Friday, June 30, 2017

Happy 6th Blogiversary to me!

Six years ago today, I moved from a private blog back into the blogsphere with this blog and this post, Countdown to Christmas in July 2011.  Unfortunately, the balls of Christmas wool featured in that post are still just like that, balls of wool.  I think I made it as far as five rows into a Christmas scarf!

Here's to many more years of blogging, and Christmases in July...and a Christmas scarf, one day!

Christmas in July is Coming - Weekly Themes Reminder

Just a reminder of the 2017 themes for Christmas in July.  Please join us over at the Magical Holiday Home forums.  Feel free to come up with your own weekly themes if you'd prefer.  Please leave a comment if you're blogging through Christmas in July so I can follow you!

Week 1 (July 1-July 8): Christmas Characters (Santa, Snowman, Gingerbread People, Rudolph, Elves, Penguin) - how you decorate with them (inside and out), visits to any of the characters, other ideas

Week 2 (July 9-15): Wrapping (paper, boxes, tags, bows, unique ideas, how your organize your supplies, and since wrapping is all about the gifts, show us your gift closet and any updates to it through the month)

Week 3 (July 16-July 22): Nature/Rustic/Country (decorations, visits, etc.)

Week 4 (July 23-July 31): Wreaths and other Greenery

Christmas in July is Coming - Pure Flix

Several weeks ago, I was inspired by the folks at Pure Flix to share my ideal movie night at home.  When I looked at the lineup of movies and shows they offered and saw so many Christmas movies, I asked if I could hold off until today to make this post part of my Christmas in July is Coming celebration. They were happy to accommodate my request and even designed this lovely graphic to kick off my celebration.

Christmas in July is a month-long celebration of all things Christmas without all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.  It's a time to try new recipes, new crafts, get a head start on crafts we know we want to make, update our Christmas planners, and start addressing our Christmas cards, all while listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies.  My friends over at the Magical Holiday Home Forums post daily on the forums or on their blogs, sharing Pinterest finds and other Christmas ideas and plans.

Many of my fellow Christmas-lovers have children and grandchildren who will be with them now and over the holiday season and what better source of entertainment than Pure Flix, the online Christian video-streaming service.

Pure Flix has a great selection of family-friendly movies of all genres.  Their Christmas offerings are excellent and can be enjoyed by all the family without having to worry about screening for innuendo or other inappropriate content.  Even Christmas movies these days have their fair share of that.  They have thousands of titles, not just movies but animated titles for kids, documentaries, how-to's, hobbies, educational, health and fitness, sports, outdoors, and travel in addition to many inspirational and devotional titles.  I've borrowed heavily from their website for this paragraph because I just can't say it any better myself.

Pure Flix is offering a month's free trial to try their Christian movies streaming services.  I hope you'll join me in bringing some wholesome entertainment for the entire family into your home this Christmas in July.  I'll be starting with Christmas Lodge, one of my favorite Christmas movies.

**At the time the graphic was designed, the movies The Christmas Card and All I Want for Christmas were available but they have recently rotated out of the offerings to make room for summer titles.  Both titles are still supported by Pure Flix and I'm sure you'll see them pop up again closer to the holiday season.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

On this Day in History

The Hodgepodge was cancelled today and I felt the urge to write.  I flipped over to one of those This Day in History sites and there it was...on this day in 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his morganatic wife, Countess Sophie Chotek, were assassinated in Sarajevo.

This little fact led me to dig back through a stack of old school papers, specifically journal entries from a history class I took at Butte Community College in Oroville, California in 1991.  Our teacher wanted us to keep a weekly journal in which we were to write our impressions of the topics we were covering in class that week.  In the week ending April 19, we were moving into World War I and these were my thoughts.  I should note that April 19 was barely two months after the end of the Operation Desert Storm hostilities, the multinational response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait - that plays into the last paragraph of my journal entry.

