Lots of Candles,Plenty of Cake


I am reading a wonderful book right now and I want to encourage anyone who is approximately my age(55) to read it. It is called “Lots of Candles,Plenty of Cake” by Anna Quindlen. Quindlen “does what she does best. She calmly and carefully untangles the fine strands of a woman’s life by examining her own,and lays them out cleanly for all to see,this time from the perspective of a woman in her fifties”.(Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Here are some excerpts that I thought were fantastic:

“It’s odd when I think of the arc in my life,from child to young woman to aging adult. First I was who I was.Then I didn’t know who I was. Then I invented someone and became her. Then I began to like what I’d invented. And finally I was what I was again”.

“Time passed,almost imperceptibly. First we are so young and then we were so busy and then one day we awoke to discover that we were an age we once thought of as old”.

“I have a lot of stuff. I bet you do too. Sofas,settees,bureaus,bookshelves. Dishes,bowls,pottery,glass,candlesticks,serving trays,paperweights. Beds,chests,trunks,tables.Windsor chairs,club chairs,ladder-back chairs,folding chairs,wicker chairs. Lots and lots of chairs.”

“Many of us have come to a surprising conclusion about this moment in our lives. No,it’s not that there are weird freckly spots on the backs of our hands,although there are,or that the construction guys don’t make smutty comments as we pass,although they don’t. It’s that we’ve done a pretty good job of becoming ourselves,and this is,in so many ways,the time of our lives. Lots of candles,plenty of cake. I wouldn’t be 25 again on a bet,or even 40. And when I say this to a group of women at lunch,everyone around the table nods. Many of us find ourselves exhilarated,galvanized,at the very least older and wiser”.

Anyway-you get the gist….a must-read if you love her writing, which I really do.

Gettysburg, PA 150th year Celebration


After surviving one of the American Civil War’s pivotal battles 150 years ago, the Pennsylvania borough of Gettysburg once again faces invasion.

The community about 125 miles west of Philadelphia is readying for as many as 4 million visitors during its commemoration of the clash between Union and Confederate forces in July 1863, and the landmark presidential speech in November of that year as the war raged.

‘‘In 1863, we had more than 165,000 uninvited guests come to town. At least this time around, we got the chance to plan,’’ Randy Phiel, a commissioner of surrounding Adams County, said in an interview. ‘‘This is our Olympic moment.’’

The anniversary of the war’s bloodiest battle, coupled with the Oscar-winning 2012 movie ‘‘Lincoln,’’ will bring Piotr Narloch and five pals from Krakow, Poland, to help reenact part of the fighting. The commemoration has tour operators and travel sites touting the borough of about 7,600 residents as one of this year’s top destinations, according to Carl Whitehill, a spokesman for the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.

‘‘We’ve been planning for this anniversary for several years and we’re hoping things go smoothly,’’ Whitehill said. ‘‘But 4 million is a pretty substantial number for a town of our size.’’

The estimated 15,000 Civil War reenactors on hand this year, while smaller in number compared with the millions of tourists, will stand out with their rifles, pitched tents, and campfires on farms near the battlefields. They’ll include Narloch and his Polish friends.

The group will travel 5,000 miles to stage the July 2 Culp’s Hill assault by the 14th Louisiana Infantry Regiment, a Confederate unit largely composed of Polish immigrants. They’ll join other history buffs at the Bushey Farm outside Gettysburg starting June 27.

‘‘It will be my great honor’’ to represent those who tangled with Union soldiers in the July heat, Narloch said by e-mail. ‘‘We can’t wait to see the thousands of reenactors, hundreds of horses and cannons at Gettysburg.’’

The epic battle began as Confederate forces under General Robert E. Lee invaded Pennsylvania during the war’s third year. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia was beaten back by the Union’s Army of the Potomac led by General George G. Meade, a Pennsylvanian. Meade defeated a desperate charge by General George Pickett’s men on the last of three days of fighting, which left more than 50,000 combatants dead, wounded or missing.

One reenactment will use almost 70 cannons, according to Thomas Alexander, a retired Maryland police officer who leads the Confederate artillery for reenactments planned on two farms north of Gettysburg. To prepare, Alexander said he has studied the terrain to position the guns for engagements such as the Union advance into the Wheat Field and the Confederate flanking move at Little Round Top, both on the battle’s second day.

