Category Archives: Thanksgiving

A Better Gift from a Better You

When your family and friends gather around this Thanksgiving and Christmas, give a gift that is priceless and cannot be bought in any store: time spent with the loneliest person in the room. That’s usually the elderly, but it could be anyone.

Because when the tree has been taken down and the decorations are put away, the shine is off of the presents and you’ve forgotten what you got and what you gave, the gift of your time and attention will still be a warm memory to the recipient.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Christmas, Doing the Right Thing, Family, Kindness, Thanksgiving

“Thank You for the food we eat”: a Dick and Jane Altered Book

Mother, Jane, Father, Sally, and Dick

Dick and Jane readers were a wonderful part of my childhood – I still get such a cozy feeling just looking at them. So, when my sister, Abby and I decided to exchange little handmade Thanksgiving books last year, I chose the Dick and Jane theme for the “We Give Thanks” book I made for Fran.

Dick, Jane and Sally

Thank you for the food we eat,

Spot, Tim and Puff

Thank you for the world so sweet,

Jane, Sally and Dick

Thank you for the birds that sing,

Mother, Dick, Sally and Tim

Thank you, God, for everything.

Jane

Amen.

First I photocopied illustrations from a Dick and Jane reprint that I’d bought a few years ago at Wal-Mart (these reprints were from the 1950s’ editions). I also have 2 copies of original editions, and I wish I had used them to copy because the pictures are much better. A copy of a copy is very often not a good thing. But anyway, I selected pictures that I thought would illustrate the prayer we learned in Kindergarten at Mingo School (before our schools became so God-less).

The title “We Give Thanks” is in keeping with the Dick and Jane series, for instance, “We Work and Play”,  “We Look and See”, “We Come and Go”, etc.

To give it the feel of a board book, I made my own chipboard pages from a Coca-Cola carton. I probably should’ve rounded the edges slightly.

The background layout for the illustrations were enlarged and photocopied prose pages from the Dick and Jane books.  The edges were distressed with blue ink; brown might’ve been better.

For the prayer itself, I photocopied a page of old penmanship-style scrapbook paper. Now I realize that I could’ve bought a whole tablet of that paper at Dollar General for about $1.00.  Anyway,to get the look of children’s printing, I used a pencil in my left hand (I am right-handed). As you can see from the “Thank you God for everything” page, I accidentally wrote “Lord”. I need to fix that.

To finish, I punched 3 holes on each page and used blue gingham ribbon to bind it. On the back I used a “Handmade by” stamp and signed my name.

Now I think I’ll make one to keep for myself.

6 Comments

Filed under 1950s, Altered Books, Books, Children's, Cozy, Crafts, Crafts - Cheap, Crafts - Paper, Faith, Free, Mingo, Thanksgiving, Thrift

Books Read in November, 2009


Mary of Plymouth (1910), by James Otis
An absolute gem. If you like the American Girl series, or Dear America, you will probably like Mary of Plymouth. It is the fictional story of a girl who undertakes the journey on the Mayflower with her parents and their first few years in the New World.

While not exactly a diary, the writing is more that style than story form with plot, rising action and climax. Otis did his research well, and the book is a treasure trove of daily practices of what the Pilgrims did and how they used what was available to survive in a new land with nothing prepared for their arrival.

Highly Recommended.


Home to Harmony (2000), Phillip Gulley
First in the series of Harmony novels, it is the story of Sam Gardner’s return to his home town.


Just Shy of Harmony (2002), Phillip Gulley

Set in Midwest farm country, this book series focuses on the Quaker church in the little town of Harmony. This is entirely fitting, since the author is actually a Quaker minister himself. Just Shy of Harmony is the second book in the series and the main plot-line follows the pastor’s crisis of faith. A better description would be the wearying of his faith. He despairs over the lack of real Christianity in his church. Gulley is a clever writer because the character and plot developments seem real. Sam’s Christianity is not perfect, his congregants are not all fleshly.

“Cozy” is a good classification of this story with one startling exception: Asa Peacock has a very disturbing nightmare concerning his job at the chicken factory. I had to skip a couple of pages. It was a troubling scene and my desire is to diminish my own nightmares, not add to them.

Other than that, it is a charming book.

Why do authors do that?

Christmas in Harmony (2002), Phillip Gulley
Perhaps, familiarity is breeding contempt but some of the plot devices in the Harmony series are getting a little irritating. Dale Hinshaw is the political conservative and the out-of-place evangelical in the Quaker congregation and the butt of Gulley’s humor and a gross caricature. As I am not a pacifist, this overwriting of buffoonery for his philosophical opponents is getting tiresome. The books are okay, and a whole lot better than much of what’s being printed. Perhaps I need a break before continuing with the others.

