Monday, February 22, 2016

Downton Abbey

It has been three years since my last post about Downton Abbey. I have since caught up on the seasons I missed, and continued to watch the new seasons faithfully. It is with a sad heart that I am writing to say this unbelievable experience is now coming to an end. There is one final episode to watch in the sixth and final series, and I feel as if I am loosing a group of family members that I have come to love and enjoy spending time with each week. I can only say to Julian Fellowes, the creator of the series, that he has made me truly feel all of the emotions that he wanted to express in each of the characters' words and scenes. I have felt the joy and sorrow portrayed in the families' lives so deeply that I have cried and laughed out loud many, many times while watching the show. I will miss it all;  the glorious costumes, the beautiful scenery, the extremely talented actors and actresses, and the home(upstairs and downstairs,) as if it were my own. Most of all, I will miss the wonderful story that I have enjoyed for so many years and hate to see come to an end. Farewell to Downtown Abbey, and the end of a glorious run!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey represents a wonderful cross view of family life in the early 1900's, displaying lots of basic human-nature traits from many of our families' eras and walks of life. 

Unfortunately, I missed the first two seasons, only seeing a few shows here and there.  After reading and seeing all of the accolades about the show, I decided to watch the third season from the start.   The two-hour, uninterrupted, commercial-free show that aired yesterday evening, was not a disappointment in any way.

The impeccable detail and attention, paid to the costume design of the characters' clothing was awesome.  Looking at the "dress of the day" sometimes drew my attention away from the actual story.  This wasn't a bad thing, it only added an excitement and thrill to my enjoyment of the story. 

The continuing story of the Crawley family was easy to follow, despite my missing the first two seasons, and each character's role was well cast.  What a breath of fresh air after watching seasonal mediocre re-runs for the past month. 

My family and I are drawn more and more to so many of the wonderful PBS shows. Downton Abbey is definitely a treasure to behold, and of course will definitely become a classic for many years to come. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Meringue Cookies

Making meringue cookies is a breeze, and they taste heavenly.  They remind me of beautiful clouds!  Here is a quick and easy recipe that I made this past holiday season.

First, a few notes of advice: 

Take your eggs out of the refrigerator, and let them get to room temperature.

Use a glass or stainless bowl, no aluminum or plastic.

Be very, very careful not to get any of the yolk into the egg white mixture when you separate the yolks from whites. I prefer to use four little separate bowls(one for each egg white), then combine them into a larger bowl for mixing.  That way, you won't contaminate all of the egg whites as you separate them if part of a yolk slips in the bowl with the egg whites!

You will need a hand electric mixer, or tabletop electric mixer to beat the egg whites.

Prep time: 8-15 min.  Cook time: 120 min. Serves 24


4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, semi-sweet
1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray, coat with a light dusting of flour and shake off excess,
or cover it with parchment paper for baking

Separate yolks from whites of four eggs.  As I said, I do this in four small bowls, then combine the whites into a large bowl for mixing.  (Discard the egg yolks or save for some other use).

In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.  Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form.  Gently fold in chocolate chips and vanilla extract.

Drop mixture by heating tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart, making 24 cookies.

Bake until lightly golden and no longer sticky on the surface, about 1 hour.  Turn oven off and let cookies sit in oven for 1 hour.  (I have even left my cookies int he over all night).  Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.  Don't open the oven while cookies are baking and cooling!

These cookies are the perfect combination of vanilla and chocolate.  If you prefer chewy meringues, make them the day before you plan to eat them.

If you are a Weight Watchers these cookies have a 1 point per cookie value.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Mistletoes and Warheads

Mistletoes and Warheads has been rocking out since May 2011. Initially started as a project by Nelson Scott (Later adding Justin Au-Yeung and Andrew Love), MW is based out of Rochester NY. MW can best be described as the best thing to happen to your ears... ever...

Aw Else Boutique

Aw Else Boutique a great new boutique in the Greensburg, PA area.

Bose SoundLink Speaker

Just a shout-out about a great Christmas gift that we received this year.  I recently purchased an iPad mini, and loved listening to my favorite music on Pandora Radio via my iPad.  The sound was pretty good, but we received a Christmas gift this year that made the sound absolutely awesome!  We got a Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Mobile Speaker II as a gift, and now we can hear that rich, beautiful sound anywhere within 30' of my iPad.  Pairing my device was quick and easy(you can pair up to six devices to the speaker), and the Bose SoundLink speaker is very simple to use. I can't begin to describe the "big", awesome sound that comes out of that compact little speaker(approximately 5"x9")!!

