Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Three Lighthouses in Provincetown

I had never been to Provincetown, MA until last week, and I actually liked that I got to see this hip, usually packed, summer town on a bleak midwinter's day. It was a cold day (the day before the snow storm), and there weren't very many people out on the street, which made it easier for me to ask to stop the car and take photos.

We walked out on Race Point Beach and froze, but it was stark and beautiful in its barrenness. (I bet in summer it is just jam packed with brave, patient souls who endured the summer traffic up Route 6 - hence my never having been to P'town before.)

Here are the three lighthouses in Provincetown to add to my photo collection of New England lighthouses.
Long Point Light Provincetown, MA
Long Point Light
Wood End Light Provincetown, MA
Wood End Light
Race Point Lighthouse Provincetown, MA
Race Point Light

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Lavender's blue, dilly dilly, lavender's green,"*

Back in August, I went to the Lavender Pond Farm in Killingworth,CT and took some snaps. It's the only lavender farm in CT. They also keep bees, but weren't selling any honey (can you imagine how good that would be?) while we were there.

Lavender Pond Farm

Lavender Pond Farm

Lavender Pond Farm

Lavender Pond Farm

I also got some really good advice about pruning the lavender I have been try to grow am growing at my house (cut back the soft new growth only - not the woody bits). Not only are my plants still blooming, but for the first time ever, I think that the lavender I planted in the front of my house is going to make it through the winter.::fingers crossed::

Thursday, September 21, 2017

"But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days"*

My favorite time of the year is just about to start: FALL! Cool, crisp days; apple cider; chrysanthemums in bloom; red, gold, and orange leaves on the trees and crunchy under foot; pumpkins; Halloween; apple crisp. It always feels to me like the start of something new rather than the end of something. (This is probably tied to the academic calendar and was ingrained at a young age.)

Of course, it doesn't actually FEEL like fall right now with temps in the high 70s F and nearly 90F predicted for Sunday. But the days are growing shorter and soon enough cooler temps will arrive. I think I might put up my fall decorations around the house this weekend.


When I was a kid, my dad had my siblings and me memorize the following poem as an after-dinner contest. (We were always memorizing stuff. Whoever could recite the whole thing by heart first won the contest.) The second stanza has always been one of my favorites; it perfectly captures how I feel about this time of year. 

When the Frost is on the Punkin*
By James Whitcomb Riley 
They’s something kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here—
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of the bees;
But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

"It's great to learn, 'cause knowledge is power."*

I was over my parents house this past Sunday helping my dad with a project in the basement. It was kind of dark, and he warned me not to trip over the base of the Lally column.  I quickly replied that I thought it was called a "lolly column", not a "lally column". And then completely without thought, I started singing "Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here!" from that old episode of Schoolhouse Rock!

My dad had NO IDEA what I was singing, so I had to explain about Schoolhouse Rock! and how my siblings and I (and pretty much an entire generation) grew up watching it on Saturdays between the cartoons.
Aside: do you know that the big three networks no longer show cartoons on Saturday mornings? WHAT IS UP WITH THAT?!?!? Poor kids. What's the point in getting up early on Saturday now? Oh, wait. I think I understand this now...
I found him the video on YouTube so he could actually see what I was talking about, and he has been singing the song ever since. (My mother is not best pleased.)

Cut to Monday night: I am over Sister B's house for dinner. I answer a call from my dad on my cell phone. He has the song all cued up, and it starts playing "Lolly Lolly Lolly, get your adverbs here..." I hang up on him, laughing at having been "Lolly-rolled". Sister B asks me what I am laughing at. I start to tell her the story, as I just did here, about the "lally" columns vs "lolly" columns, and before I even finished my story, she starts singing...

*Schoolhouse Rock! slogan

Friday, July 7, 2017


So the Fourth of July is kind of a downer for me; as an Anglophile, I daydream about what it would be like if the colonies were a part of the Commonwealth, like Canada.  (JUST KIDDING - sort of. Since this year, less on the kidding, more on the wishing.) But for me, the 4th has never lived up to the hype surrounding the holiday. I can't really sum up what's missing, but it's always been anticlimactic for me, especially now that I don't live in Boston anymore.

