Goodnight Irene

In our family, there’s an amusing anecdote that’s been told and retold over the years.

When my Aunt Irene was a teenager, she was dating a young man named, Joe.

Irene’s father (my Grandpa) was your typical protective Dad when it came to his daughter’s dating – but he also had a great sense of humor.

The story goes that one night when Joe brought Irene home from an evening out, Grandpa thought they were lingering just a little too long on the outside of the doorway.

Rather than open the door and speak to them directly about it, he put a record on the record player with the volume turned up. The loud strains of “Goodnight Irene, Goodnight Irene . . .” were just the subtle hint needed to convince the young couple it was time to call it a night. 😉


Eventually, Aunt Irene and Uncle Joe married and had six kids and lots of grandkids. Just a couple of years ago, they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary surrounded by loving family and friends.

Early this Tuesday morning, Aunt Irene decided she was tired of battling the illness she had developed in recent years . . . and she left us.

We were prepared, and yet we are very unprepared. Some things in life get easier the more you experience them. The death of a loved one is the exception – it’s always just as difficult as it was the time before.

When the family gathers to celebrate her life on Friday, I’m sure our hearts will be whispering: “Goodnight Irene”.


Give those you love an extra hug today,


Things to Love About Thanksgiving


In the spirit of some holiday fun, here are:

Crystal’s Top 5 Things to Love About Thanksgiving

1. The incredible aroma wafting through the house as the meal is prepared!

2. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – so comforting to have it on in the background while bustling in the kitchen. It’s been part of Thanksgiving in my home since I was a little kid!

3. Pumpkin Pie!!!!! In general, I could live without desserts if I had to. Sure, I like them, but it’s the main part of any meal that I enjoy most. However, I am CRAZY about Pumpkin Pie!

4. It’s a long weekend! (Hope it is for you, too.)

5. Leftovers! Is there anything better than a turkey sandwich the day after Thanksgiving? Well, maybe a turkey sandwich that’s made with a little stuffing and cranberry sauce!


Sweet Kids,
I’m thankful for you! May those who celebrate Thanksgiving have a day filled with love, serenity, and lots of good food. And may all of us have a great weekend. 🙂

See you on Monday!


Little Things Mean A Lot

This summer, my parents are moving to a new home. It’s a bittersweet experience for all of us. The new place is a charming little cottage on Cape Cod – so that’s the happy part.

But they have lived in the home from which they are moving for close to 56 years. They raised six children there – me included! 😉

So many happy memories in the old place . . . we’ll miss it quite a lot, but it was time for them to move on.

Recently, we all joked about how on earth we could move the “family growth chart”, which is simply a narrow strip of wall where, for a lifetime, my Dad has presided over the measuring of each one of us. In the earliest years, it was my siblings and I who were asked to “stand up straight”, as we backed up, heels against the wall, and he marked our heights with a little line, drawn in pencil, and then added names and dates.

The years flew by and eventually we were bringing husbands and wives to visit. Dad would always encourage them to have their heights recorded alongside our own. It was a family tradition by then, and we all enjoyed watching the growth chart – GROW!

Finally our babies arrived, one by one – his grandchildren! And they in turn were added. None of us ever considered this little bit of graffiti to be undesirable. Here was a case of where it was definitely ok to write on the wall!

Somehow, we are going to have to come up with a way to transport this strip of wall to the new place. A growth chart might seem like a little thing, but to us – it means a lot!


Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Just a reminder that the GIVEAWAY for July (click here to see it) is still running and all comments for this month count as entries.

Today’s question is:

~Describe a schoolyard game that you played with your friends when you were a kid.


~Write the first few lines of a song you remember singing while jumping rope! 😀



Christmas Ornament Fever

My name is Crystal, and I’m an ornament-a-holic.

There, I’ve said it.


Although this may be news to most of you, it will come as no surprise to my family, and to the friends that happen to live nearby. I’m actually a little amazed that they haven’t gotten together and staged an intervention for me years ago. But then, maybe they’ve been enjoying the festive ambiance of my ornament fever??? 😉

christmastreestarThis “fever” began right after I got married. I had always loved Christmas but that year, as a new bride, I was decorating a tree in my very own home for the first time! It was so much fun to shop for colorful strings of lights and boxes of glass and satin ornaments (satin was so “in” then). And during that time, I remember reading an article in a women’s magazine that recommended buying one very special ornament every year so that eventually your tree would look amazing. I absolutely fell in love with that idea! From then on, each summer, we’d begin to look for that year’s “special ornament”.


