Category Archives: recommend

Pennsylvania’s only President


Our Christmas adventures begin!

On November 30th, we took a little trip up to Lancaster, PA to tour the Jame Buchanan house. To make the tour special, they had actors playing Clement C. Moore who penned ’twas the Night Before Christmas, his wife, a housekeeper and Mr. North/St. Nick.

We got there thinking we’d get in on the 4 pm tour, but had to wait until 5 pm. They couldn’t add us to the group. We went around the mansion and took photos of it outside to kill time.

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We would get to see it in the dark all lit up (just the back). I just love when the sun sets at 4 something these days.

Buchananhouse13 009grape arbor

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Colonial garden done for the fall

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This was the door we would go in to start the tour.

When it was our turn, Brian, Sean and me were the only ones on the tour.

It was kind of interesting! We got to talk to the actors as if they were the actual people. We tried to take photos, but the lighting was bad.

Buchananhouse13 044This was Mrs. Moore. The tree behind her was gorgeous. It has a big peacock at the top.

We played 1820 parlor games with them. We were suppose to make someone laugh and I said ‘hello handsome’ to Mr. Moore and made his wife laugh! Then we had to read cards which were aimed at the humor of that time. Like the one card would say ‘when should we drink a cordial’ and  the other card say, ‘not a quarter to midnight’. They all chuckled. Ha ha.

The mansion is really a lovely place. They did a nice job decorating it inside and out.

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There were torches lit along the back too. We didn’t go around front to see it lit up!

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The Lancaster Historic org is on the property and this is where we were waiting for our tour. We watched a short movie about Buchanan first. He was a bachelor and a lawyer.

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Buchananhouse13 036Buchanan’s carriage

We thought it was different and fun. We headed to look for a few caches in Lancaster and couldn’t put our hands on them. Pizza Hut was calling our names, so we had dinner there. We did find one lone cache in a metal bus stop on Rt. 30. Brian found it on a ledge on the top inside-in the dark with my phone’s flashlight.

I can’t wait to see what Longwood Gardens did this year!

Crazy over homemade soup


You know when you have lots of leftover meat and you want to make something that doesn’t taste, well, ‘leftover’? I was joking about the ham I had left-ham croquettes, ham omelets, ham salad, fried ham and then what I did make ‘Ham and Bean’ soup.  I have to say I found the recipe in my email inbox, thanks Food & Wine. This link will take you right to the recipe!

hambeansoupWhat was really yummy were the croutons made out of baguettes! You cut them in slices then cubes and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika. (They would be nice in salads too).

But it was a good, hearty soup. We ate it before going to the tax office. I had some after work for lunch the next day too.

Not too much new, except my phone! Got another Samsung Galaxy-but a Blaze. It’s really nice! The voice recognition works much better than the older phone, as does the GPS. That’s one of the reasons why I picked it out. It took the above photo too.

We have some plans for an overnighter coming up. We were originally going to try and go LA, but Sean decided not to go and we couldn’t really afford it.

‘Collage Artist’ book review #2


This is hands-down one of my favorite books. It’s called ‘Embellishments for Paper Crafts-Ideas, Tips & Techniques’ by Klassen and Conron Carola (published in 2006 with 128 pages).

I have so many bookmarks-about 10 tags sticking out of the top of my copy.

There are tons of ideas. A few of my bookmarks are for Altered books, Quilling, Crafting with photos, photo frames, altered altoid tins. These are really nice looking items. How pretty are the scrapbook pages made with real leaf prints? The Beach Memories frame has real sand and shells on it.  The projects are for all skill levels. You can start off making tags which are easy and so personal.

Paper crafting is such a fun hobby. It can be also be inexpensive. I save so many scraps for my collages that I rescued from the trash.

This book is available on Amazon (only a few left and they are dirt cheap!)


I’m pretty much packed for the trip. It was difficult to chose outfits because I didn’t dare pack sweaters as I have been so warm lately. Hopefully we won’t be outside that much. The weather is suppose to be a bit rainy Friday night. Our hotel is about 15 minutes from Times Square and there is a bus right there to take you in. If you recall we drove in the city when my friend Karin got married in 2007 which was a big mistake. The wintertime may be a little different. I would like to see The Metropolitan Museum of Art ($25 each to get in!); a crafty/millinery store called ‘Tinsel Trading Company’ (I called and they are only open until 5). A few bloggers went to NYC and loved it. I would like to see ‘Dylan’s Candy Bar’ a delightful to the eyes and taste buds shop.  Central Park is right there and you know what parks look like in the wintertime. I would like to see ‘Strawberry Fields’ where the John Lennon memorial is.  We have tickets for the 9-11 Memorial on Sunday.

