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Tools - Working with Microsoft Word - Auto-Formatting Options


Lately I've been having an aggravating time with Microsoft Word, especially if I am reading critiques from others who have different settings than me. So I would like to post some helpful hints, starting with Auto-Formatting options.

1. Superscripting ordinal numbers (such as 1st, 2nd, 3rd)
2. Setting straight quotes vs smart quotes
3. Change fractions to the smaller fractional format

If you want to change any of these options, follow these steps:
For pre-2007 Word:
1. Go to Tools menu
2. Select "AutoCorrect Options"
3. Click "AutoFormat As You Type" tab
4. Uncheck the options you want to turn OFF.
5. Click Ok to save.

For 2007 Word:
1. Go to File menu
2. Click "Word Options" button at the bottom
3. Select "Proofing" in the left menu
4. Select "AutoCorrect Options" button
5. Click "AutoFormat As You Type" tab
6. Uncheck the options you want to turn OFF.
7. Click Ok to save.

For more helpful hints, check out:
TechRepublic Blog

Review - Book - Growing Up Royal

Growing Up Royal by Jane Billinghurst
An interesting book through the eyes of royal family members. Includes lots of tidbits of information regarding inheritance rules in different countries, roles of various staff members, who is involved with ceremonies and what they wear, and more. There's a list of the King of Britain's duties (or in the current case, Queen). The author even tells us a little about Balmoral, the vacation residence of the British monarchy. All presented in an easy-to-read format with lots of pictures.

Research - Ireland - Babies/Customs

Look at some odd customs about conception, birth and babies:

Irish Christianing Customs:

Birth Customs:

A few references to children:

Research - Holidays/Festivals - St. Nicholas' Day (Dec 6)

St. Nicholas' Day:

St. Nicholas was a 4th century bishop from Myra, who was imprisoned by Emperor Diocletian and died on December 6th (year unknown and his remains were moved). Legend says he resurrected three murdered boys, which led to him being known as the protector of children. St. Nicholas had a huge cult following, expanding the legends and practices. The Dutch Sint Klaes eventually morphed into Santa Claus with a red outfit and a sack of toys for children.

For more information:
StNicholas Center - an excellent explanation of the history of the holiday


The birth of Santa Claus

The Evolution of St Nicholas


Research - England - Witches and the Witchcraft Act of 1735

What better topic for our Halloween weekend than the horrible Witchcraft Act of 1735, the last of the witch trials acts passed in England, which decreed than anyone "suspected" of witchcraft practices (a very objective judgement) could be imprisoned for a year. The first act during this witch trial period was passed in 1542, allowed suspected witches to be hanged. Witches were both male and female. Most witches who were accused were often hanged, with or without trials.

For further reading:

Witches and Witchtrials (an interesting database of the alleged witches):

Horros of the National Archives:

More details about the laws:

Medieval Witches and Witchcraft:

Texas - The Colony - Pirate Days of Texas, October 16, 2010

Pirate Days of Texas
October 16 & 17, 2010
The Colony, Texas

Captain Jack sightings...

Every few hours a cannon blasted thanks to this friendly pirate!

One of the pirate bands that were singing on the main stage. They had bands playing all sorts of music on the main stage while there were shows/exhibits on another stage down the road.


Arrrrg! Sail Ho to some Pirate Festivals

Scroll past the annoying ads and find a nice listing of Pirate-themed festivals around the United States and a few in Canada. You can list these by Date or by Location/Area.


Irish Festivals

Sláinte! Cheers!
Since we're on the topic of festivals, here are some upcoming Irish festivals. Those held in March, in honor of St. Patrick's, are really fun.


It's time for a Renaissance Faire!

I'm in the mood for a Renaissance Faire, especially with the heat of summer quickly cooling off and autumn heading our way.

Haven't been to a Ren Faire yet? You are missing out on some real fun. Visitors often dress in costumes (ranging from fairy creature to knights to pirates and more). Try tasty fair food, including roasted turkey legs and polish dog on a stick. Most have jousting tournaments. There are usually entertaining shows and musical groups. Check the website before going so you know the venues and the ticket prices.

Check out this listing of over 200 Renaissance and Pirate Faires around the United States, so find one in your area:

Review - Book - Medieval Children by Nicholas Orme

"Medieval Children" by Nicholas Orme
Interesting book on aspects of raising children during the Medieval period.

A few interesting things I learned:
- "By 1493, the royal family was enforcing strict checks upon nurses' and babies' food. Whatever the nurse ate and drank herself was to be 'assayed' or tasted beforehand, for quality, by the household staff."
- They used bibs or "slavering clouts"
- Babies are given underclothes, petticoats, hose, coats, etc.
- Babies wore nappies (diapers)
- A cricket was a nursing stool or later a child's stool

Review - Website - Celtic Nations

Well-organized and simple site contains lots of interesting information and links to the Seven Celtic Nations - Brittany, Cornwall, Galicia, Ireland, Isle of Man, Scotland, and Wales.

