Meet Patsy

Meet Patsy
Meet Patsy

I am taking a small break from my break because I wanted to let you all know that I have been Peanutized!

Cee’s Photography did a nice article on becoming Peanutized.  In celebration of the new Peanuts movie they created this page where you can become a Peanuts character.

Since I was always called Peppermint Patty growing up I became Patsy – Peppermint Patty’s cousin.  Here I am with the Peanuts gang!

Have fun with it and share your Peanuts character with us.


Christmas Cookies Anyone?

386741_2668163541909_324005759_nThis is the first Christmas I will not be baking cookies. When my mother was ill my sister and I took over some of the baking and that is when I found my love of baking Christmas cookies.

The year my mother had her first heart attack dad bought the Tastykake Christmas cookies and they eventually became a part of our Christmas cookie tradition growing up, the box they came in right next to moms delicious cookies. My mothers favorite to bake were butter cut out cookies and peanut butter. We were no Martha Stewart or I guess in my day it was the Galloping Gourmet when it came to decorating. But we had fun. We never used icing, instead mom used a egg yolk mixture and then we topped it off with an assortment of sprinkles and candies. There were more types of cookies she would bake and we would always help – eating the broken ones or the ones that were burnt around the edges.

404543_2760139881260_50935956_nAs I got a home of my own I added Butter Drop Ins, Angel Pillows and Santa’s Whiskers to my cookie collection. I would store cookies for weeks until Christmas using all the proven techniques to keep them fresh.

As the children grew they ate them as fast as I could bake them. We would also give away containers full of cookies. One year I took them out to the ambulance company that came and helped me after I passed out. Then there were the years I shipped them to my  husband and son when they were deployed. Over the years my kitchen became a bakery filling my home with aroma of fresh baked cookies.

When our son moved out of the house and life got busy with jobs and other commitments I only baked the families favorites and started to buy German cookies and Scottish shortbread that are now easily available. What is Christmas without the traditional Lebkucken, Christmas Stollen, and Scottish Shortbread that melts in your mouth?

9693_4837674018315_186367325_nOur daughter loves to bake as much as I do, but we are both finding out bakery cookies are just as good! So now we go to Wegmans and stock up on German Lebkucken, buy our favorite cookie – Oreos with the red stuffing and choose a few Christmas cookies at our favorite bakery. We are also blessed with my sister who still loves to bake and will bring over our mothers Butter Cut Out Cookies and friends who will not have me go without cookies.

Although I have never met a cookie I did not like I am at that age where I have to watch what I eat. And with my biggest cookie fan no longer here to enjoy the delicacies I bake, I find it is time to lay aside my baking sheet and wooden spoon – for now. I am sure once grandchildren bless my home I will once again fill my home with the aroma of cookies baking.

405158_3610376136635_1392016750_nSo now what do I do since I am not baking? Glad you asked…now my life is filled with craft and sewing projects. Instead of a messy kitchen table I have a messy craft table. The aroma of baking cookies has been replaced by the aroma of my Scentsy Warmer that fills my home with Christmas Joy.

What is your favorite thing to do for Christmas, is it baking, cooking, or crafts?

It Is Beginning To Look Like Christmas

Picture unknown artists
Picture unknown artist

It is now the day after Thanksgiving here in America so it is now the official start of the Christmas season and to celebrate it I thought it fitting to post to the song by Bing Cosby,

It Is Beginning To Look Like Christmas

So rejoice everyone – the Christmas season has begun! Whatever you do for the Christmas season celebrate every moment from baking dozens of cookies to shopping for or making that perfect gift.  Don’t let the naysayers get you down, it is time to celebrate the holiday of our Saviors birth. 

What is the first thing you do to kick off this joyous holiday?  For us it has always been decorating the house and putting the tree up.  I worked retail and waited tables for many years, so depending on when I worked we would either put the tree up on Thanksgiving or the first weekend I had off which was usually the first day of advent.  And of coarse you already know, by now I have been listening to Christmas  music!

Let me be the first to wish you all a MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Thanksgiving Traditions

Norman-Rockwell-Thanksgiving-thanksgiving-2927689-375-479Here I am getting ready for the second holiday season without Tom. In 35 years of marriage we have only missed two wedding anniversaries, two Christmas’s and one Thanksgiving and one New Year. Not bad for a military wife, but then he only served active duty for part of our marriage before serving the rest of his career in the PA National Guard. Lets face it, although I am proud of the National Guard and all the work they do in their states and across the sea, it is a lot easier being married to a weekend warrior then a full-time soldier.

