Thursday, September 30, 2010

Flashback Friday: The Toys of Childhood

Mocha with Linda
hosts this fun meme. Go here to play!

Oh, and once again I'm combining this with another fun meme, Company Girl Coffee.

What toys do you remember from your childhood?--I can remember, as a very little girl, getting a baby doll for Christmas that I absolutely loved. This was one of the first dolls that actually felt soft, like a baby, instead of being made out of hard plastic. (I am showing my age here!)

I remember it had a bottle with fake milk in it that never actually came out, but it could look like the baby was drinking it. I loved that doll!

I was never into the Chatty Cathy-type doll, because I had seen a Twilight Zone episode in which that type of doll came to life and killed a family. Eeeesh!

However, as you'll see in the next question, dolls soon became supplanted by a few passions: reading, writing, and recording. It's amazing how at a very young age, my future career was already being presaged!

What did you like to do to entertain yourself?--My sister and I created elaborate stories that we acted out. We were Kay and Donna, two teen-aged sisters (several years older than we actually were, of course.) Kay and Donna were pretty, grown-up, and had boyfriends.

Sometimes when we went out to eat with our parents, we were thrilled to get to sit in our own booth so we could pretend to be Kay and Donna.

My dad had a reel-to-reel tape recorder when we were little girls, and we would record ourselves singing and having our own radio show. I never dreamed that I would grow up to have my own radio shows!

Later, when technology graduated to cassette tape recorders, I would interview anyone who would let me. Some of the funniest recordings were those in which I was interviewing my baby brother and my little nieces. I wish I still had some of those cassettes--and something to play them on!

Mostly, I would read. My favorite thing to do was sit in my bed with my knees up, getting totally and completely lost in a book. A couple of times my knees actually got locked in that position--no lie!

Did you mostly play inside or outside? Did you ride a bike all over the neighborhood?

As I look back on my childhood, it's really amazing how much time I did spend outside. There were days my mom sent us outdoors, pretty much with instructions not to come back in until she told us to.

That was a much safer era, and kids could play outside and even run around the neighborhood without much fear. I feel really sad for the children of today who missed out on that more innocent time.

My sister Lisa and I would play outside tirelessly, but it usually wasn't organized sports. For example, we would hike through the woods across the street and pretend to be missionaries in the jungle. (Most of our play seemed to involve role-playing and/or pretending!)

Lisa was very athletic and would throw a football, etc, but I shied away from sports, basically because I stunk at them. However, I did have a bike, and I absolutely loved riding it.

Was there a toy you always wanted and never got to have? I would have loved to have had a Barbie Dream House. My cousin had one, and I coveted it strongly.

But all in all, if I had books and paper, I was pretty contented.

Hmmm...things haven't really changed much!

Click on the icon to check out Flashback Friday!

P.S. I hope it's OK that I'm once again combining Flashback Friday and Company Girl Coffee, another meme I enjoy. Click the icon below to participate in Company Girl, which is hosted by the lovely Home Sanctuary!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My September Favorites, Audio-Style!

Listen to my 10-minute podcast to hear about some of the things I loved most during September!

Do I believe blondes have more fun?

...and other questions as I answer (most of) The Random Dozen

Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee hosts this fun meme. Here are my replies (until I ran out of steam!)

1. Do you believe, somewhere deep inside, that blondes do indeed have more fun? That they are "dumber" than brunettes or redheads? Be honest!

Well, I've been both...I'm naturally a brunette going gray, and I now color my hair lighter.

I definitely do NOT believe blondes have more fun. However, I do believe they get more attention. I truly think men will look at a mediocre-looking blonde more quickly than they will a beautiful brunette. It just seems to be ingrained in men to view a blonde woman as being more attractive.

(That's NOT why I've gone lighter! The only man I care about looking at me is my husband. However, highlights are an easier way to manage my gray, and I think light hair generally makes a maturing woman look younger.)

I also definitely do not believe blondes are dumber. But then again, how many women are naturally blonde?

Me with dark hair and lighter hair

2. Which animal would you most like to observe in its wild habitat?--
None. I never watch Animal Planet, for instance. I don't really care what animals do in their natural habitat, and in most cases, I'd rather not know!

3. This week the U.N. announced that Dr. Mazlan Othman has been appointed the official "Alien Ambassador," should any extraterrestrials contact us. Have you, or has anyone you know, ever seen a UFO?
Nope...and I've actually read somewhere that a professing Christian has never had a close encounter of the third kind, which is an up-close and personal meet-up with an alien. I don't know if that's true, and for that matter, I don't know if there really are E.Ts.