‘‘We’re trying to make sure it represents, as closely as possible, what took place while giving spectators a chance to safely see the action,’’ said Alexander, a member of the Second Maryland ‘‘Baltimore Light’’ Artillery. ‘‘It takes a lot of time and planning to get it right.’’

Assembling a historically accurate uniform and gear, including a rifle, can cost as much as $2,500, said William Coe, whose namesake ancestor was among Gettysburg’s casualties.

Reenactments provide living history, said Coe, who portrays Sergeant William W. Coe in the 21st North Carolina Infantry. Coe, 53, said he moved near Gettysburg from Cinnaminson, N.J., in December 2011, to be close to where his namesake was wounded in the charge up Cemetery Hill.

The men in the re-created units come from across the country and 16 nations, including Britain, France, Sweden, and Romania.

David T. O’Daniel, a member of the 69th Pennsylvania ‘‘Irish’’ Volunteer Infantry Regiment, will be growing out his gray beard and dyeing it red so he can more accurately resemble Color Sergeant David Kinairy, who carried one of the unit’s green battle flags during the third day of combat.

‘‘I’ll be going to Gettysburg to fight the rebels and stack them like cord wood, because that’s what we do,’’ O’Daniel said in an interview. ‘‘We’re the Irish,’’ he said, displaying a green-and-blue tattoo with the unit’s crest.

O’Daniel is a descendant of Cyrus O’Daniel, a corporal in the regiment known as the ‘‘Rock of Erin.’’

Surprise Parties


We pulled off a very fun surprise party for our son who turned 25. A lot of his friends came up from NYC and he was definitely surprised. I tried to look up the history of surprise parties and instead came up with this which I think is very helpful so thought I would pass it on. Ours went without a hitch and it IS because no one said anything AND they were all on time!

Tip #1: Follow the Vince Lombardi Rule

The great football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late… if you’re late, don’t bother showing up.” That saying sums up the number one rule for surprise party etiquette. Rule #1 is just don’t be late! Be early. Be extra early, even. Have a drink, come and eat, and just make sure you are there–bottom line.

The worst thing you can do is try to beat the clock. If you are supposed to be there at 8:00, and you pull up at 7:59, don’t try to enter the party. The proper thing to do in that situation is to text or call someone you know is at the party (and on time), to see if you can still come in. If so, you book it to the front door like Indiana Jones running from the rolling boulder.

If they say you can’t come in because it’s too risky, then get comfortable because you deserve to wait. Don’t be rude and ruin the surprise by trying to rush in at the last minute just so you can yell, “surprise!” with everyone else. If you’re late, you lose that privilege.

Tip #2: Keep It a Secret

I will admit that I am guilty of forgetting when someone’s party is a surprise or not. Sometimes when you talk to people so frequently, like in an office, you forget that their party is a surprise. After all, you and the rest of your coworkers have spent weeks discussing it so it’s easy to forget the guest of honor doesn’t know about it. That said, you must, must, must be careful. The definition of poor etiquette is ruining something someone has worked hard on completing. And there’s no excuse for it.

So how far should you go to keep the secret of a surprise party? Well, put it this way, when I say, “Keep it a secret” I mean go to the ends of the earth to keep it on the DL. Even if you have to dodge this person for a few days, do it; do whatever you have to NOT to tell them.

This is from Modern Manners Guy.

How To Measure A Lampshade


Customers come into Concord Lamp and Shade every day looking for a replacement lampshade. Ideally, the lamp requiring the new shade should accompany the customer – it makes for a much more single and successful trip to the store; without the lamp – or at least the exact dimensions of the existing lampshade, we are guessing at selecting a shade that will fit the lamp; my track record is not great without the lamp, but very often spot on with the lamp.

Lampshades are measured and sized using the diameters of the top and bottom as well as a side measurement:


A – the width across the top of the shade
B – the width across the bottom of the shade
C – the slant height down the side of the shade
D – the distance from the bottom of the shade to the washer in the center of the top ring (on most shades, this measurement is generally about 3/4” less than the height from the top of the shade to the bottom of the lampshade; however, on larger shades the washer is often recessed several inches)
The width across the bottom is also the “size” of the lampshade – an 8” lampshade or a 15” lampshade. The top dimension is important to the shape of the shade – it does not directly contribute to how the lampshade will fit the lamp.

