Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas in the Hollow

First and foremost, Merry Christmas! I hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas! If you've followed my blog over the last couple of years you know that our tradition was always a Christmas breakfast rather than a Christmas dinner. That holds true today as I have breakfast just about done this morning. And, it's a white Christmas in the hollow! Snow is supposed to continue this morning and it is beautiful out there. The best part is the roads look fine.
I always try to do something at Christmas to remember my parents. Sometimes it's something small and sometimes something big. This year I spent most of December doing little a little 'secret' giving in their memory. I know they would have liked that. Eating Christmas Eve dinner out this year was a special treat I had looked forward to for a couple of weeks. I had already decided that our waitress would receive an extra large tip as a Christmas thank you. You see, Mom was a waitress for years. In fact, that is how she and Daddy met. I know from watching her that the job is hard and often thankless. In hard times, tips are often cut. We chose a local steakhouse and I have to say the meal was wonderful. My steak was tender and finally cooked perfectly. I'm not picky as I'll eat it any place from rare to well-done - just as long as they don't walk it to the table. But, it was nice to have the cook actually know what 'medium' meant. The restaurant had a beautiful Christmas tree and several families were also having their Christmas Eve dinner there as well.
What made the dinner extra special? Having never been there before, I was surprised when the waitress greeted us as if we were long lost friends that had just stopped in for Christmas. She was not overly cheerful, but warm and friendly. But, I teared up when I saw her name. It was the same as Mom's. A random choice of where to eat led us to her. It made giving the 'extra' tip all the more special and brought me a little closer to the memory of my parents.
Wishing you a Merry and Blessed Christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Traveling Dentists

I made a much overdue visit to my dentist's office the other day. It's amazing the things that go through my mind while my teeth are being cleaned. I was thinking about Christmas and all the things I have left to do before Dec 25th - mentally making lists and checking them twice! I have no dental phobias and usually have no real problems. Given the fact that seeing someone in dental scrubs would send Mom into a panic, I wonder why I didn't develop the same problem with dental uniforms.

Visits to the dentist were not something we could afford back in the hollow. In fact, my first visit was at sixteen! And, it was to a 'traveling dentist' that did not maintain a regular office in town. Even so, it wasn't a bad experience. Though, I was determined to hang on to my wisdom teeth for as long as possible. The experience of having two removed on one side definitely had me dragging my feet on the other two. As I grew older, I began to appreciate the importance of good dental care. These days we know that gum issues can lead to visits with someone in nursing uniforms. And, none of us want that! They always ask me if I floss. I always say 'yes' just last night. I think if we all took care of our teeth as if we were visiting the dentist tomorrow, we'd have fewer issues. So, tonight while your checking your list, add flossing to it!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Night Before Thanksgiving

I was thinking about a post for Thanksgiving, and ran across this short story. I thought you'd enjoy it. In the chaos that will follow in a few days, take a quiet moment, take a deep breath, and remember there's a lot for which we can be thankful. Have a blessed day!


There was a sad heart in the low-storied, dark little house that stood humbly by the roadside under some tall elms. Small as her house was, old Mrs. Robb found it too large for herself alone; she only needed the kitchen and a tiny bedroom that led out of it, and there still remained the best room and a bedroom, with the low garret overhead.

There had been a time, after she was left alone, when Mrs. Robb could help those who were poorer than herself. She was strong enough not only to do a woman's work inside her house, but almost a man's work outside in her piece of garden ground. At last sickness and age had come hand in hand, those two relentless enemies of the poor, and together they had wasted her strength and substance. She had always been looked up to by her neighbors as being independent, but now she was left, lame-footed and lame-handed, with a debt to carry and her bare land, and the house ill-provisioned to stand the siege of time.

For a while she managed to get on, but at last it began to be whispered about that there was no use for any one so proud; it was easier for the whole town to care for her than for a few neighbors, and Mrs. Robb had better go to the poorhouse before winter, and be done with it. At this terrible suggestion her brave heart seemed to stand still. The people whom she cared for most happened to be poor, and she could no longer go into their households to make herself of use. The very elms overhead seemed to say, "Oh, no!" as they groaned in the late autumn winds, and there was something appealing even to the strange passer-by in the look of the little gray house, with Mrs. Robb's pale, worried face at the window.

Some one has said that anniversaries are days to make other people happy in, but sometimes when they come they seem to be full of shadows, and the power of giving joy to others, that inalienable right which ought to lighten the saddest heart, the most indifferent sympathy, sometimes even this seems to be withdrawn.

So poor old Mary Ann Robb sat at her window on the afternoon before Thanksgiving and felt herself poor and sorrowful indeed. Across the frozen road she looked eastward over a great stretch of cold meadow land, brown and wind-swept and crossed by icy ditches. It seemed to her as if before this, in all the troubles that she had known and carried, there had always been some hope to hold: as if she had never looked poverty full in the face and seen its cold and pitiless look before. She looked anxiously down the road, with a horrible shrinking and dread at the thought of being asked, out of pity, to join in some Thanksgiving feast, but there was nobody coming with gifts in hand. Once she had been full of love for such days, whether at home or abroad, but something chilled her very heart now.

