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Showing posts with label gifts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gifts. Show all posts

Monday, May 15, 2017

Table Time

Ben offered to make our Friday night family dinner last week and tried his hand at brining and roasting a bird. The result was a family dinner everyone is talking about!  He even made cornbread dressing and cooked up a tarragon sauce that was passed around until the bowl was empty!  Jeremy and Michala sent chocolate covered strawberries (they now live in Nevada), and Sean is cooking our dinner at the next gathering.  This was Mother's day weekend and these gifts for me greatly pleased me for several reasons.

First, I love seeing our sons continue the practice of gathering of their family around the dining table. In our fast paced society today, it gets harder and harder to gather immediate family - husband, wife and children for even 1 meal a week. Extended family gatherings have become likely to be limited to holidays, if then. It has been important to me to encourage all of us to eat together, at the table, but also intentional times of drawing extended family to share a meal. Of course, it is more challenging when we live in spread apart areas, but even those who are able to gather physically can be present with Facetime, Skype, and Messaging or a phone call.

But I also love this  because it reminds me that all those years of letting little (then bigger and bigger) boys help me in the kitchen and get creative with making good food have produced men who are fine cooks among their other attributes. They don't just follow recipes or get ideas from YouTube.  They are chefs. They recognize the value of feeding their families delicious, nutritious, healthy food, expose their own children to this early, and create works of art in their kitchens.  I am thankful they are married to women who encourage them to do this and help.

Another reason for my gratefulness -  as I see each of my sons happily cooking good food, I also see something that is a companion to that:  growing good food. They all have gardens and use the herbs they grow in their cooking. Growing and preparing your own food is not only a pleasure but an art.

This is quoted form the About introduction for my Kitchen Keepers blog.

   Gathering around our table has been so much more than providing physical nourishment for me.  For as we gather, whatever the table shape may be, we form a circle, a place of conversation and knowing and caring.  Expressing our gratitude for the provision of food and family, giving thanks for bread and baker, we enter a sacred space

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Birthday Gift for Nora

We celebrated Nora's Birthday yesterday.  She is now 2 years old.  Grandparents from Tennessee and Texas (that would be us), aunts and uncles from both sides of her family plus her cousin Skye were all here to enjoy the balloons and bubbles that were floating everywhere.  There was a chocolate cake, a candle to blow out, the birthday song, and of course, presents.  Among our gifts to her was this apron with lots of polka dots and pockets.                                                                                     

I made it from 2 sizes of red and white polka dot fabric, so it was reversible.  This apron is actually gift from 3 grandmothers.  I, her paternal grandmother, found the valentine print in my own fabric stash to make tiny pockets. The other 2 pieces of fabric were cut from scraps of fabric from my own grandmother's quilting scraps. That means Mary Clyde Terrell, Nora's great great grandmother is part of the gift. Her daughter, my mother, Opal Terrell Teal, Nora's great grandmother (for whom she is named), contributed to my grandmother's quilting scraps from her own sewing although she did not quilt herself.  Plus, she kept the box of fabric pieces for years before handing them down to me!  She is the third grandmother represented in the gift.  
I like thinking about the stories behind aprons and quilts and grandmothers.  I am glad Nora's first apron has a story.  She just likes wearing it!
Nora Opal Parker

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Gifts from the Past

This necklace and bracelet of cowrie shells was sent to me from Taraway, Gilbert Island by my uncle, whom I loved dearly. Travis Terrell was serving his country in the Navy in WWII.  He printed my name on the above pictured note, but the handwriting below is my mother's, Opal Terrell Teal. As mentioned, I received the jewelry September 4, 1944. I remember handling the tiny shells and loving the jewelry as a little girl.

Oddly enough, it is only now, well over 70 years later, that I consider the circumstance of how and when my uncle obtained the shells, how homesick he would have been, how much he longed for home and his family. (His 2 oldest children are slightly younger than I).  It would have taken some time for a gift to arrive in Texas, putting the shells very near the months less than a year prior when

More than 1,000 U.S. troops were killed in action and some 2,000 were wounded in only three days of fighting at Tarawa. Word of the heavy casualties soon reached the U.S. and the public was stunned by the number of American lives lost in taking the tiny island.

Finally, I am understanding more of the meaning of my gift of shells.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Gifts Continued

As we packed away our home's Christmas dress, took ornaments off the trees, and reflected on all the comings and goings of our busy family during this season, I thought about the gifts we gave our children and grandchildren. We all know our best gifts are not topped with bows and found under the Christmas tree, but I want the gifts that are there to have meaning. Almost always there are gifts of music and books and games. Every year, I like to wrap up one thing for my "boys" - all of them, including their Dad, that will be fun and bring back memories of childhood Christmases. I enjoy giving them things that encourage their own home building and hospitality. But this year, there was a gift for each of our married sons and their wives (plus ones I mailed for my nieces) that took a little explanation. They all know my fondness for estate sales and might have thought on first look that I got carried away when I found a box of old silverplate.  But these gifts were nothing I shopped for, and cost me nothing other than a few minutes' time to assemble them.  

