Friday, October 31, 2008

Step 2 of getting the train back up and running.

Here is the next step of the train garden. I had to clean the track, oil all the wheels and connections on the cars and it is ready to go.
Next step is to add all the people and props to the Village. I will show you when I am done!!!
How cute is this!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My second favorite time of the year in AZ is October. It is like a new beginning, let me explain why. First, it is when the night-times start cooling down so we can open windows for the first time since April. It is also the time to put up Halloween decorations, (my 2nd favorite holiday!). It is that time I can get out and start doing FUN yard work, like, seeding the lawn for winter, starting back up the vegetable garden, getting the train garden up and running, and the small flower gardens: the “Shakespeare”, “Alice in Wonderland” and the “Knot” gardens planted and ready for the beautiful winters we have here. Nothing says fall here like the smell of manure!!!!
Here is the first day of cleaning up the train garden from the long, hot summer.
Join me in a couple of days for the next step, and you can see my village come back to life for the fall, winter and spring! YEA!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Lacock Village, Wiltshire, England, a perfect spot to visit…

If you have the chance to visit England, make sure you have on your agenda to visit the village of Lacock. You may think you have already been there because it looks so familiar, but that is because it has been used in many films, like; A&E’s “Pride and Prejudice”, PBS’s “Cranford”, all of the Harry Potter movies have shot the classroom scenes at Lacock Abbey that is in the village, A&E’s “Emma” and many other productions.
Main Street in P&P and Cranford plus others...
As you walk the streets of the village you will feel as if you have been transported back to the 13th century, when the village was founded. Many of the buildings on the 4 streets, are thatch roofed, or lime-washed Tudor style buildings of the 14-1500’s. As you roam the streets of the village there are private homes, shops to visit, and bakeries and tea houses to eat at and buy yummy snacks.
Hall used for the Meryton Ball in P&P
Lacock Abbey itself, which is in the village, was established in the 1232. It was built by Ela, Countess of Salisbury, the first and only female sheriff of Wiltshire, as a tribute to her husband. She served as the first Abbess. At the dissolution of the Abbey’s under HenryVIII, it was sold and turned into a country house.
Dark Arts classroom in Harry Potter Movies
Before the movie industry made this village and Abbey famous, it was well known to photographers as the location of where the first negative picture was taken. William Henry FoxTalbot is known as the “father of modern photography”. He developed the positive-negative film process while living in the Abbey, and took the first picture of the lattice window. At the Abbey entrance is a great museum that covers Talbot’s work and discoveries.
Lacock Abbey-Lattice Window
Within close proximity to Lacock Village is the city of Bath (20-25 miles), and also the most beautiful village in England, the village of Castle Combe. Castle Combe is also featured in many movies, most recently was “Stardust”(see my review below, dated Oct. 15th). Also within easy travel distance is Salisbury. Our family rented a cottage (which saved quite a pretty penny, or pence in this case) for a week in the Wiltshire area, and did day trips from our cottage. We were close to a grocer so that saved on food costs. There are so many places to see and you never have to travel for more than 1 hour to see so many amazing sites.

The village of Castle Combe

Friday, October 17, 2008

A bright spot in each day!

Do you have to sit and do any work during the day? Or do you spend time on a tread mill, stationary bike or other exercise contraption? Why not make the time go faster and get a good laugh while you are at it. Bonnie Hunt, one of my favorite actresses, has a new daytime talk show. You will need to check your local listings, but in Mesa AZ, it is on Fox 10 at 11am.
Bonnie Hunt has one of the quickest wits in entertainment and everyday is a laugh out loud show! She is a great interviewer but her best moments are when she is interacting with her audience, or talking with kids. She is works with friends that have been her friends for years, in some cases, friends from Chicago that she grew up with. She is a very good and moral Catholic girl and is not afraid to speak her mind on health issues, morality and the troubles with the world.
Some of my favorite moments are when she is talking with her mom in Chicago via camera phone. Her mom dispenses funny and wise anecdotes for life to help everyone. One day Bonnie went on and on about when she was young, how she and her sisters would try to be outside hanging laundry on garbage day, because one of the garbagemen, named "Dukey Marcucci", was so good looking and they wanted to watch him. Try watching the show once, and I promise you will be hooked! I now watch this while I exercise instead of Regis and Kelly. I feel like I am betraying them but her show is much funnier!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

For a MAGICAL time, watch "Stardust"

One of the best movies of 2007 that got overlooked was the movie "Stardust". I love a great fantasy movie and this has it all from great witches, magic, flying machines that capture lightning, murderous brothers, and a beautiful star.

