Thursday, March 28, 2019

We Were Hopeful — Were You?

WOW ! someone in Wisconsin is VERY happy this morning !
That's because according to the news, there was a single, as yet undisclosed, winner.

Since we live in NH, we knew it wasn't us, and so did a lot of other folks who were wondering if their lottery ticket would be in the running for the BIG prize $.

The top prize was $768.4 million — third largest lottery win in U.S. history. Many folks bought tickets later; projected top prize was $750M when we bought ours late yesterday.
Can you imagine a lump sum payout of $477 million ? 
We can't.

But it didn't deter us from investing in a single $2 ticket. 
That's because as it's often said, "You've got to be in it to win it."
SO, we were in it and didn't match a single winning number for our 1-ticket investment.
And, that also means we don't have any major financial decisions to make today. 

Except later, when we invest a larger $4 amount for a weekly dominoes game at the senior center. There's no prize money, just fun and conversation, amidst some lively competition. (We play with some seriously competitive folks.)

We won't know how to begin spending all that lottery $. 
That said, we sure would've had a lot of fun trying.

How about you — ever bought a lottery ticket(s) ?

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

It's Not Just for Drinks

Look at what's quickly become my newest and favorite cleaning agent. 

Don't look for it in the household products section. Instead, go to the nearest liquor store and. once there, buy the least expensive bottle of vodka available — in this case, cheaper is a very good thing and a sale is even better.

Once home, put the vodka into a spray bottle straight up (undiluted) and get ready for some amazing uses. No worries about your home smelling like alcohol since vodka is odor-less and it won't leave any surface residue.

My like affair of vodka began after I read a recent article about its cleaning effectiveness, especially in cutting grease. So, I had to learn MORE.

That's because this black enamel top stove in our apartment has been so difficult to keep clean from cooking splatters. We really liked cooking meals that went in the oven not on the stovetop (to avoid cleanup). Soap and water, then cleaners and paper towels left streaks. The solution was to clean it as best as possible, then turn off the kitchen light. 

This photo was taken last night after cleanup using a vodka spray — no streaks!

I was going to make a vodka martini to celebrate, but opted to share some (there are even more online) of its other uses with fellow bloggers. It's nice to know vodka is useful that way too (unlike household chemicals).

Who knew?
Obviously, not me, but now I do and so will you, after reading this post. 

Around the House/Yard . . .

Clean glass/windows. Use vodka and a good sponge to clean glass mirrors, windows and porcelain. Also works on faucets.

Kill mold. Avoid chemical sprays if your bathroom grouting has mildew. Spray vodka, let soak for 15 minutes, scrub off thoroughly and rinse. 

Remove red wine, ink, food stains. Use a vodka-soaked cloth to dab the area. After a few minutes, lightly dab with a dry towel to lift the stain.

Remove sticky label adhesive. Rub a vodka-soaked cloth over the area. The same method cuts grease and works on stovetops and it does work.

Clean jewelry.  Soak in vodka a few minutes, then rinse with water; safe for diamonds and other gemstones.

Remove rust. Soak small rusted items in a glass of vodka for a few hours, then scrub clean afterwards. The rust should easily come off. 

Remove odors. Spray clothes with undiluted vodka, then hang out to dry. Vodka kills bacteria-causing odors on clothes, furniture and in closets.

Prevent razor rust. Soak a razor in a cup of vodka after shaving. It prevents rusting and also disinfects it.

Keep cut flowers longer. Add a teaspoon each of vodka and sugar to a vase of water to keep flowers fresh.

Kill weeds. Mix water, vodka and few drops of dishwashing liquid to make a weed killer. Spray liberally onto the weeds.

Health and Other Uses . . .

Organic Facts website
Eliminate frizzy hair. Mix a shot of vodka with shampoo and conditioner to leave hair looking shinier.

Freshen breath. Add a few drops of pure cinnamon, spearmint, or tea tree oil to a small amount of vodka. leave it to infuse for 14 days. If the mixture is too strong, cut down the alcohol level with water; swish and don’t swallow.

Dry clogged ears. If water is in your ears, put in a few drops of vodka to dry them out. (tender or sore, avoid this remedy.)

Relieve toothache/mouth pain. Swish vodka in your mouth as it's a natural antiseptic that kills bacteria and can also help to numb the area. (See your dentist ASAP.)

Heal cold sores. Apply vodka on a cotton swab and dab the sore. It will dry up and close.