4. Name your favorite Hitchcock film.--
Probably Rear Window, although I haven't honestly seen very many Hitchcock films. I love James Stewart, and Grace Kelly is drop-dead gorgeous in that movie.

5. Would you rather spend time at the library, the mall, a craft store or home?--
Home. Or at the library getting books to read at home! I'm only a mall-rat if I have money to spend, then I can shop till I drop with the best of 'em.

6. Which Disney princess is your favorite?--I've always loved Cinderella. Coincidentally, my niece Katie is currently playing Cinderella in the Rodgers and Hammerstein version at the Palace Theater in Georgetown, TX!

7. What kind of art is your favorite?
I like impressionism...but mostly I just love art that celebrates beauty. Ugly images parading as art I find repulsive and abhorrent.

8. How do you feel about viral videos, that is, videos made by amateurs that end up on Youtube receiving thousands of hits
Some of them are truly funny and/or cute--like the adorable "Charlie bit me" one, and the "double rainbow cross the sky" one. If they make me laugh and they're not offensive, I'm fine with them.

OK, I'm cheating and not finishing the excuse, I'm not feeling well and I'm really, really tired!

But do head over to 2nd Cup of Coffee and take part in it! It's a great way to get to know other bloggers.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A reason for the hope that is in you...

Atheists know more about religion than Christians do

" ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you..." I Peter 3:15

As a Christian, I found an item in today's news disturbing, but actually not surprising.

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released the results of a "religious knowledge" survey that found that atheists and agnostics are more knowledgeable about religion that believers are.

Wow. Again, I'm not surprised, but this is to our shame. To my shame.

Yes, I know that Martin Luther spearheaded the Reformation. I could take you to any location in the Bible that you needed to find. I may know a little more than the average Christian, but I should--after all, I grew up in a pastor's home, going to church at least three times a week, and I graduated from Bible college.

Jason Boyett reflects on the survey:

Why do atheists and agnostics tend to know more about religion than devout
religious people? Alan Cooperman, associate director for research at the Pew
Forum, explained that non-believers typically grew up in a religious tradition
and gave it up on purpose -- after a period of reflection, study, and conscious
decision-making. "These are people who thought a lot about religion," he told the
L.A. Times
. "They're not indifferent. They care about it."

On the other hand, many Christians come to faith and then stop searching.
The L.A.
Times story
also quotes Methodist minister Adam Hamilton, author of When
Christians Get It Wrong
, who said, "I think that what happens for many
Christians is, they accept their particular faith, they accept it to be true and
they stop examining it. Consequently, because it's already accepted to be true,
they don't examine other people's faiths. That, I think is not healthy for a
person of any faith."

As a heartfelt and devout Christ-follower, I believe I have the answers to life's most profound questions. I believe I have a hope within me that cannot be experienced by an atheist or an agnostic.

But can I give, as Peter wrote, a reason for that hope?

Those of us who call ourselves Christians should take this survey as a wake-up call. It's not enough to just believe. We need to be able to defend that belief if necessary. We need to get as smart about our faith as atheists are about their lack of it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Lancome Gift-with-Purchase Haul, Audio-Style

Listen to my 7-minute review of my Lancome gift-with-purchase goodies!

The pretty make-up bag the goodies came in. You even had your choice of color--I think black was the other choice.

The wonderful Absolue Eye Cream--this stuff is GOOD.

The Absolue Premium Replenishing Cream goes on like satin. I will be sad when this runs out!

Nothing to do with the Lancome haul, but check out my pretty new fall place-mats--a dollar each at my local Super Dollar Store!

Note: Please subscribe to my podcasts! Just go to Cindy Swanson's Podcasts, click on "Become a Follower" and subscribe in one of several different ways. I'll love you forever!

Blogs of Gentility, Grace and Charm

I've mentioned earlier that along with my renewed interest in blogging has come a renewed interest in other blogs.

Since I last actively read other blogs, a plethora of new ones have sprung up into the blogosphere.

Lately I've been finding blogs that actively endorse and applaud things that are sorely missing in today's society, like civility and graciousness.

Bringing Lady Back is just such a blog. The author, Bethany, explains:

Having seen one too many bare midriffs, heard far too many foul words coming “out of the mouths of babes”, and knowing I need to guide my daughters through these murky waters, I decided to do something about it.