Her nearest neighbor had been foremost of those who wished her to go to the town farm, and he had said more than once that it was the only sensible thing. But John Mander was waiting impatiently to get her tiny farm into his own hands; he had advanced some money upon it in her extremity, and pretended that there was still a debt, after he cleared her wood lot to pay himself back. He would plough over the graves in the field corner and fell the great elms, and waited now like a spider for his poor prey. He often reproached her for being too generous to worthless people in the past and coming to be a charge to others now. Oh, if she could only die in her own house and not suffer the pain of homelessness and dependence!

It was just at sunset, and as she looked out hopelessly across the gray fields, there was a sudden gleam of light far away on the low hills beyond; the clouds opened in the west and let the sunshine through. One lovely gleam shot swift as an arrow and brightened a far cold hillside where it fell, and at the same moment a sudden gleam of hope brightened the winter landscape of her heart.

"There was Johnny Harris," said Mary Ann Robb softly. "He was a soldier's son, left an orphan and distressed. Old John Mander scolded, but I could n't see the poor boy in want. I kept him that year after he got hurt, spite o' what anybody said, an' he helped me what little he could. He said I was the only mother he 'd ever had. 'I 'm goin' out West, Mother Robb,' says he. 'I sha'n't come back till I get rich,' an' then he 'd look at me an' laugh, so pleasant and boyish. He wa'n't one that liked to write. I don't think he was doin' very well when I heard,—there, it's most four years ago now. I always thought if he got sick or anything, I should have a good home for him to come to. There 's poor Ezra Blake, the deaf one, too,—he won't have any place to welcome him."

The light faded out of doors, and again Mrs. Robb's troubles stood before her. Yet it was not so dark as it had been in her sad heart. She still sat by the window, hoping now, in spite of herself, instead of fearing; and a curious feeling of nearness and expectancy made her feel not so much light-hearted as light-headed.

"I feel just as if somethin' was goin' to happen," she said. "Poor
Johnny Harris, perhaps he's thinkin' o' me, if he's alive."

It was dark now out of doors, and there were tiny clicks against the window. It was beginning to snow, and the great elms creaked in the rising wind overhead.

A dead limb of one of the old trees had fallen that autumn, and, poor firewood as it might be, it was Mrs. Robb's own, and she had burnt it most thankfully. There was only a small armful left, but at least she could have the luxury of a fire. She had a feeling that it was her last night at home, and with strange recklessness began to fill the stove as she used to do in better days.

"It 'll get me good an' warm," she said, still talking to herself, as lonely people do, "an' I 'll go to bed early. It's comin' on to storm."

The snow clicked faster and faster against the window, and she sat alone thinking in the dark.

"There 's lots of folks I love," she said once. "They 'd be sorry I ain't got nobody to come, an' no supper the night afore Thanksgivin'. I 'm dreadful glad they don't know." And she drew a little nearer to the fire, and laid her head back drowsily in the old rocking-chair.

It seemed only a moment before there was a loud knocking, and somebody lifted the latch of the door. The fire shone bright through the front of the stove and made a little light in the room, but Mary Ann Robb waked up frightened and bewildered.

"Who 's there?" she called, as she found her crutch and went to the door. She was only conscious of her one great fear. "They 've come to take me to the poor-house!" she said, and burst into tears.

There was a tall man, not John Mander, who seemed to fill the narrow doorway.

"Come, let me in!" he said gayly. "It's a cold night. You did n't expect me, did you, Mother Robb?"

"Dear me, what is it?" she faltered, stepping back as he came in, and dropping her crutch. "Be I dreamin'? I was a-dreamin' about— Oh, there! What was I a-sayin'? 'T ain't true! No! I've made some kind of a mistake."

Yes, and this was the man who kept the poorhouse, and she would go without complaint; they might have given her notice, but she must not fret.

"Sit down, sir," she said, turning toward him with touching patience. "You 'll have to give me a little time. If I 'd been notified I would n't have kept you waiting a minute this stormy night."

It was not the keeper of the poorhouse. The man by the door took one step forward and put his arm round her and kissed her.

"What are you talking about?" said John Harris. "You ain't goin' to make me feel like a stranger? I 've come all the way from Dakota to spend Thanksgivin'. There's all sorts o' things out here in the wagon, an' a man to help get 'em in. Why, don't cry so, Mother Robb. I thought you 'd have a great laugh, if I come and surprised you. Don't you remember I always said I should come?"

It was John Harris, indeed. The poor soul could say nothing. She felt now as if her heart was going to break with joy. He left her in the rocking-chair and came and went in his old boyish way, bringing in the store of gifts and provisions. It was better than any dream. He laughed and talked, and went out to send away the man to bring a wagonful of wood from John Mander's, and came in himself laden with pieces of the nearest fence to keep the fire going in the mean time. They must cook the beef-steak for supper right away; they must find the pound of tea among all the other bundles; they must get good fires started in both the cold bedrooms. Why, Mother Robb did n't seem to be ready for company from out West! The great, cheerful fellow hurried about the tiny house, and the little old woman limped after him, forgetting everything but hospitality. Had not she a house for John to come to? Were not her old chairs and tables in their places still? And he remembered everything, and kissed her as they stood before the fire, as if she were a girl.

He had found plenty of hard times, but luck had come at last. He had struck luck, and this was the end of a great year.

