Big Ben

On this day in 1859, the clock known around the world as Big Ben went into operation in London.  The clock is located at the top of the 320 foot high Elizabeth Tower at Westminster – home of the British Parliament.  After fire destroyed much of Westminster in 1834, the new clock tower was planned to be a focal point during the rebuild.

There are two schools of thought on how the clock got the name Big Ben – first that it is named after Sir Benjamin Hall who was a famously long winded politician and the London Public Works commissioner at the time the clock was built.  Sir Benjamin’s name is inscribed on the Big Ben bell so this story does have merit.  The second story is that the clock was named for heavyweight boxer Benjamin Caunt because he too was the largest of his kind.

Point of fact – the name of the clock isn’t Big Ben.  Big Ben is actually he name of the largest of the 5 bells that toll in the clock’s tower.  The 5 bells chime a different pattern on the quarter hour 24 hours a day.  Want to hear what the chime patterns sound like?  Click here.

Here’s a picture I took of Westminster and the clock tower back in the mid 1990’s for my throwback Thursday – Happy 159th Birthday Big Ben!

Big Ben 1


I took a pretty bad fall last week.  What part of climbing up on the back of the sofa to swat at a wasp sounds like a good idea to you?  Sure I got the wasp, but I also lost my balance and went face first into an end table.  Once I figured out that I hadn’t broken any bones, I knew bad bruises were coming.  I have some fairly spectacular looking bruises on my right knee, right elbow and rib cage right now.  We’ve all probably had hundreds of bruises in our lives, but do you know why?

It isn’t easy to get a picture of your own elbow!

Your doctor may call a bruise a contusion.  Basically, bruises occur when trauma causes blood in your capillaries to either seep or hemorrhage into the surrounding tissue.

With a minor bruise, the bleeding is confined to a relatively small area close to the skin surface and you see it turn red within minutes.  The bruise appears red because it is fresh blood filled with iron and oxygen.  Next the bruise will progress to blue/purple coloring as the leaked blood cells break down.  The bruise darkens with the dispersal of the oxygen in the leakage and as the iron starts to break down.

As the bruise continues to heal, it will turn green and yellow due to the presence of a hemoglobin breakdown product called biliverdin. The last part of the word, “verdin,” comes from the Latin word for green — making it easy to remember (and impress your friends).

And because the trauma most likely isn’t even in any bruising event, you may see all four colors of bruising at any given time.  It’s your own personal, ever-changing piece of artwork until the area heals and the bloodstream carries away all the broken down cells.  Normally, it takes 10-14 days for a bruise to go away but the time can vary based on how severe the bruising is.

I’m just starting to turn purple so I’m guessing I’ve got at least a couple of weeks before I lose the reminders of my fight with a wasp!  Want to know more about bruises?  Check out the article on WebMD.

Garage Sale!

garage-sale-sign-stock-graphicI’m having a garage sale on Saturday so you know my to-do list is heavy this week!   I’ve been participating in my community’s garage sale for several years now, but if you haven’t had one yourself, here are some tips I’ve learned:

  • Clean out your garage and think through the “floor plan” of how you want your customers to walk through.  I use a U shape with a skinny table in the middle to maximize visible table space – and my ability to keep people away from the tools/garden supplies I’m not selling.   The U also blocks people from accessing the door to my house – bonus!
  • Use the driveway if you can!  Big showy pieces in the drive help draw people in.   I like to line the sides of my drive with tubs of merchandise or extra tables if I can get them!
  • Offer refreshments.  But not the free kind!  I bake cookies and brownies – nobody EVER haggles over the price for them (unlike any other item for sale)!  I also sell bottled water because even on cool days, nothing sells faster than a cold bottle of water to people walking around a bunch of garage sales!  I get $1 for 4 cookies or 2 brownies or a bottle of water – and I usually make more money with my refreshments than I do with my other items.
  • “Fluff” your merchandise a lot.  I’ve found that rearranging the items regularly helps them sell.  I can’t explain it – I just know it works.
  • Run an extension cord so people can test out electric items.  They’re more likely to buy that old lamp or fan if they can see it works.
  • Make it a party.  I invite all my friends to participate – it makes for a better assortment of stuff to sell and it’s more fun to have your friends with you for the day!
  • Use social media.  Most towns seem to have a Facebook Garage Sale page these days so take advantage of it.  Take pictures of major items for sale and post them the day before your sale with directions/hours.  Twitter and Instagram also offer you opportunities to post pictures and sale info.  You’ll be surprised at how fast you can sell the things you post with or without an actual sale in your garage.

I’ve got to get moving now and start sorting/pricing my stuff – but if you want more tips for hosting a garage sale, check out these sites:

Memorial Day

US Army Lt. Col Brandon Robbins, a membeToday is Memorial Day but do you know the history of it?  Memorial Day – or Decoration Day – dates back to the Civil War but the first official Federal Holiday of Memorial Day wasn’t recognized until 1971!

