Monday, August 5, 2013

A day in Boston

For a few weeks now I have wanted to spend some time just walking around Boston.  Since getting my new camera, I have wanted to do this even more.  I love the history we have so close to home.  Boston is only 11 miles away and I can walk about 100 feet from my front door to get a bus to take me to a train station.  I can be in downtown Boston in about 20 - 30 minutes.

So what has been holding me back.  Trying to get my daughter to go with me.  She loves history as much as I do but she always has other plans on the days I ask her about going in.  I gave up this weekend and said I was going in by myself.  She finally gave in and went with me.

This isn't the train we took into town, it is the Acela train.  I took a photo because I would love to take this train from Boston to Washington DC for a day.  It is listed as being very spacious and fast.  Speeds up to 150 miles per hour.  There is a schedule that leaves Boston as night and arrived at 7 am.  Spend the whole day seeing as many sites as possible then board the train at 10 pm that night and arrive back in Boston as around 7 the next morning.  A day of sites without paying for a hotel.

Anyway,  This was our first stop.  We got off at South Station.

 From here we started walking toward the Boston Tea Party museum.
This is a strange photo.  As we walked we saw a guy in full Star Wars custom on a bike with a plastic gun attached to the back of his bike.  When I tried to get a photo he walked behind these shrubs and column.


 The Boston Tea Party Museum

 I have never been inside so thought we might do this today.  You get a little show of the famous dumping of the Tea event, then you can board a replica ship and throw a box of tea overboard yourself.

Well, for $25 per person, we decided to just peek at the gift shop and take photos from the street.

From here we continued walking along the waterfront, past the giant Hood Milk Jug and the Children's Museum with Arthur sitting up on top.

 Then continued

Just taking photos of the views we saw along the way.  It was a beautiful day for sightseeing.

The Custom House.  This has always fascinated me.  You may not know, when this was built, it was actually right on the Boston waterfront.  The ships could dock right at this building.  It was commissioned by President Andrew Jackson in 1835.  Construction was completed and the building got dedicated in 1847 while Polk was President.  It was built to hold the offices that inspected and registered cargo from the ships entering and leaving Boston harbor.  There was a contest held to decide on the design of the building.  A winning design was by Ammi Young.  He had 36 columms around the building.  The columns were all cut from one piece of granite from Quincy, MA. (where I live) 
The tower that we see today was not part of the original design.  It was added in 1913 and made the Custom House the tallest building in Boston at the time, standing at 495 feet.  Even the Hancock building is not this tall.  It is 1 foot shorter.  The clock you see did not work for most of the 20th century.  The motor installed was too small to handle it.  In 1915 the land recovery act in Boston took place extended the land area further out into the harbor.  This is why the tower sits further into the city now.  They did not move the tower.  They added dirt to the ocean pushing back the harbor so more property could be built.  Everything was built on pilings to make sure they were secure. In 1986 the maritime offices were moved out of the Custom House and the building remained empty until the Marriott corporation bought the building to convert it into timeshare suites.  There was very little usable space inside the building so to make these suites they had to come up with 22 different floor plans.  Today there are 87 one bedroom suites that you can stay in if you have time share property. (you can trade your time share for a week here)
OK, now to continue are walk...
My daughter and I were getting hungry so we headed to Quincy Market for something to hold us over.  While there we decided to go into Faneuil Hall.  Another old historic spot. 
Faneuil Hall
It was given to the city of Boston as a gift by Peter Faneuil.  The purpose was a market and meeting house.  It was built in 1742.  The first floor was all open for market stalls and the upper floor was used for town meetings.  In 1761 a fire destroyed everything except the brick structure itself.  The town paid to have the building restored the following year.  Many famous meetings were held in the meeting hall.
As things were heating up between the British and the colonist, the weathervane that sits on the top of this building became a symbol that could affect your life.  If you were captured, you were asked what sits atop Faneuil Hall?  If you knew it was a grasshopper you were freed, and if you did not know then you were convicted of being a British spy.
In 1805 Charles Bulfinch, a name you hear quite often in Boston Architecture, greatly expanded Faneuil Hall.  He doubled the size and height of the building, added a third floor and closed in the open market area on the first floor.  He also had the cupola with the grasshopper weathervane moved from one end of the building to the other. I am not sure of the reason why.
Webster's Reply to Hayne is the giant mural hanging in the great hall.  Daniel Webster as well as Andrew Jackson held debates in this hall.

