Tuesday, August 28, 2012

More about books....

Some of you have mentioned enjoying Barbara Kingsolver's books.  It just so happens that she was a guest speaker at Emory and Henry College when our daughters were students there.  She met - and married - one of the professors, and he moved away for a number of years.  I would recommend that you read the book ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE, which is an autobiographical account of their first year when they decided to return to his farm located not very far from campus.  They made a decision to live on what the land would provide, relying on what was available locally.  She writes of even making their own cheese!

You may remember a recent post regarding a cheese ring that I took to Emory and Henry College for the Faculty/Staff Social.  While it was great to be able to be part of the group attending, the highlight of the afternoon was the opportunity I had to actually talk with Barbara Kingsolver! 

Enjoying the reception.

She and her husband have remained in the area after returning several years ago, and he has rejoined the faculty.  She was the speaker for graduation a couple of years ago, and he was a guest presenter at one of the More Than A Vacation weeks we attended. 

Thank you for reading.  I really enjoy your comments.

Monday, August 27, 2012


I appreciate those of you who have left comments to yesterday's post.  This is a follow-up referring to the website I mentioned that I had not been able to access.  I have discovered that free2work can be reached through notforsalecampaign.org, if any of you are interested in further information.

For many, many years, I have been an avid reader!  I may have even mentioned some of my favorite authors on a blog or two - Jan Karon's series, Barbara Kingsolver, Rosamunde Pilcher, Nicholas Sparks - the list could go on and on.  In my role as Secretary of Program Resources for my Conference UMW, I will be encouraging the reading of books from the Reading List.  These books will have subject matter that, among other things, help increase sensitivity to all human beings - their needs, interests, and concerns.  There are three books I want to mention that pertain to the last post.

THE ROAD OF LOST INNOCENCE by Somaly Mam is a powerful book!  Google to find the website.  Other books include SOLD by Patricia McCormick and THE SLAVE NEXT DOOR by Kevin Bales and Ron Soodalter.  

The last week of August!  That means it will soon be time for me to provide lunch for the adult day care at our church!  I must give a menu some thought! 

I hope you will return.  I appreciate  your comments.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Coffee? Tea? Chocolate?

I'm sure I have listed some favorites of many of you in this post title.  I, for one, definitely enjoy each one of them.:-)

I recently attended a Conference UMW Social Action Workshop.   It was very well-attended, with over 200 who had registered.  What was the topic?  Human trafficking!  Perhaps many of you have not given any thought to this crime against humanity.  It involves an act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring, or receiving a person through  use of force, coercion, or other means, for the purpose of exploiting them.  Every year, thousands of men, women, and children fall into the hands of traffickers in their own countries and abroad.  Every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit, or destination for victims.  The information in this paragraph was taken from our program.

You may be asking, "How do coffee, tea, and chocolate apply to this concern?"  Well, there are many places in the world where labor trafficking is a HUGE concern!  In some of those places, there are people who are forced to work under unsafe conditions, for little pay, to produce the coffee, tea, and chocolate many of us desire.

Coffee, tea, and chocolate!

One way we can be sure that no one is being exploited in the production of these items when we purchase them is to look for a "fair trade" marking on the label.  These are labeled "Equal Exchange," and are available for purchase at our church.  When you shop, look for similar labels.  This lets you know that the proceeds from the product will go directly to the worker who developed it.  If you want to know more about where to find similar products, UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) has a website where you will find information about purchasing equal exchange products. 

The above picture illustrates a chocolate bar, cocoa for baking, Earl Grey tea bags, and, in this case, a bag of decaffeinated coffee.  I left the caffeinated coffee in the cupboard by mistake.:-(  In past years, I have also been able to purchase delicious, equal exchange, dried cranberries, and I am disappointed that they are not available any longer.

And - about the workshop?  We were presented much information about conditions that exist in our own communities, not just restricted to conditions "over there."  A website, which I have not been able to access, free2work.com, will have information about things (such as clothing). that are made using fair labor practices. 

Those of us who attended were requested to bring bras - used or new - for the "Free the Girls" project. The women attending the workshop brought 6,000 bras and contributed $1,000 to assist in shipping costs!  These are to be sent to Mozambique in an effort to combat sex trafficking.  It was an amazing contribution from the women in our Conference!

There is a website - notforsalecampaign.org - if you want more information in case  you might want to help in this very serious worldwide problem.

Thank you, and bless you for reading.  I appreciate your comments.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

What holiday?

As I was an elementary teacher, I was always ready for the next holiday that would be coming along!  It was evidenced in the illustrated numbers for the daily calendar, as well as by the themes of other displays in the classroom. 

Not only did I "trim" up the classroom, I also enjoyed having a few appropriate-to-the-season decorations around at home.  But - never did I have THIS on display in August!

What kind of music?!?  