Each nation link contains data and sublinks for Geography, History, Music, etc.


Review - Website - Society of Creative Anachronism

The Society for Creative Anachronism is an excellent resource for medieval studies. They focus on the European Middle Ages, but sometimes they have articles on their sites that pertain to other areas before/after this period as well.

This particular site we are checking out contains some great articles about heraldry and naming. http://heraldry.sca.org/heraldry/laurel/names.html

The articles are broken down by countries, such as England, France, Scotland, Ireland, and even a few on Arabia/Middle East.

On the bottom, there is a link to the Educational Articles which include lots of good stuff on Heralds and Heraldry.

For Writers - Grammar - Benefitted or Benefited?


During my writing adventures, I have come across words that have (to me, anyway) odd-looking spellings. I plan to post these here, in case you find yourself questioning your own spellings. Also, some spellings depend on whether you are following American English or Standard British English. Keep in mind, Microsoft Word sometimes accepts either spelling - which will confuse you. Confused yet??

Now, is it Benefitted or Benefited?

The rule we learned as kids was to double the last consonant before adding -ed or -ing. However, the actual rule is to only double when the last consonant is stressed, such as permit (permitted, permitting). The stress is on the "mit" part.

In the case of benefit, the stress is not on the last part. So we do not double the last consonant. The correct spelling is BENEFITED.

Review - Website - Scottish Knights Templar

Sometimes Googling on a topic pops up the most interesting websites, and this is one of those. Based on my search for Scottish Knights, this website came up and has a wonderful (albeit brief) timeline of Scottish History.

The other thing I love about it is the "Events This Week in Scottish History". Check it out!

Scottish Knights Templar

For Writers - Barbara Taylor Bradford Interview

There is a wonderful short video interview from one of my favorite novelist, bestselling Barbara Taylor Bradford available on the "Writers and authors" blog which includes clips from her Hallmark movies (based on her books). She gives practical advice from her own experience.

Click here for the

Review - Website - Essential Architecture

Sometimes I run across sites that, at first glance, seem uninspiring and not well organized. This is one of those, HOWEVER, once you start clicking around, you will find some wonderful full-color photographs of buildings that will make up for the lack in design. Lots of great information and research as the writer expounds on different archectural features and examples.

Click the link at the top and you can search for different types of buildings. My main two favorites are:




Other designs worth peeking at - bridges, temples, churches, and even tombs.

Review - Website - Listing of Scottish Games

It's about that time of year when the Scottish games begin!
What are "Scottish Games"?
Most of these festivals consist of fun-loving people donning kilts and tartans, sometimes playing bagpipes, dance competitions, children's activities, genealogy, playing Scottish sports, and more.

Check out this wonderful link to find an event near you!
Kilts n Quilts Festival Listings

Research - Edmund Leighton - Painter

Nothing inspires a writer more than a beautiful painting on a favorite subject - knights. This delightful scene entitled "The Accolade" was painted by English artist Edmund Leighton (1853-1922), who specialized in Medeival period pieces. He trained at the Royal Academy Schools where his paintings were also exhibited.

Check out some of Edmund's other famous paintings:

Review - Website - Grammar Rules

Having trouble remembering rules of grammar?
Need a handy guide to parts of speech?
Can't recall when to use a comma or not?
Check out these WONDERFUL printable cheat sheets to keep on your desk as you write:

Free Printable Sheets

Resource - Medieval Churches - Gothic Architecture

Gothic Architecture began in France around the 12th Century, originally known as "The French Style". This beautiful website explores this wonderful period or style, including architecture terms and links to stunning examples:

Research - Medieval Churches and Cathedrals

Churches were often built as elaborately, or even more elaborately, than castles. Cathedrals were churches that contained a seat for (or held the office of) a bishop, a position of great power, often acting as a councelor (or chancellor) to the monarch. Although cathedrals held positions of importance, not all were massive works of art. Since churches collected taxes and tithes from local citizens, they often became very wealthy and powerful. They also found power through the use of relics (supposedly) belonging to saints which led to pilgrimmages.

A listing of medieval churches:

Review - Website - WordCounter

Need to know which words you use frequently or how many times you used words sorted by frequency? Then check out this free to use website:

Word Counter

Easy to use and quick.

Research - Medieval Churches - Relics

Beginning around the 2nd Century, churches began to display important relics from saints. Relics ranged from ordinary objects (like pieces of fabric) to parts of a human skeleton. Believers would take long pilgrimages (spiritual trips) to visit shrines or holy places where relics were displayed. In time, the use of relics became a means for trickery and abuse. Citizens would flock to a church that held a saint's relic hoping to be blessed or healed by that particular saint.

Catholic Church and Relics: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12734a.htm