"No, I could n't seem to write letters; no use to complain o' the worst, an' I wanted to tell you the best when I came;" and he told it while she cooked the supper. "No, I wa'n't goin' to write no foolish letters," John repeated. He was afraid he should cry himself when he found out how bad things had been; and they sat down to supper together, just as they used to do when he was a homeless orphan boy, whom nobody else wanted in winter weather while he was crippled and could not work. She could not be kinder now than she was then, but she looked so poor and old! He saw her taste her cup of tea and set it down again with a trembling hand and a look at him. "No, I wanted to come myself," he blustered, wiping his eyes and trying to laugh. "And you 're going to have everything you need to make you comfortable long's you live, Mother Robb!"

She looked at him again and nodded, but she did not even try to speak. There was a good hot supper ready, and a happy guest had come; it was the night before Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

I found this recently and thought it would be appropriate for Veteran's Day. Hope you enjoy it and pass it along.


WASHED in the blood of the brave and the blooming,
Snatched from the altars of insolent foes,
Burning with star-fires, but never consuming,
Flash its broad ribbons of lily and rose.

Vainly the prophets of Baal would rend it,
Vainly his worshippers pray for its fall;
Thousands have died for it, millions defend it,
Emblem of justice and mercy to all:

Justice that reddens the sky with her terrors,
Mercy that comes with her white-handed train,
Soothing all passions, redeeming all errors,
'Sheathing the sabre and breaking the chain.

Borne on the deluge of old usurpations,
Drifted our Ark o'er the desolate seas,
Bearing the rainbow of hope to the nations,
Torn from the storm-cloud and flung to the breeze!

God bless the Flag and its loyal defenders,
While its broad folds o'er the battle-field wave,
Till the dim star-wreath rekindle its splendors,
Washed from its stains in the blood of the brave!

Oliver Wendell Holmes - 1865.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble

Do you remember this scene from Macbeth? Happy Halloween!!!

FIRST WITCH. Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd.

SECOND WITCH. Thrice and once the hedge-pig whined.

THIRD WITCH. Harpier cries, "'Tis time, 'tis time."

FIRST WITCH. Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot.

ALL. Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

SECOND WITCH. Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

ALL. Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

THIRD WITCH. Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witch's mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg'd i' the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat and slips of yew
Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar's lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab.
Add thereto a tiger's chawdron,
For the ingredients of our cawdron.

ALL. Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

SECOND WITCH. Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Halloween in the hollow often meant homemade treats and apples. One neighbor even made fudge! That was always my favorite stop. In the tradition of homemade Halloween treats, here's a receipe to try this year.

Halloween ‘Boo’ Bags
Ingredients for the bars
10 oz bag of large marshmallows
3 Tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
3 cups Trix cereal
1 cup Cheerios
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
Butter an 8x8 pan and set aside. Combine Trix, Cheerios, pecans and cranberries in bowl and set aside. In a heavy sauce pan, over low heat, melt butter. Add marshmallows and stir until melted and blended with butter. Add cinnamon and vanilla. Stir well. Add cereal mixture. Pour into 8x8 pan. Smooth down top with the back of a buttered spoon on spatula. Allow to cool at room temperature.

When mixture is cooled, cut into 9 equal size bars. The bars will still be a little soft, so you can mold them, if needed, so they will stand up right. Place bars in the freezer for ten minutes.
Ingredients for decorating the bars
16 oz almond bark
Writing icing
Candy corn for decorating
While bars are chilling, melt almond bark according to package directions. Remove bars from freezer. Dip each bar in the chocolate, leaving about half an inch uncovered, and stand upright on wax paper. Once chocolate is hardened, apply the handles. Coat the inside first inch of each licorice stick with the melted chocolate. Apply each end to the side of a bag and hold in place until the chocolate hardens, about 20 to 30 seconds. You can reinforce the handle by adding a little melted chocolate around the seams.
To make signs for your bags, put wax paper on a cutting board. Spread a thin layer of melted chocolate on wax paper. Make the area large enough to write all of the words you want on your bag. With writing icing, spell out the words you want, like RIP or Boo. You can even use names if you want. Leave enough room between each word to cut out signs. With a sharp knife, cut around your words. Lift the wax paper and remove each sign. Put a little melted chocolate on the back of the sign and place it on the front of the treat bag. The chocolate will harden and hold the sign in place.
Store in air tight container overnight. If you are not serving the bags the next day, refrigerate them until ready to serve.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Top Chef Just Desserts

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to lose time? I'll start out searching for recipes and end up looking over a website for San Francisco wedding caterers. The funny part is that I usually find something useful and always something interesting.

Have you been watching Top Chef Just Desserts on Bravo this season? I love this show! There's a yummy pastry chef (Yigit Pura) on the show that works for a wedding caterer. I've often thought about what fun it would be to cook professionally. I have to admit, these guys are under a lot of pressure, but they sure do make it look easy! Competing on the show must be stressful, but I don't think it could compare to a wedding. It's that once in a lifetime event for the bride and groom and you definitely want the right wedding caterers. It has to be more than just making a living, there has to be a true 'calling' to that line of work. At the end of the day they must take a great deal of pride in a job wedding well done.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Mothman Prophicies???