The most hilarious part of that holiday was receiving the above text message from my friend SJ. She cut the cable/TV cord long before I knew her, but I keep forgetting that and just assume she is in the loop about all the Sunday night PBS shows (which she watches through PBS Passport or other streaming services). The last time I got a similar text was a couple of months ago when she missed the most recent series of "Sherlock".

So for all the folks who cut the cable cord (I WISH I could be one of you), here is my list of Sunday night British PBS shows you should be watching either live, On Demand, or through your streaming service of choice (Amazon Prime, Netflix, PBS Passport - which by the way, is worth the donation - ALL the seasons and masterclasses of the Great British Baking Show. Love it!)

Image result for Poldark1. Poldark: Captain Ross Poldark creates a boatload of drama when he returns home to Cornwall, England. Wounded in the American Revolutionary war, his family thought he was dead, and life has gone on without him: his father has died; the family home is in disrepair and the fortune is depleted; and worst of all, his beloved is about to marry his best friend/cousin. It is up to Ross to rebuild his life, making his fortune while helping out the tenants/miners who are living on his land. He starts a new business venture mining for copper, makes a formidable enemy of the wealthiest businessman in the area, outruns the revenue men while free trading, and finds a new, steady love in his very own kitchen. (Yay, Demelza!) This drama is based on books by Winston Graham and was originally filmed for television back in the 1970s, but this new adaptation is really engaging and has some lovely scenery, both of Cornwall and of the dreamy Aidan Turner ("Being Human", The Hobbit) who plays Ross Poldark. One word: ::scything:: You can thank me later. Series 3 will be starting on Masterpiece Classic on Sunday, October 1, 2017.

Image result for grantchester cricket episode
2. Grantchester: After seeing action in WWII, Canon Sidney Chambers seems to enjoy his quiet life in his small Cambridgeshire village of Grantchester, albeit one complete with whisky and jazz, much to the chagrin of his prim and proper housekeeper, Mrs. M. However, his life is turned on end when he gets involved in a murder investigation, and after that Sidney finds himself entangled in more criminal cases. His ability to listen to people and his compassion for their problems make him an excellent investigator. Unfortunately, he is not as discerning in his own life - the man has a full plate: his attraction to both Amanda, who is engaged to another man, and the intriguing Hildegard, a German widow; instructing his new curate Leonard; house training Dickens, his Labrador; and writing his sermon for Sunday. And whatever will the Archdeacon say about Sidney's new sideline in detecting? More Bakewell tart, anyone? Series 3 is currently running on Masterpiece Mystery.

3. Home Fires: It is the eve of war in the Cheshire village of Great Paxford. In the uncertainty wartime, Joyce, the chair of the local Women's Institute, proposes that the group disband until the end of the conflict, but is opposed by Frances, who realizes that the WI is a lifeline for many of the women in the village. Relaunching and expanding the WI to be more inclusive of class and station, Frances and her friends do their bit for the war effort and bring together women in their community in a way that they had not been united previously.  So if the show is about women, why the picture of the RAF flyer? Because Wing Commander Nick is LOVELY! Series 2 just concluded running on Masterpiece Classic. Sadly, this is the final series because ITV didn't commission a 3rd series, but the official story will continue in eBook form from Amazon. (I have just started reading!)

 4. Prime Suspect: Tennison aka Prime Suspect 1973 is the origin story of Jane Tennison's career at the Metropolitan Police. Viewers of the original "Prime Suspect" mini-serieses know Jane (played by the great Helen Mirren) as one of the first female Detective Chief Inspectors at the Met; this series goes back to her very first murder case at the Met while she is still a probationary WPC. The show is dark, which is typical for Prime Suspects, and there are a number of times where you may find yourself yelling at the television. One thing I liked about it was the little ways in which the young, naive, and idealistic Tennison from this program starts to become the more hardened character we know from Prime Suspect. The series just concluded running on Masterpiece Mystery; sadly, it is just a one off.

