Monday, August 29, 2016

Why were barns painted red?

    Centuries ago, European farmers would seal the wood on their barns with a tawny-colored oil derived from the seed of the flax plant. They would paint their barns with this linseed-oil mixture, often consisting of additions such as milk and lime. The combination produced a long-lasting paint that dried and hardened quickly. 
    Still in use, we have used linseed-oil and turpentine on many a wood fence. But where does the red come from?

   In the Old Country, "barn red" was more of a burnt-orange color not the bright, fire-engine red that we often see today. As to how the oil mixture became traditionally red, there are two predominant theories:

   One theory, which I could have gone a lifetime without knowing, is that wealthy farmers added blood from a recent slaughter to the oil mixture. As the paint dried, it turned from a bright red to a darker, burnt red.

   The other more likely theory is that farmers added ferrous oxide, otherwise known as rust, to the oil mixture. Rust was plentiful on farms and is a poison to many fungi, including mold and moss, which were known to grow on barns promoting wood rot.  

As European settlers crossed over to America, they brought with them the tradition of red barns. 

    Regardless of how the farmer tinted his "paint", having a red barn became the fashion. In the mid to late 1800s, as paints began to be produced with chemical pigments, red paint was the most inexpensive to buy. Red was the color of favor until whitewash became cheaper, at which point white barns began to spring up.

Today, the color of barns can vary, depending on you HOA! and often depending on how the barns are used. 

               A little country comfort with Elton John
                                            commercial skip in 3 seconds


Monday, August 15, 2016


 Although customarily associated with Scotland, a kind of haggis is referred to in Homer's Odyssey, ( written towards the end of the 8th Century BC) And the Ancient Romans were known to have made products of the haggis type.

   Also, the first recorded recipe in English for Haggis comes from Lancashire and not, as you may expect, Scotland. From about 1430, the Liber Cure Cocorum is written in Middle English in the dialect of North-West Lancashire, and the recipes are presented in verse form (possibly as a mnemonic device, to help the cook remember them).  
The recipe for Hagese (Haggis) reads: -
The heart of sheep, the kidneys you take,
Through the bowel naught you shall forsake,
In the turbulence made, and boiled well,
Hack all together with good parsley,
Hyssop, savory, you shall take then,
And suet of sheep take in, I teach,
With powder of pepper and eggs [a] good quantity,
And seethe it well and serve it then,
Look it is salted for good men.
In winter time when herbs been good,
Take powder of them I know indeed,
As savory, mint and thyme, quite good,
Hyssop and sage I know by the Rood.

   Popular Scottish folklore provides one theory that the dish originates from the days of the old Scottish cattle drovers. When the men left the highlands to drive their cattle to market in Edinburgh the women would prepare rations for the long journey down through the glens. They used the ingredients most readily available, and conveniently packaged them in a sheep's stomach allowing for easy transportation during the journey. 

Other speculations have been based on Scottish slaughtering practices. When a Chieftain or Laird required an animal to be slaughtered for meat (whether sheep or cattle) the workmen were allowed to keep the offal as their share.

 As a result of Robert Burns' poem Address to a Haggis of 1787, the haggis is considered the national dish of Scotland .
Haggis is traditionally served with "neeps and tatties" (Scots:  turnip and potato, boiled and mashed separately), especially as the main course of a Burns supper.

Nice seeing your honest, chubby face,
Great chieftain of the sausage race!
Above them all you take your place,
                                    Belly, tripe, or links: 
                              Well are you worthy of a grace 
                           As long as my arm.

     Apparently, stuffing chopped heart, liver, and lungs into a sheep's stomach and boiling it, although convenient and ingenious, didn't appeal to everyone. So, methods of disguising it, have arisen........... 


   Regardless, of how it is prepared, it remains a much cherished tradition.

Then there is the OTHER haggis!
    A "Haggis" is a small Scottich animal with one set of legs longer than the other so that it can stand on the steep Scottish Highlands without falling over. Unfortunately this results in the poor creature only being able to circle the mountain in one direction. 