In that 35 yrs we have made some new traditions while keeping some of the old traditions. When I was growing up we did not have many old family traditions.  Coming from a military family and a grandmother with “itchy” feet my father’s family was thrown to the four corners of the earth. My mother being from Germany never celebrated Thanksgiving so it was a new experience for her. My father was raised in the depression had a very difficult life so I always thought it was his dream to have the traditional Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving.

Dad would always buy the biggest turkey, no matter how tight the household budget. He would cook everything in that turkey including the bone for his turkey soup. To this day I cannot eat stuffing, turkey soup or homemade gravy after I helped him one Thanksgiving – he literally used all the “extra’s” that come with the turkey, for flavor he would say, but that did not encourage me.

Now mom on the other hand was not a turkey connoisseur , I can still hear her say why do we have to eat turkey? But always wanting to become American she adapted. I am sure dad taught her everything she needed to know to make the best roast turkey this side of the Atlantic Ocean. She never did understood the concept of eating turkey only once a year. I always assumed they compromised for Christmas by having ham instead of turkey or the Christmas goose.

There is a clip in a movie “Avalon” which is a movie about Polish Immigrants that reminds me of my mother. Change the accent to German and I can almost hear my mother say “I don’t understand this holiday…we don’t eat turkey all year why do I have it eat now”.

movie clip ~ I will never understand this holiday

So our Thanksgiving holiday was a table filled with all the traditional Thanksgiving Day foods and our family of 5 would eat leftovers it seemed for weeks, although I am sure it was only days afterward.  My sister and I would normally argue over who was to wash or dry the many dishes dad left for us.  Dad would say you can tell a good cook by how many dishes and pots he used…well if that is true, then my dad was a master chef!

Tom comes from a traditional American family, big dinner of turkey and ham, tables filled with food that everyone brought, family gathered around, cousins running all over the place, along with a kids table, I am sure. He was amazed when I told him I was not that fond of turkey. Poor guy did not realize he was not going to have turkey for Christmas, ham would become our  traditional Christmas dinner. He never complained as long as he had his homemade pumpkin pie, his favorite holiday pie. Being newly married and wanting to impress him since he said his mother never made homemade pies I made my Aunt Marty’s pumpkin pie from scratch…from then on I would bake all my pies from scratch using love as my secret ingredient. For 35 yrs, we would have pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and one year I surprised him and made him one for his birthday!

The only time we did not have turkey was for our first Thanksgiving, we had chicken. This was before you could buy turkey breasts or smaller turkeys. I would start baking my pies the day before and instead of homemade stuffing we had stove top. Although I do remember the first time I made homemade stuffing I burnt it…don’t ask me how, I followed the directions and sticking to my convictions I used store-bought broth instead of making my own.

It is time to make new traditions but keeping the many happy memories of the past Thanksgivings.  I remember my parents, my brother and Tom with tears, laughter, and smiles. My traditions are not like the Norman Rockwell pictures or from what is shown in holiday movies.  But like how all traditions are started, both my old and the new ones my children and I will make together, they all start from the love I have for them.

My children and I will still have turkey with all the trimmings and instead of pumpkin pie this year I am making a pumpkin roll. Instead of football it will be watching all the traditional Christmas movies, “It’s A Wonderful Life”, “White Christmas”, It Happened On Fifth Avenue”, “Christmas in Connecticut” and to keep things silly “A Christmas Story”. 

What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition? I would enjoy hearing about all the different ways we celebrate, including my Canadian friends.  For my friends across the world, do you also celebrate a thanksgiving holiday?

Here Comes Santa Claus

CharlieBrownChristmasUpdate.JPG-675x550It it is time to start thinking “Christmas”.  Actually I think of Christmas all year-long as I reflect the birth of Jesus.  Then as I start sing Hark the Angels, Joy to the World and other favorite Christmas classics, soon I am singing, I Want A Hippopotamus, Nestor the Christmas Donkey, Deck the Halls, I’ll Be Home For Christmas and of course Here Comes Santa Claus sung by my two favorite singers, Doris Day and Gene Autry.   I could type a list of all my favorite Christmas songs.  You name it I love it!

I know everyone is going to comment that it is not Thanksgiving yet and you are right!  Years ago I thought how sad that we get to only listen to Christmas songs for 30 days out of the year.  So  I decided to started listening to Christmas songs the first day of school to celebrate the children going back and having the house to myself!

Then the movement of the stores to have Christmas in July came and I was hooked in bringing out the Christmas songs in July. 

This year I did start a bit later than usual only recently switching my regular CD’s over to Christmas.  But I am proud to say my daughter is following in my footsteps and is also listening to Christmas music. 

