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Monday, January 31, 2011

They're Back!

Charley yelled,"Hey Babe, come here! You've got to see this!" (Yes, sometimes he calls me Babe)
"What," I yelled back.
"I've never seen anything like this. You've got to see this."
"All right, all right," I said. "I'm coming."

What did I see out our kitchen window?

One robin....

Five robins...

Six robins....


A flock of robins outside in our yard. Yippee! The first sign of spring.
As Dr. Seuss might say....

by Janet F. Smart

One robin,
Two robins,
Three robins,
Four robins!

Red robins,
Fat robins,
Fuzzy little
Baby robins.

Spring robins,
Summer robins,
Tugging wiggly
Worm robins.

Here come more
And more robins,
Hopping in the yard

Have you seen the first robin of spring, yet?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Blessings II

I thank God that I was blessed with three wonderful little boys. . . 


Who grew into three wonderful young men.


Count Your Blessings Every Day

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Appalachian Folk Medicine

I got curious a few days ago and looked through the pages of my grandma's old Bible. It has no cover and some of the front pages are torn and missing. This is not how I remember it, but sadly this is the condition it is in now. It has been in many houses since my grandmother passed away. My uncle gave it to my aunt, my aunt gave it to my mom and I now have it. No matter the shape it is in, Grandma's Bible is priceless to me. It was printed in 1891, the year of Grandma's birth.

I turned to Ezekiel 16:6 and this is what I saw. I smiled when I noticed an X marked by the verse.

Blood stopping was an American folk practice common in Appalachia. My Grandpa McMillion was gifted with this ability. He recited this verse and stopped bleeding. Grandpa died before I was born, but my mom practiced something when we had a nosebleed that may have been a version of this blood stopping. She would get a dab of the blood from our nosebleed on the tip of her finger and mark a red cross on our forehead with her finger. This stopped the bleeding. I remember her doing this on many occasions. I also did it to my children when they were young and had nosebleeds. I do not remember her reciting the verse, though.

Another ability my grandpa had was the ability to 'take the fire out of a burn.'  I know of some occasions in which he did this on family members. He would blow on the burn. I am not sure if he said a verse or not.

Another old Appalachian folk medicine that was used on me when I was a baby was 'pulling through the collar of a horse.' I have found sites on the internet where it stated that a child with wind colic or gripes was put three times through a warm horse collar. My mother told me that something was wrong with my neck and that the doctors didn't know what was wrong with me and they couldn't cure me. She said I was passed through a horse's collar in the front yard down at my grandma's house and that I was cured. I always thought this was a very unusual thing to do, especially in the 1950s. And until recently, I could not find any mention of this type of folk medicine on the internet.

My mother passed down the information to me that catnip tea was good for colic. My middle son had very bad colic spells, I would be up into the wee hours of the night with him. We brewed catnip tea and put a little Karo syrup into it for a sweetener and he usually fell asleep before the small  bottle was emptied. It was a lifesaver!

Grandpa drank yellow root tea for stomach problems.

My Gr Grandma Emily (1849-1910)  (Grandpa McMillion's mother) was rumored to be a witch. Of course,  I do not believe this. I think she probably had special abilities like my Grandpa did and people just did not understand her or her abilities.

There are many other folk remedies and cures. But these are a few of the ones that were practiced in my family.

I bet you have some you could tell us about., too.

This is a picture of my Grandpa and Grandma McMillion, 
which was probably taken around 1908-09 by a traveling photographer.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Writing Wednesday III

Another week has passed and I have been busy.

I took two more trips to the Post Office and four more submissions are in the mail.
I have also received word that my poem titled, Recipe for Warm Memories, will  be in the winter edition of Holler.

We had a meeting of our writing group, The Appalachian Wordsmiths, last night at the Ravenswood Library. It was so good to meet again. There were six of us in attendance and,  hopefully, next month there will be more attending.

I've been working on my March column for Two-Lane Livin'. It should be ready in a few days. In honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday in March, I've written a silly poem for the kids titled "Toes!" It will be in the March edition.  March 21 is also Children's Poetry Day, so I challenged the kids to write a silly rhyming poem, too.

What have you been working on lately? Do you belong to a writing group?

Happy Writing!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Blessings

I thank God that I was blessed with a wonderful mother.

She is shown here sitting on the lap of her mother, my grandmother, Lucy McMillion.
My mother was born in 1924. I'm not sure, but I think my grandmother was pregnant
with Mom's baby sister in this photo, my Aunt Irma.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


The snow we had yesterday combined with the frigid temperatures this morning 
and made a frosty paradise on our little acre of land.

When the sun came up, the outside looked like diamonds sparkling.

 A droopy sunflower left over from the hot days of summer.

