Monthly Archives: June 2017

How to Plan a (Successful) Staycation

As warm weather and impending summer holidays are upon us, many of us are looking for a break.  Whether you have one night or an entire week or more at your disposal, it feels good to plan an escape.  That’s when the questions start: do we go away, do we stay home, how do we get there, and how do we pay for it?  If your answer to any of these is to spend your “days off” in the comfort of your own home, then I have some tips for you to make sure that the time is truly the “vacation” you’re looking for.


Family ties
Photo credit: Paladin27 via / CC BY-NC

Plan your holiday.

Whether your plan to “staycation” is made to avoid the stress of travel-traffic, long lines at the airport, hours spent in the car or in airline terminals, and not-always-conducive sleeping arrangements-or to simply to save money, you need to plan this holiday just as carefully as you would any other.  Decide on your goal(s) for vacation-do you want to relax, have fun, spend quality time with the family, etc., and plan activities to meet those needs. Bear in mind each person “accompanying” you on this vacation, and include something everyone will enjoy.  Budget should be a consideration, though it doesn’t have to be extravagant, since you won’t need to include airfare, hotels, or mass mileage in your estimate.

Avoid working on your vacation.

One problem with taking a holiday at home is that you do not leave it behind.  Try to catch up on laundry and go grocery shopping before your vacation begins, unless you enjoy doing these things when you’re on holiday.  If you have unfinished home repair projects or chores that have been put on the back burner, it can be tempting to tackle them since you’re there anyway with free time on your hands.  Wrong!  You’re on vacation.  Evidence of any projects that can’t be finished before the vacation starts should be set aside or hidden away till after your “return,” otherwise you’ll find you won’t truly be taking time off.

Relax, relax, relax.

The beauty of having a vacation at home is you don’t have to go anywhere if you don’t want to.  You can spend the day in your pajamas, stay inside, veg out in front of the TV, or simply do nothing important.  While you’re on vacation, take the opportunity to sleep in, youngsters permitting, or take an afternoon nap in the shade.  Read a book, clear out your DVR, or take a long bath.   Unwind and simply relax, in whatever form appeals to you.  It’s your vacation, so make the most of it.

More family time, this time in the morning at the @weatherford5 household.  Family is key in that house.  #SteveWeatherford #Armagedon #FroKnowsPhoto #IShootRAW #PhotoStory #Nikon #D5 #Canid #Family #face #light #litbyphone @weatherford5 @nikonusa @adobec
Photo credit: jaredpolin via / CC BY-NC-SA

Plan to spend the day away.

A staycation doesn’t have to mean you spend the entire time at home.  Play tourist in your home town and visit all the places you’ve always wanted to see but have never managed.  Drive to a local amusement park, go to a ballgame, walk around downtown and read the historic markers.  Part of a vacation should be taking the time to do the things you never have time for otherwise.  Of course, you can always just try a new restaurant or take time to catch that movie you’ve been dying to see.

Family time out
Photo credit: man’s pic via / CC BY-NC-ND

Whatever you do for your staycation, make it as memorable and as pleasant as any other vacation you’ve ever taken; because after all, that is exactly what it is meant to be.




First look–Kenneth Branagh and all-star cast bring Christie’s Poirot back to the big screen

The first Agatha Christie novel I ever read was the timeless classic, Murder on the Orient Express, featuring the Belgian genius Hercule Poirot. With a cast led by actor/direction Kenneth Branagh, Hollywood once again brings the iconic tale to the big screen.


Everyone is a suspect.  The clues are everywhere.  For mystery lovers, it’s a staple.  It’s Agatha Christie’s most well-known 1934 novel come to life, Murder on the Orient Express, the fourth major production for film or television of the classic whodunit in the English language–the 1974 Academy Award winning Sidney Lumet film being the best known.  For the older generation the story is known, but for a new generation the stage is set for a big screen version of Clue/Cluedo.  As with the 1974 version, the cast of the 2017 version is extraordinary.

So how do you cast a film against the last generation of film greats?  Leading a bevy of thespian knights and dames, Sir Kenneth Branagh both directs and stars as master detective Hercule Poirot, the world’s greatest detective, played previously by Albert Finney (who refused a knighthood in the year 2000).  Sir Derek Jacobi plays the butler Edward Henry Masterman…

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Film Quiz: Inspirational Women

I came across this interesting quiz that highlighted decades of strong, female leads and had to share it. It’s amazing how many inspirational women we can find movies of all types, from dramatic romantic heroines to advocates of political change to military powerhouses. Film has long had the ability to capture the best, and the worst of us. Perhaps from this list you can reconnect with an old favorite or find a new one.

Alex Raphael

After seeing Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Alien Covenant on the same day, I twice saw the trailer for Wonder Woman (and what looks to be the woeful King Arthur: Legend of the Sword). DC will be hoping for success for its empowering heroine to match films within the Marvel Universe. It got me thinking about what other Hollywood females have been inspiring viewers through the decades. How many did you get? Are there others that inspire you?