Yes, it's Christmas music!  Many of you may remember that I sing in the Senior Chorus at a nearby Senior Center.  The director finds venues for us to perform, and we rehearse once a week.  We had a few weeks off during the summer, and when we returned on August 16, this is what we began rehearsing!  The calendar is already rather full with scheduled performances!

Not only are we thinking about Christmas music, most of us (we have had a few new faces join us for this season) will also be performing the program from the spring a couple of other times this fall!  So, we have a busy time ahead of us!

I am composing this at 2:50 EDT on August 25.  Has it occurred to any of you that Christmas is actually four months away from today?:-)  There may be some of you who are following this blog who do not actually celebrate Christmas, so that may not be meaningful information to you.  Thank you for reading along anyway.

Next post - Coffee, Tea, Chocolate?

I appreciate each one of  you and really enjoy your comments.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Any collections?

Were it not for the "collections" that inhabit our home, we might have room for something.:-)  It is easy to store/display some of them.  Others seem to pose a challenge when we try to find them a spot all their own.  You have seem parts of my "collections" in past posts. 

If you have noticed some of the seasonal decor I have pictured, you have realized that I have more than one or two Beanie Babies!  This post will feature only a portion of them, plus give some information about why I have some of them.

I was a 3rd grade classroom teacher when the Beanie Baby "craze" began.  We all heard the stories about how they would become "extinct" after a certain point, and that they might prove valuable through the years.:-)  Well, that was never an influence on me; however, I did begin to develop a liking for some of them.  Those that I chose, though, had to have a special meaning.


Of course, we all know the significance of the Bald Eagle here in America.  He had a prominent place for display in my classroom.

Do you remember Templeton from Charlotte's Web?  That was one of my favorite read-alouds to my class.

Blurry leopard:-(

The Leopard was our school mascot, nominated and voted on by the students when the school was first opened.

We love to see ladybugs in the garden, of course.  However, I chose this one because it is our official state insect!

The raccoon hasn't always been good to have around in the corn field.  Last year, they had quite a feast with some of ours.  However, the racoon is the official Tennessee state animal, and that is why he was chosen.

The Munchkins have enjoyed playing with these Beanie Babies.  There have been times when the Eagle has actually taken flight.:-)

Anticipating/preparing for upcoming holidays seems to be the subject of some of the blogs I have been following.  The next post will feature some preparations here, but for what holiday?!?

Thank you for reading.  I really enjoy your comments.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


As I read through blogs, it is apparent that some of you are ready to begin celebrating the arrival of fall.:-)  The temperatures around here this summer have been really hot, and I will admit that it will be nice to see some cooler weather.

Our most recent celebration, however, was Little Munchkin's sixth birthday!  Her party was delayed until the week-end, and it was certainly a joyous occasion! 

There were gifts from here....

When our daughters were growing up, we relied on Fisher-Price and their Best Friend series for gifts.

There were books....

Not only were there books for Little Munchkin, her big brother had one as well.

And, of course, the cake!

Little Munchkin wanted a "Pony Party," hence the horses on top of the cake.  Munchomom baked this wonderful chocolate cake which was greatly enjoyed by all!:-)  I believe Little Munchkin may be starting her collection of horses.:-)

Speaking of collections, how many do YOU have?  Notice I didn't ask IF you had any.:-)  Collections will be the subject of the next post.

Thank you for reading.   I really enjoy your comments. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Back to MY kitchen....

We have actually been away a few days, so I am just a little behind my usual blogging activity.

One of the places we went was back to my Alma Mater for a Faculty/Staff Social, sponsored by the Alumni Board.  Alumni brought easy-to-serve food items to contribute to the table, so that sent me to my recipe files for something to take along with me. 

This is what you need.....

....to produce this!


1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup pecans, chopped
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 medium onion, grated
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco, or other hot sauce
1 cup strawberry preserves

- Combine first six ingredients and mix well.  Chill.  Mold into ring.  Fill with strawberry preserves.  Serve with crackers.  Unique flavor!

I think you are able to see that I lined the ring mold with plastic wrap, then packed the cheese mixture into it before chilling.  When I unmolded it onto the serving dish, it was really easy to remove the plastic wrap.  Missing from the first picture is the jar of strawberry preserves.  I am a fan of Polaner sweetened with Fruit Juice, and that is the brand I used.

The house/property where social was held.

The college gardens which we toured a couple of weeks ago are on the back of this property.  Of course, once I had unmolded the cheese ring and added the strawberry preserves to the center, and set it on the table, I didn't have my camera with me!!  I will just have to make it again and remember to photograph it.:-)  It is something I really can't have in the house, though.:-)  It is far too tempting!

