of Aura perfume
Aura, by Mugler; image from wwd.com.
Perfume Chat Room, November 5

Perfume Chat Room, November 5

Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.

Today is Friday, November 5, and I am remembering that it is Guy Fawkes Day in the UK! That only occurred to me because I was making sure I had today’s date right, and “Remember, remember, the Fifth of November” popped into my head. I’ve written here before that my late mother was English, so my childhood had an odd mixture of American and English books, stories, and traditions. Most American children probably never hear of Guy Fawkes Day! We never celebrated it, though.

This week also marked the launch of “Scent Semantics”, a fun collaboration between me and five other bloggers, organized by Portia (of Australian Perfume Junkies and A Bottled Rose). It’s a word game! I love word games.

This weekend, we in the US will set our clocks back an hour for the annual end of daylight savings time (“fall back, spring forward”). I don’t actually mind, because it was so dark this morning at 7:30 that I will prefer having that occur earlier, at 6:30. The weather has gotten downright chilly at night, quite suddenly, so it really feels like fall now. We’ve now entered the period that I used to call “the forced march” between Halloween and New Year’s Day, which was such an incredibly busy time when my children were small. From all the holidays beloved of children, to two family birthdays (one in November, one in December), to the end-of-semester work crunch, it all got a bit overwhelming at times. We simplified matters years ago when I decided we wouldn’t travel for Thanksgiving or Christmas, dragging three kids through crowded airports, especially since there were years when I was working right up to December 23.

Last year was so strange, though, even just celebrating at home as we always do — on top of the pandemic isolation, we had the plumbing disaster that damaged much of our living room, so it was off limits for celebrations of any kind. All three of our kids were living back at home, and one was recovering from COVID (she’s 100% fine now). There were unexpected outbursts of emotions on a regular basis, and the conflicts to be expected when five adults are living together in close quarters with limited outlets for interaction. Whew!

So I’m actually quite looking forward to this holiday season, with our house now almost fully restored to lovely order — repaired, replastered, repainted, refurbished. The young adults have been able to move out and relaunch, which makes them very happy. They live nearby, which makes ME very happy. My husband had a knee replacement almost three weeks ago, and he’s recovering very well, so he should be in great shape by Thanksgiving and thereafter.

He very sweetly suggested that I should pick out a really special perfume gift I’d like to have this Christmas, as a thank-you for all the care-giving and household tasks I’ve been handling since his surgery. Any ideas, perfume friends? What’s on your wishlist?

Guy Fawkes holiday, costume, gunpowder
Guy Fawkes Day; image from http://www.csmonitor.com
Perfume Chat Room, November 20

Perfume Chat Room, November 20

Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.

Today is Friday, November 20, and Thanksgiving is next week! Do you have any special plans, given that the CDC is strongly discouraging travel and large family gatherings? One friend of mine with young adult children who no longer live at home has rented a beach house for the week, with elaborate plans for home tests for COVID-19 and a few days of “podding” in quarantine with family meals taken outside. The young adults are traveling by car. If my children lived far away, this plan would tempt me! But two of mine live at home, and the third is at college close by (he’ll return home on Monday for the end of semester, including remote exams, and then for the duration of winter break, as his college won’t reopen until the last week of January.

Our Thanksgivings have mostly included just the five of us anyway (with an occasional friend in need of turkey), since both my husband’s family and mine are based in New England. With two fulltime jobs and three kids, it was never a holiday for which we were willing to travel, after moving South. And the weather here is often very beautiful at Thanksgiving — cool, crisp nights with clear, sunny days. I still have roses blooming!

It’s definitely the season for autumnal fragrances, though. I took out Clinique Wrappings yesterday, which really suited the weather. I’ve been wearing L’Ambre des Merveilles quite a bit, and different versions of Cabochard. What are your favorite autumn scents?

Lastly, what makes you thankful in this weird year of 2020? This blog started out as a way to practice more mindfulness (“Serenity Now”) and occasionally I have posted about “What Went Well“, a gratitude exercise. I’m thankful that my friends and family have mostly stayed safe and well; I’m thankful for one daughter’s recovery from COVID-19 after a relatively mild case; I’m thankful that my children are all here in the same city. I’m so thankful for the dedicated healthcare workers who are showing up every day to help the rest of us. And I’m thankful that so many people drop by this blog to read, whether or not you comment! Thank you!