   For centuries Scotland has prided itself on the abundant numbers of Wild Haggis or Haggi but sadly these numbers are in decline. The ban on Wild Haggis hunting has come almost too late, but with
the introduction of Haggis Farms, this has cut down on the consumption of Wild Haggi. However, Poachers have been hunting the Wild Haggi and exporting them to Japan where they are made into "Scottish Sushi". 
    In an attempt to preserve the wild Haggis in it natural habitat, several sanctuaries have been set up. These are self funded by the sale of "Hagpoo". Hagpoo is the made from the droppings of the Haggis mixed with 3 other natural ingredients (Thistle sap, Scotch mist and a secret ingredient). This mixture is processed into 'bricks' and then fire treated for 3 days. Hagpoo is said to burn 3 times as hot as coal and lasts 5 times longer. 
                                    And if you believe all this,
           I think there's some swamp land for sale in Florida!
Sorry there aren't really Haggis critters. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Review: Love On a Train by Colleen L.Donnelly

Review for Love on a Train 
              by Colleen L. Donnelly

    The moment Martha noticed Raymond on the train, everything her mother warned against erupted – romantic notions, palpitating heart, the desire to write it all in a novel and tell the world. 
    Martha lived and wrote that love story until the day Raymond handed her a sketch. “Want to see a picture of the girl I plan to marry?” The penciled profile resembled Martha… But when Raymond went away, she knew. She wasn’t the girl he planned to marry. 
    David was her father’s apprentice, everything Martha’s mother said made a good husband - hardworking, no romantic tendencies, no tolerance for writing about it. Martha added a fictional happy ending to her and Raymond’s story and published it. Cleansed herself of romantic love, ready to marry David. Until a copy of her book appeared. Full of sketches, Raymond’s version of their love story, drawings that enticed her heart to beat once again.

    I really enjoyed Love on a Train. I won this book in a contest. I usually go for suspense or action romance so it was nice to try something new--a sweet love story. This book is character driven and done beautifully. Martha and Raymond are "star-crossed lovers" or at least crossed by circumstance. You'll root for them until the end. Also, the “story within the story” is woven expertly into the main drama. And wouldn’t we all be lucky to have a steadfast friend like Karen.

About the Author
Colleen L Donnelly    Colleen L Donnelly is the author of a Amazon #1 Bestseller in 20th Century Historical Romance "Mine to Tell" which also was the 2014 RomCon Reader's Crown Finalist in Historical Fiction. 

     Her other books include "Sonata Contineo" a self-published novel, "Asked For" a historical women's fiction novel" and her newest novel "Love on a Train" which was released February 5, 2016! 

     She was born, raised, and educated in the Midwestern United States where her scientific schooling and interests eventually led her to other parts of the country. Currently settled back into the Midwest lifestyle, she now enjoys creating characters and places based on what she has lived and seen, then putting them into tales to share.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Cicely Mary Barker's Flower Faeries

  Flower Faeries, one of my favorite wee folk, are immortalized by 
English illustrator Cicely Mary Barker. Unable to go to school as a child because of her epilepsy, she was home-schooled and spent much of her time drawing and painting. 
She has been likened to Beatrix Potter for the amazing botanical accuracy of the 170 original illustrations of plants and flowers amidst which her fairies dwell.                                     
Miss Barker's art education began in girlhood with correspondence courses  and instruction at the Croydon School of Art. Her earliest professional work included greeting cards and juvenile magazine illustrations, and her first book, Flower Fairies of the Spring,
was published in 1923. Similar books were published in the following decades. 
   Miss Barker’s enchanting Flower Fairies images were based on real children from Cicely’s sister’s nursery school.                                                   

A devout Anglican, she donated her artworks to Christian fundraisers and missionary organizations, and produced a few Christian-themed books such as The Children’s Book of Hymns. Her painting,
 “Out of Great Tribulation” followed in 1949.

   In 1962, Barker designed a stained glass window for St Edmund’s, Pitlake, in memory of her sister, Dorothy. This church, no longer exists. Although it is known what this window looked like, it appears to have disappeared. Now, there is a good plot point for an upcoming book!

 Her painting of the Christ Child, The Darling of the World Has Come, was purchased by Queen Mary.

 Miss Barker claimed to paint instinctively and rejected artistic theories. She died in 1973, at the age of 77, and although she published Flower Fairy books with spring, summer, and autumn themes, it wasn't until 1985 that a winter collection was assembled from her remaining work and published posthumously.

 Whichever type of faerie strikes your fancy, keep an eye out for them this summer. You might even leave them a treat during the full moon. Just like us, they love to eat tasty snacks. And it tends to make them more benevolent and less mischievous.