A while back, I wrote a blog piece about the test of marriage being working with your spouse painting a small bathroom with lots of nooks and crannies with two short paint rollers. Hubby and I did that one time, and after only a few minutes, both of us had decided that would be the last time for such a project. There is such a thing as too much togetherness—especially with two strong-minded people in a small space.

Maybe my memory has faded, but I think this last “together” project beats that bathroom painting one as far as testing our marriage—and we are coming up on 43 years in February, y’all.

To start with, I am a sentimental “keeper”—Gary is NOT. I don’t think he has a sentimental bone in his body, but I get it—a lot of men are like that. That is where this tale of woe begins—with TOO MUCH STUFF. Even I had to admit it, finally.

Two days before Christmas I walked out into the garage to see the ceiling bowing over our cars! We quickly called our “go-to” handyman and he came and took a look. It was serious—one of the main beams had had a knot in it that, over the years, had fallen out and weakened the beam. With all the weight on the flooring of the attic, it had cracked.

Hurriedly, load after load of “stuff” was carried down to the front patio (think Sanford & Son!) and much was pulled out into the loft room in crates and boxes and bags. This has been ongoing since CHRISTMAS. One big trash day has come and gone, and when we put the first load of stuff out there, we had tons of people stopping by to take things. I was so glad. It’s hard to think of so many memories and keepsakes just being crushed in the trash truck and dumped.

To be fair, I had “inherited” a lot of that “stuff” and wasn’t even sure what was in those crates and boxes. When my mom had a stroke and went into the nursing home, then shortly she and Dad moved in with my middle sister, Karen, I inherited a lot of the family keepsakes, as did my two sisters.

Then, when my oldest sister, Annette, had a stroke that put her in a nursing home, again, we cleaned out and I inherited a lot of her keepsakes plus what had come from my parents’ home. I, of course, kept all kinds of keepsakes of my own and my kids’. (If there was a picture they drew or a story they wrote or a toy they had played with a lot—it was in that attic.)



I had to face some sad realities when I started looking through all these things:

First of all, I can’t “take it with me”—and I knew I couldn’t leave that mess for my kids to deal with.

Secondly, though I was initially upset about having to get rid of things that had, at one time, meant a great deal to me, I was surprised to discover that there were a lot of things I didn’t even remember now.

Thirdly—and this was kind of hard for me to grasp—so many of my treasures mean nothing to my kids because they don’t have the memories of them that I do. I found my son’s first little teddy bear and was so thrilled, but he had no memory of it at all. I asked if he wanted it and he stared at me and said, “Mom, what will I do with it?”

Free Teddy Bear photo and picture


Don’t get me wrong—I’m not throwing out EVERYTHING. (I kept that teddy bear for myself, along with a few other treasures I can’t let go of.) But that attic is looking so much better, and has a new floor and some new supports—so it’s safe now.

The best part of it all is that other people are getting to use the things that had been sitting up there for years collecting dust. And I feel very “unburdened”—even though I had just been dreading getting rid of so much. That turned into a huge blessing! I have found it a lot easier than I ever believed I would.

Do you have an attic or a storage building or somewhere that you store keepsakes and treasures that you can’t bear to part with?

Who else is facing this? Please share your experiences! This is a huge undertaking, and there is strength in numbers. Are you sentimental like me or more logical and able to part with things?

(Um, did I mention that when I get done with the attic, I have a bedroom closet in the spare room to tackle?)




I love the music of Christmas. I could play it all year long if I weren’t married to someone who isn’t as crazy about it as I am. Those songs are so uplifting and beautiful that they make me feel good just to hear them, and you can’t help but sing along with them.

My dad always loved Christmas, and was a great practical jokester. He delighted in making phone calls to his grandchildren, pretending to be Santa. He’d call back later on for a rundown about what happened on our end—the looks, the comments, and the joy of getting a real live phone call from Santa! One of the traditions in our house was the box of chocolate covered cherries that was always under the tree for him from my mom, a reminder of hard Christmases in years past when that might have been the only gift she could afford. Another was that our house was always filled with Christmas music.