Featured image from AARP.org; let’s hope they all use hand sanitizer, too!

What Went Well Wednesday

What Went Well Wednesday

I only do this occasionally now, but for a while on this blog I had a regular feature called What Went Well Wednesday. It was based on a gratitude practice also called Three Blessings, in which one lists three blessings, or three things that went well, and sometimes WHY they went well. The idea is to refocus one’s attention on what is going well in life and how that happened, including one’s own agency.

Tonight is Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving here in the US, so I’m counting my blessings.

  1. I am so thankful for my husband and three children, who are all happy, nice, healthy people; and I’m thankful that my children get along so well that they are currently out, just them, having a “sibling bonding” dinner and movie together. Because they are good people making good choices, becoming young adults who make us so proud!
  2. I am thankful for the rest of our extended families: siblings, siblings-in-law, nephews, nieces, and one elderly father-in-law, who is the only surviving parent of the original four parents of myself and my husband. Because they are also good people, doing good things in the world, living their best lives as best they can, living conscientiously in the world.
  3. I am thankful for the daily blessings of good health, a loving spouse, a pretty home, a garden to enjoy, a temperate climate, an interesting and well-paid job (even with its many challenges), the opportunities to keep learning, and the privilege and safety that come with being an American citizen.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who celebrate it, and blessings to all of you who don’t. I’m also thankful for all of you who do me the honor of reading this blog and offering your own thoughts here. What makes you thankful?

Fragrance Friday: Cranberry Chutney

Fragrance Friday: Cranberry Chutney

Like many of you, I’m sure, I spent most of yesterday (Thanksgiving) in the kitchen, happily cooking my way through a number of favorite recipes. One of them is a fragrant chutney I discovered a few years ago, made with cranberries and an excellent replacement for the ubiquitous cranberry sauce that lingers, uneaten, on too many Thanksgiving tables.

Cranberries are considered one of the quintessential Thanksgiving foods, probably because cranberries are native to North America and were known to have been eaten by the Native Americans, and by English settlers in North America as early as the first half of the seventeenth century, according to Martha Stewart. They are highly nutritious, a true superfood with a lot of nutrient bang for the caloric buck as they are low in sugar. However, traditional cranberry sauce recipes tend to add a lot of sugar to this otherwise healthy fruit. As a lover of Indian food, I was happy to find several different recipes for cranberry-based savory chutney; the version I make includes much less sugar, and one of my favorite spices/fragrances, cardamom.

Cranberry Chutney recipe (adapted from Food and Style):

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What Went Well

A banner week for What Went Well! I mean, it included Thanksgiving. Which is basically the whole point of What Went Well Wednesdays – to be mindful, and thankful, about the many blessings in one’s life. Even if we only describe “three blessings” per week. So here goes:

  1. My oldest came home from college for the long weekend and the whole house lit up with laughter, noise and happy bustle. Because she and her siblings are happy, cheerful young people who love each other and truly enjoy each other’s company.
  2. I did some serious gardening for the first time since breaking my arm this past summer! Because my arm is doing much, much better and I had groundcovers to get started between the flagstones of a new little patio. Not to mention daffodil bulbs, some of my favorite flowers. Now if I could only find some good lily of the valley pips …
  3. I got some Christmas shopping done early. Because my kids dragged me out on Black Friday but had enough mercy to avoid the mall and other horrors.
  4. And one extra, in honor of Thanksgiving: the turkey came out perfectly, and all the food tasted great. Because we are so fortunate to be able to enjoy the abundance of the earth.

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving! What are your “three blessings” for the week?

What Went Well

I normally post this on Wednesdays but this week I’m posting on Thanksgiving, as I’m feeling particularly thankful for all that went well this week.

  1. I had a lovely though melancholy visit with my aging mother, who suffered a stroke almost two years ago and has steadily declined in health since then. But she still knows who I and my sisters are and we enjoyed our time together. Because at the end, love is what matters. Period.
  2. My oldest child came home from college and the whole house lit up with laughter and noise. Because she and her two younger siblings love each other very much, despite occasional squabbles, and they are very affectionate with each other and with us. Joy!
  3. I found the perfect groundcovers to plant among and around the newly installed flagstone patio in the back garden. Just because.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all! Thanks for reading!