Fall in love with Washington, D.C. all over again!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Mount Vernon Mansion Gets Rusticated

What finish did George Washington use to treat the outside of his house? Is it made of wood or stone? 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Classic Hollywood Reviews: Bringing Up Baby

Bringing up Baby is another of our favorite classic movies. In my mind it is about the perfect blend of slap stick romantic comedy.

Cary Grant is brilliant as Dr. David Huxley, a scientist who is waiting for the final bone to complete his dinosaur skeleton. He's also getting married in a day to someone who doesn't want love to interfere with his important work. But first he has to go try to get a large gift from a generous benefactor.

In steps Katherine Hepburn as Susan Vance, a ditzy socialite, who appears to have nothing going on other than the ability to mess up David's life. But she's set her cap for him and is determined to do all she can to make him hers.

Add in Baby, a leopard that's been sent to her, and the chaos explodes across the screen. As with most of my favorite classic movies, there is a very strong supporting cast that add to the characters played by the stars. Bringing Up Baby is a gem from 1938 and if you like music from that time period, you'll love Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn singing "I can't give you anything but love, baby" ad naseum to the leopard. This film is on the National Film Registry, but didn't win any big awards the year it came out.

However, this film is perfect for a night you want to laugh and enjoy a good romance.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Classic Hollywood Reviews: Mrs. Miniver

Mrs. Miniver was one of the first dramas to focus on the horrors of World War Two that was sweeping across Europe. It is set in England, and Greer Garson plays Mrs. Miniver, a woman who is trying to survive and keep her family together during the bombings.

The film highlights the efforts of a middle-class English family to survive the bombings and early days of the war. A German soldier stops by their house, then her husband takes off to help evacuate the British troops from Dunkirk -- a pivotal part of salvaging the British army.

This film won six Oscars including Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Picture. It has also landed on the National Film Registry.

Now people will tell you this film is full of propaganda -- but what movie coming out of Hollywood during the war didn't have an element or two of propaganda? If you want to get a sliver of what the early days of the war were like, then this is a good one to try. It is a drama...there are few laughs...but it is still a film well worth viewing.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mount Vernon News: Ann Pamela Cunningham fulfills her mission of preserving Historic Mount Vernon.

Ann Pamela Cunningham: Historic Preservation Pioneer:

The founder of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association fulfilled her mission of preserving Historic Mount Vernon.  By Jessie Biele

This is the first part in a three-part series about the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association in honor of Women's History Month. Check back next Friday to learn how one headstrong woman protected Mount Vernon during the Civil War in part two of this series.
Long before the crusade for women’s rights, the women who established the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association were leaders in their own right. Founder Ann Pamela Cunningham was a Southern belle who made it her life’s goal to restore and preserve the home of our country’s founding father.  Read the story here. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Classic Hollywood Reviews: Holiday Inn

Thanks so much for leaving some of your favorite movies here and on Facebook last week. You've given me quite an assortment to track down.

So today I want to share one of my all time favorites with you: Holiday Inn. Don't let the title scare you off. This is not a Christmas movie though they do sing White Christmas in it. And let's face it, who can sing that song like Bing Crosby? In fact, the movie won its only Oscar for best song in White Christmas. Hum with me...I'm dreaming of a White Christmas. Just like the ones I used to know...

Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire are the male leads in Irving Berlin's classic. They take turns crooning out hit after hit: songs like Easter Parade, You're Easy to Dance With (yes, Fred Astaire croons and dances in that one), Be Careful It's My Heart and many more. you can find the full list here.

There's a classic love triangle between Jim (played by Bing), Linda Mason, and Ted (Fred). Some of the lengths that Jim goes to keep them apart are comical, especially in one of the dance scenes. Imagine mixing a very stiff 18th Century French dance with jazz. :-) And Jim gives up his dream so that Linda can have hers, but the way he does it is a wee bit heavy-handed. For the rest, well, you'll have to watch this movie yourself. It can be viewed at anytime of the year.