I was a classically trained pianist from the time I turned seven years old. My father’s favorite Christmas carol was What Child Is This? Once I mastered it, I delighted in playing it for him because he took such pleasure in it, and since it was also the tune to another song, Greensleeves, I played it all year round for him.


The tune known as Greensleeves was a British drinking song for many years, a popular folk song that was not religious. In ancient Britain, there have been more than twenty different known lyrics associated with the tune throughout history. It was first published in 1652.


Shakespeare mentions it by name in “The Merry Wives of Windsor” in which it is played while traitors are hanged. It has been attributed to King Henry VIII, and said that he wrote it for Anne Boleyn. How did this song become one of the best-loved Christmas carols of all time?

In 1865, Englishman William Chatterton Dix wrote “The Manger Throne,” three verses of which became “What Child Is This?” During that particular era, Christmas was not as openly celebrated as it is today. Many conservative Puritan churches forbade gift-giving, decorating or even acknowledging the day as a special day for fear that Christmas would become a day of pagan rituals more than a serious time of worship. Although Dix wrote other hymns, in the context of the times, it was unusual for him to write about Christ’s birth, since many hymn writers and religious factions ignored Christmas completely.


The words represent a unique view of Christ’s birth. While the baby was the focal point of the song, the point of view of the writer seemed to be that of a confused observer. Dix imagined the visitors to the manger bed wondering about the child who had just been born. In each verse, he described the child’s birth, life, death and resurrection, answering the question with a triumphant declaration of the infant’s divinity.

“The Manger Throne” was published in England just as the U.S. Civil War was ending. The song quickly made its way from Britain to the United States. Dix died in 1898, living long enough to see “The Manger Throne” become the Christmas carol “What Child Is This?”

And here is Brad Paisley singing WHAT CHILD IS THIS? What is your favorite Christmas carol? Mine is Silent Night.

Credit to Wikipedia Article for much of this information.



Hi everyone! Just in case a person hasn’t noticed, Christmas is ON THE WAY, barreling down on us like a runaway rollercoaster. With Thanksgiving happening this week, Christmas will be here a little over 4 weeks from Thanksgiving Day. Some years, I’m more “in the holiday mood” than others, and I imagine it’s that way for everyone. My mom was a stickler for keeping our holidays in order–no Christmas-y decorating until Thanksgiving was over. As I get older, I agree with her in many ways, but gosh, I feel the need to get my Christmas decorating DONE so I can relax and enjoy it! LOL 

Christmas always brings back wonderful memories of home and family, doesn’t it? One of the things I remember so well about my dad was how he could call forth the perfect quote for just about anything and everything.   He always made Christmas a very special time of year around our house and was a true practical joker. He was a super-intelligent man with an IQ off the scale (I didn’t get that from him, sadly<G>) and as an adult, I understand why he was able to remember so many things and be able to say them at just the right time–as a child, it was a mystical thing. One of the things I’ve come to appreciate with adulthood is how hard my dad worked to provide for us. He loved to read and was an eloquent writer–I think if he could have made a living at it, he’d have given it a try himself. Thinking about him and his love for quotes prompted me to go in search of some heartwarming Christmas quotes.

I found some great quotes, published in ABOUT.COM, and wanted to share them with you.  Here’s a picture of my dear mom, El Wanda, and my dad, Fred,  when they were young newlyweds, back in 1944. Christmas is always an especially poignant time for me since my dad passed on December 23, 2007, and Mama followed him to heaven only 3 weeks later, on January 12, 2008.  I love Christmas because they both loved it so much. Raised during the Oklahoma Dust Bowl days, the Depression, and being so very poor, they made sure that Christmas was a “feeling” and a special time for family, friends, and abounding love at our house. 

There were so many of these–I just picked a few, but they are all great!