I found some unusual looking moths waiting for dusk one evening.  While most are small, these were quite large.  Hope you enjoy the pictures.  Have a blessed day!

green moth

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Efficient Lawn Care


They’ve finished the apples and moved on to grass.  If these little guys keep munching, I won’t need to mow grass for quite a while!  Have a blessed day. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Last Days of Summer


The last days of Summer are upon us.  School has started again and Fall is just around the corner.  It’s been a hot one here in Tennessee.  So, these last few days of cooler weather are a blessing.  I don’t think I could have picked better weather for this Labor Day weekend. 

Still, the signs of Fall are slowly creeping in.  This morning there was just a hint of smoke in the air from a nearby tobacco barn.  And, this afternoon a friend and I listened to the breeze rustling through a field of dried corn stalks while enjoying ice cream in the shade of a nearby tree.  It won’t be too many more weeks before the mornings start with that crisp air and the first hints of frost.  I have to say that while this summer has been hot, it sure beats the gloomy days of the past Winter.  But, Fall is still my favorite time of year and will welcome it this year.

Have a blessed day!


2 cups fresh corn (cut from cob)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon bacon drippings

1/2 cup water

Take a small bowl and place it upside down in a larger bowl.  Hold the corn cob on the smaller bowl.  Slice 1/2 off top of the kernels.  Then scrape off the rest, scraping down to the cob.  The bowl will catch all the corn bits.  In large skillet heat bacon drippings over medium high heat.  Add corn and water and reduce heat to low.  Cook until thick and then season with salt and pepper.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Toss in the Trash or Cool Glasses?


Simple Cookery Mason Jars

How many glass jars do you throw away each week?  Ok, so maybe you rinse them and throw them in the recycling bin.  But, what if you could reuse them instead?

If you grew up poor, you know all about ‘jelly’ glasses.  Jelly used to come in jars that could be used for glasses when empty.  You had small glasses suitable for breakfast juice or tall glasses perfect for iced tea.  It was a great marketing idea that swayed you toward a product with double duty.  Of course, this was before plastic.

Still, today there are lots of ‘glass’ jars and ‘plastic’ jars that can be reused.  The above picture may look like a normal mason jar holding pink lemonade.  In reality, it’s a reused pasta sauce jar.  I was very excited to purchase this particular product because the jar itself was labeled Atlas Mason and I thought it could be reused in canning.  However, when I tried a regular canning ring on it, I discovered the mouth of the jar is just a little smaller than a normal mason jar.  But, it still makes for a perfect drinking glass. 

Even plastic jars can be reused to store small parts, seasonings, or anything you imagine.  Check out one of my earlier posts for more ways to reuse jars.

The next time you’re looking over products to purchase, consider the packaging.  Where will it end up?  In the trash or can you reuse it?  Some jars are decorative and make pretty vases for flowers or gifts.  I’ve got a couple of instant coffee jars that I use to store popcorn.  And, yes, we ate popcorn long before the invention of the microwave.  But, that’s a post for another day!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Country Deer & Crab Apple Jelly


I never get tired of the view from my windows.  I spotted this Momma deer and her little one munching on crab apples.  I hope they leave me some for jelly!

Crab Apple Jelly

Set out a large, heavy sauce pot, six 8-oz. jelly glasses and a jelly bag.  You can make a jelly bag by cutting a double thickness of cheesecloth about 36 in. long and fold it in half.  Dip the cloth into hot water and wring well.  Put a large strainer or colander over a bowl and lay the cloth in the strainer or colander.

Rinse, remove stem ends and cut into quarters enough crab apples to make 3 quarts chopped.  Do not remove cores or peel.  Add to pot with 3 cups water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender.  Remove mixture and strain through jelly bag. 

Wash and sterilize jelly glasses. (see below) When juice has strained through jelly bag, melt over simmering water about 1/4 lb. paraffin.  Measure 4 cups of juice into the sauce pot.  Put sauce pot water over high heat and heat until very hot.  Add 3 cups sugar.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  Continue cooking rapidly until sirup responds to jelly test (see below).  Remove from heat and skim off any foam. Immediately fill the drained jelly glasses and cover with paraffin.  (see below)

Jelly Test – Dip spoon into boiling liquid; lift it out and tip it to allow mixture to run over edge.  At first, the sirup will run off in a thin stream.  When the last two drops in the spoon run together or ‘sheet’ the mixture should be removed from the heat.  Always remove the pan from the heat while testing.

Sterilize Jars or Glasses – Put a rack or folded dish towel onto bottom of large sauce pot or kettle.  Place clean jars or glasses on the rack or towel.  Pour boiling water over them and boil 15 minutes, keeping jars or glasses covered with water at all times; if more water is needed, add boiling water.  Drain jars or glasses – using long-handled tongs, carefully remove one jar or glass at a time and thoroughly drain.  Set right side up on coiling rack away from drafts.

Seal with Paraffin – Immediately after draining glasses, pour the mixture to within 1/2 in of top.  With a clean, damp cloth or paper towel, remove any particles of food that may be on the inside of glass above surface of mixture.  Immediately pour enough melted paraffin onto the top of mixture to make a layer about 1/.8 in. thick on each glass.  When paraffin has cooled completely, pour enough melted paraffin over the first layer to make another layer about 1/8 in thick.  Carefully tilt glasses to distribute paraffin evenly over the top and seal it to edges of the glass. Cool glasses away from drafts.  Label and cover glasses; store in a cool, dry place.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tasty Treats

Mom spent several years away from the hollow. During these years she worked as a waitress/server in some upscale restaurants. She could pile plates three and four deep on one arm! And, she brought home lots of simple appetizer ideas. One of her favorites was a pineapple ring on a lettuce leaf. She would pile up cottage cheese in the center. As a child I thought this was her invention. Years later I found it on the menu at an old-fashioned steak house. In fact, their 'starters' sounded a lot like what Mom served us back in the hollow. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. I hope you enjoy these vintage recipes.
Olive Teasers
Coat large stuffed olives with softened cream cheese. Roll in finely chopped nuts. Chill in refrigerator. Insert toothpicks before serving.

