Tales of the Traveling Tote, Fall Frolics and Hurricane Headaches

Welcome to the December edition of Tales of the Traveling Tote!

This MacKenzie-Childs loving tribe

shares the adventures we’ve had with our Courtly Check totes

every 3 months and we celebrate with a giveaway!

It is hard to imagine a mere 3 months ago,

Sept 1 2020,

Miss Coquille, Hello Gorgeous and I were getting ready

to head to the beach house for a weekend

of family fun for Labor Day

It has become an annual tradition to gather on the coast with my SIL

her husband, children and grands

to enjoy a last weekend of summer fun,

celebrate my BIL’s birthday

and kick off college football season…

We felt like we could gather safely as all our activities would be outside,

enjoying the pool deck, grilling, eating

and watching the delayed Kentucky Derby under the house

Even though football season was pushed back a few weeks,

we had great fun swimming and boating,

And watching the “most exciting 2 minutes of sports”

Everyone filled out a betting sheet choosing Win, Place and Show

hoping to win a prize bag of goodies

It is surreal to think that after such a perfect weather weekend,

that only a week later

our little slice of paradise was in the path of Hurricane Sally~

the piers and boat houses you see below will be totally wiped out

We watched the water rise through photos taken by a friend and neighbor,

praying that damage would be minimal…

but when the dock was already submerged 12 hours

before the storm was due to make landfall,

we felt helpless…

Our house was spared, but pier was destroyed

and our boats were slung down the island on neighboring property

I felt so lucky to have another house to live in,

and not have to deal with the destruction, power and water outages,

and devastation, first hand,

but it was still an overwhelming blow to our family

and the place we love so much…

Our satsuma orange tree is a good example of the Gulf Coast attitude,

“Keep Strong and Fight On!”

Poor thing, stripped of it’s leaves, but still hanging on to the fruit …

Dealing with storm damage long distance is challenging,

but my son and son-in-law are forever my heros,

they secured tarps on our roof and cleared our property of debris,

plus helped many of our friends and neighbors

In the city, such an opposite atmosphere prevailed…

we enjoyed a truly spectacular Fall…

mild temperatures and stunning color

I lunched with friends safely on the patio

and we had several gatherings to watch football on the outdoor TV,

We had fires and pizzas as the weather turned cooler

We love to spend Thanksgiving at the beach house,

and decided to keep up the tradition this year,

although I was apprehensive…

after Hurricane Sally, followed by Zeta, and Eta,

I was nervous about what to expect…

we’d recently had electrical damage caused by the power line to the pier

but thankfully it was an easy fix with a few new breakers…

Monday, Thanksgiving week:

Me to HHjr: “I noticed the water is way down in the pool, I need to call the pool service and see what’s going on…”

Pool Service: “The water seems to off at your house, we’ve been unable to add water, so the service man turned off the skimmers so there wouldn’t be any damage”

Me to HHjr: “Do you think the island turned off the water right before hurricane Eta since we weren’t there?”

HHjr: “Possibly…I can just turn it back on at the meter when we get there…”

When we got there, and HHjr tried to turn on the meter, he discovered a big crack in the line and water shooting out as soon as he turned it on. It turns out the the water company turned it off because they noticed excessive usage at our address.

Me: “I’ll call the plumber” Okay so, it was Wednesday afternoon, the day before Thanksgiving, everything was closed and the plumber said he couldn’t come until Friday. HHjr said, “I’m going to go to the hardware store and get some parts and try to fix it…”

By the time he got back it was dark, he was exhausted, and said we’d have to wait until morning. We had a case of bottled water, so we proceeded to fix a simple dinner, eat on paper plates, stack dirty dishes, and brush our teeth with cups of water…

The next morning, miracle of miracles,

he did successfully install a new piece of pipe

and by 10:30 am we had water, glorious water!


Thanksgiving Day was stolen from summer,

sunny and high 70s,

I spent hours happily painting and enjoying every moment

and so THANKFUL for my son

who always handles everything with a “can do” attitude

Our pier was a little hard to look at, but our bird friends were making the best of it

DD and her family arrived late in the afternoon

after lunching with NG’s family in the city,

and we proceeded to have a very non traditional Thanksgiving!

By Friday, we were ready to relax, enjoy the mild weather and de-stress…

But, as luck would have it,

when HHjr left to go to the grocery store,

he discovered a nail in the tire of my car

Long story short, so much was closed for the holiday and we couldn’t find anyone to fix the tire or sell us a new one, so HHjr ended up driving back to the city on Sunday, 270 miles on the spare, going no more than 50 mph on the back roads, and insisting I ride back with DD…

oh and it was POURING rain…I was a nervous wreck…

But we all made it safely,

and had a wonderful time despite the challenges but…

We all need a vacation to recover from our “vacation!

Now it’s on to December, Happy Holidays

and celebrating the end of hurricane season!