I created this blog for those who would like to live in a world where we can be free from the insipid insult and protruding pantie. Here you will find a collection of inspiring rules and quotes for women of all ages to refer to in order to live a more beautiful, fulfilling life.

Each day brings a new piece of wisdom or guideline for graciousness, courtesy and ladylikeness. I love it!

Another such blog is Live the Charmed Life.

The author, Deanne, recently blogged 100 Ways to Age with Grace, Elegance and Joie de Vivre. Here are some of my favorites:

--Smile more, it’s an instant facelift

--Learn a foreign language now, to help stave off Alzheimer’s Disease later

--Mentor someone younger, it’s a great way to help one another understand a different generation

--Moisturize religiously

--Don’t dress in a frumpy manner

Grow Line is another blog with this same spirit of civility and grace. It looks like it may have just opened shop in cybersphere, but I'm looking forward to good things from the mother-daughter team who write it. This from their profile:

Grow Line’s passion is to revive the “art” of being a lady while encouraging manners and grace. Our profound desire is to inspire little girls, young ladies, and women to “Grow” into creative and confident women who are rich in mind, soul, and spirit.

We could certainly use more graciousness in our society, and I believe the good things we do cause a ripple effect. I applaud the spirit and purpose of these blogs.

Let me know in my comments section if you know of other such blogs.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Beautiful Wedding on the Lake

Promontory Point, Chicago

Last night my husband and I went to the wedding of a young man we've known all his life, Andrew, and his lovely bride Jeanna. The setting couldn't have been more beautiful. It was in a quaint little stone building on Promontory Point, pictured right.

(I'm just sick that my camera has been acting up and I wasn't able to take any pictures, but I found some on the internet so you can at least get a feel of what the wedding was like.)

A view of the wedding hall

French doors/windows cover the outer walls of the venue, so you can easily glimpse Lake Michigan, which was a gorgeous dark turquoise color yesterday(the wedding began at 4:30 PM.) A nice, gentle breeze blew through the open doors during the ceremony.

Afterwards, the reception was held at the Chicago Firehouse Restaurant, which is actually housed in a beautifully-restored turn-of-the-century Chicago fire station.

The food was delicious. I dined on King Salmon with mushrooms and spinach in madeira sauce, and my husband had Mango and Chili Pork Chops with whipped sweet potatoes and shredded cooked cabbage. The wedding cake? Chocolate with a thick, white buttercream frosting to die for (or to abandon your diet for!)

I love Chicago anyway, and last night it was at its most gorgeous. All in all, a truly wonderful evening in one of my favorite cities in the world!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Flashback Friday: Favorite Childhood Books

Mocha with Linda hosts a meme called Flashback Friday, and I decided to jump in this time!

(I'm also combining it with another Friday meme, Company Girl coffee-time, hosted by Home Sanctuary.)

The subject? Favorite childhood books and reading habits

I'm going to cheat a little and borrow from a post I did on this subject a while back (originally posted on 12/15/05):

I've been a voracious reader ever since I could string words together on a page, and I had some definite favorites as a child.

I went to a British school in Beirut, Lebanon for two years, and read "Jane Eyre" at the age of nine. It remains one of my favorite books of all time other than the Bible...probably my very favorite.

I remember one Christmas, when I was nine or ten, I got several classics, including "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen, "Gulliver's Travels" by Jonathan Swift, and "Villette" by Charlotte Bronte. But probably one of my very favorites was a large anthology of Enid Blyton.

Enid Blyton
was a British writer who was very prolific. I loved everything she wrote, including a series she did about a girl's boarding school called "Malory Towers."

[NOTE 11/14/06): I'm delighted to find that you can buy many Blyton titles new now, and they are also available new or used on sites like eBay and]

The anthology was a huge,almost coffee-table size book full of her stories. I loved that book and wish I knew where it was today. (By the way, I still have many of the hardcover books my parents gave me in those days, and re-read them every now and then...even the ones that were for children.)

(I blogged last year about my delight in finding one of my childhood favorites, "Red Knights from Hy Brasil," by Christine Savery.)

It was during this era that I also fell in love with Noel Streatfield's "shoes" books, C.S.Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, and anything by Louisa May Alcott.

Beirut also had a Christian bookstore in those days, owned by a British missionary society. They had a great selection of books from Moody Press (anybody remember the Danny Orlis series?) as well as many by British authors. Again, I still have many of those books.

And today I ordered another of my childhood favorites...

It's "Auntie Robbo," by Ann Scott-Moncrieff.