 Seed pods from one of our Rose of Sharon bushes.

 Dinner bell on the deck.


The yellow finches basked in the warming sun and filled their tummies.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Writing Wednesday II

It's Writing Wednesday!

I accomplished something today. I stopped procrastinating and took a trip to the Post Office with a large envelope in hand. After doing a little publisher researching, I sent out sample chapters of my manuscript, The Family Secret. It feels good to have a submission out there in the world again.

But, unless they want to see the entire manuscript, I will never hear from the publisher. That is a pet peeve I have. Now a days, more and more publishers will only reply if they are interested in your manuscript. If they do not like it, it goes to the recycling bin. Authors do not even get a rejection slip to add to their collection. I know publishers get swamped with submissions, but with a computer nearby, I wish they could take a minute of their time to send out a rejection email to the author.

I have also submitted a poem, via email. I will hear a yes or no from it soon.

I have a few more manuscripts that, hopefully, I will soon mail.

Our writing group is starting back up again. Yea! I have so missed our meetings. The members not only offer help in editing, but they also offer encouragement.

I think many writers would stop writing if they didn't have this encouragement. Encouraging words help when your ideas dry up or when you get discouraged that publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

For those of you who write short stories, I see where Chicken Soup has quite a few topics listed for future books. You can go here to look at the topics and see their deadlines. I think I may have a suitable story for one of them.

Thanks for visiting me on Writing Wednesday. Anyone else do a writing post today? Let us know and we can all come over and take a look.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Having Fun With Wordle

I've been having fun over at

Go over there and click on Create and type in words. Any words. You can change the font, the color combination and the way they are displayed (horizontal, vertical, a mixture of both, etc.). The more times you type the same word, the bigger that word will be displayed. After you have typed in all the words, click on GO and see your word cloud.

Here is one I made with writing words.

You can print it off or save it to your computer.

To save it, hold the ALT key and press the Prnt Scrn button at the top right of your keyboard. That is what the button is on my computer, yours may be a little different. Doing that will take a screenshot of the window and it copies it to your clipboard.

Open up Paint on your computer and hold down the CTRL key and press V. Windows will  paste your word cloud onto the Paint Screen. Select the portion you want saved, go to Edit and click on Copy. Open a new File, go to Edit and click on Paste. Now you can save your picture as a JPG.

Here is one I did with different bird names.

I know most of you probably already know how to do this,  but it was a fun place to visit, and I thought I would share my word clouds with you.

You could use your imagination with the words and print them off in color and frame them.
If you are into genealogy, you could type in all your family names, for the babies room you could type in nursery rhyme titles, for the kitchen you could type in names of vegetables or fruits.

Have you ever made Word Clouds before?


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Old Fashion Treat - Snow Cream

Tipper over at Blind Pig & the Acorn got me in the mood for some old fashioned snow cream the other day.

We made this all the time when I was young. I'd go outside in the cold and come back with a pan overflowing with freshly fallen snow.

First, gather up all your ingredients you will need.
milk, sugar, vanilla, measuring  spoons, large bowl and spoon

Bring in your pan full of clean snow. Find a good, undisturbed area to get it from. I used a large pan. Charley filled it full, so I took a little out of it for later use if I needed it.

Put in your sugar ( I used a cup full)

Put in your vanilla ( I used 2 Tablespoons)

Put in your milk ( I used a little over a cup full) I used skim milk, but 2% or whole milk would make a richer snowcream.

Stir it all together.

If it is too thin, add more of the snow that you set aside.

Spoon out into bowls and enjoy. It is very good. My boys were right there at my side waiting for a taste.

It has the consistency somewhat like soft serve ice cream. Put any leftovers into the freezer to eat later. It gets very hard in the freezer, you will have to let it soften a little before you spoon it out.

Do any of you have memories of making snow cream?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Oh No, Another Cookie Jar

I bought a cookie jar a few days ago at Goodwill. Everybody needs a cookie jar. . . right?

But,  I already have this pretty Nestle Toll House Cookie Jar. It is sitting up on top of my cabinet behind the little Snoopy pull dog toy.

And, I bought this one at my neighbor's yard sale last year.

And, I love this cookie jar. I only paid 10cents for this teddy bear one and it is 'stuffed' all the time with yummy cookies.


I love this vintage apple cookie jar with all the crazing on the bottom of it. It goes perfect with my yellow and red kitchen.

These five sit on top of my Hoosier cabinet behind the vintage creamers and salt shakers.

Did I need another cookie jar? Of course!

