Friday, July 21, 2017

Amazon Purchases

I love Amazon gift cards.  I recently spent $100 on five books, and my gift card was used up in what seemed like the blink of an eye.  There are four more books I'll eventually get.

The books are for my upcoming presentation this Sunday at the assisted living facility about the Gilded Age.  It has been so fascinating to research, and now Newport, R.I. is on my bucket list, along with Martha's Vineyard.  Have you visited either of those two places?

So what books did I get?  The book on the right, Gilded, is full of references to tea.  Wealthy society fascinated the public so much that the New York Times had a gossip column called Some Tea Table Confidences, 'spilling the beans' on their lifestyles. After all, Henry Fielding's famous quote is, "Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea."  ;-)

John Jacob Astor was a Manhattan real estate mogul. When he died in 1848 at 84 years of age, he was the richest man in the United States.  His ambition was "to get all he could, and keep nearly all he got."  The roll-book of his possessions was his Bible. His love of accumulating increased with his age until it ruled him like a tyrant.  Too bad he died and left every bit of it behind, along with the legacy that he was 'a stone-hearted monster of greed'.

His grandson's wife, Caroline Schermerhorn Astor [married to Wm. Backhouse Astor, Jr.] had a Knickerbocker pedigree and was the undisputed queen who presided over New York society during the Gilded Age.  Even though the couple had five children, it was a loveless marriage.  William didn't get a son to carry on the Astor name [John Jacob IV] until the fifth, and last child was born - and he perished on the Titanic.  Having no interest in the high society activities that Caroline took pleasure in, William lived apart from her most of the time in either Europe, Florida or on his large yacht. He died unexpectedly in Paris.

~ Below is Caroline Astor in all her splendor. ~

The other three books I purchased.  

Alva Vanderbilt's creative, manipulative plan to gain admittance into New York Society was interesting to read about, and it was very successful.

Selecting a treat for the residents for this presentation was easy - 100 Grand chocolate bars!

Today I'll be playing with paper dolls.  You may recall my blog post a few weeks back when I purchased Tom Tierney's Newport Fashions of the Gilded Age paper dolls.  It's what actually gave me the idea to pursue this topic for a presentation.  I don't want to disassemble the book, so I'm making copies and cutting them out to take as visuals this Sunday.

Gilded Age aside, the most important book that arrived in the mail this week is a men's NIV [New International Version] Bible I purchased for my brother from Christian Book Distributors. He leaves next week for his new home in Georgia, and it's the best parting gift I could possibly give him. He's always loved sports and this Bible has notes throughout by Coach Joe Gibbs.  I pray it will be 'a lamp to his feet and a light to his path'.  

Below is my brother and his beautiful [inside and out] daughter, Pam, who he'll be living with in Georgia. The photo was taken before his recent stroke.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

High School Friends and An Event

All work and no play makes Phyllis a dull girl!  ;-)   A group of gals I attended high school with meet once a month for lunch.  I don't make the 35 mile [one way] drive every month, but today I decided to set aside my research on the Gilded Age and go have fun with them.

A different restaurant is picked every month, and today's was Applebee's. Our server took the picture below when we were done eating.  I'm at the end of the table in the yellow top. I've known four of the gals since Junior High, and we're blessed to  still be able to get together.

For local readers: I received a phone call yesterday informing me of an event at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center, Wednesday, July 26th, at 6:00 p.m. that I want to share with you.

A View to the Past Through Hudson's Historic Windows
Celebrate Detroit's Iconic Department Store With Images and Memorabilia

The Padzieski Art Gallery [inside the Performing Arts Center] is collaborating with local artists and collectors to present an exhibition that invites viewers to experience the history of Hudson's Department Store through photographs and memorabilia.  The exhibit will feature rare photos of the store's famous window displays from the 1920's into the 1960's.

Artist and collector Paul Balog teams up with Detroit historian and author Michael Hauser to share images of the store's historic window displays as well as other important memorabilia and unique items they've collected to excite local history buffs and those with fond memories of Hudson's.  

Hudson's window displays would often draw people from far and wide, and were responsible for creating "window shopping," a form of advertising which has almost disappeared from the retail landscape.

All this and more will be discussed at "Art & Appetizers", free to the public without registration.  If you can't make the event, the exhibit will be at the gallery thru August 4th, Tuesdays - Fridays 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

15801 Michigan Avenue
Dearborn, MI

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Recipes...Because You Asked

I don't normally blog on Saturdays, but because I got requests to share two of the recipes I served at my recent Bible study, I'm posting them today.