I've probably read this book at least once a year throughout my entire life. The problem is, my copy--yes, the paperback one my parents bought for me circa 1966--is coverless and missing the last couple of pages of the book.

The engaging, quirkily humorous story is about an eighty-something Scottish lady who is highly eccentric and stubbornly independent, and who totally refuses to act her age.

Seen through the eyes of her great-nephew Hector, who is a boy of eight or nine, Auntie Robbo is a highly admirable and fascinating character. The two live a carefree and rather undisciplined life in the Scottish hills, and Hector's perfectly happy with the status quo.

When the second wife of Hector's late father shows up to claim him as her own--Hector has never met this obnoxiously annoying lady until now--Auntie Robbo and Hector go on the run. Their adventures make for delightfully absorbing reading, even at my advanced age.


UPDATE: I did get my copy of "Auntie Robbo," by the way, in very good condition, and thoroughly enjoy re-reading it.

Click on one of the boxes to participate in Flashback Friday or Company Girl Coffee:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I have sooo been enjoying...

...spending time with my mom and sisters.

Back row, L to R: my sister Lisa and me
Front row, L to R: my sister Beverly, my daughter Elizabeth and my mom

Since my mom and sister Lisa live in Texas, and my sister Beverly lives in Wyoming, it's rare that we're all together in one place. My mom and sisters arrived this past Saturday evening, and I've been treasuring every single moment we've had together.

On Sunday, we attended church and had an incredibly tasty lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, Egg Harbor, where I introduced to my favorite sandwich in the world, the amazing Door County Melt. They all loved it!

On Monday, we went to visit my daughter Elizabeth in Normal, Illinois, where she's attending Illinois State University. They bought Elizabeth several things to spruce up her rather plain's now looking lovely with a new shower curtain, bath rug, and wall decorations.

My sister Bev, me and my daughter Elizabeth

Today, we went to Edwards Apple Orchard, a wonderful place with maybe the best apple cider donuts in the world! Tomorrow we're shopping and just enjoying our last day together.

We've laughed, reminisced, and laughed some more. It has been a wonderful time of making memories.

My mom and my sister Beverly

One of the wall decorations for Elizabeth's bathroom. She shares my passion for French stuff!

So, I didn't make it to The Random Dozen this week, but Lord willing and if the creek don't rise, I'll be back next week!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

More proof that I'm obsessed with all things French?

Here you in front of the shower curtain in my pink-and-black, French-themed bathroom.

The same bathroom that has the Huldah pictures that I told you about, of mademoiselles from the Belle Epoque.

And here are some more simply beautiful, French-themed blogs I've discovered:

French Larkspur

Bonjour Romance

Fabulously French

And those are just a few. Apparently I'm not the only one! :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Big Event is Coming Up Tonight

Jason Ritter of NBC's The Event

"The Event has the potential to be a very satisfying viewing experience because it contains three essential qualities that I require in a show for both a time and an emotional commitment: cast, chemistry and compelling creative."--Jo "jopinionated" Garfein

Ever since it ended its six-year run back in May, I've wondered if I will ever like another TV show as much as I liked--make that loved--Lost.

I've pretty much thought I wouldn't. However, tonight I'll give a new show a chance to maybe, just maybe,captivate me the way Lost did.

It's called The Event.

What is the show about? Mmmm, I'm not sure. I just know that my son Jonathan told me a few months ago that he had heard it combined elements of both Lost and 24.

The blogger known as Jopinionated was a Lost fanatic, and I agreed with most of what she blogged about that show. She has been able to preview the first episode of The Event, and here's some of what she had to say in her spoiler-free review:

"Despite what you might have heard otherwise, The Event is not Lost – nor is it trying to be. If anything, this new series has extracted a few of the more successful elements from Lost and integrated them in quickly and smoothly....

The Event ... establishes itself as a must-watch series and my top pick for best new show of the 2010 fall season."

I'm not a big TV watcher, and one of my few favorite shows is gone now. But I do enjoy some television viewing, as I think some decent entertainment is what keeps Cindy from being a dull girl.

So I'm giving The Event a chance. If you watch it, please tell me what you think!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Beautiful Blogs

The front door of Lea at CiCi's Corner, decorated for fall

It's amazing how something as simple as changing my blog design and template has gotten me excited about blogging again!

(As you may or may not notice, I've tinkered even a bit more with my design. I now have a beautiful background from Hot Bliggity Blogs. They have an incredible selection of beautiful free blog backgrounds, as does Shabby Blogs.)

