Bells, bells & more bells… American manufacturing

4C8FBCB9-16F0-4AD6-87C7-E133132B8D56Black Friday is coming and that means the Salvation Army will stand outside the stores ringing their bells asking for donations. Bells, bells and more bells. We have bells on bicycles, churches, sleighs, jester’s hats, hotel reception, cow bells, sporting events, dinner tables and more. Amazing, bells are really everywhere.

Have you ever thought about how they are made and manufactured. I admit I hadn’t until recently when I came across an article about an American manufacturing company called, “Bevin Bells.” They have been making quality bells since 1832 in Connecticut, which is 185 years. This is a family owned business, 6th generation and they are the oldest surviving bell manufacturer in America.

I mentioined Salvation Army, because they have sold bells to them. In 1865 they made the first bicycle bell. For those of you who have watched the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life,” you cannot forget the famous ending of the movie when the tiny bell (made by Bevin Bell) on the Christmas tree starts ringing and Suzy tells her Dad that her teacher said, “every time a bell rings an angels gets his wings.”

image1While there are good stories… there are sad stories too. In 2012 lightening struck their manufacturing plant and burned it to the ground. CBS Evening News covered the story on November 15, 2012 in this article, “Conn. bell manufacturer looks to ring in better times.” While this was sad, there was a happy ending. In 2013 Bevin Bells received a Grant from Connecticut to rebuild their plant. It’s wonderful to see people coming together to keep a company alive. It’s part of our history.

So, this year as the holidays approach and I hear ALL the bells ringing, I will have an extra SMILE on my face knowing that these special bells are made by Bevin Bells, an American manufacturing company!

 

 

Hello Ma’am…. Does that mean I am a senior citizen?

C5622730-0C6A-475A-A80F-86BCD66C41F2I just read an amusing post, “Discount Me Out,” by a fellow Blogger (Life In A Word). In his post, he takes up the discussion of pricing discounts offered to senior citizens and when are you a senior citizen?

He got me thinking about “old age,” I mean when does that really set in? Recently, I was approaching a door and a nice gentleman said, “Let me get that for you MA’AM.” Of course, I appreciated his gesture; however, he left me thinking about the word “Ma’am.” Isn’t that a Southern term, we don’t use that in the North. Also, it seems to me that “ma’am” is for an older lady. I need to ask a Southerner about this.

Life In A Word’s blog also talked about discounts. An interesting topic. Do senior citizens always get a 5% discount? For example, he said his dentist gave him a 5% discount and then the sprinkler guy gave him a 5% discount. Is there a NEW trend going on with the 5% discounts or is this for people in their 50s, now senior citizens?

Makes me think of Andy Rooney. He was a senior citizen and did a fabulous job with a 3 minute clip at the end of 60 Minutes every week. Here on Youtube, “Andy Rooney – Birthdays,” he talks about getting older and why birthdays are not that special. Very amusing.

Paul Harvey, the radio broadcaster, was the same. In my family, when it was “Paul Harvey time” everyone stopped to listen. He covered all sorts of interesting news pieces, but what kept us listening was his voice — he had the most engaging voice. Here is a clip from YouTube called, “Remembering Paul Harvey / Legendary Radio Broadcaster / ABC.” If you haven’t heard Paul Harvey before, you’ll enjoy this.

Senior citizen – Andy Rooney and Paul Harvey proved that it didn’t stop them from working and being admired even at an “older age.”

Like my Dad says, “Nothing wrong with a discount in any form!”

 

International cleaning day, Spanish flamenco dresses and more…

IMG_1968Sometimes there just isn’t time to write, we’ve got to get other things done. I thought I’d give you a smile today. I’ve decided that TODAY is International Cleaning Day!

Who says cleaning is boring? Last year I had to move and with that means going through storage and making that “big” decision on what we keep and what we give away. What’s interesting with storage is that we forget what we have in there.

So, I was pleasantly surprised when I opened a box that had two small flamenco dresses inside. That brought back a nice memory. I had bought those dresses in Spain for my daughters with a fan and dangling earrings to match. This was when they were small, of course, and I used to dress them up.

IMG_0474Next I found a beautiful dress that my mother bought during her travels in Afghanistan/Pakistan area. She thinks it was a wedding dress that someone was selling. You can see how beautiful it is with the embroidery!

One more find, a polar bear! I couldn’t part with him, so as I washed the dresses I put him in the wash too. He came out super fluffy from the dryer!

As I am finishing this article, I think it would be GREAT to have a post on International traditional costumes from different countries. Each country is unique and beautiful!

Now… back to laundry!

A BIG thank you for the “Dampfnudel recipe” from Austria

3983C00E-C08A-4ED6-ADA7-B9EB1BBCE61EI enjoy German / Austrian cooking, especially when Fall and Winter come as their recipes are nice and hearty comfort foods. Recently, I came across Karin’s Blog called, “The Austrian Dish.” What a lucky find, a site specific to Austrian recipes.

When I think of Austria, I remember the movie, “The Sound of Music.” Not long ago I was on a train going from Italy to Munich and sat next to some Canadian backpackers. They had just been in Salzburg and took “The Sound of Music tour,” which took them to all the movie locations. FABULOUS – they raved about it!