5. Endeavour is another origin story: this time of the Oxfordshire police's Inspector Morse, a character made famous by John Thaw. Shaun Evans plays Police Constable Endeavour Morse (it's just "Morse" to you and me), a smart, introverted music lover and Oxford drop-out who learns quickly when he joins the CID that he is going to need all his smarts to solve crimes in the circumspect academic community in Oxford of the swinging 1960s. DI Fred Thursday recognizes that Morse has a lot of potential, taking him under his wing as his "bag man", becoming both Morse's mentor and friend, solving crimes together over a pint and a bagged lunch in the pub. Series 4 has its premiere on Sunday, August 20 on Masterpiece Mystery.

1. While is it great to watch these shows streaming on your own, it's even more fun if you take part in the live Tweet that goes on when the shows air on Masterpiece on Sunday. It's great to read and to join in! The hashtags are usually the showname and then PBS, eg. #PoldarkPBS
2. PBS does shorten episodes so that they can have their sponsorship bits at the beginning and end of episodes. This is most noticeable on Endeavour. Well, at least it is to me, but then again I just rewatched the whole series on Amazon. I caught a bit of a series 2 episode on PBS this past weekend and realized they skipped a very small subplot that had no impact on the mystery.   

All photos from the Masterpiece website
* text message from S-J

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Low Country (Don't worry: this is NOT a post about my mood of late. ...That was an attempt at humor; it may have failed.)

Last year, instead of having a big "to-do" about our ::coughcough:: "not insignificant number that I am not disclosing here" ::coughcough:: college reunion, my college suite mates and I decided to go on a trip. We ended up heading down to South Carolina, where a family member has a home that we were able to use. We had a great time hanging out, watching the Olympics, going to the beach, and site seeing in Charleston and Georgetown (home of the Gullah museum - fascinating!).

Georgetown, SC

Georgetown, SC

In case you haven't noticed my Good Reads list on the blog (it's over there on the right), I am sort of "mad about" fiction set in the Low Country of South Carolina (as in "mad about the boy", not as in "angry at you for the Civil War") and between the works of Karen White, Pat Conroy, and Fannie Flagg (although she doesn't specifically write about the Low Country), I have developed a strong affection for the area. (Don't worry, London, this isn't a competition; you're still my favourite.)

Charleston, SC

Charleston, SC

Just give me some sweet tea, she-crab soup, and air conditioning, and I am good to go. (Not kidding about the air conditioning. We visited the first week of August, and it was hot. Really hot. Like the OCEAN felt like bathwater hot. I actually got badly dehydrated after a walking tour of Charleston - my fault entirely. But I still had a great time!) These are some of my favorite snaps of that visit.

Charleston, SC

Charleston, SC

I highly recommend visiting Charleston if you have a chance. Probably not in high summer, but if that is what works for you, it is still a really cool place to visit!

Monday, May 1, 2017

A National Treasure...Exposed

I was going to just tell you to google "Tracey Ullman as Dame Judi Dench", but let me make it easier for you by posting some of the links. These had me in stitches last week. (I wish BBC America was airing Tracey's show; the woman does impersonations like nobody else.)

Monday, April 24, 2017

"Look, matey, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now."*

So, previously in my life (to steal blatantly from the marvelous Miranda Hart), well actually it was last week, something unusual happened involving the animal kingdom. My colleague E and I were taking our daily constitutional (which just means that we were doing our daily mile walk for our morning break). The square block where our office is located downtown is just shy of a mile, and we were coming into the home stretch in front of the courthouse when I noticed something odd. There were two men standing there looking closely at a bird.

Disclaimer: I am terrified of birds. It is an irrational fear, but it is my fear. Birds are going to peck your eyes out. If they don't go for your eyes, they'll go for your hair. I blame this on 1. Alfred Hitchcock and 2. Okane Hall at Holy Cross where you had to walk into the back of the ivy-coated building through a door in the inside corner of the basement. The birds used to sit in the ivy just waiting to attack making a fearsome racket. I used to enter the building at a run. And, normally, I only run when chased.