And don't forget to appreciate Fred Astaire's brilliant firecracker dance. I LOVE IT!!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Allergies and Cherry Blossom Festivals a Combination for Misery?

This year Washington, D.C.’s Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the centennial of Japan’s presentation of the cherry trees to the United States in 1912. The festival is reported to include the blooming of 3,700 cherry trees, including 100 of Yoshino from Japan. This year’s festival has also been reported to fall at the peak pollen surge for Washington, DC, two weeks before the average bloom.

So what’s a cherry blossom lover and allergy sufferer to do? Well, you can stay at home and take a look at these Cherry Blossoms Photos! Or you can learn from other bloggers who’ve braved the cherry blossom allergy season and figure out how to tame your allergies so you can enjoy the festival.

Sorry, I’m Allergic…

Spring Allergies - These Cherry Blossoms Are Killing Me


Spring Allergies Are Back: Five Natural Ways to Put Them in Check

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bringing Kids to the Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C.?

Planning on attending the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. with kids in tow? Check out these helpful articles to help you plan your trip so everyone enjoys the festival!

Cherry Blossom Festival: Parents weigh the joy vs. the hassle

The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival begins March 20, and with it comes the annual question for parents in the region: Do we deal with the hassle? Read the rest of the article.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Still Time to Make Plans to Attend a Cherry Blossom Festival Near You!

The National Cherry Blossom Festival, the Centennial Celebration, will be held March 20 – April 27, in honor of the 100 year anniversary of the gift of trees from Tokyo to Washington, DC, but Washington, D.C. is not the only place Cherry Blossoms are blooming. Here is a listing of other states that are joining in the spring festivities. Please come back for updated listing of festivals.

Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival April 14-15 and 21-22

Macon Georgia's International Cherry Blossom Festival March 16-25

Philadelphia's Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival March 23 - April 21

Friday, March 16, 2012

Classic Hollywood Reviews: Casablanca

Humphrey Bogart. Ingrid Bergman.

Chemistry. Tension. War.

What more do you need to make a classic romantic drama?

A dark hero. A piano player as sidekick. The Vichy French. Nazis. And a husband who is wanted for resistance efforts.

Three Academy Awards including Best Picture in 1944.

Memorable lines like "Play it again, Sam," "Here's looking at you, kid," and "Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine." 

Casablanca is one of those movies that is iconic and unforgettable. It is the story of Rick and Ilsa, but also the story of the war. Ilsa's husband, who she'd been told had died in resistance activities when she had a brief affair with Rick, has stumbled into his bar in Casablanca. The Nazis are there, and Rick is making a living running a bar. All kinds of subplots exist with people trying to flee the reach of the Nazis, but as they close in there is little anyone can do to escape.

Ilsa is desperate to get the fake documents she and her husband need to escape. She'll even stay with Rick if that means Victor escapes.

Rick is enigmatic and played perfectly by Humphrey Bogart. I think this is one of his finest roles.

It also gives an interesting perspective on the war in 1942. Casablanca premiered the month that Allied troops invaded North Africa. And gives a snapshot of how films were being used to position public opinion. It also hints at the plight of Jews trying to escape the Nazi machine committed to consuming them.

If you haven't seen Casablanca, you really must. It is that good.

BTW, here's an interesting website devoted to the film that contains gems like proposed sequels.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Classic Hollywood Reviews: Dial M for Murder

For Christmas I bought a TCM collection that contains four suspense movies. The other night I watched Dial M for Murder, an Alfred Hitchcock flick I'd never seen, but very much enjoyed.

An ex-tennis pro executes a plot to kill his wife. When things go horribly wrong, he shifts to plan B. The plot is brilliant, as the husband plots the perfect murder. I love that the boyfriend is a crime novelist, who tries to weave a tale of how the husband could have plotted the murder.

