Gettysburg’s Victorian Christmas, and my Christmas card to you

Christmas JOY= Jesus is the reason for the season, giving to and serving others blesses you abundantly.

It was a beautiful day in historic Gettysburg, the second day of December and Christmas was all around on Steinwehr Avenue.  Six adults, one toddler and one infant started out on a grand walk down the avenue, prepared with a double stroller and plenty of hands anxious to help with the little ones.

This little guy was not happy in the stroller for long.  He was having the time of his life, practicing his recently accomplished goal of walking.

We were headed for a carriage ride with horses decked out in lots of jingling bells. When he spotted those big horses he made a quick jump for g-grandma’s arms.

We all enjoyed the ride through the streets that celebrated Gettysburg’s history as well as the season.

After the ride, he was ready to be friends with the horses.

We were dropped off in front of the historic Dobbin House, beautifully decorated for Christmas.

From there we continue our walk along the avenue. Dick comes close to getting a taste of a large ice cream cone.

Next stop, a visit from a Civil War era Santa. He was almost as perplexed here as he was with the horses.  So many new things to see today.

Later we enjoy the parade, and look who’s still all eyes, not missing any of the action.

But this little beauty never missed a minute of her daytime sleep. As snug as a bug in a rug, she also enjoyed the day.

This lovely day began our Christmas celebration, with almost a month to go I see many happy days ahead.

Merry Christmas to all of you from all of us.


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Orange you glad God made October

The color orange is never so prevalent as it is in the splendid month of October.  Flowers, trees and pumpkins all sing praises of the vibrant and appealing color of orange on warm sunny days with frosty mornings and cool evenings.

A trip to Hollabaugh’s market is a treat anytime, but in October it is a celebration of all things fall.  My trip this October was to accompany a school bus full of children anxious to get their first taste of apple cider, take a wagon ride through the orchards and pick five apples for themselves from the bin.  It was a rainy day when we were there but have no fear, there was no enthusiasm lost.

We disembark from the half hour bus ride to a multitude of colors.  The displays are inviting and a feast for the eyes.

Look here, look there, so many things to see.

“There are a lot of pumpkins here,”  was the comment heard from a wide eyed third grader. Yes, a lot of pumpkins.

Hollabaugh Bros. have been hosting bus loads of school children for many years.  Today we would take the bus ride first and then go inside and learn about the role of the bee in the orchard business.

We were thankful for the covered wagon to take us on a tour of the orchards on this 500 acre farm.

The rain slowed down to a heavy mist.  We got a little wet one time when the wagon brushed a tree hanging over the edge of the road. No damage done, only a lot of delightful squeals from happy children.

As we rode along the not too bumpy roads we saw the left over pumpkins and squash in the field, and learn of the only two perennial vegetable plants, which are asparagus and rhubarb. These happen to be the only vegetables in my garden. I love low maintenance plants that keep coming back.

When the tour brought us back to the buildings each visitor was allowed to pick 5 lovely apples from the big bin. Normally visitors pick the apples from the designated trees, but today it was too wet.  So the big bin it was.

Back inside we heard the story of pollination, complete with the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees.

Thanks Hollabaugh Bros. for letting us visit your beautiful farm, taste your cider and pick your apples.  It was a fun day and I enjoyed looking at all the crazy squash, as we got back on the bus.  The ride home was just a little much for the two that shared my seat. Before we hit Biglerville their eyes were closed and their tired little heads were bobbin.

I for one am glad that God made October. Enjoy these days while they last, November is just around the corner.


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In a cabin in the woods

Source: In a cabin in the woods

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In a cabin in the woods

Each year, sister Cindy invites her other sisters to the cabin she and her husband own about 2 hours from home.  We trek over the mountains, five in one car, with two days worth of food and luggage in the trunk. Sometimes we eat out, but this year we had so much food we ate in and took turns in the kitchen.

Eating in, is half the fun!