Use as an ice pack. Relieve tense or sore muscles after a gym session or running by putting equal parts vodka and water into a zip-top bag and freezing. Vodka prevents the mixture from freezing, making it slushy and moldable.

Relieve tension. You may have heard that red wine is a natural relaxer, but vodka has been proven in a study by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (no less) to relieve tension better.

It's heart-healthy? Vodka can increase blood-flow and circulation which can prevent clots, strokes, and other heart diseases. Reportedly, it can lower cholesterol and is generally considered a less-caloric alcohol. (No medical claims just gathered info.)

Relieve poison ivy itch. Pour vodka directly on affected skin; the alcohol rinses away the chemical (urushiol oil) from the plant leaves.

Relieve jellyfish stings. Dab vodka on affected area to disinfect and relieve stinging. 

Stop foot odor. Mix vodka and water for a quick soak to have your feet smell better. Freshen up shoes with a spritz of vodka.

Repel insects. Put in a bottle and spray to deter mosquitoes or other insects; kills bees and wasps too. 

In the Kitchen . . .

Bake a lighter pie crust. Water and flour create gluten, which can toughen when baking. Replacing a third of the water in a recipe with vodka, which has less water, creates less gluten producing a flakier crust.

Shine cutlery. Soak pieces in vodka for 5 minutes, rinse with water then dry.

Clean Counter Tops. Spray and wipe with paper towels instead of using vinegar (counter tops won't smell like you're making a salad).

Finally, vodka is a really good excuse for a martini (if one is needed after all that work). Here's why — unlike beer or wine, a shot of vodka is reported to reduce blood sugar levels. (Again, who knew?)

Na Zdorovie or, if you prefer, its English mispronunciation, Nostrovia — CHEERS !

Friday, March 22, 2019

Friday Funnies

Hitching a ride?
Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A VT "Presidential" Connection

After a recent visit to the (not in DC) White House, we visited another estate in Vermont, the Lincoln family homestead — it's not one owned by a former U.S. President, but the son of one. 

Like his father, the 16th President Abraham Lincoln, Robert Todd Lincoln was president, not of the U.S., but of the Pullman Palace Car Company.  Born in Springfield, Illinois, like his father, Robert never lived in a log cabin. 
Instead, the eldest son of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, lived at "Hildene" a hilltop estate in Manchester, Vermont.

In the summer of 1864, a 20-year old Robert Lincoln had visited Vermont with his mother and younger brother to escape the Washington, DC heat. The trio stayed at the (still operational) Equinox Hotel in Manchester. Mrs. Lincoln made plans to return the following summer with the President. A special hotel suite was built in anticipation of that visit, but President Lincoln was assassinated the following April in 1865.

Forty years later, that New England visit led him in 1905 to purchase almost 500 acres to build the Georgian Revival style estate for his wife and three childrenThe estate is located above the Battenkill Valley and also at the lower level of the valley with meadows and wetlands. Its name is from the old English words: “hil” for hill and “dene” for valley with stream. 

The Lincoln family spent three-quarters of the year at Hildene. A Lincoln descendent continued living on the property until 1975. 

We opted out of the (optional cost) guided tour figuring that the discounted admission fee of $19 each was steep. (I mentioned this was a discounted price; regular cost was $23 each.) Our mid-week visit, which followed President's Day weekend, was unhurried and  devoid of history-seeking school children. This meant we could explore rooms that were open at our own pace. The grounds were snow-covered at this time of year so we missed out on seeing the famed flower gardens; it's unlikely that we'll return in spring.

Internet source
During our self-tour, we overheard eavesdropped as a tour guide provided historical info to a small group. Like his father, Robert Lincoln was a lawyer and also a politician and served as Secretary of War (1881-1885) under President James Garfield. He law practice was very successful and he became wealthy representing corporate clients, including the Pullman Palace Car Company where he served as general counsel.

Years earlier, after his father's death, George Pullman had arranged to have President Lincoln's body transported from Washington, DC, to Springfield, Illinois, in a modified sleeper.

Lincoln believed he brought bad luck to politicians. He formed this conclusion because of his connection to three shootings: He was at his father’s bedside when he was assassinated (1865); he was present at the railroad station in Washington, DC when President James Garfield was shot (1881); he was at the Buffalo Pan-American Exposition when President William McKinley was shot (1897). Afterwards, he refused to attend any presidential functions.

