Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #45

Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #45

swing set

My father and I on Easter (1957) with friends Karen and Pat Sisson (they are the daughters of Mama’s best friend Willie Mae Sisson)

October 17, 2017: I told Mama about a quiz I took on Facebook as to which character I’d be in a Nancy Drew book… and Yay… I got Nancy Drew! Mama said, “yes I always wanted to be a detective like Nancy Drew. Me and Willie Mae both wanted to do that. I didn’t go to the center… too cold this morning, maybe tomorrow morning. I might go back to FISH and see if there are any more Nancy Drew books. I gave you all the ones I had here. Maybe you can bring me some next time you come and I’ll read them again.”

October 19, 2017: While talking, Mama said…. “I don’t care if snuff went to a dollar a dip because I don’t dip… no way. My mother loved her snuff…she never spit, so you never even knew she had it in her mouth. My mother-in-law, Evelyn Bryan, dipped snuff and kept that spit can by her chair and toted it around everywhere. Daddy had a spit bucket in his room, it sat by the stove… Mama changed it every day and put fresh dirt on the bottom. I tried snuff one day, me and my girlfriend Willie Mae. We were so sick the next day… throwing up and never did it again. My mother used to say “it was company.” “I never understood that, but I guess it was something to do.”

“Daddy chewed tobacco while he plowed, and even rolled his own cigarettes with Prince Albert. Your Grandfather Paul Bryan chewed the end of his cigars all the time. I don’t even like to chew gum, I don’t want nothing in my mouth.”

October 21, 2017: When I called tonight… “I’m not doing anything, it’s been like summer here today. I know I don’t want to clean my house… it might hurt my feelings”, she said after I told her that sometimes you just have to force yourself to do those things!

Mama talked about Aunt Lena (McKinley) and all the antique furniture she had. “I can close my eyes and still see it all. She had beautiful furniture in her living room and never liked anyone to walk in there, especially children. She didn’t care if I went in there, but she’d pull you out by your ears!”

October 25, 2017: After asking Mama what she was eating, she shook the can of peanuts for me to hear… and then Boo came running to see what she had. “Boo left after he saw I had nothing for him.”

In talking about phones… “We never had a phone even when I married in 1947. Your daddy would call Mr. Johnson’s store in Siloam, and if I was in town, someone would come and get me at Ulma’s store. On the farm, if anything bad happened, they’d just ring the farm bell for help; Daddy finally got a phone after I married.”

I mentioned that I was going to repair the old Zenith radio I took from the farm. “After Paul and Evelyn (Bryan) finally bought a TV, your father brought their radio over here to keep. I think we even had it in our house for awhile.” I’m glad it was saved, now I can’t wait to have it working again and especially since I know it came from my grandparents.

October 31, 2017: I called to ask Mama what she was doing on Halloween? “Walking around naked!” Well Ok!

November 14, 2017: Somehow Mama began talking about growing up… “When I grew up it was rough and tough. Daddy would take me to Slip Rock and let me slide down on the hot afternoons. Kids don’t get to do things like that today. Leroy used to make flips and he’d kill birds with them. I only followed Daddy and Leroy around… I didn’t like to follow Mama, she’d make me sweep and I didn’t want to sweep! Kids now don’t know what its like to live on a farm and play in the dirt, or climb trees.”

“I’m tough, I followed behind daddy every step he took. One time someone told him Helen’s up at the barn cussing… “well is she hurting anyone? Well then leave her alone! If I wasn’t following Daddy, I’d be reading Nancy Drew books in the back room where I slept.”

November 25, 2017: Mama walked through the living room headed to get a chocolate drink, and I mentioned I was watching a woman on TV sew… and that I needed to learn how to sew a zipper in… Mama said. “I know how, and I can still tell you how to do it.“Well, I have an idea how to, I’m just intimidated to actually do it, I said.” Mama said, “never be intimidated to do anything and never let anyone intimidate you… just ball up your fist!” (I was in GA. at Mama’s)

I was typing a story on my laptop… as Mama walked back, said, “Aunt Lena would love knowing you and reading all you write. She was very smart, you inherited all that from her.”

While watching TV with Mama we chatted… We were watching a sewing show and… “Do you still have grandaddy’s sewing needle?I do have it” I said! “You know he used to sew the burlap into bags for picking cotton with. He probably had several of those handmade needles. There is probably some of them laying underneath the smokehouse today… they probably fell through the cracks. He built that smokehouse after he bought the farm. Unless they tear it down, it’ll be standing when Gable blows his horn. He creosoted every plank of wood… Daddy creosoted everything. I think he would have done the house if they’d have let him.” (It was nice to have our nightly conversations in person, instead of the phone)

I was watching a craft show where they were painting mason jars… Mama said, “those type jars were everywhere in the smokehouse and filled with all Mama’s vegetables. She canned everything in them.”

After I mentioned the farmhouse, Mama said… “If those old walls could talk… boy would they entertain us.” Then I mentioned Lavender and… “I used to catch bumblebees and tie strings around their legs. I’d  put them under a glass and keep working them around until I got a leg out, then I’d tie a string on their leg. Daddy often told me... “I hope they sting the shit out of you.” I didn’t do things girls did, I did boy things!

“Down the road from our farm lived Aunt Lou… I remember she had rows and fields of Zinnia’s. She always planted them in rows every year like you’d plant fields of corn. At the end of the year, she’d clean out the flower rows and throw them down in the field. In the spring I’d find Zinnia seedling coming up, and I’d pull them up taking to our farm and plant. I used to go down and play with their daughter Maddie, but if I didn’t behave, Aunt Lou would send me home. Their daughter had a baby one time… and her parents didn’t even know that she was pregnant. When they called Dr. Lewis, he told them, “there’s nothing wrong with this girl except she’s going to have a parlor baby. They had never let her go out on a date, but she did have a boyfriend who’d come and sit in the parlor… that’s why he called it a parlor baby.”

Seeing a farm on TV, mama said… “being a farmer meant you worked hard, from sun-up to sundown… it’d often be dark when Daddy came in for supper. He’d sit on the back stoop to take off his shoes and I’d bring out a pan of water and wash his feet… I did that every night. My father worked hard.”

The show was about a blueberry farm, and… “We used to have a blueberry bush on the road going to granddaddy McKinley’s. I always stopped to eat them off the bush when I walked to granddaddy’s house.”

“There were goats living just below our farm, daddy would never have any part in having a goat or even eating them; he’d always say how they’d ruin everything and could jump any fence. He owned horses for riding, mules for plowing and cows for milk. Leroy had a horse named Pat and he could outrun the train, he was super fast. Usually Pat came home without Leroy, as he’d throw him off when he wanted to come home. I can still see Pat, as he’d come flying into the yard and head for the water trough. Later on, Leroy would come dragging in the yard.”

I asked if Granddaddy baled hay… “Yes he baled hay, but it was all done by hand and called “shocking; he’d stacked peanuts in the same way. Everyone back then did it all by hand, they had no equipment like they do today.”

When the Test Kitchen show came on I asked Mama if she used to make her own broth. “Yes I made my own broth for the chicken and dumplings I made. Aunt Chris made the best ones though. She’d make up biscuit dough, then roll it out a few times until it was really thin. Then she cut the dough into long strips and lay them across her hand… slowly letting them slide off into the chicken broth. By letting them slide in slow, it helped them not to stick together. She made the best dumplings, but I still know how to make them!” So I said, “go make me a pot.” She laughed and said, “well that’s not going to happen, I don’t cook anymore, but I can still tell you how.”

Next on Test Kitchen was a testing of splatter screens… “I never used one of those, I just wiped off the stove after I finished frying chicken. If it popped out, it just popped out, that’s how it was.” I use a splatter screen when I fry… I don’t like getting popped with hot grease.”

December 1, 2017: In asking Mama what she was watching on TV, the conversation turned to TV from years ago… “Your daddy gave my parents their first Television, it was a small round screen; we had one of those small round screen ones also.He got it from Mr. English’s TV store where he worked as a repairman. They kept it until they bought a new one and then gave it back to him. (Oh I so wish they had kept that round screen one) There were always TV’s playing in Mr. English’s store… to encourage people to buy one. He never gave one to his parents as his mother only wanted a new one! Your father worked for Mr. English and next door was Rusy Morgan’s furniture store, also with TV’s… and he worked there too.

December 4, 2017: Mama called me tonight before I had a chance…. Telling me how sunny it was there today. “Boo is really missing Steve, he’s still looking for him every day. I’m finally feeling better, maybe I’ll go to the center tomorrow. I just didn’t feel good when you were here… all I wanted to do was sleep, but I’m finally starting to feel more like myself.”

In telling Mama about me writing about Nancy Drew… “you inherited all that writing from Aunt Lena, she was the smart one in the family. She would have enjoyed to see all that you do and read your writings.”

December 5, 2017: I see Steve left some stuff on the porch, did he forget them? He needs to take that barn down and take some barn wood home. You could take the barn doors, they are in good shape.” I told mama that Frank wasn’t coming next April when Melissa comes with the girls. “My Frank isn’t coming, I love my Frank. He can come down here, I have a lot of work he can do… and I’ll pay him… I’ll take him out to eat at Charlie’s.”

December 6, 2017: When I called, Mama immediately said“, It just doesn’t feel like Christmas… only thing I ever remember doing to celebrate was getting lit and going out dancing.” I told her, “well maybe you should go get lit and go dancing!”

“I didn’t go to the center yet, I just don’t want to… it’s boring down there. I woke up, and rolled back over, hugged my pillow and went back to sleep. I’d rather stay here and watch TV and be with Boo.”

