Saturday, April 22, 2017

S is for Susans

Two wonderful authors, Susan Branch and Susan Allen Toth, have written delightful traveler's memoirs about England.

Susan Branch's A Fine Romance:  Falling in love with the English Countryside is beautifully illustrated with her exquisite drawings. It's a diary of her and her husband's 25th anniversary trip across the Atlantic on the Queen Mary 2 and their adventures through Kent, London, the Peak District, the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, and the Cotswolds, definitely the most picturesque places in England.  The book is wonderful.

Susan Allen Toth's My Love Affair with England is her travel memoir and it was followed by England As You Like It and England for All Seasons, an excellent trio chock full of adventures throughout the English countryside and cities.  Although somewhat dated (the three books were published in 1994, 1996, and 1997), they are nevertheless wonderful resources as a quick Internet search would give you the most up to date information on the sites she mentions.

Charming books for anyone interested in actually visiting or just reading about traveling in England.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Happy Birthday

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her 91st birthday today.

R is for Red River of the North

The Red River of the North series by Lauraine Snelling takes up an entire shelf of one of my bookcases.

The Red River of the North is actually the name given to the first six books about Ingeborg Bjorklund and Kaaren Knutson, their husbands, and children, and their journey from Norway to Dakota Territory.  The tales of the town of Blessing continue in the three books of the next series, Return to Red River, and in the four books of Daughters of Blessing.  Then came grandchildren and Home to Blessing (three books) and Song of Blessing (four books).  Lauraine Snelling also wrote a prequel, An Untamed Heart.

Christian Historical Fiction is the genre and the books (all twenty-one of them) are a delightful read.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Q is for Quiz Books

My go-to quiz books are the Dollar Store Word Search books - love them!  Crosswords are not really my thing and I haven't been able to master Sudoku at all.  There are also some logic quiz books that can be fun, or mind-rattling!  You know, this sort of thing found at BrainBashers:

At the recent inter-departmental jam making contest, four lucky candidates took part to make the juiciest strawberry jam.

The ages of the contestants were 14, 17, 20 and 22.

As it happens the person who came last was the oldest, whereas Stuart was three years older than the person who came second.

James was neither the oldest nor the youngest and Kev finished ahead of the 17 year old, but didn't win.

John was also unlucky this time and didn't win either.

Can you determine who finished where and how old they are?
Last Christmas, I stumbled across these holiday quiz books at Barnes and Noble.  I thought they would make great stocking stuffers or something I could keep in my purse to work on while I waited for an appointment.  My favorite, of course, is WORD Roundup.

These and a lot more choices are available here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

P is for Beatrix Potter

I love Beatrix Potter's stories of Peter Rabbit and friends.  I read them to Sophia as a child and delight in all things Beatrix Potter.

When my parents lived in England, they visited the shop at The World of Beatrix Potter, an amazing store full of all sorts of wonderful baby and gift items. 

Hill Top, Beatrix Potter's home in Cumbria, is on my list of places to visit and I loved the movie Miss Potter.  When I found this book, The Making of Miss Potter, I knew I had to add it to my library.
The Making of Miss Potter is a wonderful companion to the movie with beautiful photographs and lots of information about the locations, the cast and crew, and the story of how history was recreated.  A must-have for any movie, and Beatrix Potter, fan!

Wednesday Hodgepodge Volume 304

It's Wednesday and I'm joining Joyce for another Hodgepodge.

1.  Tell us about a time you felt like you were 'flying by the seat of your pants'.

That would probably be our trip to the Lost Colony in Manteo, North Carolina in the summer of 2014.

In 1587, 117 English men, women, and children came ashore on Roanoke Island to establish a permanent English settlement in the New World. Just three years later in 1590, when English ships returned to bring supplies, they found the island deserted with no sign of the colonists.  After nearly 450 years, the mystery of what happened to the colonists remains unsolved. - The Lost Colony
I had wanted to attend the outdoor performance of the story of the Lost Colony and I happened to look up the schedule one Saturday and realized that day was the last opportunity we would have to attend between Vic's travel schedule and our move to Washington.  Vic is not the most spontaneous person so when I said "Let's drop the dog at the kennels and go", he was a little rattled but we hit the road and had the most amazing day out.  We ate seafood by the water, signed up for the behind the scenes tour, and really enjoyed the performance.  Definitely a flying by the seat of your pants adventure.

