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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Look Who's 7 !

The years have gone by way too fast, as always. Our "oldest" granddaughter Elizabeth Jean (Ellie) is 7 years old today. Miss Ellie is a free-spirited and very happy and we love her dearly. She's already quite a young beauty and is known as the family "fashionista" for her choices in clothing.
The photos were taken earlier this year. A favorite is this one with Grandpa Grenville.

Happy 🎈7th 🎂 Birthday, Ellie 🎁 

We ❤️ you

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Castle Hill, Ipswich MA

Castle Hill in Ipswich, MA, is a grand estate from what's been termed the Country Place Era, a period ranging from 1890 to 1930. During this time, wealthy families built country estates that included extensive gardens. These estates were only occupied during summer months when families sought to escape the urban heat and crowds. 


Chicago industrialist Richard T. Crane manufactured and sold brass goods and plumbing supplies. In 1910, he bought property which would become known as the Crane Estate. Over the next 20 years, he worked with some of America's leading building and landscape architects to build his summer retreat. 


Crane commissioned an Italian Renaissance-style villa, with stucco walls and red tiled roof. It featured hilltop vistas of the Atlantic in an area of the property called Castle Hill and included a farm and estate buildings, designed grounds, gardens, and natural areas. 


Crane hired the Olmsted Brothers, sons of Frederick Law Olmsted (who created Central Park in NYV, Brooklyn's Prospect Park, Boston's Emerald Necklace and others), to design the landscaping. By 1912, the Olmsteds had fashioned a series of ornate terraced gardens, with a grass mall or "Grande Allée" lined with evergreens cascading from the top of the hill straight down to the water nearly half a mile away. It was lined with classical-style statuary at regular intervals, which are still in place today as seen above. 

But his wife, Florence disliked the mansion calling it "cold and drafty." Crane told her that if she would give it 10 years, he would replace it if she felt the same way. 


She did and so the first house on Castle Hill was razed. In 1928 it was replaced with a 59-room mansion that included a main facade in the 17th-century Stuart style, a library with  carvings imported from an English country house, parquet wood flooring, and paneled interior rooms from an 18th-century townhouse in London
The mansion or Great House is furnished with period antiques.

An opulent "casino" was built at its midpoint with a saltwater swimming pool, bathhouse, guest cabanas and large indoor ballroom. The pool is long gone and has been filled in, but the white walkway still forms its outline.


Two main gardens, the "Italian Garden" and the "Rose Garden," were filled with plantings, landscaped walkways and fountains. The landscaping remains largely unchanged.
A pair of very large seated griffins (mythical creature with the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion) grace the entrance to the north terrace overlooking the sea. These were a gift from employees of Crane Co. on completion of the new home.
After the death of Richard Crane, the estate passed to his wife. In 1945, the Crane family donated much of their private beach and dunes to The Trustees of Reservations, a private, non-profit land conservation and historic preservation organization. When Florence Crane died in 1949, the remaining property and the mansion, were given to The Trustees, who maintain the property and offer seasonal tours of the historic mansion.

Our visit was on an especially warm day and we agreed that this location was a great summer retreat. Thankfully, it's not for sale, just imagine the upkeep and maintenance!

In recognition of its state of preservation and design, the 165-acre Crane Estate and the Castle Hill mansion were designated a National Historic Landmark in 1998. 

Seared Scallops, Asparagus Salad

It's been awhile since a new recipe has been posted. We're cooking at home most evenings, but I usually don't have the forethought to take photos while doing meal preparation. 

Last week I did take photos of one of our dinners, but only the plated results, not the prep steps as my hands were too food-involved. This main and side dish pairing was very good and enjoyed with a glass of Pinot Grigio white wine. It's a fairly simple recipe, but being a first-time menu, it took a bit longer than anticipated, but definitely worth it.
I paired this main dish with a side dish of shaved asparagus salad, which was also a first time prep. I'm planning a "redo" with a different seafood, shrimp next time. 