There was something strange about this bird. It wasn't running away from the men. In fact, it was hopping closer to them. That immediately got my attention. Potential bird on the attack. As we got closer, I got a better look at it and realized the bird was a parakeet.
Sunlight the parakeet, not dead

Then I made my mistake. I TOLD my colleague, "Hey look. It's a parakeet. How did that get there?" Well, my colleague is an animal lover and decided then and there that we needed to rescue the bird because the weather was still pretty cold. She tried to get it to come to her, but it was too fearful to land on her finger. I started to back up as all this happened because even though parakeets don't have sharp pointy beaks, they still have claws.

E couldn't get the bird to come to her (thank goodness) so she came back into the office where she got a box in which to hold it, saying she'd take it to the Humane Society at lunch. After conferring with another animal loving colleague, she got a good size packing box, and twenty minutes later, she was back in the office with the bird in the box. The second colleague, H, who keeps parakeets as pets, decided that she wanted to adopt the bird and brought her home with her at the end of the day. While a little gun shy at first and definitely hungry, the parakeet, now christened "Sunlight", is healthy and doing well.

* from "The Dead Parrot" sketch by Monty Python

"And there's another country, I've heard of long ago"*

So I went with my parents to Easter Mass at their church because I didn't have enough time to go to Mass at my church in Hartford, go home, make the hors d'oeuvres I was responsible for, AND get myself to my sister's house in the 40 minutes it takes to get there and be on time for dinner.

It was a very nice service. The children's choir was performing the music at this Mass, and they were doing a very fine job (despite singing everything in a high register that I haven't been able to reach since my middle 30s.) Something happened during Communion that "caught me for a loop", as my friend MMH would say.

As the congregation stood up to go to Communion, it was announced that the hymn would be "O God Beyond All Praising", which I didn't know. Or rather I THOUGHT I didn't know because all of a sudden the organist is playing "I Vow to Thee, My Country". At a Catholic Mass. In the United States. In a predominantly Polish-American church. My dad poked me in the back as I got in the communion line, and we shared a little pleased look.

This will surprise no one: as I sung the "proper" lyrics in my head, I teared up a bit.

* "I Vow to Thee, My Country" lyric by Sir Cecil Spring Rice/music by Gustav Holst

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Being an Auntie...of a Future Anglophile...

At the moment, I have four nephews. (I say at "the moment" because by the end of July I will have five. Bless!) Sister B has three boys: N1 (4.75 years), N3 (2.25 years), N4 (4 mos), while Sister K has one, N2 (2.5 years), and will have N5. They keep us on our toes, but they are a very lovable and a really funny group of kiddos.

Phone box at the Tate Gallery
Scots Guard at Clarence House
N1's new favorite film is the live action Paddington, based on the classic children's books by Michael Bond. He thinks it is hilarious and frequently quotes the film, talking about "Darkest Peru" and "marmalade sandwiches". He says "marmalade" in a British accent, that, combined with his little boy speak, sounds like he is actually saying "llamalade", which sounds far less tasty than marmalade.

The Underground
He didn't seem overly impressed when I told him that I had been to London, including Paddington station, on vacation, and London was one of my favorite places in the world. But I wasn't really sure if he was paying attention to me at the time. Hmmmm...

Cut to: It is April school vacation this week, and Sister B has been wrangling all three boys at home when something happened that she needed to share with me. Apparently, the two older boys had been playing a game when N1 said, "Let's stop! Let's play "Go Visit Aunt Melanie's House in London!!"

IF ONLY, N1; if only.

ETA: On Saturday, April 22, we went out to brunch and there were little packets of marmalade on the table. N1 doesn't like jelly (even strawberry) so he didn't try it; N3 did try it, but he didn't like it. Since I don't like marmalade either, I couldn't really blame them.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Review: "To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters"

Last night, I watched "To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters" on Masterpiece. I wanted to love it, but ended up feeling pretty disappointed. The costumes and the sets/locations were wonderful, but the story itself was flawed and would have benefited from some reediting.