They each opened a tissue-wrapped, tarnished, mismatched knife, fork, and spoon.  Any questions about the odd set I hope were answered with the printed message I included explaining the origin of the old flatware.  

This worn, tarnished, mismatched knife, fork, and spoon belonged to Mary Clyde Curley Terrell, your great grandmother. I have had these for many years, and thought for a time to make something from them - a piece of jewelry, a windchime, or kitchenart perhaps.  Somehow, it never seemed right to alter them. Do with them as you wish, but I hope you will remember their story, her story.  Grandma Terrell likely never had a matched set of anything, that is part of  your knife, fork, and spoon story. She lived in the years that I remember her best in an old frame farmhouse on a hill not far from the cemetery in Bullard, Texas where she is buried. In the kitchen where she worked I remember a wood stove, a bucket and dipper which were for water drawn from the well by the back door, and a window at one end where food scraps were thrown out for her chickens.

She worked hard with her hands and loved fiercely with her heart. She had few material possessions, never drove a car, never had indoor plumbing util she was nearly 80. She cooked food that made my mouth water - peas and other fresh vegetables from her garden, biscuits, cornbread, and teacakes for a little girl who adored her ad watched everything she did never knowing she herself would someday have granddaughters. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Christmas Gifts

The gift of Jordann

We celebrate the 12 days of Christmas, so our lights and trees always stay up past Epihany, meaning that after most of the neighborhood has hauled trees out for trash pickup and stored both inside and outside Christmas trim, we are still in full Christmas dress at our house.  This year, we managed to draw out even the family gatherings and gift sharing past New Year's day. For those of us who live in this area, gathering began Christmas Eve with a tradition that has become dear - going together to church for a meaningful time of meditation and communion, then going home (this year to our youngest son's house) to share a meal together.  Christmas day's meal and gifting followed. Our out of town family joined us earlier this week and New Year's eve was another joyous gift exchange. In the photo above, Jordann discovers how much fun Rainbow tiles can be when you build them on a lighted surface. This makes me think how much light plays a part in our Christmas celebration - in the yard, on the Christmas trees, twinkling behind stained glass, on the mantle and over the grandfather clock. We have a set of little houses Ben painted when he was around 10 that look magical when lighted from within.

But the lights I love best are those that sparkle from our son's eyes when they watch their daughters, and those that twinkle in the children's eyes from all the wonder. Those are my best gifts beyond the One Gift that is the reason for all of them.  I am grateful.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Gift

Last week Joe received cards, gifts, hugs, and celebrated with our sons who are also fathers as we gathered around our full table (once the place where my Grandma Terrell gathered her own clan to share meals).  This drawing was a gift to him from our oldest son, Sean.  Joe had hinted to him that he would like one of Sean's drawings.

The "canvas" for this work of art is a plain paper table napkin!  Sean has done hundreds of these, all unique, for tucking into his daughter's school lunch box!  What began when she was in preschool continued for several years, each morning bringing a representation of Skye's choice the night before.  When I was little, my mother used to ask me what I wanted for breakfast this next morning.  I would tell her "cinnamon toast" and that is what was on the table the following day before I went to school.  Skye would answer the question "What do you want for your napkin tomorrow?" And there would be seahorse,a dragonfly a tiger a mermaid, bees or a wolf!  All for Skye,  all containing "I love you, Dad."

Joe didn't tell Sean what image he wanted. The image is a gift in that way too. Joe's July birthday makes him a Leo.  But Sean's love of The Lion of Judah and Narnia's Aslan shines through his offering to his Dad, Sean's own dear Lion King.

This "I love you, Dad"  is a to instead of from.  I love it.

Friday, May 17, 2013


The year 2006 was a year of both great loss and great gain for me.  My mother died in September of that year, which is a loss I am still acutely aware of.  But in the months before her death, even as I helped to care for her and ease her transition from this life to the next, I received two immensely important gifts, gifts of sight. Only a few months earlier I was diagnosed with a degenrative corneal disease which quickly robbed me of a great deal of my functional vison.  I had Fuch's Corneal Dystrophy, for which there is no treatment or cure.  The only option was to have my own corneas removed and replaced with corneas from a donor:  cornea transplants.  This week marks the 7th anniversary of my first gift.  On May 15, 2006, I had surgery to receive my first cornea, in my left eye.  Two months later, in July, I had the same surgery for my right eye. I am eternally grateful to the families whose choices made that possible for me, and I urge all who hear my story to consider electing organ donation and making that known to your family.