When mama asked what Steve was doing… “he’s downstairs working on the Coca-Cola cooler he brought home.” “I can’t believe he’s redoing that, I didn’t think it was even any good. He should just come knock down that barn and take all the wood… he could build birdhouses or something with it.”

“Steve would have loved it if I still had the farm, two barns, chicken coop and car shed to ramble through. He would have needed a big U-Haul to bring it all home with. But I don’t have it anymore, just the money in the bank.”

In talking about knitting me a pair of mittens, mama asked… “Did you ever learn how to tat? I never learned how, neither did my mother. I do remember seeing older women back then tatting, their hands would be going really fast. I don’t think anyone in our family ever tatted. My thing was sewing, I loved making my clothes and all yours, you had the prettiest little dresses. When you outgrew them, my girlfriend’s daughter wore them. I wish I had kept just one, but who even thought to do that… but wish I did!”

 December 8, 2017: As soon as I called Mama tonight she said… “I went down to the center today.” So I said, “so that’s why it snowed in Georgia today.” “Yep, and good thing I went as I found two pairs of winter shoes in the clothes closet. I didn’t really have any good shoes for the winter.” Steve says you must have over two hundred pairs of shoes in your house! “Those are my summer shoes! Now I’m all set for the winter with those shoes… for when I feel like going out! Boo was just up here on the bed with me laying on his back with all four legs open… sound asleep.”

“I didn’t feel like eating down there, didn’t like what it looked like. Some people down there will eat and eat, just shove it down. I’m too picky! I gave my dish away… it must have not been too good, as I don’t even remember what it was.”

“Boo hasn’t come back on the bed with me yet, he’s like the 500 lb gorilla… he sleeps wherever he wants. He’ll creep back up here in awhile and snuggle back up next to me.”

As I stopped my TV on a channel showing a rodeo, I told mama that I’d like to go to one when I come down. “They always have one down in Greene County in Union Point, we’ll have to go when you come back.” “Can you remind me next year, I said? “Oh yeah, I’m gonna remind you, I’m lucky I can remind myself to go to the bathroom. I’d like to go, as I’d probably see some people I went to school with. I don’t think I’ve changed much, I bet they’d recognize me.”

 I told Mama I was sitting here sewing felt ornaments… don’t they say, idle hands are the work of the devil? “I’ll tell the devil to just move on, I don’t’ want my hands busy anymore. I did my share of crafting… I used to make the prettiest roses out of pantyhose. You’d have thought they were real, and some people did… but I don’t want to anymore.”

When I mentioned Nancy Drew books… “you were a reader when you were young. Once you began reading Nancy Drew, you enjoyed reading. You didn’t let anyone mess up your room either, especially your books. I bought you new Nancy Drew books, but I had to borrow mine when I read them in the 1940’s.”

“After I left the center today I wanted to go to Fish and see if they had any Nancy Drew books, but it was so drizzly out, I just came home. All I wanted to do was snuggle in my bed with Boo.”

December 9, 2017: Mama called me tonight just as I was just sitting down with my coffee and… actually I was running to answer my phone when hubby said it was Mama. “Jeanne, how bad is it up there?” Me… “well it’s snowing, probably about 2 or 3 inches out there right now.” “Well, I was watching the weather channel and they were talking about how bad it is there.” Me… laughing… “I’m safe at home.” “Well as long as you’re ok, and how about the kids.” Me still laughing… “everyone is home and ok, so let it snow.” “Ok, as long as I know you’re safe… go drink your coffee and have a piece of cake for me.”

I called Mama back later… after my coffee cake and the movie ended, and the first thing she said was… “Is it still snowing up there? I wish it would snow some here, but I’d never drive in it.”

Dec. 10, 2017: When I told Mama I was sewing while we talked… “I’m allergic to do those kinds of things now; I’ve retired from making things.” And how this came about, I don’t remember, but she told me… “One Sunday Willie Mae and I stopped at a small store as we really wanted a beer. The guy told us he couldn’t as it was Sunday, and I told him “bet you can.” We left with two beers, but we didn’t drink them until we got home.”

Dec. 11, 2017: I mentioned Grandmama’s quilting frame, and… “Everything daddy wanted to save, he’d put under the house or the smokehouse. After mama stopped quilting, her frame he made her… went under the house. I guess that was his storage bin when he didn’t know what to do with it, and he never threw anything away. I remember her quilting frame was hung from the ceiling in the back shed room. As it was suspended from the ceiling, you could work all around it.”

Dec. 12, 2017: In talking about Boo, mama said… “It’s good luck in England to own a black cat… Larry told me that… he was from England. You know, if I die, you have to take Boo. He wants to lay everywhere, except up here with me tonight. If he ticks me off, I’ll put his butt out on the porch and see if he likes being cold. I wonder what he thinks?” I said, “Well maybe when you die, you’ll come back as a cat and then you’ll know what he’s thinking,I said. “You’ll have to take me in if I come back as a cat,” Mama said. “How will I know it’s you?” “Oh, I’ll be black and just show up on your doorstep.” (Instead of seeing a butterfly and thinking its Mama, I’ll be seeing black cats and thinking it’s her!)

“No I didn’t go to the center this morning, it was too cold… I just rolled over and pulled up those warm flannel sheets you gave me up and went back to sleep.”

You know most people in town always called my parents Mr. Ed and Miss Ola. I always hated her name, why did they name her Ola?” I’ve always thought maybe her name was really Viola and the nickname became just Ola, but no one to ask about that now.”

As I had seen deer earlier on the way home, I asked Mama if deer ever came around the farm. “Oh yea, they came up close to the farm. One time while I was sunbathing, a deer just walked right up close to me… he stood there looking at me, then he turned and slowly walked back into the woods. I guess he went back to tell the others “she’s ok, she won’t bother us.” I could never shoot one, they have the saddest looking eyes and face.”

“I remember hitting one on the road coming down to the farm one night. He just jumped right out in front of me. I didn’t see it on the road or the ditch, so I went down to Ben’s house, just below mine and told him. He went and looked, probably took it home for meat if he found it… I never asked and he never said anything.”

Dec. 13, 2017: I told Mama about going over to Melissa’s today and helping her make cookies. Grace and I were unwrapping the Kisses, but Grace was biting off the tips on them until I caught her! Then she helped me put the Kisses on top of the warm peanut butter cookies. After smooshing one, I cut it in half and gave to Grace telling her to be quiet…. Melissa looked over and saw Grace chewing and asked, “what are you eating?” Grace looked at me and said, “Gigi gave me a cookie.” (Boy it’s hard to get the kids to keep a secret!)

It took about 8 tries tonight to even get Mama on the phone… finally after messaging a neighbor to see if the lights were on… she answered! The next step would have been the police knocking on her door! When I asked her, didn’t you hear the “call waiting” sound on the phone… “Oh, I had just called Carolyn to see how the Christmas party went. Now I’m looking to see what I want to eat, I need to go to the store tomorrow.”

When I told her about Grace and the cookies… “I would have eaten the entire Kiss, those are my favorites. I remember Daddy bringing me a bag of “silver tops” from town. That’s what we called them then.”

Dec. 15, 2017: Somehow the topic of her grandfather’s family came up, and… “they came along like doorsteps, just one after another. My father took care of many of his brothers and sisters when he was an adult and married… they always needed help at one time or another. He even built a small house on our farm, up on the hill; several of them lived in it through the years. I think Aunt Lena helped him with the money to build it; it was always him and Lena who helped their siblings. His father had two families, there were about 14 children between the two families.”

Dec. 21, 2017:  Mama called me tonight as the weather channel kept talking about all the snow we were getting in Ct. It was news to me… the sun was out bright.

I went to the center today for the holiday meal. Everyone came… they come out of the woodwork when there’s going to be a lot of food. Some people are just gluttons, eating everything in sight. I don’t care about food like that and I just piddled around with my plate… I don’t care about food anymore.”

In talking about knitting a hat for a cousins Chihuahua, I told her I might need to try it on my cat to see if it fits. She laughed and said, “I used to dress up the cats on the farm in doll clothes, but as soon as I put them down, they took off like a bullet.”

Dec. 24, 2017: I called Mama before we headed over to Steve’s for our Xmas Eve meal, she asked what were we eating… Tonight we will have seafood sauce over pasta (made with blue crabs), stuffed shrimp, fried shrimp, fried calamari, and other different fried seafood. I made manicotti for my Irish son-in-law as he’s not a fan of all the Italian seafood dishes. When I realized he didn’t like our dishes, I began making one especially for him. Everyone should have a favorite food to eat on Xmas Eve! Mama said, “I’ll pass on all that, I’m like Frank, I don’t want any of those dishes either. I don’t know what I’d eat if I was there, guess I’d just get me an Ensure and call it a night.”

Dec. 25, 2017: I called Mama on the way over to Melissa’s for Xmas dinner. “Well Merry Christmas, what did you get?” No matter how many times I told her that we don’t really exchange or buy for each other anymore, she insisted I should have gotten Xmas presents. I did buy Steve and me the Echo from Amazon. I don’t know how much he’ll like it but it will be a new toy to play with. Just wait till the kids see it! “I liked my candy and cookies Melissa sent me.”

Dec. 26, 2017: “You know, if I was young, I’d be going out to the dance about now. I don’t even know if I could still dance, but I’d give it a try. Yep, Willie Mae and I would be in old Fliz headed to the dance at the VFW.”

When I asked Mama if she went to the mailbox today, she said… “No, no one wants to pay my bills, I’m not worried about what’s in there.”

Somehow the topic went to milking… “I should have been born a boy, as while Leroy was milking the cows, I’d be sliding down the tin roof on the barn or trying to ride the calves. I’d be doing anything else but trying to help.”

