Aug 262014
 

My daughter and I added some ghostly history to our travel adventures through Scotland. We walked into the haunted underground caverns of Mary King’s Close.
Edinburgh Scotland CloseA Close is the Scottish term for alleyways which, trust me, have long flights of stairs and very steep steps.

The Old Fishmarket Close was historically described as a narrow stinking ravine that sold poultry and fish. It is now home to upscale apartments and restaurants.

Other Closes were named after their best known inhabitants like Mary King.

Very tall buildings were built and crammed together to house the rapidly growing population.

Shoes worn in 1500s #retireforthefunofit #museum #shoes

Shoes used for walking above sewage in the streets

This deliberate lack of space was so Edinburgh could be enclosed within its city walls as a means of protection. The poorest lived on levels that were at the highest risk for collapsing.
Cameras weren’t allowed as we entered an underground site that was unearthed from the 17th century.

Our guide grossed us out when he explained that a family of 15 people shared a small room. Smelly animal fat was burned to add some light in this windowless living space.
Plague Doctor #retirefortheFunofit #Black Plague #doctor
There was no sewer system, so the bathroom was a pail set off in a corner. The youngest child was usually the potty pail dumper and poured out onto the street.

The doctor devised a garment consisting of leather from head to toe, since no one knew it was fleas from infected rats that were spreading the plague.

He wore a bizarre bird-shaped mask with a beak filled with herbs to help protect him from the disease and smells. He unwittingly survived the plague because the leather kept the fleas from biting him.

His bedside manners consisted of slicing off the top of the victim’s sore and jamming a red-hot poker into the wound to cauterize it.

Mary Kings Close #RetirefortheFunofit

Photo credit:The Continnuum Group

As moms, the family depicting this horrible scene made me and Lisa cringe. We all screamed when the guide threw a rubber rat onto the floor in front of us.

Next we entered a room where dolls and stuffed animals were stacked for their most famous ghost, little Sarah. Her family left her behind when she became ill with the plague. She appears (although fortunately not to us) to be looking for a lost toy.
We wandered up and down dimly lit passageways, walking over dirt floors and past rooms where people worked and lived.

Stephen, dressed as a merchant, gave drama and realism that made us feel like eyewitnesses to what were the best and worst of times on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.

Be sure to make your reservations in advance for this popular historical tour that Lisa and I highly recommend.

Aug 192014
 

We ate dog food at Camp Grandma today. I would never ask the grandsons to taste test doggie treats, unless we made them ourselves.


Why did we make dog food? We have grand-dogs that need spoiling. Our grandsons love making cookie cutter shaped cookies, thus Camp Grandma was all about making doggie treat cookies for the grand-dogs.


I looked for the healthiest doggie snack ingredients, and this is what I found….pumpkin puree is bursting with vitamins, beta carotene and fiber. Besides being low in calories, it will help a tummy-aching dog settle its stomach. Eggs are a protein that keeps their fur coats looking shiny and molasses has vitamins, minerals and helps relieve stiffness from arthritis.
Camp Grandma Dog Treat #cookie #treat

The grandsons tasted the doggie treats and declared them rather bland and needing some frosting!

To make this cookie baking venture successful, a batch of sugar cookie dough came to the rescue.

The boys went to work and rolled, cut, baked and then snacked on frosted cookie treats made just for them.


As you can see, Copper loves attention and doggie treats. The grandson’s research proved it was a hands (or paws) down decision….the homemade treats were his new favorite. Their research may be a bit faulty though, since Copper also loves smelly socks.

 

5.0 from 10 reviews
Treats for Dogs
 
Author:
Recipe type: Snack or Treat
Serves: 30-40
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
A healthy doggie treat with no preservatives or added sugar, but lots of vitamins and minerals for your pet.
Ingredients
  • ½ Cup Pumpkin Puree (not pie filling)
  • 2 Tablespoons Molasses
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons Water
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2½ Cups Flour (all-purpose or whole wheat)
  • 3 Tablespoons Dry Milk
  • ½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, add pumpkin puree, molasses, oil, water and eggs and mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix flour, dry milk, and baking soda.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix into dough.
  5. Add more water to the dough if needed, but dough should be dry and stiff, not sticky.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to ¼ inch thick.
  7. Cut with a cookie cutter.
  8. Place cookies on non-stick cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.
  9. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
  10. Let cool on cooling racks.
  11. Makes 30-40 cookies.
Aug 112014
 

Visually stroll with us down this colorful brick pathway to the patio of an elegant French-style chateau restaurant. We didn’t have to travel to France for Sunday Brunch with our family.