Blog post is repurposed from the Concord Lamp & Shade blog. To discover lighting tips, trends, and more visit http://www.concordlampandshade.com/wp/blog

Nautical Lamp Shades for Summer!


If your summer house is on the Cape or one of the islands, you can choose a new lampshade made from the nautical chart that captures the location of your summer house and other shoreline locales. One of the most popular nautical chart lampshades is of the island of Nantucket, but Concord Lamp and Shade can design a lampshade using any nautical chart from the immense coastline of the United States, as well as inland waters such as the shade featuring Lake Winnipesaukee. We are currently working on a nautical chart lampshade that includes the cities of San Francisco, Boston and New York!

A nautical chart lampshade is not going to work in every room in your house, but we also have lampshades designed using the line of Cape Cod toile fabrics from Joan Peters. Whether it is the Cape, Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket – Lobster Red or Lighthouse Gray or Sailor Blue or Vineyard Sand – we have a colorway, style and size of lampshade that will enhance any lamp in your summer house.

Summer Vacation!

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Whatever your image is of summer vacation-the beach, the mountains, the lakes-it is very special to all of us. Most countries only get six weeks or two months of summer vacation because students supposedly forget large amounts of information learned in the past year. Yet some education reformers believe that children are overstimulated in a system which required 48 weeks of schooling. They believe that over-schooling can lead to nervous disorders, depression, and insanity. They believe that children need the 2–3 months off to relax and also to take a break from other childhood stresses associated with school such as peer pressure, cliques, bullying, and the pressure of heavy loads of schoolwork and homework.
Critics of summer vacation point out that American students spend approximately 180 days (26 weeks) per year in school, but Asian students are "in school for 240 to 250 days". This is consistent with the conclusions of researchers who suggest that advanced abilities are in proportion to the time spent learning.

Here are some other countries and their summer vacation schedules that I found interesting:

In Bulgaria, the time of the break differs according to the grade of the students: The following periods are applied: 1st grade: May 24 – September 15 2nd-4th grade: May 31 – September 15 5th-7th grade: June 15 – September 15 8th-11th grade: June 30 – September 15 12th grade: School year ends in mid-May.

In Chile, summer vacation lasts from early or mid-December until late February or early March (10, 11 or 12 weeks). In addition, schools have two or three weeks off for Winter in July, and one-week-long break for National Holidays in mid-September.

In Colombia, summer vacation varies. Because of Colombia's equatorial climate (see Climate of Colombia for more information), schools run two different calendars. Most of the country runs "Calendar B" in which there is a long vacation in July and August, but some schools run "Calendar A" with a long vacation around Christmas.

In Egypt, summer break lasts from mid-may ( 12-18) May until 16 September ( 4 Months – 19-20 Weeks ) *Differs according to age*

In England and Wales, summer holidays usually start in the second half of July for state schools, and last until early September – normally a duration of six or seven weeks. In addition, schools have three one-week-long half-term breaks (one at the end of October, one in mid February and one in late May or early June) as well as two weeks off for Christmas and two weeks off for Easter – bringing the total number of weeks off per year to 13. Dates in the independent sector are likely to differ in that schools typically offer an extra week' holiday at the beginning and end of each of the long vacations – i.e. four weeks for Christmas and Easter and eight to ten weeks in summer.

In Germany, summer vacation lasts six weeks. The exact dates vary by state, from the earliest (mid-June to late July) to the latest (late July to early September).

In India, summer vacation varies. In northern India, school ends on May 1 and begins on July 1, while in southern India, school ends in the last week of March and begins in June. Some schools hold extra classes for 10th grade from May till June for students of classes preparing for Board exams.

In Iran, summer vacation lasts 3 months. Schools close in late June and reopen in October.

In Israel, summer vacation for junior high schools (7th-9th grade) and high school (10th-12th grade) begins around late June and ends in late August.[9] Elementary schools (1st-6th grade) start their summer vacation one week after middle and high school students. Preschools and kindergartens start their summer vacation at the same time elementary schools do.

In Japan, the summer vacation generally lasts from late July to early September, and due to the way education in Japan is structured, it takes place within a school year.

In the Netherlands, summer vacation is among the shortest in Europe. It lasts about 6 weeks, usually from mid-July to late August.