After the 1897 death of George Pullman, Lincoln was named president and later became chairman of the board serving until his 1926 death. During his presidency, the Pullman Company became the largest manufacturing company worldwide, renowned for the excellent service of its African-American Pullman porters.
In July 1926, Robert Lincoln died at age 82 in his sleep in the bedroom shown below. The cause of death was listed as a cerebral hemorrhage induced by arteriosclerosis. Most of his immediate family are buried in the family plot in Illinois; however, Robert Lincoln is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. His wife, Mary, selected this burial site and wrote that she felt her husband "made his own history, independently of his great father, and should have his own place in the sun."
We learned from the guide that Hildene is furnished almost entirely with furniture and artifacts belonging to the Lincoln family.
A second floor series of rooms are dedicated exclusively to President Lincoln. Artifacts include one of his trademark stovetop hats and a mirror he reportedly used in his own home. (The exhibit included President Lincoln's death mask, which I did not photograph by choice.)

After the last Lincoln descendent to live at Hildene died in 1975 and the estate was left to the Church of Christ, Scientist (as Mary Todd had designated). Her will stipulated that the church maintain Hildene as a Lincoln family memorial. That became a financial burden and the church opted to sell the estate and land to developers. In 1978, the non-profit Friends of Hildene raised monies to purchase the property and began the ongoing process of restoring the estate and grounds.
If you have ever seen a film that included train travel from the late 19th to early 20th century, a Pullman Palace car (like the one above) may have featured. In 2011, after a two-year nationwide search ending in South Carolina, then two years of restoration, this 1903 wooden Pullman Palace train car arrived at Hildene and is housed near the estate. 
The car, named Sunbeam, dates to 1888 and is considered the finest example of a least-altered wooden Pullman Palace car. The interior includes a kitchen with crew quarters, a dining/lounge area, a bathroom, two private rooms, and sleeping berths and convertible bench seats to sleep 18 passengers plus two crew members. This informational sign provided complete details on its construction and capacity.

During the so-called Gilded Age (1870s to about 1900) it was estimated that over 100,000 travelers slept in similar Pullman cars. These cars were rich in handcrafted Victorian cabinetry and ornamentation. Pullman Company founder George Pullman was a trained cabinetmaker. The extravagant decor included detailed woodwork, upholstered furniture, draperies, window shades, and pull-down sleeper compartments.

It was formerly named Ortega and was used by the 25th U. S. President William McKinley. The Ortega and four sister cars were designed as private cars for Pullman's charter service and often referred to as "hotel cars on wheels.” The cars were often reconfigured for different uses and needs.When a rail company purchased a car, it was typically renamed. 
This is one of the 2 private staterooms on the car. Despite its elaborate for the time furnishings, it still seemed a bit very cramped to us.
By comparison to the more luxurious furnishings for passengers, the hallway leading to the back of the car which led to the kitchen was narrow. The dining room used by the two onboard porters was very conservative and utilitarian in design when compared to the other areas of the car reserved for passengers.

Over the years, the Pullman Company became even more more successful with Lincoln as its president. Darker interiors and furnishings were later replaced with brighter colors and conservative furnishings.
The company aggressively promoted train travel and tourism, especially in the American West. This led to the manufacture of high-capacity (and far less ornate) cars for the "economy-minded" and, by definition, less affluent travelers.

We've definitely missed the golden age of U.S. train travel, but this was a great opportunity to "see" what it was like years ago.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Green Day Fare

St. Patrick's☘️Day is said to be the one day when everyone is Irish and it's celebrated in many different ways usually involving merriment and beer(s). Ours was celebrated less noisily at home with friends invited for dinner. 

Chef Patrick (aka Grenville) prepared a corned beef dinner that included many of the usual trimmings — potatoes, carrots cabbage and Guinness. He said there's no other way to cook this meal in the crockpot. I'm not sure that's entirely true, but it was quite tasty.
My dinner contributions were soda bread with currants vs. raisins per recipe instructions. found out more here about differences between raisins, currants and sultanas, another dried baking fruit. The green cookies were a variation of a favorite chocolate chip recipe with added food coloring and peppermint extract. It was a very easy dessert served with mint chocolate chip ice cream.

The door decorations were courtesy of neighbors who were retaliating for remembering the holiday decos that unexpectedly were at their apt entry last December. 

While I'm not the biggest fan of corned beef dinners, once a year or even every couple of years is OK with me. It was a great way to celebrate with friends and neighbors at home.