Brian’s dad called the doctor and his accounts of his MRI was it was clean. I hope he isn’t covering anything up and I think Brian should call the office to be sure. He’s at the age where he may not tell us everything so he can stay in his house. He fell down 3 times in the course of a few days. Brian did say something to his dad about his time at the house being limited if he was going to start falling. He doesn’t keep his cell phone on him either. Crossing fingers he was truthful with Brian.

‘Collage Artist’ Book review


I decided to share some books from my own personal library with you! I have 100s of books in all genres, so it may take a while to pick and chose and to review them again, so I will probably surprise you in the process.

So….yesterday was a good mail day as I got Good Mail Day by Jennie Hinchcliff and Carolee Gilligan Wheeler in the mail.

I tend to really enjoy the big books of craft or the ones like this that are more specific to certain art. I have also participated in and have received some awesome mail art. I will have to locate them to share.

My dear friend Greta  from CA. has made most of these including the clever squirrel on a broomstick. : )

One from Finland

And a few more from Kelley out of CA

The authors first remarks are basically about how getting mail is a dying art. They state that no one gets mail as no one sends it anymore. It’s true isn’t it? This is one reason why I did the challenges with pals and strangers a like over the last five years as I have always loved to get mail! I can think of another friend who is the same way, correct Ms. Carole?

As a collage artist, I think this is a super fun book to browse and get ideas from. The authors share tons of ideas. They make cool rubbings from items like mail slots and find discarded business cards in a park to use. One suggestion is to make an envelope out of candy wrappers. I have a big box of ‘scraps’ and I will surely start making more art envelopes. I remember one year I did a neat fold for a Christmas newsletter, like an Origami piece. I couldn’t decorate 30+ envelopes for the Christmas cards, but I can decorate them with a few stickers. I guess you could make a master envelope cover and copy it too! (Did I tell you again how much I like having a copy machine)? : )

The authors give you templates for envelopes and some really cute postage related stickers.

And don’t forget postcards and doing some cool calligraphy or block printing (even with rubber stamp letters).

I don’t want letters to go by the boards. Letters are cool. My maternal cousin Ann is the best letter writer (thinking about her now, I need to give her a call if I can find her phone number-two years have gone by now). She wrote long handed and also would include things she cut out like intricate snowflakes, photocopied art work and handmade ornaments. A now deceased pal Sandy would write personal letters to me with her Christmas cards and most times I would send her a letter back.

Let’s all sit down and write a note to someone, maybe even use a postcard or better yet, make your own postal art!

The Presence of trees and other things


The Presence of Trees

by Michael S. Glaser

I have always felt the living presence
of trees

the forest that calls to me as deeply
as I breathe,

as though the woods were marrow of my bone
as though

I myself were tree, a breathing, reaching
arc of the larger canopy

beside a brook bubbling to foam
like the one

deep in these woods,
that calls

that whispers home

(so it’s not the woods, but isn’t this a wonderful tree?)

I had the rare opportunity to enjoy a walk at the park in January as it was in the 50s (this was on Thursday). I had my new-ish phone and captured this of what I think is a Sweet Gum tree. My fellow h.s.alumni , a movie director in California, gave me a thumbs up on Facebook (I sent the photo there first)-I was really flattered Todd. : )

So what else is new-sorting and cleaning in the super dusty and yucky basement-it was so bone chilling cold outside and I still needed to get Christmas stuff put away. I had a helper-thanks to Brian for sticking his nose in the dust. He’s making ‘smoke’ now. Good thing I took a Claritin. We had a nice roaring fire in the fireplace and he gave me a mixed drink of some peachy stuff and tequila-a bit strong. I had the ‘brilliant’ idea to get wood from under the Chestnut tree and it’s just not burning now. The ‘bought’ wood was fine, but I didn’t like the smell of it.

I got this today-a gift to myself and since I put so much moola in the iPad2, I wanted it to be protected:

(my protective cover has specks of dust under it, so little bubbles there)

You can see my messy wall desk calling out to me in the background. I am getting to that maybe tomorrow.

It’s a stand and the iPad can swivel from ‘portrait’ to ‘landscape’

I sent this to Zoey via email, not sure if she got it, but here’s catalog shopping at your fingertips! I got the case from eBags-funny I checked for coupons on the laptop while using the catalog app and found one for 20% off with free shipping. I really like that site. Got the case in two days! (Came from Penna. too).

(That’s my $5 ‘five below’ case, I think I’ll find a new use for it).