2.  When and where would you most like to be a 'fly on the wall'?

I once said that I'd love to attend a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace.  Since it's doubtful that an invitation will be forthcoming, I'll be content with being a fly on the wall instead.

3.  'Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.'-Henry David Thoreau

Would you agree?  Why or why not?

No, I really don't agree.  I think we are, in large part, responsible for making our own happiness.  We makes choices and decisions to be happy (or not).  The people, events, and activities in our lives are key factors in our happiness and we have a lot of control over those factors.

4.  Share a favorite movie, book, or song with flying in it's title, lyrics, or theme somewhere.

I love airplanes - I don't really like to fly but I love airplanes, so any movie involving an airplane would be my favorite.  I'm a sucker for an oldie but goodie so I'd choose the original Airport movie.  Helen Hayes was an absolute gem!

5.  What is one task or chore you tend to do 'on the fly'?  Is this something that really needs to be done another way?

I had to look this one up - on the fly = while in motion or progress.  I pretty much have a routine for chores so I guess it would have to be picking up Vic's clutter as I go about the regular household chores.  He seems to have a real problem with "a place for everything, and everything in it's place"!  LOL, I could follow his progress through the house just by following the trail of things he's left where they don't belong!

6.  What was happening the last time you thought to yourself or said aloud, 'Wow, time flies when you're having fun', and you meant it.

This last weekend as we whizzed through Lexington, Staunton, and Charlottesville to see as many sites as we could!

7.  This Thursday is National Garlic Day.  Will you add garlic to your menu on Thursday?  Do you like garlic?  What is your favorite dish made with garlic?

We LOVE garlic.  Barely a day goes by when there isn't garlic in something or other which is surprising because we never had garlic when I was growing up.  There will be garlic in the marinade for the steak we are having for dinner on Thursday.  My favorite dish is one that I had as an appetizer at a restaurant - Brie cheese with roasted garlic squeezed over the top and served with French bread and apple dippers - amazing!  Dracula, beware!

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Retirement - it's on our minds.  We have some choices to make in the next 18 months so this is really the start of the five year plan.  Not sure if I'm happy or terrified!

10th Tea Cup & Mug Exchange Reveal

Thank you, Stephanie, for hosting such a fun exchange.  212 participants - that's amazing!

I received my tea cup and extra goodies from the lovely Barbara over at Lady B's Time for Tea.  Barbara hasn't been posting recently as she is writing a book about afternoon tea but I loved reading her past posts about her visit to England and seeing pictures of all of her lovely china.  Barbara sent me the most amazing package, geared to my loves of England, tea, and royalty.

A beautiful cup and saucer to commemorate the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, a lovely footed tea strainer, two cute pins (you can just make out the US/UK flags on the left side of the strainer and the crown is easier to see on the right side), and a lovely small plate to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 1977.  Thank you so much, Barbara, everything is wonderful!

My package went off to the lovely Kris from Lavender Quilts and Other Fineries.  I won't post the details yet; I'll let her share with you first.

What a wonderful exchange - there will be lots of fun goodies in the reveal post (coming at 7:00am Mountain Time today) so I encourage you to check it out - there will be a link if you'd like to join us next time.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #62

Two more British telly favorites - Poldark and The Pallisers.

I watched the original Poldark (1975) based on the novels of Winston Graham with Robin Ellis and Angharad Rees and didn't think anything would be able to compare to it.  Poldark is the story of Ross Poldark, returning from the American War of Independence to his home in Cornwall to find his father dead, his fiancée betrothed to another (his cousin!), and the state of Cornish mining in dire straits not to mention his old nemesis, George Warleggan, lurking in the shadows.  Enter the raggedy urchin, Demelza, and you have a cast of characters that, set across the glorious landscapes and seascapes of Cornwall, are enthralling.