Postern of Fate (1973), Agatha Christie
One of Dame Agatha Christie’s last books, it’s a tale of retired Tommy and Tuppence. Upon moving to a small village and buying an old house, complete with some furniture and lots of books, Tuppence stumbles upon an aged mystery and sets off to solve it. This is an absolutely delightful book, one not only for mystery lovers but book lovers as well. Later, I’ll do a post on it alone.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Cozy, Fiction, History, Thanksgiving, Using What You Have

Thanksgiving Notes

Mayflower and Speedwell in Dartmouth Harbor by Wilcox



This post linked to Food on Fridays @ annkroeker

A few years ago I started making holiday notes – the day after. Just taking a few minutes to sit down and think about the celebration (whether Thanksgiving or Christmas) while it’s still fresh on my mind, then jotting down ideas that worked, ones that didn’t and other ideas I’ve picked up but haven’t tried yet. These are helpful to me the next year – if I can find where I placed them. Now I’ll have a Thanksgiving book to put them in.

When I was young I thought I could remember things from year to year. I couldn’t, but I thought I could. Now I know I have to make lists because I can’t rely on my memory.

Leading up to and the week before Thanksgiving:

*Reread: The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall & David Manuel.

*Reread: Mary of Plymouth by James Otis.

* Papercraft some interesting table decorations.

* Make Thanksgiving cards.

*Talk to sons and family about their plans.

* Keep the house tidy. It’s a killer to get up on Thanksgiving morning and do it before I start cooking.

* Get the laundry all caught up – not only washed but folded and put away or hung in the closet. For peace of mind.

* Eat up leftovers and clean out the refrigerator. We’ll need space for the leftovers and how nice it would be not to have to cram things in.

* Iron the tablecloth and hang it up to keep it wrinkle free.

* Clean kitchen thoroughly: Put extraneous things away. Dust the china cabinet. Clean kitchen window ledge. Mop. Make the sink sparkle. Clean windows by the table.

* Polish the silver.

Early Thanksgiving week:

*Mail Thanksgiving cards. This is not something that I do, but it’s something that I wish I did.

* Review menu requirements and make a shopping list. Because we have the same meal every year, I don’t have to plan the menu, but I do need to check our supplies and note what I’ll need to buy.

* Shop but resist the urge to buy a bunch of other stuff at the grocery store. It’s tiring to come home and have to put it all away, and the superfluous perishables take up too room in the refrigerator.

* Buy fresh, local pecans at the produce stand. They cost more but make a superior pie.

* Buy a small bouquet of flowers for the table or ask the grandchildren to pick up leaves and acorns for the centerpiece.

* Wash the china and serving pieces.

* Wash the roaster.

* Start reading a really good book – it will give me something enjoyable to do when I have to frequently sit down and rest.

*Have ready something comfortable to wear while cooking and something nice to change into for dinner.

Wednesday

* Make pies. I’m not a do-ahead cook because I really like things really fresh, but the truth is, the pumpkin pies are actually better the next day.

* Make cornbread for the dressing.

* Chop onion, celery and carrots and store in refrigerator.

* Clear off countertops to make plenty of space for cooking.

* Take a nap.

Thanksgiving Day

* Eat breakfast. It’s a mistake to ignore this one.

* Start cooking.

* Enjoy the family.

* Remind them of the traditional Trivial Pursuit game.

But above all, reflect on the goodness of God

and Thank Him.

3 Comments

Filed under Autumn, Faith, Family, Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Altered Books

Fran's book

(All the pictures in this post are of Fran’s book. Right now, we’re having computer problems, so I can’t download photos from our camera, but I can scan things in. Hopefully soon I can post the photos and will update this post when I do.)

My sister, our friend Abby (The Paper Engineer) and I made altered Thanksgiving books. The ones I made were for Fran and Abby; Fran’s were for Abby and me, and of course, Abby’s were for Fran and me.

(Click on the photos for a bigger view. I’ve found that posting them as thumbnails takes a fraction of the time to upload.)


The only rule was that they were to be books about giving thanks. Fran’s book for me is completely different from the ones I made and I really like it. (We weren’t able to get together to exchange with Abby yet so I can’t describe hers now – I haven’t seen it.) She made her cover out of cardboard and covered it with brown toile fabric. She used orange rings for binding it together and tied pieces of ribbon onto the rings.

Stella Edens Thanksgiving poem, circa 1956


The story behind the poem is that when my sister was waiting for the bus to come, she told my mother that she was supposed to take a Thanksgiving poem to school – that day.  So, my mother the poet wrote one just like that.

Two of the pages in this book were from orange file folders that she cut in half.  These will really come in handy for tucking in Thanksgiving recipes, clippings,  memories, etc.