I want to discuss World War I and the knowledge that I gained while researching my country of choice, Serbia.  I wonder how many people in a class of, say, high school seniors, would know where Serbia was?  It played such an important role in the prelude to World War I and yet, you're right, people would probably confuse it with Siberia!  It's not hard to say that the extreme reaction of the Serbia nationalists (the Sarajevo incident) was one of the causes of World War I and yet I think that the Hapsburgs would have used any excuse for war - they just wanted to crush Serbian nationalism.  I think the guilt for the war rests solely with the Austro-Hungarian government and the demands that they knew Serbia would never accept. 
Now the responsibility for the war is another matter - there is a lot of controversy on that issue also - should Russia have mobilized fully, or should they have tried a partial mobilization to support Serbia against Austria-Hungary; should England have made known to Germany that they would readily support Russia or should they have tried to talk France and Russia out of eventual hostilities...there are so many ifs and buts and therefores in this situation, so many events that precipitated other events and snowballed into THE GREAT WAR.
I can remember my grandmother and great-aunts talking about people who were "gassed" in the war.  No reference to Hitler and the Jews, these men were gassed by poison gas, mustard gas usually.  Have you ever watched "Upstairs, Downstairs", the British series that was shown on PBS?  In the later episodes of the series, during and after World War I, there is a lot of talk of men who were disabled during the war, disabilities that resulted not from gunshot wounds, but from being gassed in the trenches.  A lot of time was devoted to shell shock victims also since Edward (the footman "Downstairs") suffered from terrible headaches and flashbacks on his return from the front and was eventually packed off to an institution to recover.  I have a wedding picture of my grandparents and both my grandfather and his best man are in uniform, off to the front shortly after the wedding.
How similar our recent situation was - volatile nationalist and imperialist emotions, trenches became foxholes, mustard gas became chemical weapons, one alliance versus an aggressor.  Not too much has changed, has it?

Kudos to you if you read all the way to end.  I'll admit my writing was a little vague in places and I seem to have forgotten the "Don't end a sentence with a preposition" rule but these were my random thoughts twenty-six years ago.  We were graded not so much on the content on our journal entries, but rather on our reaction to world history past and present as we studied it.

That was quite a walk down memory lane for me.  I'm off to read the rest of the twenty-six year old journal entries.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #68

Henley Royal Regatta is undoubtedly the best-known regatta in the world.  It is a highlight of both the summer sporting calendar and the social season.  The Regatta attracts thousands of visitors over a 5-day period.  Spectators are thrilled by over 200 races of an international standard, which includes both Olympians and crews new to the event.  In addition to watching the racing, visitors can take in the ambiance of the enclosures, enjoying the array of restaurants, bars, and shops available, as well as the charming views of Henley and the River Thames.
                                                          - Henley Royal Regatta

Monday, June 26, 2017

Happy Homemaker Monday 6/26/2017

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:::

80+ all week, 90+ all weekend.  After enjoying lake breezes for a week, this is going to be rough.

On my reading pile:::
Still working on Dear Bob and Sue - I didn't do much reading last week at all.

On my TV:::
Victorian Slum House, still need to watch the last episode
The Great British Bake Off, My Mother and Other Strangers, Grantchester on PBS
Reign, Season 4, on Netflix
Vikings, Season 4, Part 2, on Amazon Prime

On the menu for this week:::

Monday - Baked Salmon, Green Bean Bundles
Tuesday - Roasted Veggie Meatloaf, Asparagus
Wednesday - Grilled Shrimp, Salad
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Steak, Baked Potatoes, Sauteed Mushrooms

On my to-do list:::

  • Apart from Christmas in July starting on Saturday, there is nothing on my calendar

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
Scrapbooking table is set up and ready for me to sit down and work on my current project, Vic's Career Album.

Looking around the house:::

Vacuuming and laundry to do.  Maybe this is the week I will work on that weekly checklist.

From the camera:::

The glorious view that greeted me each morning last week

Something fun to share:::

It rained one day during the reunion so we had a craft afternoon and made a bunch of these stars to leave for our hostess's parents, the owners of the cabin - they are called Scandinavian Stars and the directions are here - no sewing!

What I'm wearing today:::
Sundress, flip flops - I'm heading to the shower but I'm sure today's outfit will be something similar as it is going to be hot.

Bible Verse, Devotional, Quote:::
If you're lucky enough to have a group of close friends that you connect with deeply, who are in your same season of life, all right in your very own town, I hope that you soak it up, that you lie around in each other's backyards every Saturday afternoon or stay up late on one another's porches three nights a week.  But if you're like me and those faces are far away, get a weekend on the calendar and get there. - From May 24, Get There, Savor, 365 Devotions by Shauna Niequist

I hope that you can get together with friends who are dear but far away - for a week or even a weekend, to reconnect, to catch up, to remember how it was when you were last together and to have a joyous time together.  I had an amazing week - we talked, and talked, and talked, and talked some more, we took the boat out on the lake, had spa night, craft afternoon, watched some great chick flicks, did yoga on the lawn and ate wood-fired oven pizza, toured a woolen mill, ate cupcakes and local cheese, ate S'Mores by the fire pit and napped at the edge of the lake.  It was a wonderful week!

