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Friday, May 13, 2016

They're Back!

MacArthur told the people in the Philippines, "I shall return."

Arnold, in The Terminator, said, "I'll be back."

And my pretty yellow iris's are back.

Seventeen years ago the cicadas were here and, as they promised, they are back.

These red-eyed creatures with their shrill song and long wings have taken over the land.

here are two emerging from their shell

 empty shells underneath our Catawba tree leaves

 on our neighbor's house

A couple of evenings ago when I was walking I heard them singing.

Now I will not be the only one with ringing in my ears. Everyone will hear the song of the cicada.

Oh the noise - the beautiful noise emerging in the quiet countryside.

I did a little research.

As billions of insects emerge, they can reach a density of 1.5 million cicadas an acre in some areas. They live above ground for four to six weeks. All they are interested in is screaming, singing, seeking out a mate and laying eggs in slits of small branches of trees. Females can lay up to 400 eggs each. In about six weeks the nymphs emerge, fall from the trees and burrow anywhere from six to eighteen inches into the ground where they feed for the next thirteen to seventeen years.Then . . . they'll be back.

Are they out in your area, too?


Saturday, March 26, 2016

One of the oldest furniture stores in America

Vail Furniture is still owned by the family that started the business in Ripley in October 1844.

Isaiah Vail, the great-great-grandfather of the owner, was a carpenter who made caskets and furniture.

The early business evolved into a funeral home and furniture store, not an uncommon combination in small towns where a woodworker needed more than one way to keep busy.

Vail Furniture is still in its original location, in a 12,000-square-foot, two-floor store.

When Vail started . . .
James K. Polk was running for president
West Virginia was still Virginia.
Samuel B. Morse, inventor of the telegraph, sent the first telegraph message over the first telegraph line from Washington to Baltimore. His words were, "What God hath wrought."

On our last visit to the store, they let us go for a ride on their elevator.

Customers usually walk up the steps to the second floor.

This is looking into the elevator
Here I am with my cousins ready to go up. 
I asked him if they used to move furniture on this elevator. He looked at me and said, "Coffins."
 The ropes are  pulled by strong arms.
 The gears turn and raise the elevator
 close up of gears

 swinging doors that open up to the elevator

In addition to furniture, they have  framed pictures for sale.
I love this unique picture of the US map!

And, I think this clock is very unique.

Hope you enjoyed your visit to one of the oldest furniture stores in America - if not the oldest.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Day Superstitions

 The following is a re-post from a few years ago.

 New Year's Day Superstitions

I thought I'd better get this post out today - you know just in case you want to do or not do any of these things.  (just kidding folks)

New Year's Day is full of superstitions. Many differ, depending on what part of the country you live in.

Now for us, you just have to eat cabbage on New Year's Day. There's just no getting around it. The stores in our area always put cabbage on sale this time of year. I've already bought me a big head of it. When I was growing up, Mom used to put a silver coin in it (usually a dime) and the one who spooned it out with their helping was sure to come into money that year. I really think it was just a way to get us kids to eat cabbage, though. We all wanted that dime!

Here is a link to how my husband cooks our cabbage. 

And, as far as my grandma went, you had to be a male or you weren't entering her house first on New Year's Day! They said she had her son who lived next door come to her house bright and early. I guess it didn't hurt that he was also tall, dark haired, and handsome, which is another superstition people had about the first footer.

There are lots of superstitions I found on the internet. Some of the more prevalent ones were:

Wear new clothes. This would mean receiving new garments throughout the coming year.
Avoid crying if you don't want to continue the pattern throughout the new year.
Be nice and refrain from using foul language.
Don't let money leave the house. Don't pay bills or loan money on New Year's Day. Or for that matter don't even take out the garbage or shake out a rug! This will ensure that nothing goes out of the home during the new year. Some soften this rule by saying it is okay to remove things if something is brought in first.
At midnight, all the doors must be opened to let the old year escape.
Make sure your wallets, purses and cupboards are well stocked on New Year's Day and it will bring prosperity.
Do not do the laundry on New Year's Day! It will 'wash away' or lead to a death in the family.
Pay your bills or loans before the New Year so you won't have any debt left for the New Year.
Make as much noise as possible at Midnight - you are scaring away evil spirits. Evil spirits hate loud noises, this is also why church bells are rung on wedding days.
Babies born on this day will have luck on their side.
 If a girl looks out her bedroom window upon rising and sees a man walking outside, it is said she will be married before the year is out.
And, be sure to kiss at midnight! This will ensure that those affections will continue throughout the following year.

