How we overcome sadness when that great neighbor moves away

When I launched my neighboring journey and blog 18 months ago, I got an insightful comment from someone about one of the possible reasons we Seattleites develop ‘Freeze Mentality’:

“The Seattle Freeze was totally a thing for us when we first arrived, and I didn’t get it… but now, I’ve been here for 5.5 years, and in that time at least two really good friends moved away. There is a definite time investment involved in making friends, so it’s hard when people move away. Now I find myself cynically asking how long people have been here, if they’re planning on staying, and asking about their families “back home” (wherever that may be, stateside or not) before deciding whether I can safely be friends without losing a part of myself when they leave.”   – Annette

Yes, when we invest time in our neighbors, there’s always the looming eventuality that one day they – or we – will move. It will happen to all of us. And it kinda hurts. It doesn’t hurt because we’re offended.  It hurts because we miss them and it can sometimes feel like we’re faced with ‘starting all over again’.

I’ve been there. Last weekend I hosted a breakfast party for our former neighbors Sherry and Hal.  They used to live across the street and have since retired to California. They were in town and I was able to pull a few of ‘the ‘ole gang’ together and enjoy a simple Saturday morning breakfast together.


Sherry and Hal. Great (former) neighbors. We miss them.

Sherry and Hal were great neighbors. For many, many years Sherry and I shared fruitful conversations over our shared love of gardening (she taught me a lot!) and I have strong memories of her azalea hedge blooming each spring.  I will always remember the first time I had “plum pudding” was when she made it for our book club. And I think of her each time my fragrant red rose and lemon day lilies bloom that she gifted me right before she moved.

But perhaps the main reason I’m always eager and grateful to carve out time to connect with Sherry & Hal when they come to town is because Sherry was the first neighbor who came to say hello and welcome me to the neighborhood right after we moved in.

That’s a strong memory. You always remember the first neighbor who made you feel a part of the neighborhood.

As we all enjoyed getting current and solving the world’s problems over breakfast that morning, I was reflecting on the three things about how we deal with losing that great neighbor:

FIRST: You don’t have to lose touch if you don’t want to.

Do you live next door to your best friend from high school? Not likely.  Does the maid of honor or best man from your wedding live right across town? No, they probably live in another state by now.

It’s true: we live in a generation of frequent job relocations and people ‘retiring elsewhere.’

But I would argue that we also live in an age of email, phone calls, texting, Facebook, Instagram and Hallmark for pete’s sake.  Yes, it is sad when our neighbors and friends move.  No longer having them close by for coffee chats, bike rides or occasional pop-ins is a real bummer. But we can choose to stay in touch.   We can all do a better job of connecting with those available to us NOW, as well as taking the initiative once they or we have moved.

SECOND: You can really like and become friends with the new neighbors who replace your old neighbors.

I remember the feeling when Sherry and Hal put the for sale sign in their front yard. Ugh. When they sold their house, I really had to work to not get my panties in a twist about whether or not I would like the new people who would move in. ‘What if they’re obnoxious? What if they don’t take care of their yard? What if they have rude kids? What if….’  Oh come on, you’ve done it too  – admit it!  This is Seattle and we love to talk about how open minded and accepting we are, but that’s because we have a reputation for not deeply connecting with ‘newbies’. It’s EASY to be open and accepting when you don’t actually get to know people. (ok. Enough of my soap box…..)

The reality is, after deciding to get the phat over myself, I made a point to walk over and say hello a few time when the ‘NEW’ neighbors first moved in to what I referred to as “Sherry’s and Hal’s house”.

And you know what?  The NEW neighbors are the bomb. Totally fun, totally intelligent, totally great neighbors who have, over time, become friends. My husband and I have enjoyed having them to dinner, bbqs and the like and they are terrific people who add a lot of enjoyment to our neighborhood. So there ya go.

THIRD: You always remember the first person who made you feel welcome and a part of the neighborhood.

For me, that’s Sherry.  She will always remain a special person to me for that simple reason.  

