Wednesday, August 30, 2017

DIY Cork Bulletin Board

Recently I mentioned to a neighbor I wanted to make a cork bulletin board, but it would take me forever to collect all the corks needed to complete it. He drinks wine, so I joked he should save all his corks for me. Well, low and behold ... 4 months later he handed me a bag of corks. What a good boy he is!! He got me started.

I gathered the the first row of corks, myself, by attending 2 wine receptions. At each reception, I asked my waiter for a glass of Pinot and all his corks.😄 My benefactor's corks got the board 3/4 of the way done.

Next I visited a nearby wine shop and Mexican restaurant, where I picked up the balance of the corks to finish the bulletin board. 
Truthfully, I have no freaking idea what I'm doing, but when has that ever stopped me?😳 So far, I am using materials I have at home: 1) A trimmed side of a shipping box as a backing; 2) Elmer's glue; 3) and I don't know what to do for a frame yet. Do you like the cork board frameless? 

Someone set a clean, flawless block of wood out in the trash. It would be perfect, if I had tools and the skills to cut the wood into a frame. I do not. Alas, I have to let the wood go.

If you are inspired to make a cork bulletin board know: A sturdy card board box as a back and Elmer's glue work fine. Not only did I glue the corks to the card board backing, I glued the tops, bottoms and sides of the corks to one another for extra adhesive strength. I then laid a stack of books on the bulletin board for several days while the glue dried. After drying, those corks are staying put!

You will notice the corks are light and dark shades. I dispersed the different shades, as opposed to, gluing lights, or darks in a clump of sameness. Dispersing the shades look appealing! A few synthetic corks aren't spoilers. It also helps if the corks are mostly the same size, though they won't all be, and I suppose, the imperfections add to the charm of a DYI project.

Also, decide on a pattern before you start. I played with a few ideas, laying a couple of rows down unglued before I committed. Visualizing what you intend to do (i.e. having a plan) is a must. Next, have patience and fun in creating. If you are more crafty than I am, go for it ... design away!

It took an entire bottle of glue to finish the cork board. Luckily, I bought Elmer's glue when my local drugstore offered a 2 for 1 sale. So my new bulletin board cost me nothing in dollars and cents to make and very little time. Plus, the rows-of-corks as a bulletin board are lovely, right?
My 2nd cork board using an old frame. Got it for $2 at Housing Works,  a thrift store.
If you have an old frame at home, you could start with it. Toss the glass (or reverse it as a layer of support inside the frame). Glue your corks on the inside backing (usually it's card board), so the cork side looks out (like a photo would), minus the glass. Likely, fitting the corks to a ready-made-structure is easier than finding a frame after the work is done. Hey, my first effort ... I didn't know what I was doing. Am I Frank Lloyd Wright? Nooo.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Queen Victoria's Family Pictures

All 9 children together at The Rosenau near Colburg to honor their father, Prince Albert, August, 1865. (Back row) Princess Louise, Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales (Bertie); (front row) Prince Leopold (who, lame at the time, leans on a chair), Princess Alice, Princess Beatrice, Princess Victoria (Vicky) of Prussia; (standing) Prince Alfred (Affie), Princess Helena (Lenchen), (sitting cross legged in front) Prince Arthur {Photos: Royal Collection Trust}

In Great Britain Victoria, season 2 returns to television on Sunday August 27, 2017. A Christmas special will follow that I can't wait to see, knowing that Prince Albert, the Queen's husband, introduced the tradition of Christmas trees to his adopted country.

Season 2 won't air in America until February, 2018; but fans can watch it online with the Brits if they search for it. I don't feel naughty for doing so, as I will watch the series again when it airs here on PBS, which after all is free TV. (Why doesn't the series air simultaneously? Is it a matter of business and contracts?)