Dec. 31, 2017: In answering Mama about what I was knitting, she said… “I remember making the cats some booties at the farm when I was young… made out of something, maybe even paper. When I let go of that cat, he was “high walking” as he stepped around trying to get out of them. I can still remember that… sitting out on the front porch. Those cats were my babies… I even put bonnets on them. The cats around the house were tame, they’d come up on the porch. We called them the house cats. I would have let them sleep with me, but daddy wouldn’t have any part of them coming into the house; probably loaded with fleas. Then there were the barn cats… they’d come down to eat, then go back to the barn… to catch more mice. My favorite cat was Kitty Ken…. he’d come in until daddy saw him. I named him from a book that Mama often read to me about a cat during the Civil War. He was there even after I married and left. One day when I asked daddy about him, he said, “Kitty Ken went up to the mailbox and tried to hitch a ride.” I guess in a nice way, it meant that he’d been run over.”

From cats, mama turned to the family dogs… “We had a lot of dogs through the years on the farm. There was Fancy… I can’t remember her color, she was just a hound dog, but very smart. We had Fancy over at the log cabin, before moving to the farm. I remember sitting out on the back steps there at the cabin feeding her. Daddy had told me to stop feeding her bread, that she was going to bite me. I didn’t believe it, so I stuck my fingers in the bread and offered it to her… and she bit me. It wasn’t her fault as I had my fingers inside the bread when I offered it to her.  Daddy just probably told me… “well you deserved that, I told you she’d bite you.” Fancy was good at sniffing out snakes and killing them. She always came with us when we went blackberry picking. She would first go under the bushes and let us know if it was ok to pick them. Snakes love blackberries! Funny though, she died from getting bit one day.”

“Then there was a dog daddy got from someone in Atlanta, he was a small white dog with brown spots, and I named her Spot. I don’t know who gave him to daddy and I don’t remember how he died, but I do remember that daddy buried both Fancy and Spot on the pathway up toward the barns. The last dog I remember was Brownie… she was a small solid light brown dog. I have no memory of how we got her.”

“I was a real tomboy in school, and so was my girlfriend Willie Mae. She was raised around boys, so she learned to fight; guess that’s why we got along so well! I remember when Willie blooded this girls nose one time; she could fight just like a boy. Some girl picked a fight with her, and once that girl got in Willie’s face… she took her down and she left with her nose bleeding. We were at her daddy’s City Hotel in Union Point; he told her that the cops were going to come get her… she did get scared!”

 “I didn’t take anything from anyone either… Willie Mae and I even tumbled with each other… usually over boys and clothes! I grew up next door to Kendrick Lewis and we were more like brothers and sisters through the years. One time he snatched your daddy’s letters out of my hand, I was about 17. When he wouldn’t give them back, I threw a book at him and hit him where it hurt the most… and he then gave me back my letters… apologizing. We grew up together ever since we could walk. I’d like to see and talk to him again. He’s probably an old man like I’m an old woman now. Maybe when you come home we’ll see if you can find him.”

“I keep thinking I should go start my car every day since I haven’t been going to the center… but that thought escapes me as quick as it comes. I’ll probably have to get the boy across the street to start it or call Johnny. I’m not worried about it!”

“Well, I’ll talk to you in the New Year… Happy New Year and I love you more than anything in the world. You know I love you, and I love my Steve too.”

To be continued… in 2018….. Happy New Years!


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© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Family Stories: I Spent December Watching Hallmark Movies

How I Spent December (2017) Watching Hallmark Movies

I retired in June (2017), so December was my first Christmas of not having to go to work daily. I begin all this TV movie watching just right around Thanksgiving… and I got hooked! Watching Hallmark movies is something I’ve never really done before… and I’m loving it. Hubby not so much!

thanksgiving movie

I was hooked!

I patiently waited for Dec. 17th for the premiere of “Romance at Reindeer Lodge“… as the movie was filmed just across the street from my daughter’s house. I couldn’t believe it when she first told me… she was excited to watch, especially when they brought all the fake snow in before Thanksgiving for their outdoor scenes. The house was all decorated for Christmas and looked “magical” at nighttime as the lights glistened in the snow.

My granddaughters were super excited as they watched all the commotion across the street; one night they watched a lighted horse and carriage drive up and down their street. They’d run up to the second floor to mom and dad’s room for a view of all the lights across the street.  If you asked if they were filming… they’d scamper up the stairs… returning to tell you if the lights were on or not. I told my daughter that I would have baked cookies every day and made friends!

North Haven Movie

Romance at Reindeer Lodge

So finally Dec. 17th came and it was exciting to see inside the house… and of course “love” evolved at the Reindeer Lodge. Doesn’t love always triumph at the end of every Hallmark Movie? It actually premiered on their other channel – Hallmark Mysteries; I never even knew they played movies on two channels until this year. It wasn’t my favorite move of the season, but it was interesting as I recognized all the local areas they filmed at.

If you watched any of the movies…. did you have a favorite? I’d have a hard time picking one single favorite, but I did have several that I actually enjoyed. There was one about a dog named Buddy that ranked high on my list, and one of a soldier came who came home for Christmas, after being listed as killed in action. But if I must say a favorite, I’d say it was “The Angel of Christmas” about a wooden Angel that a reporter wrote a story on. Her mother had sent her the carved wooden Angel that her grandfather carved many years ago for a woman he once loved. She needed to write a Christmas story for the newspaper she worked for, and after searching out information on the woman who didn’t marry her grandfather and meeting an artist… well he ended up being the grandson of that woman who’d been in love with her grandfather. I know it was mushy… but if you could dream about meeting someone who connected to your past… this would be my love story!

In the story, they talked about how Christmas trees were originally only decorated outside so the angels in heaven first saw the lights…. and the story also told of how the Christmas Angel granted wishes! I made sure my Christmas Angel was on top of my tree this year! I searched out that theory of trees outside but didn’t find anything to make me feel that was how it began. My father’s parents never had a decorated tree inside their home… but she always hung lights on a tree outside. I have no memory of seeing it or questioning why, but again I don’t seem to have any early Christmas memories!

My mother said they never had a Christmas tree in their house growing up either… it seemed as if they didn’t celebrate holidays like we do today. I remember spending Christmas once at Granddaddy McKinley’s farm and we went out in the field and cut down a tree. Mama and I made ornaments from nuts and items we found outside and she made a star using tinfoil to cover a shape. I think I strung popcorn and made paper chains for garland. Somehow, that tree is the only one that I seem to remember.

In asking my mother, why they had no tree… “my parents just didn’t seem to celebrate holidays or even birthdays, it was just another day. He farmed, so his concern was producing enough to feed us… and we always ate well. On Christmas morning Daddy would disappear up to the barns and return with a big box full of apples, oranges, nuts, and candy…  we were as happy as happy could be.”


© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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I’m a Craft Junkie: Barbie’s a Mermaid

I’m a Craft Junkie

Barbie’s a Mermaid

mermaid tales

Every granddaughter received a different color!

What I thought would be a quick knit, was a mermaid snuggy pattern I’d found on Ravelry called Mermaid Tail Lap Blanket by Angie Hartley. I have to admit it took me awhile to learn the pattern, and I had to finally turn to YouTube to fully understand it. Once I had the pattern in my head, it was really an easy knit, although I did have a couple of boo boo’s, but no one probably but I can find them.

After knitting two of these, because the granddaughter had a sister that was now waiting for hers… I couldn’t knit three more. Santa brought warm cozy fluffy ones! My pattern also came with doll mermaid patterns to fit Barbie and the larger American Girl dolls, and they knitted up much faster. In not wanting to use dpn needles, I used my small 9-inch circulars… they worked great. I can knit with the dpn needles, but they do slow me down and I sometimes end up with a line ridge; guess I need to work on that!

In everything I seem to do, I have to wait till it’s almost upon me… to move me along. Well, Christmas was coming, and I decided in November that I wanted to give my 5 granddaughters Barbie mermaid snuggy’s. It so happened I already had one made, and another started; I had begun in the summer, but then laid the project down. I’m not much of a knitter in the summer.

DSC_0411 FIX

The hardest part was keeping them still for the photo!

I worked diligently every night, for the most part… and I was finishing one every few days, just by knitting every night. Not wanting to give just a mermaid outfit, without a doll to put it on, I turned to my favorite online store, Amazon… and within a couple of days… I had Barbies! I made one adjustment to her pattern. I added the first row as just plain knit, instead of starting immediately off with the K1, P1 for the rib… I wanted it to have a curl (you can see that in my photos) Also, depending on what weight of yarn, fingerling or sport, you might need to make the body slightly longer; it’s not hard to add to this pattern… it’s forgiving. All yarn has its own weight and knits up differently.

It was so exciting when they opened their gifts and discovering that their new Barbie came with her own mermaid tail… and each one yelling that they had their favorite color! GiGi knows all, even more than Santa!

All my knitting projects for everyone else is now done… so I plan to concentrate on me now! I want to finally learn how to knit socks and make myself a pair of mittens! Winter is here, snow is here, so let the knitting for me begin!

If you’re reading this and you don’t knit, I’m encouraging you to learn… take a class… watch YouTube… beg a friend to teach you… but Learn! It’s very rewarding to take a strand of yarn and needles and create something. And if you’re like me, you’ll soon be over-run by yarn, needles… and more needles. I have a very hard time at a tag sale if I spot a box of knitting needles… I’m going to stop and rummage through the box, and before I buy, I’m thinking of the person who knitted and loved those needles. Most times, they often come home with me, especially if it’s a ridiculously cheap price; I just can’t leave them there, can I?