The Civil War which ended in April 1865 resulted in the deaths of an estimated 620,000 people and lead to the establishment of national cemeteries.  By the late 1860’s cities and towns all over the country were organizing late spring activities to clean up the cemeteries after the winter as well as ceremonies to honor the fallen while decorating their graves.

In 1868, General John A. Logan who was the leader of an organization of Northern Civil War veterans called for a national day of remembrance. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed according to  It was said he called for the date of May 30th because it did not commemorate any particular battle.

After that first Memorial Day, the date continued to be observed but still honored only those who had fallen in the Civil War.  With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the United States once again found itself in a conflict resulting in thousands of soldiers’ deaths.  And Memorial Day evolved to honor all American military personnel that perish in all wars.

Through World War 2, the Korean War into the Viet Nam era, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30th as designated by General Logan, but in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.  This act declared Memorial Day as a federal holiday and moved its observance to the last Monday in May to create a 3-day weekend for federal employees.  The law went into effect in 1971 – so the first official Memorial Day holiday was Monday May 31st in 1971.

Happy Memorial Day everyone – please do take a moment to remember those who served for us.


sunburn-manSummer is here – and for me that means sunscreen, shade and sometimes even sleeves!  I burn early and often in the summer if I’m not careful.  And while I know how to avoid sunburn, I really didn’t understand what it does to my skin.

Sunburn is a radiation burn resulting from ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun.  We probably all know that from our sunscreen bottles and sunscreen commercials.  But it will probably scare you to learn that the burn damages the DNA in your cells – and when the damage gets to a certain level, it causes cell death and triggers your skin to replace itself.  Ew.

But that does make sense – the damage leads to inflammation which is the hot red skin we’ve all experienced.  Cell death and skin replacement?  Peeling.  But the burn can also have other side effects including nausea, fever, chills and fainting.  Extreme sunburns can lead to blistering and may even require hospitalization.  Again – ew!

So today check your cabinet – do you have sunscreen?  Are you wearing it daily?  If you’re like me, you can burn in as little as 15 minutes so can we all agree that we’re going to minimize our exposure and potential skin damage this summer and wear our sunscreen?  I love Aveeno SPF 30 but you can check Consumer Reports Sunscreen recommendations for 2018 here.

Stay safe out there!  Wear your sunscreen!

Weekend plans?

This coming weekend is Memorial Day weekend – and marks the kick off to the summer for most of us.  For those of us with a three day weekend, we better be making plans!  Here are some ideas for you:

  • Attend a parade.  Some of my best childhood memories are from attending the parade in Buckland, Ohio with my family.
  • Host a barbecue – what’s better than a grill filled with food with friends and family around?  Did you watch the video I posted on cleaning your grill?  If not – click here and get it done!
  • Attend a local ceremony, event or festival.  Almost every community has a gathering of some type to honor our military and celebrate the community.  So go to the wreath laying, run a 5K or listen to a band with the other members of your community!
  • Road trip!  Memorial Day weekend is great for a getaway.  It might be a good time to visit a historical landmark, or museum – or maybe a beach?
  • Cheer!  Is there a baseball game at your local park?  Is the hometown pro team playing?  Baseball is still the great American pass time – and it’s a great weekend to root for your favorite team.
  • DIY.  I love a good three day weekend for getting things done around the house.  3 days is the perfect amount of time to tackle a room makeover or get your garden planted.  So head out to your hardware store and let’s get a project done this weekend!
  • Relax….  Sleep in or take an afternoon nap in the sun.  Sounds great doesn’t it?  I know if the weather cooperates, you’ll be able to find me in a lounge chair by the pool with a good book for part of the weekend.

Get your plans made – but don’t forget to take time out to remember the members of our military!



I read this morning that Deadpool 2 won the box office over the weekend setting a record for opening ticket sales for a R rated movie.  That means people will call it a blockbuster – but why do they call it that?

The first use of the term ‘blockbuster’ was during World War 2 to describe a bomb that could level a full city block.  In 1942 newspapers reported that the Germans feared the 2 ton bombs being dropped by the British Royal Airforce and called them block busters for their overwhelming destructive power.  Almost immediately the word began to evolve to include almost anything that was big or exciting. refers to an article confirming the evolution in the Showmen’s Trade Review on July 3rd of 1943 where the word referred to something other than an actual bomb in a headline, “Blockbuster Hail Stones Cost Theatreman $150 for New Roof.”

Show business loved a term that labelled something big and exciting and movie marketers really stepped up to claim a word that telegraphs a real WOW factor.  In 1954, a movie executive wrote an article for a film industry magazine defining a blockbuster to describe a film that grossed at least $2 million in the U.S. and Canada.

jawsThe term ‘blockbuster’ seems to have joined the more common lexicon with the release of Jaws in the summer of 1975.  The term evolved again to refer to a cultural phenomenon – a fast paced, exciting entertainment that becomes a common topic of conversation and inspiring repeated viewings.

So here’s to the first blockbuster – Jaws – and a summer full of more great movies!