Since getting back into blogging, I'm discovering some beautiful blogs that are new to me.

These blogs are not only physically beautiful--they have a certain gracious, serene atmosphere that just makes you want to spend time there.

Here are some I'm loving right now:

--CiCi's Corner Do go check out her post in which she has pictures of her fall's breathtakingly gorgeous.

Cherie, AKA Tish Jett, is author of A Femme d'un Certain Age

--A Femme d'un Certain Age This means "a woman of a certain age," which is how the French graciously and complimentarily describe women--well, around my age! It's so much nicer than saying "a middle-aged woman," don't you think? Anyway, here's how the author describes her blog:

"A Femme d'Un Certain Age is dedicated to women 40ish to whateverish and every detail herein is chosen for you -- for us -- to wear, to amuse, to use. . . And always, always with a French twist.

Stay with me and I guarantee you will re-think age, beauty, well-being and style.

Together we are about to embark on a life-enhancing cultural exchange with the masters of looking fabulous at every age: Les Femmes Fran├žaises."

A lovely image from French Charming

--Since I'm a sucker for all things French (you'll notice a theme here!), I immediately fell in love with French Charming.

This blog hasn't been updated since August 23, apparently because its author is undergoing some physical problems that make it painful for her to type. But I'm going to enjoy delving into the archives.

--The Paris Apartment Lovely, evocative photographs that make me want to go to Paris, NOW.

Those are just a few...I'll be sharing more in the weeks to come. If you have a beautiful blog you'd like to recommend--even if it's your own--please let me know in my comments section! There can never be too much beauty spread across the internet.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Survivor:Nicaragua Recap #1

It's been ages since I watched "Survivor," but I decided to give it a go this season. My husband was especially interested because former NFL coach Jimmy Johnson is one of the contestants!

Here's my recap, in podcast form. It's about 7 minutes long. Hope you'll give it a listen, and give me your Survivor thoughts in the comments below!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I Answer The Random Dozen, Audio-Style!

Once again, I decided to podcast The Random Dozen...the fun meme from 2nd Cup of Coffee!
Hope you'll take the time to's about 10 minutes long. (Hey, just surf while you listen!)

My grandsons, Payton and Josiah, in a garage sale find--a Radio Flyer wagon I got for 20 bucks

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Advice & Comfort for New Mommies: This, Too, Shall Pass

My new little great-niece, Brooklynn Nevaeh

My niece Lindsie and baby Brooklynn

Tonight I'm going to a baby shower for my beautiful niece, Lindsie, and her adorable firstborn baby, Brooklynn Nevaeh.

I can't believe Lindsie is a mommy. It seems like just yesterday she was born herself. I remember it very clearly, because Lindsie was my sister-in-law Sherrie's first daughter after having two boys.

I myself had two boys, Jonathan and Justin, and although I was crazy about them, I longed for a baby girl. Little did I know that, probably at the very time I was attending Lindsie's baby shower, I was carrying Elizabeth Ashley in my womb.

Nine months after Lindsie's birth, Elizabeth arrived. And those two have always loved each other. Lindsie and Lizzie. They were so cute together as little girls.

My advice for new mommies

I'm going to be sharing a devotional at Lindsie's shower tonight, and I'm not going to share that here right now. But I will impart some of my advice for new mommies.

Not too long ago, Ann-Marie, whose blog I love, had her first baby. After the initial joy of Sam's birth (she had pretty much given up on being able to have a baby), real life set in, as it has a tendency to do.

Real life, with the attendant lack of sleep after being up all night with a screaming baby.

I wrote this in her comment section after a post in which she poured her heart out about new-baby difficulties:

First of all...he is ADORABLE!!!! I love that picture of him smiling with his eyes closed.

Second of all--all the craziness you're going through right now--this, too, shall pass. And very soon. With every week, you'll be more confident with him, and he will get easier to figure out.

He'll also grow, so he won't need to eat so often. And he'll sleep more.

The day will come when these rough days will only be a fuzzy memory. And you WILL get to write more.

In the meantime, just enjoy...because in two seconds, he'll be 29 years old (like my firstborn Jonathan), and you'll say, "What happened!?!"

SO true. No, you'll never stop worrying about your baby, even when he's 30, 40, 50 and beyond.

But these difficult baby days will pass--and though they seem like an eternity while you're experiencing them, in retrospect it will seem they went by so fast they made your head spin.
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