Along comes 2015 and Poldark is remade with Aidan Turner starring in the leading role.  I thought I would never warm to him, thinking him somewhat too modern and flashy for the earthy Ross but oh my, when the shirt comes off, be still my heart.  I had to admit at that point that Turner really had something magical.  I'm definitely coming around.  I'll let you tune in and judge for yourself but beware, a shirtless Turner is quite the sight!

The Pallisers is the 1974 adaptation of Anthony Trollope's Palliser novels.  The story revolves around the forced marriage of the Lady Glencora to crusty Plantaganet Palliser, set across the backdrop of mid-Victorian British politics and the social system in place at that time.  Fans of British television will recognize several well-known names in the cast among them Sir Derek Jacobi, Penelope Keith, Anthony Andrews, and Jeremy Irons.

Another period piece not to be missed - stunning locations, amazing costumes, history, humorous at times, an all-around great series.

O is for Outlander

Have you read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon?  Outlander and the books that followed - Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, An Echo in the Bone, Written in My Own Heart's Blood and all of the other shorter novels and novellas chronicle the time travelling adventure of Claire and Jamie Fraser.  Steeped in the history of the Scottish clans, Culloden, and the subsequent scattering of the clans, the books are a must read for anyone who loves Scotland and all things Scottish.

From the post-World War II era to 18th century Scotland and France and back to the 20th century, the adventures of Claire and Frank Randall are interwoven with those of Jamie Fraser and the MacKenzie clan and the fiendish Jonathan Wolverton Randall, Frank's ancestor.  Throw in Bonnie Prince Charlie, a host of colorful clansmen, the canny lawyer Ned Gowan, and a (presumed) witch who is a time traveler herself and you have an adventure that will be hard to put down.  Now that it has come to the small screen on STARZ, millions have tuned into what has been called "addictive" and "immersive" and the series launched a merchandizing frenzy for tartan and other Scottish clothing, jewelry, and other memorabilia, not to mention the huge impact it has had on tourism.  Google Outlander Tours and you'll have a whole host to choose from.

As is usually the case, the screen version is wonderful but it's better to read the books first and you might want to keep this chart handy.  The intertwined relationships can sometimes be a bit tricky.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Happy Homemaker Monday 4/17/2017

It's time for another Happy Homemaker Monday with Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom.  Click here if you'd like to join in .

The weather:::

Summer weather is here already - 70s, 80s, ugh, shoot me now or less drastically, lock me in a well-air conditioned house!

On my reading pile:::
Almost finished with To Everything a Season, Book 1 in the Song of Blessing series and I just downloaded the May/June issue of Tea Time magazine on my Kindle - gorgeous tea table settings and menus for Mother's Day and Father's Day.

On my TV:::

Call the Midwife
Home Fires

On the menu for this week:::

Things to use up what's in the fridge and freezer in preparation for an all-day power outage on Saturday.  Also, Vic's not sure if he's traveling or not; it's going to be one of those last minute events so I'm taking dinner plans one day at a time.

On my to-do list:::

  • Lunch Bunch on Tuesday - Indian in February, Greek in March, so it's Chinese in April.
What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
Finished up my Tea Cup and Mug Exchange post which will be up on April 19th.  I also finished Vic's career book through the command before this last one (all done up to July 2014) so now I'll move on to his sea time and deployment in Washington.  Lots of photos and memorabilia for that one.  Continuing on with the A to Z although I'm posting more for my enjoyment and less to be a part of the challenge - I've said before that the way it's run this year is tiresome.

Looking around the house:::

We were gone all weekend so everything needs to be done.

From the camera:::

Washington and Lee University, Lexington
 Stonewall Jackson House, Lexington
Woodrow Wilson Birthplace and Museum, Staunton

Something fun to share:::
Vic was off on Friday so we took off for a couple of days of exploring.  We drove up to Lexington and took a cadet-guided tour of Virginia Military Institute and then moved on to Lexington's historic sites - Stonewall Jackson House and Memorial Cemetery, Robert E. Lee Episcopal Church, Lee House, Lee-Jackson House, and Lee Chapel and Museum.  Then we met up with Vic's sister and her family for dinner in Staunton where we were staying overnight (yay for all the hotel points Vic has accumulated on his travels!).  We toured the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace and Museum in Staunton and then drove on to James Monroe's Highland (formerly Ash Lawn-Highland) in Charlottesville and stopped at Michie Tavern on our way home.  It was a very interesting two days and we were exhausted when we got home.  Two more Presidential sites checked off our list.

