Welcome to the End of Month Musings, Leap Year edition! Even though February is the shortest month of the year, we still managed to get a few things done. Between a dining room upgrade, a new product discovery, reading, and some fun celebrations, it was a good month. Here are some of the highlights, starting off with the most exciting news ever...

Can it be true? This month it was announced that Downton Abbey is quietly and secretively in production for Season 7! Since the show went off the air in 2016, I have missed the Crowley’s so much. Even with the release of two Downton Abbey movies during those ensuing years, it wasn’t the same as the weekly drama of the upstairs downstairs cast of characters many of us grew to love. In case you can’t tell, a Season 7 is exciting news for me!

Celebrating milestone events – The month started off with granddaughter Cassidy’s 19th birthday on the 1st, and she and I celebrated with lunch at a riverfront restaurant and some shopping. Even though she only lives a few blocks from us, with work, college and a boyfriend, we don’t see her as often as we did when she was little, so it was so fun to catch up and spend some girl time together.

Lunch with the birthday girl…

The following weekend, we were in Portland Oregon for another two grandchildren’s birthdays, Riley 18 and Tyson 17. We got to take granddaughter Riley out for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory (her pick) and hear about her exciting decisions for college next year, as well as her directorial accomplishments at her high school. We were able to attend Tyson’s lead performance as Percy Jackson in The Lightening Thief, put on by the Portland Children’s Theater. This was his first paid acting job, and he performed this role in front of schools from around the Portland area plus performances at the Newmark Theatre for several weeks. He did an amazing job, and we were so happy to see the play on his birthday! We ended the day watching the Super Bowl with our middle daughter, our oldest daughter, and her family. It was a great weekend!

Another birthday girl…she’s an adult!

This is grandson Tyson on the poster!

The month ended with another celebration as last weekend, we traveled to Schweitzer Idaho ski area for the 80th birthday party for our longtime friend Mel. He was a groomsman in our wedding years ago, and he and his wife Marsha are always fun to spend time with. The party was held at their ski resort B&B where we stayed that night, and with over 50 people in attendance, it was a very lively affair. I was tasked with serving the seafood lasagna, which was a great way to meet people as they came through the line. We headed for home earlier than expected the next morning so we could beat the 11 am storm warning that dropped a ton of snow on the area!

New coffee pods – Have you seen the new type of coffee pods? Instead of being all plastic, the bottom portion of the pods is a biodegradable mesh. And as luck would have it, they come in one of my husband’s favorite coffees, anything with macadamia nut flavoring. The box says they use 35% less plastic, and they are made on Kauai, both of which we love. Even though I don’t drink coffee, I make my husband a pot of coffee each weekday morning and on the weekends, he uses the Keurig. It is nice to see that in addition to reducing the use of plastic bags and straws, coffee pod manufacturers are taking steps to make them more environmentally friendly as well. These were purchased at WinCo but are most likely available at other retailers or online.

This drawer keeps all of the pods organized…

The mesh bottom reduces much of the plastic waste…

Dining room refresh – After having our dining room set for 7 or 8 years, the seat cushions were not looking great. They came with a very light cream-colored sateen fabric, which of course, stained very easily. The fabric was just too precious for me, so in an effort to rectify these issues, I went in search of new fabric. I found a durable stripe at JoAnn’s which contained all of the colors I wanted and had a nice hand to it in a velvety chenille. My husband took off the chair seats and we took the seats and fabric to our local upholsterer. In less than a week, they were finished and reinstalled on the chairs. It is hard to tell from the pictures, but one of the colors in the stripe picks up so nicely with the wood tone of the chairs, which was just a happy accident. These new cushions were such an improvement in color and style and have gone a long way in my continued effort to take some of the “formal” out of our formal dining room.

These were too light, too formal and too stained…

Such an improvement!

Plant Hospital – If you look carefully in the photo above, you can see some plants on the windowsill in our dining room. In what I refer to as my plant hospital, it is mostly orchids and other small plants, that thrive all winter in this southern exposure window. This morning, to my surprise, one of the orchid blooms had opened up, signaling a glorious sign of spring!

What I’m reading – I read two books this month, on opposite ends of the economic spectrum. The first one was called The Little Liar by Mitch Albom. It is about the holocaust, and in the beginning, I wasn’t sure if I could continue reading it, the subject matter and inhumanity was difficult to think about. But I stuck with it and very soon just couldn’t put it down. As the story followed four characters through this period of time, the mysteries and events that evolved for each of them were truly amazing. Highly, highly recommend.

The second one, The Social Graces by Renee Rosen, had been recommended by another blogger and is an historical fiction set during the Gilded Age. It mainly focuses on the feud between the Astor and Vanderbilt wives to dominate New York society, and a glimpse into their lives splitting their time between Newport, RI and New York City. I found this book interesting for many reasons, and yet very shallow and sad as well. But in the end, it represents a true snapshot in time, and when you look at what was important to the elite during this time, as well as the limited options women had during those years, it highlights how women have evolved since the late 1800’s.

Gift Baskets – This past week, I put together a couple of gift baskets for the annual Mission Auction at our church, which will be held March 2. This is a function that is a large fundraiser for our mission efforts not only locally, but on the global front as well. In addition to a couple of gift cards, I decided to do two gift baskets for people to bid on during the silent auction portion of the event. The first one is what I called the “Do Not Disturb” basket that contains a cute mug, candles, room diffuser and spray, a tin of tea, a notebook, napkins, and a chocolate bar, all contained in a new basket that can be reused around the house.

All of the ingredients for a quiet afternoon…

The second basket is what I called an Italian Dinner basket, which contained cute oil and vinegar containers, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, two types of pasta and two flavors of sauce. To finish it off, I added a bottle of 2020 Merlot from Waterbrook Winery in my hometown of Walla Walla. Layered in a new basket with metal handles, this basket should be a real crowd pleaser.

That pretty much sums up the highlights of February. I hope the month was good to you and the stirrings of Spring are upon you as we march into March!

Good tidings,

Diane

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