Standing: Prince Louis of Hesse (husband of Alice), Prince Alfred, Princess Helena, Alexandra, the Princess of Wales (wife of Bertie), Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales (Bertie), Princess Louise, Prince Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (their uncle and Albert's brother), Prince Arthur, Princess Victoria of Prussia. Seated: Princess Alexandrine, Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia (husband of Vicky), Prince Leopold (on Fritz's lap) and Princess Alice at The Rosenau near Colburg, August, 1865. 
Louise, Beatrice, Alice, Alfred, Bertie, Arthur, Helena, Leopold and Vicky - at The Rosenau, August, 1865

The screenwriter, Daisy Goodwin, says season 2 is set in the 1840s, with Queen Victoria juggling consecutive pregnancies, young children and her husband with her job of [constitutionally] ruling an empire. In Europe, the 1840s were years of "revolution, famine and unrest." Even in England, there were hostile republican groups in favor of abolishing the monarchy.
Left photo: Bertie (who became King Edward VII), Vicky, Queen Victoria, Alfred, and Alice, 1854; right photo: Helena, Queen Victoria and Louise, 1850.

I adore these photos of Queen Victoria's domestic life. Prince Albert and the Queen took to photography, recognizing its value in getting images of their family out to her subjects, connecting the public to the Crown. They look very middle class, but in reality had a huge staff of nurses, tutors, maids, ladies-in-waiting and equerries to assist them, not to mention palaces and castles to occupy in London, Windsor, the Isle of Wight and Scotland. By royal standards though, the Queen and Prince Consort were involved parents.
Left photo: 1854 - Queen Victoria with her favorite son, Prince Arthur (7th child, born 1850) and 2 of her ladies-in-waiting. As a child Arthur charmed the court and visitors with cute remarks. When younger brother, Leopold, was born in 1853, nurses reported, Arthur "talks to him like an old woman," calling his brother, "my baby." Victoria wrote that Arthur was "more dear than all the rest put together." Right photo: Prince Albert, Princess Alice, Queen Victoria holding Prince Arthur; (Back corner) Crown Prince Frederick (Friz) of Prussia, Princess Victoria (Vicky). In white hats: Princess Helena, Princess Louise, and Prince Alfred, 1857.

Between 1840-1857 Victoria bore 9 children. She hated being pregnant, but in her era the only effective method of contraception was abstinence. What's more, a dynasty has a duty to produce heirs.
Vicky and Arthur in the Tableau of Dreams, 1854
The cast of Tableau of Dreams dressed as seasons: Princess Alice  (Spring), Arthur with Victoria, the Princess Royal (Summer), Princess Helena (Holding a cross as A Spirit Empress), Prince Alfred with Princess Louise (Autumn), Prince Albert Edward (Winter), May 24, 1854 on the occasion of their mother's birthday.
Prince Albert was a strict, yet loving father. He oversaw the children's education, implementing a rigorous academic curriculum. The oldest child, Vicky, thrived, while her brothers Bertie and Alfred (Affie) less so. The children spoke fluent English, German and French, as well as, studied Greek and Latin. Additionally, the children took lessons in music, painting and drawing, recited poetry and put on plays to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. The girls learned to cook and bake; and all of the children planted their own vegetable gardens. Affie was mechanically minded and skilled at building forts. The boys played soldiers. Queen Victoria thought Prince Albert was perfect and after his death, tried to follow what she interpreted as his plans in raising their children. But the youngsters' world darkened, as they were engulfed in their mother's prolonged period of mourning.

Left photo: 1854 - Prince Alfred (4th child, born 1844) - At his own request his parents let him join the royal navy at age 14. At 17, Affie was away at sea, when Prince Albert died in 1861. Queen Victoria never forgave Affie, her 2nd son, for having affairs as a young man. She was critical of him throughout his life. A boy leaving home at 14 is so very young, though the Prince had a happy naval career. Right photo: September, 1854 - Arthur and Alfred dressed as Skeikh Princes at Osbourne. Four year old Arthur is a little ham! Often visitors to the nursery noticed the 7th child's charisma.