Oh, there’s much more… but I wasn’t going to dig them out!

knitting bowl

I’m lucky to have a crafty woodworking husband who made me this knitting bowl! They can easily be made from old wooden salad bowls or any wood bowl shape you like… draw a pattern on the side and cut.

mini knitting bowl

My daughter mentioned she’d like a bowl for her desk… so I found a salad bowl at Target, and Bibbity, Bobbity, Boo… hubby turned it into a mini knitting bowl! He took wooden skewers,  turned them into knitting needles and added a wooden bead on top. I knitted a few rows and – project done!

Ok, time to get your knitting needles out!


Want to read more, click… I’m a Craft Junkie

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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I’m a Craft Junkie: 2017 Christmas Mitten Ornaments

I have always been a crafter, and I attribute that back to my grandmother, Ola Askew McKinley. Her passions were sewing, quilting, and crocheting; I wonder why she never knitted? My mom tells me that although my grandmother couldn’t follow a written pattern,  she only needed to see the item and she could duplicate it. I have many of her artistic accomplishments which I will be featuring in my Heirloom posts –  stay tuned!

2017 Christmas Mitten Ornaments

Insalaco girls all

I began making handmade Christmas ornaments when my children were small and have continued through the years… with a few years taken off for good behavior! As my children married and I now have grandchildren… five granddaughters… I’ve gotten back into ornament making. Usually, I sew felt ornaments, but this year I chose to knit after finding these knitted mitten ornaments on Ravelry.

Insalaco girls mittens

Three little girls loving their mittens!

Five “red” mittens snowballed into a total of 19… as I included the parents, my husband, and several friends. The more I knitted, the easier and faster I finished each mitten and now… I’m wanting to make a set of “real” mittens!


Working on the mittens!

Insalaco all

Stephen’s family: I chose to embroider the girl’s initials with a key to my heart; my daughter-in-law received one of my pins and Stephen, well he got a green mitten, no bling… bling!


Ella received a special charm… a Nancy Drew magnifying glass!

Gillon mittens

Melissa’s family: I embroidered their initials on, with “keys” to my heart, and one of my pins I added to my daughters. I didn’t Frank wanted any bling, so his was green!

Inside each girl’s mitten is a note with a Christmas wish from me… GiGi

my mitten

Hubby’s green mitten and mine… he didn’t get any bling-bling either…  I pinned a butterfly from one of my mother’s necklaces on mine!

And why did I make them mostly all red… in case you’re wondering… well, Red is my favorite color!


Click for more I”m a Craft Junkie… 

© 2017@copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Weekend Weathervanes: Santa and Reindeers

Weekend Weathervanes

Santa and Reindeers!

Now I know what to do with those photos – “thanks” to Heather Wilkinson Rojo at Nutfield Genealogy; she blogs Weekly Wednesday Weathervanes  in New Hampshire.  Please check out her page and enjoy the many unusual weathervane photos and often be entertained with a history lesson. It’s amazing at what you can encounter in your travels  – You Just Need To Look Up!


Santa… on Donder, on Blitzen, on Rudolph!

On one of our weekend rides, on the backroads in Shelton, CT. (I think), we rounded a corner and I yelled for hubby to stop! I really should have one of those bumper stickers that say… I Brake for Weathervanes!

As it was far away, I couldn’t exactly tell what it was until later after we were roads away… and I was so excited that I’d have a “vane” for Christmas; so excited, that I even forgot to post it on time!


As I can’t remember exactly where this is…. you better bet that I will be trying to research my route… when it’s warm. We are freezing in CT. right now, with temperatures of 12 degrees and lower!


I love the cupola the Santa weathervane was mounted on! All I could think of when I saw it was the poem ‘Twas the night before Christmas, so I”m sharing it with you!


‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

By Clement Clarke Moore

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

Merry Christmas and Happy (2018) New Year to All!


Want to read more, click…. Weekend Weathervanes:

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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2017 A to Z: Letter Z…All About Me

2017 A to Z: Letter Z…

I thought I’d change the on-going 52 stories this year to an A to Z of 26 stories of  “All About Me”.  I plan to post bi-monthly, but I’m not holding myself to a certain time frame other than completing by year end. Originally I was going to do the “All About Me” for the 30 Day -April A to Z, but thought I might get just a wee bit long-winded, so I’m giving myself a longer time frame. Hopefully, by the time I reach letter Z, I will have written all I can remember about “me.” If you so feel inclined, why not join me in your own “A to Z” of All about Me!



Letter Z is for… Zoo, and Zip-a-Dee Doo-Dah


Image result for early grant park zooI have no memory of going to any zoo as a child, other than Grant Zoo which was across from Aunt Lena’s house in Atlanta. It was a small park that housed a few animals, which I have no memory of… but I do remember seeing the Cyclorama there. I vaguely have a memory of going there once with my mother… it was all about the Civil War, but it made a lasting impression on me, and I still can see the bodies of the men laying around all in battle.

Related imageAunt Lena’s house sat directly across the street from the zoo, and whenever we visited, I always wanted to go to the park and swing. Only once, did I venture there by myself… and Aunt Lena came right after me… telling me how bad people hang around there.. and lectured me the entire walk back to her house… of how I can not, and better not go there by myself again…  and probably pulled me back to her house by my ear that day!


As an adult, I’ve only been to a couple of local zoos, but the one that hubby and I stopped at in Natural Bridge, Virginia (2016) was awesome; we were like two small kids there… at least I was! On our yearly trips to Georgia, we’d seen the large billboards for Safari Park Zoo… and always saying we should stop…. well we finally did! It’s comprised mostly of a drive-through, but also has a walk around of other fenced-in animals. As we stayed nearby, we were first in line to enter the next morning…. not wanting to disappoint the animals, we bought two buckets of food. I can’t believe hubby was going to let me feed them through the car windows… and boy was it a mess afterward!

Not really knowing what to expect, we read the directions of… either leave your windows up or down… don’t roll window up while the animals are near… don’t get out of your car… and only feed them from the bucket of food, not with your hands! It’s a three-mile ride through the 180-acre park, which takes over an hour or longer when it’s busy… you can even start over again… if you’re so inclined!

It was mostly Lahama’s who greeted us as we first rolled through the gate and I was amazed how they came right up to the car… eagerly and willing to stick their entire head inside our car to eat. At times it was hard to even get their head out of the bucket, and out of the car… if you could have only heard my conversation with them! Further in, we were greeted by elk and moose… their shoulders standing higher to the roof of our car… but their size was slightly intimidating, although they were super friendly as they looked in each window to see who in the car had food.

Further into the park were all types of deer, but they were more skittish and didn’t come to the car, but the Watusi cows with the “huge” Texas horns weren’t afraid to come say hello.

After our drive through, we parked…. brushed out as much of the dropped food and wiped off the slobber… there should be a car wash nearby! We decided to spend a little time in their walk through zoo area to see the kangaroos, bungees, giraffes, penguins, tigers, and wolves. It was the peacocks strutting down the sidewalks who first greeted us and definitely got our attention with their loud voices.

I headed first into the pen of the kangaroos where you pretty much walked among them. There were two outside on the pathway near me and I could see a Joey peeking out at me. While they were close enough for me to lean over and touch… I didn’t think I was ready for a possible boxing match, so I chose to photograph them instead. They just hopped around us, like we were nobody.

The next enclosure was the bungees (small parakeet birds) and if you had purchased bungee feeding sticks, they’d fly and light on your hand to feed. They were in colors of blue, green, and yellow… looking like Easter colors flying all around. You had to walk carefully inside their area so as not to step on them.

The giraffe exhibit was awesome and one of my favorites… and as you walked up to the petting area, you were immediately at the height of where their heads were. They were super friendly, coming right up to you and eating out of your hands while you petted them. Such beautiful animals and graceful walkers. I was wishing all my granddaughters were there to see them!

Somehow, we missed the giant tortoise exhibit, and by the time I remembered it… well it was too far to walk back too… gives us another reason for a return visit!

So if you find yourself riding through the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia on I-81 (Exit 180) and you see those billboards advertising Virgina Safari Park…. Don’t pass it by!

Zip-a-Dee Doo-Dah:

Zippety Do Dah… Zippety Day…. My Oh My… it’s a wonderful Day… I’ve finished my A to Z of All About Me before the end of the year! Did I have any doubts that I would… Definitely Not… as once I commit to something… I finish!

Did I remember everything about my life? Well, I hope so, but who can remember it all! At times, I wish I could have remembered more… and why can’t I! I find it so frustrating when I read all the memories that others remember… like my husband… he remembers so much about his childhood…. much more than I do… why don’t I remember?

Well as I committed to this A to Z this year… it’s done… over… finished, and off my bucket list… now I can move on to my next A to Z next year (2018) in April. I’m way ahead of schedule as I’ve already begun writing and editing my topic of Nancy Drew. Usually, I’m just picking my topic about a month before, but this idea came to me about six months ago… which is a good thing! I’m having so much fun writing All About Nancy Drew, that I’ve neglected to write other blog posts.

I’d like to shout out a big  “Thank You” to everyone who’s followed me along this year in the sharing of my memories, stories, and photos. It’s meant a lot to me in reading your comments of how I sparked a memory for you… doing many of the same things I did. I hope to see you be back in April for All About Nancy Drew!

Well now that I’ve written them down… I guess I don’t have to work so hard in remembering any longer… they are now written in stone for my children and grandchildren!


Want to read more, then click… 2017: A to Z… All About Me!

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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2017 A to Z: Letter Y… All About Me

2017 A to Z: Letter Y…

I thought I’d change the on-going 52 stories this year to an A to Z of 26 stories of  “All About Me”.  I plan to post bi-monthly, but I’m not holding myself to a certain time frame other than completing by year end. Originally I was going to do the “All About Me” for the 30 Day -April A to Z, but thought I might get just a wee bit long-winded, so I’m giving myself a longer time frame. Hopefully, by the time I reach letter Z, I will have written all I can remember about “me.” If you so feel inclined, why not join me in your own “A to Z” of All about Me!