The recipe is one I obtained from a co-worker around 20 years ago, so I think many of you will already know all about it.:-)  I added assorted crackers that I had bought at Trader Joe's.  Oh, and I also made some Ranch Oyster Crackers.  I believe that recipe has been on the blog several months ago. 

There have been occasions for celebrations recently, and that will be the focus of the next post.

Thank you for reading.  I really appreciate your comments.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Back to the kitchen....

When I said, "Back to the kitchen," I didn't exactly mean I was going back to my own!:-) 

The Husband and I celebrated 43 years of marriage on August 16, and we took advantage of the opportunity to allow someone else to work in THEIR kitchen for us!:-)

My dinner!

We traveled to a nearby town for dinner at a restaurant on the waterfront.  I chose a broiled seafood trio.  There were three scallops, three shrimp, and tilapia, plus collard greens and a baked potato.  It was absolutely delicious!

The view across the lake.

The water was surprisingly clear.

It was just at dusk. Can you see these are boats?:-)

This was our first time to this particular location.  We were definitely pleased and have said that we will return someday for lunch.

Now, I actually have returned to OUR kitchen, and I will feature that on the next post.

Thank you for reading.  I really enjoy your comments.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August all around....

Let's see what things are looking like around here in August!

The chives are blooming!

Knock-out Rose has new blooms!

Crepe Myrtle!

Do you see the butterfly in the rose bush?  There was a smaller one that I didn't recognize in the chives, but it flew away before I could get a picture.

Blooming sweet potatoes!

The Husband says some of the sweet potatoes are actually ready to dig.  The recent rain has kept the ground too wet for doing that particular garden chore.

The first watermelon!

It was really exciting to see that the first watermelon was ready for harvesting.  Alas and alack, though!  It was not as we had hoped.:-(

Barely pink inside.:-(

The watermelon just didn't have that redness in the interior.:-(  Plus, the flavor was not good at all!:-(  So, it was chopped up and added to the compost heap!  There are others still on the vine that we hope will be good.

There is still much more to show about August.  That will come another day.  The next post will be about heading back to the kitchen!:-)

Thank you for reading.  I really appreciate your comments.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Favorite places....

Are you the same way we are?  We will be driving on the way to somewhere - on a tight schedule, usually - and pass places saying that we'd like to stop there sometime, or go back there sometime, and "sometime" never seems to come!

Well, I took some time recently (while The Husband was playing in a Golf Tournament) to head out to some of my "favorite places."

Need I say more?

Libraries and bookstores - two places that are able to keep me occupied for a long span of time!  Little Munchkin has had her sixth birthday, and a new book was in order!  Well, I'm not showing the books I bought there, but I was truly excited about this:

Susan Branch!

These were on sale!  It is not an easy thing to find Susan Branch's products in our local bookstores, and I was thrilled to find these.  There were other purchases, of course, and I hope a few children will be happy with my choices.

Something that is causing some excitement in our town is the opening of this:

Hard to believe!

I did not think I would ever see a Trader Joe's open in our town, but here it is!  I've already been twice!  I was really happy to see this:

I made other choices at Trader Joe's, but I thought this was more interesting than the Arugula and Fat Free Cottage Cheese!:-)  Lite Kettle Corn - a yummy choice for a snack!

Last, but not least, was a stop here:

Another bookstore.

This is also a favorite bookstore, and one that I depend on to have something meaningful and inspirational.  I chose something for the young family who lost their six-year old son, as well as something for The Husband!  Shh!!  Don't tell him!  We have a special occasion coming up later in the week!  That's why there's no picture.:-)

So, those are some of my favorite places.  The next post will be August all around!

Thank you for reading.  I really enjoy your comments.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Time for school....

This is the tenth school year I will not be returning to the classroom.  I retired, after 25 years of teaching, at the end of the 2002-2003 school year.  During that time, I taught all grades from first through fifth; however, the years from 1986 until I retired were spent teaching third grade.  I spent a number of years returning to volunteer at my former school.  My pace of activities has really picked up, though, and I haven't been able to return for about a year.

I was part of the faculty when a new elementary school was opened at the beginning of the 1993 school year.  Designed to accommodate 1,000 students, the enrollment is now greater than that, and the "temporary classroom annexes"  have been in use for a number of years.

The one-room school house would have been completely unable to serve the population of the area where my school was located.  In fact, plans are already underway to build another elementary school in a location that will relieve some of the crowding of my former school, as well as a couple of others.

Actually, the one-room school house that is on the grounds of the Glencoe Museum was not used by the Wharton children.  Their financial status would have enabled them to educate their children with private tutors.  The school house was moved to this location and rebuilt as an addition to the grounds to illustrate life in that time period.

School as reconstructed.

Quite different from today's chores.

Have things changed?  

Teachers needed to watch themselves as well.

Well, it is certainly safe to say that schools are different in our time.  Of course, there were students at all levels in these one-room school houses.  What a challenge! 