Did you have a "traditional meal this past weekend, home cooked or not? 

Friday, March 15, 2019

Friday Funnies

Around our place, everyone is wearin' green on St. Patrick's Day — including snow guys.

And the frog and penguin too.

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
☘️ Wishing All a safe & Happy St. Patrick's Day ☘️

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Ever Happen to You?

Free clipart from
You're working on a blog post and planning to post at a later date, then WHOOPS you click Publish and it's online. The problem is that you didn't realize you had mistakenly posted it.

That's what happened to me. 

Last night, I was doing additional edits to a post originally scheduled for next week. When editing was done, I clicked Publish and (erroneously) thought the previously scheduled post date would hold.

Of course, as luck would not have it, the post didn't hold the future publish date. Instead, it posted as of last night's editing session. And, yikes, this morning, it had received two comments.

What would you have done?

As for myself, I notified the fellow bloggers of my error and thanked them for their comments. Then, I rescheduled the post as originally planned. 

It was all good and gave me the idea for this (unplanned) post.

Also, Happy Pi Day, today, March 14, 2019 or 3/14 is celebrated as pi day because the first two digits, month and day — 3.14 are the first two digits of the mathematical constant π (pi).

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Not in DC White House Visit

We took a recent road trip to the White House without leaving New England. 
Our destination was Wilmington, VT where we stayed at a large white house that was formerly a private summer mansion. (The photo was taken during our visit after an overnight snow and then freezing temperatures.) 

This very white, elegant-looking White House Inn has been operated as a bed and breakfast lodging since the late 1960s. 

It's was formerly a single-family private residence built in 1915 as a summer "home" for  Martin and Clara Brown and family. Brown grew up in Jacksonville, VT and made his fortune in the lumber business. His rags-to-riches story had its ups and downs. We learned about the family from reading about the family in a copy of The Browns in the Green Mountains written by their eldest daughter. (Coincidentally, Martin Brown and I shared a mutual Feb. 3 birth date.)

The Brown home was originally named “Beaver Brook” after a brook on the property. It was designed specifically for entertaining. Martin Brown reportedly had the house built at the insistence of Clara, who claimed their previous home was "unfit for visitors" after a future U.S. president, Calvin Coolidge, had stayed there overnight. (The family history failed to provide any reason for this declaration.)
The Victorian-style mansion is positioned high on a hill and offers extensive views of the Green Mountains. 
The inn is situated back from the main highway, and surrounded by 100+ year old maple trees spread over 25 acres. 

It's also located near the Mt. Snow region and ski slopes are a 15-minute drive. During our visit, we met skiers and snowmobilers who were staying at the inn including a couple who drove from FL to ski in VT. 

The inn has an on-site tavern (shown here). Since the grounds were snow-covered, many snowmobilers "drove in" for drinks and eats. It's also where we spent our evening time chatting with inn guests and enjoying a glass (or two) of wine. 

The inn is an architectural tribute to the craftsmanship of the period. There's 14 fireplaces and 17 guest rooms each with private bath. The inn is furnished with pieces to complement the architecture and period; however, most of the present furnishings were not those owned by the Brown family. Most of those items went to family members. 
The interiors gave us a look back to a bygone era when extravagant summer homes were the norm for many well-to-do folks. These residences were usually referred to as a home, not an estate. Unfortunately, there were no photos showing how the interiors looked when this was a family home. The downstairs sitting room layouts were basically the same we learned but now have modern gas fireplaces and painted walls that replace former wallpapered ones. (The current owner provided this information.)
Despite renovations, there's many original features remain, like hand-crafted molding and woodwork, original light fixtures, a hall clock, and the remnants of an antique call system with original call boxes throughout the inn that are still labelled: Mrs. Brown's sitting room, chauffeur, kitchen, etc.

One of the most original, and quite costly, remaining features is some (but not all) of the "Italian Landscape," wallpaper that was hand-printed by the French firm of Zuber. Years ago, hand-printed wallpaper was indicative of a family's financial status. 

The Zuber & Cie factory in Alsace, France still prints wallpaper, fabric and leather using a traditional woodblock-printing technique. It's the last factory world-wide to use this 18th-century technique for the production of luxury handmade wall coverings.

What's a mansion without a secret staircase? 