Letter Y is for… Yearbook, Yards, Happy New “Year”, Where have the “years” gone, and “Year” of retirement



My Senior yearbook… I”m circled!

Yes… I’ve kept my high school yearbooks all these years. After reading about me during this past year, I’m sure you knew the answer to that already… as I must seem like I keep everything! My school put together yearbooks every year and included all grades. What a great thing, because… your photo is saved there in those books for four years of your life! I wish I’d been more involved and joined the yearbook committees, but back then it seemed more like a certain “click” who did that, and I wasn’t in that “click.” Funny how school works like that, and I bet they still do! Today, many of those very people are on my Facebook friend list… funny how things work! Maybe I was too shy and standoffish to even try to join!

I enjoy looking back through my yearbooks… and sometimes I have to go back and look up someone… well yes you do forget their names. What I really love is looking back at the history of my town through the photos that are on the advertisement pages. I never thought, back then, to take specific photos of the town I grew up in, but many of them are preserved on those pages. Saving your yearbook… can give you that walk down memory lane!


My first yard was at 216 Binns St. in Union Point for the first five years of my life. It was in that yard with my dog Butch, where I learned to walk. Mama even built me a playhouse in that yard… all by herself! There was no sidewalk on our side of the street, but there was one across from me and I first learned to roller skate there… in front of Mrs. Finch’s house; she was the only house that had a sidewalk; mama tells me I’d skate up and down all day long.

me in front yard Binns St.

Me in our front yard on Binns St. with Grandmamma’s famous Ola Lily next to me. It looks like I’m holding a rope/ leash? maybe Butch was there, but just out of the photo.

While there are no photographs showing the playhouse Mama built, or me skating on the sidewalk, or even of our house when we lived there… I still have my memories!

swing set

Me and my father in Union Point at our friend’s house at Easter! I’m thinking that’s Daddy’s car in the background!

In Perry, I spent a lot of time in my yard at 1321 Smoak Avenue and I had a playhouse there also… it started out as just a big box crate that Mama quickly transformed into a playhouse. Daddy had gotten it from work at (WRAF) Robins base… how he got it home, I have no idea! There was a big holly tree on the neighbor’s property line and Daddy built me a treehouse… although actually, it was only a big floor! Even though it was only an open platform, it was a quiet place to sit and read… probably Nancy Drew! My neighbor, who was a few years older than me, loved to tease me that it was really her tree. After Mama finally tired of me running inside to tell her that Jackie said “it’s really her tree”… Mama told me to tell her – “if it’s your tree, then move it.” Well, of course, I went right back out to tell her, and I probably started it off with “my Mama said“… I think that was the end of the “your tree – my tree” words!

Two tall pecan trees loomed high in my backyard on Smoak Avenue in Perry… and they were great for climbing. I’d climb all the way to the top… until Mama yelled for me to come down before I fell and broke something, I never broke a bone until a couple of years ago when I broke my foot, and it wasn’t from climbing a tree; I was only walking in a pumpkin field. When the pecans were ready for picking, I’d climb and shake the limbs to help the pecans loosen. Hubby and I rode through Perry this year, and when I rode by my old home, I looked up to see if those same two pecan trees were still looming high in the backyard… and yes they were!

The front yard on Smoak Avenue was always filled with kids as Mama often spent time with us all. She’d sit on the front stoop and play games like Mother May I, Red Rover, or even doing, trying to do the hula hoop with us! My front yard was a busy place… playing school in the summer, reading Nancy Drew on grandmamma’s quilt, and playing Barbie on the steps.

The Hillcrest yard was just a yard…. as I had outgrown playing in the yard by that time. Pretty much the only thing I did in that yard, was laying out in the summer on the back cement patio… sunbathing! But it was the first yard where I drove a car and got my first car to park in the driveway…. it was a 1965 pale yellow mustang!

Happy New “Year”:

daddy and me

Daddy and Me with my Mustang!

Celebrating the “new” Year always makes me feel a little sad…. saying goodbye to another year in my life while welcoming “whatever” was coming. When I married, my father still called me on New Year’s Eve, like clockwork, to wish me Happy New Year! I could always count on him calling, and he never failed… and I miss that! There were times he’d even wake me up as I had fallen asleep… while he was still out partying! Every New Years Eve, I silently tell Daddy “Happy New Year” as I look up toward Heaven! I sure wish I could have one more phone call!

Where Have the “Years” Gone”

The “Years” have gone by way too fast and no one realizes that… until it’s too late! We all rush through our busy lives too fast! As children, we can’t wait to hurry up and finish school for summer vacation… hurry to high school… hurry to get our license to drive… and hurry up and graduate! Once you graduate… your life really starts rolling faster than you realize. You marry, and before you know it, your kids are grown… all those baby cries, oohs and ahhs, walking and talking are only a memory… they now have kids of their own and you’re suddenly called grandma… although I’m called GiGi! Now you’re really beginning to feel old! At one time, the thought of being called “grandma” seemed like lightyears away!

Year of Retirement:

You hear the word “retirement” all your life… and think it’s so far away… and then it’s here! This (2017) was the year of retirement for me… with much hesitation. There’s just so much that goes with it… figuring out if you can actually afford to retire, all the Medicare stuff and everything else that goes along with it, and staying home all the time. Actually not having to get up for work is a nice thing and I’m looking forward to our snowy winters of watching the snow fall from my couch! If work hadn’t offered a buyout, I probably would still be there!

Retirement was scary, but my husband and I are enjoying the free time we have now to just go where we want… when we want. Recently we took long weekends in Vermont and New Hampshire to enjoy the leaf peeping and the countryside. They are beautiful states with very friendly people, and when spring rolls around, we will be going back. We had no specific agenda on those weekends, other than just get in the car and ride… stopping wherever we wanted. Next summer we plan on adding Maine to the last New England state we haven’t visited.

DSC_0168 FIX

We only saw Mt. Washington from a distance as it was late October and the road up was closed due to the weather –  it was snow topped! After noticing many white birch trees in New Hamshire, I learned it was their state tree! We plan on driving up to the tippy top of Mt. Washington next summer… If I don’t chicken out! Steve might need to bring a blindfold to keep me quiet as I’m not the best front seat passenger!

DSC_0196 FIX

We saw Moose crossing signs in both Vermont and New Hampshire… but No Moose!

DSC_0187 FIX

We did find a Moose at The Muddy Moose restaurant in North Conway, N.H; loved the food and atmosphere of the moose antlers chandeliers and the moose head mounted on the wall!

Per the suggestion of my son, we went to North Conway, New Hampshire and loved it. I’m definitely going back to ride the train through the White Mountains and I want to visit Mount Washington; we did see it snow capped from a distance but it was now closed to public travel. My in-laws spent their honeymoon in the White Mountains… I wish I knew where they stayed and what they saw while there… maybe they drove up Mt. Washington? While we saw many “Moose Crossing” signs, we didn’t see one live moose, but there are moose tours, so that’s on our to-do-list when we visit again.

DSC_0186 FIX

Definitely on my “to ride” list on our return trip!

vermont country store

The Vermont Country Store in Putney, VT.

Winding through nearby Vermont led us to the Vermont Country Store… plan on a few hours of wandering from room to room as you ooh and ahh at all the old-fashioned toys and penny candy you’ll find; I made my granddaughters Halloween bags from all the candies offered. I didn’t add the candy cigarettes though… as I thought I’d be chastised over that one… but I loved those as a kid! I did buy them the wax filled soda bottles of liquid… and they were a big hit, along with the red wax lips! And never leave Vermont without buying maple syrup and cheddar cheese… what a difference in taste!


Granddaughters having fun with the lips!

I found a few used bookstores and came home with a couple new Nancy Drew books… that was a good thing! My collecting tastes have somewhat changed from looking for cast iron to now… looking for Nancy Drew! Big difference! Hubby still checks out the cast iron, but he also spots the yellow spines!

DSC_0293 FIX

I even found a Jeanne’s Diner in New Hampshire! We arrived around dinner time… so I missed eating at my Diner!

In my years of retirement… I’m working hard to make the years count… do the things I want… when I want! Years are “precious” gifts… make them count every day!!!


Want to read more, then click… 2017: A to Z… All About Me!

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #44

Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #44

Nancy Drew books

August 19, 2017: “How’s the weather,” I asked tonight. “It’s cool, and I’m under the covers. I’ve got more Nancy Drew books, and some more Hardy Boys too. They’ll be here when you come, and you can take them home if you want; I’ll be finished reading them by then.”

I told Mama we had pizza for lunch, and… “No Thank You, I don’t want no pizza, don’t think I’ve ever eaten one and I just don’t want it. I’d rather have a slice of apple pie. I could go for that right now with a cup of coffee.”

While I was talking, I kept clearing my throat and Mama said… “well if you can’t get that frog out of your throat, just swallow him.”

I told Mama that when I come next April (2018) we will go to Perry for the big book sale at the GA Fairgrounds. Maybe I’ll find one of my old Nancy Drew books. If I did write my name in them, I have no memory of it. Mama said, “I have no memory either or even what happened to your books.

August 23, 2017: I caught Mama almost dozing when I called. “I was just going to take a nap after coming home from the center today… picked at my lunch down there, nothing good. I stirred around my plate, but there was nothing on there I wanted; Carolyn took Johnny home a plate. I’m too picky to eat most of the times, as I’m only going to eat what I like. I guess when I was pregnant, was the one time I ate more than I ever ate in my life; I ate turnip greens all the time. Maybe I got my “not so much” appetite from my father, as he wasn’t a big eater either.”