Grace Kelly plays the wife while Ray Milland plays the husband. I haven't seen him in anything else, but very much liked his screen presence. All in all this is a great movie when you want something that has twists and not a hint of romance. It's definitely one I'll watch again.

If you've seen Dial M for Murder, what did you think?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Classic Hollywood Reviews: Singing in the Rain

Singing in the Rain is one of those all time classic Hollywood musicals. It is perfection...except for one dance sequence in the middle that doesn't make any sense or add anything to the movie. But the rest of it is a wonderful story with great actors, wonderful songs, and dance numbers that make you want to get up and dance, too.

One of my friends mentioned this one on facebook, and someone commented that they wished it was possible to walk down a street and watch people break out into perfectly choreographed songs and dances.

Gene Kelly is brilliant as Don Lockwood, but I adore Donald O'Connor as Cosmo in this movie. He plays the funny man to the hilt, while Debbie Reynolds gets to play Kathy, the ingenue who has a dream and wants to chase it in Hollywood at the time talkies are making their move. Gene Kelly hams it up as an overdone silent movie star who has to make the transition to the talkies...unfortunately his costar has a voice that won't make the transition. So Don and Cosmo come up with a scheme with Kathy's help that will turn the Dancing Cavalier into a glorious talking film.

Singing in the Rain was nominated for two Oscars, but didn't win either category. It is listed at #79 in IMDb's top 250 list. Here's a link to the trailer.

This is a movie the whole family can enjoy -- though there is that one dance sequence with Cyd Charisse that just doesn't fit. Other than that, the movie is perfection.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Classic Hollywood Reviews: The Sound of Music

Sing with me....
   "The hills are alive....with the sound of music...aaaaa...with songs they have sung for a thousand years..."

In some ways the Sound of Music, doesn't feel old enough to be a classic. I remember watching it most years during the holiday season as a child. It was one of those annual rites of passage. But the movie did release in 1965, so it fits.

In case you haven't seen it, the Sound of Music is based on the true story of a novice nun who is sent to the home of an Austrian widower during the early days of the war to serve as a nanny to his seven children. It is filled with wonderful songs and music from Rogers and Hammerstein.

It's a romance cloaked in the way the world changes when Austria unites with Nazi Germany. It's a stirring tale, and the children are priceless. The movie was well recognized for its excellence winning five oscars including Best Picture.

If you haven't seen it and want a taste, be sure to view the trailer here.

Now if you've seen the movie, I'd love to know your favorite song or character. Leave a comment!

Monday, February 20, 2012

President's Day at Mount Vernon

Ever wonder what it would be like to be at Mount Vernon for President's Day. Here's a glimpse of the 2010 celebration!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Classic Hollywood Review: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

This was one of the first Classic Hollywood Reviews that I wrote. And as we ponder the election from a week and a half ago, I thought it was appropriate to run it again. There will be many new people in Washington starting in January. Here's praying they come with the convictions and willingness to stand up for what's right that is portrayed in this movie. Whichever side of the aisle you vote, I think we can all agree that's what we need.

Do you have a wee bit of the crusader in you? Wonder if corrupt politics only arrived in the 1990s? Then you need to watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. A 1939 offering from one of my favorite classic directors, Frank Capra, with one of my favorite classic stars, Jimmy Stewart, it's the ultimate feel good tale. And what's not to like when Jean Arthur joins the fun.

Jimmy Stewart's character Jefferson Smith is basically a grown-up Eagle Scout who is sent to Wasghington because his handlers think he'll be easy to control. Boy, did they mess up on that assumption! One of my favorite scenes is when he gets to Washington, D.C. and hops on the trolley to take a tour giving his handlers ulcers with his disappearing act. (For a summary of the film, pop over here.)

This was the fifth film that Stewart made in 1939 and garnered a total of eleven Academy Award nominations but only won in one category. This was also the second film in which Stewart and Arthur are paired as romantic leads. Don't worry, I'll talk about the 1938 film in coming weeks, because it's another family favorite.