So there you have it. Be sure and pay all your bills today, go shopping and stock up on groceries, do your laundry, put money in everyone's wallet or purse(even if it's just a few pennies), kiss the one you love at midnight, and then proceed to make a lot of noise!
Then on New Year's Day be sure and wear new clothing you received for Christmas, be nice and polite, make sure a man comes into your house first, then proceed to make a big pot of cabbage for dinner!

That shouldn't be too much to remember.
Do you have any more to add to my list?

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Excerpt from my Book - Fun Through the Seasons

For you, your children or your grand-children. Below is a small excerpt from the December Chapter of my book, Fun Through the Seasons

Hope you enjoy it and maybe do some of the activities listed below with your family. 


Celebrate an Old-Fashioned Christmas

What Christmas carol is a favorite of parents?
Silent Night!

December brings with it the first day of winter and Christmas. Soon you will be watching for the first snowflakes of the season and getting together with your family and friends.

Celebrate an old-fashioned Christmas with all its sights, sounds and smells.

Add some old-fashioned Christmas sights to your house by popping popcorn and making strands to string on your Christmas tree. Hang cookie cutters on your tree, string them across your mantle or use them as napkin rings.

Sprinkle powdered sugar on large pinecones and make a small grouping of ‘snow covered pinecone trees’ to set on a placemat and put it in the middle of your kitchen table.


Add some old-fashioned Christmas sounds to your house by hanging jingle bells on your front door and playing Christmas music on your radio or CD player. Light your fireplace and listen to the crackling of the warm fire on a frosty morning. Sing in a choir and listen for Santa calling, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.”

Add some old-fashioned Christmas smells to your house by baking sugar cookies and spicy pies, lighting cinnamon scented candles, stirring your hot cocoa with peppermint sticks, making cinnamon dough ornaments to hang on your tree and, of course, putting up a piney smelling Christmas tree.

Charles Schulz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip, said, “Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.”

You can visit a neighbor and present them with a plate of cookies or read a Christmas story to a younger family member or friend. Some good holiday books are:

Berenstain Bears Old Fashioned Christmas, The Polar Express, The Night Before Christmas, The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving, God Gave us Christmas, A Christmas Carol, Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus, Olivia Helps With Christmas, Snowmen at Christmas and Bear Stays up for Christmas.

The spirit of Christmas lives in your heart. Give the gift of love and friendship. Make homemade gifts; share your voice by going caroling in your neighborhood. Have a family fun night each week. Pop popcorn and watch a Christmas movie.

But, most of all, remember what Dr. Seuss said in The Grinch That Stole Christmas. He puzzled three hours till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before, “Maybe Christmas,” he thought…“doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps …means a little bit more!”

And what happened, then? Well, in Whoville they say – that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day!

This is also the time of year we make Christmas decorations and write poems about the season.

Gather your pencils and paper and write down what you like and do not like about December. Write down rhyming words and words that start with the same letter. Here are some words that come to my mind:

Icicles and shiny bicycles, white snow and warm cocoa, skates and skis, frozen ponds and frozen toes, slushy ice and Christmas mice, mittens and boots and Santa Claus suits, frigid winds and fat snowmen, sledding and sliding, red birds and red cheeks and sniffles and sneezes.

M & M Icicles

What do elves learn in school?
The elf-abet!

Tie M & M icicles on the outside of presents for decoration or place them in a pretty bowl for people to eat.

For each icicle, cut a piece of clear plastic wrap approximately 3 inches wide and 6 inches long. Place red and green M & M’s all in a row down the middle of the plastic wrap. Fold over the plastic on both sides and tie the ends with a thin colorful ribbon.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Christmas Hanging Basket

I have seen pictures on the internet of these pretty moss lined hanging baskets converted to Christmassy hanging baskets. They are pretty expensive.