Friday, June 16, 2017

A Short Break

Taking a short blogging break as I head off to a reunion with my friends from our MOPS days in Florida.  It's been twenty years since we've all been together - can't wait to see everyone!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #67

It's that time of year - the British social season is in full swing and all the associated events bring out great photos.  Trooping the Colour, the celebration of the monarch's birthday when the weather is more likely to cooperate, will be held on Saturday, June 17.  Look for pomp and pageantry, glorious uniforms and great fashions from the royal gents and ladies.

Here are a few photos from last year's event.

This is the time of year I would love to be in London.

The annual Garter Service at Windsor is usually held on the Monday after Trooping the Colour, but this year, it is cancelled as due to the recent General Election, the State Opening of Parliament is scheduled for the same day.

"My Three Sons" was the first thing that went through my mind when I saw this photo!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Happy Homemaker Monday 6/12/2017

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:::

80s all week, rising to 93 on Tuesday but dipping to 79 on Sunday.  Nightmarishly (is that a word?) hot, in my opinion.

On my reading pile:::
Finished An English Country Manor which was delightful so I'm looking for the other two volumes in the series.  Picked up
 Dear Bob and Sue again and will reading about their adventures in the Shenandoah National Park which is close to us so I'll be looking out for some tips for a visit soon.

On my TV:::
Victorian Slum House, still need to watch the last episode
Turn, almost finished Season 2 so we can move on to Season 3
The Great British Bake Off and Granchester return this coming weekend along with the new PBS series, My Mother and Other Strangers

On the menu for this week:::

Monday - Grilled Shrimp, Steamed Broccoli
Tuesday - Snack Night
Wednesday - Salmon, Orzo or Artichoke Salad
Thursday - Greek Pasta Salad with Chicken
Friday - Steak, Baked Potatoes, Sauteed Mushrooms

On my to-do list:::

  • Bra-fitting later today - fun, fun, fun
  • Haircut
  • Final shopping for the reunion  - have to pick up nine of my "something from my area" gift
  • Volunteer shift at the gift shop
  • Packing for the reunion

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
Photo albums for the reunion arrived and are lovely.  All-day crop on Saturday was wonderful and I got a lot done, just need a few finishing touches and I'll be close to being caught up with Vic's 2016 deployment.

Looking around the house:::

Vacuuming and laundry to do.  Still need to work on that weekly checklist.

From the camera:::
I completely forgot to take a photo of our brunch yesterday - we went to this really arty place, the menu was very limited but I managed to find smoked salmon and creme fraiche on some kind of bread while Vic had a BLT with turkey and spicy Thai mayo.  It was ok but we won't go there again.  It just wasn't anything memorable - I suppose it would be a hip place to go if you're a twenty-something but we're long past that stage!

Something fun to share:::
My Melaleuca package arrived and I've been busy replacing some of our household items and toiletries.  Love my new lip gloss, it's called Brilliance Plump Lip Gloss in Berry Shimmer.  It's the one on the very far right in this stock photo.

What I'm wearing today:::
Black capris, white T-shirt and black sandals.  After watching all five seasons of House of Cards, Claire Underwood's neutral wardrobe really appeals to me.

Bible Verse, Devotional, Quote:::
An excerpt from, a traditional American folk song, it's been in my head since it was featured in this episode of House of Cards.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #66

Happy 96th Birthday on June 10 to His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.  It has recently been announced that he will retire from royal duties and visits in the autumn.  Very much a man's man, a keen sportsman, and known for his tactless gaffes at times, His Royal Highness has been at Her Majesty the Queen's side for almost seventy years.

I love this photo, taken at Broadlands in Hampshire, to mark their Diamond Wedding Anniversary in 2007.

The photo is a recreation of the one taken in the same location while on their honeymoon.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Happy Homemaker Monday 6/5/2017

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:::

HIgh 80s all weekend so I'm glad to see 69 and 70 in the forecast for the latter part of the week.  Broke down and turned on the air conditioner yesterday but only ran it from 8pm to 11pm to cool down the upstairs.  Longing for a single story house again.

On my reading pile:::
Put Dear Bob and Sue to one side to work on An English Country Manor that I picked up from the lending library at the British food store.  I also picked up, at Costco, Lilac Girls and Everyone Brave is Forgiven for the reunion, either to read by the lake or to keep my mind off being in the air.  Not a fan of flying at all.

On my TV:::
Victorian Slum House, still need to watch the last episode
The White Princess
House of Cards, into Season 4 so I'm almost caught up
Turn, Season 3 although we're going to start 1 and 2 again so we can remember what's going on!