Playing Mexican Train or watching a chick flick wraps up a day that includes cooking, laughing, walking and just being together, away from the hustle and bustle of life. To add a little history and culture we also watched “Invictus” with Morgan Freeman.

Each year we do different things to make our time together fun and memorable.  One year we went to flea markets and yard sales. Then there was the year we toured historical sites in the area. Another time we visited a near by deer farm and the lady of the house made us the best chocolate cake ever and served us tea.

This is how and where we recall many of those memories.

So what to do this year?  It was later in the year than when we usually go and cooler as well.  We got the bright idea to make a batch or two of our mothers recipe of deep fried cake donuts. It was very likely that no one had made them for over 20 years, but we could all remember the sweet nutmeg taste and, when coated with powdered sugar they were quite a treat.  Cindy had the recipe, I had a deep fryer (of sorts) and the oil.  Someone remembered the rolling pin, and brown paper bags to drain them, once they came out of the grease.

We were set up and ready to go!!

Cindy mixed them up, Brenda rolled them out, I put them in the fryer, Linda made a flour run,

and Pat got the first bite.

We made two batches and brought some home for our families.  We learned a few things and feel we are in good shape to carry on this tradition.

There was also time for walks and a shopping trip.

One of the best times we look forward to is reading scripture and having prayer time for our extended families.

By the time we were ready to leave the serenity of this place, we realized some things had been added to the amount of stuff we had to take home, and “stuffing” the trunk was somewhat of a challenge, but it was met successfully.

In a cabin in the woods with sisters; tasting memories, sharing stories and loving the time we took from our daily routines to get together. It’s good to do that in times like these.


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It’s a beautiful day in Pennsylvania

I was driving home from town the other day, and about 5 miles from my destination, I had to stop. My car pulled up to a familiar spot. I parked and got out out, just because the air was clear, the sky was blue, the clouds were white and the fields were green.  The temperature was perfect, just the way I like it, not to warm, not to cool. There is a lookout tower at this spot and this kind of a day is always good for a little exercise, so I climbed up the stairs and the camera came out.  That is how this blog happened.  It simply was a beautiful day in Pennsylvania.

Did I mentioned that the barn was red and graces the landscape beautifully.


Green fields and tall corn indicates a relatively short, wet summer producing this kind of color as fall sneaks up on us.

Tranquility at its best from my vantage point.  I love the feeling of tranquility when I can pause from a busy day, take in a deep breath and feel peace in my soul.  Even when I know peace does not abound everywhere, in this moment, in this picture there is the feeling of peace.

Aren’t you glad to see the bicycler in the yellow made it up the hill, and as we look this direction we see reminders of a time when things were not so peaceful on this hill overlooking the town of Gettysburg.

Don’t miss those puffy white clouds floating high above the green, green grass of home.  It’s time to leave my perch up in the tower and head down the road. Another quick stop and another snapshot reminded me of a hope we have here in our town.

The eternal flame at the peace memorial.

Now I am really on my way home, but can’t shake the feeling of this lovely day.

One more barn catches my eye and brings my car to a stop. It’s the barn where my dad made his living, milking cows and raising corn, to feed his family of nine children. It’s empty now, but remains full of memories, especially on a day like this.

I made it. I am finally home, time to put the camera down and get to the tasks of daily living. But really, who could resist this peaceful view from my back porch? You know I love to travel, but I thank God every day for this.  The air is clear, the sky is blue, the clouds are white and the fields are green.



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A day in “the burgh”

Did you ever wonder why Pittsburgh is spelled with an h on the end while other “burgs” end with a g.  Well I never thought much about it until I spent a day touring “the burgh.”  I don’t usually refer to Harrisburg or Gettysburg as “the burg,” but it didn’t seem at all strange to call Pittsburgh “the burgh.”