I thought I would make one. So I went to the store and found a couple of those empty baskets. And, they just happened to be on clearance.

I filled it with bendable pine garland.

Now this is the part of the process where you can get creative.
I added a couple of poinsettia bushes, pine cones, a pick, plastic snowflakes, handmade Christmas ball and a handmade felt cardinal.

You can hang it outside on your deck or under the protection of your porch or hang it inside.

I think mine will be hung outside during nice days and brought inside at night and on bad days.

You can also add lights and glass balls to it. Most of the ones I have seen on the internet are decorated that way. I used items I had on hand. And, after I get the rest of my Christmas decorations out, I might add more items to mine. Another way to make it pop, would be to paint the metal parts red.

If these are going to be kept inside, you don't have to glue or tie anything. 

And, unless they are going to be outside in very windy weather, I don't think you will have to do any gluing or tying. Everything seems to stay put pretty good.

I hope you make one. They are very pretty!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Canning Sweet Potatoes and a recipe

A few weeks ago we canned sweet potatoes.

This is the first year we have grown them. We all love sweet potatoes, I don't know why we never tried growing them before. They do have a tendency to vine a lot, so you need to have a space to plant them where they have room to spread out.

Wash them good. Cut out any bad spots.
Put them in hot water for around ten to fifteen minutes.

Take them out and put in cold water so you can handle them easier without burning your hands. The skins come off easy!

Cut them into chunks or long strips. Whichever you prefer. I did most of mine into small chunks.

Put in hot jars. I keep my washed jars hot by keeping them in a 150 degree oven.

Put a teaspoon of salt on the potatoes and fill jar with hot water. Leave a little head space.
Put on lids and and rings and then into the pressure canner for 90 minutes. You have to pressure can sweet potatoes!
Snug lids hand tight - do not over tighten the rings. If you over- tighten the rings, the lids may warp during the processing (especially if you use wide mouth jars). This has happened to us before when my husband tightened the lids too tight before putting jars in the canner.

After processing, make sure the cans seal. Listen for the ping!

As always, follow the instructions in your canning booklet.

We didn't can all of our sweet potatoes. They keep well. I will use the others for casseroles and pies.

Click here for a good site that tells all about growing and harvesting sweet potatoes.

Have you ever ate a sweet potato pie? They are very good. Here is the recipe I used.

Cinnamon Streusel Sweet Potato Pie

1 1/2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 T corn syrup
1 cup evaporated milk
3 eggs
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon ginger


1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 T all-purpose flour
2 T butter
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts of your choice (pecans or walnuts)

Place cookie sheet on oven rack. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Mix mashed sweet potatoes with remaining filling ingredients with wire whisk (or mixer) until smooth; pour into frozen pie crust.

Bake on cookie sheet 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees; bake 20 minutes longer.

Mix streusel ingredients and carefully sprinkle over filling. Bake 10 to 15 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean and streusel is golden brown. Cool completely.

Serve with whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.

This pie is very good. It did not last long at our house.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fall Tomato Cage Tree

I thought I would do a post on a fall decoration I recently made.

Buy a tomato cage - or if you already have these, all the better. Turn it upside down and tie the ends together with twine. It has a tendency to lean, so you might have to straighten it a little.

Wrap it in a garland of fall leaves.

There are different ways to do this. You can swirl it around and around or go straight down the wires. The leaves are swirled in the first three pictures.

 I tried different toppers. Once, I topped it with a straw hat, once I topped it with a pretty fall bow and finally I topped it with a small corn pic.

 Experiment and try different toppers and different ways of wrapping the leaf garland.

On my deck

in my dining room!

My final version has the garland(s) going down and across the wires. I secured them with pieces of thin ribbon. You can use orange, yellow or beige ribbon. It blends right in with the leaves.

I got a basket and placed the pumpkins in it 
and placed it inside the tree. 

If you have a set of small lights, you could string them on the tree.

I love the way it turned out. If you haven't already made one, maybe you could give this easy craft a try.

I love fall!