In familiar surroundings

There's no place like home -- mine, or yours.  Alexandria, May 2015

There’s no place like home — mine, or yours. Alexandria, May 2015

“As much as I love to travel and see new things, I’m also a homebody.  No matter how far I wander, I’m always eager to get back to my own nest.  There’s nothing quite as satisfying as the little surprises that can pop up in familiar surroundings.  I find a great deal of pleasure right in my own backyard – literally!” —  Alison Eads

Summer is a time we usually associate with vacations, but lately I hear frequent references to the “staycation” — enjoying one’s own home by taking quick day trips, hosting festive meals, or simply celebrating the charms of daily life.

Some of us are unable to travel as much as we might like, due to physical or financial limitations.  Others of us are finding travel more tiring than it used to be, which enhances the joys of remaining home during the summer.

If you are among those who will be home for most or all of this summer, I invite you to give yourself permission to bring some of the “escape” of travel into your living room or kitchen. Allow yourself extra hours for the things that refresh your soul.  Perhaps you can schedule time for crafts, decorating, visiting with friends, writing letters, or quiet reflection. Then follow that schedule as you would a vacation itinerary.

And by all means — if you take some “staycation” photos, send us a virtual postcard to share here!


  1. Staycations can be fun, especially when you don’t have to pack up to go home. :o)

    • How true, Patricia! Packing and unpacking are two of my least favorite things about travel. I’m finally learning not to over-pack as much as I used to, but it’s still much easier to avoid having to do it at all

  2. Julia, good morning. beautiful view of your home. I enjoy traveling but am unable to do much…due to health issues. Enjoy seeing your pics. ❤

    • Thanks Merry! The azalea blooms are long gone now but the memory of them stays. They take up where the cherry blossoms leave off. Now I’m relying on my neighbors for local color with their bright pots of petunias, begonias and others. Hope you have a lovely weekend!

  3. raynard

    Julia just when I was looking forword to a four day weekend for the 4th of July, my job told me they are getting rid of 3 positions. One of them is mine. So as I wait for them to tell me if anything else is avalible where I’m at or have to be relocated and take a paycut..Dont want to go back to working nights but there is a great need there…We do love our’Cannonballs Runs. Just made one last Sunday to the Eastern Shore of Maryland.. I’ll keep you posted on the job thing. One cake to bake this weekend and the 27th for a church potluck. How you, Jeff, Matt, Grady and the rest of the family are doing well. We got this early heatwave starting this week. Oh my wife’s aunt just had her 78th birthday Tuesday.We gave her a small party after dinner.Be blessed and encouraged and have a great day.

    • Raynard, I am so sorry about your job. I’ll send up a prayer that you don’t have to relocate to get the right job for you. So many people we know are going through that, needing to find a local job to avoid relocation. Do you know we have never visited the eastern shore of MD? We have been almost to the state line on the Virginia side, but we really do need to get up there sometime. We are doing OK. Grady is learning to talk quite a lot now, which we get to see via video that Megan takes on her cell phone. He appears to be interested in cooking already. 😀 We got hit with the heat here, too, but it’s still cooling off a bit at night, which is a relief. I’m so glad you gave a birthday party for your wife’s aunt. 78 is a long time to live and if Jeff and I get there, I know we will appreciate a party to celebrate the occasion! Have a great weekend.

  4. I love to travel and am sad that due to financial circumstances we have not been able to for the past 5 years. When I was younger I didn’t want to ever come home from vacation but now that I’m older I love coming back home to my familiar, comfy home.

    • Barb, I hope you are able to travel soon, but until then, I’m happy you know how to enjoy home. Sometimes I think the best part about going away is getting back home. It’s so wonderful how almost all of us manage to create a nest just right for ourselves out of whatever house or condo or apartment or spare room we end up living in. The military life has taught us how to enjoy all sorts of homes, but you hit the nail on the head with what makes each of them special when you said “comfy and familiar.”

  5. Staycations sound like a wonderful idea. No excuses needed for friends and family when a situation keeps you home. I’ve waited my whole life to have a home I could call mine and I hate to leave it even for a weekend. I had no idea I was done traveling but I love my spot in the world. But I am heading out on another adventure as my adult children are just starting their travels and I must be brought along for moral support. And to observe their joy. I’m on permanent vacation anyway. That’s what retirement is, right? Have a wonderful weekend Julia and enjoy each breath.

    • Marlene, I love the idea of retirement as permanent vacation. That’s what many of us hope for and even dream of. It sounds as if you have the best of both worlds, with a home you love and a family to travel with. So far I am taking your advice to enjoy every breath…right now, sitting outside enjoying the cool breezes as I catch up with my computer (I’ve been on the road myself yesterday and today). Have a great weekend!

  6. Very true, Julia.
    No matter how far we roam,
    there’s no place like home.

    • The ending scene of “The Wizard of Oz” is one of my all time favorites!

  7. What a terrific idea, Julia. We’ll be home most of the summer ourselves. I like to ‘escape’ to the movies for some lighthearted fare. The theater is dark and cool and if the movie is engaging, I can completely ‘escape’ for a few hours. xox

    • Alys, it always amazes me just how much a good movie can take me away. Sometimes when we go to a matinee it feels strange to walk outside and realize it’s daytime, because I’ve been in another world. I remember that Jeff and I went to see the movie of Life of Pi soon after he was diagnosed. We were both in shock and I doubted we would enjoy anything, but Drew and Megan were there to stay with Matt so we took a couple of hours out together. WOW, it was amazing what a perfect outing that was for us. The movie inspired us with its story of endurance, faith and hope. I loved the book and was afraid to see the movie for fear it could never capture the spirit of the book, but now it is forever among my favorites, partly because it was so good, and partly because it came at just the right time for us both.