There is no doubt Queen Victoria loved her children (and they loved her), but she was not a natural mother. She was not only their mother, but their sovereign, a trump card she was quick to use when provoked. For all her faults as a mother, she gets cut a little slack. After Albert left her a widow at the young age of 42, she had 8 unmarried children at home. Princess Alice and Prince Albert Edward (Bertie) married within two years, according to the paths their father had sanctioned for them.
Another snap of Arthur and Alfred dressed as Sheikh Princes at Osbourne, 1854
Prince Leopold, Princess Beatrice and Prince Arthur at Osbourne, 1958
Princess Helena, Princess Louise, Prince Leopold and Princess Alice at Balmoral, 1860
It left Queen Victoria with 6 young children to make all the decisions for their well being as a single mother. Granted she had wealth, resources and servants to help her, but still her family's health, education, moral and social development -- their futures rested solely on her shoulders. It had to overwhelm her at times. She was especially fearful when upper-crust boys (i.e., princes) became young men. She believed all too often they grew aimless, reckless and immoral "running up to London" with the wrong set of people. Certainly, only a strong-willed woman could soldier the responsibility of a big brood. According to her biographers, she was a domineering mother. 

Left photo: 1865 - Prince Leopold (8th child, born 1853). Like his sisters Vicky and Alice he was studious and very intelligent. He was a gifted pianist and could paint and draw; right photo: 1866 - Princess Louise (6th child, born 1848). All of Victoria's children could sketch and paint. Louise stood out, becoming a professional sculptress.

Her children hated to disappoint her or incur her wrath. She had a mighty temper and did not like to be contradicted. She had few expectations of Bertie and Affie, who were, in fact, "running up to London," to have a randy good time. Leopold had an independent, feisty nature (but not wild like his brothers). He was miserable to be smothered and criticized as if he did. Helena (Lenchen) and Beatrice (Baby) were the most submissive children. Poor Beatrice (age 4 when Albert died) was raised to submit to her mother's needs over her own. Still ... Victoria loved them, guided them in good faith (if sometimes unfairly or selfishly), selected tutors and caretakers mindfully and allowed each child to marry for love. 
Princesses Alice (3rd child, born 1843) and Helena (5th child, born 1846), 1860. Both sisters played the piano beautifully (like Leopold, Beatrice and their parents).
When the Queen's children persisted in something they desired to do, if they took their mother on with tact and patient diplomacy, she would listen and at times relent (always with a written list of her conditions); however give in she would do, if the child strongly wished to pursue an interest or purpose. Thus Princess Louise attended a public art school (the first royal to do so and married a subject over a foreign prince); Prince Leopold (despite his setbacks with hemophilia and mild fits) was allowed to attend Oxford University, plus marry; and youngest child, Beatrice, (who Victoria groomed to stay unmarried at home with her) was also permitted to marry after a 7-month battle of silence and wills. With the shock announcement that Princess Beatrice had fallen for Prince Henry of Battenberg, Queen Victoria stopped speaking to her most devoted daughter. Written notes were passed between them during the feud at the breakfast table! Moreover, Princess Beatrice continued (as required!) to work as her mother's private secretary. It seems cruel to a modern reader.
Prince Leopold, Princess Louise, Prince Alfred, Princess Alice, Princess Helena at Buckingham Palace, February 29, 1960.
Vicky and the Queen, 1857
When the Queen clashed with one of her children, she wrote detailed letters, explaining her disapproval and anxieties not only to the child who challenged her, but to other members of the family such as eldest daughter, Crown PrincessVictoria of Prussia; the child's tutors and doctors; chaplains (and depending on the issue, a college dean or prime minister!) who's consuls {and consoles} she sought in the matter. She sent them copies of the letters: the child's request and her replies. Victoria was always upfront about what she thought!

Fortunately, the Queen was surrounded by many well-intentioned retainers; and the other children who were sympathetic to their siblings.

For all the upset over Beatrice's wedding, Queen Victoria grew to love Prince Henry of Battenberg. The Queen's new son-in-law gave up his military career to marry his English Princess; and the couple had to agree to live permanently with the Queen. Eventually, they gave her 4 more grandchildren.
Left photo: 1862 - Queen Victoria with her favorite and most devoted daughter, Princess Beatrice (9th child, born 1857). Right photo: 1864 - As an adult, Princess Beatrice was shy, but confident and determined if she had to be. She didn't seek nor crave her role as a sidekick to the center of power; it's what the Queen wished. Although Victoria was more maternal with Beatrice than she had been with her older children, it was a double-edged sword. From the age of 4, Beatrice was conditioned to put her mother's needs and happiness first. The Queen expected her two youngest children, Leopold and Beatrice, to live out their days unmarried as her companions. Prince Leopold was too spirited and independent and was unhappy until he was permitted to marry. Beatrice got married but complied. As selfish as Victoria appears to a modern reader, it was more common in Victorian times for one child in a family to remain home to care for parents.