Here my daughter is signing a declaration much like they did back in the 1700's, quill pen and all.

 A photo of the back balcony of the hall.

The only known full-size portrait of Abraham Lincoln.
On to some more sights...

  Some of the oldest streets in Boston.  In the 1600's William Blackstone was a preacher that settled in what is now known as Boston.  To walk down these streets feels like you are walking back in time.  The Union Oyster house is the oldest operating restaurant in the country.  The building has existed since the 1600's .  It was first a clothing shop.  The location was so close to the waterfront to make it very convenient in getting fabrics from the ships to the shop.  More recently in history, the late 1950's early 60's John F Kennedy would often eat here on the 2nd floor.  He had a favorite booth which was later dedicated to him. 
On to the Northend of Boston.  I actually lived here for a very short time of three months.  I loved it here.  Every evening you could look out your window to see the older neighbors sitting in their aluminum chairs out in front of their stoops talking to each other.  I would put my infant son in his stroller and we would walk for at least an hour every night.  It was a great place to live, but not easy to drive around or park a car in.  I had to pay a monthly fee for a parking spot.  If I was not working outside of the city I would not have needed a car. 
Anyway, Mike's Pastry is a famous bakery that for whatever reason I never found the time to go into.  So yesterday my daughter and I headed there.  The line was going down the street. So, once again I did not get to get anything but I snuck inside just to see what the inside looked like.
Not much further down and off a side street is Paul Revere's house.  Another place I have seen but never been inside.  Yesterday we did get to go inside.  It was only $4.50 for the two of us. 
Did you know Paul Revere had 16 children?  His first wife died shortly after having her 8th child.  Paul remarried and had 8 more children with his 2nd wife.  Yikes!  Paul Revere is famous for warning the colonist "The British were Coming"  He was also a goldsmith, silversmith, made fittings for ships and forged bells.  He never missed a church service, and was the founder of the first coppermill in the country.
On the way to Old North Church we came upon something really cool.
 There is a memorial set up for soldiers that served in Iraq and Afghanistan.  There are hundred of dog tags.  Some with names on them, most are still blank.  But it was beautiful.

I have no interesting facts or history about this.  I didn't even know it existed until we walked by it.  Definitely worth taking photos of.

Old North Church.  The famous location of the lanterns being held. One if by Land, Two if by Sea.  Paul saw the lantern's glow and took off on horseback to warn as many people as possible.  The gentleman to the right was a tour guide.  I love that these guides not only dress the part but talk the part as well.  He spoke as if today was 1776.  We didn't take his tour but I would hear a glimpse of his stories as we passed him.

I just realized I never took any photos inside the Cobb's Hill burying grounds.  We walked around here for quite a while.  Most graves were of Sea Captains or their family members.  So many woman passed away in their twenties.  We did not see any graves with the year of their births.  They did list when they died and how old they were, though.  My photo was me trying to be artistic and taking a photo of the iron gates around the cemetery.

And this symbol was in the ground at the entrance.  The USS Constitution should have been our next stop but I was getting tired of walking so we turned and headed back into the city.

Oh, I nearly forget about this printing company.  The Printing Office of Edes and Gill.  The only colonial era printing experience in Boston.  A gentleman by the name of Gary Gregory spent 6 years finding the all the various parts to assemble a wooden printing press, such as was used back during the revolutionary war.  Once he gathered everything, then he had to teach himself how to use it.  It is truly an old style press.  Each letter has to be set into the block by hand.  A newspaper size print could take 9 - 12 hours to set.  Then the letters get carefully inks so they print evenly. The paper lays on top and a press pushes the paper down onto the letters.  It was really interesting to see the effort that goes into each printing.  Then to make print after print after print...each print has to be carefully re-inked again, paper laid down, pressed twice in the machine, then lay flat to let the ink dry. 
This is a man with a true passion for history to do this all day long.  It was a bonus we found this little shop.
From here we found an Italian festival.  I think there is a Saint's festival each weekend in August.  So we got to play a few carnival games and share some fried dough before moving on.
Next stop was Cheers in Quincy Market.  It was more just a break from walking while we decided where to head next.  We could here there was a Gospel concert going on at City Hall Plaza, it was a little too crowded for my taste so we kept moving.
Then it started to rain.  I tried to catch it on film in this photo of the Old State house, but it doesn't really show.