It holds a charge for approximately eight hours, and has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Also has an integrated bi-fold cover that protects the system and unfolds into a stand.

I would highly recommend this speaker to anyone looking for some great sound, at a small price and size!

Friday, January 4, 2013

One of my favorite authors, Alexander McCall Smith

One of my favorite authors is Alexander McCall Smith.  I have read his books for many years now, and just hate to come to "the end" of one his stories.  Mr. Smith is the author of a number of series books.  The "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" series is one of my favorites, as well as the "No. 44 Scotland Street"  series.  Here is a little of the biography from Alexander McCall Smith's website:

Alexander McCall Smith

Bestselling Author of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series

Alexander McCall Smith has written more than 60 books, including specialist academic titles, short story collections, and a number of immensely popular children's books. Referred to as our new P.G. Wodehouse, he is best known for his internationally acclaimed No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, which rapidly rose to the top of the bestseller lists throughout the world. The fifth novel in the series, The Full Cupboard of Life, received the Saga Award for Wit. The ninth book in the series is The Miracle at Speedy Motors (April 2008), and the tenth book in this series is Tea Time for the Traditionally Built (April 2009). The series has now been translated into 45 languages and has sold over 20 million copies worldwide. The first episode of a film adaptation, directed by Anthony Minghella, and produced by the Weinstein Company, premiered on HBO in March 2009. Another series, beginning with The Sunday Philosophy Club, about an intriguing woman named Isabel Dalhousie, appeared in 2004 and immediately leapt onto national bestseller lists, as did sequels, Friends, Lovers, Chocolate, The Right Attitude to Rain, The Careful Use of Compliments, and The Comfort of a Muddy Saturday. The sixth Dalhousie novel is The Lost Art of Gratitude (Fall 2009). McCall Smith's serial novel, 44 Scotland Street, was published in book form to great acclaim in 2005, followed by Espresso Tales and Love Over Scotland, and then by The World According to Bertie (Fall 2008) and also The Unbearable Lightness of Scones (Fall 2009). In late 2008, the serial novel, Corduroy Mansions, depicting the lives of the inhabitants of a large Pimlico house, began to be published and podcasted in 100 daily web episodes by the UK's Daily Telegraph prior to its hardcover release in 2009. Alexander McCall Smith published a solo novel, La's Orchestra Saves the World, in December 2009.

In addition, McCall Smith's delightful German professor series, Portuguese Irregular Verbs, The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs, and At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances were published in the US in January 2005. He is also the author of several children's books, including the Akimbo series, about a boy in Africa, the Harriet Bean series, the Max & Maddy series and The Perfect Hamburger and other Delicious Stories. Akimbo and the Baboons, the fifth book in the Akimbo series, will be published in November 2008. Pantheon has published Alexander McCall Smith's collection of African folktales, The Girl Who Married a Lion. McCall Smith is also the author of Dream Angus: The Celtic God of Dreams, a contemporary reworking of a beloved Celtic myth and Heavenly Date and Other Flirtations, a collection of short stories examining the mysteries of dating and courtship.

McCall Smith was born in what is now Zimbabwe and was educated there and in Scotland. He became a law professor in Scotland, and it was in this role that he first returned to Africa to work in Botswana, where he helped to set up a new law school at the University of Botswana. For many years he was Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh, and has been a visiting professor at a number of other universities elsewhere, including ones in Italy and the United States. He is now a Professor Emeritus at the University of Edinburgh.

In addition to his university work, McCall Smith was for four years the vice-chairman of the Human Genetics Commission of the UK, the chairman of the British Medical Journal Ethics Committee, and a member of the International Bioethics Commission of UNESCO. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Crime Writers' Association's Dagger in the Library Award, the United Kingdom's Author of The Year Award in 2004 and Sweden's Martin Beck Award. In 2007 he was made a CBE for his services to literature in the Queen's New Year's Honor List. He holds honorary doctorates from 10 universities, most recently from Southern Methodist University, Dallas.