I couldn't pass up this doughboy cookie jar. Isn't he adorable. He isn't McCoy,  though. It says 'JAPAN' on the bottom of it. I guess it was their version of our Pillsbury Dough Boy. I noticed a few on the internet that look just like him, but they say McCoy on their bottom. The red paint is 'cold paint', which means it was applied to the jar after it was glazed and fired. This means it will come off easily when cleaned, so you have to be careful. I think it is old, but not sure.

Are there any cookie jar lovers out there that know anything about this one?

Need a cookie jar, anyone?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Writing Wednesday

I think I am going to start a Writing Wednesday.
I will  blog about writing on Wednesdays, and who knows, maybe on other days as well.
If you like to write, join me on Wednesdays and put up your own blog post about writing, too.

As many of you know, I like to write.
My grammar is not perfect. . .
my rhyme is sometimes off. . .
but as one of my favorite quotes proclaims "A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit."

I have been dabbling with poetry this morning. I have many poems on my hard drive. These are poems that I thought were good, but when I bring them up on the screen, after they have been out of sight and out of mind for many months, I see lots of room for improvement. That is one thing about writing, if you continue to write, you will improve. Practice makes perfect.  I will never be perfect. . .  but I don't want to be. Perfection takes out the challenge and fun out of writing and improving your craft.

My family sometimes wonder why I continue to change and edit my stories. They think the first draft is the way it should be. They think if you have to keep changing  it, that you must not be a good writer. How wrong that is. In my opinion, a good writer is one who knows how to edit and how to get it right. The first draft is sometimes just getting your idea down on paper, kind of like the appetizer for a meal. Then you go back and add the meat and potatoes and maybe discard the scraps that are not needed. That may sound like a funny way to put it, but I think it kind of tells how it is.

I have been editing my middle grade story this past week. AGAIN. I now have it ready to send out to publishers. AGAIN.

Writing and getting published is a slow process. It is very hard for people to comprehend that from start to finish it can be years before your story is seen by the eyes of the reading public. I am an impatient person and the waiting is the hardest part for me.

by Janet F. Smart

An empty barn,  an opened door
Snowflakes scattered upon the floor.
An empty barn from times gone by
Sitting beneath the snowy sky.

If walls could talk, what would they say
Of those who toiled here yesterday,
and tarried in its loft at night,
Lit only by dim lantern light?

I leave you with a writing prompt. Find a favorite picture you have taken and write a short poem about it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Country Winter Scenes

Everyone has to eat in the winter, even the livestock. This farmer is making sure they get their morning meal.

My son has been busy trying out his new toy. The machine is a BCS walk behind tractor we bought this summer. Our old Troy Built, which gave us 30 years of good service, needed replacing. Andrew built the dozer blade attachment. We sent for one of the dozer blades, (they cost over $400), but each one we got delivered to us did not attach right. There was something wrong with every one of them, so we sent them back. Andrew said he could make one better, and he did. His design for attaching it works much better than the manufacturers. We told him he needs to ask the company if they are interested in his design, but he hasn't made a decision.

This is Sycamore Creek Road on Sunday morning.

I love this old  barn that sits along the road.

Looks like this feeder needs filled up again.

This little woodpecker is working hard at one of our suet feeders.

This little titmouse loves peanuts.

So do the blue jays! But one of our blue jays is a little greedy. He will get his first peanut way back in his throat, then put another one in his mouth before he flies off. I don't know how he keeps from choking.

This little bird reminds me of a chipmunk from the side view.  He looks like a sparrow, but his belly is golden. Maybe he is a red-breasted nuthatch. What do you think? (You can click on all my pictures and enlarge them)

Hope everyone is enjoying winter. I'm getting a little cabin fever myself. Our area is supposed to get more snow a few hours from now. How about you, are you snowed in?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Just What I Needed

I picked up this little goodie at Goodwill a few days ago. I know it doesn't look like much, but it was just what I needed!

What did I need it for? To hold my rolling pins, of course.

I love rolling pins. The real old one on top nearest to the camera is one that belonged to my mom. She gave it to me a few years after I got married. She didn't remember where she got it. But it is old and hand carved and I love it. I'm thinking one of my grandpas may have been the maker of it.

The one with the red handle belonged to my Aunt Irma. On one of my last visits to her house, she gave it to me. She said she had it since she was first married in the late 1940s.

The two on the bottom are just a couple I picked up at either a yard sale, a  road  side sale or a thrift store.

The other two, including that beautiful one with the different types of wood, were made by my son, Andrew. He is just about the best woodcrafter  I know! Go here to see the many beautiful things he has made me.

I haven't been feeling up to par the last couple of weeks and that is why I haven't been blogging much.
I was taking some medicine. After being on it for three weeks, my body decided not to tolerate  it. After a week of bad side effects, I stopped taking it and then I went through the next week of having the side effects of coming off the medicine. Thank goodness, I think I am over the hump now and getting close to normal again.