Monthly Archives: July 2013

Resetting Focus – Vacation!

Last week, I got to reset my focus. And I SO needed it. I had begun to feel bogged down by responsibilities and that’s a true tell that it’s time for a vacation.  So I had the privilege of participating in the second annual family women’s wine weekend. Just to clarify, that’s wine-tasting, not whin-ing. 🙂 No whining allowed on this vacay.

After spending a few days helping my daughter unpack in their new home (found out I LOVE organizing kitchens), I headed for a Bavarian town in the middle of Washington State called Leavenworth.  Six of the nine of us arrived Thursday night. The rest came on Friday. Everything in this town is walking distance, which is wonderful. I parked my car on Thursday and didn’t move it until I left on Sunday.

Have I mentioned yet it was 100+ degrees out? I don’t DO that hot. Or didn’t. Somehow, it didn’t bother me too badly, sitting in the beer garden, sipping a P1080387local IPA. 🙂

Friday was absolutely the most relaxing day I’ve had in years. We sat by the pool (again, 100 degrees out!) from 9AM until 4PM. We swam, sunned, chatted, and read. A LOT of reading. I can’t remember the last time I had that much time to just be a reader and read. It was heaven!

That night, we had dinner out, then headed for a local karaoke bar. I hate to admit this, but I’ve never been to a karaoke bar. EVER. I always thought it was a bunch of drunk off-key people. Maybe it is. Well, maybe there was a bit of “drunk” going on, but what got my attention was the singing. Probably 75% of the folks who got up could carry a tune pretty darn well. And a good portion of that was two of my daughters (I’m preening my prideful peacock feathers here). Michal and Christie both have great voices and great presence. How did I not know that?

P1080404By Saturday, we really needed to be able to tell our husbands we wine tasted. So we hit several of the local wine tasting rooms and found a few really good wines. I think everyone bought at least one bottle to take home.

The other “new” thing for me was Saturday’s dinner. It was my niece, Sammie’s birthday (happy birthday again, dear Samantha!), and she chose a Sushi and Thai place. I don’t do Sushi, but had Thai for the first time and loved it! I only chose a spice level 1 (on a zero to five scale) and it was pretty hot, but tasty. 🙂

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By the end of the weekend, I was ready to come home and get back to my normal schedule. But I learned some things about myself and my children and had a wonderful time. As well, I re-affirmed what awesome sisters, nieces, and daughters I have. Especially, I had the same feeling I had last year. That the generation that will take our family forward is filled with amazing, powerful women whom I love, respect, and trust with the future of our family.

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Book Review: Safe Haven

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A 5 star read from Nicholas Sparks. This story caught me from the first to last page. Katie and Alex are memorable characters. When Katie shows up in Alex’s small town he isn’t looking for a relationship but from the … Continue reading

Sticky Fun and Games

Here in the UK we’ve had soaring temperatures and, until the last few days, almost unbroken sunshine. Glorious. Hoards of people have been out and about enjoying themselves and the shops have taken full advantage with summer sales popping up everywhere. Of course, yours truly has been indulging herself, and I’ve managed to bag a few bargains.

During my shopping sojourns, I’ve noticed a preponderance of those annoying discounted stickers that they place on sale items which advertise by what percentage the item has been discounted and/or the sale price. No amount of nudging, scraping, scratching, wetting or tugging can remove these things. They’re never unobtrusive either, but are always in loud, garish colours that stand out a mile. You may manage to dislodge a few tiny pieces around the edges, but most times the darn things refuse to budge. Persist, and you’re left with puckered or stretched areas of the material that highlights where the sale sticker once lay. The worst culprits seems to be those stickers that they place in the heel bed of shoes. They are almost always impossible to remove.

Recently, I couldn’t resist a pair of adorable strappy sandals. I didn’t need another pair of sandals, but since they were just sitting there, the only pair remaining of their kind and in my size, you know? I mean, how is a girl supposed to resist? But I digress. Positioned in the heel bed of one sandal was, you guessed it, a sticker declaring by how much percentage they had been discounted. And would it budge? No, it most definitely would not. I was tempted to leave it, but fearing it would be visible as I walked, proceeded to do the usual scraping, wetting, peeling thing. I eventually gave up. So how come, a few days later, while on a shopping trip with girlfriends and having spent what seemed like hours in changing rooms dressing and undressing as we tried on just about every dress in the high street, did the sandal’s sticker miraculously remove itself? Did it do so surreptitiously and unobtrusively? Not on your life. Unknowingly, I walked out the store proudly displaying a bright red circle with white lettering on my derriere announcing 30% off! Cue muffled, but slightly hysterical, laughter from friends as they pried the offending sticker off my jeans amid cries of “if only it were that easy, and we could pop a sticker on our backsides which would instantly reduce them by thirty percent”.