It is not easy for offspring of a mother born to be a ruler ... as she will rule! Despite her maternal shortcomings, I mostly like Queen Victoria because on balance: her children were likable, responsible, respectable adults. They were instilled with a sense of duty and a desire to do good. All of them were gracious, humble and kind.

Even Bertie turned out to be a diplomat and good king. (King Edward VII loved his wife and mistresses, but that's another blog!) Affie, who became the Duke of Saxe-Colburg-Gotha in 1893, won over his subjects also. Mostly the siblings got along and were warm and open toward one another. Princesses Louise and Beatrice had squabbles, which were mended. Beatrice celebrated a happy 80th birthday with sister Louise, her next door neighbor, at Kensington Palace.* Bertie (Victoria's spurned heir) and Beatrice (her beloved confidante) were not close. Queen Victoria treated her oldest son and youngest daughter so differently, and some resentment stayed with the heir. Princess Beatrice was not part of the new King's inner circle (as was Princess Louise), but "remained a presence at court."* Bertie always invited her on the King's yachting trips; and his youngest sister was among the family who gathered as Bertie lay dying in 1910.* Unlike other dynasties, there were no ugly intrigues, plotting, nor backstabbing in Victoria's family. 

They were privileged royals, yes ... but spoiled, no. When looking at results, you understand, Queen Victoria was fundamentally a good person. So were her adult children. As a parent, she must have done many things right. 

Now for the countdown to season 2 of Victoria! Will you watch?

*The Last Princess: The Devoted Life of Queen Victoria's Youngest Daughter by Matthew Dennison here

Blogger changed something so writing captions for pictures messes up the format of a paragraph, therefore, I will identify the Royals in the last photo (above) in this spot: Standing: Alice, Louis of Hesse, Bertie, Helena. Sitting: Louise, Queen Victoria, Beatrice, Alexandra (Bertie's bride), and kneeling: Leopold. Poor Alexandra. It's her wedding and she holds a photo of the dearly departed Prince Albert, as her in-laws surround his statue, 1863.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Bangs Are Back

Reportedly, bangs are the next big hair trend. Never completely out of style, now they have a new name: Fringe, as in, "There's a fringe for everybody." 
Photo: Elle - Salma Hayek
Like a lot of little girls, I wore bangs for about 10 years. I wore them again for another 10 years shortly after graduating from college. I will probably never willingly cut my hair into bangs again. Why you may ask?
Photo: Elle - Bella Hadid
Because bangs are a commitment. When I had bangs I bought a  professional pair of hair scissors in order to trim the fringe myself in between haircuts. If you can't trim your own bangs, you will be booking hair appointments every 2 weeks.
Photo: Elle - Jennifer Garner
And growing bangs out takes patience galore and aplenty of awkward in-between lengths before they reach the measure of the rest of your hair. You get accustomed to looking stupid and trying stupid things while growing out your bangs, including securing the fringe with bobby pins, barrettes, mousse, hair stray, even swallowing vitamins in an attempt to accelerate the growing process.
Photo: Elle/Getty - Rihanna
Now that I'm older, I like my oval face (winkles and all!) without bangs better. So fringe on people, straight across your forehead ... no fringe benefits for me this time around. My days of the fringe have ended. How about you?

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Real J. Peterman Company

If you watch reruns of Seinfeld on television, you may recognize J. Peterman as Elaine Benes' quirky boss. (She was once fired by him for her dislike of the film, "The English Patient.") But, did you know the J. Peterman Company is a real business founded by J. Peterman, a living, breathing, flesh and blood entrepreneur?
The clothing, accessories and home goods retailer was launched in Lexington, Kentucky in 1987 by John Peterman, who also traveled the world and played minor league baseball for 3 years.
The upscale, yet affordable merchandise sells mainly online. There is a warehouse type of store in Blue Ash, Ohio, site of its present headquarters. The offerings are luxurious, practical, unique; and yes, sometimes quirky. You will find tailored suits and cotton dresses, fine wale vests and English umbrellas, as well as, Italian leather totes, hooded European raincoats and authentic English pub signs. J. Peterman calls his inventory "uncommonly good." Expertly made apparel, accessories, luggage and housewares that are frequently one-of-a-kind. People will stop you in the streets to ask where you got your articles.
His catalogues are fun to peruse. Product descriptions are written with a cheeky sense of humor, and the items are shown as drawings, rather than photographs.
Like the man, himself, nothing about the J. Peterman Company is run-of-the-mill, lackluster, or ordinary. Take a browse: Like an off-the-beaten-path road trip, it's a glorious idiosyncratic adventure!