Chilled Strawberry Soup

2 [10 oz.] pkgs. frozen strawberries or fresh strawberries, sliced
1 1/2 cup water 
3/4 cup sugar 
1 cup cranberry juice [I used Ocean Spray White Cran-Strawberry juice]
8 oz. strawberry yogurt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Fresh strawberries and mint leaves for garnish

In saucepan combine sugar and water and heat until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat and cool. Put strawberries and cooled sugar water in blender and blend until smooth.  Whisk in yogurt, spices and cranberry juice.   Refrigerate until well chilled.  When ready to serve, garnish each serving with strawberry half [and mint leaf if desired].   Yield:  About 4 [1 cup] servings.

Note:  If a richer, creamier soup is desired substitute half and half for the 1 1/2 cup of water. Dissolve the sugar in the 1 cup of cranberry juice instead.  Do not heat the half and half to dissolve the sugar.

I've made the soup both ways and both are delicious and refreshing.  I doubled it for my Bible study and had left overs for my hubby and me to enjoy afterwards.  I poured it in a tall cup for him and he drank it with a straw like a smoothie.  

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Coconut Cream Pie Parfaits

This was a recipe that recently appeared on Facebook.  If you love Coconut Cream Pie then this recipe is for you, but it's not a wise choice if you're watching your calories or fat intake. It is, however, deliciously good!  

The recipe can be found by clicking here.  Note: Dixie Crystals is a brand name.  Any confectioners/powdered sugar will work.   Enjoy!  ;-)

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A heartfelt thanks to those of you who left comments and wrote to me off-list saying you were praying for my brother.  Amazingly, he was discharged from the hospital Wednesday afternoon, less than a week after his stroke.  He will have home healthcare visits, and his daughter is staying with him.  He was very blessed the stroke didn't leave him paralyzed.  The blog clot affected the area of his brain responsible for speech, so he has difficulty talking - especially putting sentences together, and sometimes the words he is able to speak don't make sense, so he will need speech therapy.  I visited him on Thursday when the two pictures below were taken. The first is Dan with his sweet daughter, Pam, and granddaughter, Mandy. For someone whose life was spared, he's not looking too happy!  ;-)

~ Dan and Me ~

I would appreciate your continued prayers for him.  His daughter is in the midst of moving to the Atlanta, GA area, and if Dan is well enough to travel he'll be going with her and her family at the end of the month so she can care for him during his recovery, and perhaps a permanent relocation.

He had A-fib and was unaware of his irregular heartbeat.  A-fib causes the blood to pool at the base of the heart and form blood clots that can travel to the brain.  The Dr.'s said regular check-ups would have detected it. I share this to emphasize the importance of regular physical check-ups. Dan is very blessed because it could have been so much worse. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

15th Annual Michigan Lavender Fest

If you're a local reader, you might be interested in knowing that today is the first day of the 15th Annual Michigan Lavender Fest in Armada, MI.   It's being held at Blake's Orchard on Armada Center Rd. from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. July 14, 15, and 16th.  Admission is $7 per person.

After a few days of rain in our area, Mother Nature cooperated to give the festival beautiful sunny, 80 degree weather, with an occasional breeze.  I am blessed with a wonderful friend who will go with me just about anywhere.  This was our second lavender festival to attend. We went in 2015, but somehow missed last year's.  

We chose today thinking it would be a lot less crowded than the weekend, but it was very crowded. Senior groups came in buses, and when we arrived at 11:00 a.m. the entrance line was super long. Fortunately it moved quickly and was very organized.  The festival has definitely increased in size since 2015, and there are a lot more vendors.  The photo below shows a tiny section of the entrance line.

 ~ Paying for admittance and getting the 'bracelet' for re-entrance. ~

The name of the booth below was "The Tea Boutique" so that made it worthy of being photographed! ;-)  There really wasn't anything inside pertaining to tea, except articles of clothing that could be worn to a tea party.  My girlfriend, Lori, bought a pretty black skirt from the vendor.

We got a good pierogi at the booth below in 2015, so decided to get one again this year.

Frying them fresh on-sight.

We found a picnic table in the shade to enjoy our potato-cheddar pierogi.  Um...Um...Good!

There was a loose-leaf tea booth at the festival this year called The Teatroiter.  The owner was Kristen Pfeifer, from Dearborn, MI.  She's a therapist, and her company is three years old.  I purchased a package of 'Motor City Mango' - a green tea blend with mango, orange, apple, rosehip, hibiscus petals, and elderberries.   I like the creative name of her company.  