Edna Ferber, Roast Beef Medium Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a feeling.
Bess Streeter Aldrich, Song of Years Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like a shawl. But it warmed more than your body. It warmed your heart… filled it, too, with melody that would last forever.
Lenora Mattingly Weber, Extension Christmas is for children. But it is for grownups too. Even if it is a headache, a chore, and nightmare, it is a period of necessary defrosting of chill and hide-bound hearts.
Louisa May Alcott The rooms were very still while the pages were softly turned and the winter sunshine crept in to touch the bright heads and serious faces with a Christmas greeting.
Charles N. Barnard The perfect Christmas tree? All Christmas trees are perfect!
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol But I am sure that I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round… as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely.
W. J. Tucker, Pulpit Preaching For centuries men have kept an appointment with Christmas. Christmas means fellowship, feasting, giving and receiving, a time of good cheer, home.
Mary Ellen Chase Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.
Dr. Seuss And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?
G. K. Chesterton When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time.  Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?
Dale Evans Christmas, my child, is love in action.

Andy Rooney One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.
Hugh Downs Something about an old-fashioned Christmas is hard to forget.
Freya Stark Christmas is not an eternal event at all, but a piece of one’s home that one carries in one’s heart.
Marjorie Holmes At Christmas, all roads lead home.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas (when it gets here!) and that many of these quotes make your heart glad this Christmas season! Thanks so much for being a regular part of our lives here at Petticoats and Pistols! For some reason, this is one of those years when I am SO ready for Christmas! Do you have any special Christmas quotes or poems you love? PLEASE SHARE!


WELCOME FALL! by Cheryl Pierson


Hi everyone! Fall is here, (at least it will be here in Oklahoma this week, finally!) and you know that old saying “A picture is worth a thousand words?” It’s so true! Today, I have some beautiful pictures I wanted to share with you!  These are some spectacular pictures of my second home, the state of West Virginia,  taken by professional photographer Rick Burgess, who also happens to be a good friend. Rick is so talented, and he has many prints, calendars, t-shirts, and even a book that features his wonderful photography that are all available to order! This is a just a very small sample of Rick’s work, and there are too many “special” pictures to show them all, of course, but you can go to Facebook here and see more if you are interested!

Do these pictures evoke a fall memory? I don’t know why, but when I think of fall, I think of realizing “fall is in the air” on the way  to my piano teacher’s house one afternoon after school. Odd, isn’t it? I was about 10 or so, but I will never forget how that day smelled as I walked–crisp,     clean, and well–like fall!
















Gnarled tree at Plum Orchard Lake.  The Lord has a beautiful palette of colors in His work–more than we could ever imagine!















The mist at the end of a West Virginia road…wonder what’s down there around the bend?














A Rick Burgess shot of the New River Gorge. There is a bridge that goes over this, and once you’re at the place where you can get out and look down, you are so high you’re level with the hawks that make their home there–they call it “Hawk’s Nest”–and it’s one of the most breathtaking places on earth!















One of my personal favorites, these trees at sunrise with the mountains behind them. I love these colors!














A West Virginia rainbow!














This is one of my favorite pics of Rick’s. A reminder of days gone by.











So many colors! Beautiful stuff, with the leaves on the trees changing to their fall hues.














A gorgeous sunset. Isn’t it beautiful?

The fog lifting in the West Virginia highlands. This reminds me of the Woody Guthrie song, “This Land is Your Land”. When I was growing up in a small Oklahoma town in the 60’s, Woody Guthrie’s sister was our school secretary. We learned many of the beloved songs he wrote about Oklahoma, but also “This Land is Your Land” which was about our entire country. When we sang these songs sometimes before class started, she would listen on the intercom and compliment us. She always said, “My brother would be so proud of you all!”  There’s a stanza that talks about the fog lifting:



When the sun comes shining, then I was strolling
In the wheat fields waving and dust clouds rolling
The voice was chanting as the fog was lifting
This land was made for you and me.

And one last parting shot! Beautiful stuff!


When I was a kid, fall was something we all looked forward to because every month had something special to offer–in September, we started school and got to see all our schoolmates again. In October, of course there was Halloween! (Who DIDN’T look forward to that?) November brought Thanksgiving, and getting to go to my grandparents’. And of course…December was the best of all with Christmas to think about. 

What’s a favorite fall memory of yours? I hope these pictures will stir the memories of beautiful fall days in your mind!