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Healthy Real Food Is Not Expensive

Photo: 9 News and Wikipendia
Today I will dispute a common fallacy about the cost of food. It is thought that real food is more expensive than processed food, a/k/a "food like substances." Often this is untrue, which is a very good thing. Sustenance (or food and drink), the source of strength, health and fueling life, itself, takes a big bite out of our budgets. 

A quick way of eating healthy and saving money is to shop along the outer aisles of a supermarket, where real food like milk, eggs, meat, fresh fruit and vegetables are stocked and away from the middle aisles where most of the processed food, such as twinkles, cheetos, chips and boxes of sugary cereals lay.
On sale for $1.99 a pound at local supermarkets.
After I started eating real food over processed food, I spent less (time shopping and) money on groceries, a bonus I didn't expect. I will link a newly discovered website, called Foodfacts From A - Z, which is a handy-dandy encyclopedia of food. Look up the origin and nutritional value of a specific food. Your homework is to browse the alphabet of food, then add a new rarely/or never eaten food to your diet each month. Expand your food horizons.
Photo: blazer76 iStock
While it's normal to enjoy occasional treats, we need to remember what the true purpose of food is, as well as, to care about achieving longevity. Probably we should eat-to-live 95% of the time, and live-to-eat about 5% of the time for overall good health and a long life free of disease.

I notice that all types of anti-oxidant-rich berries are now in season. Priced as cheap as they will ever be. Eat up while inexpensive and plentiful. I posted lucious berry photos throughout the blog to entice you! {Cheeries are not considered berries as they have pitts, but like barries are high in axtioxidants and can be popped into your month.} We all need little nudges once in a while to learn and stick with healthy habits.

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Southern Cross (Crux)

Occasionally for fun, I blog about Guilty Pleasure Songs; however I'm going to retire the list of songs because the YouTube videos disappear so often, and it's too much effort to go back to old posts for the purpose of finding new videos of a whole list of songs. (Will you cry me a river?) I prefer writing new blogs to revising old ones.🙃

So from now on for amusement, perhaps I will do a Guilty Pleasure Song ... no more lists, just a single. Surely I can keep up with one song if it gets yanked.

Sooo, for my Guilty Pleasure Song, I choose Southern Cross by Crosby, Stills & Nash.

What can I say about it? Only a talented songwriter can write a good story song. Early country music had tons of them. Today, not so much. A good story song sounds authentic -- it says something real and true about the human condition. A listener can hear the song years later and still understand its meaning, as the scenario, or emotions are timeless. Hank Williams, Mere Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Bob Wills and a slew of other artists excel(led) at songwriting ... and thus master(ed) the story song.🎸

Steven Stills is no slouch either. He wrote Southern Cross (with the help of Rick and Michael Curtis) about a long boat trip he took following his divorce. A failed relationship leaves its damage and is filler for the song. Clearly, the protagonist pines for his ex-love. Do you agree? The man sails around the Southern Hemisphere taking solace in the beauty of the sea and the Southern Cross, a constellation of stars in a peaceful night sky. Through his sorrows and loss what endures for him is music. He thinks he'll forget her, and in time perhaps he will. Or not? {One source says: That's as likely to happen as forgetting the beauty of the Southern Cross.} See how clever the story song can be?
Crux photo:

Crux photo: Christopher J. Picking

A wordy song, Mr. Stills must possess a stellar memory and clear head to sing it LIVE, no? Lovely harmony too.

By the way, we can't see the Southern Cross here in America. Have you caught a glimpse of it in your sky?🌝

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