There's a lot to love about this film. It highlights the corruption of the media. The corruption in politics. The hero worship that can lead to disillusionment. Hmm, what's there to love, you ask?

How about a man who won't be railroaded? Who stands up for what he knows is right even when his is the only voice speaking? A man who will offer himself on the altar in sacrifice for what is right for the country? If you wonder about the power of one man, pop in this video and then pray for God to give us people in office like this!

This movie one best Oscar for story and was nominated for a string more. I highly recommend this movie.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My Favorite Fall Tea for One.

Hi everyone. Sorry I didn't post last week. I"d planned to post Susan's Bearclaw recipe today, but I've decided, instead, to share my special autumn tea pot and cup. I'm one of the many tea and teapot collectors in the world. Love my teapots and I actually use some of them. I was flipping through a tea catalog a few years ago and fell in love with this teapot for one. I ordered it, of course. The day the item should have arrived and didn't I called tracking and they insisted the package had been delivered. There happened to be a care center for the elderly down the street and their address was just before mine. Yes, you guessed it. My teapot had been left there by mistake.
I take it off its shelf each September and put it away in November when I switch to Christmas ones. It just seems to give my tea a special flavor and flair. If you'd like, share a photo of your favorite tea cup or pot.
Happy tea drinking.

Frances Devine

Monday, February 6, 2012

From Mount Vernon Estates to The Smithsonian: How the Setting of Buried Deception Came to Life

"No estate in United America is more pleasantly situated than this."
- George Washington, 1790

Ever wonder where an author gets an idea for a story? The idea for Buried Deception came in 2005 when my family took a three week homeschool tour up the East coast. Mount Vernon was one of our stops.

I loved everything about Mount Vernon in the summertime from the beautiful foliage and blooming trees to the richness of the history on the grounds. I marveled at George Washington’s innovations as I walked through the mansion and wondered which antiques were original and which were replicas. That thought lead to another... “What if a real antique at Mount Vernon was discovered to be a fake?” One thing lead to another and Buried Deception was born.

It was months before I began writing the novella and years before it actually sold. Though I had visited Mount Vernon, it had been too long to trust my memory. That’s when I contacted an archaeologist at Mount Vernon to help me fill in the gaps. It was then that I learned that new buildings were built on the grounds since I had visited and the picture in my head needed a visual reminder not only of the layout of the buildings, but the floor plan of the mansion.

Thankfully, the virtual map of the Mount Vernon Mansion was invaluable when writing the scenes in the mansion. I referred to it dozens of times when writing Buried Deception. Updated maps and the Mount Vernon website also gave me a bird’s eye view that I needed to bring the setting of my novella to life.

I utilized the same research technique with the other locations in Buried Deception, and it’s my hope that while you read it you will actually feel like you’re walking the halls of the Smithsonian and the grounds of Christ Church and Mount Vernon.

If you’re a visual reader and want to bring Buried Deception to life in a more visual way? Check out the link and explore the mansion and rooms Samantha and her children visited for yourself!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Classic Hollywood Reviews: Arsenic and Old Lace

Last week I unintentionally offended a friend (just kidding, Steph) by not inviting her over to watch this classic Cary Grant comedy. When I saw that theTCM Comedy Collectionincluded Arsenic and Old Lace, I was a wee bit puzzled. Guess it had been too long since I watched the movie. It didn't take too many minutes and I was thoroughly delighted by Cary Grant's comedic acting.

This 1944 film tells the story of a confirmed bachelor who's slipped off to get married. On his way to his honeymoon he stops at his aunts' home and stumbles on a body. The thing is, everybody believes his aunts are the salt of the earth and nobody would ever expect them to be serial killers. The balance of the movie highlights his character's attempts to keep one brother safe and keep his aunts from killing anyone else. Of course there are all kinds of twists -- some hilarious and a couple sinister -- making this a thoroughly delightful Frank Capra directed flick. And add in Josephine Hull playing another slightly zany older woman (ala Harvey) and it is a perfect film to spend an evening with.