With all the busy-ness of our lives and the search for something different for meal time, ground beef is often a “go-to” food because it can be used for so many things.  But do you ever wonder how long we’ve been eating GROUND beef? I was watching Rawhide the other day as they were serving up yet another helping of Wishbone’s stew, and it made me wonder exactly when ground beef came into existence.

No one knows for sure, because it’s a “bone of contention”—but some say it was invented in Europe in 1885. One thing for sure, though, it’s generally accepted that our version of the hamburger patty/hamburger was not popular here in the USA until it was served up at the World’s Fair in St. Louis in 1904!

I’m sure Gil Favor, Rowdy Yates, Mushy, Quince, and Scarlet, as well as the rest of the crew, were heartily sick of stew! Yet, what could they do? The hamburger had not been invented, nor had ground beef.

If only they had known…Wishbone could have whipped up this tasty variation of stew right quick for the crew and it would sure have helped their dispositions in a lot of cases!

I found this recipe in my memories on Facebook, and had never made it. So…. Since I’d put off going to the grocery store “one more day” I thought I’d give it a try—I just happened to have the ingredients in my cupboard, so I felt like that was a ‘sign’ since I was out of so many other things. I even had cornbread mix!

Here’s the original recipe and my modified notes. The great thing about this recipe is that it is VERSATILE and you can change it to just the way your family likes it.

Hubby and I do not like celery, so I never cook with it. Instead, I just added more carrots and a can of whole kernel corn.

See? It’s just whatever you like or have handy! And believe me, it is DELICIOUS! (And easy!)



Note: Serve with buttered cornbread, biscuits, or crackers.



2 pounds ground beef

2 medium yellow onions, chopped

4 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) stewed tomatoes

(Here, I put in only 2 cans of stewed tomatoes, 1 can of tomato sauce, and one can of beef broth.)

8 medium carrots, thinly sliced

4 celery ribs, thinly sliced  

(I left this out entirely.)

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 cups water

1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice

(I used ¾ cup Minute Rice)

1 can of whole kernel corn, drained—my addition to the recipe

1 to 2 tablespoons salt (this will depend on how much tomato ‘stuff’ you use, and beef broth)

1 to 2 teaspoons pepper

(I used parsley, a little garlic salt, LOTS of pepper—I love it!—and even a tiny bit of that ‘Hot Shot’ pepper from McCormick)



Cook beef and onions over medium heat; drain. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce (if used), beef broth (if used), carrots, celery, potatoes, water, rice, drained corn (if used) salt and pepper and other spices; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes until vegetables and rice are tender. STIR FROM TIME TO TIME TO PREVENT STICKING. Uncover; simmer 20-30 minutes longer or until thickened!


The original version of this recipe came from an old Facebook group that has changed, so I don’t know who to properly credit, but they sure did a great job!

You can make this whatever consistency your family likes, and if it thickens overnight, just add a little water before reheating the next day.

It is wonderful, and makes quite a lot! Perfect for these fall and winter days that are coming soon!

I hope you enjoy!


Have any of you ever made HAMBURGER STEW? Do you have a different recipe? This one is really good, but I always love to see what variations people use in their own recipes!



Hey everyone! Thanks so much for stopping by and reading and commenting! I’ve drawn THREE winners today to receive the giveaway of a digital copy of this four-book set, MAIL ORDER BRIDES FOR SALE: THE REMINGTON SISTERS!

Congratulations to:         JUDY SEXTON and also to PICKLE6773 and to LANAJBURTON!

If you all will e-mail me at fabkat_edit@yahoo . com (NO SPACES) I will see that you get your prize!

Thanks to everyone for participating! HAPPY FALL!




Here we are on the last day of August, and y’all know what that means! Labor Day is just around the corner and FALL starts in earnest! So let’s talk about all things “fall-ish”–it’s the favorite season of MANY people I know!

When I was growing up, I remember looking forward to the first day of school each year. “Back then” we didn’t start back to school in the fall until after Labor Day. In Oklahoma, it was still hot as blue blazes in September, but at least, the evenings and nights were cooling off. I dreaded seeing summer end, but by September, I was feeling the pull to go back to school, see my friends—and I’d never admit it—start learning again!