 The site of the Boston Massacre.  Another bit of history that fascinated me.  It was a cold evening in March, 1770 when a British soldier is serving sentry duty.  A young boys runs from him bruised and crying.  A crowd of civilian address the soldier about it.  He calls out for assistance.  A Captain and 7 other soldiers joins him.  A bell is ringing to warn of a fire.  More people show up confused as to what is happening.  There is no fire.  They start arguing with the troops.  Telling them to get off the streets and go home to England.  A man by the name of Crispus Attucks was there and he was angry with the soldiers.  Snowballs were being thrown at the soldiers then the snowballs changed into pebbles and pebbles turned into rocks, then Crispus bumped into the soldiers and knock one of them down.  The shout of "fire" was heard and the soldiers set off a rally of gunfire into the crowd.   When the dust cleared there were 3 civilian dead and more wounded.  2 others later die from their wounds.  It was found that the civilians were not even armed.  The British government wanted the soldiers to be pardons, the Civilians wanted the soldiers to pay with their lives.  So a trial was scheduled with John Adams serving as defending attorney for the soldiers.  This was not an easy time for John Adams or his family.  People gave them a gard time about defending the British.  He came back with his duty as a lawyer and these men deserved a fair trial.  Which they did get thanks to him.  7 of the soliders were aqquited while 2 were charged with manslaughter.
The old State House.  The Declaration of Independence was read for the first time from this balcony on July 18, 1776 by Colonial Thomas Craft, he was a member of the Sons of Liberty.  Abigail Adams was in the crowd listening.  She later wrote to her husband, John Adams about the event.  She describes it as there being a great hush over the crowd as each line was read, upon completion three cheers arose from the people.

Old South Meeting House

This was a gathering place for many discussion about how to deal with the British in Boston.  One such meeting included the one on December 16, 1773 to discuss what the colonist should do about the whole "tea" issue.  The meeting was coming to a stand still when the  signal was given and a group of men from the Sons Of Liberty (175 in total, including Col Thomas Craft and Paul Revere) dressed like Indians and dumped 342 cases of tea off the ship in the Griffins harbor.  In 1775 the colonists were leaving Boston and the British had taken over the city.  While there, they were destroying any sites that they felt were strong supporter of the Son's Of Liberty.  The Old South Meeting house was one.  The soldiers tore out the pulpit and all the pews and burned them all as fuel.  Then they brought in tons of dirt and used the building to train in horse maneuvers.  Once the British were kicked out of Boston it took 8 years to raise the funds to restore the meeting house to the way it was.

As far as my daughter and my walking tour, this was the last place we stopped at.  By the time we got to The Old South Meeting House it was closed for the day.  So I snapped this photo, them we got back on the train and headed home.  We will have to see the rest another day, or I may just go into town all by myself.

Stampin' Up!

Etsy Shop

Friday, August 2, 2013

Wedding Card

This was the last set of cards I made.  I think I did about 5 or 6 of these.  I was not planning on making wedding cards.  I pulled out a new pack of blank white cards I bought that had envelopes to go with them.  When I opened the pack, they were not blank.  These cute little 3 x 5 cards were already embossed with the wedding bells and streamers.  So I decided I would go with the theme and see what I could come up with.  Again a quick simple card to have on hand.

Dreams card

Not my usual style.  I like bright, white cards, but I was playing with some embossing powder and liked the way this was looking.  Tim Holtz stamps were used. 

Delight Card

This card was made using 2 different stamp sets.  The flowers are from Clearly Wordsworth and the sentiment is from Stampin Up. A quick card.  I used Closte To My Heart's buttercup ink pad to color the flowers

How Kind Card

I made a card very similar to this years ago.  I really liked the simple style and owe a few thank you cards so I made about 5 of these today. I colored it in with Close To My Heart alcohol ink markers.

