Monday, June 1, 2020

Tales of the Traveling Tote, and a Giveaway

Welcome to the 23rd episode of the Tales of the Traveling Tote! Nope, no travels these past three months, sorry. But, if you want to read all about escapades BC (before corona), you can go here. While travel has been put on pause, and certainly life as we knew it BC, let's add a little fun with a giveaway! Be sure to read details near the end for our gift for one of our readers.

Just after our last post on March 9, Mr. P. had a surgical procedure (kyphoplasty) to help ease the pain from the compressed vertebrae he sustained from his fall in January. Our lives were already put somewhat on pause at that point in January, and I played nurse to Mr. P.'s restricted mobility. After his surgical procedure, he had almost immediate relief, and although he endures some discomfort after sustained activity (I told him, "welcome to the club"), we are back to walking our daily 3 miles - thankful! 

We honestly have not been to much of anywhere, other than my trips to pick up groceries ordered online.

Little did I know my typical germophobia of being in a hospital on that day in early March would go exponential after that, but here we are, almost three months into a pandemic. {sigh}
I could post a floor plan and show you how I've been from the garage to the kitchen to the living room, office and get my drift, I'm sure. Yea, we've all been taking those trips.

I even put my totes away and opted for a hands free crossbody I bought a couple years ago from a Michigan female entrepreneur, K. Carroll Accessories. It was one of Oprah's 2018 favorite things. It's called the Harper, and one option besides the strap is a carabiner clip I can attach to my belt (no sponsorship, just an item I love). Check it out in the video below. You can order your favorite team colors too.
I have spent an extraordinary amount of time cooking and baking in the loft during COVID to minimize our outside contact. We didn't do any curbside meal pickup for our first 39 days of stay at home, and I was more than okay with that. Lots of comfort food cooking and baking has been my M.O. I've got a particularly picky eater in Mr. P., much like a kid, so my strategy has been to bake alongside cooking. When he won't eat the meal, I know he'll eat dessert. Let's be honest, who cares if it's dessert for a meal?? And who cares if you have a little adult beverage while cooking??
COVID Comfort Foods and Desserts
Let me just say this: of all those foods pictured above, the center cherry almond muffins (thank you, Marsha!), the brownies, and orange scones (pictured below) have been on replay at least FIVE times each since late March. Also, that Greek orzo salad in the bottom right corner of the collage above has been made at least SIX times, for sure. I have shared that one with several family members. I gave one entire bowl to my sister for her birthday, lol. She said she ate it for all three meals daily until it was gone. 🤭
Orange scones that rival Panera's!
I also made the lemon curd and cream cheese tart pictured below last week for the first time. Thank you, Mary for that recipe!  I had to improvise using a glass pie dish since I didn't have tart pans, but it sure tasted great anyway.
Other than kitchen time, getting out and walking (mostly in our old neighborhood) on good weather days has been an activity I've looked forward to. It gets us out of the loft, and has allowed me the opportunity to enjoy every bit of spring unfolding, one day at a time.

My girls visited me on Mother's Day, and brought me a goodie box (including fresh cuts from garden iris and lavender transplanted to my oldest daughter's landscape last year from our former home's garden!). They dropped it at our door, then went out to the parking lot and called me to come out on my balcony. 😍
One other enjoyable first was a Zoom call with the Traveling Tote Tribe, though not all of the tribe members joined for one reason or another. Zoom has been become the latest thing for virtual get togethers, classes and entertainment in general.
There is one last project I've been working on throughout much of this COVID, and it involves an essential activity for a family member. I'll share more on that later, but let's just say it involves this guy (below) leaving the building. 🤣