Then she took fall leaves and laminated them, punched holes for the binding and attached topaz (my birthstone) rhinestones on the pages.  There are several pages of the laminated leaves and she placed the rhinestones so they could all be viewed at once when looking at the first page.

For Abby’s book,  I used an Altoids tin and sponged gold paint all over it, then lined the edges with dictionary pages, cut with a deckle-edged pair of scissors.  For the message, I accordion folded brown paper, glued it to the bottom inside and listed on each fold something for which I am thankful for. /p>  On the top side I glued a piece of autumn looking alcohol inked paper and stamped ears of corn and the words:  Give Thanks.  The bottom of the tin has another piece of the dictionary page glued on.  The embellishments were cutouts of leaves, pumpkins and rubber stampings.

For my sister’s book,  I wanted to do something different.  Fran and I both like Dick and Jane books – very pleasant memories there. My theme for her book was the child’s prayer “Thank You for the Food We Eat”.

I photocopied illustrations that I could use for each line of the prayer from a Dick and Jane reader (alas, not an original. They are $90.00 at the antique mall. This was a reproduction I bought at Wall-Mart). It’s too difficult to cut them out exactly, so I left a border of white as I cut them out and distressed them with a yellow chalk pad. Then I enlarged the wording from the reader on the copier, and printed off a couple of pages, distressed them with the yellow chalk and a blue ink pad. Using a glue stick, I attached them to cardboard squares cut from a Coke carton to duplicate chipboard, then punched 3 holes along the side of each one for to lace the ribbon for binding.  Then using the glue stick, I attached the illustrating pictures to the enlarged wording.

Remember the old tablets we used when learning to print – the ones with the solid and blue dashed lines? I had a piece of that from a scrapbook store that my sister had given me, but I’ve never seen any in a store and didn’t want to use it as an original. In my stash I had some regular copy paper that I had tea-dyed. So I photocopied the penmanship paper onto the tea-dyed. It may be hard to see the blue lines on the photos, but they are there. I cut squares of this paper and used the glue stick to attach it to the cardboard for pages to face the illustration.

It would’ve been better to have had my grandson write the prayer out for me, but I didn’t plan far enough ahead. Somewhere I had read that you can duplicate a young child’s printing by using your left hand, so that’s what I did using a pencil.

For binding I used blue gingham ribbon.  The colors of this book were not the autumn earth tones, but I think it’ll be more versatile this way, and the blue was one of the main colors in both the illustrations and the penmanship paper.

I really like making the chipboard pages, it gives the book a nice heft and feel.  Also, just a few pages are thick enough for it to stand alone.  A few weeks ago on a craft blog (I’ll insert link when I can remember where I first saw it), the author had made a Christmas book using scraps of paper and embellishments on one of those black and white speckled notebooks.

Building upon her idea, I decided to make myself one.  But since I really liked the chipboard feel, I’ve used that concept.  I’ll keep recipes,  card lists,  a gift list and all sorts of Christmasy things in it.  When we get our photos to load, I’ll post them.

1 Comment

Filed under Altered Books, Autumn, Crafts - Paper, Thanksgiving

Plymouth and Nearby Environs


When I was a girl, I always loved the stories about the Pilgrims and the early years of America. History was one of my favorite subjects, but there was something really special and American about the story of the people who left their home in search of religious freedom, came across the ocean in a crowded boat and made new lives for themselves and their families in a wilderness.

Three years ago, I accompanied Joe on a business trip to Massachusetts and was so excited to finally get to visit the place I had read about 40 years ago. And although I had plenty of time to explore the Plymouth area, unfortunately many of the sites are closed in December, but I visited what I could. One of my first stops was Pilgrim Hall, the museum established and built in 1824.

Pilgrim Hall - I call it the Politcally Correct Palace


After about 5 minutes I felt like I’d been slapped in the face and that the museum curators were trying to kick the wind out of me. There was no honor of the Pilgrims, no celebration of their experience. All of the plaques describing the paintings and artifacts sneeringly contradicted the traditional story. What was left was how awful all this intrusion was to the Indians and how noble they were.

It was politically correct to the Nth, nauseating degree. I couldn’t believe it. They kept emphasizing that all those stories we read before were false; of course that was before the enlightened ones starting writing the history books.

(A few years before that we’d been to the Smithsonian and I was absolutely shocked at how PC it was. The exhibit on World War II was overwhelmingly focused on the Japanese internment. What little space that was devoted to the American GI was negative. It described that everywhere our soldiers went, there was rape, venereal disease and unwanted, half-American children.)

(I had better cover myself here because I don’t have a lawyer on retainer – the following is my opinion. Liberals tend to be sensitive and lawsuit happy.)A rhetorical question:are the same jaded, hair-shirt-wearing, self-flagellating, over-educated nincompoops in charge of all the museums dedicated to the American experience?

Please, say it isn’t so.

