Halloween Fun the Small Town Way


Small towns seem to bring out the best in folks when it comes to holiday fun, and here in Maine Halloween may be the best time of all. 

IMG_2416Skeletons party up in front yards.


Bony friends rise from the deep in boats that have long since ceased to float.

IMG_2354Witches have tired of broomsticks and now travel in carriages pulled by pumpkins instead of mice.HalloweenGhouls rise up out of darkness to be part of things,




and ghosts and scarecrows have tasty treats to share.


In one small town giant pumpkins, painted and carved, line the street


while in another the main street is closed for an afternoon of trick or treats.  There are no tricks as every business participates in the fun with costumed employees handing out treats until there are none.

I don’t know what it is about small towns, but it doesn’t take much to bring out community spirit that makes holidays fun for everyone.

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Holidays, Tablescapes

Valentine Day….Another Year

Years may pass with their associated changes, but there’s one thing that remains constant….dinner at home on Valentine Day.  How that started is told here.  Actually, I don’t mind this night at home because it’s a way for me to say thank you to the man who has given me so much that makes life very special.

Over the years nothing much has changed  except for the table where we enjoy the meal.  I like the tradition of using the same things year after year as it’s the only time the hearts make an appearance.

Not so the centerpiece.  Each year I try to do something that adds a new twist to the table. I found this cute little mailbox at Target and by adding flowers and chocolate the something new is created.

Nothing says Be Mine better than hearts and flowers.

Dinner may again be the veal chop that is part of our tradition, and dessert is going to be my attempt to duplicate the cute heart shaped brownies shared by Pinch of Yum.  No way can you go wrong with chocolate and caramel!

While the brownies are baking, I think I’ll take time out for a glass of wine.  It is after 5!

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Lessons Learned

It’s been a while since I experienced teenage girls opening gifts, and it was both a treat and a lesson.

It’s not just the items that were important, it’s the brand names that identify them. I have to admit to being pretty clueless when it came to makeup because I buy most of mine at the drug store. I suspect that’s not very cool!

I was amazed by how much the girls knew about what’s hot, applying makeup perfectly, assembling a just right wardrobe or achieving the latest look in hairstyles. So, how does one learn about all the right stuff? By watching U Tube I’m told. I’m not going to tell them, but I’m thinking it might benefit me to watch more U Tube! Maybe there are useful tidbits for us past middle agers, too.

Realizing that I was pretty illiterate, the girls took it upon themselves to educate me about the importance of each thing, from scrunchies to shoes, they opened.

While I’m probably past the stage for most of what appeals to teen girls, there was one thing that caught my eye. I did sneak a peek at the book of suggestions for becoming Instagram famous just to see what helpful hints were there. Isn’t it amazing that there’s a book for everything?

I have to say that Christmas appears to be a lot more fun for kids than for adults who have no idea what’s hot and go for the more practical or nothing at all when there is little left to wish for. Maybe we need a little silly putty to put such smiles on our faces!

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Holidays, Tablescapes

The Accidental Table

“So,” said the daughter, “do you think it’s time for me to inherit the Spode Christmas dishes?” She may have thought she was joking, but her message came just in time for me to pack them up and take them to Tennessee where we were going to be celebrating Christmas. The hubby thought I was nuts, and the daughter was totally surprised when the bag was unpacked and out came the dishes. Hey, there’s nothing like spontaneity!

The task of setting the table for Christmas dinner was given to me and was a bit of a challenge as it wasn’t immediately obvious to me what could be used as accessories. A trip or two around the house provided a few things with which to work. There was a red and white plaid blanket from the back of a chair that could be folded to serve as a table runner and from another era came a couple of teddy bears. So began the making of a table. Outside was a still healthy rosemary bush, and a few sprigs came in handy not only to fill some space but to add a pleasant fragrance to the table.

Now, keep in mind this daughter is very much a fan of French country decor, so it was inevitable that the table have those touches. Scallop edged placemats are the new backdrop for the Spode dishes and with several teenagers joining us for dinner, it made perfect sense for them to be paper.

Stems are the ever popular bee embellished ones,

and the napkins are French traditional white with red stripes woven in. To dress them up a bit, a sprig of rosemary was tied with red and white twine. Thank goodness for that rosemary bush!

Considering this is a table that was not supposed to happen, it turned out OK. The Christmas tree dishes are fine in their new environment, and it tickles me that the daughter wanted them though she might not have been expecting them quite so soon! Now all that is left is to enjoy the meal that will soon be shared with family. That’s the gift of Christmas.

I hope you have had a most wonderful day.