The list of actors in this are amazing. The ever beautiful, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ian McKellan,Claire Danes, Peter O'Toole, Robert De Niro (the funniest thing in the world!!!), Mark Strong, Ricky Gervais, Ben Barnes (Prince Caspian) and on and on it goes!!!
It opens with the story of Wall, a village in England(filmed in Castle Combe, one of the most beautiful villages in the world!!!) that is surrounded by a wall. This wall is guarded all the time so no one can cross over to the other side. However, young Dunstan, tricks the guard and gets over, has an adventure and then comes back. Nine months later he finds a baby delivered to him in a basket, by the guard and the next adventure begins.
Now flash forward 18 years (or so). Claire Danes plays the star that has been knocked out of the heavens and is trying to find her way back, but instead meets Tristan (the delivered baby), now much older, who is trying to find his mother that he has never met.
They are being chased by 3 witch sisters, Michelle Pfieffer is the one in the middle(the make-up is amazing), who wants to kill and eat the star so they can have ever-lasting life.
There is so much happening through all the adventure, and it is all so funny. De Niro will surprise you and you will die laughing throughout this moive! And of course, they live happily ever after!!! Have you seen this movie? If you have, add your comments so others can see you you think of it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Three Great Books to Enjoy

I have read 3 great books in the past 2 weeks that I want to share with you. First is entitled, "Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day" by Winifred Watson, was recommended to me by my friend Kim.
Now, if you saw the movie, you have to read the book because it is very different! And, of course, the book is much better. If I had read the book first, I wouldn't have enjoyed the movie as much , which is normal. Hollywood, as usual, thinks they know better and always change what is perfect when making books into movies. If you haven't seen the movie yet, you might want to watch it first then read the book, or skip the movie altogether and read the book twice! It is so much fun!
Frances McDormand and Amy Adams in "Miss Pettigrew..."
The next book, (one my book group read), is simply amazing and fun. "Ella Minnow Pea" is a novel written in letters. The language is amazing. It takes place on a fictional island of Nollop, off the coast of North Carolina. The story begins when a tile, with the letter "z", that is in the town square, has fallen out of it's place in a sentence. The island leaders decide it is a "sign" from the founder of the island that they, the people of Nollop, no longer need the letter "z" and therefore it is banned from being used. Throughout the book, other letters begin to fall with serious results and the letters get more and more creative as each letter is banned. This author, Mark Dunn, is amazing and you will learn many new words, some he made up. I can't wait to read another of his books.
Last is a book my friend, Kaarin, recommened that I read because she knows how much I love Shakespeare. But you don't have to, to enjoy this book. It takes place in a Long Island suburb and the height of the Vietnam War. It takes you through the school year (1967-68) of the main character, Holling Hoodhood. Every Wednesday, the students that were Jewish, left at 1:15 for Hebrew school, and the students that were Catholic, left for Catechism School. But Holling was Presbyterian and the only one left in his class, so his teacher has him read a new Shakepeare play each month. The author, Gary D. Schmidt, very cleverly weaves the lessons taught in the plays with what is happening with Hollings' school, family and the events of the world.
My only complaint with this book is that, I wish something more would have been resolved with Hollings father. Until you read it you won't understand what I mean, but is you have, let me know what you think.
Try one or all of these books. You know me, I love good, or happy ending and these 3 all have them. ENJOY!!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A fun, easy and not too messy craft!

Wednesdays morning at my house is "Grandma Day". My grandkids come over and we spend the morning doing whatever we want. Pictured below is such a fun and easy craft for my grandkids to make. Michaels craft store had these foam glasses and I had ALOT of foam stickers from other craft projects we have done and they designed thier own shades! "Miss E" got a little carried away and she couldn't even see. They really enjoyed these.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

"...Do you not know I am a woman? When I think, I must speak..."

As I have mentioned before, “As You Like It” is one of my favorite plays written by William Shakespeare. So, I was very excited to see the production of it by the Southwest Shakespeare Company last Saturday night with my friends, Kim, Marie and Alicia. It was directed by Richard Baird, who recently won an Arizoni Award for “Best Actor in a Major Role” for his portrayal of Petruchio in “Taming of the Shrew” last season. His interpretation highlights the darker side of the events going on in the story line. In fact, at intermission, my friend, Marie, this being her first Shakespeare play, asked if this really was a comedy. However, after the intermission, (and after the opening torture scene of Oliver), the comedy really began to show itself. In fact, the comparison of the evil events in the first half of the play, made the comedy scenes in the second half and the resolution of all the story lines even more enjoyable.
The entire casts performance was really strong, but my favorite character in this was Touchstone, the clown, wonderfully played by Eric Schoen who, thankfully is a frequent performer for SSC. Brennan Taylor, a new comer to SSC, was very good as Orlando, (especially in the shirtless wrestling match, wink, wink. Alicia will agree with me on this point!). Kaitlin O’Neal, who is always great, was good as Rosalind but our group thought someone younger should have played the part instead. O’Neal seemed older in the play than the actress who played her beloved cousin Celia (Lori McNally) and we felt they should be closer in age.
The set was beautiful, especially once they were all in the forest, and the costumes were, as usual, amazing! All in all, it was a very fun evening and an enjoyable play to attend. It will only be playing for 2 more weekends at the Mesa Arts Center and I highly recommend you go and see it before it is gone.