#La Caille, #swans, #RetirefortheFunofitA summer morning is the perfect time to enjoy blue skies, picturesque mountains in the background, and graceful swans.
#La Caille #brunch #RetirefortheFunofit
Although the restaurant’s patio was filled with guests, our dining area was secluded for a perfect family brunch experience. The gazebo has grapevines intertwined on the metal work to create a natural privacy. We were surrounded by fragrant trees, a water fountain and wandering peacock families.


We didn’t think we were that hungry, but we devoured the warm croissants and appetizers that were served while our food was being made. The boys were kept busy with pictures to color that they turned into cards of birthday wishes for Grandpa Lee.


The children’s menu had the boy’s favorite – French toast with Chantilly cream, bacon and fresh berries. Our waitress offered suggestions on menu choices and the staff was quick to refill our water glasses. The waiter brought our meals at the perfect temperature, while entertaining the children with funny comments. I love trying something different, and the salmon with asparagus omelet was uniquely delicious. You could tell everyone was delighted with their food, when the discussions turned to how much they were enjoying their selections. I’ve included the menu to tease your taste buds.


The grapes in the vineyard weren’t ready for harvesting yet, but the boys noted that the wine cellar certainly wasn’t empty.


After brunch, we leisurely wandered down the walkways and stopped on bridges to enjoy the clear water flowing down from the mountains. The fragrant topiaries add a fantasy setting to the 20 acres of gardens surrounding La Caille, where ducks, geese and peacocks roam freely.


This fairytale setting made our daughter and son-in-law’s wedding so uniquely memorable five years ago. Our Sunday Brunch was a perfect excuse to celebrate their anniversary. One special remembrance was of our grand-daughter making sure she only dropped three flower petals on each step, to lead us to the wedding ceremony.
#La Caille #Restaurant #RetirefortheFunofit
Although we didn’t stay at La Caille until dusk, I couldn’t resist sharing this picture from our daughter’s wedding. I wanted to leave you with this idyllic setting as the final page of our picture-perfect anniversary story. Where is your favorite restaurant?

Aug 042014
 

What does Liverpool, the Beatles, an Apple Club and Jelly Bellies have in common? Albert Docks, Liverpool #Beatles #Museum

The Beetles and their Apple Club began in Liverpool.  George Harrison said he liked Jelly Bellies.  George was hit in the eye when fans thought the band would be thrilled to get bombarded with them. Beatles Museum Apple Club #Apple Club #Beatles #RetirefortheFunofit

The Beatles Story Museum is down by the Albert Docks waterfront, where Liverpool’s musical heritage started.

My daughter and I may be from two different generations, but we can easily belt out duets of many Beatle tunes. We felt stopping in Liverpool during our recent European adventure, was our chance to “visit The Holy Grail” of the Beatle phenomenon. We were delightedly surprised that when we ate brunch at a local pub, all the music played was by the Beatles.

John Lennon’s half-sister, Julia, narrates her personal memories in our audio tour.  She guides us to the recreated Cavern Club, where the fledgling group played to a smoke filled room of admiring fans.  I guess the screaming and fainting Beatlemania began when they came to America.

A few of the many fascinating things we’d like to share are: Happy childhood memories were the basis for John Lennon to write “Strawberry Fields Forever.”  John and his friends played behind this Salvation Army Orphanage, while the Army Band entertained during the summer garden parties.

Paul McCartney took the first name from an actress and the last name from an alcohol store for the song “Eleanor Rigby.”  What’s weird is that the place where McCartney and Lennon first met is also where a gravestone, bearing this same name, is located.