Holidays, musings

Holding Thanksgiving Dear


I stopped by Pier One yesterday hoping to pick up some little something for the Thanksgiving table or for a treat for the kids.  To my amazement, there wasn’t a thing in the store relating to Thanksgiving.  It was totally about Christmas.

Now I like Christmas as much as anyone, but does it have to start so early?  Decorations are up all over and already Christmas music is playing on Sirius and a local radio station.  I remember a time when none of that happened until after today.  Does that mean I’m old or is this early welcome a fairly new phenomenon with Thanksgiving being an almost forgotten day wedged between Halloween and Christmas?

Whatever, I’m holding on to Thanksgiving.  I like it because it’s relatively stress free and a day that the hubby and I so enjoy.  Most years our family gathers at our house which is a gift as this is the only holiday we lay claim to.  For years everyone has chosen a special thing to bring which makes the preparation oh so easy for me.  We always stuff ourselves, but that doesn’t keep us from looking forward to leftovers the next day.

As important as turkey and all the trimmings are, what is really special about this day is what each of us has for which to be thankful.  Even when life isn’t perfect, there’s good in each day be it sunshine or rain, laughter or tears.  I try every day to be thankful, but today my heart is even more full because my small family is in one place.  That doesn’t happen very often.

In addition to the obvious gifts, I am also thankful for each of you, known and unknown, who take the time to read my words and from time to time offer an appreciative or encouraging comment.  Enjoy your day to the fullest and join me in holding Thanksgiving dear.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Food, Holidays

Keeping It Going

Just as the dishes and the dryer hose pumpkins are a staple at Thanksgiving, so is cornbread dressing made just like, well almost like, Mom used to make. For that matter, I think she made it the same as my grandmother, so I like the idea that this dressing has been around for a long time.

I’m not sure how Mother made her cornbread, so I rely on this recipe in my trusty Southern Living cookbook.  Can you tell it has been around for years and is much used?

Country Cornbread 

1 1/2 c. cornmeal

3/4 c. flour

2 t. baking powder

1 t. salt

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 c. milk

6 T. shortening

Preheat oven to 400. Combine the dry ingredients with eggs and  milk.  Spoon shortening into a 10″ skillet (I use an iron one) and heat in the oven until the shortening is melted and the skillet hot.   Pour the cornbread mix into the skillet and bake for about 20-25 minutes.

Now for the dressing which combines a few simple ingredients.  I usually make it a day ahead of time so the flavors are well blended.  

Though the main ingredient is the cornbread, Mother always crumbled a few leftover biscuits into the mix.  If I don’t have biscuits, I toast a few slices of bread and then make cubes or crumbs.  That seems to work just fine.

Cornbread Dressing

1 round of cornbread plus biscuits or bread cubes

1 lb. sausage

1 c. each celery and onion

3 eggs

1 t. poultry seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

1 c. Craisins (that’s my touch)

3-4 c. chicken stock

Brown sausage with celery and onion.  Add to crumbled breads. Mix in remaining ingredients being sure to add enough stock to  make the dressing nice and moist.  Spoon into a large casserole dish.  Bake at 350 until the dressing is heated through and the top is a bit crispy.

Though much of the dressing disappears at the Thanksgiving table, there’s always enough left over to put it on turkey sandwiches the next day.  I’ve even made soup out of the remains.  It was quite good, but dang, I can’t remember how I did it!

OK, enough words.  It’s time to get on with making the dressing. If you have a favorite dish for Thanksgiving, do tell.

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Holidays, Tablescapes

It’s Time!

Four days until Thanksgiving means it’s time to get my act together.

The first thing, my favorite, is setting the table which means bringing out the dryer hose pumpkins and the Della Robbia dishes. It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving at this house without them!

The challenge is thinking of some new way to use them each year. Hmmm, how about mixing them with some almost real pumpkins, a few fall leaves and some green apples?

As I add each piece to the table, I am overwhelmed by memories.

Some memories are of people who are no longer with us and whose chairs have been filled by new family members.

Other memories are of years when our family was a little out of sync. Those may not be the most pleasant, but they, too, are part of our Thanksgiving story.

As every item is brought out, I think of where it came from and who brought a special little treasure to add to the table.

Most of all I think about all that my family has to be thankful for which is reason enough to put all else behind us.

As I hold on to those few things that are repeated year after year, I find myself hoping that when daughters take over this holiday they might hold on to them, too.

With the table done and reflections safely stored, it’s time to move to the next step, thinking about what is needed from the grocery for the familiar favorites that will be on the table.

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Digging’ It and Dishin’ It