“The house that June Boswell lived in uptown in Siloam, was across from the corner gas station. Daddy almost bought that house after Mama’s mind got bad. It would have been better for Mama if he had moved to town, as she would have had more company. I wish he had bought it, as I always liked that house. Daddy had money, he had money in several banks… in Greensboro, Union Point and Sparta. I don’t know why, but he liked to keep money in different banks when he was young. Later on, he put all the money in just the Union Point Farmer’s Bank. My father had some money, but he never dressed in anything other than his overalls and his old hat. His clothes were clean, but he dressed as a farmer!”

August 24, 2017: When mama answered, I asked… “did you go to the center again today? “Yes, I went there and let them look at me. I guess some of them think I’m funny!”

I told Mama how McKinley was playing with her mother’s pink magic 8-Ball and asked if Santa would bring her a new baby doll, bottles, and a carrier. She’d then turn it over and ask me what it said. Mama said… “You never liked Santa when you were small, you could care less what he brought. You didn’t even wake up early like other kids to go and see. And then when you were older, you’d know ahead of time what was under the tree because you unwrapped everything and re-wrapped it. I only fooled you once by putting your father’s name on your gift.”

August 25, 2017: After telling mama I wanted to sew myself a Nancy Drew bag to carry when I go book shopping, she said… “Oh, I want one too! I’ll carry it down to the center.” Oh, the pressure now of making two bags… maybe she will forget!

August 27, 2017: I didn’t call mama Saturday night and when I called on Sunday evening, she said… “I haven’t heard from you in awhile, I thought maybe you were halfway to Georgia!” Boy, do I get in trouble if I don’t call “every” night… I know she’s gotten used to that phone call nightly, but once in awhile, I’m out late and just can’t call… and she lets me know I forgot!

August 28, 2017: Mama asked me tonight… “when are you coming down, soon I hope.” I said probably early October, why? “What are we going to do when you come.” I said, “maybe go visit some old cemeteries, I love walking around in them.” Immediately she said, “I don’t want to go to any cemeteries, I’ll be there soon enough. You know I don’t want to be buried in one… when I go, just tell Boo it’s time for him to go too and we’ll go together. Cremate us, take my ashes up on a plane and let us fly.” Me… Ok, that’s enough of that conversation!

August 29, 2017: As soon as I called tonight… “I’ve gotten you more Nancy Drew’s, The Mystery of the Clock, The Hidden Staircase, and The Missing Map…one book even has two stories in it.” Me… “What are you doing, sleeping with them?”… “Well, they are sitting here on the other side of the bed.”

Sept. 3, 2017: I told Mama about McKinley showing me the weathervane in the garden at their new house… and McKinley said, “these are supposed to go on top of the house and not in a garden.” I told her “you’re absolutely right, so tell your daddy where it’s supposed to go.” Hmm… wonder how that conversation went!

Sept. 4, 2017: “I really need to go to the center tomorrow and then to the store, but I don’t  know what I want… but I need some groceries.” Me – just go up and down the aisles, you’ll find something. “What I’d really like is to just stick my feet under my mama’s table, just one more time, but I know that’s not possible.”

“I’ve been watching the news abt Hurricane Irma coming, hope it doesn’t hit Florida like they’re saying; I see people leaving. I don’t ever remember hearing about any hurricanes when I was growing up or even when we lived in Perry.”

In talking to Mama about the pictures Lynn had from Miss Bay’s house… ” yes we used to like to sit and look at those photos. Margaret (Lyn’s mother) and I could sit all afternoon looking through the viewer that Miss Bay had. There would be two pictures on one card and you’d look through and see a three-D effect. we could sit there for hours and be content looking at them all, but I never heard anyone tell us who they were.”

“The neighbors next door finally moved out, the ones with all those girls… I’m happy, as now they won’t be pestering me anymore to come in my yard. I’d like an elderly couple to move in, hopefully not just an elderly woman, as she’d prob want to come over and I’d be saying, no I don’t do visits. I said, “maybe an elderly man”… Oh no, I don’t want no man either… I’m not looking to meet anyone.”

September 8, 2017: I mentioned Hurricane Irma tonight when I called… “No one is talking about anything down at the center. It’s not going to really be anything, I’ll be alright here. My house is down in a gully, the wind usually just goes right over my house.  Boo and I will be just fine here. The seniors are going somewhere on the bus tomorrow, all I know is I don’t want to get on that bus and ride… anywhere. I’d rather stay home and lay in my bed with Boo.”

“When we lived in Perry, Teddy Bear would go in the dining room and get in the corner. A few times, I even got in the corner with him if a bad cloud came up. Guess that’s why Boo is under the bed… maybe he’s listening to the TV weather reports.”

“My hair was short when I was little, cut with bangs and high in the back. I hated my hair! I think Uncle Walter cut my hair; he was the barber in the family. You didn’t really go anywhere to have your hair cut, it was usually someone in the family who cut your hair, and we all had bangs back then. All the girl’s hair seemed to have been cut the same way… Uncle Walter had three girls and we all had the same haircut.” 

“One of Uncle Walter’s girls, Mildred, died from drinking old, contaminated water out of a bottle… they said she had typhoid fever. Her grandfather took a lot of medicine and many of the bottles lay around outside gathering water. The Dr. thought she caught it from drinking out of those old bottles that had collected water and stood around out there.”

September 15, 2017: In asking mama about school, she said… “We had prayer every morning in the auditorium, and then we went to our rooms. There were some kids in school who celebrated Saturday for Sunday worship, but we all said our prayers silently to ourselves. I thought differently about religion than I do today.”

“My mother never moved any furniture around like people do today. Once it sat down, it never moved. She kept a clean house, a very clean house. Actually, she had no time to rearrange furniture, she was too busy hoeing in the garden, cooking, cleaning, then finally at the day’s end, she’d piece quilts. It was mostly Aunt Mae who made most of my dresses, mama wasn’t a good seamstress for clothes, but she made quilts better than most.”

Oct. 1, 2017: After seeing a movie on TV showing kids living on a farm watching the circus walk into town from the train, I asked mama if she’d ever seen them… “No I never saw them arrive, but they never came by train. They came to town with many colorful painted wagons. I never saw them arrive as we lived way out in the country. Probably some of the city kids in Greensboro saw them. We did go to the circus when they came. Often we had a school day there, but sometimes daddy took us at night.”

Oct. 5, 2017: Mama hasn’t been feeling well lately… “I’m just resting in bed with Boo, maybe I’ll go back to the center soon. Right now a few kind words and cool water is all I want.”

Oct. 8, 2017: Somehow I began talking about grits when I called mama, and… “My mama used to fry the leftover grits as a patty, she didn’t throw anything away. I guess you’d have to put something in them, like maybe an egg to hold them together. Mama cooked grits, usually a big pot when she did cook them. She made hash too, but I didn’t eat it. I guess Daddy ate it, he never griped about anything she put on the table. He wasn’t picky, probably because he worked too hard to get money to put food on the table. Some people grew up with hardly any food on the table. They had better not complain at the table as the next one would take what should have been theirs. There was no time to complain, or the food would be grabbed by the next. People had large families back then, and you were lucky if there was even enough food on the table. We always had food, there was only just me and Leroy with my parents at the table.”

“My grandfather had two families he grew up, both were large families. He was mean to me, he’d come back from town in his buggy with the fringe on top, they called them a surrey. I’d be out in the yard with my cousin Mildred, his granddaughter from his second family; my father was older and from the first family. Mildred was always his favorite, being born in the house where he lived. He would always bring a sack of candy from town in a paper bag and come by where we stood and hand it to her. I never liked him.”

I was on Facebook while talking to Mama and something rolled by on goats, as I clicked on it, it said Goat Island at Lake Sinclair in Ga., so I mentioned it to Mama… “I don’t know anything about goats at Lake Sinclair, but I remember there being a lot of goats just down from the farm going toward Syrup Mill Crossing. The McNairs had a fenced yard and there were goats all over the place, laying all around on the big rocks out in the field. They must have sold goats for people to eat, I did hear that people cooked them, but I’m not going to eat any goat… I could never kill them! (I looked up Goat Island and read that all the goats had been removed from the island there as people were feeding them so much and feeding them all the wrong things.)

Oct. 9, 2017: In talking about cigarettes tonight… and I can’t even remember how that conversation started… “When I worked at Nathanial Greene in Greensboro, I used to know how to get free packs out of the cigarette machine there. Somehow I’d put my money in, but then I’d get a pack of cigarettes and my money back. There must have been something wrong with the machine. I can’t think now how I did it, but I guess someone had shown us. When I smoked, I remember how smoking a cigarette would calm me down, now I could never smoke a cigarette. You couldn’t pay me enough! My eyes are just burning today, they have been burning all day like someone put something in them. I really don’t know of any allergies running around now, so I don’t’ know what it could be. I’ve laid a wet cloth on them right now.”

Before hanging up, I told mama that we made a banana cake and was sending her cake tomorrow in the mail, and … “Oh Good, I’ll have coffee with it and call it my birthday, but you don’t have to send it… but I’ll eat it. “

“I think I’ll go to the center tomorrow, I haven’t been there in a few weeks, but I’m feeling better now. Only one person called me to see how I was feeling, and I really don’t even know her. I think she might sit at the next table to us at lunch. You think you have friends, but then they don’t even call and check on you. They all know I don’t have any family down here, but they’ll go to church and cook for sick people… but never bring me anything when I’m sick. Even the center didn’t call, and they’re supposed to call and check on the people who come down there… I guess I don’t count.” I told mama to not let that bother her, I call her daily, and lately, I call two or three times a day trying to make sure she takes her antibiotic correctly; she has a hard time keeping up with medicine now… and she’ll take it before I tell her too. Thank Heavens tomorrow is the last day for pills, as it’s driving me crazy doing it long distance!