I didn't know Director Frank Capra enlisted in the U. S. Army Signal Corps in 1941 during filming. He received an extension of his order to report for active duty until late January 1942 so he could finish editing the picture.

If you haven't watched this movie, you really should. It's wonderful!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Playing Martha Washington

In Buried Deception, one of the characters play a slave at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estates. While the author has taken liberties with this representation of this portrayal, you can still learn what it's like to be someone from the past!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Classic Hollywood Reviews: Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House

I must be on a Cary Grant kick right now. A couple weeks ago, Eric and I pulled out this 1948 Cary Grant flick. I love that it co-stars Myrna Loy, one of my favorite actresses thanks to the Thin Man series. In Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, Jim and Muriel Blandings decide their apartment is impossibly small and rather than be content there, they are going to build a dream house in Connecticut. The only problem is they'd never heard of Dave Ramsey and his financial principles. They find that building the house is much more trouble than they anticipated, not to mention over the top financially.

The movie is not the typical quick repartee comedy...but if you stick with it, and understand all the mistakes the couple makes, it is a fun movie. Just don't take any financial advice from this couple!

I personally like the attorney who plays narrator and breath of ignored reality to the couple. He can't help it that Mr. Blandings refuses to take his advice -- at any turn.

And here's a fun piece of trivia for you from IMDb: The house "Blandings' Way" really exists on Indian Hill Road in New Milford, Connecticut. It's a beautiful huge white art deco/colonial house that has many of the actual rooms discussed in the movie - such as a room to cut flowers. Also less than a mile away on Long Mountain Road is executive producer of the movie and MGM head Dore Schary's old country home.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Behind the Scenes at Mount Vernon Summer Institute for Teachers

Gina Conroy tried to bring a bit of history alive in her story, Buried Deception, but every summer Mount Vernon invites a handful of educators to attend their on-site summer teachers' institutes. Hear what some of them had to say.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Classic Hollywood Review: High Society & Philadelphia Story

High Society is a 1956 flick that remakes The Philadelphia Story(1940). Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart are replaced by Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Grace Kelly slides into Katherine Hepburn's role as the spoiled socialite preparing for her wedding. I LOVE the original. But one thing High Society has that the original doesn't is Bing and Frank singing and dancing. That's something extra that's pretty special, too. Add in Louis Armstrong and his trumpet and gravelly voice, ad you have some great music.

But the movie still lacks something that the original has...well, it lacks Kate, Jimmy and Cary. And while I adore Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly just isn't Kate Hepburn (IMHO). The original also won two Oscars, so I guess the Academy agrees with me.

The basic storyline is identical. Rich, spoiled heiress is preparing to marry her second husband in a matter of days. Reporters and first husband show up making a mess of her ordered life. In the process she comes to realize she wants more from her life than the cold, above-it-all persona she's crafted for herself. 

High Society is still worth watching...just watch it first and then pull out The Philadelphia Story.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Chef Tara's Fudgy Brownies

Tara's Fudgy Brownies

Tara made these for movie night and Ciara is particularly fond of these, with frosting after a hard day.

3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup boiling water
1-3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
Stir cocoa and baking soda together in large bowl. Stir in 1/3 cup melted butter. Add boiling water and stir until mixture thickens. Then stir in sugar, eggs and remaining 1/3 cup butter, and stir until the whole mixture is smooth. Add flour, vanilla and salt. Blend well. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Frost if desired. Cut into squares.

*Note: if you decide to frost the brownies, go ahead and use the prepared frosting. Chances are you'll probably eat it right out of the container anyway.