With a little research on Google I came up with this answer.  “The city was originally named for William Pitt the Elder, but it was General John Forbes who did the naming. His Scottish background is the reason for that extra “h” —-think Edinburgh.  To edit the spelling to the German “burg” was akin to editing the city’s founding.  After 20 years of complaints, the Board finally overturned their previous decision on Pittsburg(h)’s controversial consonant on July 19, 1911.”  Of course people do call it “The Burgh” but it is also famous for its three Rivers that join at the point.  Can you name them?

The Ohio River runs very close to the popular Three Rivers Stadium, the other two are the Allegheny which flows south from New York, and the Monongahela which flows north from West Virginia. They come together at the beautiful Point State Park shown in the first picture.

To see all these sights we took a run up the Duquesne Incline to have a look from the top.

We enjoyed the ride, the views, and

I was almost surprised that the city continued at the top of the incline.


We were fascinated by these historical pictures.    Time changes things.

From there we took in the walk along “The Strip District” in old Pittsburgh.

Not too surprising, we encountered multiple Pittsburgh Steelers souvenir shops, but a walk along the half mile strip offers many other opportunities for retail therapy. Husband Dick was 8 weeks out with total knee replacement and was doing well. He stopped for a rest while I was busy looking and taking candid photos.

Some parts of it, like this old grocery store, reminded me of being in a foreign country.

The one thing we were told we had to do was to eat at a Primanti Brothers restaurant and devour one of their signature sandwiches.  No problem, except we just got one and split it. Yes, that is coleslaw and french fries you see dangling from the side. The side dishes are all part of the sandwich deal.

This restaurant on the strip is the original Primanti Bros hangout.

A half mile back through the strip to the car and we were ready to say we have seen “The Burgh.”





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Do you need a rest??

Mount Gretna Pennsylvania, is a place of good memories and best friends.   I remember Gretna from my childhood when my parents took us kids to the Sunday evening church services in the summer.  They were held in the great open tabernacle, which we loved because instead of sitting on the benches we were free to roam around and play quietly in the open area in the back.

   The surrounding houses always fascinated me and I used to dream of being able to go up the porch of this one house beside the tabernacle.  Today my best friends live in that house and we have spent many hours on that same porch I dreamed about years ago.  Recently we listened to a band concert while sitting on the Cornercopia porch. Most of the concerts are free, just collecting an offering. This is truly a place of beauty, peace and rest.


Porches are a big thing in Mt Gretna. My friend displays her lovely doll house on hers, and on our last visit we took a stroll to have a look at what made other porches catch your eye.

This one reminded us that the 4th of July is near.

It’s the colors and the rockers that beckon you to come on up and sit a spell.

This one just invites you to take pictures, who can resist the stained glass and the beautiful lanterns?

Plants and flowers enhance many of the porches.  The gardens are as inviting as the porches. Come walk with me, I’ll show you more.


First, the bunny garden, 

 the tiny houses

and the flower garden.

We’ve done a lot of walking, why don’t we just sit a spell on the blue bench?

Ahhh!  I thought so, you do need a rest.


Don’t sit too long, there is lots to see and do in Mount Gretna. Visit the Jigger Shop when you are hungry, see a play at the theater, treat yourself to a concert or check out a book at the library.

Everything is beautiful at Mount Gretna.

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Chapter Chicks hit the road to celebrate 100 books read

This fall our Chapter Chicks book club will celebrate 10 years, but this spring we celebrated reading our 100th book as a club. Our fearless leader, Lisa, is very organized and keeps track of all the books we have read and discussed. Three of the six who were able to make the trip are charter members.  We read our first book in October of 2007 and felt compelled to mark the momentous occasion of reading our 100th book. We chose to read “East Wind, West Wind” by Pearl S. Buck, and to make the reading special we took a field trip to Sellersville, PA to visit the Pearl S Buck House.  We arrived at the former home of this extraordinary woman, with a sign in hand announcing who we were and why we were there. We were welcomed by the staff and given other Pearl Buck suggestions to consider. Proceeding with a tour we learned much about her as an author, a mother and a humanitarian.  In 1980 the U.S. Department of the Interior designated the home a historic landmark.

