31 May 2012

Find Your Jubilee Beacon

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

On Monday, June 4th
a chain of over 4000 beacons will be lit 
by churches, municipalities, and associations
worldwide to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee

Beginning in Tonga and finishing in Canada,
the world will light beacons around 10p, local time
(including Australia, China, Pakistan, Kenya, the US and many more)

Sixty beacons will be along the length of Hadrian’s Wall
with each beacon representing a year in the life of The Queen’s reign
Won't that look magical?

The Queen will light the National Beacon at 10:30p in London
with the 'Jubilee Crystal Diamond' laser beam
following the BBC Concert that night

Beacon chains have evolved from a tool of communication
to a symbol of unity across towns, boundaries, and countries

For hundreds of years, Britain has been lighting beacons
in celebration of royal weddings, jubilees, and coronations
in village greens, church towers, beaches, car parks, and mountain tops

Why will the beacons be lit so late?
Situated so far north, England's sunsets are really late in June
I haven't seen pure darkness for a few days now
(Sunrise 4:47a, Sunset 9:12p on Jun 4th)

Literally around the globe
the world will come together to light beacons on Monday night
to honor Queen Elizabeth II's 60 year reign

I can't think of anything like it before
- such a goosebump moment -

30 May 2012

The Diamond Jubilee & Window Shopping

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

With the upcoming Diamond Jubilee and the Summer Olympics,
this will be a historical summer in Great Britain!
* squeal *

Submitted by
10 year old Katherine Dewar of Chester,
this official emblem was selected in a competition

Along with festive bunting and 'Best of British' slogans,
I see it frequently

Here is the line up for the public celebration 
of Queen Elizabeth's 60 year reign

Sat 2 June
The Queen attends Epsom Derby

Sun 3 June
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh travel in a flotilla on River Thames
{ can't wait! }

Mon 4 June
Concert at Buckingham Palace
A network of 2012 beacons to be lit throughout the UK

Tues 5 June
Queen attends service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral 
followed by Carriage Procession

Street parties, 'The Big Lunch', and afternoon teas will take place throughout the UK on those days

I've sprinkled some fun 'Best Of Britain' in the post to get you in the mood...
Unlike the Royal Wedding just a year ago, 
this event feels more intimate

The English seem to deeply appreciate her loyalty and dedication to her position 
and think it is a wonderful celebration of her 60 year reign

Clever cardboard vase by Talking Tables

Quite a few remember her coronation in 1953
when she was just 27 years old

She has been Queen during the lifetime of most Britons
and has provided stability and continuity to this country

Because the only other Diamond Jubilee has been for Queen Victoria
and many Britons may not experience another Jubilee in their lifetime,
this event is a really big deal

Hunter is the iconic British wellies brand

This Jubilee reaches across ALL ages
and has brought out loyalty, pride, and even patriotism
in Britain

The curious thing about the British is they have allegiance to two flags
- the Union Jack and their constituent country
(England, Scotland, Wales, or N Ireland) -

which creates a multilayered identity at the heart of every Brit
with perhaps muddled patriotism

Always something bright & cheery at Accessorize

Ooh, it is going to be an exciting few days,
and I'm going to bring you along :)

29 May 2012

Celebrating Queen Elizabeth II

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Are you ready?!

As THE week begins,
follow my posts as The Diamond Jubilee unfolds
to celebrate 60 years of Queen Elizabeth II's reign

'I declare before you all that my whole life,
whether it be long or short, 
shall be devoted to your service
and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong'

- Princess Elizabeth, age 21, five years before coronation

Biographer William Shawcross describes the Queen as
'very steady and unassuming, but allowing herself to move with the times'

At age 86,
Queen Elizabeth II is the longest lived 
and second longest reigning monarch of the United Kingdom
(Queen Victoria reigned 63 yrs)

and is the second longest serving current head of state in the world
(King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand is longest)  

She has no intention of abdicating, although she may reduce her commitments over time
Graced with good genes, the Queen Mother passed away at age 101 in 2002

- photos by me -

Source: The Sunday Times Magazine, May 27 2012; Wikipedia

28 May 2012

Post Of The Month Club: May

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

This month's Post Of The Month Club
will be hosted by the wonderful

Compassionate, crafty, and 'real',
Jane lets you peek into her life as a busy mum of three
living in Tasmania

Pop over to Jane's blog at the end of the month
and submit your best post in May

It is a great way to give exposure to your blog
and a wonderful way to connect with other bloggers around the world

See you there!

