Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Thursday Favorite Things: Are your roots showing?

But first, this message:

Yay! I'm co-hosting Katherine's Corner's Thursday Blog Hop!

When I first discovered Katherine's Corner, I fell in love with this lovely blog.  Katherine's Corner is what I'd like my blog to be when it grows up, if that makes sense.  It's just a classy mixture of prettiness, information and fun.

I'm so happy to be a co-host of Katherine's Thursday Favorite Things. What a great way to get to know other bloggers and even increase your circle of readership and influence!

 Here's more about this fun bloghop:

Its Time For Thursday Favorite Things! Thursday favorite things is where you can link your favorite post or write a post about your favorite things and share it with old and new followers. Please link to your post and not to your blog. You gain visibility for your blog ( it posts on three blogs) and you make bloggy friends too!
Please share the hop with your readers and let Katherine know if you would like to co-host.

Here are the rules, yes there are rules. But just a few:

Please DO NOT link and run...visit a few of the wonderful blogs that are sharing at the hop.
Follow your hostesses Katherines Corner, Sew Crafty Angel And Me and let us know if you are a new follower.
Visit as many blogs in the list as you can. Please leave a comment and let them know you are hopping over from the Thursday Favorite Things hop!
Share the button or a linklback on your post. Grab the hop button code from Katherines button page a Link back to Katherines Corner is always appreciated but is not mandatory
No adult content blogs or links directly to your shops please ( they will be removed)
Yes you can link giveaways ( they are everyone's favorite thing) Add your giveaways to the Win It Page at Katherines Corner too!
Have fun and link up below.

Now on to our regularly scheduled blog post:

Are your roots showing?

As you can see, I'm not talking about hair...although come to think of it, I'm due for a color touch-up1

The men in the pictures above are my paternal grandfather, Thomas Valco Garrett on the left, and  my maternal grandfather, James Zarafonetis on the right.

 My Grandpa Garrett was mainly Scots-Irish...a name derived from the fact that his ancestors originated in Scotland, moved to Northern Ireland (Ulster), and ended up in America.

  Along the way, his family married into regular Irish (for lack of a better adjective), and his own mother was a Hispanic/Creole woman named Orelia DeSoto.

On the other hand, my maternal grandfather was the American-born son of two Greek immigrants, Harold and Georgia Demas Zarafonetis.

My mother's mother, as far as we've been able to ascertain, came from Irish and/or English roots.  (Interestingly, my maternal grandmother's father, Charlie Carroll, was a Texas Ranger...not the baseball kind of course, but the original, highly-respected law enforcement kind.)

From all of that, there's me.

I'm kind of bummed that I didn't get even a bit of my Grandpa Z's dark complexion...he was one of the darkest Caucasian people I've ever encountered!

I did, however, get the Scottish-Irish complexion that in my youth was, I daresay striking with my original dark hair and green eyes.  (I've long since given up on trying to preserve the dark hair!)

Of all the strains in my blood, I have to say the Celtic calls to me with the loudest voice.  I dream of visiting Scotland and Ireland, and if I ever get there, of course I'll have to check out England as well.

But I also dream of cruising the incredibly lovely Greek isles.

How about you?

Have you done any digging into your family roots? Does it fascinate you as it does me, or do you even give it a thought?  Have you ever thought about the way your family's background contributes to the person you are today?

I'd love to know!

Thursday Favorite Things

Friday, July 26, 2013

What a Beautiful Old Church in England Has to Do With Me

(From the archives)

Credit: Steve Oatway
 Owston Ferry photographer Steve Oatway sent me this beautiful photograph, taken by him, of St Martin's Church in the snow

I love this moody, evocative portrait of St Martin's Church in Owston Ferry, England

St. Martin's Church, Owston Ferry, England (Wikipedia)

Not long ago, I blogged about my connection with a murder in a tiny English village. It's a pretty fascinating story, if you have a moment to read it.

Granted, my connection is tenuous. It all revolves around a book called Red Knights from Hy Brasil, and this sticker inside the book:

Shortly after writing that post, I got an e-mail from a photographer named Steve Oatway who lives in Owston Ferry and actually knows Peter Torn and even the vicar who signed that sticker (now retired.)

