Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Halloween Of My Childhood

I have loved Halloween since childhood. I have many fond memories of various costumes I wore, usually the old vintage store bought ones with those awful plastic masks with the elastic string that always seemed to break. I recall going as Tweety Bird one year in a costume similar to this. One year I was Raggedy Ann, but my mom made my costume that year.  But my favorite costume was one I wore probably near the end of my trick or treating years. Kids of all ages seem to trick or treat these days, but when I was growing up there was an age at which it became less socially acceptable. After that we began planning parties, and many churches in the area hosted parties that older children were invited to attend. But one of the last times I recall trick or treating I went dressed as Holly Hobbie.

Even as a child I never cared for the scarier elements of Halloween, and I never dressed as a ghost, or even a witch that I recall, although I do have a cute black hat and some purple and white striped socks I like to wear just for fun these days. But my mom did always have a tape recording of scary sounds, like this,  that we would place near the window and play on Halloween night, along side a carved pumpkin.

And while I don't recall there being as many Halloween specials when I was growing up , I do recall a few from when my children were little, including The Pumpkin That Couldn't Smile, and Halloween Is Grinch Night.  I did find a few vintage cartoons that you might enjoy watching with your littles for a bit of old time fun.  The Headless Horseman, The Cobweb Hotel, and Skeleton Frolic.  Most of these old cartoons are from the '30's and I just love their vintage feel.

One of my favorite cartoons that I used to watch with my children each year, is Disney's The Legend of Sleep Hollow, narrated by Bing Crosby. I found a copy on DVD last year and snatched it up, but you can watch it for free at the link above. We've also enjoyed similar videos over the years, though not Halloween related, we did tend to watch them in the autumn of the year. These are from the American Legends series, Johnny Appleseed, and Paul Bunyan.  You might enjoy them, too!

Recently I was perusing the Internet Archives, and came across some books with a vintage Halloween feel, and you might enjoy looking through, as well.

- The Pumpkin Book
by Susan Olson Higgins
Full of Halloween History, Poems, Songs, Art Projects, Games and Recipes

The Best Halloween Book
by Lenore K. Dolan
Recitations, Dialogues, Plays, Exercies, Drills, Dances Pantomines, Songs and Games

The Little Witches Halloween Book
by Linda Glovach
Halloween Decorating, Cooking and Handicrafts

- The Penny Whistle Halloween Book
I have always loved the Penny Whistle publications!

- Witches, Pumpkins and Groaning Ghosts
by Edna Barth
The Story of the Halloween Symbols

I hope you have enjoyed this little trip down memory lane, especially if you are part of my generation and share some of the same memories. And perhaps I've introduced you to a few vintage, but new to you resources that you can enjoy with the littles in your life this Halloween season.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Favorite Poems - The Evening Meal

We had family in from out of tonight last week. Just a quick overnight trip, but we had a lovely time.  We don't have company often as our extended family is spread out coast to coast with most residing in Texas. But Bill's sister and her husband moved to North Carolina earlier this year which is only two hours away and we've been able to visit with them a few times recently, which has been nice.

I always love setting a pretty table for company, although I was reminded too late that we have reached a point with our flatware, after all these years and all the children, that we appear to have only two tablespoons, and it's been so long since there were only four of us at the table I likewise discovered that we appear to only have four glasses that match our dinnerware. So I decided to mix pretty with casual and pulled out the canning jars that we actually use as our everyday glassware for meals, and tucked a fork, knife and napkin in each one. It all ended up looking lovely, and everyone raved about the food. I went with one of my tried and true menus, chicken enchiladas, pinto beans, spanish rice and salsa and guacamole with chips.  I made Chip Nut Bars for dessert, but everyone was so full from dinner we never got around to eating them.

I was reminded today of another poem and poet whose works I love, and wanted to share it with you.

The preparation of the evening meal
By any woman, anywhere, may be
A ceremony, beautiful to see,

Recalling clear, sweet evenings long ago

At Emmaus, or Bethany, when One
Beloved guest had come at set of sun.

And oh, that other quiet evening meal

Within an upper room - the grace He said
Above the scarlet wine, the broken bread!'

An evening meal is such a gracious thing,

It matters not how plain may be the fare
So long as love and loyalty are there.

The supper hour - a magnet drawing home

The ones who have the need of food and rest!
All women know this hour of the day is best.

~ Grace Noll Crowell

From The Story Series in Health by Ginn and Company. Copyright 1932 by Andress and Andress 

Isn't that just lovely, such sweet sentiments. I was reminded when I read it, that while she calls the evening meal "supper", in our home we refer to it as "dinner".  I have a number of friends who refer to is as supper as well, and just as many who likewise use the term, "dinner".  So out of curiosity I looked I up and this is what I found.  Growing up my mom always referred to it as supper, but I'm a weird one when it comes to words and the way they sound, and something about supper just doesn't set right with me. There are other words as well, like buggy (it's a shopping cart), baggy (no, it's a zip-loc), and hubby (uhm, he's my husband), that I simply refuse to use.  So there you have it, probably more than you wanted to know about me and my word quirks, right?  But if you'd like to chime in I'm curious to know, is it supper or dinner in your house?