This show was supposed to be about the Bronte sisters, but the film told their story of their assent to publication success in the context of the decline of their alcoholic brother. There was too much Branwell Bronte in a film that was supposed to be about his sisters. (I wonder how the sisters would feel about their success being framed around the failure of their brother, who they protected.) One can't deny that his alcoholism and destructive behavior had a strong detrimental impact on the family, but in this kind of medium, there are things you show and things you tell, and, for me, we saw too much of Branwell. I honestly believe he could have had the same impact on the story without seeing as much of him and seeing more of his sisters. What was happening to him could have been told through voiceover in letters to the sisters' friend Ellen. Instead, we saw a scene where Branwell is told to stay away from the widow he had an affair with, a scene with him and his artist friend, a scene of his inner nightmares, and a scene on a chamber pot writing letters to procure gin. That is four scenes of just Branwell, and for me, it was four scenes too many.

I felt these scenes took up to much time in a two hour program at the expense of his sisters, namely Anne, of whom we only got to see in the context of her siblings and nothing of her inner mind and feelings. We got to know Charlotte from her constant writing or advocating for her writing (but did she always look so pinched?) Emily (reduced to being pissed off through much of the film) was strongly present through the reading of her poetry, but where was the woman who wrote the protofeminist The Tenant of Wildfell Hall? Anne's "big scenes" were about how she let Branwell down when he was fired from his position for having an affair with his boss's wife. Really?? Nothing more? I always felt like Anne was the forgotten sister, and this program just reinforced it.

I also felt that the program assumed that the viewer knew a lot of about the Brontes to start with. That opening scene that was supposed to be set in their magical imaginary kingdom (James Norton cameo!) came out of nowhere and disappeared just as quickly. (It was akin to the film Heavenly Creatures, just not executed as well.) The magical imaginary kingdom was a theme that wasn't used enough to have a significant impact, especially when revisited at Branwell's death.

Which brings me to another issue: film time jumps. We see Charlotte go off to post Jane Eyre to the publisher in the pouring rain (which made me wonder: did they send the only copy of the manuscript to the publishers? What if it got lost or damaged in the mail?) and in the very next scene, the book is very successful and about to have its second edition. If there was a subtitle explaining the time jump, I didn't see it.

The best part of the program for me was the Twitter conversation. There was one person who was posting a lot of interesting facts and tie ins as the film progressed and there were a couple of really funny comments. There were multiple tweets about sound quality and an inability to understand the accents used. (I had turned on the closed captioning when the Brontes as children were on, but found I needed them less for their adult counterparts.)

I was glad I watched the program, but it isn't one I need to see again. Sorry, Masterpiece/BBC.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

In which I talk plainly about a change I have made for the better...

So I was out to dinner last night with some friends that I hadn't seen in a while, and I was asked what I had been up to. My answer was working and cooking.

Confession: when left to my own devices, I am a terrible eater. I was often eating on the fly. I hate going to the supermarket so I'd end up eating a lot of pasta and very little fruits and veg. And it was totally reflected in my health: my energy levels were low, I had problems sleeping, and my stomach hated me. I knew that I had to make some changes if I want to live a long and healthy life. (And I am lucky to have a sister who had a frank discussion with me about it. Also, being known as the "sickliest friend" stopped being funny and started being scary.)

So about a month ago, I started a nutrition plan (from a book, yes, a DIET book) that is geared towards mending your metabolism. I started following the meal plans and recipes in the book, and something wonderful happened: I feel happier! and I have way more energy! and I am sleeping a lot better! and I am losing weight! All from improving my eating habits. Over the course of the 28 days on the plan, I observed a bunch of things that I wanted to share.

1. Eating healthy does not come cheap. This shouldn't have surprised me because you hear about this on the news when they report about studies about poverty and obesity, but I hadn't really understood it until it impacted my own wallet as I shelled out $45 for enough fresh produce for for 4 days. And that wasn't even organic! It was an adjustment at first, but the cost ends up balancing out with all the food that I was no longer buying (cheese, coffee, sugar, fast food, pizza). But I now have a practical understand of the folks for whom it just isn't cost effective. It adds up very quickly. 

2. Sugar was silently doing a number on me. When I stopped eating processed sugars cold turkey for this diet, I had a migraine-like headache for four days straight. I was miserable and cranky, and I almost quit the plan during the first week. Fortunately, I am 1. stubborn and 2. more stubborn. Once I got past that first week, I started feeling really energetic and upbeat, and, even though I was eating much healthier than I had been, I credit this feeling to eliminating the sugar. Was it easy? No. Do I miss eating cookies? Hellz yes. (Those Girl Scout cookies I had ordered months before going on the plan - I GAVE THEM AWAY!) But this past week, I tried a very sweet coffee creamer, and I felt so sluggish after drinking it that I feel the trade off is worth it for me.