~ Kristen ~

I know the vendor at the booth below, so took a picture of her hand-embroidered tea towels.

We couldn't leave the festival without getting a glass of Lavender Lemonade.  The back of the tee-shirt of the girl dispensing the lemonade was so cute I had to photograph it.  It reads: "You cannot buy happiness but you can buy lavender and that is kind of the same thing!"

Glass of refreshing Lavender Lemonade!

That concludes my pictures for this year's lavender festival.  I highly recommend going if you live locally.   It's a very enjoyable event.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Surprise Package

Yesterday UPS delivered a package.  When my hubby brought it to me I wondered what it could be since I wasn't expecting a delivery.  The best way to find out was to open it!  A Spode box was tucked inside a Macy's box.

Inside the Spode box was a beautiful blue Italian transferware "square rim dish".

A thoughtful gift from Angela and Alex McRae.  Isn't it lovely!

I'm not sure yet where I'm going to display it, but for now it's on a table in my living room entryway.  I don't want to set anything inside it to obscure the scene.  Thank you so much Angela and Alex! What a nice keepsake from your recent visit.  Surprises are so much fun!

After unwrapping my surprise package we headed over to Applebee's for dinner.  Our appetizer was Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Tortilla Chips, and our main entree was Oriental Chicken Salad with Peach Iced Tea.  Yum!  What tea are you drinking these warm summer days?  I love summer, and can't believe we're to the half-way point of July already.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

"For Such a Time as This"

Yesterday was ladies Bible Study at my house.  The woman we were studying was Rahab - the Old Testament heroine in the Book of Joshua chapters 1-6.

This was my favorite Bible study to date.  I was reminded of the words Mordecai spoke to Queen Esther [in the Book of Esther] telling her that perhaps she had come to her royal position "for such a time as this," just as I had been preparing my Bible study "for such a time as this."  

My brother, and only sibling, who is five years older than me, suffered a stroke sometime during the early morning hours of last Friday, July 8th.  While driving to the hospital to see him I was reminded that God had told Joshua four times in chapter 1 to be strong and courageous.  In vs. 5 he promised him "I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." and in vs. 9 He said, "Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." I was able to share those verses with Dan as tears trickled out of his eyes.  And to my joy he committed his heart to Jesus and asked for forgiveness of his sins while I had the privilege of praying with him. What began as a very frightful day ended with peace.

The prostitute, Rahab, recorded in Joshua is a wonderful example of God's grace, mercy, and forgiveness, and her life reminds us that our past doesn't determine our future.  When we come to Christ the slate is wiped cleaned, and we have a new perspective and objective to follow Him. No matter what challenges we face or how difficult the obstacles are [the walls of Jericho seemed pretty insurmountable to the Israelites], God is always with us, and gives us strength to be victorious.

After our Bible study it was time for lunch.  Since it's summer I decided to serve chilled Strawberry Soup with a slice of Banana Bread.

My girlfriend, Lori, brought a delicious Tuna Pasta Salad with Fresh Fruit.

Dessert was Coconut Cream Pie Parfaits.

Our souls were spiritually fed on God's Word, and our bodies physically fed on delicious food.  It was a great day!  I'm so thankful for God's abiding presence in good and difficult times.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Queen Bee Tea

The Taylor [MI] Conservatory & Botanical Gardens are hosting their annual tea on Sunday, July 30, 2017 from 1-4 p.m.

Tickets are still available. You can register online at or call 888-383-4108.  Entertainment will be provided by bee keeper, Bill Bray.  Mr. Bray has been a bee keeper for 18 years, and is co-founder and president of Monroe County Beekeepers.  His 45 minute program will be, "Coexisting in a World of Honeybees."  

Teas hosted by the conservatory are always lovely.  The delicious food will be prepared by Victoria's Tea Salon.  Cut-off date for acquiring tickets is July 15th.  Hope to see you there!

Friday, July 7, 2017


Today has been a hodgepodge of information.  While my hubby's been away I've been doing research for my July 23rd presentation at the assisted living facility, and my Bible study this coming Tuesday.

This month's theme at the assisted living facility is The Gilded Age - wealthy American women of that time period.  The lifestyles of Caroline Astor and other women of that era are incredibly interesting.  I singled out Mrs. Astor [pictured below] because she 'ruled' New York's social elite.

