In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I’m sharing a summary of a decades-long journey in search of our family’s Irish ancestry. Tracing the family tree combines my interests and love of history and genealogy. The fruits of this research and effort were recently rewarded during an Ireland Vacation: 12 Day Itinerary.
Today, I’m taking you back to the Emerald Isle, where we visited this past August. First, were ten days traveling throughout Ireland, learning and experiencing it’s history, geography, and culture. It was a dream, pandemic-delayed trip that took us to the Irish emigration port of Cobh, Blarney Castle & Dingle Peninsula, and continued on to the stunning Cliffs of Moher & Arian Islands.
Utilizing my past research and DNA analysis, she opened new pathways and online resources to our family’s Irish ancestry. Most exciting was breaking through brick walls in my search, and making thrilling new discoveries! I hope my experience will inspire others to trace their Irish ancestry, and see how technological developments are opening new windows into the past.
In honor of romance and Valentine’s Day, I’m sharing the Love Boat theme engagement party we co-hosted with Sistah B and her husband at their home in Charleston.
Both my eldest son and nephew are getting married this year, and everyone couldn’t be more thrilled and happy!
Since we were already gathering for a week over Thanksgiving, it seemed the perfect opportunity to celebrate. Not only does our mother live in Charleston, but so do both my niece and spouse, and nephew and his sweet fiancé. Plus, eldest niece and her daughter traveled from Seattle for the holiday, and Sister A flew in from Florida.
Hubby and I rented a house with our sons and fiancé V, within walking distance to Sistah B’s waterfront home. She and her husband actually live on Folly Beach, the last barrier island across the water from Charleston. It was a wonderful setting for a joint Love Boat theme engagement party!
So now that you have a general idea of who, what and where, let’s raise anchor and set sail to party (warning, rocky seas with numerous corny puns ahead lol)!
Because my son’s now fiancé was joining us for the first time over the holidays, I wanted to pull out all the stops with my Christmas decorations and table settings. So I updated the nutcracker theme tablescape, adding the painted glasses and napkin rings. You can see the restyled tablescape at the end of this post.
When I went to Dollar Tree to pick up the clear goblets, I discovered they had a lot of nutcracker theme items for Christmas. That gave me the idea of using nutcracker tree ornaments to make simple napkin rings.
Inspired, I quickly got to work painting the images of three different color/styles of nutcracker faces on six goblets. Unfortunately, there wasn’t time to share how I painted the glasses or put together the napkin rings last year.
Both projects are very inexpensive to create, and the napkin rings are super fast and easy to make.
Regular readers know I have a passion for peacocks! It all started when I traced hubby’s ancestry to a Revolutionary War militia officer named Peacock! Read about The Rebel Bird in Celebrating Patriots on Independence Day.
Although I’ve previously shown you many casual to formal Christmas season settings, somehow I missed the peacock theme tablescape. It includes a centerpiece with a pair of feather trees, napkins folded in a peacock tail feather fan, and sits beneath the show-stopping Peacock Ornament Decorated Chandelier.
It’s one of 18 festive tables in this year’s annual Christmas Tablescape Blog Hop, hosted by Rita of Panoply. You’re sure to find lots of ideas and inspiration for setting your own holiday table. And, if you’re a dish addict, there might be a thing or two to add to your Santa wish list!
Last year, our two sons hosted Thanksgiving dinner on alternative coasts. Both prepared their holiday turkey using alternative cooking methods with fantastic results!
Hubby and I drove across the state to youngest son D’s home in Philadelphia. His rowhouse is located in the historic and fashionable Fairmont area of the city. Joining us from Washington D.C., were my husband’s brother and his wife. All of us stayed in the three-story rowhouse, along with our Scottie dog, Whiskey and D’s lab-mix, Bentley. It was a full house, and lots of fun!
Meanwhile, oldest son R was in California celebrating the holiday for the first time with his now fiancé’s family.
Both our sons took charge of the Thanksgiving feast, but each used a more modern method to prepare and cook their big birds. Wanting to use his Traeger grill to smoke a turkey, D and his dad plotted out their plan before we even left Pittsburgh. After brining overnight, they splayed or spatchcock the bird before smoking. Spatchcock is to split open a chicken or game bird before cooking. In contrast, R deep-fried a whole turkey outdoors.
It was the first time anyone in our family had ever splayed, smoked or deep-fried a holiday turkey. Come see how well they both turned out!
Recently, while visiting with family in Hoboken, NJ , we attended an illuminated, carved pumpkin festival. Located in the lower Hudson Valley, near Sleepy Hollow of headless horseman fame, The Great Jack o’ Lantern Blaze is a magical, immersive experience.
Since 2005, the walk-through experience has drawn more than 2 million visitors. Lighting up the night are thousands of ornately-carved, glowing pumpkins, in elaborate displays and massive light sculptures.
Today, the spooktacular event is held at two different location; both National Historic Landmarks. We visited the site at Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, north of NYC. A second site is at Old Bethpage Restoration Village on Long Island.
Featured in the fun fall festival are larger-than-life installations, synchronized lighting, and an original soundtrack of appropriately spooky music. It’s a family-friendly experience for kids of all ages, and is both stroller and handicap accessible.
Join me on a virtual walk through. Think of it as a Halloween card from me to you — boo!
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Hi! I'm Debbee, a maker of all manner of things, who likes to incorporate themes into craft projects, holiday and seasonal decor, table settings, and parties. My friends call me, the Queen of Theme lol!
Home is the suburbs of Pittsburgh, but I also enjoy exploring the world with my husband. We raised two wonderful sons and are now early retirees.
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Meet Glenfiddich "Whiskey," a brindle coat Scottie and full of vim and vigor!