Film Quiz - Inspirational Women Film 1 1. (1930s)

Film Quiz - Inspirational Women Film 2 2. (1940s)

Film Quiz - Inspirational Women Film 3 3. (1970s)

Film Quiz - Inspirational Women Film 4 4. (1980s)

Film Quiz - Inspirational Women Film 5 5. (1990s)

GI JANE 6. (1990s)

Film Quiz - Inspirational Women Film 6 7. (2000s)

Film Quiz - Inspirational Women Film 7 8. (2000s)

MCDVEGU EC003 9. (2000s)

Film Quiz - Inspirational Women Film 10 10. (2000s)

Film Quiz - Inspirational Women Film 11 11. (2000s)

Film Quiz - Inspirational Women Film 12 12. (2010+)

Film Quiz - Inspirational Women Film 13 13. (2010+)

Film Quiz - Inspirational Women Film 14 14. (2010+)

Film Quiz - Inspirational Women Film 15 15. (2010+)

Answers below

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Keep Yourself (and Dad) Cool This Father’s Day

For many parts of the county June signifies the arrival of consistently warm weather and that annual weekend event honoring fathers.  Summer is just weeks away, but already in the Midwest we are seeing temperatures rise into the nineties, so it’s just as important to prepare for warmer weather as it is when we are expecting ice and snow.  How can we make the best of the of the day (and the season) without risking heatstroke or sunburn?

Involve everyone.

Plan Father’s Day activities to include the kids; let them have quality time with dad.  Let kids help prepare a special breakfast in bed, or simple handmade cards to celebrate.  Give Dad a break from weekend chores and let him indulge in a shared favorite activity with the kids, while you prepare a meal (Bonus: you may get a little peace and quiet for yourself!)

Father's Day 2010...

Photo credit: Јerry via / CC BY


Food is a vital part of any celebration.  Remember it’s Dad’s day, so plan to include his favorites, whether that means firing up the grill or preparing his favorite breakfast or dessert.  My husband has his eye on upgrading our grill this year.  Does anyone know where to get a good deal on a professional quality model?


365/319 Father's Day

Photo credit: California Cow via / CC BY

Take time out to chill in the shade.

If possible avoid spending time outside during the hottest part of the day. If you’re planning to be outside for the entire day or if you’ll be working in the heat, make sure you take a break in the shade to cool off, and drink plenty of fluids.

Keep hydrated.

If your idea of the perfect Father’s Day is a beer by the pool, make sure you limit the amount of alcohol you (or Dad) actually consumes.  Alcohol actually causes dehydration, which can increase the risk for heat exhaustion or heatstroke.  Make sure to keep plenty of cool, nonalcoholic beverages available for yourself and your guests.


Father's Day Bliss

Photo credit: Olaf via / CC BY-SA


Don’t forget the sunscreen.

Don’t let sunburn spoil the fun.  Whatever type of sunscreen you choose, be it waterproof, spray-on, wipe-on, sports activity or sensitive; make sure you follow the directions.  Also, remember that scalps burn too.  My husband found that out the hard way last year after a long motorcycle ride, so either work sunscreen into hair, especially if it’s thin or fine, or wear a hat.

Seek relief with indoor activities.

If you have small children and/or elderly parents to entertain, they may not be equipped to deal with high temperatures, especially in areas where humidity is common.  It may be best to plan some activities that involve air conditioning.  Movies can be fun for all ages, but this year has been rather hit and miss for quality, so take time to look at reviews and pick something everyone can enjoy.

Above all else, have fun and a Happy Father’s Day to all of you out there.



Who Would You Shield?

What comes to mind when you hear the word “shield?”  A shield can be a company logo, a symbol of authority, a weapon used by medieval warriors and the occasional costumed superhero, or the acronym for their organization.  However, a shield can also be a verb; to shield means to protect, to shelter, to defend against words or weapons, sometimes at personal sacrifice.

4368 Shield

Photo credit: steeljam via / CC BY-NC-ND

In today’s world we are often surrounded by dangers and troubles.  Accidents, disease, and crime are not something we can always guard against.  We try to shield our children from the harsh realities of violence; we would shield those we love from any who seek to harm them; we use a shield, often metaphorically, as a defense against painful words or concepts.

When my children were small, I wanted to shield them from the world, keep them safe and innocent of all the evils that existed.  I never wanted them to be subjected to bullies, or peer pressure, or rejection from potential love interests.  Of course, to keep them from all emotional turmoil would have been not only impossible but a real disservice to them in the long run.  Better that I teach and guide them as they began to step out from behind my shield, than to keep them ignorant and unprepared.


Photo credit: Djuliet via / CC BY-NC-ND

As a mother with two now-grown children I had to learn to allow my children to experience life.  Yes, I guarded them from all harm, but I allowed my shield to be transparent while doing so.  In other words, I explained to them why I protected them and from what or who, so they could see and hopefully understand the dangers they could face when they stepped into the world on their own.  Eventually, I knew, the time would come when I could no longer protect them, but must trust that they were well prepared to protect themselves.

That doesn’t mean my shield isn’t still there, ready to grab at a moment’s notice.  I’ve learned the instinct to protect doesn’t go away when the children move out and start their own lives.  However, that’s not necessary as often now, as they have shields of their own, ready to protect themselves and their loved ones whenever necessary.

Here’s to acknowledging those we will always want to protect,