We toured the house which was home to the many children she and her husband adopted and later fostered.

A look out an upstairs window gives a view of one of the garden and play areas.

In one of the three or four libraries in the house we saw this beautiful, Chinese chess set among the 10,000 books housed in the dwelling.  According to the note she was evidently a good chess player.


It was interesting to see the desk and the typewriter where she wrote Nobel Prize winning book “The Good Earth.” Written in 1931, it quickly became a best seller and was made into a motion picture in 1937.  The note she received from the Chinese government refusing her visa to visit the country with then President Nixon was among the other interesting articles on the desk.  The Chinese were not happy that her stories were about the peasant people of China rather than the aristocrats.  They felt this portrayed a poor image of their country. (no pun intended)

They also did not like the way she brought Western customs into the story of “East Wind, West Wind. Personally,  I thought it was a marvelous culture study. Let me tell you a little about this book.  It is a story of an arranged marriage of a young Chinese girl to a man who had just returned from America to practice medicine in China.  The girl was steeped in tradition, having her feet bound and wanting to do her duty of bearing him a son. However the young man was not interested in controlling this young girl, he wanted to love her and wanted her to love him.  She was very confused about this, but by his being loving, patient and understanding, she truly did fall in love with him, and went through the painful process of unbinding her feet at his request, which he knew was for her own good.

These are a pair of an adult woman’s shoes whose feet were bound since childhood.  Can you imagine the pain a child suffered?  The slow process of unbinding the feet as a young adult was very painful as well. Even though the Chinese did not like Buck exposing some of the practiced injustices, in later years a Pearl S Buck Museum was opened in Zhenjiang, China, and slowly, some of these customs were dropped.

I couldn’t help but take a picture of the portrait of this famous author who has a love for the Chinese people and a heart for children.


The outside tour was as interesting and beautiful as the indoor tour.

Our day ended with a delightful stop at a Russel Stover’s candy shop.

Good chocolate and tasty ice cream was enjoyed by all.


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Notes and quotes from “An Italian Journey” and other recent reads

Writers are readers.  I find that a very true statement and lately I have been doing a lot more reading than writing. So now I would like to share with you some of the books that have kept me busy since the holidays.  I enjoy reading very much and the variety that I have recently indulged in is amazing.  Here are some of the several books I have read lately.

An Italian Journey. I saw it on Face book, I drooled over the posted pictures, read the comments and I wanted it for Christmas.  We opened our gifts on Christmas Eve, and I had about 1 hour of free time on Christmas Day when I started to read it.  I am immediately drawn in.  The next time I picked up the book was Monday evening and I decided that I was going to make notes and list quotes that struct a chord with me.  While I’m at it, I might as well learn a little Italian so I began writing words with their meaning in the journal that I also received from my husband for Christmas.


An Italian Journey is one I am definitely recommending.   I am going to share some notes and quotes from James Ernest Shaw’s incredible “revelations in the olive groves of Tuscany.”


The first quote I wrote came from Wendell Berry who, among other things, wrote “The Unsettling of America” said this: “It’s not from ourselves that we will learn to be better than we are.”    I like to think in this case, the quote says we need to interact with others, learn who they are, and where they are coming from to better understand the problems they face and their world view.

“Love and understand the Italians, for the people are more marvelous than the land.”  E. M. Foster    On my trip to Italy, I found this to be true.  We stayed in family bed and breakfasts and enjoyed visiting and being a part of the local activities, like riding a bike around Lucca.

“Wisdom begins in wonder”  Socrates     I found myself wondering at the beauty on every hand.   People are people everywhere and I will just tell you that the ending of this book is my very favorite part of the entire writing.

Next up is a series of three books based on a true historical family in the early 1800’s in what is now Waynesboro, Pennsylvania.   These books are an easy read and would be great for preteens who are interested in life and times in early America.