View of the bay, Plymouth, Massachusetts


Plymouth, Massachusetts has an incredibly precious heritage. Is that what you’ll find on their webpage? No, you’ll find one of those boxes on the left that shouts: “No Place for Hate”. What does that mean? Do they actually believe that other American towns advocate the opposite? The only reference to their role in American history is the following from City of Plymouth official website which says: “Most Americans are familiar with the story of the pilgrims’ voyage across the Atlantic aboard the Mayflower, and their landing at Plymouth Rock. Today, Plymouth Rock is just one of the sites that tell the story of Plymouth. When you visit our Town, you will learn about more than the pilgrim voyage, you will learn about our diverse and unique community. ” (emphasis mine)

Even the unofficial town website doesn’t have any history, but they do have another one of those little boxes. They aren’t warning us about hate. It tells us about International Day of Climate Action! (exclamation mark theirs).

But there is hope! (exclamation mine) The following quotes are from an article from the Plymouth Guide titled Putting the Thanks back in Thanksgiving – New book embraces treasured Pilgrim saga.

Hooray for the Plymouth Guide.

A big double hooray for Jeremy Bangs.

Strangers and Pilgrims, the 928-page history of the Pilgrims by Jeremy Bangs, explores the religious and political foundations of the Pilgrims in England and Holland and finds historical basis for much of the treasured Pilgrim tradition.”

“Bangs, for instance, points to the false notion that the Pilgrims never referred to themselves as Pilgrims. While some have suggested the name was invented in the 19th century, Bangs said the title of his book, Strangers and Pilgrims, comes from a quotation published by Robert Cushman in 1622.”

“Bangs said he has no stake in how the story plays out, but admits he is amused to see so many of the original notions about the Pilgrims have proven to be more or less accurate.”

If I had it to do all over again, I’d still go through the exhibit, because it does contain the actual belongings of the Pilgrims which is incredible to me, but I’d ignore their little plaques signs and explanations.

Doll from Mayflower passage, 1620


The swords and furniture were interesting, but what I really was drawn to was a little doll, carried on the Mayflower by Mary Chilton. How in the world could something as fragile as that rag doll survive almost 400 years? I don’t know, but I’m so glad it did. I can’t find a photo of it, either on the Pilgrim Hall website or doing image searches. If anyone knows where there’s a picture of it, please let me know. I did a rough sketch and made a few notes, but it’s hard to tell anything about it. The description said it was made from wool, linen and cotton.

I wonder who made it. Mary? Her mother? In England or Holland? Maybe on the Mayflower itself.

As a lover of textiles, I consider it a real American treasure.

First Congregation Church - Middleboro, Massachusetts


In nearby Middleboro is the First Congregational Church

organized in 1694 by the children of the Mayflower Pilgrims.

Ceiling of First Congregation Church


The current structure was built in 1828.

Auditorium - First Congregational Church


Across the road is an old cemetery. Some thoughtful person had placed flags on the graves of U.S. military veterans.


This headstone marks the grave of a Revolutionary War soldier.

Cranberry bog - near Middlleboro Massachusetts,


This is what a cranberry bog looks like. I think they’re beautiful.

And incidentally, if it’s a can of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce that you open on Thanksgiving, you might be interested to know that O.S. is not a corporation – it’s an agricultural cooperative of the growers. If you ever find yourself in Middleboro or Lakeview, Massachusetts, give yourself a treat and go see the Ocean Spray headquarters. A winding drive, the little bridge over the stream with swans swimming on it and the white colonial style building, it is the nicest business office I’ve ever seen.

Here in our region we have Big Lot stores, and they’re pretty good, but I’ve never seen anything like Ocean State Job Lots. I could spend hours in that store. Just take an extra suitcase and a little extra cash is all I have to say. I bought everything from poppy seeds to gourmet snack items to dishes to stamp pads to tools and blenders in there – all at very good prices.

Going into Benny’s in Raynham, Massachusetts was like time travel for me. In 1950’s and 1960’s Tulsa, we had OTASCO stores (Oklahoma Tire and Suppy Company). Benny’s is so like them I could’ve believed I was a kid again. From the traditional looking shopping center and sign out front to the smell when I walked in the door, I felt like I was in a time warp and I enjoyed every minute of it. I actually did a lot of Christmas shopping there, too. If I lived in that area, Benny’s would be one of my regular stops.

Coming back around to the history of the region, the people of New England are so blessed to be surrounded by history everywhere;this region is absolutely rich with roots in our country’s founding and early days. I wish New Englanders viewed that as something to be treasured rather than something to be embarrassed about.

2 Comments

Filed under 1950s, 1960's, America, Books, Childhood pastimes, Cooking, Current Events, Faith, Heros, History, Internet links, Local Shopping, Military, Shopping, Thanksgiving