October 16, 2017: In talking about Melissa’s birthday today, Mama said… “tell her Happy Birthday for me.” The conversation turned to the Moss Oaks club as I asked her if moss hung on the trees out there; she and daddy ran the club when I was in high school and she said, “the last time I was in there, they had built the bar differently. It was redone as a round circle in the center of the room.”

To be continued…

Like to read more… click on  Conversations with Mama and more

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Turner Family Research: William Pinkney Turner – Post 3 – Turner Family Notes

Turner Family Research: William Pinkney Turner – Post 3 – Turner Family Notes

Are John & Hannah Turner your parents – Still looking…

A continuation of findings, facts and more as I search to authenticate the parents of William Pinkney Turner’s parents… which at this time I believe to be John & Hannah Turner: Post No. 3

My original post on the search for William’s parents can be found Here – it was written January 4th of this year. Since writing it, I have decided to make follow-ups in order for a  better continuation of information. The more you look and study the facts – the more a chance to find that piece of info you have over-looked! Post No. 2 can be found Here.


The more I search the rabbit holes, the more I hope I”ll discover that “specific” clue to absolutely say, “YES” John and Hannah are my William P. Turner’s parents…. it still has not surfaced. It must be there… am I overlooking it? As I think of ways to document that link, I will be posting in these Turner Family Research posts. My plan in Post. No. 3 is to trace the children of John and Hannah Turner – probable parents of my William Pinkney Turner. As I have searched through all the “Turner” families in Lumpkin Co., this is the only family I’ve found that he fits into.

John & Hannah Turner


Their Children:

CHILD 1: Oliver Perry Turner: 1841 – 1909


  • Oliver was born August, 1841 in South Carolina, possibly Union, Union Co., S.C. as that is where Oliver’s parents were in 1840. (Source: 1840 Census on Ancestry)
  • Oliver is listed on the 1850 Davis, Lumpkin Co., Ga. Census, age 9, with parents. His place of birth is listed as S.C. (Source: 1850 Davis, Lumpkin Co., GA. Census on Ancestry; census taken Oct. 7, 1850)
  • No 1860 census found for this family; it’s noted that the 1860 Lumpkin Co. Census was very poorly written and several pages missing, as noted on FamilySearch. I went page by page, twice, through 1860 on Ancestry, and FamilySearch. I did not find this Turner family. I had hoped to find them miss-labeled or listed accidentally under another family, but that was not the case.
  • The 1864 Lumpkin Co. GA., Militia Census lists the father, John Turner, in Lumpkin Co., so I believe the family remained in Lumpkin in 1860, even though I could not find.
  • Oliver P. Turner married Sarah A. Albercrombie, Sept. 30, 1866, Lumpkin, Co., GA.




  • 1867: Aug. 13, 1867 – Oliver P. Turner listed on Georgia, Returns of Qualified Voters and Reconstruction Oath Books, 1867-1869, Lumpkin Co., Georgia.
  • 1870 Lumpkin Co., GA Census list Oliver, wife Sarah A. (now called Fanny), Cansada, age 2 (F), Clemeth Wiley, age 2 months, born April, (M). Oliver is listed as born in GA. on this census – he was born in S.C.; his wife was born in Ga., posb. she gave info? (Source: 1870 Lumpkin Co., GA. Census from Ancestry)


Clemeth Wiley (Born April 17, 1870)  died Nov. 19, 1874, Kansas; Clemeth is buried in the  Saltville Cemetery, Mitchell County, Kansas cemetery; he is the first person that was buried in this cemetery.


  • 1880 Salt Creek, Mitchell Co., Kansas Census lists Oliver, age 38, farmer, now listed born S.C. and both parents born S.C.; wife Sarah A., age 33, keeping house: Children Emaline C. (F) (Cansada in 1870), Dolly, age 6 (F), born Kansas, John, age 4 months (M), born Kansas. Oliver and family were in Kansas by 1876/77 when daughter Dolly Mae was born. (Source: Ancestry 1880 Census)
  • oliver-p-turner-1880-clip


  • 1900 Census of Salt Creek, Mitchell Co., Kansas, lists Oliver P. Turner, age 58, born. Aug. 1941, S.C., both parents born S.C., farmer; married to Sarah A., age 52, born May 1848: Son, John, (20), born Jan. 1880 in Kansas:oliver-p-turner-1900-clip


Child 2: Elizabeth Turner – born 1845 South Carolina

  • 1843: born 1845 (posb. Union) South Carolina
  • 1850: Davis, Lumpkin Co., GA
  • 1860: no census found
  • 1870: not listed with family in Dahlonega, Lumpkin Co., GA.
  • 1880: listed as age 35 with family in Hightower, Lumpkin Co., Ga. (Ironically John & Hannah listed ALL their children living with them, or elsewhere, on this census. Can I assume that Elizabeth is still living as they listed her at age 35? I hope that they wouldn’t have listed her if she was deceased.) I will continue to look for a marriage license for her.


Child 3: William Pinkney Turner – born 1846 Lumpkin Co., GA.

Born: April 6, 1846 – Died: March 6, 1899

My William Pinkney Turner listed his parent’s place of birth on 1880 census: He lists both parents born Georgia, same as him. But… John and Hannah were born in S. C. (often people didn’t know and guessed or census taker recorded wrong)


1850: Family No. 54, Davis, Lumpkin Co., GA. Census: John Turner, age 26, born S.C., married to Hannah, age 30, born S.C., son Oliver, age 9, born S.C., daughter Elizabeth, age 7, born S.C., son William Turner, age 4, b. GA. 1846.

1860: Family of John & Hannah Turner not found.

1864 Ga Militia Census John Turner

1864: Militia Census for Re-Organizing the Georgia Militia. No matter how hard I looked, I could not find John and Hannah Turner in the 1860 GA. Census, but yet here he is in the 1864 GA. Militia Census in Lumpkin Co., Georgia. (Source: Ancestry)

Turner William and Laura Marriage CLIP

1867: William P. Turner married Laura A. Gooch – Nov. 14, 1867, Lumpkin Co., GA.

1870 Pinkey Turner Census FIX

1870: William Pinkney Turner, age 23, now married (1867) to Laura A. Gooch, age 19. Child Barney, age 3 months. (Living in Dahlonega, Lumpkin Co., GA.)

1880 Turner Lumpkin Co Ga. CLIP

1880: William Turner, age 33, married to Laura A. (Gooch). Children: Barney, age 10, Missouria, age 8, Mary E. age 5, Sarah, age 2. (Note: father shows born N.C., and mother S.C. on this census… but we know census’s are not always correct)

1880 Turner Census

1880: My William lives next door to a George Turner, age 27, wife Caroline, age 25, Miliard (sp), age 4, and Wattie (Mattie?sp), age 1. (George was born in GA., and listed both parents as born in GA., so probably means he wouldn’t be a son of John & Hannah Turner) I never saw this George listed in the household of John and Hannah Turner… I found it interesting though that he lived next door to my William P. Turner. Above him is a William Turner, age 9, listed as a servant, in the household of William Gooch. At this time, I do not know who this young William Turner’s parents are, and have had no luck in placing him in a Turner family, but the Gooch’s and Turner families intermarried, so he could possibly be a cousin; he could even be a grandchild of this William Gooch… children servants are not always listed as grandchildren.

1890: no census

1899: William Pinkey Turner died March 6, 1899, Nimblewill, Lumpkin Co., GA. Buried Nimblewill Baptist Ch. Cemetery.

1900 Turner Census

1900: Laura A. (Gooch) Turner with children still living at home. Barney, age 30, Missouria, age 28, and Dolly, age 17.

1910: Laura A. (Gooch) Turner… still with children listed at home. Barney, age 38, Missouri, age 36, and Dolly, age 26. (Note the ages of Barney and Missouri differ by two to eight years difference)

1914: Laura A. (Gooch) Turner died July 29, 1914, and is buried Nimblewill Baptist Ch. Cemetery.


Child 4: Sarah Sary Turner, born 1852


Child 5: Francis Marion Turner, born 1853

In researching my John Turner and William Pinkney Turner I found info on Francis Marion Turner through another Turner researcher:

Francis Marion: Two marriages found before the third to Carrie Helms/Holmes/Jones: (My Turner lines)

Turner, Francis Marion: No. 2   Spencer, Sarah J.         July 18, 1878
Turner, Francis Marion: No. 3   Bridges, Amanda           November  5. 1871

From research on Ancestry, I’ve now discovered that Sarah Jane Spencer did marry a Francis Marion Turner, but not the son of John and Hannah Turner. The Francis Marion No. 1 in my Turner lines was born 1853; he gave that information when he relinquished his 4 children to the Georgia Baptist Orphanage after the death of his wife Carry Turner.

The Francis Marion Turner No. 2 was born Aug. 28, 1857, died Jan. 3, 1932, and married Sarah J. Spencer; he is buried alongside his wife in Wahoo Baptist Ch. Cemetery, Lumpkin Co., Georgia. (THIS is NOT our Francis Marion Turner)

1880 Lumpkin Co., GA. Census shows our Francis living back home with his father John – and listed as a widower. Could this Amanda Bridges be who he married in 1871; she died and he moved back home. There is also a 6-year-old in his father’s household – could she be a daughter of Francis – she is not listed directly under Francis.


Child 6: Mary A. Turner, born abt. 1857

Mary married Samuel H. Rider (1862-1900) before October 1877 in Lumpkin Co., Georgia.