The Traveling Totes Tribe is offering another giveaway. Linda P at Life and Linda is our giveaway sponsor this time. One lucky reader who leaves a comment on Linda's June 1 post will have their name thrown into the hat for an opportunity to win this set of four MacKenzie-Childs feather canape knives! Hurry over now!
Without further ado, here are all the links to the rest of tribe members' travels since our March 1 post. One member was actually out of the country when things starting closing down worldwide, but was able to get home safely! 
Debbie with Miss Aurora @ Mountain Breaths
Emily with Miss Courtney Childs@ The French Hutch
Patti with Miss Kenzie and Miss Taylor @ Pandora's Box
Jenna with Miss Coquille @ The Painted Apron
Linda P with Miss Lola @ Life and Linda
Rita with Miss Luna C @ Panoply (you are here!)
Sarah with Miss Merri Mac @ Hyacinths for the Soul
Jackie with Miss Madi K @ Purple Chocolat Home
Ricki Jill and Countess de Monet @The Sketchy Reader
Cherry Kay with Miss Carrie Ann Hall @ Entertaining Women

Thank you so much for dropping by the blog today. I love reading your comments, and don't forget to leave one on Linda's blog for a chance at the giveaway! Come again for our next adventure, which  will be September 1, 2020.


  1. Oh, your baking looks divine! I've gained weight over the lockdown from all the home cooking and lack of exercise.

  2. I love your first sentence - very clever! This post was definitely a challenge! Your cooking collage looks great - what else could we do? LOL. What a fun surprise from your pretty daughters - so many people have been very clever during this challenging time! The Carriage Trail has some lovely blooms - it must be a nice walking area! Stay safe and pray for some return of normalcy!

  3. Wow Rita, you really have been cooking up a storm! I know you are used to really being on the go, shopping with your sisters and traveling least your husband was able to have his surgery right before everything shut down and he could use this time to recover. Daily walks outside are so restoring, I keep thinking about how glad I am that this happened in Spring rather than winter when things are cold and dreary. Seeing flowers and bright sunshine really make a difference! What a sweet Mother's Day surprise from your girls! See you soon on Zoom!

  4. Wow Rita cooking and baking galore. Everything looks quite yummy. So glad Will is doing better and that the surgery has helped. The flowers are gorgeous and makes us smile. Great to see beauty in the world. Your girls did a great job surprising you for Mother's Day. Love the toilet paper gift...Continue to stay safe and let's hope this world can get back to normal.

  5. Rita, I am so glad Mr P had his surgery BC so he could recover during this time. What sweet daughters to leave you a goodie box that included flowers and a roll of TP. Who would have ever guessed that TP would make an excellent gift? You have definitely been in a baking and cooking mode. The collage of food looks delicious. The orzo salad would make a wonderful dinner! Being outside keeps me sane and I know your three mile walks are a highlight of the day. I always enjoy the “tales of the traveling totes.”

  6. Oh Rita, so happy to hear Mr P is better and walking his three miles with you again. And, most of all his surgery was successful with instant relief in his neck. Your Quarantine time sounds a lot like ours. Your meals look delicious and I can't imagine Mr P not looking forward to those! Deserts anytime along with a nice drink for enjoying kitchen time, you got it right! Glad you are enjoying your walks, lovely scenery. We are mostly exercising inside, walking on the treadmill now. Our numbers are spiking here so we'll continue to stay home. How sweet of your girls to surprise you with their gift and visit from below the balcony. The perfect Mother's Day gift. Stay safe and stay well dear Rita. Look forward to seeing you in Zoom this week........

  7. We have been doing Covid therapy baking too. I only gained a couple and we both can't believe it, considering how much we have baked and enjoyed! I didn't do takeout for forever either, and I still prefer to be eating at home, but it has been nice to splurge once in a while.
    So glad to hear that your husband is doing better and you guys can be walking again!

  8. Rita, I think we've all been focused on the same nesting instincts, enjoying our homes, baking and cooking more, and getting out to walk for fresh air and exercise. Your girls are so cute and thoughtful! I know this made your heart sing! Glad Will is doing so much better. My guy is still using a walking stick, not because of the new knee (which is perfect) but because of another underlying issue. Some days are better than others. I look forward to our Zoom gathering.