What I'm wearing today:::
Purple sundress and flip flops, it's going to be a hot one today.

Bible Verse, Devotional, Quote:::

I have learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances.  We carry the seeds of the one or the other about us in our minds, wherever we go - Martha Dandridge Custis Washington

N is for Nancy Drew

The favorite heroine of most girls when I was a teenager was Nancy Drew.  I could hardly wait to finish one of her adventures before moving on to the next one.

It was interesting to find out the changes that have occurred in the Nancy Drew books over the years not just in the format and artwork of the books, but also changes in response to culture and taste.  I don't suppose, when I was reading the books in late elementary and early high school that I was much concerned with racial stereotypes, Nancy's assertiveness or femininity, all things that have led to revisions over the years.  It was also interesting to read how much Nancy Drew was an influence on many of today's well-known women, former First Lady Laura Bush among them.

My research for this post led me to Nancy Drew which is a fascinating site that covers all things Nancy Drew, a must-read for any fan of the books.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

M is for Debbie Macomber

Debbie Macomber is one of my favorite authors.  She lives part of the year in the Pacific Northwest and has a tearoom and a yarn shop not too far away from where we used to live.  Her books include stories about Cedar Cove which were made into a Hallmark Channel original series and is now available on Netflix.

Debbie Macomber publishes a holiday novella each Christmas and I was excited to see that she would be holding a book signing at our local Navy Exchange.  Two of my out of town friends commented on how fun it would be to attend so I picked up a couple of extra books one year and sent them off with instructions that they were not be opened until Christmas morning.  Imagine how surprised they both were to find autographed copies of Debbie's delightful holiday story.  I certainly enjoyed my copy.

Friday, April 14, 2017

L is for Sandra Lee

I love Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade approach to cooking.  70% store-bought and 30% fresh works for me.  I have a large selection of her magazines in a magazine holder on my bookshelf and several of her books.  Her party and tablescape ideas are wonderful - all the right touches for a perfect celebration, whatever the holiday, season, or festivity.

My current favorite is her Cocktail Time book.  I love that it is separated into the twelve months of the year with festive cocktails and hors d'oeuvres for each month.

Each month's section begins with a teaser word collage, a delicious preview of the cocktails and hors d'oeuvres to come.  February is red and pink, of course, and full of yummy goodness for Valentine's Day.  If you like to entertain, and love planning a celebration that's tailored to a particular holiday or season, you'll love this book!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

K is for Kindle

My Kindle is an extension of my bookshelves.  I prefer to read an actual book but the Kindle comes in handy for travel or to have available in my purse when I end up sitting in a waiting room.  I tend to download free books from Amazon if the genre takes my fancy but I have also purchased some books.

Currently, I'm working my way through the Tasha Alexander Lady Emily historical mystery series (Book One shown below).  It's light and easy to read, very enjoyable.  I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

J is for Jerry West

Jerry West is the author of a delightful children's series, The Happy Hollisters.  Pete, Pam, Ricky, Holly, and Sue embark on a variety of adventures, often associated with trips they take with their parents.  Mr. John Hollister is the owner of The Trading Post, a hardware, sporting goods and toy store and his wife Elaine is never too busy to help her sleuthing children on their latest venture.

My Dad came home from work one day when we lived in Belgium with a Happy Hollisters book under his arm.  He had no idea how it came to be addressed to me; I can only imagine that through one of those Scholastic book offers or some other such thing at school, the publisher sent the first book with one of those try it or send it back offers.  My parents paid the bill and the remaining books (33 in the series) came about every other month.  I read the books, my sister read the books, and they traveled from Belgium to England and then to California with us.  Sadly, in the late 1980s, they were lost in a fire at my parent's home.

Wanting Sophia to have the same enjoyment, I scouted around second-hand sources to rebuild my collection.  I have 29 of the books, some with dust covers and some without and I need to get working on the remaining four.  The final book in the series is the most elusive as a smaller number were printed and they are hot ticket items on Ebay.