Now, back to “The Austrian Dish.” As I was going through Karin’s recipes, I started longing for a German recipe that a friend’s German mother would make on special occasions called, “Dampfnudel.” I put a request in with Karin for this recipe.

Well, I woke up this morning to see a post called, “Sweet Dampfnudel.” It was the recipe on her Blog. Dampfnudel, for those of you who have never heard of it, is a wonderful Bavarian yeast steamed dumpling that can be served savory or sweet. I have always had it as a dessert with vanilla sauce. Thank you Karin!!

History says a hungry Swedish army came to the town of Frakenfeld, Germany in the 1600s. They told the towns people that if they could feed their army a hot meal, they would not plunder the town. The head baker, Johanes Muck, saved the town by making 1286 Dampfnudels.

Guess what – last year the “The Great British Bake Off” had the contestants make dampfnudel. The Irish Mirror news site wrote an article, “Dampfnudels rule Great British Bake Off as viewers fall in love with the German treat.”

Wow — Dampfnudel went global!

Learning Italian, German, Spanish & French through Fairy Tales

50A7B344-C434-4DD4-AC4F-B27EB30FDACEDon’t you love it, when you find a great website by accident! That happened to me the other day. I was searching for an Italian recipe, but I wasn’t finding what I wanted. So, I kept clicking “here” and “there” and suddenly I came to a website for “learning Italian.”

The site is called, “The Italian Experiment.” I noticed that they also have the “same” site in German, Spanish and French. In ALL of these languages they take three fairy tales and translate them into the foreign language you choose, and even better, they have audio where someone reads the story to you!

98A2742D-110E-4D00-9807-805E5E33734EAs you listen to the story, you can hear how they pronounce the words. Excellent! If you have “no idea” what the reader is saying, there is a button that says, “translate,” if you click that the English translation appears.

I chose the Italian version and listened to “The Three Little Pigs.” You can listen to them tell the story here. While I can speak Italian fairly well, I’ve got to say the words in this story had me lost and this is a short book. Yikes, I need to practice.

In part of the story they say in English, “the first little pig,” which translated in Italian is, “il primo porcellino.” You have to hear the translator read these words, it is very cute sounding. Suddenly the little porcellino seems like your best friend.

This site has a review for an online language course called, “Rocket Italian.” They give it 4.5 Stars. I went to the Rocket Italian website, it seems good. I’ve been wanting to practice Italian and build up my vocabulary. Maybe I will rock my Italian by taking the Rocket Italian course! I like the name “rocket,” makes me think if I pass the course, I will be ejected to Florence and find myself in a beautiful cafe!

Gotta hope!

It’s Opera Season: The Merry Widow, The Barber of Seville, Rigoletto…

When I was a child, my Italian mother always sung songs from different operas. We would go to the library and she would get the tapes. While we were either studying or doing our chores she would have the music in the background.

As each song played with “extreme animation,” she would say, “Children, children, LISTEN, THIS is WHEN…” and she would describe the scene of the next song, so we would “understand” and “value” the beauty in the Italian lyrics and the music.

A few weeks ago, my mother called me. In her sweet Italian accent sounding very urgent told me, “YOU have to go to the Opera.” It was one of those motherly “it’s your duty,” remember “it’s how I raised you” to appreciate good music, you should “never forget” type of moments. I could hear this in her voice.

I was wondering where this was coming from. Turns out she had just received the Fall Opera listing! NOW, IT ALL MADE SENSE!

So, I am looking at what operas are playing…

A favorite of hers, that EVEN non opera fans would enjoy, is “The Merry Widow.” This is a lively operetta composed by Austro-Hungarian composer Franz Lehár, it premiered in Vienna in 1905. It was so popular they translated it from German to English and it went International.

The story is of a wealthy widow from a small kingdom who goes off to Paris. The kingdom will collapse without her fortune, so the King sends a dashing man off to win her affections and bring her back to restore their kingdom to prosperity (short version).

Here are two lively YouTube videos from “The Merry Widow.”  The first song is called, “We’re the Ladies of the Chorus.” The widow had been a dancer, so you’ll see some fun dancing in this video. The second song is a group of men singing about how difficult it is to court women. BOTH songs are in English. It’s very nice!

Give it a try…

Mom, this is for YOU — sharing with the world!!

ENJOY EVERYONE!

 

 

What does it mean to see a “double rainbow?”

DoubleRainbowI’ve seen rainbows in my life, but they have always been from quite a distance. The other day though, I saw a rainbow up close. I didn’t notice it until I heard someone yell out, “LOOK, a rainbow!” We all stopped to look up.

The reason this rainbow was so “amazing” was because we were so “close” to it. There is something very spiritual in seeing a rainbow up close, the colors seem to glow, and as we know it won’t last long, it feels “magical.”

We were all rushing to capture the moment in a photo. The rainbow was so BIG none of us could get the entire rainbow in one picture. So, I took a video below.

As we were taking photos, the second rainbow appeared behind the first one. This felt like the moment in “The Wizard of Oz” movie when Glinda, the “good witch,” appears “twinkling out of the sky” and all the munchkins are in “awe” as they watch her descend from the clouds. We were “ooing” and awing” as well.

So… what does it mean to see a “double rainbow?”

I did an online search. Basically, it sounds like a “pot of gold” is coming my way…

(JUST KIDDING! Sounds good though! I see a Leprechaun dancing…)