Imagination Card

This card was made with a Tim Holtz stamp set.  I really like the stamps but it took a few attempts to get a card I liked.  You may noticed I added the same flowers from the last card.  This flower stamp is a small peg stamp from Stamps By Judith.

Friendship Card

After getting some rest and returning the stock we did not sell at the event we worked last night I found some time to make a few cards.  This is the first one.  This one took the longest since each little image was a separate stamp, then they each got colored in. 

Battle Of The Bands

Have you ever heard of this event?  It is pretty impressive.  It is a competition between colleges for the Best Marching Bands.  When I first heard about it, I pictured it a rather lame assembly of bugles and drums.  What I saw was a major production of choreography, flashy costumes, incredibly talented musicians and a whole following of fans that travel from place to place to see these bands compete.

I bring this up because my first experience of one such event was a little over a year ago.  We were approached about running the concession stand for one of these events.  At the time we had a son playing football and Lacrosse so this was a golden opportunity to raise some money for these Booster Clubs.  It was a lot of work for something we really did not know anything about.  Plus it was a major risk of putting up the money to buy all the stock and food to work such an event.  Luckily we had plenty of help between the usually crew that worked with us at the stand during the football games along with a bunch of the guys from the Lacrosse team. 

We were blown away with the whole event.  The music was incredible!  The showmanship these college kids put into their school bands was phenomenal! All the vendors, equipment, preparation and the precision to which this event was organized. 

And in return we were paid the highest compliment for the job we did.  People raved about the food we served and the judges gave us a "box 5" which we later found is the highest rating a band can get. So the organizer asked if we would be willing to travel to do another event that same year.  We considered it, until she called us back to say it was already booked with another vendor.

We were surprised to hear we were not offered the booth when this competition came back to our city this year. But we did get asked to do the semi-final competition being held on the North Shore.  This would be a lot more work.  First it was not being held 5 minutes from our house, so we had to figure travel time, coordination of getting equipment, food, staff, and setting up at a place an hour away.  We also had to apply for a permit to sell food in a different town. 

After looking into the logistics, we said we would do it with the stipulation there were not going to be any other food vendors present.

After all was confirmed, we found out the Semi-final is a much shorter event.  It is only 2 hours and does not begin until 8:00 PM.  (By now people have already eaten dinner, which is our main sales, we cook food items such as chicken platters, sausage, pepper and onion sandwiches, huge 1/2 pound burgers, etc..).

So after committing to this event, we had to rethink how much stock to buy.  Since this was not a Booster event we had to pay staff to work the booths. 

Then we had to run around, get all the supplies, rent a truck to transport everything.  Temperatures of food products have to be maintained, both cooked and uncooked, so lots of coolers and ice where needed.

You get the drift.

Well, last night was the Big Night.  We spent hours the day before bringing as much as we could to the stand and getting things into coolers, refrigerators and freezers so they would be cold.  Not counting the hours spent planning, pricing, making signs, shopping, placing stock orders, etc...

Yesterday we had people at our house in the morning to load a car, truck and rental box truck with all the cooking equipment.  Once we arrived, we found out we were short one refrigerator in our stand, so we had to come up with another way to keep waters cold. To the store to buy large 40 lb bags of ice.  More expense we did not figure in.

We arrived to find there was a courtesy tent set up for VIP's with drinks and food  provided for them before the event.  The Co-ordinator of the whole event let another vendor come in and sell drinks and food right across from us, even though she told us we would be the only food sales.  And she was not even there to try to straighten things out.  After calling her on the phone she said she will move this other vendor away from our stands, which she never did once she did arrive.

More hours spent setting up the 2 stands, working the event, repacking what we did not sell (we had tons of food that did not sell), packing up everything, and then cleaning the stands.  We got home after 1:00 AM this morning.  I just finished doing the math this morning and figured out we earned about $58 for every hour we put into this.  That has to still get distributed between the 12 of us that worked the two stands.

We got home so late that 7 people stayed here and slept so I still have to figure breakfast and then driving everyone home.  So I guess I should knock down that hourly figure even more.