3. I have to plan for eating healthy. When I have a plan, I make much better food choices than I did when I just came home from work and then thought "what am I going to have for dinner?" Or when I didn't bring lunch to work with me and then scarfed down something at 2:45pm that I quickly purchased from a fast food place down the street. The diet recommends that you plan out all of your meals for the week on a chart so that you eat all of the appropriate meals and snacks you need to and can do your shopping accordingly. If can I assemble my lunch and my snacks while I am making breakfast and then already know what I need to defrost or prep for dinner that night, I am golden. But it does take a lot of time. Instead of being a day for goofing off, Sundays became devoted to getting ready for the week ahead. I really did feel like I spent most of those 4 weeks either shopping for food or cooking food (although there was also the eating of the food so it isn't like that's a bad thing.)

I completed the plan this Monday, and, while I haven't slipped back to my old ways of candy, cheese, and no vegetables, I can feel that I am not ready to be let loose on my own yet. I am planning to resume the plan this coming Monday. I keep telling myself that I am building up good habits that will stick with me. And at some point in time, I will have a cookie again and some pizza, but in moderation and with a balanced diet. Until then, I'll just keep pinning recipes for cookies on Pintrest that I have no intention of making. But the pictures look pretty...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

If you like Coldplay, you may want to skip this post.

Two pieces of background information: 1. We can listen to music at work on headphones. 2. Today I was having the kind of workday that an English friend of mine would refer to as "pants".

So today, as I was walking back to my office from a meeting about a frustrating subject, one of my colleagues was listening to music on an iPod shuffle (so you can't see the artist/song info) and stopped me to ask, "Is this Coldplay?"

My response (before I could even think about how rude I was being) was "I hope not" as I really don't like Coldplay's music. Still, she offered the headphones so I could listen and make an evaluation.

As I slipped on the earbuds, I was chanting in my head "Please be Radiohead. Please be Radiohead. Please be Radiohead", which would be an honest mistake for the untrained ear.

As soon as she hit play, the unmistakable notes of "Yellow" came on, and I tore the ear buds from my ears before I had to hear more of Chris Martin than I could take on this frustrating day.

I looked at her and responded, "It's Coldplay" in my best dour Alan Rickman impression and walked on.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Winter is Here*

Yesterday, it was sunny and warm (over 50F). Today was cold, windy, and snowy, and when the snow finally tapered off, I was outside shoveling and snow plowing for a good hour and a half. (My next door neighbor MJ thinks that we got over a foot, but I didn't measure. I was too busy digging the ends of both our driveways out from the plow. She only has a shovel; I have a snowblower. That's what good neighbors do, and we are good neighbors.)

Anyhow, it is good kind of day to think about better and warmer weather days, and I was thinking about the day in October when I was invited to join Sister K and her husband as they went boating up the Connecticut River. We moored in Essex where we had a delicious lunch at the historic Griswold Inn, and everything was just so charming and Connecticut-y. It was a perfect day, and I got some pretty nice snaps.

 Saybrook Breakwater Light Old Saybrook, CT


Train bridge


Essex, CT from the river

I am not so keen on summer, but I'll take a sunny fall day anytime.

* Stark family words, A Song of Ice & Fire aka Game of Thrones

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Seven Things Making Me Smile

I'm baaaaaack!! It's been too long since I last posted something in the blog. I was supposed to make an effort in 2015, but best intentions, blah blah blah, didn't happen. So in honor of returning to blogging, I figured I would change up my layout (and change to https making this site more secure) and revisit an old subject as I ease my way back into blogging - that subject being Seven Things Making Me Smile.