At any rate,  Grace's works are all just lovely! If you are not familiar with her you can read a little about her, here.  And, if you's like to read some of her work, I found this collection, which you can borrow from Internet Archives.

~ Enjoy!

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Dad And The Canadian Geese

On the back of this photograph, written in my grandmother's undeniable script, it reads;

Robert Owen, 1947

That would have made him fourteen, and fourteen years later I would be born. It's funny how time (and age) changes your perspective. As a child fourteen years seemed like an eternity, but when I look at this picture it just amazes me how much his life changed over the next fourteen years.  From a young teenage boy in small town Texas, to a young man who was married, a father and living in a home he owned in the suburbs of the big city.

I didn't mention the geese in my header in my previous post, because there is a specific reason that I included them. They were not part of the original image I found online, but as a little tribute to my dad, I wanted to include them. So I found a silhouette image and added them in and I just love that every time I look at it, I am reminded of my dad.

I am not sure at what age my dad became fascinated with geese. But my guess is that as a young boy growing up on a small farm, he probably saw his share flying high above in that big Texas sky. What I do know is that I swear he could hear them coming from miles away, because as soon as he heard the faintest hint, he was outside looking for them, calling out to me or anyone else to join him. Then he would stand, expectantly, until he caught first sight of them, which was always followed by,

"Boy, just look at them go!"

I can't even tell you the number of times that scene played out in my childhood, all I do know is that it seemed he never missed them, and he often remarked how beautiful they were.

As a young mother I recall a picnic we went on once at a local park, and how excited he was to find geese walking along the banks of the pond.  He hurriedly rallied the kids to show them. I don't recall him knowing a lot about them, all that mattered to him was that he found them beautiful and they fascinated him. My dad liked sharing the things he loved with the people he loved, geese and the stars!

It wasn't until after I lost my dad in 2008 that the geese took on special meaning for me. I read a quote recently that depicts it perfectly.

"You never know the value of a moment,
until it becomes a memory"

 - Theodore Seuss Geisel

After dad died, every time I would hear a goose honking it was as if somehow, he was nearby.  All those special moments I shared with him, watching a flock fly high over head . . . are now some of the sweetest memories I carry.

Last Autumn when Bill and I were camping in West Virginia, we heard a flock land near the lake pictured at the top of this post, and the next morning I stood in awe as they swept high into flight above me on to their next destination.  It was a moment I will never forget, sacred, really.

A few years ago Bill bought this beautiful wooden goose for me for my birthday. It may be my most treasured possession. For the time being it is safely tucked in a corner in our bedroom, though when I took this picture (from our previous apartment), I kept it in the middle of the dining room table.  But it topples a little and doesn't stand very steady, and I'm fearful it will fall over and break, so until I find a better solution, I'm keeping it in a safe place.

I'm hoping to see geese on our trip this week, and when I do I'll think of my dad. He never missed them, but oh how deeply I miss him!

We are out of town for a few days, camping, so I won't be replying to comments, 
but I do have several days worth of posts lined up, so be sure to check back!
I'll check back in this weekend!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

My Mom's Recipe Box

When I was creating the graphics for another post, I came across some clip art that reminded me so much of a recipe card my mom had when I was little, that I immediately retrieved her recipe box (a treasured keepsake), to see if she had filed any of them away.  But sadly, no.  However looking through the box (which is 90% cakes, pies and cookies), stirred up a lot of emotions.

It's no surprise to me that regardless of the fact that there were dividers for a number of different food groups, that it was overflowing with recipes for sweets. My mom LOVED to bake, and it was the one thing she did right up to the end of her life that still seemed to bring her a lot of joy.  Though glaucoma had robbed of her much of her sight, she could still see well enough to bake things, though admittedly at times the measurements were, shall we say, a tad off.  In her later years she stuck to recipes that she had made so many times she knew them by heart (mostly), and on a few occasions she had me take one of the cards from this very box and write it out in VERY large print on several sheets of paper so she could read it.

I knew this box was old, but it wasn't until today that I noticed her maiden name scratched in the top, so now I'm thinking she may have been collecting recipes even before she met and married my dad, and as you can see it is well worn.