Stuff Celery Spears
Blend together softened cream cheese and milk. Mix in a few grains celery salt, few drops Worcestershire sauce and very finely chopped radish and green pepper or pimiento and parsley. Stuff cleaned celery with the cheese mixture.

Smoked Cheese Blossoms
Soften smoked cheese and mix with chopped pimiento, sweet pickle and crisp crumbled bacon. Roll into small balls and chill in refrigerator. Insert toothpicks before serving.

Bacon-Wrapped Olives
Wrap pimiento or almond-stuffed olives in pieces of bacon. Fasten with picks. Put in shallow baking dish. Bake or broil until bacon is done. (Tip: soak toothpicks in water for 15 minutes before using to keep from burning)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Vintage Treasures from Sunflower Sue


Sunflower Sue sent me this great collection of vintage cook booklets and recipe clippings.  Some date back to the 1970’s.  So, did you ever think you’d consider the 1970’s as vintage?  Maybe I should say retro!  I’m going through these and will be posting some new recipes soon.  Here’s one that sounds too interesting not to try.

Coffee Coconut Squares

Trim crust from slice of bread.  Cut slice into four squares.  Place two squares on top of each other and brush entire piece with mixture of sweetened condensed milk mixed with 1 tsp. of instant coffee.  Roll squares in shredded coconut.  Toast in oven.  Garnish with pecan half.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Taking a Step Back

 Paducah Mural river bank indians (2)

Summer is definitely the time for travel.  Most of our trips out of the hollow involved visiting relatives rather than tourist destinations.  Whether you are headed ‘down home’ or to the beach, you learn a lot about small towns along the way.  Paducah is, and always will be, a river town.  It’s hard to escape the mark made by the Ohio River in this town’s history.  Even if you could, the giant wall keeping downtown safe is a constant reminder of what was and what could be again.  Ravaged by floods in the past, the citizens of Paducah built a wall along the river as it winds through downtown. 

Paducah Wall

The wall stands waiting for the next deluge and it’s duty to protect Paducah from rising water.

Paducah wall close up

Driving through it gives you a sense of Jurassic Park.  But, in this instance, the raging monster is the Ohio River.

Paducah Street near Wall

The streets of downtown travel along the wall protected from the River.  Driving through it brings you right to the edge of the river, a waterside park and up close views of river traffic.


The wall itself is decorated with murals that depict Paducah’s rich history.  Each mural is different.  Some are so realistic that you feel like you could step right into the scene and become part of history itself.

Paducah Mural river bank

This one depicts scenes from one of the great floods in the 1930’s that devastated the town.

Paducah Mural floods

This one depicts clippings from the town newspaper.  They are so realistic that it seems as if you are looking at a scrapbook.

Paducah Mural newspaper up close

Take a step back and you can tell it’s part of the wall.


Paducah has taken the time to revitalized its downtown.  Its flat streets make for an easy walking tour of the area.  Museums and shops are plentiful.  It’s a downtown definitely worth visiting again.  A driving tour of the area also lets you enjoy the rich history as seen in the many historic houses along tree lined streets.  Every once in a while something different pops up that reminds you of the past.

Texaco Star

When it does, you appreciate a town that has taken the time to preserve its history.  I hope you enjoyed the pictures.  To learn more about Paducah, visit

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Little Things

Growing up in the hollow, we always had a bottle of Hot Sauce on the kitchen table. Momma and Daddy both would use it on just about everything. We didn't have a lot of 'store bought' dressings. Mom would always make her own cocktail sauce or salad dressing. And, she would always add a dash or two of Hot Pepper Sauce. She said it gave the dressing just the right 'kick'.

Our tastes change a lot as we grow older. As a child, I didn't have much of a taste for it, but I've grown to appreciate the different flavors of Hot Sauces. Have you ever tried a southern appetizer of bologna and crackers? Daddy loved to top it with a drop of hot sauce. We'd share a cracker or two while Momma was finishing up supper. To this day I can't see that without thinking of him. Isn't it wonderful when we have good memories? Often it's the little ones that stand out. We live day to day and take life for granted while reaching for the next big thing. When really, it's all the little things you do along the way.

Have a blessed day!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Dog's Purpose

A friend recently sent me this in an e-mail and I just had to share it with everyone.

A Dog's Purpose? (From a 6-year-old).

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old
Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family surrounded him. Shane seemed
so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.
Shane , who had been listening quietly, piped up, ''I know why.''

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try to live.

He said,’ People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?''
The Six-year-old continued,’ Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long.''