When reading their daily summer schedule at Newport R.I. one source said the women changed into elaborate tea gowns for Afternoon Tea, which was followed by music and card playing.  For dinner, it was yet another dress.  A woman had to bring 16 outfits for a four-day weekend to avoid wearing the same dress twice!  Oh my!  The planning the rich had to bother themselves with! ;-)

Filming for NBC's New York period-drama The Gilded Age, [written by Julian Fellowes of Downton Abbey fame] was supposed to begin the end of 2016, but I couldn't find any details about when it will be aired.  Hope it hasn't been cancelled. Mr. Fellowes said he was inspired to do the series by American novelist, Edith Jones Wharton's book, The House of Mirth. Mrs. Wharton was also a New York socialite of the Gilded Age.  This theme means more books to add to my Amazon book list!

The woman we're studying at Tuesday's Bible study is Rahab, the prostitute written about in the Book of Joshua. She's an incredible example of God's forgiveness and transforming grace, and God used her in the lineage of His Son, Jesus Christ.  

In a Google news thread this afternoon, an article caught my eye titled, "Remembering the Department Store Tearoom."  Of course, I had to read it, and it was a good read.  If you would like to read the article click here.

And last, but not least, no salad on the menu today, but a delicious head of roasted cauliflower instead. Now before you turn up your nose, here's all the benefits:  A large head is only 209 calories, and it aides in weight loss.  It's a good source of fiber, choline, omega-3 fatty acids, manganese, phosphorus, biotin, vitamins B1, B2, B3, C & K, folate, potassium, magnesium and 16g of protein. Wow!  You can't beat that for a $1.98!  But too much of a good thing isn't advantageous because it can interfere with iodine absorption.  So I won't be eating it three days in a row, but for one meal it was yummy! Note: Anyone who suffers from gout is advised not to eat it. Cauliflower is almost as good as a cup of tea!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Matcha Tea Treat

My girlfriend, Linda, stopped by this afternoon after lunch at Noble Fish in Clawson, MI. The restaurant serves sushi, and has an accompanying Japanese market.  

She bought me a box of Pejoy Matcha-filled Biscuit Sticks, a product of Thailand.  There are 18 sticks in a sealed packet.

Each stick is about 16 calories, and they taste delicious.

Check them out at  You can see the creamy Matcha inside the biscuit stick when I broke one open.  Thanks for tonight's dessert, Linda!

Today is my third day in a row to enjoy a "loaded" salad for dinner.  My hubby will eat a salad occasionally, but he wouldn't want one as a meal three days in a row.  Since he's on a trip with our son, I'm enjoying them. No meat, just romaine lettuce, grated carrot, diced cucumber, tomatoes, cheese, Spanish olives, avocado, hard-boiled egg, and sunflower seeds, topped with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  Perfect for summer, filling, and delicious.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

An Eventful 4th of July

My hubby and son, Steve, left on Monday morning for a week-long father/son trip. Their first stop was Chicago to watch a Chicago Cubs baseball game.  Steve sent a couple of photos from their 4th of July, enjoying yummy Chicago deep-dish pizza, and playing catch!

Before going to granddaughter Ellie's 5th birthday party, I got a call from my first-born grandchild, Brandon, saying he and his girlfriend, Vanessa, became engaged. The wedding is set for November 11th, of this year. He texted me a picture of the engagement ring [below]. The most recent photo I have of them was taken on Christmas Day 2016. 

My daughter picked me up at 3:00 o'clock, and we were off to the 4th of July/birthday party. The combination party is always held at my daughter-in-law's sister's house. They have a huge backyard that's more private than a park and much nicer with its above ground swimming pool, swings, basketball hoop, and more. Below is the birthday girl, Ellie, in her swimsuit when we first arrived.   It was a picture-perfect day in Michigan with temperatures in the mid 80's.

~ Lori and Me ~

~ Lori and my youngest son, Jeremy ~

Jeremy and his son, Landon [Left] and Lori and my granddaughter, Isabella [Right]

Daddy and Daughter [L], and Ellie having fun on the swing [R].

~ Birthday Cake Time! ~

Jeremy, Samantha and the kids.  Landon had just finished eating a blue snow cone, hence his blue smile!  ;-)

Ellie enjoying a piece of her b-day cake, and opening her presents.

Simultaneously in Lansing, MI granddaughter Tiffany, husband John, and great-granddaughter Evie, were celebrating the 4th of July.  It's Evie's first 4th of July, but the noisy fireworks weren't going to keep her awake with those baby earmuffs!  She was six weeks old yesterday.

Hope you had a happy 4th of July!