After lunch, during which they plied me with a couple of glasses of vino, purely for medicinal purposes of course (seeing as I was still pretty mortified, I think that counts as medicinal), I was able to see the funny side of it. There followed some hilarious conversation about if we could place a sticker on any particular part of our bodies and instantly remove some of it, which part would we choose. After some animated discussion (you can see that when we get together the conversation is pretty intellectual), it was decided that we were only allowed to have one sticker.

For my sticker I think I’d chose my tummy, but then my thighs could do with a bit of trimming as well. Hmm. Would have to give this some serious thought before finally deciding.  Which part would you choose?

Favorite Days

I have a good friend who’s favorite day of the year is the Summer Solstice. You know why? Because she loves sunshine, warmth, and daylight. And the beginning of Summer has more hours of daylight than any other day of the year.

This got me to wondering if I could pick my favorite day of the year? What is the one day that stands out among all others? Christmas? It’s a favorite for a lot of people. And don’t get me wrong, I love everything around the holiday. But there’s a lot of work involved with Christmas, too. So I don’t think that’s top of my list.

I know people who live for Halloween. They spend all year working up new creepy-crawly decorations and costumes. Not me. I could pass on Halloween quite easily.

For me, my favorite day of the year is tied to a season, like my friend’s. Only mine heralds the season of renewal. The first day of Spring. It brings new color, new life, and a new freshness that I find irresistible.

What about you? Do you have a favorite day of the year? Someone’s birthday, perhaps? Or a day that has feel-good significance to you?

OVEN CARMEL POPCORN

chefpic I was trying to come up with a summer recipe for today’s blog and asked a friend if she had one. She said they used to have this one a lot when the kids were home and made it up for picnics and family get together’s. Thanks Linda.

2 cups brown sugar
2 sticks margarine
1/2 cup corn syrup
6 quarts popped corn
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
nuts if desired

Boil brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add soda; stir well over popped corn and nuts. Spread on cookie sheet. Place in 200 degree oven for 1 hour stirring at 15 minute intervals. Remove from oven and let cool. Store in covered container to keep crisp.

Cloudy With A Chance of “Rain Day” by Valerie J. Patterson

Rain Day statue in borough park

Rain Day statue in borough park

According to the rain record, it’s rained on July 29th 113 of the last 138 years in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania.  Now, this may seem an odd thing for someone to track, but in Greene County, we celebrate the fact that one local farmer made a comment to William Allison, a local pharmacist back in the late 1800s, that it always seemed to rain on July 29th.  Mr. Allison and his brother Albert kept a record of the rainfall until the 1920s when Bryon Daily took over the recordkeeping.  Today, we close off High Street, the main thoroughfare through uptown—we have no “downtown” as you must go up a hill to get to downtown Waynesburg —and we have an old fashioned street fair.  The center of the festival takes place on the courthouse steps.  This tradition began in 1979, and Rain Day is the only celebrated holiday in the world that is not a success unless it rains!!

Greene County Courthouse

Greene County Courthouse

1939 marks the earliest record of the notorious “Hat Bet” when celebrities—the likes of which include Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, The Three Stooges, Johnny Carson, Willard Scott, Harry Anderson, Mike Love of the Beach Boys, Fran Drescher, Jay Leno, and the Dixie Chicks, just to name a few—wagered their hats against our rain!  The hats won from the multitude of celebrities who lost their wagers are on display here while others were auctioned off in order to raise funds to begin a hospice care in the 1980s.

High Street

High Street

Rain Day festivities include the Miss Rain Day Pageant, comedy and musical entertainment, face painting, food booths, the Texaco Country Showdown, umbrella decorating competition, turtle racing, bubble gum bubble blowing competition, and the Company K Salute.

High Street, 2

High Street, 2

The Company K Salute commemorates the courageous Greene County men of Company K, 2nd Battalion, 110th Infantry.  The Rain Day festivities are stilled each year and a moment of silence is given in honor of those brave men of Company K.  Nearly half their 250 men were either killed or wounded in France during World War I on Rain Day, July 29, 1918.  The late John O’Hara, a local newsman, is often quoted for having once written, “On that Rain Day in 1918, it rained bullets on the men of Company K.”

Young or old, the people come out to celebrate and hope it pours!

If you’d like to know more about Rain Day, navigate the Rain Day website, which can be found at: Rain Day

If you’re going to be in the area and would like to enter your turtle in the race, just come on over…but you might want to bring your umbrella!

Until next time…may the rain in your life always be a cool summer shower and a cause for celebration!!

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FAIR TIME

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Well here I am again. I am so sorry I forgot my blog last month. Now I can think of about 100 excuses but I hate excuses to I’ll just say sorry and hope it doesn’t happen again. As usual … Continue reading