By the time October rolled around, things had definitely become more “fall-like” and the sun had taken on the “autumn slant” as the days grew shorter, as well. My mom used to take note of the seasonal changes very keenly, and I remember her saying, “Well, fall is here.” There was no need to explain—it was in the coolness of the air, the more orange tint of the sun, the shorter days.

Of course, to a child, “fall” meant that Halloween was coming! Back in those days, it was still safe to go door-to-door with friends, all of us together in the crisp night air, a giggling mass of energy all dressed in our finery (most of us with homemade costumes, not store-bought) and those little plastic pumpkins with the handles to carry our “loot” home in. “TRICK OR TREAT!” we’d call out at each door, and our neighbors would always pretend they thought they were giving candy to princesses and pirates, superheroes and witches.

November brought Thanksgiving—a time when we’d usually go to my grandparents’ houses. I was the “lucky” one of all my cousins (and I had 40+ cousins!) because in the small town of Calera, Oklahoma, I had my dad’s parents who lived at one end of town, and my mom’s parents who lived at the other end. Cousins, aunts, and uncles from both sides also lived there, so many of my cousins from both sides of the family went to school with each other and knew one another as friends and fellow sports teammates. Those were simpler times—we could walk all over town without fear of any foul play, and I had grandparents at each end of town, so no matter which cousins I was with, we had somewhere to walk to.



The town of Calera, Oklahoma, year unknown. It was a water stop for trains and was called Cale Switch or Cale Station, but when the railroad wanted to rename it Sterrett, the people insisted on a compromise–and Calera was born. This is the main street of the town–much more lively than it was when we kids were walking it back in the mid-late 60’s and early 70’s.


The big treat was stopping in at the one and only “grocery store”—more like an Old West mercantile store—that was about at the halfway mark through town. It had a glass case with bologna and ham inside and a big slicer that the store owner, Petey, would use to cut your lunchmeat. Then, he’d wrap it in freezer paper and tie it up with twine. Petey’s store also had one of those big chest-type coolers with a sliding top, filled with ice and bottled pop. That was back when a bottle of pop was ten cents or so—and a candy bar could be had for a few pennies more.


There’s nothing like family and Thanksgiving dinner all together to bring “Autumn Fever” to the highest level. Doesn’t Thanksgiving just speak to us of autumn? By that time of the year, even in Oklahoma, the leaves have turned some beautiful rich colors of gold, red, orange, and brown and drifted from the trees. The winds have become colder and more cutting (and that’s saying something here in Oklahoma!) and of course there’s that “fall smell” in the air. And probably that’s one of the things I love most about autumn—the smell. There is nothing like the feeling of being tucked up inside four strong walls with food to eat, a fire going in the fireplace, and a good book to read. And did I mention a dog’s head on my lap? But celebrating fall took on a whole new meaning when we moved to West Virginia. I had never seen colors on the trees like what we saw there–such a wonderful display of nature–and it happens every year!

Rick Burgess is an excellent professional photographer who is a good friend–he specializes in pictures of the natural beauty of “Wild, Wonderful West Virginia” and this is one that was taken at Plum Orchard Lake in the fall. Isn’t it gorgeous? See the link below if you would like to see more of Rick’s wonderful art!

I know a lot of people will think this is strange, but I’ve never been a coffee or hot tea drinker. Yet, in the fall, I DO want something warm to drink—and this is it. This drink is very easy to make and keep on hand—and I haven’t tried making it with any artificial sweetener yet, but this year I’m going to do just that instead of using sugar and see how it turns out. This “friendship tea” is also good to make and give as a gift in a pretty container (that’s how I got it in the very beginning, and I have been so glad someone did that for me so many years ago!)




This wonderful drink is ready in 5 minutes, and makes 4 cups of the instant mix.



1 -1 1/2 cup sugar (or less, to taste)

2 cups instant Tang orange drink

1/2 cup sweetened iced tea mix powder

1 (1/4 ounce) envelope unsweetened lemonade mix (about 1 and 3/4 cups)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (or you can also put in whole cloves if you like)



Combine all ingredients well and store in an airtight container.

To use, fill a mug with boiling water and stir in 2-3 tsp. to taste (some like it stronger!)