  • John Samuel Rider (1877 – 1940)
  • Fannie L. Rider (1880 – 1968)
  • Ida Mae Rider (1882 – 1945)
  • Bejamin Rufus Rider (1884 – 1920)
  • Cathie I. Rider (1886 – 1900)
  • Frank Hall Rider (1888 – 1968)


Child 7: Darian Turner (1874 –    )


A work still in progress….. Click Turner Family Research to read more.

If you have any suggestions – Please contact me or leave a comment!

If you are a TURNER researcher – Contact Me, we may be related!

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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2017 A to Z: Letter X… All About Me

2017 A to Z: Letter X…

I thought I’d change the on-going 52 stories this year to an A to Z of 26 stories of  “All About Me”.  I plan to post bi-monthly, but I’m not holding myself to a certain time frame other than completing by year end. Originally I was going to do the “All About Me” for the 30 Day -April A to Z, but thought I might get just a wee bit long-winded, so I’m giving myself a longer time frame. Hopefully, by the time I reach letter Z, I will have written all I can remember about “me.” If you so feel inclined, why not join me in your own “A to Z” of All about Me!



Letter X is for… Xmas, Xmas Ornaments, Xmas Decorations and Xmas Cookies


X is the new C for Christmas… it was too early in my A to Z to write about Christmas in letter C, so I saved it for letter X.

I don’t seem to have memories of Xmas growing up as a child… makes me sad and I don’t really understand why! Was it because our family was small… I had no cousins, aunts or uncles around… maybe that was it! My mother doesn’t understand why when I tell her… she tells me that she tried to make Xmas special for me but I was just never interested. I vaguely remember the tin icicles we hung… or threw on the tree. She often tells me on Christmas morning that I’d walk by… look in… and keep walking. It would be days before I’d show interest in whatever Santa left me. I was a strange child!

Maybe I was traumatized after daddy’s best friend, Henry, came to the house dressed as Santa… bringing me a doll. When I opened the door, I screamed and ran to hide under the bed… never coming out until he left… mama says I never played with that doll!

I remember being at Granddaddy McKinley’s farm and going down in a neighbors field to cut down a Christmas tree for their house… we made ornaments out of things found outside, and I think we strung popcorn. Mama said her parents had never put up a tree before, not even when she was a young girl… it was the first time they had one at the farm.

I’m told my father’s parents never had a tree either, but Grandmama Bryan would hang lights on one of the trees in the yard… that was her way of decorating a tree! It doesn’t seem like Christmas was very popular with either of my grandparents!

When I was older, for some reason, I always opened any present under the tree with my name on it to peek inside, then rewrap. Why? I have no clue other than I just couldn’t wait to know! It made my mother so mad… one year she put my father’s name on one of my gifts. After we opened our presents on Xmas, she handed me the heavy one that had daddy’s name on it… it was my typewriter… and I still have it today! I had wanted one so bad, and probably thought she’d forgotten when I didn’t find it. That was the one and only time I was ever surprised at Xmas as to what was under the tree.

me in my room

My typewriter always sat on my desk!

I’ve tried to make Xmas special for my children through the years… decorating the house and loading the tree with more toys than they possibly could ever play with. One Xmas I forgot a bag of toys, only realizing it after they had opened their gifts. Upon checking my closet… there was the missed bag of toys! I dragged the bag outside the kitchen door and later let the kids discover it… telling them that Santa must have been so tired and missed bringing the bag in. I hope they never forget Santa’s blunder!

Xmas Eve was so much fun after I married… my husband’s family celebrated Xmas Eve and Xmas Day, although the evening before was always the most fun! We traveled to both grandmother’s houses that night, and often never arrived back to home until midnight or later. At Grandma Minnie’s, there were lots of cousins, and lots of presents piled under the tree. At times, once the unwrapping began, you didn’t even know who gave what… or what gift belonged to who… wrapping and bows flew everywhere! It was so much fun!

Hubby’s Xmas Eve was all about food… so much food was prepared for that night… from the seafood meal to the fruits and nuts, and later the desserts of cookie trays and more…. these are the Xmas memories I’ll never forget and truly wish I could go back and rewatch them again and again. Today’s Xmas Eve’s are just as much fun though as now I have 5 granddaughters who generate just as much noise and can easily fill the room with the papers and trimmings once they begin opening gifts. Right now, they don’t care about the foods on Xmas Eve, unless the cookie trays are on the table… to them, it’s all about the toys… the clothes they quickly hand off to Mama!

I love the foods we serve on Xmas Eve… the Seafood sauce, Grandma Minnie’s famous broccoli salad, and the many different fried fishes… you can easily count at least 7… it’s an Italian tradition! I learned to make the seafood sauce but after teaching my husband, it’s become his thing while I make the stuffed shrimp. I’ve added a new tradition now, I make manicotti for my son-in-law… he’s strictly Irish and not a fan of the seafood sauce. Everyone needs to have their favorite dish on Xmas Eve!

Xmas Ornaments:

I fell in love with sewing felt ornaments after discovering them in a Woman’s World Christmas magazine. I liked the fact that they were made all by hand, with no gluing… glue ruins them!  I had no trouble selling them either.. family and friends gobbled them up and even offered to take them to their work… they sold like hotcakes! While I only sold them for $2.00 back in the eighties, today they’d command a much higher price, as it’s a very time-consuming process, from the cutting, sewing, and even to the stuffing. Often I made them by the dozen of each style when I was selling them – it’s faster.

SCAN0109 (481x640)

One of my favorite Christmas (Xmas) photos of my ornaments. This was when I had just begun making them and many are pictured here from Mr. & Mrs. Claus, Raggedy Ann and Andy, Ice Skates, Mr. & Mrs. Mouse, Pooh, Teddy Bears, Candy Cane and Drums.

A few more favorites here of Mr. Dachshund wearing his Santa hat, Mr. Snowman, Ducky in cracked shell, felt Mitten, and a Cat in the Stocking

I still make them occasionally at Christmas… choosing a new style and giving one to each of the granddaughters for their ornament collections. My last ornament was a design I drew… the front of a VW bus.


The VW “bug” ornaments in progress. I love all the colors!

In as much as I enjoy making them, I do find it harder now as I need glasses to see close-up… and then sometimes I still can’t see as well… especially when it comes to threading that darn needle. That is the biggest thing that frustrates me, threading that sewing needle and the one on the sewing machine… sometimes it’s just the luck of the draw!

This year, I’m making a knitted ornament…. mittens with the granddaughter’s initial on. I’m having so much fun knitting these small mittens, that many people will be hanging one on their tree! I’ve always wanted to actually knit a pair of mittens… I have lots of practice now! Check back for photos, I’ll post when I have them all made!

Xmas Decorations:

How did I lose my love for decorating at Xmas… somehow it has escaped me and it seems like it takes me right up until Xmas Eve to get that spirit? But when I look back at my holiday photos… I once had the Xmas decorating spirit and usually crafted a new item to add to the decorating of the house.

Just a few of my favorite things…

My Xmas tree card holder holds cards dear to me that I’ve received in the past… some are from loved ones that are no longer here and I enjoy looking at them every year. Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus were made from folding the pages of Readers Digest… it was all the rage that year… everyone made them. The Santa on the front steps has left home to take up residence at Stephen’s house, and the little plastic reindeer and sleigh is something I always placed near the top of my tree, but it now sits on my daughter’s tree. It’s nothing expensive, just a plastic decoration we bought many years ago, but we all loved it on the top of the tree! I snuck the new “Elf on the Shelf” in here as it’s all the rage now, and I bought them for both households. This is “Josephine” and joins my daughter’s house every season… she’ll be arriving soon to watch over McKinley and Grace! Her cousin, “Bella” will arrive at Stephen’s house to watch over Ella, Ana, and Nina… just to keep them on their best behavior for Santa! The ceramic tree is a “treasure” my father sent me so many years ago back in the 80’s and it holds dear memories of him… thinking of me! I have not given it away yet, they will have to wait on taking this one!


I won 1st place with my painted Santa at the Orange Country Fair!

It’s always been hubby’s job to decorate outside with lights and decorations… but as time has passed, those decorations have slowly been passed to our children to use in their homes. I love the older “plastic” outside decorations vs the inflatables today. While they look really cute when they are lighted and inflated at nighttime, but sad to see during the day…laying on the ground… flat and deflated!

decorations outside (2) (800x548)

The Santa with reindeers and sleigh has flown to my son’s house now. I always loved the small plastic Santa and sleigh in the window… a favorite of mine, and hubby is in trouble over that… after he tossed it in cleaning! I’ve yet to find another one, but I will buy it again… if I ever find it!

Xmas Cookies:

Christmas is never complete without cookies and in years past I baked and baked more than we could ever eat… then I gave most of them away. As soon as December rolled around, I would begin making my list of which cookies I planned to bake. I don’t know why I made a list, as I made the same ones every year! The list always included Anginettes, 7-Layer Bars, Peanut Butter Blossoms, Butter Balls, Thumbprints, M & M Sugar Cookies and my favorite… Cherry Winks. I was always a little selfish in giving away my Cherry Winks though… Shhh… don’t tell anyone!

I never baked a cookie in my life until I married… and learned all about cooking baking! My mother was a cook… not a baker! She would bring home-baked cookies and cakes that her clients at the beauty shop brought her. The only specific sweet I remember was Divinity and while I have tried making it a couple of times… it’s never tasted as good as I remember. I have quite a collection of cookie recipes now and I’ll be making that list again of what I’m baking!

Cherry Winks and Thumbprints! My two favorite cookies!!!

My mother in law first introduced me to Cherry Winks, as they were one of her favorites… and quickly became mine! It’s the first cookie I grab on Xmas morning to dunk in my coffee! I later found a small Kellogg recipe book stuffed in her drawer and as I looked through it, I found the recipe for Cherry Winks… and full of Cherry Wink DNA!


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