I got my mom the Le Pan tablet and she was upset as it froze up on her tonight. I went online and it said to just push the ‘reset’ button on the back. She is having fun browsing the web. She has an email account and Facebook but hasn’t used them yet, or any applications. It’s Android like the phones I am using. I got it for $180 and saw it for $350 on another website. She is enjoying it, but needs to learn how to clean out the cache.

 I feel a weight off my shoulders as we start to dig through the mess of the basement. I want a craft corner for messy projects, etc. We made a resolution to go down there once a month and do more sorting. I have about 5 blue Hefty bags and only a few cardboard boxes with stuff left to sort. I’ll be buying more plastic bins for sure. We had 3 bags of trash and several things for the Goodwill. I still need to whiddle it down.

Keep warm!

Taken from the iPad2

Winter Blooms


It’s so nice to see these blooms and ‘will be blooms’ during the bleak days of winter. The month is half over already, and as many of you probably do, I  also count down the days until spring.

The white Amaryllis has been blooming since Christmas! (This is the second stalk). The poinsettia came from the same place as the paperwhites-Terrain. They are about to bloom. I have them in a aluminum pie dish with sea glass in it.

The tree came down yesterday and I still have some the boxes in the living room. I have major tidying to do in the basement, but will need help with the lifting and stacking part. I’ve been having lower back issues (on the right) that I feel is from standing so long and vacuuming for 45+ minutes-all the pushing and pulling. Certain things are aggravating it, so I have to be careful. Then my right eye is really red in the corner. I called the doctor’s office yesterday and she called an antibiotic drop in for me. I can’t tell you the last time that happened (not having to go in for a visit-but I will if it gets worse)! I have to use it for a week and it’s still a bit red, but it was weepy and filmy Tuesday night.

I’m going to start my new year of dental repair on Tuesday. It’s going to be quite pricey and they said we could space out the visits. The first visit will be two crowns on the bottom and a filling. I have an older crown on top where the tooth underneath has a cavity. I hadn’t had my teeth cleaned for over a year, but went there 5 times last  year. This time they did bitewing x-rays and the very thorough dental hygienist  found all my issues. She was kind of rough, but surprisingly my  mouth only was sensitive in a few spots. I can never seem to be debt free with the dentist.

Sean is going to a GIS conference in New York City at the end of February, so I guess we will tag along. It’s been almost 5 years since we went up for Karin and Michael’s wedding. We will not drive in the city, but look for a place with bus transport right over the bridge. We learned the hard way. We will probably take a tour of Chinatown.  We’d really like to see the 911 Memorial. Not crazy that it is in February, but maybe it won’t be as crazy up there as it was in June. ; )

Of course I am loving the iPad2. It’s worth every penny. I do love my laptop and phone too. I have 23 apps on it and a lady on Facebook has about 150! A neat one is Hulu pro, sort of like tivo for your iPad. It cost $8 a month, but you can watch tons of tv programs and movies. For instance, I missed ‘Parenthood’ the other night, so I’m watching it in my leisure now. The picture is so sharp! If you take lots of weekend trips or are waiting for people at the doctor, etc. it’s a great device as you can sit all cozy on your sofa and do most of what you do on the web. Am I selling it to you good enough? LOL

Of course I need to get down to doing the crafts I love which I haven’t lately. Everything is gathering dust. I have some ideas up my sleeve and I also have some new yarn for crochet (and new stitches to try thanks to Pinterest).

Good things come in paper packages


I now get Southern Living magazine in the mail until April as the coupon offered it for $2-that was a bargain for such a lovely magazine. I put it up on a pedestal with Martha Stewart Living, but I think they each have their own uniqueness. Southern Living had some yummy recipes and they out did themselves with this issue:

Soups, Cookies, Roasts, decorations…I’m talking things I want to make. Sometimes MSL has recipes that I just don’t know what it is or where to find an ingredient. I will probably make the taco soup from SL tomorrow as I have to be to work from 5-10 pm. The store closes actually closes at 9, but they are getting ready for Black Friday. I don’t know where they will squeeze another thing in there. People can’t walk through racks without knocking stuff off as it is.