Live simply.
Love generously.
Care deeply.
Speak kindly.
Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.
Take naps now and then.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you're not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Dancing Bear Lodge

I recently went on a trip to the Dancing Bear Lodge in Townsend, TN. I went with my mother, and my step-father for Easter. Living in Mississippi it wasn't too far a drive. We departed from our house after activating our adt security in mississippi and arrived around 11:45AM while our reservation was at noon. Since we had a few minutes to kill we decided to take some pictures of the surrounding scenery which was quite breathtaking. The Dancing Bear Lodge is right at the base of the Great Smokey Mountains. Near the Dancing Bear Lodge there are many small shops run by locals where you can usually find a good deal on a unique gift. When the time on f or our reservation arrived we entered the restaurant. The Dancing Bear Lodge is uniquely decorated. Its one of a kind decor makes you feel like your enjoying a home cooked meal in a log cabin. For their Easter brunch, the Dancing Bear Lodge started with an appitizer dish of assorted artisan breads followed by fresh fruit. They served your choice of two different main dishes, steak and eggs, and salmon. The Dancing Bear Lodge is a great place for a holiday meal or a family get-together.

This post by my cousin Shana Sable.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Scraps of Wisdom

I love the old cookbooks that have been handed down to me, but that probably comes as no surprise to you since I talk of them often.  The pages are worn and little notes about recipe adjustments are in the margins.  Those are the little additions that make the recipe a family tradition.  And, they are often the little things that are lost to family history.  Take time today to tweak some of those notes in your cookbooks for future generations. 

These are some vintage tips clipped from newspapers and glued into my Grandmother’s cookbook.  I thought you’d enjoy them.

Seventeen is the age when the picnic isn’t a picnic without a cake.  Bake plain layer cake batter in a shallow loaf pan.  Cut thin slices of jelly and cover the top; then pile on boiled frosting and sprinkle the top with shredded coconut.

Quick cupcake frosting – mix six ounce package semi-sweet chocolate pieces and 1 tablespoon margarine.  Melt over hot water.  Drop by tablespoon onto cupcakes and spread quickly.

Substitute flour for part of the confectioner’s sugar in butter frosting.  The frosting is smoother and has less sugar.

A quick and easy way of frosting a cake is to put a plain chocolate candy bar (or one with nuts) on cake while still hot from oven.  The bar of candy will melt and the result will be a smooth and delicious frosting.

When you want a quick frosting, add one cup of tart jelly to an egg white and beat until stiff.

For a quick topping for loaf cake – cut a few marshmallows into small pieces, combine with 1/4 cup brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon.  Spread on top of batter and bake as usual.

When making potato salad, cube or slice the potatoes and let them stand all night in a solution of 1/3 vinegar and 2/3 water.  In the morning drain this off, and mix in seasonings and mayonnaise with the potatoes. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

You’re just supposed to know…

Have you spent any time looking through vintage cookbooks.  Go back a few decades and it becomes quickly apparent how much time our grandmothers spent baking from scratch.  Most of the cookie recipes don’t tell you how long to cook them or the oven temp.  You’re just supposed to know!  The best trick?  Use a moderate oven temp around 350 degrees and keep a watch on your cookies after 5 or 6 minutes.  Don’t be afraid to experiment!  Even a bad cookie can be good!


1 cup thick sour cream

1 teaspoon soda

a pinch of salt

1 cup granulated sugar

Flour enough to roll.  Flavor to taste.  Bake.


3 c. flour

1 tsp. soda

1 c. shortening (half butter and half lard)

1 c. sugar and 2 eggs beaten together

4 tbsp. of milk, mix with flour and shortening.

Flavor with vanilla.

Roll thin and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

How high’s the water Daddy?

Saline Creek May 2010 Flood

There’s something to be said for living on a hill during a thousand year flood event.  Here’s a picture of a beautiful field near the Hollow.  The water beyond the pond is actually overflow from Barkley Lake spilling into a normally dry field.

Saline Creek May 2010 Swift Field

A narrow strip of land separates a swollen creek from overflow from Lake Barkley.

Spring St DoverView of Cumberland River backwater at Spring Street in Dover.

Dover Landing rising Cumberland

Cumberland River at Dover Landing.

Cumberland River Dover

Cumberland River at Dover bridge.

Lake Barkley bottom land

How high’s the water Daddy?  Six feet high and rising!  This is a view of bottom land near the Hollow.  This has about six feet of back water from Lake Barkley flooding the woods near the road.  The lake is expected to rise another four feet over the next couple of days as the Cumberland River continues to flood.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

More Flood Pictures

This is a view of Old Bumpus Mills Road in Dover.  Normally the water is very low on the right side of this picture.

Old Bumpus Mills Road May 2010 Flood

View from the bridge of the Cumberland River at Dover.

May 2010 Dover Cumberland River

View of the Tennessee River at Paris Landing.  This shows water in the parking lot.

Paris Landing May 2010 Flood

View of the marina at Paris Landing and water in the parking lot.

May 2010 Paris Landing Flood

Monday, May 3, 2010

Flooding in Tennessee

I just heard that the Cumberland River is at a record high flood level and is expected to crest at over 60 feet in Clarksville.  Levels this high have not been seen since the 1930’s – before the dams were built. 

This is a picture of Saline Creek in Bumpus Mills.

Saline Creek May 2010 Flood 

Here’s another view of Saline Creek.  I have seen it higher, but it has been several years.


This is a view of Dyers Creek in Dover.

Dyers Creek May 2010 Flood 

This is a view of Dover Landing and the Cumberland River.  You are usually able to drive further down, but obviously that part is covered with water. 