The museum has many nostalgic items on display that we enjoyed seeing, like George Harrison’s first guitar, their suits and John Lennon’s round glasses.
Beatle Museum Abey Road Crosswalk
This image on Abbey Road is unique and cleverly composed.  I hadn’t noticed the white Beatle VW before.  Interestingly, that license plate was stolen many times and the car became a museum piece.

I’m always shocked at today’s concert prices, considering a front-row ticket to the Beatles first American concert was $12.50.  Who is your favorite singer and what’s the most you ever paid for a concert ticket?

Jul 272014
 

Just when we thought traveling out east to see New York’s Niagara Falls gave us the most beautiful and highest waterfall, we learned there is a Niagara Falls West. #Shoshone Falls #Idaho #Niagara Falls West #Retire for the Fun of it
Another Niagara Falls, you ask?  Well, Shoshone Falls in Idaho is 45 feet higher than Niagara Falls, although not nearly as wide.  If you don’t like crowds, you will love the view at these western Falls.  You won’t have to crowd onto a Maid of the Mist boat with other tourists for a wet ride to the falls, instead a small boat can be rented for your personal up close feel of a dramatic waterfall spray.

The dirt ramp is still there (on the left side) where Evel Knievel took a giant leap of faith in his Skycycle to reach the other side.  I remember that day in 1974, when thousands of people converged on the area in hopes of possibly seeing a daredevil fall to his death. #Snake River Canyon #Evel Knievel Jump #Idaho #Retire for the Fun of it

The rocket made it to the other side, but the drogue chute on his cycle came out too early.  The strong winds and dragging chute blew his rocket backwards and sent him plunging into the canyon.  According to the videos, Evel survived with just a bruised nose.  His famously over-inflated ego allowed him to call the jump a success.  I guess any time you can walk away from danger, confirms it as a success.

#Evel Knievel #X-2 Skycycle

Photo taken by Docob5 at the Harley-Davidson museum

Evel Knievel’s son is hoping to recreate his father’s jump, but hasn’t announced his plans yet.  Another motorcycle stuntman, Big Ed Beckley, received permission to do the jump this September.  Ed’s plan is to jump the canyon one day prior to the 40th anniversary of Knievel’s attempt.  Will he do it and survive?  We will find out in a few months.
#twin Sculpture #Twin Falls #Idaho
I love this sculpture named the Twins in Twin Falls, which seems to being twirling towards the sky near the Perrine Bridge.

Base Jumper Perrine Bridge Idaho
Base Jumpers 2 Canopies Idaho
Base Jumpers Canopies Bridge
Base Jumper Canopy Perrine Bridge IdahoNo, these are not suicidal jumpers deciding whether to end their lives off the Perrine Bridge.

They are wearing parachutes on their backs.

Evel Knievel isn’t the only person that takes leaps of faith into Twin Falls’ Snake River.

The Perrine Bridge has the distinction of being one of the few spots in America that allow BASE jumping without requiring permits.

For the non-adrenalin junkies, BASE stands for land-based areas that people risk their bodies to jump off of – Building, Antenna, Span, and Earth.

The city requests that jumpers please let the police know about their risky intentions.

Thus if a motorist dials 911 to report a suicide happening on the bridge, the police can assure them it’s just some nutty BASE jumper.

We were fortunate to get to the bridge in time to watch two jumpers enjoying their passion.

My husband and I have jumped with parachutes out of a “perfectly good airplane” on many occasions, but have no desire to try this sport anytime soon.

What is your favorite sport for that elusive adrenalin rush experience?

Jul 182014
 

Welcome to Camp Grandma’s Gassy Balloon Show, brought to you by my Science Guy Grandsons.  Nearby is Copper, our sulking grand-dog, since this project didn’t include snacks.
Camp Grandma Science Project Camp Grandma Science Project 1 Camp Grandma Science Project 3
Camp Grandma Science Project 2 Supplies needed:
Plastic Water Bottle
Vinegar
Baking Soda
Balloon
Funnel
Food Coloring (optional)

1). Pour 1/4 cup of Vinegar into an empty plastic Water Bottle.