In New Zealand, the summer vacation typically starts around mid-December, and ends in late January, which is usually 6 weeks. [2] Senior secondary school students in Year 12 and Year 11 finish in mid-November, and Year 9 and Year 10 finish at the end of November before the first NCEA exams, but summer vacation still does not start until mid-December.

In the Philippines, summer holidays for kindergarten, elementary, and high schools typically start on the third week of March and end in the first to third week of June. This coincides with the country's tropical "summer" (dry season) months from March to May. Colleges and universities, however, offer summer classes for students who wants to take advanced subjects or those who fail to pass the prerequisites for the next school year. School year begins in the second week of June, the start of Philippines' wet season.

In Poland, summer vacation starts in Late June and ends on the first weekday of September. In smaller towns and villages, with big Roman Catholic populations, students usually spend an hour in church and 1–3 hours at school to pick up their report cards on their last day of school.

In Sweden, summer vacation is between the spring and autumn term. Normally it lasts from mid-June to late August (a minimum of 9–10 weeks, differs for each county). In Sweden, students end their term, either at a church or in their school, singing traditional summer songs like "Den blomstertid nu kommer" (normally only the first 2 verses).

In Vietnam, summer holidays usually begins in early June or late May and lasts for two months. It's usually around June to August or late May to late July. Vietnamese students also have a week off for Lunar New Year which is around late January or mid-February. Along with other holidays including Independence Day (Vietnam) on September 2nd, International Labour Day and Reunification Day.

Sweet Autumn Farm


I worked at the Carlisle(MA) Garden Tour on Friday and was placed at this wonderful farm. Sweet Autumn Farm is a small,diversified farm that grows heirloom vegetables,fruit,cut and edible flowers,herbs and seedlings. Their sustainable practices help to encourage a wide variety of flora and fauna through native planting,bird boxes and minimal mowing of the fields.The farm is completely run by power from the solar panels(pictured) on the barn as well as the rain water that is caught. They sell their organic chicken and duck eggs at the Carlisle Farmer’s Market and also supply many restaurants with their produce-they are the sole provider for 80 Thoreau in Concord.
They have 2 new litters of baby goats-I could have watched them all day!

Charming Lake Houses


I just went to visit two friends who have quite a knack for collecting the neatest antiques for their cottages in New Hampshire. From the coffee grinders to the the tablecloths to the containers for sugar,etc….I just loved every corner of both of their homes!

Lawless Upholstery


This has been a really fun project that I am currently working on. My client had one couch that needed to be reupholstered and then wanted a second one to be made to match. Lawless Upholstery in Concord MA is where I always go.Shane does incredible work and is wonderful to work with. Pictured are the existing couch with the cushions about to be made amd the new frame(unlike most new furniture you buy in stores,Shane uses maple unstead of plywood!) ready to be upholstered. Also pictured is Glenn making the skirts that go on the chair we reupholstered for her guest room,and the ottoman that accompanies it. All fabrics are Duralee.

Yummy Gelato


For me, it takes my daughter to come home from college to find out the latest thing. She introduced me to this wonderful Gelato-if you haven’t tried it yet,please do!
I also wondered what the difference really is between ice cream and gelato and found this piece about it:

“If you’ve ever visited Italy, you probably experienced creamy, delicious gelato. And maybe you assumed that the only reason it seemed richer and more intensely flavored than American ice cream back home was because you were enjoying it on the foot of the Spanish Steps in Rome, rather than on your couch back home.

But there are actually a few main differences between gelato and ice cream. While ice cream legally has a minimum of 10 percent fat, gelato is made with a greater proportion of whole milk to cream, so it contains more like five to seven percent fat.

But don’t expect to be able to get Italian gelateria-style results by making a gelato recipe in your home ice cream machine: gelato is churned at a slower speed than ice cream, so it’s denser because not as much air is whipped into the mixture. (Gelato contains about 25 to 30 percent air, while ice cream can contain as much as 50 percent air) Finally, while ice cream is typically served frozen, gelato is typically stored and served at a slightly warmer temperature, so it’s not quite completely frozen.

As for that amazing, rich flavor- since there’s not as much fat in gelato, it doesn’t coat the mouth in the same way. So the flavors are more intense.

But one thing ice cream and gelato do have in common: you won’t be able to resist just one more scoop!”