Speaking of the store, 4 hours was better as was the second day. I did write a note to the manager if I could have 5 minutes to sit down after 2 hours, I’d appreciate it. He wasn’t in, and I didn’t sit down. The chitchat lady (see my reply to Zoey yesterday) was watching me all day! She put me back in  the ladies dept. and I like that sales lady there better. They all whip through those registers so quickly! I bet they couldn’t whip through the internet like me! I only made a few boos boos, one actually I think wasn’t my fault. I did a few returns and the customers weren’t given the receipt to sign.  The customer used a debit card and she didn’t sign the receipt. Another assistant manager had to approve the transaction and she needed to sign the receipt and she didn’t. I think she stuck it in the receipt bag without the signatures. I’m only suppose to be shadowing the sales people anyway, so if I forgot a step, it’s really their mistake as they are suppose to be watching me. I’m getting it! If Brian hadn’t been sick (he’s somewhat better-temp down to 100.3) I think I could really concentrate ‘fully’ on what I’m doing. I like helping the customers the most.

I was really happy to see J.R. Martinez win the mirror ball on ‘Dancing with the Stars’. He’s the 28 yr old former soldier who got burnt so badly several years ago. He is a sweet guy and I cheered him on the entire time! He’s a great dancer. Last week, he twisted his ankle and it effected his performance, but he and Katrina bounced right back this week.

Crispy Fish Tacos


I made these last night, so good! I never ate fish tacos until a few years ago and now I try them when I see them on the menu. A guy I went to high school with is a chef and told me to use buttermilk-had to add a little white vinegar to regular milk to make my own. I got fish with batter like you get on sweet and sour shrimp/chicken-nice and light. The first few batches were a little light in color-should have let the Canola get a little hotter. The ‘sauce’ was good-mayo, sour cream, hot sauce, garlic and Cilantro. I used talapia, but you can use any white fish. Someone said halibut was good. Sean liked the crispy shell, but Brian and I liked the soft. Try it, you’ll like it! (I don’t serve food that is fried too often, so this was a treat).

Apple picking time


Since I had just eaten a ‘caramel’ apple (it was red, not brown caramel) and had the wrapper, I did this apple collage. The 1976 book I found with the apple had beautiful illustrations as you can see. This came together fairly quickly.
When we were kids we went to a place a few miles away called ‘Linvilla Orchards’ which was known for it’s octagonal barn. The wonderful smells of that red candy coating boiling for the freshly picked apples made your mouth water. The old barn burnt down a few years ago and was rebuilt. I’d love to go there again soon!
We had a rain out of a day and it was raw outside. I think it’s in the 40s right now.
Just got finished watching ‘Pawn Stars’ and ‘American Pickers’ on ‘The History Channel’. I love to see what people bring in the pawn shop in Vegas and want Mike and Frank find on their picks in old garages, etc. They were on ‘The Rachael Ray Show’ today and found her a ‘spaghetti lamp’(Something like the link). It was like a swirly white plastic upside down fish bowl with green and blue squiggles on it. She loved it.
Off to bed really soon as I had a restless night last night.

I recommend Chicken Piccata with Angel Hair Pasta from the packaged mix I found from Macaroni Grill at the store. It’s just the way I love chicken.

America’s Best Lost Recipes


I got the above book for Christmas and I started to read it this morning. Right away there were a few recipes that I have heard of- ‘Wacky’ Cake, Amish Pickled Beets and Eggs and 24 hour salad. The Wacky cake was made by a fellow church member a few years back for a church picnic. I heard her say to her son, ‘I made your favorite Wacky cake’. This was a joke between Bri, Sean and me every time we saw this lady. We even called her Mrs. Wacky Cake! This was popularized during WWII when many cake ingredients were short in supply and they made due with what they had. A few of the ingredients were white vinegar and vegetable oil. I remember making a cake with mayonnaise, must have been similar to Wacky cake and it was good too!
My husband’s mom made the Pickled Beets and Eggs several times a year. I think it was something her mom use to make too. I don’t recall making them myself. I like deviled eggs. A good hint from the book is to cook the eggs, drain the pot and then roll the eggs into each other until the shells start to crack. This makes it easier to peel them.
The 24-hour salad is a variation of ‘Ambrosia’. I’ve made this several times over the years. The book version calls for frozen sour cherries where I would used red cherries. They used cut up marshmallows where I used the mini ones. The cut ones are better as they don’t get as soggy. I’m just in the appetizer section (the cake was referred to in the intro), but I am having fun reading about the tried and true 121 recipes included here. I will be trying many of these and will let you know how tasty they are.
I like this part of the intro:

Some things are just crying out to be lost. Bad supermarket tomatoes. Sponge*Bob Square*pants Cereal. Breakfast at Mc*Donalds (I like it!).Halftime at the Super Bowl. Any recipe that starts with a can of cream of mushroom soup (they haven’t tried my tuna noodle casserole!). And don’t forget children’s books penned by celebrities and casseroles of overcooked broccoli.

This is by the editor of Cook’s Country magazine if you are interested.

Photo and recipe found here