Seared Scallops with Pea Puree
  • 12 large scallops
  • Kosher salt 
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 C fresh or frozen peas
  • 3 oz bacon (about 3 slices) cut into strips
  • 1 medium shallot, cut into thin rings
  • 1-1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 TBSP (or more) olive oil
  1. Place scallops on paper-lined plate and dry with additional paper towels.
  2. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil, add peas and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook until bright green and tender (2 min. for fresh peas and 4 min for frozen). Drain peas and reserve cooking water.
  3. Add bacon to large skillet and heat over medium heat. Cook bacon, stirring occasionally, until fat renders (about 3 min). Add shallot and cool until softened and bacon is crisp (3 min longer).
  4. Transfer bacon and shallots to bowl using slotted spoon, Reserve bacon fat.
  5. Add 1/2 C cooked peans to bacon-shallot mix.
  6. Puree remaining 1/2 cup of peas, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper and reserved cooking liquid in blender. Add oil and puree until smooth.
  7. Heat skillet with reserved fat until barely smoking. Sear scallops till golden brown crust forms and scallops release from skillet (about 3 min each side).
  8. Place pea puree in center of plate and top with scallops. Then, top all with pea and bacon-shallot mix.
Shaved Asparagus Salad
  • 12 large asparagus (about 1 lb) trimmed and peeled
  • 1/4 C finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1-1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 C pine nuts (can substitute walnuts or almonds)
  1. Using a vegetable peeler, shave asparagus into thin shavings. Tips will snap off and you can add to bowl.
  2. Roast pine nuts at 350 degrees until browned, about 5-8 minutes.
  3. Combine grated Parmesan cheese with lemon juice in small bowl and slowly whisk in oil until well blended.
  4. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
  5. Drizzle vinaigrette over asparagus, toss to coat. Sprinkle nuts on top and serve.
We really enjoyed this meal and Grenville rated these recipes two forks up. Enjoy !

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Birthday Celebration

Today is Grenville birthday and it's also National Ice Cream Day (really).

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day. This year it's on Grenville's birthday.

Let the 🎂 celebration commence🍾

It actually did start a few days early when we celebrated this week in Nashua, NH. As a member of its dining program, Fratello's, a local favorite restaurant sends the birthday celebrant a coupon for a free birthday entree. (I received mine in February.)
He ordered one of his favorites, baked haddock and was patiently waiting for me to take a photo before enjoying his meal. The QRP letters on his shirt stand for reduced power in ham radio "speak." It's his newest interest.
Of course, no birthday celebration is complete without dessert, and his choice was the "Green Monster" mud pie with mint ice cream and chocolate fudge sauce, whipped cream complete with a birthday candle. He graciously shared — and then there was none left.

Happy Birthday 🎈to my husband and best friend 🥂

Most likely we will celebrate again with ice cream. After all, we wouldn't want to ignore a delicious presidential decree, would we? 

Friday, July 13, 2018

13 is Today's Number

Charlie Brown, Charles M. Schulz
It was fun compiling interesting facts about the number 7 when it fell on July 7 last week.
Now, a week later, there was another interesting number for the same mont  — Friday the 13th is today.

Here's how many Friday the 13ths there are from 2010 - 2020. There was 1 in 2010, 2011, 2014, 2016. There was/will be 2 in 2017 through 2020. There were 3 in 2012 and 2015. 

Fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia and also friggatriskaidekaphobia. I don't know who came up with these names. Triskaidekaphobia is fear of the number 13. I don't know who came up with these names.

Some Interesting/Unusual Stuff About the Number 13 . . .