The very first realization I had that my surgery had indeed been successful came as I sat in the shade by the little fish pond in our garden. All landscape had been blurry for long enough that what happened was quite like pointing my camera lens, zooming, and focusing.  I suddenly became amazed that I was seeing with brilliant clarity, and the object was a small purple iris a few feet away.  I was and am so thankful to see. In tribute to my donors and to all who are challenged with impaired vision, I am sharing some more garden photographs with you.  These flowers grow in the gardens at Antique Rose Emporium near Brenham, TX.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Our Garden

April showers might have brought May flowers, but so far May is bringing record setting low temperatures. Here on the Gulf Coast of Texas, by this time we are usually working to keep cool instead of wrapping up to stay warm.  Yesterday another cold front literallty blew in.  Wind gusts took my patio umbrella up and away, and tree branches have been whipping so hard the new leaves are hanging on for dear life.  I put on my coat and did a quick walkabout to check for garden damage, and am pleased to say it is slight.  Here is a photo walk through!

As in the photo of above, our antique roses are thriving in the cooler temperature. The colors are intense.

             Petunias, not to be outdone by the roses, but they will never muster that kind of fragrance!

      Tuscan Kale and Swiss Chard - ornamental, but also edible. Organic gardeners, we can eat our        borders!  We already have tomatoes on the vines, and a big bed of hot peppers.

       These flowers make a tasty addition to salads.  Nasturtiums, a favorite in my herb garden.

Daylilies hold up their reputation of blooming in spite of temperature - but usually that is a reference to hot!

This amaryllis has had more blooms this year than anytime since I planted it.  

Look at the blooms on this Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow bush my friend Debbie gave to me.

Sweet little nosegays of Forget-Me-Nots

This pot of geraniums on the porch makes me smile.

There are tiny Meyer lemons, the Satsuma is blooming, and the fig tree bravely sports baby figs!

Post a comment and tell me what is greening and growing in your garden!   

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gratitude for Hand Me Downs

        Thanksgiving memories: Quilt from Mary Clyde Curley Terrell and Opal Terrell Teal

I grew up in the 40's and 50's in a small town in East Texas. I remember ration stamps during the war, “butter” that we made out of white stuff that we mixed with coloring to make it yellow, tea towels made from flour sacks, and patchwork quilts made from the scraps of fabric leftover from clothes sewed by my grandmother and mother. “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” was really practiced. Men's shirt collars were turned when they became worn, and socks were darned. Mending was an important word in our vocabulary.

I learned to do handwork like embroidery and crochet from Mother and Grandma, but I took a sewing course from the local Singer Sewing machine store when Mother got a new electric sewing machine to replace her treadle Singer. The course came free with the purchase and she already knew how to sew, so I took the lessons, made a dress and jacket, and modeled them in a fashion show for the last lesson. I remember working over the scalloped neckline and sleeves of a teal blue outfit and wearing it proudly. I was 8 years old. After that, Mother and I worked together on making my clothes. I learned from her to shop for fabric bargains, the reason I still have yards of fabric stored for the time when the right need appears. We always planned something pretty for the first day of school. When I was in high school, I would sketch a design for a prom or banquet gown and was never disappointed at the results. My outfits were always one of a kind!

Even so, I did a happy dance when the occasional box of hand me downs arrived in the mail from my cousin in South Texas. Marcia Lee was 6 years older than me, and all her clothes were store bought! She had a younger brother and no one to pass down to, so I was the glad recipient. I never grumbled about wearing second hand. I was aware, however, that not everyone felt special wearing not-new things. My younger sister had a lot of hand-me-downs!

Today, there is a revival of appreciation for used clothing and other worn items. We call it repurposing or recycling. I am reminded of the wisdom of my parents and grandparents. The root of the concept of passing something on is the word “give.” Making something we no longer can use or need available to someone else is a gift, both to ourselves and that one who receives it. As we donate, pass down, relinquish, and turn over things, or receive those which have been made available to us, we are acting out a physical image of a much larger passing down, the transmitting and endowment of a priceless legacy. 

My cousin passed down clothes.  Mother and Grandma handed me down so much more.  The quilt in the photo is a passed down treasure with its patches from dresses worn 70 years ago by all three of us.  Every patch and stitch reminds me of the gifts of themselves handed on to me that live beyond me in the lives of my sons and granddaughters. 

"And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not anonymously,handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see - or like a sealed letter they could not plainly read."  ~ Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mothers' Garden
"My work in the world is to catch fire, to bloom, and to unleash my own secret words."  ~ Christine Valters Paintner