 May 2010 Dover Landing Flood

Hope you are all safe!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Flooding in Tennessee

Thoughts and prayers are needed for Tennessee right now. I don't think I've ever seen flooding this bad in our area. Thankfully, I am on high ground. I cannot believe that I was watching cars floating down I-24 in Nashville on the news yesterday afternoon. You expect flooding on side roads, but not major interstates. Check out some of the info from one of our local new stations - WSMV. It should go without saying, but DO NOT try to drive through rising water. I hope all my fellow Tennessee bloggers, friends, and neighbors are safe!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Where have I been?


Time flies when you’re having fun.  It also flies when you’re in the middle of chaos.  Over the last few weeks I’ve been dealing with some major house and car repairs.  If you heard recently that the economy is on the upswing, it’s because of me.  I’ve definitely done my part to stimulate it!  Now, it’s someone else’s turn.  Please.

One of my repairs ended up being my refrigerator.  It was so a lemon and it was actually the second one I’ve had since the first one had been totally replaced under the warranty.  That is a whole long story of negativity.  And, I am trying to think positively.  I will say that that experience left me determined to buy locally, not from that widely advertised chain store and definitely not that brand.

However, in shopping locally for a new refrigerator, I found there were only two choices.  Really, just two.  Oh, there were different colors, but only two brands and pretty small sizes.  I knew I was going to have to buy in a larger town, but that meant borrowing a friend’s truck or paying a huge delivery fee.  A friend suggested I try Lowe’s.  Being a savvy online shopper, I tried online first.  There, in BOLD print, Lowe’s offered free local delivery and free removal of the old appliance.  In slightly smaller print, Lowe’s stated that local delivery was within 75 miles of the store! 

I didn’t believe it.  But, I did look online for the specs I wanted in my new refrigerator and found one for the right price.  It was even on sale.  This had to be too good to be true.  So, I called the local store – actually I had several to choose from in the 75 mile area.  The sales rep was very helpful and confirmed the local delivery area.  She also answered my questions about the refrigerator since they had a floor model.  The only draw back…Lowe’s only delivered in my area once a week and I had just missed that delivery day.  I knew I could not go a whole week without a refrigerator as I had already been fooling around with this problem for several days.  (Why do things break on a weekend anyway?)  BUT, the sales rep said I could order it online and they would deliver it the next day.  WHAT?  Could this be true? 

Desperate for ice, I put Lowe’s to the test.  They called the very next day for directions!  The delivery guys set up the new one, made sure it was working properly and hauled away my old refrigerator.  And, the refrigerator I bought without seeing?  Perfect.  I’m happy with the larger size, the price, and everything.  All in all Lowe’s gave me terrific service. 

I do feel a little bad about not buying locally.  If this refrigerator had been available, I would have paid a little more for it.  I would have done that and been happy because I want to support the local economy.  I don’t want to support so much that I would buy an appliance that I knew would not make me happy.  And, refrigerators can make us happy.  Can’t they?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spring is here


Buttercups always mean Spring!  What a beautiful way to say good-bye to Winter.  And, I didn’t even have to trudge through snow to pick them this year. 

We’re having thunderstorms today.  The sky looks pretty black.  But there is something beautiful about a Spring storm.  The dark clouds are a perfect back drop for all the bright Spring colors.  I love a good thunderstorm, but hate the thoughts of another tornado warning. 

Back in the hollow, we were always respectful of the damage a tornado could do to your home.  I can remember driving through central Illinois and seeing whole subdivisions flattened.  In a time when the early warning system was still new, we always prepared to head to our cellar if the storm got too bad.  I always had my crayon box packed and ready.  It was really an old cigar box filled with broken crayons and little treasures, but I carried it with me everywhere.  I guess I felt if the house blew away, I could start over with my box of crayons.  Thankfully that never happened.

Years later a friend gave me a birthday card with a box of crayons on the front.  Inside, the words invited me to open a new box of crayons for a whole new year and to color only happy days.  On this dark Spring day, that’s my wish for all of us.  Let’s color some happy days!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Oven Toast to Spring?


Well, March has definitely come in like a lamb.  That will make for some interesting weather at the end of the month.  A strange thing happened to me last week.  Around 4:00 pm, I started feeling a little ‘funny’.  After a few minutes, I recognized the feeling.  I was warm!  For the first time in a couple of months, I actually felt warm and had to put on a t-shirt instead of my standard sweatshirt!  Later on I found out it was the warmest day we’ve had since November!  Of course, about a half-hour later, the sun went down and I was cold again.  This must be what it feels like to live in the desert.  You’ve just got to love Tennessee weather. 

As I’m writing this, fresh cinnamon toast is baking in the oven.  When was the last time you made toast in the oven?  A friend has been experimenting with making sour dough bread – the truly home made kind made without benefit of a bread maker.  I have to tell you it is delicious.  I keep telling my friend that it needs a little improvement so that she will keep supplying me with samples!  :-)  But, there is nothing better than sprinkling cinnamon and sugar on butter covered slices of homemade sour dough bread.  It’s one of those tastes that take you back to a simpler time.  A time when things moved a little slower and we had more time to think. 