Enjoy with classic movie of your choice! Garnish with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle of chocolate syrup for a brownie sundae.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tea, Coffee, Me

I wouldn't want anyone to think I only drink tea. Coffee was my hot drink of choice for many years and I still love the stuff. From black to luscious lattes. I like it all.
I think I was about fourteen when I first got hooked on coffee. I was living with my sister and brother-in-law. My sis went to work for a while and I watched the kiddos. I guess I was trying to stay up until they got home, so I started drinking coffee. It didn't take me long to fall in love with the brew.
Now, I drink either decaf or half-cafe for health reasons.

In Coffee, Tea and Danger, how did Vince like his coffee? The first person with the right answer gets a free, autographed copy of Cherry Blosssom Capers.

Next week, I'll be posting a recipe for my Cranberry Banana Nut Bread. Nothing goes better with coffee. See you then.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Scouting at Mount Vernon

George Washington was a great leader and innovator who left a legacy filled with character that all scouts can glean from. Did you know Mount Vernon offers boy and girl scouts "to explore the past and increase their understanding of America's first and greatest president!"

Wreath laying Ceremony at Mount Vernon*

Scouting days run from November 1, 2011 - February 17, 2012
Free admission to all scouts, Camp Fire Club members in uniform or wearing official pin. Other discounts for leaders are offered. For more information on he scouting program and what scouting patches are offered visit the Mount Vernon website.

*photo taken from Mount Vernon website.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Classic Hollywood Review: The King and I

The King and I is a classic Rogers and Hammestein musical set in Siam in the 19th century. Yul Brynner is the 19th-century Siamese monarch who hires English governess Deborah Kerr to teach his wives and children and winds up getting an education of his own. Features such songs as "Getting to Know You," "Hello Young Lovers" and "Shall We Dance." Filmed in 1956, the movie is rich with Deborah Kerr's beautiful gowns and a subtle sense of humor. It also deals with deep issues including things like keeping promises, the value of life, and many more.

I showed this to my daughter a few weeks ago and she enjoyed it, but thought it moved a bit slow. However, when they started singing and dancing she was enthralled. And there's something timeless about a romance that is doomed from the start.

Whether you see this in the film or as a play, it's a wonderful story and piece of America's theater and cinematic history.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Behind the Scenes: America's Executive Mansion

Imagine what it's like to cook for the leader of the free world. Every morning, you enter a building--no, a home--steeped in our country's history. You can make a candlelight dinner for two, or cater an elegant affair for 1,000 guests. You're one of the White House chefs.

When I first sat down to think of an idea for my contribution to Cherry Blossom Capers, I decided to aim straight for one of the top attractions in our nation's capital, but one of the most tightly guarded: the White House. Enter my heroine, a chef from Texas who's enjoying her dream job. Then came a news story that gave my story its all-too-real what-if.

I remember visiting the White House when I was in junior high, during those pre-September 11th days when security was tight, but not like now. Maybe those were the days of innocence. But the news story that helped inspire my novella showed that evil will always try to find a way to sneak inside.

The following video isn't that news story. I'm not giving the ending away! But it's a video that shows some of the goings-on behind the scenes at the White House. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Let's Talk About Tea and Have a Book Contest

Hi, there. I'm Frances Devine, author of Coffee, Tea, and Danger, the fourth book in Cherry Blossom Capers. I became a serious coffee drinker at the age of fourteen. It didn't take me long to become addicted. Tea? Yuk. I wouldn't have drunk hot tea for a date with Cary Grant . For the life of me, I can't remember when that changed. I only know that hot tea and I have been in love for many years.

When you see the word tea, what pops though your mind? A tall frosted glass or a cup with steam coming out the top? Do you like mugs or dainty little cups on saucers?
I read a comment from a Englishman once. He said, "I simply don't understand you Americans. You boil the water to make you tea hot, then put ice in it to make it cold." Then he added, "You put sugar in it t o make it sweet, then add lemon to make it sour."

He just didn't understand. lol. I personally don't drink much iced tea. But give me my cuppa and I'm a happy woman.