I do not think we will be volunteering to do future events out of our own home town again.

And thinking about it now...
We were going non-stop that I never even got a chance to see even a minute of the show.  Bummer!!!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Turning 50

I thought when I got back from West Virginia I would quickly get back into my daily routine.  That has not happened.  I turned 50 this week and it ended up being a whirlwind of a week.

First I subbed for 4 days - Monday through Thursday.  It was an unusual assignment.  I will not even get into details but I was glad the week went quickly in that perspective. 

My son was working a few nights this week so in order for us all to get together for my birthday we went out to lunch on Tuesday.  I was thrilled to have everyone together for my birthday but on top of just lunch they surprised me with a new camera.  I had a beautiful Canon Rebel that was stolen about a year ago.  I did not have the money to replace it so tried to just do the best I could with the camera on my phone but whenever a big event came up, like the kids' Proms, I was very sad to not have a good camera. So I cried when I opened the Box and found a Nikon D3200.

I thought this was the best birthday ever!  But it kept on going.  My darling hubby took me out for dinner the next night, just the 2 of us.  Then on my actually day, Thursday, we went out again.  I insisted on this one only because I eat free at my favorite night spot on my birthday.  So we went out again.

Friday I was burnt out and was thrilled when no one bothered me for the whole day.  I got to play in my scraproom and tidy it up.  I didn't get any projects done but I got my room back to the nice clean place it was months ago.  I was so thrilled I even posted some photos on my Pinterest.    This was like another present just for me.  Time alone in my scraproom.

Saturday, my daughter asked me to take her shopping.  Senior pictures were on Monday and she wanted to find a nice outfit.  It went from a leisurely day to "Oh, Mom, I am not feeling well.  Can we head home right away?!" so after a quick rush through the last store we headed home to be surprised by lots of family and friends for a Surprise party for me! 

Sunday, my darling hubby wanted a Date Night with just the two of us, again.  Boy, the surprises just keep coming.  So we went to a local arcade and played some video games, then stopped for some margaritas and appetizers.

This has been an awesome week. Today I told my hubby, No More.  I am pooped and can not handle another night of going out or any more surprises.

But we still have a busy week.  We are running an event on Thursday evening and have to get all the supplies, food, make all the signs and flyers, line up the staff and what their jobs will be. etc...

Maybe by Monday I will get back into my leisurely summer routine and be able to start posting challenges again.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

West Virginia Mission Trip

I have been away for a while.  My daughter and I just got back from a church mission trip to West Virginia.  Honestly, I was not looking forward to this trip at all.  I have medical issues that had my husband very worried about me the whole time I was gone and I was a little concerned myself that I would not be able to handle the heat, the hard work, the long days, the 13 and 1/2 hours of driving to get there and 14 1/2 hours to get back home.
This was my co-driver.  Good thing we had a GPS with us. he he he  Only kidding. He only slept when he wasn't driving.

I have never met anyone that truly lives off the land. The family we were helping this week does just this.    They eat what they can hunt whether it be deer, rabbit, or even squirrels.  They can and preserve their own vegetables that they have grown in their garden.  They raise chickens for the fresh eggs. 

And they appreciate everything they have.  Unlike my teens, they do not cast anything to the side.  Everything is well taken care of, cared for even, nothing goes to the trash if another use can be found for it.

What we did for this family seems so small in comparison to some of the other crews that were working for the same organization.  On the last day we drove around and saw some of the jobs being done at other locations.  The Community Center was being expanded and updated,

a couple of homes were getting decks built, a new house was being totally built from the ground up. 

What we did was finish an addition that was started 2 years ago until the family ran out of funds to buy anymore stock.  We simply went in and finished what they had started to give the parents their own bedroom and their daughter a bedroom, as well.  This is the first time the daughter has EVER had her own room. 

When I say we simply finished what they had already started.  It was not that simple.  There were 3 adult volunteers and 9 students ranging in age from 11 to 17.  Out of the 11 of us, my daughter and I probably had the most building experience only because my husband has had his own construction business for the past 25 years.  So some of that knowledge wore off on us.  They others did not even know how to hammer a nail, let alone installing OSB, insulating or cutting wood. The photo below is where we were working all week.