These days we are constantly bombarded with mind clutter.  From the time we wake up in the morning until we go to sleep at night, we are in constant contact with each other and the world at large.  I sometimes know more about what’s happening across the world than across the road.  Growing up in a time that included ‘party lines’ makes me appreciate how connected we were to our neighbors and how large the world used to be.  The world seems so much closer now, but in some ways we are farther apart then ever.  It makes me want to reach out to everyone I love and offer them a slice of cinnamon toast with a cup of coffee!

Oven Cinnamon Toast

Thickly sliced sour dough bread baked by you best friend (or store bought if your friends are ‘cooking’ challenged)

Cinnamon and sugar mixed together to taste (brown sugar works well too)

Buttery Spread (you can use real butter, but let it soften first so you can spread it – I like Smart Balance)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread butter onto toast.  Sprinkle with cinnamon & sugar mixture.  Place on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or so depending on how brown you prefer toast.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Blue Sky and Pork Salad

 Simple Cookery Blue Sky

In case you don’t recognize it, this is a picture of a blue sky as seen through my favorite subject - trees.  We haven’t seen too much of blue sky lately.  In fact, a couple of hours after I snapped this one, the entire sky was overcast.  We had rain by nightfall.  And, we had snow flurries today.  I know Spring is on the way.  My buttercups (daffodils) are about four inches high near the edge of the woods.  They’re usually protected from Winter and sometimes bloom by the end of February.  I think they’ll be a little late this year.  That’s a little scary to me though.  Mom always said that it will snow on the buttercups when they bloom.  I don’t remember her being wrong about that.  But, I don’t look forward to snapping a picture of yellow blooms covered in snow.

I’m still going through my vintage cookbooks for new recipes.  I ran across a recipe for Pork Salad.  Years ago a co-worker brought something like this to a potluck.  So, you know it was a good dish!  I never did manage to get the secret recipe, but this one looks pretty close.  I believe it would be wonderful with country ham.


2 cups pork cut in 1/2 inch cubes

Sprinkle with salt and pepper

Add 1 cup diced celery

1/2 cup French dressing

Chill 1/2 hour or longer.  Drain and serve in nest of lettuce.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Valentine Poem

I thought I'd share a couple of my favorite poems for Valentine's Day. Hope you have a wonderful day!
If you but knew
How all my days seemed filled with dreams of you,
How sometimes in the silent night
Your eyes thrill through me with their tender light,
How oft I hear your voice when others speak,
How you 'mid other forms I seek -
Oh, love more real than though such dreams were true
If you but knew.
Could you but guess
How you alone make all my happiness,
How I am more than willing for your sake
To stand alone, give all and nothing take,
Nor chafe to think you bound while I am free,
Quite free, till death, to love you silently,
could you but guess.
Could you but learn
How when you doubt my truth I sadly yearn
To tell you all, to stand for one brief space
Unfettered, soul to soul, as face to face,
To crown you king, my king, till life shall end,
My lover and likewise my truest friend,
Would you love me, dearest, as fondly in return,
Could you but learn?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Dusting in the Hollow


The last weather forecast I heard called for a slight dusting after rain turned to snow.  Well, I never saw any rain and woke up to this lovely snowfall Tuesday morning.  I am thankful that we are still able to measure our snow by inches rather than feet.  However, I am so ready for Spring!  Hope you enjoy the pictures.

snow on porch

Anyone have a shovel?

Snow in the Hollow

There’s a road here somewhere….

Snow on Pine Tree

Aren’t the trees beautiful?

Snow on Smokehouse

And just one more…

Trees in Snow

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Snow in the Hollow

 Simple Cookery Snow in 2010

Well, we didn’t get as much snow as expected, but it was still a decent amount.  And, it was enough for a ‘snow day’.  Remember them as a child?  Remember being so excited that school was closed.  I can remember being huddled in front of the television at night waiting for the Snow Bird report on WSM.  Fingers and toes crossed that our county would be filled with snow and closed the next day.  As adults, we don’t get too many snow days.  Saturday was one for me.  I spent most of the day curled up with a new book.

I tend to look back on growing up in the hollow through rose-colored glasses.  I know times were hard, but I prefer writing about the happier times.  When I heard about the new novel, Everything Will Be All Right, I knew it was something that I would want to read.  It’s a true story of Douglas Wallace and how he overcame poverty mingled with abuse.  Wallace tells his often painful true story with a strong love of family and Tennessee.  It’s a quick read, but still caused me to shed tears along with laughter as it sometimes came too close to home. 

Everything Will Be All Right is more than a book.  It’s a glimpse into a generation not too far removed from today.  It will give you hope, and we can all use a little more hope in today’s world.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I'm a little skeptical about the weather forecast. The last time snow was predicted, we didn't get much. Now, they are calling for significant accumulation. Well, in middle Tennessee that is probably about three inches. It could also be a mixture of rain, snow, sleet and freezing rain. Oh my! I feel the need to fill all available containers with water. I must go to the grocery store and stock up on bread and milk. If you end up with an abundance of snow, check out my recipe for Snow Cream. Stay safe and warm!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Is this January?



Last week I was so cold I thought my toes would freeze.  This week we’re having thunderstorms and tornado warnings.  It must be January in Tennessee.  Still, I feel blessed.  Blessed to be living here and not in the devastation in Haiti.  My thoughts and prayers go out to Haiti and all of the families and friends of the American’s caught up in this terrible disaster.