2). Insert a Funnel into the Balloon.

3). Pour 1 Tablespoon of Baking Soda into the Balloon through the Funnel.

4). Remove the Funnel and carefully attach Balloon to the Water Bottle without letting any Baking Soda spill into the bottle.

5). Lift the Balloon up so the Baking Soda falls into the Bottle.

Now the fun begins!  Watch the balloon inflate.

My Science Guy’s project is a success.  The Vinegar and Baking Soda react when mixed and produce Carbon Dioxide gas.

This bubbling gas causes the balloon to inflate.

After the bubbling action stopped and the balloon deflated, the Science Guy’s were ready to add a few drops of food coloring to a fresh mixture.

This made for some interesting green bubbles that re-inflated the balloon.

How many times did my Science Guys try this project?

Hint: A quart of vinegar makes for a fun afternoon.

Isn’t science a gas?

My thanks to Life Is Peachy for this great science project idea.

Jul 122014
 

Join me and my daughter as we travel back to a time when tortures and beheadings were executed in the Tower of London.
Tower of London Traitor Gate

We are in a boat with Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, headed for the Tower of London.  King Henry VIII is now in love with Jane Seymour, so some trumped up charge like treason is needed.  This doesn’t mean Anne has betrayed her country, just displeasing the king becomes her vile act of treason.

Anne’s boat enters the Tower of London through the Traitor’s gate and is met by the Constable of the Tower.  We hear her ask if she will be taken to a dungeon.  He assures her that she will be imprisoned in the same Royal apartments she had stayed in three years ago, when she became queen.
Tower of London Torture Rack
Tower of London BeheadingThe Tower received a ghastly reputation of innocent prisoners being tortured into confessing their guilt.  I noticed a somber mood fell over our group, as we read how bodies were stretched on the rack.
Tower of London Scaffolding siteThe Spanish A-Frame successfully extracted confessions the opposite way by compressing the body.  I found it curious that these torture items were never destroyed, but I guess “what happens in the tower, stays in the tower.”

Let’s join Anne Boleyn again, as she hears that her sentence will be either burning or beheading.  King Henry VIII shows what a nice guy he is by selecting the quicker, less painful death.  English executioners didn’t get much practice hacking off heads, and needed several whacks to finally finish the bloody job.  As another act of kindness, an expert French swordsman with a sharpened sword is brought in to do the slicing.  We hear Anne commenting that fortunately “she has a little neck.”

The site of the scaffolding built for the beheadings is located on the Tower Green and marked by this crystal pillow.

My daughter and I weren’t very eager to test the rumors about ghosts haunting the Tower.  Supposedly, Anne Boleyn is sighted the most often as a headless body drifting near the Tower Green.  She has also been seen near the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula, where her bones were buried within the Tower.

I have never seen or felt the presence of apparitions, have you?

Want to win a great trip to Southern Oregon? Click here.

Jul 072014
 

Come along with me and my daughter to the Tower of London where heads rolled and Crown Jewels glitter.
Tower of London
Photographs are not allowed as we entered the vaulted, huge, two ton doorway. The phrase “all that glitters is not gold” came to mind, as my eyes took in this array of diamonds and gold displayed on velvet.

Tower of London Crown Jewel Door
What is on display? Basically all the glitz and sparkle that is used in coronations as British symbols of the ruling royalty.  Most of the collection is from the coronation of Charles II , when royalty was restored to England in 1661.

The long glass encasements are low enough to peer in from the top and then crouch to see from all sides. Since there are no queues to stagger the crowd, you can stand or walk at your pace. With no photography allowed, no one is jostling to get a better picture.

CSvBibra

CSvBibra


What happened to the earlier monarchy’s wealth?  Charles I  believed in the divine right of kings and triggered an English Civil War that lasted six years. Defeat also meant that the divine right to keep his head was permanently severed and Oliver Cromwell became the Lord Protector of England.