I hope you will visit all my Traveling Tote friends

and see what they’ve been up to!

And don’t forget to stop by Hyacinths for the Soul

and leave a comment to enter the giveaway!

Patti, Miss Kenzie and Miss TizzyPandoraโ€™s Box

Debbie,  Miss Aurora and Miss TassieMountain Breaths

Emily, Miss Courtney Childs and Miss Lulu The French Hutch

Jenna, Miss Coquille and Hello Gorgeous @The Painted Apron

Linda P, Miss Lola and Miss Gigi @ Life and Linda

Rita, Miss Luna and Miss Penny C Panoply 

Sarah, Miss Merri Mac and Miss PoppyHyacinths for the Soul

Jackie, Miss Madi K and Miss PansyPurple Chocolat Home

Ricki Jill, Countess De Monet, Miss Square Peggy @ The Sketchy Reader

Cherry Kay, Carrie Ann Hall and Miss Waverly @ Entertaining Women


I will be joining these fabulous parties and blogs:

  Sundays on Silverado  Love Your Creativity  Over the Moon

Between Naps on the Porch,  Celebrate Your Story,

All About Home/ Common Ground Follow the Yellow Brick Home

 Tasty Tuesday   Oh My Heartsie Girl Turn About Tuesday 

 Full Plate Thursday  Centerpiece Wednesday  Creatively Crafty

Thursday Favorite Things    Creative Cumpulsions Meal Plan Monday

43 Responses to “Tales of the Traveling Tote, Fall Frolics and Hurricane Headaches”
  1. Rita C. says:

    Jenna, this is definitely the year of “what now?” All those things happening at the beach house around Labor Day and Thanksgiving were certainly mental health challenges of the worst kind, not to mention physical. The photo of the kids is gold, and I love your menu for TGVG. The overall tone of the city photos just look so inviting, truly a respite for the weary soul. You can really see the vibrancy of the color in your photos. You certainly are blessed to have the two places, and hopefully the hurricanes will cut the Gulf a break in 2021.

  2. Debra CANTALES says:

    Jenna, you had quite a Thanksgiving and a LOT to be thankful for. Joe is quite handy, but none of our sons really are. I know you are very Thankful! I’m glad you, Miss Coquille and Hello Gorgeous are staying healthy. Thank you for the sweet Christmas truck with checks. I love it!

  3. Kathy Fletcher says:

    Bless your all’s hearts. You have been thru it and back again….enough bad – and bring on the good with a wonderful holiday season. No more hurricanes-broken pipes-flat tires……let only good things come around your way. and I sure would love that traveling tote……

    • Thanks so much Kathy, really appreciated! As for the tote, MacKenzie-Childs discontinued this model several years ago and they need to bring it back, it is the most versatile bag I’ve ever had and the quality is amazing, it still looks brand new!

  4. Martha says:

    It’s just one thing after the other this year! Glad you are all safe and staying positive.

  5. Nancy says:

    Holy Cow Jenna… what a Thanksgiving Vacation. But what a WONDERFUL family you have! That son and son in law are definitely fantabulous! Heroโ€™s for sure!
    And Iโ€™m so happy Miss Coquille and Hello Gorgeous are doing so well.
    Staying happy, positive and Thankful is getting you through this tough year. You are my hero!
    Happy December!

    • Thanks Nancy, I learned a long time ago that attitude is everything, so I’ve been trying hard to remember that! I am looking forward to December merriness and lots of holiday cheer! ๐Ÿ˜˜

  6. Oh my! It’s time for some blue skies ahead! (Love your T-Day menu!)!

  7. Shannon@Belle Bleu Interiors says:

    Jenna, what a memorable Thanksgiving! Iโ€™m so sorry for all the difficulties you have been through. You are so blessed to have such wonderful family to help out when needed. I know we are all ready to say goodbye to 2020. We just have to keep the faith that this will all be behind us soon. Take care, and Happy December!

  8. thefrenchhutch says:

    Jenna, you and your family face challenges with a positive attitude and look forward. Not to let little things like no water and hurricane damage keep you from your family traditions, wow, I’m impressed. I know you enjoyed being there and seeing for yourself what needs to be done to get ready for 2021 beach days. I had a good laugh at your comment, need a vacation to get over the vacation. You have a wonderful and supportive family. Happy December…….

  9. I so admire your attitude when you have experienced so many devastation. You do bounce back with great stride.I am so sorry you have experienced so much damage. your family is so supportive and looking out for you. Such a wonderful time spending time with family at Thanksgiving. I love the different menu, nice to change it up abit. Let’s hope this new year is covid free and a bright happy one.

    • Thanks so much Linda, my family is a tight group, we have gotten through a lot together…none of us really likes turkey so we had fun going rogue with the menu this year! Happy December and Merry times!

  10. What a year! But somehow, you kept it classy, beautiful and stylish. Put a bow on that “yuck” and lipstick on your face and all the world will be right again! Wishing you a new year of easy-going days.