Steve offered to send me some photos of the village, and I haven't received them yet. (UPDATE:  Steve has now sent me a photo of St Martin's, which I posted above.)  But I got curious about St. Martin's Church, and turned up some fascinating photos and info about it on the internet.

Photo by Paul McConachie via

A very old place of worship

When Steve Oatway told me that St. Martin's is 600 to 800 years old, I was awestruck. We simply don't have buildings, much less churches, in America that are that ancient.

According to the church's website:

The earliest reference to a church in Owston Ferry is about 1150 CE. As none of the present fabric dates before 1280, there must have been an earlier building on the site. The site itself is within the inner bailey of the "Motte and Bailey" castle which formerly stood there.

A triple archway was built in 1859 at the entrance to the avenue of trees leading to the church.

photo by wiatrak2 via

Stained glass window inside the church

Another website relates:

The parish church, situate at the western end of the village of Owston Ferry, is dedicated to St. Martin and contains much of interest to the family historian, not least are those tombs therein of local gentry, the family containing most being that of Pindar, prominent in the Isle since the mid-sixteenth century.
... On the south side of the Church can be seen the mound on which stood in former times the keep of a "motte and bailey" castle, said to have been built shortly after the Conquest and held at one time by the powerful Mowbray famiLy. It was taken by Geoffrey, Bishop elect of Lincoln, in 1174, on behalf of Henry the Second and was later destroyed and never after rebuilt.

A view of the church's interior, from a Church of England website

St. Martin's choir members (also from this Church of England website)

As a confirmed Anglophile and lover of history, all this fascinates me. How I would love to visit England someday and see this incredible old church for myself.

In the meantime, I hope you've enjoyed these photos.

Note: Every effort has been made to give proper credit for these photos, which do not belong to me

    Tuesday, July 23, 2013

    Top 10 Nutrition Tips for Kate...well, really all new moms

    Are you excited about the Royal Baby? Well, I am!  I've been a fan of William and Kate from the get-go, and I'm happy to see them blessed with a new little son.

    Kate's not the only new mom in my circle of acquaintances, so I was interested when I came across these tips from  Dr. Stan Cohen, one of the top experts in the fields of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition in the country and founder of the Children's Digestive Research Fund (disclaimer: I'm not a doctor, and you should take Dr. Cohen's advice only at your own discretion.)


    1) Breastfeed if you can. Breast milk has wonderful immune factors to lessen infections and doctors visits. Breast milk even helps to lessen asthma, diabetes, obesity, reflux and a host of other conditions. You'll also lose your baby weight faster, by the way (and you will decrease your own risk for breast, ovarian and uterine cancers).


    2) In those first days after birth, put the baby to the breast often to help your milk come in. The baby isn't going to take much at a time (his stomach is only the size of a small marble). Let the skin-to-skin contact help stimulate your flow and let all that bonding nurture both you and the baby.

    3) Don't give up easily or assume breastfeeding is totally natural. I actually almost did this as a brand new mom.  Thanks to a supportive husband, I stuck with it, nursed all my children, and I'm so glad I did.  It may not be easy right away, but beleive me, if you persevere, you'll be so glad you did.

    4) Breastfeed as long as you want to, though Dr. Cohen recommends at least 6 months if possible. The longer you continue, the more you may help to diminish any tendency to allergies and increase the baby's intellectual and social development.

    5) This was a new one to me, but Dr. Cohen says to Make sure you eat fish 2-3 times a week* to increase your supply of DHA that will cross to the baby. DHA is one of the factors that optimizes the baby's brain and visual development, beginning in the last trimester of pregnancy through the second year of life. *These should be fish that do not contain high levels of mercury (swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, shark). If you are allergic to fish, you can take DHA supplements or get it from other DHA-enriched sources (eggs, for example).

    Go here for a yummy-looking recipe for grilled snapper

    6) Continue your prenatal vitamins --and Dr. Cohen suggests that you consider taking extra vitamin D, some of which will get to your baby.  He also recommends giving the baby vitamin D drops as well. 

    7) Don't let all of the emphasis on breastfeeding cause any guilt if you are unable to breastfeed or choose not to.   I agree with this one.  I've seen new moms agonize when breastfeeding didn't work out...or feel guilty for choosing not to do so for various reasons . Dr. Cohen says that formulas are quite healthful. They were developed to match breast milk and the outcomes of feeding breast milk as much as possible.