Thank you to Felicity of Gifts of Serendipity for hosting March & April!

25 May 2012

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012 Highlights

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Lucky me
I attended the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this week

It is always a mind-blowing event
that pushes the limits

I am always amazed by the creativity seen at this sold-out, five day show
that hosts 157,000 visitors over its 11 acres in London annually

by Birmingham City Council

It is a competitive event
with designers and growers vying for awards such as
Best Show Garden, Plant Of The Year,
and other 'best in show' categories

You can see why it is the world's most famous flower show,
like a fashion catwalk in the garden world

Check this out...

Ever wonder what an orchid tree might look like?

If I remember correctly, water-filled test tubes were hand-tied onto branches
to hold each orchid stem


Orchids were definitely popular this year

Big use of orchids by Pattaya City & Nong Nooch Pattaya Tropical Garden

Loving this clever interpretation of Monet's 
Bridge Over A Pond Of Water Lilies

Made of plant material
by Inspired Impressions

Larger installations were housed outside The Great Pavilion

Depending on category, exhibitors had
two to three weeks to set up to make it look perfect
(which must have been difficult in the heavy rain of late)

Isn't this 'Plant Explorers Garden' just delightful?

by Scottish Agriculture College

I must admit I was smitten by the Artisan Retreat section
Wouldn't you love to blog from here?

by Orla Kiely

A huge fan of all things Orla, I asked if she happened to be there
Sadly I missed her by a day

Look at this a scrumptious space

by VV Rouleaux

And this one is so cheery and welcoming

by Kaffe Fassett

The day was a feast for the eyes and creative soul

- all photos by me -

Read last year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show post here

23 May 2012

The English Rhododendron Season

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

There is a magical window of time in England 
when the bluebells and rhododendrons
bloom simultaneously

This stunning world-famous Rothschild Collection of 
rhododendrons and azaleas is at Exbury Gardens,
a spectacular 200 acre garden in The New Forest, Hampshire

Lovers of mild, wet climates and acidic soil,
rhoddies are very happy in England

The wisteria is in bloom now too
Interestingly, Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda) climbs clockwise 
while Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) climbs anti-clockwise

Plant explorers were crazy for rhododendrons in the early part of the twentieth century
which coincided with Lionel de Rothschild's creation of his woodland garden in 1919

The rhododendron is the national flower of Nepal

Many of the plants found by plant hunters still can be seen in Exbury Gardens today

This is me wearing my happy face

- all photos by me -
More info: Exbury Gardens

19 May 2012

What Americans Really Think Of The Monarchy

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Americans are misunderstood when it comes to the Royal Family
and I'm feeling the need to write about it :)

The lovely Duchess of Cambridge
(Getty Images)

Strangely, I often get the sense from the English
they think Americans on some repressed level 
regret gaining independence from Great Britain

In a recent interview, Lord Alan Watson,
author of 'The Queen and the USA', stated

'Americans retain a wistful fascination for the monarchy their forefathers ditched' 

'On the face of it, it's a paradox that the Great Republic [USA] 
should want to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee. 
But the sense of continuity afforded by the Queen 
makes Americans feel more comfortable in their skins.' 

Huh?! Huh?! and Huh?!

Most Americans aren't celebrating the Diamond Jubilee,
or watching it, 
and haven't heard of it

The Queen doesn't make us feel more comfortable in our skins,
as she definitely doesn't belong to our country any more than the Queen of Sweden
And it is the Britons who feel her continuity, not the Americans

Here's my take of the 'royal fascination' by Americans...