  11. Good grief. I didn’t know about the water problem. Then the car on top of that. 2020 is not being kind to anyone, is it? But I’m still glad you went — you had to see it. Be there. And what a gem you have in HHJr. A prince among men!

  12. Ricki Treleaven says:

    Your Thanksgiving sounds delicious, and maybe it can be a new tradition for y’all! I’m happy you got the water fixed….HHJr. is such a wonderful son because he can handle anything!
    I am enjoying your daily paintings! I am finishing up a few projects taking up way too much space in my studio. I hope to start making art again tomorrow. YAY!
    You made it back to Birmingham just in time for the freezing temperatures and snow flurries! ;P
    Ricki Jill

    • Thanks Ricki Jill, my son is just like his dad, he can fix anything {THANK goodness!!} I haven’t had much time for art lately due to life’s little surprises, but hoping to remedy that in December…I hope you too can get back in your studio soon!

  13. Sarah Anderson says:

    Jenna, I like your menu! We pardon the turkey here, so our menu was steak, baked potato, and spinach salad. Sorry you had to deal with the water and tire issues. Good thing you have HHjr! Glad you made it safely home.
    Love your outdoor space with the seasonal decor. Wish we had added an outdoor fireplace!
    I enjoy your beautiful work and delicious meals you share. Happy Holidays!

    • Thank you so much Sarah! Time marches on and now there is December to enjoy! We enjoy the outdoor fireplace so much! I’m glad to know we weren’t the only non turkey eaters on Thanksgiving! I am ready for lots of MERRY!

  14. Shelia says:

    Jenna, I am keeping you in my prayers as we go into the Christmas season, girl. 2020 has been a challenge for the nation, and I think you truly got an extra punch here and there. Your family has the true survivor spirit, however, and we all salute you. Your son–do we think he can be cloned?!!! What a guy–but from reading your blog for quite a while, it is easy to see that the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. Your childrlen are a blessing and a reflection of their folks. Thanks for sharing the photos and being our example of grit and grace in the face of challenge. Georgia Gal

    • Thank you Georgia Gal, I am very humbled and flattered by your kind words…I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you and your support, makes things much easier! I am hoping we all can enjoy a MERRY December! ๐Ÿ˜˜

  15. Jenna, what a year it has been and especially along the coast with all the weather. I am so glad you could have Thanksgiving at your special place at the beach even with the issues, your family seems to do the next thing, one foot in front of the other. HHJr is so helpful to you, what a blessing all of your family is. I hope December will be a good one!

  16. Bonnie Morgan says:

    Im late. It has been a busy day. We missed you at the blog hop.
    Sorry for all the challenges at Thanksgiving.
    I was so glad to read Hurricane Season is over. You have been a trooper.
    Hoping things will settle down with Covid.
    Wishing you the best with all the repairs left to do.
    I heard it snowed in Birmingham. Have a good week.

  17. Mary says:

    Jenna, When it rains it pours! What a year and hurricane season! I know you are thankful for your son and SIL with all their help in securing your beach place. Your son is so handy with his contracting expertise, mad cooking/grilling skills and plumbing skills too! Car troubles are the pits and driving on the highway on a spare is no fun, especially in the torrential rain we just had. I bet you all needed a stiff drink when you arrive home safely. Hope your repairs can be handled quickly and pier is rebuilt soon. Happy December โ™ฅ

  18. Rosie M. says:

    This was quite a post, Jenna. Watching step-by-step what you have been through, then seeing the positives (BEAUTIFUL and loving supportive family, and your resilience) made for powerful reading, and a strong message about how easily lives can change and how important the family unit can be in our lives. I am so glad you have come through all this safely. Enjoy the holidays ahead: you have all earned the smiles and joy they bring!

    • Rosie, you are the sweetest! I am thankful everyday for my family, life takes teamwork doesn’t it! My son and I were just laughing about how tired we still were from the Thanksgiving weekend ๐Ÿ˜‚ I am looking forward to a less dramatic December and lots of Christmas fun!

  19. lulu says:

    What was lost can be replaced albeit with some headaches. The good news is that none in your family was injured. One way or another life goes on and as we have learned this year the challenges are many. BTW, I like your outdoor kitchen and patio.

  20. Kitty says:

    Besides this pandemic, you e had so much other stress going on in your life, Jenna! My goodness, besides the hurricanes, and all that you had to deal with, then the final nail in your tire!!! Your son is a very special guy and Iโ€™m glad that heโ€™s in your life. Hopefully 2021 will be a much better year for all of you.

  21. Julie says:

    I am so sorry to hear about all of those things that went wrong with the hurricane damage and everything. It’s great that you have such an awesome son who is there in your life to help you out! Jenna, I hope that you can relax and enjoy the holiday season. Thanks for the blog visit and have a nice week.

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