When I first became a tea drinker, the only thing that went into my cup was a Lipton's tea bag. But through the years, I've expanded. My cupboards today contain cans and boxes of plain and flavored teas, herbal and black. My favorites, this year at least, are Prince of Wales and Assam. When I have time, I prefer loose tea, but i don't thumb my nose at bags.

A few years ago, my friend's little girl decided she liked tea, so we began an annual tea party. With trays, tea for ones, and cookies and sandwiches. Now she's almost nine, and although we still have the party, she's deserted to hot cocoa for her drink of choice. Ah the fickleness of youth.

What about you? Leave a comment with your favorite or most hated tea memory and I'll place your name in a drawing for a free copy of Cherry Blossom Capers. Be sure to include your email address.

God Bless You,

Frances Devine

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center at Mount Vernon

In Buried Deception, the children visit the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center at Mount Vernon. Find out more about what they see and do while inside!

The Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center features 23 galleries and theaters where visitors learn about Washington through interactive displays, an action adventure movie, short films produced by The History Channel, immersive experiences, and a rich and comprehensive collection of more than 700 objects which give an unprecedented look at the personal effects of the Washington family.  The building also houses a Distance Learning Center, which originates live broadcasts to schools across the U.S., and includes a Teachers Resource Center, which offers a multitude of learning resources for teachers. READ MORE

photo credit: Mount Vernon website

Friday, January 6, 2012

Classic Hollywood Review: My Favorite Wife

I'm slipping back to Hollywood for a week, just because, I miss it! And this movie is too fun. It doesn't take long to realize I'm a Cary Grant fan. I won't list all the reasons why, but this movie was a great addition to my viewing repertoire.

The basic set up is that Cary Grant's character is at court to have his wife declared legally dead seven years after she disappeared at sea. Then he promptly marries wife two. As they are at court, long lost wife one shows up at home. What follows is a comedy of errors that made me think of Parent Trap on occasion.

Cary Grant is great as the befuddled and confused lead. And Irene Dunne does a great job reeling him back in. I felt sorry for wife #2, but not too sorry.

So if you're looking for a classic that has romance, comedy, and some great lines, pop this one in.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Visit the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washtngton, D.C.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is the nation’s greatest springtime celebration. The 2012 Festival, March 20 – April 27, includes 5 spectacular weeks of events featuring diverse and creative programming promoting traditional and contemporary arts and culture, natural beauty, and community spirit.

The 2012 Festival commemorates the 100th anniversary of the gift of the cherry blossom trees and the enduring friendship between the United States and Japan.  Click here for the latest updates, and here for a full list of Festival events.

History of the Cherry Blossom Trees and Festival

Each year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC. The gift and annual celebration honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and the continued close relationship between the two countries. Read More

2012 Centennial

A Once In A Lifetime Celebration...The epic 5-week spectacular, from March 20 – April 27, 2012, will unify and electrify the city, the nation, and the world. Washington, DC and the region will be abuzz with excitement. Creativity and innovation will permeate signature Festival events elevating them to new heights, and ground-breaking Centennial exhibitions and programming will amaze and delight. Timeless traditions. Rich culture. Renowned artists. World-class performers. The community at its best!  Read More
All information was taken from the National Cherry Blossom Festival website.  The festival starts on March 20, 2012 and goes through April 27th. For a listing of activities, visit the events page. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Mount Vernon: Writing a Setting that Comes Alive

"No estate in United America is more pleasantly situated than this."

- George Washington, 1790

Author Gina Conroy only visited Mount Vernon once. So how did she describe the setting of the Mount Vernon the grounds and mansion in such detail in her novella Buried Deception? This map helped to set the scene for her in her mind. It can help you too to visualize the setting and how the characters moved about the estate.

She also referred to this virtual map of the Mount Vernon mansion dozens of times when writing her novella, Buried Deception. Want to bring the story to life in a more visual way? Check out the link and explore the mansion and rooms Samantha and her children visited for yourself!