And you realize that with the Christmas music comes the Christmas movies. 

So call me crazy and you would be right because I am crazy for Christmas all year-long!

Enjoy your first Christmas song of the season…now you can get back to thinking about Thanksgiving as I get back to listening Christmas songs on Pandora.

But remember Christmas is only 88 days 7 hours and 37 minutes away (as I write this).





Fall Is In The Air

My White Dogwood Tree Oct 2013 It won’t be long until my Dogwood is this bright and colorful once again

Autumn. Don’t you just love the smell of the weather change? “Fall is in the air” my dad would say when the temperatures begin to change.

Although autumn doesn’t start until Sept 21, for me it starts with the first day of school. My children are grown now but it doesn’t stop me from feeling the excitement of seeing back to school supplies, children shopping for school clothes and the memory of a class room on that first day. Do you remember the smell of the first day of school?

With the coming of September I welcome the change from the slower pace of summer to the hustle and bustle of church and school activities.

It is interesting how each season has its own distinct qualities.

Winter is a time to curl up with good books in front of my fireplace (it is an electrical one but still a fireplace!) while enjoying a hot cup of British blends teas. Winter is also a good time to get caught up on all those sewing projects I have lying around. Who can resist that first snowfall that blankets our world?

Spring refreshes my world with hope as I watch earth’s slumber awaken with the signs of spring; new growth, spring flowers, baby bunnies and all of the birds returning from their southern journey. Spring is also the opportunity to indulge in spring cleaning as I clean out my closets and freshen up the house. Don’t you love the smell of the house that has just been scrubbed with Pine Sole as the window curtains flutter in the spring breeze?

Summer is set aside for vacations, working around the house and lazy days on the deck. The dog days of summer brings relaxation and enjoying good old-fashioned southern ice tea in front of my air conditioner. Who can remember laying down on the grass, watching the clouds float by and daydreaming of your future?

Oh but Autumn ~ my favorite time of year. The air is not only cooler after the lazy hot days of late summer, but it is brisk, fresh, and clean. Our mountains come alive in the colors of autumn, gold, russet, brown and orange. The smell of chalk boards and freshly copied paper from an old mimeograph machine permeates my mind. To this day I still enjoy buying new clothes in August and enjoy opening up a new notebook just waiting to be filled. Who remembers the anticipation of the first day of school?

Today as an adult my routine in Fall takes a different direction. Instead of getting ready for school, I prepare for committees and activities after a restful summer. My office is also busy as the committees of the Presbytery return from their summer breaks, new pastors move in and other pastors move on. The Presbyterian Church is also ready to start-up doing what they do best – helping others.

And that is where the next chapter in my life is taking me ~ helping others ~ as I anticipate the new challenges God has called me to.

I will be serving on a mission committee at church. We will have our first meeting next week as we find ways to help those in need both locally and in different parts of the world.

Then there is my term as the Historian for the Presbyterian Women of the Synod of the Trinity. This year I will also serve not only as Historian but on their mission board. In addition I will also be undertaking the job of webmaster of their webpage. This is a story for a different time, because I did not see that one coming and walked right into volunteering to take over! But it is a challenge I welcome and will enjoy. I look forward to working with the person who set it up. (If you are reading this A.T. I thank you for this opportunity)

The biggest challenge has been to accept the responsibility of a Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) group leader. I have been in leadership for a few years but not as a group leader. We had our first class night and God has blessed me with a wonderful group of ladies. I look forward to not only seeing where God will lead me but where He will lead the class as we study about Moses together.

Regardless if I buy school supplies or office supplies or if I purchase clothes for work instead of for school I will always anticipate the new challenges that autumn brings.

What do you look forward to in autumn?

The Legacy Of The Torino

Tom torino

I would like to introduce you to my husband’s baby.  It did not have a name – it was always referred to as “the Torino” or “dad’s Torino”.  It was his prized possession – a part of his father – a 1971 Ford Torino.

In 1971 Tom’s father Bob decided to purchase a new car.  So both Bob and Evelyn {Tom’s mother} went in search for a nice comfortable car. If I remember the story correctly, according to Evelyn it came down to two cars, this one which was originally painted green and another car.  Now Evelyn did not drive but she was looking for something that looked nice and was comfortable.  Bob wanted the other car but she talked him into the Torino. When Evelyn was living with us years later, she confessed to me that she talked Bob into the wrong car.  She actually wanted the other one – she did not like the green color and that this one only had two doors.  But it turned out that both Tom and Bob liked the car.  I have a feeling Bob pulled a fast one on Evelyn, to get the car he really wanted. 

