April 25, 2014

Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party: Super Huge Post

“Speak little, do much.”  
- Poor Richard's Almanack

Please forgive me for such a huge post. This past month was hectic. I was still taking daily photos but found myself with very little time because I was, as Ben Franklin says, "doing much."

Spring is finally here! Don't waste it. Enjoy the new life.


I can't wait for ducklings to start swimming around.



Went for a walk with a coworker after work to a neat old abandoned house in the woods.


Lots of rain at work created quagmire where a small stream normally is.


Cakes, cakes and more cakes. Cakes and animals might be a theme in this post.



Taking a class on digital media marketing.



I went to Neshaminy today but was more excited to see that the Philadelphia Zoo Balloon got fixed after it was damaged this winter. I've never been up in it. It's never been flying when I've been there. 


Pre-making icing flowers for the spring cakes. 


My sister made me make her a Doctor Who cake for her birthday. Then didn't let anyone eat it. 


Caught a shooting star while trying to shoot photos of Mars while it was very bright.


I like funny labels. :)


Mars is the bright spot behind the branches of the center tree.


Was second shooter at the wedding of a very fun couple. 


Decorated cakes and cookies for Easter.


The 3 little pigs who aren't so little anymore. When pigs are born, they are the size of a soda can.


Bread baking. 


Saw Andy's kitty for the first time in about a year. The kitty still loves me.


Andy was in a bad car accident. He is okay but unable to do a lot due to soreness and head pain. We spent the day tracking his car down and filling out paperwork.



 A feral kitten showed up at work very scarred. One of the guys tried to see if it could be socialized but it is probably too old.


Went for a walk then edited wedding photos.



New lamb at work, born on Saturday. It's so cute we follow it around and "Awwww" every time it bahs. We have 3 new baby pigs and a calf on the way.


Storm clouds coming.


Harvest so far.

This post way way too long! but at least I posted it on a Friday. :) I'm hoping everything is well with everyone and that you are making the best of spring.

April 21, 2014

Interview with Deborah Hill, Author of This is the House

I was extremely lucky to get to interview Deborah Hill,  author of the Kingsland series. Her journey is a dream come true for many historical fiction writers. In 1975 her book, This is the House, sold 700,000 copies! It was inspired by a memoir that an ancestor of her husband's family left behind about his experiences in Cape Cod during the 18th and 19th centuries. The interview is below.  

Can you tell us a little about your new book and the series? Who are they for, etc.?
My latest book brings the Kingsland Series into the present. It began just after the Revolution, with This is the House, went on through the Clipper ship and Victorian Era with The House of Kingsley Merrick, and concludes with The Heir, which has just been released. They are historical novels, written for discerning readers who don’t mind a little spice along the way.
 How did you first get into genealogy? 
I’d have to say that genealogy got into me! My husband’s family was quite reticent about their background, perhaps because they were surrounded by it. Portraits, sizeable ones, lined the living room walls. Considering that the family home was a Cape (not too far from the house in my book), they were wedged in pretty tightly. My in-laws were using a lot of the old furnishings that may be glimpsed in The House of Kingsley Merrick; the rest was in the attic of the carriage barn. The local summer drama company often hauled this piece and that away as props. Once the four-poster bed that Mr. and Mrs. Allen used was taken. I never learned where they slept while the play was going on!