Like Audrey Hepburn, Liz Taylor, Jackie Kennedy, and Grace Kelly,
the Queen is a classic icon 
and symbol of an older generation that lives on

Last year's Royal Wedding was immensely popular among Americans
because it exemplified a real fairy tale and nodded to 'living the dream'
which we Americans are very into

Princess Diana hooked Americans with her storybook wedding
and remained popular with her sense of style and likable persona

Remember my post of how our historic time lines are so different?
The era of England ruling America feels like it was back in the day of the cavemen,
so there is no connection between history and American's current interest in the monarchy

Americans do feel connected to the UK as a current ally with similar views,
but we live very much in the moment
We are just way too busy to look backward

Although Americans will continue to follow the handsome, classy royal couple like movie stars,
I can guarantee few Americans
could list the names of Queen Elizabeth's four children

With the absence of the crazy, almost ravenous, American media 
seen here during the Royal Wedding
I must say the upcoming Diamond Jubilee
feels more intimate and personal between Queen and country

which I'm really looking forward to

As an American :)

Related posts:

17 May 2012

British Pride & The British Library

Print for sale via Metro Line 6

A recent poll in the BBC News revealed which British symbols made participants most proud. The results listed in order:

  1. Shakespeare
  2. National Trust (conservation charity)
  3. Armed Forces
  4. Union Jack
  5. The Pound (currency)
  6. NHS (health system)
  7. The Monarchy
  8. BBC (media)
  9. Sporting Achievements
  10. The Beatles
  11. The Legal System
  12. Parliament

Available via Keep Calm Art Prints

You can view an early printing of Shakespeare's work 
and original handwritten lyrics by The Beatles
in the 'Treasures Room' at the British Library's
St Pancras location (London)

The world's largest library in terms of items,
this library is primarily used for research

Famous documents such as the Magna Carta (on view)
as well as original writings by Da Vinci (on view), Darwin,
and countless others are housed there

With most books out of view,
you can register for a 'reader pass' to enter a reading room and request a book
but it will take an hour to two days for your item to be retrieved

When I asked if my kids could see any children's books
the nice man laughed
and said 'ironically, they need to be 18 years old to see them here'

I'm curious what you think is 'the best of Britain'?

11 May 2012

New Photo Trick Up My Sleeve

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Searching for a Picnik replacement, 
I have been experimenting with free online photo editors such as

So far I found PicMonkey to be the most user-friendly editor,
coupled with Picasa

I stumbled upon PicMonkey's 'Highlights' feature
which is intended for highlighting hair

But I found when I want to pinpoint color adjustment, this does the trick

A recent Stockholm photo is my newest canvas
You can see I am starting to put red on the closest building

I don't feel it is cheating;
it is adjusting the image to emulate the way it looked (or felt) in person

Besides, photography can be artistic expression
So get your edit on, girl
Guilt free :)

Below is a raw photo of Sissinghurst Garden in Kent

The photo has potential, but the person needs to be cropped out,
the browns are the same, and the blue window pane has no pop

As with most photos, I adjusted the lighting to increase contrast
but this was my first attempt to 'paint' with the Highlights feature

Unlike Saturate/Burst,
I was able to change the undertones of each brown item
to provide subtle contrast
{ green-brown door, red-brown patio }

I used 'Burn' to accentuate the cracks in the door
and 'Dark Edges' to finish the photo

It was so fun!
Quite a transformation, eh?

I admit I'm a fan of the 'Weight Loss' feature too :)

- all photos by me -

More: PicMonkey

09 May 2012

You Say You Want A Devolution

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

A word that is foreign to Americans is

Although it sounds like the opposite of scientific 'evolution'
it is the transfer of power from a central government to a local authority

photo: BBC News

In the case of Scotland,
'devolution' means Scotland would become an independent country

A discussion for hundreds of years,
a possible referendum in autumn 2014
has the parties discussing pensions, taxes, and more

Perhaps Scotland will have their own team in a future Olympics?
Stay tuned...

Source: BBC News

P.S. I am posting less as I work on my family scrapbooks this month :) I hope you are having a wonderful May so far!