The story begins in 1812 with 9 year old Susan, continues with the conflict in the family concerning the older brothers and ends with Susan as an adult, leaving the homestead to start a new life with her husband.


The Royers of Renfrew  written by Maxine Beck and Marie Lanser Beck offer much insight and drama to the daily tasks revolving around the family farmstead which was in fact their livelihood. “If you didn’t work, you didn’t eat” was surely true in that day, and it was all hands on deck from the oldest, who taught the youngsters what was expected of them to keep the family going.  I read all three of these books in a matter of days.  They truly held my interest.

In case you think I am all about easy reads and light and airy travel stories, let me direct your attention to “Destiny Disrupted” by Tamin Ansary.  As the title indicates this is “A history of the world through Islamic Eyes.”  Beginning with the Fertile Crescent and continuing to the events on 9/11, this is a look at some of the history most Americans missed along the way.


Khaled Hosseini, author of “The Kite Runner,” (which I have also read) says “With his seamless and charming prose, he challenges conventional wisdom and appeals for a fuller understanding of how Islam and the world at large have shaped each other. And that makes this book, in this uneasy, post 9/11 world, a must read.”  I agree.  It did take me more than “a few days” to read this one.

My next read which is now on pre order will be “The stranger in the Woods, the extraordinary story of the last true hermit.”  This man entered the central Maine Forests in 1986 and lived there alone until 2013.  I recently read a short article about him and am intrigued to understand what took him there in the first place and what motivated him to stay there so long.

If, however, you would rather read a love story, anything by Charles Martin will fill the bill.


Just one more book I want to share with you, its the one I wrote just two short years ago.  It’s the story of my life in the younger years. A love story of sorts, one of an adventurous young woman trying to find her place in the sunshine of Hawaii. A love that has lasted nearly 50 years.  Life was different 50 years ago, but you will enjoy the telling of the fun times we had when life was not so complicated.  Find it by clicking on the link above.



Keep reading my friends, writers love that about you.

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Tea and hats in a 1930’s setting

My youngest sister and her husband recently renovated a house and decorated in a 1930’s style.  It is very tastefully done and brings a sweet sense of old fashioness to the forefront. The School House Haven incorporated both the one -room school house theme and the small self-sufficient family farmette style throughout the house and surrounding landscape. What better place to have a tea with retro fashion hats and lots of sisters to share the unique experience.  We were actually honoring our eldest sister who turned 83 earlier in the month.  Today there are six of us and one sister-in-law to share in the fun. Note the paper chain decoration in the door way, and the world map flip-chart in the background.


First we selected hats and although there were no prizes and everyone looked great, I said that Brenda won the hat prize with her pretty yellow top and red scarf. The yellow hat she chose was perfect.


Jeannine, (front middle)  chose a hat so small you can hardly see it but, as someone suggested, she was NOT a party hat pooper.  The sister-in-law from the Kane family was kind enough to take this picture.

Still decorated for Christmas, we took a look around at some of the antique decorations Cindy had collected.








I loved this window picture with the paper snow covered village houses, and the tree.  The picture on the right is our mom and dad’s wedding picture.  She was 19, he was 21.


Before going into the kitchen, Linda and I pose beside an old radio just like the one our grandfather owned and listened to the Lone Ranger long before we ever had a TV set.img_6308

My eye caught this beautiful chandelier in the living room.  It belonged to Grandma Kane’s mother-in-law, now a wonderful addition to this quaint respite available for short stays free of charge to workers in full-time Christian Ministry. A ministry in itself provided by owners, Don and Cindy Kane.img_6340

Now we enter the kitchen and have a look at a sample of the goodies laid out on this decorative old cook stove.


Don’t let that tea bag fool you, you might not want to pour hot water over the carefully crafted shortbread cookie dipped in chocolate for an appetizer.


Tea, and a host of other delightful delicacies, was served.  Thank Cindy you were a wonderful host.


There is nothing like hot tea on a cold winter day to solidify great relationships. #lovemysisters

Happy New Year to all my readers.



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