We had no one assigned to us to give us guidance because the home owner was expected to be there.  He was called to work, so Dani, the coordinator for the program, stayed with us and assigned us all jobs and got us going.  She is one tough cookie.  Or as my daughter called her, a slave driver.  I truly admired her, though.  She knew she only had us for 4 days and she wanted to get as much as she could from us while we were there.  So she did not take kindly to water breaks or any complaining at all from any of us.

The first day I was to run the painting crew.  Three of us primed all the OSB that was on hand and laid it out everywhere and anywhere we could find space to dry.  In the 95 degree weather, that did not take long at all.

While we were outside, there were two crews working inside.  One crew was putting up insulation in the ceiling.  The older, fiberglass, ITCHY, kind of insulation.  These guys were scratching themselves for the rest of the week.  The third crew was cutting OSB board to put on the ceiling and the walls.  I do not understand why the home owner wanted to use OSB (partical board)  It is very heavy, not water-resistant, has a very textured effect to it because of how it is made.  It was also 5/8" thick while the screws we were using looked to be only 11/4 inch so there is not much holding these boards into the ceiling or walls.  But this is what the home owner wanted, so this is what we worked with.  It is difficult enough putting sheetrock or drywall on ceilings just because it is awkward to try holding these board up over your head while someone screws it in.  OSB is even more difficult just because of the weight of it.  We had 6 people holding these boards while two people screwed it in  place.
Then there are seams that are left exposed with OSB board that you would not have with drywall.  But anyway.  We insulated the walls next.  This was the newer soft insulation that does not get itchy, so it was much easier to work with.  Once this was done we put up the walls and were able to start painting.  Kayla's room is painted in two shades of purple.  It looked great and she was so happy to see her room all painted in the colors she asked for.  Mom and Dad got a soft rose color on their walls with white ceilings in both rooms.
I would have liked to have gotten to the point of helping them move their furniture in and have the rooms completely done but we ran out of time.  I think all that was left was to let the paint on the walls dry,  hook up the ceiling lights, and add any trim work.  Plus to add doors but we did not have any doors to install otherwise these might have gotten done, as well.
This is a photo of the front of the house with Karen, my new friend, and Pastor John from the church we went with.
And this is the crew that did all the work along with Karen and Kayla in the front and center of the photo.  I am so thankful for meeting them and helping them with their project. 

It was so hot while we were there.  The living conditions for us were not the best. We had a shower trailer with 7 stalls, but only 5 working showers.  The students got timed, 7 minutes to enter, get undressed, shower, dry off and dress again.

Here the boys waiting for their turn in the showers,  The next photo is the outside of the shower trailer and then the inside.
 Our meals were provided 45 minutes away from where we were sleeping.  And there was no drinking water where we ate so we had to bring coolers full of water from the church we were staying at.

The girls in our group were all together in a bunk room.  8 girls with all their stuff.  The room was so warm when they closed the door.  We kept trying to tell them to keep it open to get air but they wanted their privacy.  The left is a photo from about the 2nd or 3rd day and the next one is once they packed up to head home.
We were officially woken up at 6 every morning.  Myself and Jennifer shared a room that was the storage room from the overflow of luggage from other groups so I woke every morning starting around 4 am while people came in with flashlights looking for things.  We never got a minute of free time.  Worship took place every evening from 8:30 until 10:30 then we had our own Church worship time for another half hour and lights out was exactly at 11:00 every night.  I was over-tired the whole week, my legs were in pain every night to the point I was in tears by Thursday night.
We are home now and back into our regular routines.  With time to reflect on the whole week.  I have no regrets!!  We met and became friends with a wonderful woman and her daughter.  We learned to appreciate all the little things we take for granted every day after hearing how tough some of these families have it in the area we were in.

And here are our new friends, Karen and her daughter, Kayla.  They are what made this whole trip worth it.  They were so welcoming, friendly, giving, caring people that welcomed us into their homes and their hearts right from the first day we met. 

It was exhausting, hot, long hours spent in a van everyday, thirsty all week long, not much sleep each night,  but yes I would do it all over again if asked.