This recipe has been around for many years, and it stands the test of time!

If all you can find is pre-sweetened lemonade, then use the amount of dry mix needed for a 2 -quart pitcher according to the package instructions and leave out the sugar.

This iteration of this recipe came from GENIUS KITCHEN and is close to the one I’ve had in my recipe box for all this time.


I have to admit, by Christmas, I’m certainly missing fall, and “Autumn Fever” takes on a new meaning—I want it BACK! As sad as I was to see summer end, that’s how I feel when the winter ice and snow comes—I’m immediately nostalgic for fall!


What do you do in the autumn months? Are you glad to see them come and herald summer’s end? I do read a lot, as I’m sure many of us do here at P&P. Please share any good books you’ve read so we can all build our reading list!

Right now, I’m re-reading one of Rosemary Rogers’s classic stories, SWEET SAVAGE LOVE--the book that got me reading romances all those years ago–all her stories are sooo darn good you can’t go wrong. Next on my list is another wonderful re-read– NOBODY’S DARLING by Teresa Medeiros.

I’d love to hear your childhood memories of fall–and I do hope you’ll try this wonderful “friendship tea” recipe when those autumn winds begin to blow—it’s a sure cure for AUTUMN FEVER!

Be sure to leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for a digital copy of the wonderful PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS boxed set MAIL ORDER BRIDES FOR SALE: THE REMINGTON SISTERS! This is a complete boxed set of four full length novels by Livia J. Washburn, Cheryl Pierson, Jacquie Rogers, and Celia Yeary!

Here’s the blurb to whet your appetite:

Brought up in the wealth and comfort of Eastern “old money” in staid and proper Philadelphia, the Remington sisters are forced to scatter to the four winds and become mail-order brides. In order to gain a fortune, their sinister step-father, Josiah Bloodworth, has made plans to marry them off in loveless marriages. Time is running out, and no matter what lies ahead in their uncertain futures, it has to be better than the evil they’re running from…

LIZZY: Livia J. Washburn
Elizabeth Remington’s world is turned upside down when she is forced to become a mail-order bride. With her cat, Fulton, Lizzy flees to Alaska—only to discover the man she’s to marry is not who she thought he was! Now, she must protect herself from the biggest danger of all—her own heart. Handsome Flint McKinnon has signed his soul away to her step-father, hasn’t he? He’s chased Lizzy across the continent, but can she believe him when he says he loves her?

BELLE: Jacquie Rogers
Belle Remington must marry someone before the dangerous Neville Fenster catches up with her. She hightails it out of Philadelphia to the wilds of Idaho Territory to become a bootmaker’s bride, but when she arrives in Oreana, she discovers her groom has been murdered! Now, handsome, inebriated rancher Cord Callahan insists on fulfilling the marriage contract himself. Belle is beautiful and smart as a whip. But she has a secret. When Fenster shows up, can Cord protect the woman he wants to love forever?

SABRINA: Cheryl Pierson
Impulsive Sabrina Remington, the youngest, weds a man she knows her family would disapprove of. Though Cameron Fraser’s family owns a ranch in lawless Indian Territory, he’s made his way in the world with a gun, living barely on the right side of the law. With everything on the line as Bloodworth and his henchmen close in, will Cam be able to protect Sabrina from the desperate man who means to kidnap her for his own wicked purposes?

LOLA: Celia Yeary
Sensible Lola Remington, the eldest of the four sisters, must be certain the others are on their way to safety before she can think of fleeing Philadelphia herself. With the help of a local bridal agency, Lola finds the perfect husband for herself—in the wild countryside of Texas. Jack Rains owns a ranch and he’s in need of a bride—and children, of course! But just when Lola starts to believe there might be a future for them, she discovers a hidden letter from another woman…Jack’s first wife.




I’ve talked some about my mom’s artistic “bent” in some of my past blog posts—a talent that escapes me completely. At least it did skip a generation and manifest itself in my kids. But today I wanted to show you some exquisite examples of China painting, done my mother, El Wanda Stallings Moss.