The question is: can each of us be that person for someone else?  New people are moving in everyday from around the country and around the world.  They’ve got questions about local schools, need recommendations for doctors, dentists and landscapers, and some struggle with language barriers.  And with a simple hello and a few invitations, we may find that they also might share a love of books, gardening, crocheting, golf or some other common interest. Many want to plug in. They want to feel included in our circles.

Could you be that first neighbor who reaches out to make them feel welcome?

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An Important Halloween Message From Ms. LeStrange

Hope you enjoy the video. Below are some quick ideas to make this Halloween count in your neighborhood!

Southend Family Offers Hot Chocolate At Halloween To Connect With Parents

For the past few years, one Puyallup family has set up a Hot Chocolate station in front of their house as a way to visit with neighborhood parents while their kids are all trick or treating.

For the past few years, one Puyallup family has set up a Hot Chocolate station in front of their house as a way to visit with neighborhood parents while their kids are all trick or treating.

Here’s a great idea from a member of the EatPlayThaw community:

“We’ve done this a couple of different ways.  Year one, my husband set up an awning, a few chairs, and a table with hot chocolate in carafes. He also setup our fire pit (with the cover on – safety first!) for the parents to sit/stand and chat while the kids went to the surrounding homes for trick or treating.  I stayed inside to answer the door and to keep a supply of hot chocolate going.

Year two, with no threat of rain, we set up similarly but without the awning and we had the candy available outside with the hot chocolate.  Personally, I kind of prefer the kids coming to the door instead, but that means only one of us is out there to meet parents.  People tend to linger a little longer since their kids are occupied walking to nearby doors.

Offering hot chocolate or coffee on Halloween night is a great way to create some community in your neighborhood.

Pre-filling cups (with coffee or hot chocolate) with lids is a great tip for saving time. It also offers your neighbor the option of ‘grab and go’ just in case they need to stay close to their children.

One of our friends had this tip:  Pre-make the hot chocolate and have it ready to go in the cups with lids, for a ‘grab and visit’ opportunity. Also, if you’re using an awning, or heater/firepit and any needed extra lights, set it up as close to the sidewalk as possible to make sure it looks really inviting.

Our street is pretty well-lit, so I prefer not having extra lights.  It is Halloween, after all, and it’s kind of fun to me to be a little darker to add to the ambiance of the day – plus our fire is inviting for cold hands!”

David & Amy, Puyallup

Need Quick Ideas for Halloween Decorations, Jack-O-Lanterns, Party Food or Costumes?  

Make a quick pit stop to my Halloween Pinterest Board where I’ve curated some QUICK AND EASY tricks and treats!










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The comforting memories of favorite family foods

Today is my mother’s birthday. She would have been 88.  She passed away earlier this year, and to pause and remember her today – and my dad – I’m spending the day with some family.

It’s funny the things that we inherit from our parents and funnier yet the things that we don’t. My brothers got the lion’s share of the musical talent in the family. They’re both incredible musicians and singers – never took formal lessons but both of them can pick up any instrument and play it. I’m a passable singer, but my mom was an amazing soloist.

My passion for cooking and entertaining actually came to me via my maternal grandmother. It kinda ‘skipped’ over my mom. My Aunt Delphine got it, but when it came to cooking my mom was more of a what-takes-the-least-amount-of-time-and-makes-a-huge-amount-of-it-so-I-don’t-have-to-do-this-every-night kind of woman. I know. Many of you are thinking “soul sister”.   Continue reading

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Pampered Chef: a springboard for connection. Who knew?

On a day that was raining

And I should have been blue

I did something so wonderfully fun

That you could easily do too!


I hosted a Pampered Chef party

7+ freezer meals we each took away.

It was all about food and friendship,

Is there a better way to spend a day?

Kirsten at Pampered Chef

At first I anxiously wondered

“Would people really want to come?”

It’s one of “THOSE kinds of parties?”

To my invite would friends just feel numb?


But within just a few minutes

Of a hitting a keystroke for “send”

Six, Seven, Eight pinged YES!

“Absolutely I’ll come, thank you my friend!”


I was overwhelmed and overjoyed

I had no idea of such proclivity,

Of so many Pampered Chef mavens out there

Who are looking for just such a festivity!