  • The first mention of the day was found in a biography of Italian composer Gioachino Rossini, who died on Friday the 13th.
  • The number 13 is a prime number, which means it cannot be divided by any number other than itself.
  • At the Last Supper of Jesus Christ, there were 13 at the table, Christ and 12 apostles. One of the 13 there, Judas Iscariot, later betrayed Christ.
  • Many hotels and tall buildings skip the 13th floor and go to 14. A lot of hospitals have no room 13Some airline terminals omit Gate 13
  • There is no row 13 in planes. (Some Lufthansa airliners also skip row 17Lufthansa cites superstitions about 17 in both Italy and Brazil as the reason for the omission. Yet the airlines Alitalia (Italy) and Varig (Brazil) have a row 17 on their planes.)
  • Several powerful leaders have feared the number 13. President FDR didn't travel on the 13th day of any month and wouldn't host 13 dinner guests. Napoleon and President Herbert Hoover also feared the number 13.
  • Mark Twain was the 13th guest at a dinner party. A friend warned him not to go. Later Twain said it was bad luck as "They only had food for 12." 
  • Composer Richard Wagner wrote 13 operas.  He  was banned from Germany for political reasons for 13 years and died on February 13, 1883. His name contained 13 letters. 
  • Microsoft has Office version 14 after version 12, there's no 13.
  • Formula 1 racing has no car with the number 13.
  • Apollo 13 was an unsuccessful launch at 13:13 on 4/11/70. It was crippled by an explosion on 4/13.
  • An assembly of witches is called a coven consisting of 13 witches.
  • Age 13 is transitional for children; it's when they officially become teenagers.
  • The US flag has 13 stripes representing the union of 13 colonies to fight British rule. The 13 colonies became the first 13 USA states.
  • There are 13 baked goods in a baker’s dozen. 
  • A standard 52-card deck of cards has four suits of 13.
  • Friday the 13th is an American horror franchise with 12 slasher movies, a TV show, novels, comics, video games and associated merchandise. The franchise focuses on a fictional character, Jason Voorhees, who as a boy drowned at a summer camp.
  • Well-known personalities born on Friday the 13th include: Butch Cassidy, Alfred Hitchcock, Margaret Thatcher, Fidel Castro, Whoopi Goldberg, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Marco Andretti.
Internet source
If you plan a dinner gathering at the Savoy Hotel in London, England and book a table for 13, the table is set for 14. The 14th place is occupied by the sculpture of a black cat. Here's why: in 1898 Woolf Joel, a South African mining magnate, hosted a dinner at the hotel, a cancellation left 13 at the table. There was talk that the first to leave would have bad luck. Joel, who believed it was nonsense talk left, and was killed upon returning to Johannesburg.

Afterwards, the hotel opted not to allow 13 dinner guests. In 1927, designer Basil Ionides sculpted a wooden black cat and named it Kaspar. It occupies the 14th dinner chair, a napkin around its neck. Winston Churchill reportedly was fond of Kaspar and seated the sculpture at his table no matter how may guests were dining.


These lists are far from complete — you can add more in a comment below.
Snoopy & Woodstock, Charles M. Schulz
Wishing all a lucky day today and always
Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Shower of Happiness

We've had some recent family special occasions. Last weekend, a wedding shower was held for my niece and goddaughter, Julie. 

The decorations and table settings featured an autumn theme for the upcoming October nuptials. Future bride Julie was a very happy young woman and it showed.
By coincidence, her fiancé is named Michael, like her sister's now husband.
Their wedding will be celebrated this coming October, also in NJ, and at the same church as her sister, Jamie. Her wedding to Mike was posted about here

Our nieces were adopted as infants from Columbia (Julie) and Guatemala (Jamie) by my brother and his wife. They are very much loved members of our family. Best wishes to both of our these young women on the new phase of their lives. 

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Lucky Day

Internet source
Do you feel lucky today?
(apologies to Clint Eastwood's "Dirty Harry" see below)

The number 7 has long been connected with good luck. It's a prime number (along with 3, 11 and 13,267).

July 7 is the 188th day of the year (189th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 177 days remaining until year end. Here's some trivia about the number 7 and this is an incomplete list . . .