  9. Your life sounds a lot like mine, Rita! I guess we’ve all been cooking and baking so much. I thought I always did anyway, but now even more so. I’ll have to try some of your favorite recipes. I’m happy to hear that your hubby has been walking again with you. I’ve been doing that, too, but now I’ve included swimming laps since my fitness center reopened. Happy Summer to you! ❤️

  10. You know that's what my husband does....Kyphoplasty. Every. Day....I bet he is feeling so much better. What a super procedure even if I do say so myself! ;P

    I love seeing the gorgeous flowers. I've really gotten into gardening during the "plandemic." I need all the inspiration that I can get!

    Those orange scones!!!!! They look so large and fluffy!!! I would love one. I love scones! I love seeing everything you'e been cooking. We've been grilling a little.

    I hope you have a super birthday tomorrow!!! :D

    Ricki Jill

  11. Rita, we have been doing more baking and pasta making than we have done in our entire marriage! I wonder if I will ever want to eat cupcakes again once this is over. But I do know I would love an orange scone! I’m happy to hear that Will has been walking again with you. Your daughters are beautiful and creative just like their mom! Wishing you a wonderful birthday my friend! I hope all your wishes come true including a return to normalcy. xo

  12. LOL Rita, it says I posted my comment at 2:20 a.m. It was 5:20 a.m.

  13. I'm so glad Mr. P. is better and that you can get out for the walks. I think you'll need it after all that fabulous food. I'm checking out all those recipes. The Greek orzo looks very much like one I already make that I call my confetti salad because it's so colorful. I'm always looking for something more to toss into it! I love what your girls did for you -- that's just terrific and had to really make your day. Well done!

  14. Your baking sounds fun and I feel like I am gaining weight just drooling over the yummy pics.

  15. I don't need to be entered to win the canape knives, but I have an Elvis story. Some time ago, someone in the family found and purchased a very large (probably 2' x 3') painting on velvet of Elvis. Elvis would show up at family picnics and at-home get-togethers. He would show up for birthdays and Christmas. I don't know where Elvis is living right now. We haven't had a family get-together like those since a couple of us have moved out of town. I miss those times. I should mention that my brother should bring Elvis to the family reunion! Everyone would get a kick out of that! Stay safe and healthy!

  16. Rita, this post is great. I have been wondering how Mr. P was doing. Glad all is going well. Your cookng and baking looks marvelous, especially the orzo salad and the lemon curd cream cheese tart. That has to be yummy. Enjoy your day, we are heating up in my end of the state.

  17. Love the gifts from the girls. Tooo cute!!! You have been a baking diva. Glad you are finding cooking and baking a great way to pass the time while this virus is active. Soon hopefully you will be traveling with your tote again soon.
    Have a great Tuesday.

  18. Rita, So glad Mr. P is feeling better and able to be out and about as much one can be during this time. I was wondering if you were missing your garden and all that that entails right now. Fresh cuts and gifts from the garden and your girls must help. So thoughtful for them to include some toilet paper in your box of goodies, it’s still hard to come by along with those illusive wipes. You’ve been cooking and baking up a storm! Glad the tart worked as a pie! I was wondering about the ratio of crust to filling in pie form. I’m guessing your antique mall hasn’t reopened for business yet? So many businesses here are still closed. I wanted to pop in to Pier 1, see what’s on sale and say goodbye but I drove by on the way home from the grocery store and saw people masked and standing in line waiting to get in so I decided to skip it. Love your assortment of masks, I need to add to my two as it looks like we may be wearing them for a while to come. ♥

  19. So glad to hear Mr. P. is on the mend. Also loved your last post. I agree...we downsized 3 years ago so there was not that much to do but ORGANIZE and bake. Trying to be healthy in my food choices and cooking since my dear husband had a heart attack in February right before all this virus happened. We wear our masks, walk, go to the grocery store (only me going in) and feel blessed to be together. Blessed to have tons of good books to read and time to read them, movies to watch, and we have been calling old friends from the past that we have not seen in years, because we figure, hey - they are probably home! It has been great. And like you...every week an online house party with my college friends. So...hang in there. I love your masks...I just got elastic and fabric to make more because as others said I think we are going to be wearing them for the foreseeable future! Take care and be safe -