When you have a little extra time, what do you choose to do with it?  Do you take time to go to some favorite places that are nearby?  The next post will feature some "favorite places."

Thank you for reading.  I really enjoy your comments.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Glencoe Museum

This is a continuation of our road trip last week when we were at Emory and Henry College. 

After we left Ingles Farm and had lunch, there was another stop scheduled.

Located alongside the New River.

China typical of the period.

Woodwork as originally finished.

Glencoe Museum is located in the former home of General G. C. Wharton, CSA, and his wife, whose father deeded land on which to build the house in the 1870s.  The home has been beautifully restored and now houses period rooms, history exhibits, and an art gallery.

Lovely quilt in an upstairs bedroom.

Uniform on display.

Of course, I failed to get the name of the artist who had some very colorful art on display.:-(  I must have been too anxious to spend time in the gift shop.:-)

When is the first day of the new school year where  you are?  Our local schools will begin on Tuesday, August 14 for a half-day.  There are actually some students who will go to school on Monday for a half-day - new middle-school pupils!  This is my tenth year to be retired and not begin a school year. 

In keeping with the back-to-school theme, the next post will feature a one-room school house!

Thank you for reading.  I really appreciate  your comments.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

From the past....

For many of us, finding things from childhood is difficult.  I know that I wish there were more things from my childhood.  I feel fortunate to be able to locate the few that remain.

My sister, who follows this blog, will remember these books. 

A traveling duck.:-)

Half pages to turn.

A lazy beaver.

Half pages, too.

There are others I have not pictured - "The Bossy Bullfrog," "The Rooster Who Liked to Brag," and "The Selfish Little Puppy."  I remember that I was fascinated by the half-page format, though reading the books did not seem too difficult for me.  They are held together with tape, applied many years ago. 

Some of you have commented about my battery dilemma a couple of posts ago.  The battery to my camera is actually a rechargeable one, and I just haven't bought an extra so that I will have an "ace in the hole.":-)  It is actually a huge accomplishment for me that I am remembering to even take a camera along.:-)  Forgetting and leaving it behind - that's just "par for the course" for me.:-)

I also should have mentioned something about the Ingles Farm earlier.  Virginia has granted this farm a Conservation Easement.  That means the farm land will never be used for any other purpose.  In fact, it is now located within the city limits, but because of the Easement, it will remain as a farm with no development of any other kind taking place on the land. 

Have you ever heard of Glencoe Museum?  That will be next!

Thank you for reading.  I really appreciate your comments.

Friday, August 10, 2012

And that's not all....

One usual activity during More Than A Vacation is a Road Trip.  There are many locations of historical significance in areas near to the college. 

On Saturday, our road trip took us to Radford, VA where we visited the Ingles Farm.

From the bus.

This working farm has been in the family for over 250 years!  It is land that was home to Mary Draper Ingles and her family.  In a raid, she was taken captive by the Shawnee, escaped, and miraculously found her way back.  The book "Follow The River" gives a good account about that journey.

These three pictures show flax on the way to becoming linen cloth.

It was fascinating to hear about the process of making linen.  How many of you eat flax seeds?

Loving attention.

This sheep's favorite location was near the fence.  He loved having his chin rubbed, and several of us obliged.:-)

There were other high points of MTAV.  There is always a night at the Barter Theater in Abingdon, VA, and this year we saw "Red Velvet Cake Wars."  It was hilarious!

There is more that I could tell you about this trip.  I think I'll give  you a bit of a break, however, and share something else with you another day.

Thank you for reading.  I appreciate your comments.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Still not all....

This is still not all from our week at More Than A Vacation.  The Alumni Director and her committee really keep us busy!

Friday began with a presentation on edible plants by a college professor.  Most of the group went on a hike about an hour away, but some of us opted to remain on campus for our activities.

We began with a tour of the campus organic gardens.

We were met by one of the garden keepers with this basket of grapes.  They have come from vines that have been in this location for over 70 years!

All the above pictures are of the garden.

The six separate gardens take up about 1/2 acre of land.  The college food service purchases a large amount of the produce, some is sold at the Farmer's Market, and some is given to the Food Pantry.

Growing mushrooms?

There is even an effort to grow mushrooms!  These are the logs being treated to produce mushrooms.

This is the day that the battery in the camera died, just about at this point.:-(  Therefore, I am not able to show you pictures of the new Field House (never had one of those before) or our trip to Glade Spring for lunch at the Whistlepig Bistro.  Glade Spring is on the edge of a revitalization effort and a nice, welcoming new library is a great addition.  Portions of this small community received a great deal of damage from a tornado on April 27, 2011, so it is good to see such positive signs of rebuilding.

There is still more to share with you about this event, and that will be coming up in the next post.

Thank you for reading.  I appreciate your comments.