    8) Watch for early hunger cues, especially when your baby is smacking his or her lips or seems to be sucking or rooting for your breast. It's much easier to initiate a feeding than when the baby is already shrieking with a hunger cry.

    9) Neither breast nor bottle fed babies need to have a rigid feeding schedule. Nor do they need to finish a bottle just because you prepared it. Overfeeding can result in an uncomfortable baby or one who brings back the excess. My addition to this thought? As a new mom, you'll feel your way with this.  Do what feels right for you and your baby.


    10) Ask for help if you need it--from your husband, your baby's doctor or others. Dr. Cohen says not all babies are professional feeders, and they may have problems that others can assist you with, even if it's just to watch the baby so you can refresh and pamper yourself for a few hours. I totally agree with this! Just an hour or two away from the baby...for a hair appointment, a pedicure or coffee with a friend...can go a long way to making you feel "normal" again.

    Any other suggestions? Feel free to put them in my comments section!


    Friday, July 12, 2013

    If you love all things Scottish...

    The original cast of "Monarch of the Glen"

    Anyone who knows me knows that I've always (and by always I mean since I was a very little girl) wanted to go to Scotland.  And Ireland. And England.

    Lately I get my vicarious UK thrills from watching BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) shows on Netflix.  My latest addiction?

    A show called "Monarch of the Glen."

    The show actually hasn't aired since 2005, but I'm thoroughly enjoying it.

    The premise (from Wikipedia):

    While trying to carve a living out of the London restaurant he runs with his girlfriend Justine, Archie MacDonald is called back to his Highland home, to the bed of his dying father, Hector. When he arrives, however, he finds that the news of his dying father was just a ploy by his dotty mother, Molly, to get him to Scotland and tell him face-to-face that he has inherited his father's large estate and castle, Glenbogle. Archie faces a tough decision: whether to help the debt-ridden Glenbogle, or to return to Justine in London.... To please all, Archie faces the challenge to save Glenbogle.
    Right now I'm at the beginning of Series 4 (the BBC calls them "series" instead of "seasons.")

    Things I love about this show:

    --The scenery

    Monarch of the Glen was filmed on location in the Scottish Highlands, and often just the backdrop when two characters are talking is breathtaking.

    The show was filmed in and around Ardverikie House.  If you're a Downton Abbey fan, as I am, you'll love this house as much as you love Downton.

    I mean, just look:

    And look:


    Alastair Mackenzie is just adorable as Archie, who is desperately trying to keep Glenbogle alive despite everything going against him.

    Alastair Mackenzie
    Sadly, Mackenzie didn't stay with the show for its entire duration...but I'm enjoying him while he's still around.

    Other things?

    The gentle wit of the show...the Scottish accents (although Archie himself doesn't have one)...the laidback pace of life in the Highlands.

    I just feel like I'm taking a little visit to Scotland every time I watch it.

    Oh, and as for its connection to Downtown Abbey?  Well, Julian Fellowes, the creator of DA, is also involved with "Monarch of the Glen" and is actually a recurring character, the humorous Kilwillie.

    Someday, I hope I really will make it to Scotland.  Until then, there's always pleasures like "Monarch of the Glen."

    Tuesday, July 09, 2013

    10 Old-Fashioned Baby Names that are Back in Style


    "These classic names went out of fashion, but now they're back as parents go vintage" --(from

    1) Clara

    2) Eli

    3) Naomi

    4)  Charlie

    5)  Alice

    6) Henry

    7)  Olive

    8) Leo

    9)  Lillian

    10)  Jasper


    Rounding out the top 20 are Amelia, Everett, NoraSilas, Adeline, Max, Hazel, Owen, Stella, and Oliver.

    Go here for a lot more info about the names, their meanings, their re-emergence in popularity, famous people who have them, etc.

    And if that's not enough, this site  lists "10 vintage baby names we want to see in 2013, including Ada, Cora, Florence, Josie, Murray and Graham.


    How about you? Have you named your baby a "vintage" name...or do you plan to? What's the reaction been from family and friends? Inquiring minds want to know!

    Thursday, July 04, 2013

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