The monarchy was abolished, but the newly created English republic found itself in a desperate financial situation. In order to raise funds, the personal estate of the monarchy was sold to the highest bidder. Much of the gold was melted down and used for coins.

For Charles II coronation, many items were replicated. The oldest piece made by the royal goldsmiths that survived and was returned was a 12th century Coronation Spoon. Also the Coronation Chair was used for Cromwell’s installation as Lord Protector and never sold.

St. Edwards Crown, http://www.flickr.com/photos/bootbearwdc/

St. Edwards Crown, http://www.flickr.com/photos/bootbearwdc/

St. Edward’s Crown is placed on the head of the new monarch by the archbishop on coronation day. This 1661 remake with 443 gems weighs five pounds and worn for only 20 minutes. The original was known to cause headaches for the newly crowned royalty, if worn too long.

England is steeped in superstitions, and the most famous diamond in the world is the Koh-i-Nur or “Mountain of Light”. It has only been set in crowns made for female members of the monarchy. “It is said to bring bad luck to any man who wears it, but is believed to bring long life and happiness to any woman who wears it.” Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, was 101 when she died, so this legend would seem to hold true.”

British Imperial Crown of India Photo by Wikipedia, CSvBibra

British Imperial Crown of India Photo by Wikipedia, CSvBibra


The only crown allowed to leave the country is the Imperial Crown of India. Set with more than 6000 diamonds, it was made especially for the Delhi Durbar in 1911 when George V was crowned Emperor of India.

It was overwhelming and difficult to comprehend all this glittering collection grouped in one room. There is very little description of each item, which keeps the crowds moving along quicker. One of the sceptres has the biggest cut diamond in the world, the 530-carat Star of Africa.

Queen Victoria and small diamond crown  Photo by Alexander Bassano, 1882

Queen Victoria and small diamond crown Photo by Alexander Bassano, 1882

Queen Victoria’s tiny silver and diamond encrusted crown measures only 3.7 inches tall. It was designed to be worn over her mourning veil, following the death of her beloved husband, Prince Albert. Colored stones wouldn’t have seemed appropriate for wearing while in mourning. The 1,187 diamonds came from a necklace owned by Queen Victoria. After viewing such grand crowns, this coronet seemed so tiny and out of place in comparison.

The Crown Jewels were just a small part of our visit to the Tower of London. I could easily have spent another day absorbing this ongoing tradition of regalia, which aren’t just old, unused museum pieces. Should this collection of glitz and gold be replaced by fake gems or allowed to be photographed by tourists?

Jun 282014
 

Kari Sikorski, a professional photographer based in Salt Lake City, Utah, shares a guest post on how to capture amazing photos of Fireworks like a professional.  She takes all the guess work out of using a DSLR camera for you in this tutorial.

Firework Photography

by Kari Sikorski


The key is to have a long exposure and keep the camera steady.  Use a DSLR for the best results.

1. Use a Tripod:  Longer shutter speeds will not only capture the movement of the fireworks but any movement of the camera itself. The best way to keep your camera still is with a tripod.  

2. Remote Release: One way to ensure your camera is completely still during fireworks shots is to invest in a remote release device.


3. Framing Your Shot:  Scope out the location early – get a good, unobstructed position. Think about what is in the foreground and background of your shots and make sure you won’t have people’s heads in your shots (also consider what impact you’ll have on others around you also). Take note of where fireworks are being set up and what parts of the sky they are likely to be shot into.

  • Find Out the Direction of the Wind – You want to shoot up wind, so it goes Camera, Fireworks, Smoke. Otherwise the images will come out hazy. Make sure you are ready to take pictures of the first fireworks. If there isn’t much wind, you are going to end up with a lot of smoke in your shot as the show goes on. The first explosions are usually the sharpest ones.
  • Watch your Horizons - This is especially important if you’re going to shooting with a wide focal length and will get other background elements in your shots (ie a cityscape). Make sure your camera is level on your tripod.
  • Vertical or Horizontal?  Vertical works well because there is a lot of vertical motion in fireworks. Horizontal shots can work if you’re going for more of a landscape shot with a wider focal length or if you want to capture multiple bursts of fireworks in one shot.
  • Remember your framing – spend less time looking in the viewfinder and more time looking at the  sky. Doing this will also help you to anticipate the right time for a shot as you’ll see the light trails of unexploded rockets shooting into the sky.