What was it about your husband’s family that inspired you so much?
The leading male character of This is the House, set off to trade with Europe at a time when no one had ever seen the American flag. Conveniently for me, he wrote a memoir for his grandchildren, describing his adventures, and did a rather fine job of it, so there it was – I could see for myself what was going on 200+ years ago. The next ancestor of interest started a coach line in Australia when their gold rush began. Public transportation still carries his name. As for The Heir – well, suffice it to say I did meet my husband on a windjammer cruise in Nantucket Sound, the details of which are recounted.  35 years ago I didn’t consider that as being “historical”, but now, apparently, it is.
Why did you choose to write historical fiction instead of a historical narrative?
In the first place, I’d always wanted to be an author. To write “the great American novel” had been my goal since childhood. Elijah’s diary was historical narrative, when you get right down to it, and very valuable to me. But writing such a document is just not my m├ętier.
How much of your books are fiction and how much is fact?
I pride myself on the accuracy of the history in my books. All my characters are fictional, but some are based on actual people. I didn’t invent any of the history (I repeat, any!) though I moved the dates around as far as “Rockford” and “Waterford” are concerned, because I didn’t want to be seeing as writing the history of the real town on Cape Cod that they represent.
Did you have any problems while writing? 
Writing on a deadline was intimidating. I didn’t know how long it would take to develop the plotlines; it isn’t something I can specify ahead of time. This always seemed to confound the editors! But the characters would sometimes do something unexpected that was much more interesting than I had planned, and I always went where they led even if it slowed me down.
The house your ancestors lived in still stands and is now a museum. Did you know about the house prior to writing? Did it change how you portrayed your characters or the house itself?  
I’m afraid your information is incorrect. Elijah’s house isn’t a museum yet, though the Historical Society would like nothing better than to buy it to store (and, I suppose, show) their collection. It’s for sale –
Yes, I knew all about the house. I didn’t have a chance to go into it until a few years ago, but friend of the family had one just like it, and I used that as a template, sticking as close to its design as I could. It made a difference in the story line, so I was careful about that. When I did have a chance to explore it, I was satisfied that I’d done OK.
What advice do you have for people trying to research their ancestry?
I’m afraid I don’t have any advice. All the work had been done for me 100 years ago, when genealogy became important to the women in my husband’s family and their friends. Of course, the whole town was interwoven, so the genealogy of one family filled in a section (or two) of the genealogy of others. They intermarried a lot, which made things much easier.
You have been quite successful as an author. What do you think contributed to your success and what advice would you give to people writing about their family trees?
Timing. This is the House first appeared in 1975, right in time for the bi-centennial. As far as advising people who want to write about their family’s past, I would remind you that this family was not my own, so I could take liberties that directly related people probably wouldn’t do. The joy of fiction!

Thanks Deborah!

Check out her books! 

In addition to the Kingsland Series, she has also made the memoir of her husband's ancestor, Cape Cod mariner, Elijah Cobb, available. 

April 7, 2014

Neshaminy Reenactment 2014 ( Warning: Photo Heavy)

First event of the season! Beautiful weather for it. The sun was out but there was a little chilly wind and it is always better for an event to be a little cold than too hot. Neshaminy State Park is always beautiful at this time of year. It is located right by the water. The land was one of the original land grants from William Penn and was owned by his secretary in the late 1600s.

While no actual Civil War battle took place here, all of the money made from the event is used for preservation. Also, the event is unique in that spectators do not pay admission.

Photos from this year:

Neshaminy Civil War Reenactment

Neshaminy Civil War Reenactment

Neshaminy Civil War Reenactment

Neshaminy Civil War Reenactment

Neshaminy Civil War Reenactment

Neshaminy Civil War Reenactment

Neshaminy Civil War Reenactment

Neshaminy Civil War Reenactment

Neshaminy Civil War Reenactment

This guy talked to the spectators about what was going on during the battle. He said he's been reenacting for 25 years but can't fight in the battles anymore due to illness. He said he really missed it.

Neshaminy Civil War Reenactment

Neshaminy Civil War Reenactment

Neshaminy Civil War Reenactment

Neshaminy Civil War Reenactment

Neshaminy Civil War Reenactment

Neshaminy Civil War Reenactment

Neshaminy Civil War Reenactment

Philadelphia in the distance.

April 1, 2014

Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party: Post 13

"Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart. The nearer I approach the end, the plainer I hear around me the immortal symphonies of the worlds which invite me.” -Victor Hugo

This week was bizarre. Instead of snow, we had pounding rain. We also had beautiful days. This week was a week of change. Spring is definitely among us. Everyone is awake and outdoors.


Got to make a really fun cake at work. I didn't design it, just made it. It was a lot of fun.



Smoke in the woods.


I don't write from a chair, I write from an old milk can that stays under my desk.


Finished sewing the signatures of a book I starting working on back in October. It's about time. :)


Spring is on it's way, the early flowers are poking their heads through the earth.


Went for a walk in the park in between the rain. The temperature was a nice 60 degrees though.

I've been having a lot of problems posting lately. Firefox doesn't seem to want to work at all. I was thinking of switching to Chrome but have really liked Firefox in all of the years that I've used it. I'm going to try uninstalling it and installing again so maybe it won't be such a hassle to get blogger to work. Have other bloggers been having problems?'

I can't wait for the summer, I got my first taste of spending all day outdoors, yesterday. It was glorious.

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