Longtime friends and those that are new

Came to partake in all the fun fixins.

We laughed, we chopped, we connected,

And all I had to provide was my kitchen.

Pampered Chef Party

No, I don’t sell Pampered Chef

That’s the job of my dear friend.

I just love finding new ways to connect,

A passion that seems to have no end.


Women, so often we find ourselves stretched

Our families we work hard to please ’em.

And finding time to actually cook?

That’s scarcer than a Mariners winning season!  D’Oh!


Increasingly we live disconnected

And we’re thinking of ways to thaw the freeze.

Why not let Pampered Chef do all the work

And you just toss ‘em your keys?


Why not start a monthly Pampered Chef group?

A regular gathering for good food and wine.

You could enjoy dinner together,

Letting friendship develop over time.


Use Facebook, use your directory

Or put a postcard invite on their porch.

Pampered Chef enthusiasts are lurking everywhere

See if they’re living outside your front door!


As the dark days of winter draw nearer

And the Seattle sleet starts to pound on your roof

I pray you won’t let S.A.D. have its way

And you won’t choose to be aloof.


Instead, think about taking that risk

The one you’ve been putting on hold.

Now is a great time to open up your heart,

To increase that friendship circle, come on, be bold!


I had the greatest time in my kitchen

With new friends and with old.

Think about hosting a Freezer Meal Workshop

You just never know what connection might unfold.


Up for another fun limerick? See Becky’s Happy Halloween post “An Important Halloween Message From Ms. LeStrange.” :)

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45 great reasons to use Facebook to start a book club!

So, you want to start a neighborhood book club or a coffee klatch but you’re wondering how.  Pull up a chair. I’ve got an awesome story about a little Facebook comment that launched a neighborhood book club overnight.

We’ve all been there: brand new in a neighborhood. Sometimes we move across town, sometimes from one side of Puget Sound to another, and sometimes from out-of-state or out of the country. Each of us has been ‘the new person’ on the block.

We want to get to know our neighbors; we want to make new friends. But how do we get started? Continue reading

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Why Suicide Prevention Month matters to Seattle, and to me

September is national suicide prevention month. While Seattle is not among the country’s top cities for suicide, we are 6th in the nation for depression.  Couple depression with prolonged stress factors such as harassment, bullying, relationship problems or unemployment, and a person can venture into unsteady emotional ground.

Because the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) has done a great job getting their message out this month, I’ve learned that: Continue reading

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Second Sunday Potlucks: where neighbors become friends

I love hearing about and celebrating what others are doing to intentionally build community right in their own backyards. In the past year, I’ve continued to meet like-minded people who are trying new things. Last spring I met fellow neighboring sojourner, John Crilly, at a conference in Seattle. Following is an excerpt from his own blog post from earlier this year about his family’s experience moving into a new neighborhood, and how a routine potluck brought his neighborhood together: Continue reading

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Seattle block parties: if you host it, they will come

In the world of blogging, you’re supposed to have a catchy (and sometimes misleading) title to get people to click and read. You are supposed to write posts that have numbered lists and bullet points for easy reading. Slick gifs and graphics also help.  Well, I don’t really have any of that today; what I have is much better. Continue reading

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Confessions of an extrovert: we’re not always great neighbors

There is a common belief that extroverts make friends more easily than introverts. That because we live life outward facing, we naturally connect with people. We naturally make good neighbors. I’m here to tell you: that’s not always true.

When it comes to thawing the Seattle Freeze, even extroverts can use a swift kick in the butt.

Continue reading

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Coffee Klatch 201: Casting a Wider Net

Several years ago when my son was a wee toddler, I found myself in the all-too-familiar new mommy space of having a little one at home and feeling very isolated. I had left work for the first time in 20 years, didn’t know anyone with small kids in my neighborhood and my church didn’t have a mom’s group.

So, I decided to try out a mom’s group I saw advertised in my local community newspaper. I arrived at my first meeting with what I felt like was a huge neon sign above my head that said I needed connection! The result?

Well, it was pretty much a disaster.

Continue reading

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