The Strathmore Highland Games: A Photo Gallery

One of the highlights of our Scotland trip last summer was the Strathmore Highland Games held on the grounds of Glamis Castle.  It was such a fun mixture of culture, country life, and athleticism.  The 2016 Strathmore games are taking place this Sunday, June 12 and in their honor I’m posting a gallery I put together from the photos of our happy experience last year.  How about a little Scottish culture consumption?





Downton Abbey at Winterthur: Stoking Anticipation for the New Season


The season premier of Downton Abbey airs tonight on PBS, an event my kindred spirits, a.k.a Downton fans, have been anticipating with increasing impatience for months.  To briefly placate the yearning for more Downton and to “prime the pump” for the new episodes, my daughter and I, along with a few other addicted family members, headed to the Winterthur estate (pronounced winter-tour) in Delaware to experience the Costumes of Downton Abbey exhibit.

The exhibit was lovely.  Curators skillfully designed each section to inspire reminiscence of pivotal moments in the storyline by providing excerpts of script, images, and snippets of video along with the costumes.  Comparisons of culture and manners between the wealthy in Great Britain and in America were added for interest.  The real-life experiences of the du Ponts, the inhabitants of Winterthur and American counterparts of the Crawleys, as well as their staff were also seamlessly incorporated into the exhibit.  All in all, it was a fun and fascinating time for all of us.

If you are a fan of Downton Abbey, you will recognize every costume in the exhibit.  I loved viewing the fashions first-hand: the luxurious fabrics and beading, the fine craftsmanship and the level of thought that went into the choice of color, fabric and design.  On numerous occasions, I had to fight the impulse to reach out and touch.  Although images can’t do the experience justice, I thought I’d share a few photos for those of you who love Downton and just need a little fix to get you to tonight.  (Please forgive the quality – I only had my phone with me and the lighting wasn’t great.)

Enjoy! And tell me, do you have any favorites?


{A favorite of mine – so luxurious}


{Another favorite – love the embroidered panel}


Now are you ready for some Downton Abbey?  I know I am!

A Celebration of the American West at the Denver Art Museum

A few Sundays ago, I found myself alone in Denver, Colorado with a few free hours on my hands.  Not wanting to waste such a perfect opportunity for adventure, I made my way downtown to the acclaimed Denver Art Museum for an afternoon of cultural edification.  I spent an entire afternoon wandering the galleries of the fortress-like North Building.  Security basically had to kick me out at closing time.  Cultural edification accomplished.

What a great museum!  I enjoyed all the exhibits I encountered – Asian, European and American, Pre-Columbian, Spanish Colonial, American Indian, and the Northwest Coast.  The pottery collections, in particular, are outstanding.  My favorite galleries by far, though, are the Western American exhibits.  Perhaps because I was in “The West” (Colorado is quintessential western America after all), I was in a frame of mind to be particularly drawn to the subjects and settings.  Or, maybe it was just the passion, creativity, and artistry displayed in the pieces.  Whatever the reason for my fascination, I spent a great deal of time in the Western galleries, admiring and photographing what I saw.

I thought I’d share a tiny sampling of the artwork from the Western American galleries with you.  Personally, I believe the artists represented here pay creative and beautiful homage to the unique history and culture of the American West.  What do you think?


{ The Open Range by William Herbert Dunton, 1911(?) }


{ Jack Knife by Ed Mell, 2009 }


{ Cowgirl and Bronco by Regina Winifred Mulroney, 1945 }


{ Wide Lands of the Navajo by Maynard Dixon, 1945 }


{ Two Champs by Harry Jackson, 1974 }


{ Orion by Deborah Butterfield, 1988 }


{ Flight by E. Martin Hennings }


{ Ranch Near Rocky Ridge by Howard Post??? – I’m not sure about the title or artist… }


{ Big Horn Sheep by Carl Clemens Moritz Rungius, n.d. }


{ Buffalo (Monarch of the Plains) by Henry M. Shrady, 1900 }


{ Buffalo Hunt by Charles Marion Russell, 1897 }


{ Chief of the Multnomah Tribe by Hermon Atkins MacNeil, 1905 }


{ Eagle Fan by Ernest L. Blumenschein, 1915 }


The Rendezvous by E. Martin Hennings, about 1930 }


{ The Stone Age in America by John J. Boyle, 1886 }


{ A gallery in the Hamilton Building – Andy Warhol’s The American Indian (Russell Means), 1976 is in the middle of the wall }


{ Young Plains Indian by James Bama, 1980 }

If you are ever in the Denver area and if museums are your thing, I highly recommend a visit to the Denver Art Museum.  You will not be disappointed.

Fall Foliage Festival – Bedford, PA

This past weekend my husband and I ran away to the little town of Bedford, Pennsylvania for a few days.  Our destination was the Omni Bedford Springs Resort and Spa for a bit of seriously overdue rest and relaxation.  We happened to be ahead of schedule and looking for something to do until check-in when we drove right into the middle of the Fall Foliage Festival, a street fair held in the middle of the historic downtown area.  Instead of grumbling about the traffic jam caused by the party, we decided to park the car and join the fun.

With white tents filled with arts and cratfts lining the streets, dried corn husks decorating every light post, live music playing from the small bandstand in the square, and the smell of freshly pressed apple cider lingering in the air, this little town obviously knew how to celebrate the arrival of autumn.









Some of our favorite finds included: artisanal soaps, balms, and candles made from honey, mustard made with banana peppers, reprinted vintage black and white photographs, pottery with saturated matte turquoise glazes, and local maple syrup.  And the food – my, my, my!  Dipped-while-you-wait gooey caramel apples, funnel cakes dusted with powdered sugar, fruit cobblers and apple dumplings served warm with melting vanilla ice cream.  Big piles of homemade potato chips called crock fries.  Fresh fudge and candied nuts. And, of course, deep fried everything.

We indulged in perogies with fried onions from Pittsburgh, a pumpkin whoopie pie the size of a compact disc, pecan tartlets, and fresh kettle corn.  (For the record, we only ate the perogies at the festival – I’m munching on the sweet/salty goodness of the kettle corn as I type.)  Apple cider was on our short list, too, but when we finally got around to standing in line at the tent, they were already sold out.


[ Freshly pressed apple cider ]


[ Giant whoopie pies called Gobs ]






[ A tiny antiques shop with a beautiful collection of early 20th century pottery ]

The town of Bedford has been nestled in the Allegheny mountains of western Pennsylvania for a long time.  Bedford County was established in 1771 and the county seat boasts the oldest county courthouse still in use in the state.  The old commercial buildings and homes in the historic district create quite the charming vibe.  With its antique stores, specialty shops, and unique museums (think the National Museum of the American Coverlet and Old Bedford Village), Bedford would be a temptation even without a Fall Foliage Festival.






[ We ate our perogies on the steps of this Post Office building ]


[ The Bedford County Courthouse ]


[ An art museum ]




If you’d like to visit this little piece of America, Bedford is located 102 miles east of Pittsburgh and 102 miles west of Harrisburg just off the Pennsylvania Turnpike at the Bedford exit.

What have you done to celebrate the arrival of Fall?