      • Julia, I’ve had that same experience of walking out of a matinee and feeling completely disoriented.

        I too read Life of Pi, but I didn’t see the movie. How remarkable that you could see it together at such a difficult time in your lives. I’m glad you were able to share that experience, Julia, one of many you’ve had together before and since.


        • 🌷🌷🌷 🙂

  8. Look at the beauty right out your front door! Are those Azeala’s J? I couldn’t agree more about returning home. The obvious solution to me would be to move all my friends here, HA!
    I really love to get away, see new things, learn new things, admire old things. I follow a blog by Cindy Knoke (.com) I swear, she’s away from home more than she’s home. She’s currently on the African continent and it looks amazing. I’ve visited so many exotic locales via her photo’s. Some I think, “I’d love to go there” and some I think, “I’m glad you’re sharing because I’ll probably never go there”. So I can escape to another corner of the globe without leaving my sofa. It’s so convienant and painless. Much like a good book. You really don’t have to travel the world to be worldly. It’s never been truer than today, we have the world at our fingertips.
    The great thing about arriving home again is sleeping in my own bed and having a choice of what to wear. I really got tired of my clothes on my last trip 😀 I imagine the golden age of travel, where ladies took trunks of their finery with them is never to return, so I best get used to packing light or maybe more short jaunts 😀 xo K

    • Yes, those are azaleas. Isn’t Cindy’s blog amazing? I agree totally that she’s the closest I’m likely to get to some of those places, especially Antarctica…but she does a great job of taking us there. I didn’t realize she is in Africa right now. I hope to visit there one day. As you say, though, we are so lucky to be able to go there in our minds. Mma. Ramotswe and Botswana are as real to me as some of the places I’ve actually been (and friends who spent most of their life in Africa tell me that Mr. McCall Smith, who also lived there many years, really does a good job with re-creating its special charm). Speaking of which, perhaps I shall indulge in a cup of red bush tea whilst choosing some samples to send to Alys. I am gradually learning to pack light. In fact, on our quick anniversary getaway (3 nights) Jeff and I used just one small carry-on bag for the two of us. It made things much simpler. Of course, our car was filled with shopping bags on the way home, but that’s a different issue. 😀

  9. HarryS

    So how do you suppose we share God’s glory in our limited way except the very basic way of sharing our own personal experiences and appreciation of all that is good and beautiful?
    In a spirit of sharing my lifetime fascination for all things beautiful and especially the rainbows which mysteriously appear following our summertime showers here is one of the most stunning photographs of such in Sedona Arizona.
    On a visit there some years ago my wife and I were invited to share in the mysticism of this beautiful place and it was suggested that there are powerful vortexes which descend from heaven and one may experience the awe and wonder personally.
    I don’t know whether I ever got into one of these vortexes are not but I felt the hair on the back of my head standing on end.

    Can you find the pot of gold?

    “A small rain shower went by while hiking in Sedona, Arizona. The sky quickly cleared and left a beautiful rainbow. If you look closely you can see a second rainbow too.”
    —photographer Andrew Briner

    • Wow, what a gorgeous photo, Harry! Thanks for sharing it. Some of our really good friends from CA now live in Sedona, and for literally a dozen years I’ve been saying we were going to go see them, but we haven’t made it there yet. Audrey says people come from all over the world to experience that whatever-it-is that had your hair standing on end. Maybe we will get to go there sooner or later. Meanwhile, thanks for giving me a quick getaway tonight!

  10. Julia, having recently returned from our family trip to London, Paris, and Normandy, I’m still going there often “in my mind”. I’m so glad though to be back in my little cottage, after all that faraway glitz and glamour. Your beautiful curb appeal is inviting…. Come in, stay a bit, tea? I’ve had a difficult time communicating from Willow Tree. Could it be the HEAT? We’re at the “tin condo” but missing those ocean breezes! I so hope all is well on your Verandah! We’ll be back to Garden City tomorrow. Thoughts and prayers crossing the miles, Sheila

    • Sheila, it’s hot here, too. In fact it was even hot in Pennsylvania, where we went for a quick anniversary getaway. Seeing those Amish men working outdoors in their long sleeves and pants gave me a new appreciation for how spoiled we are. A few ocean breezes would feel lovely right now — but we may settle for a bit of rain here in a little bit. I’d better get out for my walk before that happens. Home sweet home! Join me on the verandah (aka deck) for a cup of tea later this evening when I get back. The kettle is on already and I’ve steeped the tea times now that most of the caffeine should be gone, hee-hee.

  11. LB

    Julia, my friend Debbie calls time at home “bonding with the house”. We spend so much time away from our homes for one reason or another that it is such a treat to be home.
    It’s a mini staycation.
    So while I love to travel and explore, I adore being at home as well.
    Wishing you moments of escape, however you may find those moments. XO

    • LB, I love that — “bonding with the house.” Since you grew up in a military family, you probably know how attached we can get to our homes, even when we have to move frequently. Oddly enough, I think that we who love to travel probably love our homes for the same reason. Some people are unhappy no matter where they go, always imagining it’s better elsewhere, and some of us are continually saying “WOW, how did we get so lucky?” ❤ Wish I could be there to see your new deck. I'll take one of those moments of escape you wished me to come sit out there with you and others in my imagination, sipping and chatting!

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