  • 7 days in a week
  • 7 wonders of the ancient world
  • 7 seas
  • 7 continents
  • 7 vertebrae in the human neck
  • 7 in the Bible (7 deadly sins, 7 days of creation)
  • 7 candles are on a Menorah
  • 7 phases of the moon
  • 7 colors in a rainbow
  • 7 sins and 7 virtues
  • 7 years bad luck
  • 7 players on a handball team
  • 7 logic gates(NOT, NOR, XNOR, XOR, AND, NAND, and OR)
  • 7 digits in a U.S. phone number after the area code
  • 7 dwarves
  • Boeing 707 and 777
  • 7 is lucky in craps, slot machines, blackjack
  • 7 is the number of Harry Potter novels and Harry was born in the 7th month of July, the number 7 is on his Quidditch robe, Ron Weasley is the 7th child in his family, students completed 7 years at Hogwarts School for Wizards
  • TV shows with the number 7: 7th Heaven, 77 Sunset Strip, Blake's 7, 227
  • Movies with the number 7: The Seven Year Itch, Seven Days in May, Seven years in Tibet, The Magnificent Seven, 7 Faces of Dr Lao, Robin and the Seven Hoods, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Seven Little Foys, The Seven Per-Cent Solution, The Seventh Veil, Seven Pounds 
  • Books with the number 7: The House of the Seven Gables, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, The Seven Minutes, Seven Little Monsters, The Seven Storey Mountain
  • Songs with the number 7: Seven Little Girls (Sitting in the Back Seat), Seven Wonders, Seventeen, Seventh Son, At Seventeen
These lists are far from complete — you can add more in a comment below. 
Wishing everyone a lucky day whatever you're doing today and every day.

Here's the Dirty Harry movie line: "Did he fire six shots or only five?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya, punk? 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Grand 4th Holiday

July 4th was a grand day for the USA and for us at home. 

We celebrated the USA's #242nd birthday here in Nashua, NH. In the morning, we walked downtown to see an auto show. Here's a photo recap of a previous post.
That evening we watched fireworks from the river walk near the mill apts. My digital camera has a fireworks setting, but it didn't allow for leaving the shutter open during bursts. The second photo below made me think of the line "rockets red glare" from the Star Spangled Banner song.

I was handholding the camera, which, of course, meant some some jumpy shots. Several of these seemed interesting to me.
Our viewing spot had a large pole that displayed in many photos. I had to do some "creative" cropping to salvage some shots. Next year, I'll select a different location and maybe a different camera. (Visit The AC is On to see posts with great fireworks photos by a fellow blogger. John has included helpful tips as well.)

But not all was lost. Here's a colorful collage with some of my "salvaged" photos. While some individual shots may not have worked well, collectively they looked so much better!
All three grandchildren were together in PA for the July 4 holiday. The two oldest grands, Bobby and Ellie, and their mother visited youngest granddaughter Lilliana and her family.
They were a very colorful trio. This photo sent by Bobby & Ellie's mom brought smiles to our day.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Holiday Car Show

The weather was in the 90s as Nashua, NH celebrated the July 4th holiday on Main St with a car show that featured classic and "muscle" cars. Despite the very warm temperatures, there were plenty of folks looking at the cars, including ourselves. We dressed in patriotic colors as so many others did and we considered ourselves as classics too.
Many of the cars were red, white and blue like this trio of America's favorite sports car, the Corvette. There were Corvettes in other colors as well, quite a few in fact.
There were other car makes and models in the same colors. After awhile, I found myself looking for red, white and blue vehicles. 
There were a few trucks in the show. I found these red and blue models, but not a single white truck. 
The top car is actually silver and red, but the blue and red and white car made this another colorful group. 
Do you remember when cars were very large, like these classic models. 
Here's a few classic car grills when these were made of metal and not plastic.
Years ago, car interiors were not only colorful, but much simpler.
There's a lot of power in these engines. 
And some fun was seen under the hoods of several cars. 
This vehicle came with its own driver, who might have been there for a very long time. 
A few more colorful and unique vintage autos in the show.
A final shot along part of Main St that shows Nashua City Hall in the background. The show was downtown from 9 am to 1 pm. We spent about 2 hours looking at displayed autos. 

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