On the menu for this week:::

Monday - Grilled Shrimp, sides to be determined
Tuesday - Barbecued Ribs, ^^
Wednesday - Salmon, ^^
Thursday - Brats, ^^
Friday - Steak, Baked Potatoes, Sauteed Mushrooms

Sides will depend on the weather, mostly likely will be some form of salad.

On my to-do list:::

  • Finals week for Sophia - must put together a little "You made it" package
  • Physical therapy - Monday and Friday
  • Visit with my friend from our Florida days - haven't had a chance to connect before now
  • Spouses' Group Board Turnover Brunch
  • Scrapbook Crop on Saturday

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
Ornaments for the Christmas in July Ornament Swap are in the mail and photo albums for the reunion are ordered.  I need to get my materials organized for the crop so I can just sit down and get busy.  I think working on it a little each day should take care of that.

Looking around the house:::

Vacuuming and laundry to do.  I really need to come up with a weekly checklist and stick to it.  One room a day plus a quick whiz over to put away any clutter should do it.  I need to get back into the habit of decluttering each night before we go to bed.

From the camera:::
Two great lunches over the past week.  Poulet Crepe (chicken, spinach, mushrooms, Swiss cheese with Bechamel followed by a German Crepe which was lemon juice with salted caramel (interesting combination that was so delicious, we gobbled it up before I could take a photo).

Lamb shawermah/shawarma/shawurma (must be regional differences in spelling) with basmati rice.

Something fun to share:::
Not as much fun as informative - I signed up with Melaleuca again, any users here?  Their line-up of household and personal products is awesome - environmentally and consumer safe and made in the USA.  Switching over from the products I've been buying at the grocery store.

What I'm wearing today:::
Workout gear - I'm off to physical therapy.

Bible Verse, Devotional, Quote:::

When will this senseless violence end?

Friday, June 2, 2017

Story Time Friday #2

Looks like Story Time Friday will be a monthly feature since I only got as far as #1 in May.  Continuing on, I left off when we moved from Germany to Massachusetts in 1961.  I didn't really cover much of our time in Germany, so I started digging through some of the memorabilia I have stashed away to give you a little idea of our life there.

I found a letter written (the first nine pages) and then typed single space (pages ten-fourteen) by my father to his mother, my Grandma M.  I think Grandpa M was husband number two or maybe three.  I know the first one was a bank robber; Grandma M married him when she was very young and he told her he kept a gun because he was a detective.  She found out differently when he got caught and hauled off to jail.  Wish I knew the whole story.

Grandma M was the first (and I think only) family member to visit us in Germany shortly after I was born.

Grandma M, Dad, Mum holding me, Frankfurt Airport, March 1960 - obviously smoking in public wasn't an issue then, or smoking around babies!

Anyway, the letter is written December 31, 1960 and January 3, 1961, and goes into great detail about what a wonderful baby I was, so well-behaved and adorable, albeit a little chubby.  I love this paragraph, "We bought her a winter coat, hat, and leggings for a two year old (I'm 10 1/2 months old at this time).  The coat sleeves and the leggings are still a little too long but she's popped a button off the coat because it's so tight on her."  Insert chubby person emoji here, I was doomed from this early age.

The letter goes on to talk at length about a move from a temporary housing apartment to a nicer house with a little yard.  Apparently, the comings and goings and the rowdy antics of the residents in the temporary apartments drove my mother nuts, literally, as she had to have a note from a psychiatrist to say her nerves were shot in order for them to move to the nicer house.  I found this fascinating document, DD 398 Statement of Personal History, where my father listed all of our addresses from 1960-1973 and it goes back farther, to his assignments as far back as 1954.  How I wish I had kept adding our addresses from 1973 to the present although if I think really hard, I can probably come up with them.

There is also a reference in the letter to my sibling, "I found out that Wally's mother has her other baby."  My biological mother's name was Walli but I guess my Dad spelled it with a 'y'.  I found two cards from my biological maternal grandmother, Oma, but they are written in the very old German Gothic script known as Fraktur and I have yet to find someone able to translate them.  I must dig farther into that - surely in this tech-savvy age, I should be able to find a translator.  If they can translate hieroglyphics, there must be someone who can handle Fraktur.

It's been really fascinating tracing my early days and I have a feeling I will soon be branching out into some ancestry studies.  My Dad's sister has traced his family back to the American Revolution but I want to work on Mum's side and my biological family.

We left Germany and moved to Revere, Massachusetts in July 1961 and stayed there until August 1962.  Arriving at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey is the only stamp in my German passport.  During the time we lived in Massachusetts, I became a United States citizen.

Boston 1962