As I was writing this post and linking to The Happy Hollisters site, I was delighted to find that the books are available again, albeit in paperback.  I'd love to gather a set together and put them away for the day when I might have grandchildren asking for Nana to read them a story.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #61

One of my favorite British actresses is Dame Penelope Keith. 

She has played some marvelous roles over the years and my two favorites are Margo Leadbetter and Audrey fforbes-Hamilton.

The Good Life (1975) starring (above) Felicity Kendal, Richard Briers, Dame Penelope and Paul Eddington is the story of Tom and Barbara Good (Briers and Kendal) and their neighbors Margo and Jerry Leadbetter in the London suburb of Surbiton.  Tom decides he wants to find IT which turns out to be self-sufficiency, trades his car for a rotary cultivator, and turns his home in The Avenue into fruit and vegetable plots and a home for their chickens and goat, much to the dismay of their neighbors, the Leadbetters.  The interaction between the two sets of friends in these new circumstances is hilarious!

To the Manor Born (1979) is the story of Audrey fforbes-Hamilton, the doyenne of Grantleigh Manor who is forced to reduce her circumstances and move down the drive to Grantleigh Manor Lodge when her husband dies and the manor must be sold.  The manor's new owner is Richard DeVere, a half-Polish, half-Czechoslovakian naturalized British citizen who is the nouveau riche owner of Cavendish Foods (or as he says, "I am Cavendish Foods").  Audrey's attempts to reconcile her new life while still wanting to be involved in the day to day operations of the manor are also hilarious.

A huge part of my childhood, the enjoyment of these two series never ends.  Both are available now on DVD.

I is for Inquiring Minds

In February, when I made up my initial A to Z list, Inquiring Minds was listed next to the letter I.  Two months later, I have no idea what I planned to do for this post.  The only connection I make when I think of Inquiring Minds is the slogan "Inquiring minds want to know" that is associated with the National Enquirer.  I don't read the National Enquirer so I know that wasn't where I was heading.

I took a quick look over the bookshelves and the closest I can come up with is this book that has been my go-to when I have a household inquiry:

My copy is quite worn, still has a "From the Library of" sticker with my maiden name, and is somewhat dated (it was published in 1988) but it still has lots of useful tips for all sorts of things around the house.  The alphabetical format is really helpful for finding what you need to know.

No doubt many of us turn to wikiHow or some other online reference site when we have questions about things in the household but I think a good reference book like this is always handy to have on the bookshelf.

Monday, April 10, 2017

10 on the 10th

This looked like fun even if I am joining in month #4.  Click on the link above if you'd like to join in .  Here we go:

My current handbag is the Michael Kors Jet Set Large Travel Tote, a gift from Vic and Sophia for Mother's Day several years ago.  I love it - lots of pockets and a zippered compartment in the middle.  It holds everything!

1.  Matching wallet
2. Coupon wallet embroidered with "Dave (Ramsey) Says"

3.  Sunglasses with case - I used to carry cheap sunglasses but since Vic bought me this lovely pair for Christmas, I always make sure to put them back in the case
4.  Make-up case - I've had this little case for over twenty years and it's still going strong

5.  Notepad case with pen from USAA - this was a giveaway at an event and I love it - the original notepad is long gone but I can use the notepads from the $1 section at Michael's as refills
6.  Calling/business card case - I know the norm these days is to have someone plug your number into their phone but I still have occasions where a card is useful

7.  Poo~pourri spritzer - if you haven't heard of Poo~pourri, check it out here and the silver spritzer is here.  TMI?  Sorry!
8.  Purse-size current perfume, Red Door by Elizabeth Arden - I don't keep it in my make-up case in case it should leak, it sits upright in one of the pockets

9.  Tiny Creative Memories wallet-size case for all of these extra cards that I don't want in my wallet - medical insurance info, details about what ink we use in our printers, blood type card, reward cards, things like that.
10.  Extra pens - someone always needs a pen!

You may think my keys should be in my purse but I keep them stashed in a hanging basket at home.  I did this to make sure that Vic always keeps his keys in the same place so we don't go through a "where are my keys?" episode every morning!