After our daughters were born, we began collecting an ornament per year for each of them, too. Our thought was that they’d each have a fairly sizable collection by the time they were out of the nest with trees of their own! I should mention that when that time eventually came, Mama Bear was very surprised how hard it was to say goodbye to those ornaments! After all, they had been on our family tree for so long, they were old favorites! I remember when the girls wanted to take the ornaments to their college dorms and I said “Ohhh, well, yeah, ummmmm, but don’t you want to wait until you have your own apartment?” LOL They were sweet enough to humor me for a few more years . . . but I digress.


So all of this ornament collecting sent us in many directions. We bought some breathtaking glass ornaments. We received special ornaments as gifts occasionally. We’d always hit the after-Christmas sales for our favorite Hallmark ornaments. However, the ornaments I cherish most are the handmade ones. We found a few at craft fairs, but my daughters and I made most of them! (Click here and scroll down the page.) The girls began making simpler styles when they were quite young, but as they grew a little bit older, they were stitching tiny treasures that would melt your heart.


After a while, there was no way that all of the ornaments would fit on our tree, so we began to have a different theme each year. One year it would be all glass ornaments; the next it was just the Hallmarks; the year after that – all handmade. Then there were the times we would just do a blend of all the styles we had, but only our very favorites from each style.

christmastreestarYou’d probably think that by now, the novelty of buying new ornaments would have worn off, but I still love to find a new ornament for the girls when I can. I also buy a new one – or three – for their father and me. (I have to make up for all the ones the kids finally did take, ya know!) And I still enjoy making ornaments, so I usually try to add a couple of those each year, as well.

By the way, have you noticed that the Christmas ornaments are on display in the Hallmark stores now? If anyone is looking for me, check there first! 😉


Sour Cream Coffee Cake and History!

There can be all kinds of history in a recipe box!

Take this for example.


It’s written in my mother’s handwriting, but there’s more! Look at the stains on it. Mum made this coffee cake many times and the stains are a testament to the afternoons this piece of paper rested on the counter as she measured and stirred. But there’s still one more bit of “history” with this recipe . . .

If you turn the paper over, you have this:


It’s one of my 5th grade history tests! Let’s just say it’s from decades ago, ok? It appears I was studying the civil war when my mother needed a piece of paper to scratch down a new recipe. I’m certainly glad she happened to grab one that was marked a “hundred” – especially since it’s survived this many years and will probably be passed on again – no need to have future generations see a test with a lower grade. 😉

I wrote the word “Mama’s” on the recipe when she gave it to me after I got married. Isn’t it amazing that something so ordinary can have so much meaning years later? This paper is a tangible link to the past. It tells of a young mother who is spending some of her days baking treats for her family. It tells of a 10-year-old child, who is studying and taking tests on American history. It seems to me that this recipe might be cherished by a young woman many years from now, not just because it’s good coffee cake, but because the piece of paper is a connection to her own ancestors – something that will allow her to know them a little better and to imagine what their lives were like. I wish I had more items like this from even further back in our family. Now that we so extensively use computers, the internet and email, it’s likely that handwritten recipes, notes, and maybe even “written” school exams will become a thing of the past, but I hope not.

One thing is for sure – the coffee cake is delicious. I’ve transcribed it for you below. Maybe you can make it before the summer heat keeps all of us from wanting to use the oven. 😉



Sour Cream Coffee Cake

One Bowl Recipe!

Sift together on wax paper:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a bowl cream together well:
1 stick butter (left out for 1 hour to soften a bit)
2 eggs (left out 1 hour to bring closer to room temperature)
1-cup sugar

Next add dry ingredients alternately with ½ pint of sour cream to the creamed mixture. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

In a cup – mix well: 1 teaspoon of cinnamon with ¼ cup of sugar. Set aside.

Measure approximately 1 cup of chopped nuts and set aside.

Grease a tube pan. Add ½ of the batter to the pan, then ½ of the cinnamon sugar mixture, then sprinkle ½ of the nuts, then the rest of the batter, the rest of the cinnamon sugar mix, and finally the rest of the nuts.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.