She didn’t consider herself “good” at this by any means, though, to me, it was perfect. Mom was a perfectionist, and she could always see that something might have been done better or could have used another leaf here, or a flower there. But I don’t think she ever realized how talented she was in so many areas—cooking, sewing, painting in several media, and just being an all-around great manager of finances, the running of the house, and dealing with so many things on her own with Dad’s crazy oilfield schedule.

At night, when everyone was in bed, Mom would get her paints out and create these lovely works. It was her time to unwind and relax and just have her time to herself to be a creator. We lived in Seminole, Oklahoma, from 1963-1974. Seminole was not a large town, but it boasted one of the best China painting teachers to be found—Opal Stover.

Mom took lessons from her (her one and only extravagance for herself) and painted all kinds of beautiful things—trivets, ashtrays (my dad was a smoker) and decorative dishes such as pitchers and serving plates—which we never used, because…one slip and they’d be nothing but slivers.

Here are a couple of the trivets she did early on in her China painting efforts. 


China painting, or ceramic painting, had been an art form for many centuries in China before it ever made its way into other cultures. It didn’t become a popular art form in American until the 1880’s. Oddly enough, men dominated this field in Europe. Edward Lycett brought his knowledge and talent to America in the 1880’s and taught others the methods he’d learned in England.

This is truly a vanishing art form. I don’t know anyone who does this now, but there is a Porcelain Art Museum here in Oklahoma City that I would like to visit. From their description, they have many, many pieces from all around the world. I’ve always been fascinated by this process, but of course, my “un-artistic self” just admires it from afar.



I cherish those memories of my mom setting up her paints in our den and claiming those late-night hours for herself, so engrossed in her painting details I don’t think she ever heard me tip-toe to the den door and peek in to see if she was still working. I always went back to bed with a peaceful feeling.

Now that Mom’s gone, I have many of the pieces she painted and they proudly rest in her china cabinet I inherited in my dining room. I admire those every single day, but I know I would never have the kind of patience I’d need to even try to do that kind of work. I’m so glad she did. (This is one of those ashtrays I just cringed to have to clean because I was afraid I’d drop it. It’s one of my favorite pieces of hers!)



This pitcher is one of my favorites, too, because I know how much work it took for her to do this. It’s displayed in my living room in a cabinet with a glass door. The green trivet is also a favorite because it’s just so different in color than so many of the other pieces she did. But I truly do love them all. 



Do you know anyone who China paints? Do you China paint? 





When I was a young girl, I became fascinated with wanting to learn to embroider. Mom started showing me when I was about 10 or so—just the simple stitches, nothing fancy. But by the time I was in high school in the 70’s, I was pretty darn good at it and could do a lot of pretty things to jazz up my blue jeans and chambray shirts! I think my mom lamented the days gone by of embroidering handkerchiefs and aprons. At one point, I made my husband a shirt and had an artist friend free-hand the cover of the Eagles’ One of These Nights album onto the back of it. I embroidered it for him, and he had people offer him money for that shirt several times!






My grandmother had some tea towels she had embroidered. Where she found time to do that with raising 11 kids, I will never know. But now, I’m thinking that must have been something that was somewhat relaxing for women to do during that time period—after all, they could SIT DOWN while they worked! Granny had used Aunt Martha’s embroidery pattern iron on transfers (a staple for homemakers back then!) and she gave me a couple of packages of them. I still have them somewhere—I think they were puppies and lambs.




A few years ago, my sister and I were at a yard sale and we came upon a box of embroidered tea towels, pillow cases and table runners. All done by hand. All so unappreciated. The entire box for $2. We couldn’t pass it up, because we both just love old things. So we bought it, knowing we’d never use any of it. Just wash it and keep it because it was so old and someone had spent a good deal of time working on those things.


I put the metal iguana on there to give it a little more color!


I think we both must have been thinking of our mom, who spent long hours of the night painting—thinking of the time and love and effort she put into that hobby of hers. Did someone do the same with these old tea towels and linens?


I’d forgotten about them until we moved the china cabinet. I had to clean it out to move it and then put everything back inside. I “found” them and it was like Christmas all over again! I didn’t take time to iron them, but you can get an idea of the age and care that was used to embellish these everyday kitchen towels from long ago. I still have some pillowcases I did many years ago. I don’t think my eyes could handle working on those projects now. I miss it!