Of course in the picture at the top she is not quite old enough to be doing much in the kitchen, I think she once told me that this was her first grade school picture. But in going through some old family pictures recently, I laughed at how many there are of my mom in the kitchen, like the one below. My dad raved about my mom's cooking, and she loved cooking for him, so I'm really not surprised.  Several of the recipes in this box I know she's had since the 70's because I remember her making them.  But I think some of them may be even older than that. Looking at her familiar script is comforting, in an odd sort of way.  A little piece of her that I still have with me.

Since I couldn't find the recipe card that I mentioned, I decided it might be fun to use the same graphics from my previous post and make some myself.  I know that the card I remember was very similar.  To print them out, just click the link!  The cards are 3x5, the same as my mom's collection.

And while this isn't the same Apple Cobbler recipe that is shown on the card in the picture, I thought it might be fun to include one here as well.  To be honest, the recipe on the card didn't sound very good to me, and I never once recall my mother making it.

 Apple Cobbler

7 to 8 large (9 cups) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored, sliced 1/4-inch
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter, melted
Ice cream, if desired


Heat oven to 350°F.  and place sliced apples in ungreased 13x9-inch baking dish.

Combine 3/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in bowl; sprinkle over apples.

Combine remaining cinnamon, flour, sugar, eggs, baking powder and salt in bowl; mix until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over apples. Pour melted butter over topping. Bake 45-55 minutes or until lightly browned and apples are tender.  Serve warm with ice cream, if desired.

Do you have a collection of recipe cards written out in your grandmother or mother's familiar hand?  And isn't it lovely to have such treasures?   What is one recipe from your childhood that you remember someone in your family making and do you still make it today?  For me it my mom's chocolate pie, which I make every Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I'll be sharing that recipe here with you soon!  Until then, leave your memories (and recipes), in the comments!

We are out of town for a few days, camping, so I won't be replying to comments, 
but I do have several days worth of posts lined up, so be sure to check back!
I'll check back in this weekend!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Inspiration Behind My New Header

This is my paternal grandmother, Irene Hooper Hutsell, taken on her birthday, October 4, 1921. She was 19 years old. I never recall my grandmother looking this young, obviously. I wouldn't show up until November of '61 and by then she was 59 years old. My father was several years younger than his two sisters, so that by the time I came around all of the other grandchildren were grown and married themselves. But at some time in her early twenties she came down with scarlet fever and lost all of her hair and when it came back it was silvery white. So in my memory she always looked older than she really was. I shared a little bit about her in this post, and while we didn't exactly see eye to eye in my late teen and early adult years, I have many fond memories of her from my childhood, and the older I get the more I feel I am becoming like her, in many ways.

The house (pictured here), that she and my grandfather lived in, and in which my father was raised, was old. So old that when she passed away I honestly thought that once they removed the furniture the walls would collapse. When my father was little it was a working farm, complete with a horse for tilling and cows for milking. But by the time I was born the area around them had developed into a neighborhood, and their "farm" consisted of a small flock of chickens, a couple of geese and a rather large vegetable garden.

My grandmother once told me that she used to walk right by this house on her way home from school when she was little, and that it was old, even then. And yet the memories I have of the time I spent here inspires me even today. I credit my grandmother with a large portion of my domestic tendencies, with the exception of growing plants. She had a green thumb like no other and kept meticulous and beautiful flower gardens, and while I can keep things alive (kind of), I did not inherit the gardening gene. But as for home keeping, those traits do seem to have passed on.

Even though she never had much, and the house was old, it had a charm and beauty about it that made you feel right at home. Within these wall was instilled in me, a love for all things cozy, and like me, my grandmother LOVED fall and winter best, and often remarked that we were both so lucky to have birthdays in the fall of the year. She was also a magnificent cook, and almost every time we visited she had a loaf of my favorite gingerbread with lemon sauce ready and waiting. She also crocheted and made tatted lace, and I feel fortunate that I have a small piece of lace that she made. I think tatting has fallen out of fashion, and I'm certain that as meticulous as it appears, I could never do it! I'm still trying to master knitting!

I chose the graphic in my new header because the minute I saw it, I was reminded of my grandmother's house and the lot their house sat on. For many years they had a neighbor on one side of the house, but on the other side was a large open field, and just beyond that was a school and football field and when we visited on Friday nights you could see the lights and hear the commentator over the loud speakers. I used to run and play in that field, and wander through the gardens. There was an old shed in the back where they kept garden equipment where I liked to play house. But inside the house holds many fond memories, as well,

My grandmother's couch, which she always kept draped with a chenille bedspread, probably to hide the fact that it was worn, was the most comfortable couch in the world, at least in my memories.  Now that I'm grown, I'm pretty certain that all the support beneath had about given way, because when you sat down you sank pretty low into the cushion, which as a child suited me just fine. I have loved, soft and cushy from childhood and I thought that old well worn couch was the best thing ever. I recall many winter nights making up a little spot to read, covered up in blankets. I would just sink into the warmth of the cushions and most likely many nights feel fast asleep while the adults played forty-two.