4. Focal Length: I recommend using a zoom lens. Wide angle or zoomed in… experiment for variety.

5. ISO & Aperture: Set your ISO to 100 – fireworks are bright, and a low ISO has less noise/grain. Set your aperture to f/8.


6. Shutter Speed: Set the shutter speed to Bulb (B) setting. Bulb leaves the shutter open for as long as you depress the shutter release, and it’s a great way to make sure that you capture exactly what you see in the sky because you control when the exposure starts and stops. Hit the shutter as the firework is trailing up into the sky, and hold it down until it’s finished exploding (about 1-2 seconds).

Don’t keep your shutter open too long. fireworks are bright and it doesn’t take too much to over expose them, especially if your shutter is open for multiple bursts in the one area of the sky.

7. Switch off your Flash: If you’re using an SLR, simply lowering the flash and setting the camera to Manual mode will keep the flash from going off.


8. Manual Focus: If you leave your camera set to auto focus the lens will whir backwards and forwards trying to find something to focus on in the black sky and you’ll end up missing a lot of shots.

Set the lens to manual focus and set it to the ∞ (infinity) mark and leave it there. The fireworks will be far enough away that the camera would focus at infinity anyway.

9. Experiment and Check Results: Throughout the fireworks display occasionally check your results, but don’t check after every shot or you’ll miss the show.

When you’re shooting fireworks at night, the aperture controls the brightness of the lights, and the shutter speed determines how long the light trails appear in the photo.


If you want brighter fireworks, open the aperture by making the f number smaller (f5.6).

If the overall photo looks overexposed, make the f-number bigger (f11). Try again until you get an exposure you like.  Post-processing—darken the sky for increased contrast.


I asked Kari about her love of photography. This is her story about becoming a professional photographer: I have had a camera in my hands since I was about 7 years old. I grew up taking photographs of everything, and have a ridiculous amount of photo albums from my childhood which I cherish today. My dad first taught me how to shoot manually on his old 35mm that he carried in the Navy.

I am a mom to three adorable, loud, rambunctious boys, and photographing them gave me a new appreciation for what a photograph can mean to someone.

Check out her blog for the photos that have captured those smiles, milestones, relationships and special moments for her clients.

Jun 222014
 

There are easier ways to travel, but families still love their three mile an hour horse power on the hoof.
Antelope Island Horse and Wagon
This covered wagon group travels through the western states each year. They converge on Antelope Island in Utah each summer during the annual Western Music Festival. The riders donate their time and covered wagons for local charity. As fellow horse lovers, we couldn’t resist the chance to go along for a ride down the dusty trail.
Antelope Island meeting wagon
They allowed me to ride shotgun with the driver, which seemed to give a very short proximity to the back side of the horse. Nell was harnessed close enough to me that she brushed the dust off my cowboy boots with her tail. I was so relieved that the horses didn’t need to add some fertilizer to the trail, or I’m sure that would have landed on my boots.
Antelope Island Covered Wagon
The driver explained what a day out on the road was like.  Although some of the group travels in motor homes, he keeps the heritage alive by camping as weather permits.  He described his morning as being awakened at dawn by the sounds of harnesses clanking and smelling coffee boiling.

The smile on his face while explaining that his average speed is three miles per hour, gave a sense of what I’m missing.  One of the tales he dispelled was the colorful phrase “circle the wagons” actually meant that the wagons served as a corral for the livestock.
Antelope Island riding shot gun
The towns along the way welcome them with organized guitar playing groups sitting around the evening campfires.  Other entertainment in the towns would include quilt and craft shows, toilet bowl races and cow pie bingo.

He admitted he’s feeling the old bones are telling him that riding on wagon trains may have to end soon.  His motto has been “as long as he is able to continue, this is an adventure that gives him a real appreciation for God, Country, and his pioneer ancestors that thrived on the western life.”

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