After Tom’s father had a stroke that would eventually put him into a nursing home, Bob gave the Torino to Tom as a gift.  Bob and Tom had a special bond; Tom admired his dad and always looked up to him, this would the perfect gift for Tom to keep his dad in a part of his life.

We drove to Tom’s old home to bring the car home.  Tom knew the transmission was bad so he had a friend who is a mechanic go with us.  He got it running and we drove back home, in what should have been a 3 ½ hr drive, it took us nearly 5 hrs driving in first gear.  We got it home and there it sat for nearly a year.  Tom was saving money to get it fixed when he decided to re-enlist in the Army.  So to get the car to go wherever the Army would send us we decided to put in the garage and pray we had enough money to get it running again.  Tom’s little guy went in and we braced ourselves for the cost.  I don’t remember the exact amount we paid to get it fixed, again if I remember correctly {after all, this was 30 years ago!} but his baby only needed something adjusted and it ran perfectly and we had more than enough money saved – what Tom thought would cost an arm and leg actually cost a few dollars.  We would often joke about how the car sat for a year because he thought it needed major repairs when he could have been driving it and enjoying it. He would even start up the little guy to keep the motor good but he never drove it.

While we were living in Florida the Torino needed body work done so a friend painted it for us and the only color he had was brown, so it went from a dull green to a icky brown. But through the years it ran better than our other cars and always traveled with us. But the little guy did not remain brown for long.  Tom had wanted to paint it purple with a gold racing stripe for as long as I could remember and he had the opportunity to do it.  He put it in the garage and had a new engine put in, exchanged the old hood for the hood taken from a 1970 Torino, other parts repaired or replaced and ending with the painting – all told the car was in the garage for nearly a year.  This is the result:

Tom torino 1Now our son has the car.  He had some minor work done to it already and like Tom started a fund to continue with restoring it.  Tom has spare parts in our garage and plenty of books for our son to browse through.  He has also put “dad’s Torino” in its first car show.  He met many other car enthusiasts more than willing to teach him a few things. 

This car has had only three owners, a father to his son, and to his grandson.  I hope one day to have a grandson or granddaughter so that our son can also pass the car on and tell them about a father and son’s love and the gift of the Torino that is living on in each generation.

Tom torino 2

Preserving History

Endless Mountain War Museum

This past week my children and I took Toms’ WWII military collection to  the Endless Mountain War Memorial Museum in Sonestown, PA, not far from where we live. During the years especially after he retired he was always interesting in  military history with WWII his field of expertise.  He would talk till the cows came home of what he knew about the war in Europe especially the invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge.  While he was deployed in Germany he took the opportunity to visit Utah and Omaha Beach, St Lo, Sainte-Mere-Eglise, France and the Ardennes Forest in Belgium where the Battle of the Bulge took place, and where my dad served.  He even talked to some of the survivors and learned first hand about the liberation of an oppressed people.

Learning of the struggles of the pilgrims
Learning of the struggles of the pilgrims

We made a good team, he and I.  His expertise rested with the military strategies of battles, the weapons they used and the behind the stories of the soldiers themselves.  My expertise rests with the home front and the Army and Navy nurses who were there to take care of the wounded on the beaches where they lay.  The second era we enjoyed learning about was the, history of the West, the American Civil War and the Revolutionary War.  We have been to living histories, a few re-enactments of Civil War and WWII battles and many lectures and museums.  A few people we met over the years were General Lee and his aide, General Stonewall Jackson and General and Mrs Grant.  General Picket was in the hotel room across from us – he told us Generals don’t sleep in tents they are allowed the comforts of hotel rooms! 😉  We even talked with the pilgrims on the Mayflower and learned of their experience coming to a new land. And through our travels we learned the fascinating history about the American Indian Nations that had lived here on the east coast.

Items from a display at the WWII weekend in Gettysburg.
Items from a display at the WWII weekend in Gettysburg.

Both of us collected books and artifacts from days gone by so it is fitting that we would donate the WWII military items he had including the two radios Tom and I had purchased to put in the “home-front” display.  We have kept a few pieces that have special memories behind them including the very first pieces of history we purchased. I also have many memories of us traveling and searching for new items to add to his collection or of how Tom was like a kid on Christmas morning when new boxes would arrive via Fed Ex with his latest addition.