I also inherited my love of magazines from my grandmother, and McCalls was her favorite. She would save all of the old issues for me after she was done with them and I would always cut out the latest Betsy McCall paperdoll.  The picture to the left are the ones I remember best, from the 70's.

Another memory I have is a set of tin tumblers (I guess they were tin), they were kind of like these, and when you filled them with ice they made the coldest glass of ice water! They made my hands cold just holding them. I recall that one of them was yellow and I thought it was the cheeriest color, and I always asked for it. My bedroom as a child was yellow for many years, mixed with orange, and even for awhile with Raggedy Ann and Andy, which sounds like an odd combination but somehow it worked. In fact, I even found the very sheets I had, and I had a comforter and sham as well.  It was also decorated in Holly Hobbie for awhile, which I adored!

Anyway, I could go on, but perhaps I'll share more memories in another post.  But I did want to add that the floral you see in my new header (it was in my old one, too), reminds me of the wallpaper in my grandmother's front room,  It was the most beautiful golden yellow, or perhaps at one time it had been white and by the time I was old enough to remember it had aged, but I loved it!  It gave the room a lovely golden hue in the late evening, which is perhaps why the slant of light just before sunset and in early morning is my favorite.  I searched the internet to find something like it, and this is as close as I could come. It's not exactly like it, but very close.

And in closing, I wanted to share this recipe for gingerbread with lemon sauce.  Sadly, I don't have my grandmother's exact recipe, but this one tastes just like it!


1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
2 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup hot water

Lemon Sauce
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Dash salt
Dash nutmeg
1 cup half-and-half cream
2 large egg yolks, beaten
2 tablespoons butter
3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350°.

Beat shortening, sugar, molasses and eggs until well blended. Combine next five ingredients; add to molasses mixture alternately with hot water.

Pour into a greased 13x9-in. baking pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, for lemon sauce, combine first five ingredients in a small saucepan until smooth. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat.

Stir a small amount of hot filling into egg yolks; return all to pan, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Gently stir in butter, lemon juice and zest, increasing juice if needed to thin sauce. Serve with warm cake. Refrigerate leftover sauce.

We are out of town for a few days, camping, so I won't be replying to comments, 
but I do have several days worth of posts lined up, so be sure to check back!
I'll check back in this weekend!

Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Ordinary Days of Small Things Playlist

Just for fun, I've compiled a playlist of my top 12 favorite songs of all time! But before you scroll through and click, let me say this. I am fully aware that as far as singing goes, well let's just say Jimmy Durante and Louis Armstrong were not, shall we say, highly gifted?  Gifted yes, but as for singing, they would have never made it in today's world.

But these songs are from another time, when the world was, perhaps not simpler, but with a stronger moral conscience, in the the 30's and 40's, at least. Perhaps in the 60's at the height of the Vietnam war, we were struggling to regain a little of that morality.  

What I love most about these songs are the simple sentiments they communicate. What A Wonderful World is hands down my all time favorite song, it's even my ring tone on my phone. These songs encourage one to take time to notice "skies of blue, red roses, too", that "it's so important to make someone happy" and "when you smile, the whole world smiles with you!",which is at the very heart of the reason why I write. 

So I hope you will enjoy listening to this playlist.  Perhaps they are songs you are familiar with, and hopefully you'll be introduced to one or two.  Appreciate them for the sweet simplicity they convey! We are busy preparing for a short four day vacation in the mountains at the end of the week, but when I have time I'll compile them all in a playlist on Spotify and put a link in my sidebar. That way, if you enjoy them, you can just hit play and listen to them back to back.  But for now I've just linked to YouTube videos.

Louis Armstrong
January 1, 1968

Jimmy Durante

Steve Tyrell
Original release - 1945
Tyrell - 1999

Steve Tyrell
Original release - 1930
Tyrell - 1999
Also recorded by Louis Armstrong 
(another favorite!)

Louis Armstrong

Jimmy Durante

I've Got The World On A String
Frank Sinatra
Original release - 1933
Sinatra - 1953

Ella Fitzgerald
Original release - 1927
Fitzgerald - 1964

The Glory of Love
Jimmy Durante
Original release - 1936
Duranted - 1964
Also recorded by Bette Midler for the move Beaches

On The Street Where You Live
Nat King Cole
Originally written in 1956 for the Broadway musical My Fair Lady
Nat King Cole released an album in 1963 in which he 
recorded all of the song from the musical.

I'm Old Fashioned
Ella Fitzgerald
October 21, 1964

The Way You Look Tonight
Steve Tyrell
Original release 1936 by Fred Astaire from the movie Swing Time
Tyrell - 1999 for the movie Father of the Bride