image from
1. I am addicted to the home improvement show "This Old House" (and "Ask This Old House") on PBS. I bet you thought I was going to say "Fixer Upper", which I also watch faithfully.(How can you not love Chip & Joanna?) "Fixer Upper" is great for design ideas and Chip totally cracks me up, but I love "This Old House" because they explain to you how a house works. Heating, electrical, insulation - all of these have been issues at my house and having watched both of the TOH shows, I can actually have a conversation with a heating guy or contractor without looking (and being) utterly clueless. [Also, host Kevin O'Connor is a fellow Holy Cross alum. (Go Cross, Go!!)]
image from

2.  The Republic of Tea teas. My friend S-J first got me into this brand of tea when she introduced me to Downton Abbey® Mrs. Patmore's Pudding Tea, a delicious combination of vanilla, caramel, and tea!! Now I am all about Raspberry Rose Hibiscus tea (you can smell and actually taste the raspberries) and Good Hope Vanilla Red (Rooibos) tea. They are perfect in the evenings instead of dessert, which I appreciate. (I always want something sweet after a meal. It is a horrible habit that I really should get out of, but when there is a yummy dessert tea, you don't need to!) This website has ANY kind of tea you could possibly want. Plus, the company is socially responsible and uses sustainable packaging.

3. The revamped A Prairie Home Companion. This program has been a Sunday afternoon staple for me for years, and I was really concerned about the changes that would happen after Garrison Keillor retired this summer. Would there still be funny serials and great music and advertisements from Powermilk Biscuits and the Ketchup Advisory Council? Not to fear, new host Chris Thile (with his mandolin) is doing a really great job! In addition to bringing on even MORE great musicians (the magnificent Aoife O'Donovan has become a series regular) and, as he is not a storyteller, showcasing writers and comedians in place of the "Tales from Lake Wobegone" segment, he now has an original song of the week! Thoroughly enjoyable. (And they still have ads from Powermilk Biscuits and the Ketchup Advisory Council.)
image from
4.  Back to tv: I love Lucy Worsley's "Secrets of the Six Wives" (of Henry VIII), currently airing on PBS. Spoiler: Jane Seymour dies. (Sorry about that, Mahk.) I actually think this program is better than "Victoria" (sorry, Rufus Sewell). It's definitely more historically accurate. I have always loved Katherine of Aragon - she had such amazing integrity and gumption, but I keep coming back to this whole thing about Anne Boleyn: horrible or misunderstood? Lucy Worsley makes history real and fun and the fact that she actually gets to film in the real royal palaces, unlike "Victoria" (whatever location they used to pass as Windsor Castle was just embarrassing), makes it even better!!,204,203,200_.jpg
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5. I am currently reading the original 1818 edition of Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, and it is not what I expected. (I am halfway through the book.) It's not terribly Gothic. It's somewhat shocking, but not really scary. It is very descriptive, and as a person who doesn't read every word, I am surprised to find myself so engaged that I am reading every word. After I finish this edition, I am going to read the 1831 edition, which is the more popular edition of the book. [When Mary revised the book for this republication, she made it more conservative. A lot had happened to her personally in the interval so isn't surprising that her morals and philosophy would have changed, but it lead her to change not only some details (love interest Elizabeth is no longer an first adopted cousin, but an adopted family friend), but the tone of the text changed so that Victor is no longer a man with free will and a moral responsibility to his creation, but a man who is a pawn of fate and nature.] It will be interesting to see what I think when I finish both editions. One thing: no one says, "It's ALIVE!", which is a little disappointing. ::smirk::
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6.  I simply love America's Test Kitchen. I love the website, the cookbooks, and the tv show. I love the recipes, the taste tests, and the equipment reviews to the point that I always check the website before buying a new pan or trying a new cooking ingredient. (Because if ATK takes the time to test all this stuff out, I am going to benefit from their trial and errors!) It is really too bad that Christopher Kimble parted ways with the organization (especially under such unpleasant circumstances), but I am glad that Bridget and Julia are still around. I just got the Complete Cooking for Two cookbook, and I have already marked it up with recipes to make for dinner after work.

7.  Green Mountain K-Cups are now recyclable!! This means I can drink all the coffee I want at home without feeling guilty about contributing to landfill waste. Which is good because I can't handle that kind of guilt at 7am.

Please note: these are all my own opinions; I have not been compensated in any way for recommending any products, etc. etc. 


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