Utah BeachNow many people traveling through PA can enjoy a part of history from not only Tom’s collection but also the vast collection started by Mr. Craft who owns the Endless Mountain War Memorial Museum.  I just found out today that a dear friend whose husband passed away a few years ago donated his WWII uniform and items from the five major European campaigns he served in.  The museum doesn’t glorify war, but it honors those who had to serve to stop oppression and evil in the hopes that what they did would ensure a free safe world for the generations yet to be born.

Preserving history was important to Tom.  By preserving history it is our hope that future generations would stop repeating the same mistakes and put a stop to all the destruction and hatred that lies in many people’s hearts.

 “What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world.” General Robert E Lee

WWII Memorial ~ Washington DC
One of the many Memorials on the Gettysburg Battlefield
One of the many Memorials on the Gettysburg Battlefield

Happy New Year

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{unknown – picture from facebook}

Happy New Year to family

Happy New Year to friends

May you each enjoy the blessings

That our Lord God sends

And trust in His guidance all along the way

As you begin a brand new year on this happy day! {Thena Smith}


Wishing all of my family and my friends ~ {old and new} 

Gods blessings through the New Year as all your dreams come true.

Your journey is just beginning  full of  expectations and hope.

May all of your tomorrows bring you good health, happiness and

priceless treasures from the heart.    Patty ~ Jan 1, 2013

The Parakeet

parakeetAs I read everyone’s posts about Christmas memories I am reminded of my own memories.  The year my sister and I both received exactly the same doll house. The Christmas I received my first ring from my parents.  I still have it.  It is tarnished and the stone out of date, but it is now an antique being over 40 yrs old! 

I think one of the best Christmas gifts I have received came from my husband.  We had just moved back to Pennsylvania and getting settled back into a semi civilian life.  We now owned our home and so we enjoyed filling our home with pets; we had fish, a rabbit, eventually a hamster and of course our dogs.  I had always spoke of the parakeet my cousin had and how much I enjoyed it when I was younger and how eventually my mother would purchase a parakeet for me.  I always talked of the parakeet that I named Bubbi after my cousins parakeet and how much I enjoyed hearing him sing. 

You know how our memories are, they are selective, so I neglected to describe the mess and the work involved with caring for a bird or the fact that less than a year we gave the poor thing away.

So my husband being a sweet sensitive guy (which he won’t admit) decided to buy me a parakeet for Christmas.  We both love birds and he thought this would be a perfect gift.  And it was, until we realized Bubbi Jr did not sing.  We tried everything.  All it ever did was eat and poop and poop and poop.  Lets not get into the shells from the bird seed, they were everywhere.  I never mentioned to my DH (dear husband) that I was not really enjoying the little guy. It was not Bubbi’s  fault, I was working full-time, taking care of the house in addition to our pets and our two little ones that kept us running.  So the day came when little Bubbi died.  I hate to admit it but I was relieved, and being such a good wife, I “grieved” with my husband over Bubbi. 

Then Christmas came and my sweet sensitive husband knowing how much I “missed” Bubbi bought me another one, much to my dismay.  Again I was “happy” with my gift.  And to his credit he bought me one that sang but I think it was an attack signal.  That bird would attack the hands that fed it.  I could not change the papers without that little innocent looking bird coming for me and forget about feeding, he mistook my fingers for food.  I am sure that bird was part of  a meat-eating variety of parakeet.  So after a few weeks of being attacked I told DH he needs to care for Bubbi. 

Bubbi used the sweet sound of his singing to get back at us.  The dogs barked he would sing, the phone rang ~ he would sing.  We would talk and he would sing.  Then Jurassic Park came out on video.  One of my sons favorite movies.  The dinosaurs would roar and the little bird would go nuts. 

Then the day came and he also died.  DH started talking about getting another one. I had to confess.  I had to tell him as much as I appreciated him buying me the two birds, I pleaded with him no more birds.  So to his credit he did not buy me a Parakeet for Christmas, instead he bought me a ceramic Blue Jay – to go with the Cardinal he bought me years earlier because he knows they are my two favorite birds.

The reason that Parakeet is one of my favorite Christmas gifts because they were given in love.  DH may not be a romantic and a tough ole Sergeant but he shows his love for me in so many little ways, even buying me two parakeets to remind me of happier times from my childhood.

Another thoughtful present he bought me was an antique Army Ike Jacket that the soldiers wore in WWII,  searching on eBay until he found one with the Third Army patch on it, the unit my dad served in during WWII. I had mentioned a few times that I like those uniforms compared to the ones today.  My house is full of gifts he purchased for me over the years, each with a story and a memory attached. 

And so through the years I have learned to be careful telling my DH what I like because one day I may find a zebra or a giraffe under the Christmas tree! 

I wonder what is under the tree this year?  thinking-woman