Yes, there is one leading from an upstairs hallway closet behind the door on the right in this photo. The stairway is behind a wall hook and the stairs descend to a first floor sitting room.

We didn't go down. Like in a mystery story, the sitting room's staircase entrance is hidden behind a built-in china closet. According to the family history, Mrs. Brown had the secret staircase added after visiting the House of the Seven Gables in Salem, MA, which also has one.

The basement, which once housed a bowling alley, in later years had a heated swimming pool and an outdoor pool available in summer. Both are no longer there. 

What still remains there is a reportedly haunted bank vault. According to one of the oldest legends about the house, a man who worked in the mansion was caught stealing by Mrs. Brown. 

He was locked in the basement vault as punishment. and, according to folklore, he died in the vault and still haunts the basement. The unlocked vault remains in the basement; despite checking it several times during our stay, we never saw or felt any spirit.

The ghost of Clara Brown is said to haunt the inn and reportedly moves furniture, opens and closes doors, appears and talks to guests. Martin Brown died 15 years before Clara moved into what's Room 9We read about an occurrence years ago when another Mrs. Brown stayed in that room and reported seeing a woman’s ghost who (reportedly) said, "there's only enough room enough for one Mrs. Brown in this room.” There was no ghost in our room, #11, that we saw or heard during our stay.

The home remained in the family until 1965 when Clara Brown died. The estate was sold then converted into a country inn with several owners in recent years. This White House is currently for sale — listed at $2.8 million and it's not in DC.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Friday Funnies

Last month, a Friday Funnies post showed retail candy displays were hoppin' down the bunny trail weeks ahead ahead of Easter (April 21). I'll 'fess up that these sweet treats remain a personal favorite.

This week, a local store had displays of the "traditional"  Peeps® marshmallow treats in the familiar yellow and now multi-colored chicks, and bunnies 

There were some new choices, colors and flavors as well.

Does this make you think of summertime fun?

How about Peeps® for breakfast ?
A couple of sweet ways to start the holiday — or maybe not. I'm sure our grandchildren will find some marshmallow treats in their Easter baskets, and maybe yours as well?

Enjoy Your weekend, Everyone.
(Hope it's a sweet one in many ways)

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Winter Marched In

March has definitely roared in like a lion in the U.S. with severe weather that's included snowfall, frigid temperatures and tornadoes in many states and sadly many deaths as well. Here, in Nashua, NH, we've been fortunate in that most of the snow storms this winter have been relatively "light." Other New England and mid-Atlantic states have received far more snowfall this season.
That said, the latest snow event this past Sunday night deposited between 6-7 inches of wet heavy snow. As in previous winter posts, this was my first snow view on Monday shortly after 7 a.m. (Yes, I know it's downright "tough" to see this view from inside our apt living room windows.)
This view is also like others that have been shown before and it was also taken from our apartment windows in a former mill. The grand-looking white house is the "Greeley House" which dates to the 1840s and is on the National Historic Register. It's was always a private residence and presently it's being converted into several apartment residences.  
The large brick building behind it formerly housed the Nashua Gummed & Coated Paper Co. which began in 1889. It was renovated and converted to a 200-unit apartment complex called Lofts 34 which recently opened. This view is along the Nashua River shortly about 8 a.m. on Monday after the snow had ended.
This is a view of Clocktower Place, the 325-unit mill apartment building that formerly housed the Nashua Manufacturing Company, a cotton textile manufacturer that operated in the city from 1823 to 1945.
The newly-fallen snow was wonderful to photograph as it was a wet snow which clung to the tree branches. This beauty was fleeting and a couple of hours later, the branches were once again bare.
Walking along the downtown main street, many common objects were quite interesting when newly covered in a layer of white. 
Soon enough, the city's street and sidewalks were being cleared by the Nashua Public Works Department.
We stopped at a local coffee shop for breakfast, then went to a nearby park to have some winter snow fun. Grenville volunteered his arms before we found some sticks.
A couple of neighbors joined us and built a "snow lady" to keep this mill worker statue "company." The six-foot bronze statue is in the Notre Renaissance Francaise Park and honors French Canadian female mill workers who labored in textile mills along the Nashua River.
We hope that our snow folks will stay around for a few more days and it's likely they will remain awhile. This week's long-range forecast calls for high temperatures in the 20s to mid-30s with some freezing temps overnight.

We realize how fortunate we've been in terms of winter weather here. We're keeping everyone who has been affected by recent severe weather in our thoughts.