Do you remember seeing tea towels, pillow cases, even sheets—and other household items from the past that had been lovingly embroidered?


Summer seems like the most patriotic time of the year in general, doesn’t it? We kick off the summer months with Memorial Day in May. Poppies are worn in remembrance of veterans on Memorial Day and on Veterans Day in November.

On June 6, we are reminded of the sacrifices made on a faraway beach in Normandy that resulted in many deaths in WWII, but turned the tide for the Allies and helped us gain victory. June 14th is Flag Day, a fine “tune up” for our huge 4th of July celebration that’s right around the corner.

Is anyone more patriotic than a cowboy? I don’t think so!  So many country and western songs have been written through the years that are a tribute to not only our troops, but to first responders, and to all the “regular” American people who love our country.

Here is my list of top country and western patriotic songs, compiled from several on the internet—all different, but all wonderful—and all with one thing in common: our love for our country. These are in no particular order. I don’t know how anyone could choose one over the other since they all are products of excellent songwriting and musicianship—and heartfelt sentiments about America! And goodness knows, I didn’t list them all here—no room! Like I said, there are a lot of patriots in the country music field, and a huge number of songs to listen to in order to get in the patriotic spirit of things! I’ve included the youtube links in case you want to pop over and give these a listen!

This first one is an odd one, but I just love it. It was recorded by David Ball, who didn’t have that many hits, but this one will stay in your memory when you hear it for the very first time. I get chills every single time I hear it.  A young man buys a ’66 Corvette and discovers a letter in the glove box “My name is Private Andrew Malone, and if you’re reading this I didn’t make it home…” Which always makes me think about so many young men who could have written this following line…“For every dream that’s shattered, another one comes true…”  It’s called RIDING WITH PRIVATE MALONE and it has a very twisty ending you’re sure to love!


Probably the most recognized country song that many call our “unofficial” American anthem was written and performed by Lee GreenwoodGOD BLESS THE U.S.A. Written in 1983, it’s become synonymous with patriotism, and is loved by countless Americans, whether they are typical country and western fans or not. Its simple message is one that grabs you and holds on, and I have to admit, that even after nearly 40 years of hearing it, I still get teary! “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free, and I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me—so I’ll gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today, for there ain’t no doubt I love this land—God Bless the U.S.A.!”


Another “oldie but goodie” is Merle Haggard’s THE FIGHTIN’ SIDE OF ME, written in 1970. Oh, goodness. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard my husband play and sing that back when we used to have our band…fond memories, and it was a song that was a frequent request, whether we lived in West Virginia or here in Oklahoma. “If you don’t love it, leave it, let this song that I’m singin’ be a warnin’—when you’re runnin’ down my country, hoss, you’re walkin’ on the fightin’ side of me…” I love the sentiment of this song. In true “Merle” fashion, he’s saying that we can disagree on things without trashing our country. I think everyone in the audiences we played to knew the words to this song!


WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE WORLD STOPPED TURNING? is not a “patriotic” song in the way we’d normally think of one, but it was not written during normal times. Penned by Alan Jackson in 2002 after the horrific events of  9/11/01, this song is packed with emotion and validates the many thoughts and feelings that Americans went through during the aftermath of that day. Each chorus of this song ends with the reminder that God’s greatest gift to us is love—even though we were going through some horrendous times. This song was nothing short of a masterpiece that drew Americans together, gave us hope, and let us know we were not alone in our feelings.


In 1974, Johnny Cash wrote RAGGED OLD FLAG, a recitation about all the incidents that happened to “the ragged old flag” that hangs in a little town’s courthouse square as told to a town newcomer by one of the old men who lives there. “She’s been through the fire before, and she can take a whole lot more…on second thought, I guess I do like to brag, cause I’m mighty proud of that ragged old flag!”

8TH OF NOVEMBER, another patriotic song written about the Vietnam war, is performed by Big and Rich. It is the true story of a terrible battle in which the 173rd Airborne was engaged. That day, 48 Americans died with very few survivors when they were ambushed by 1200 Viet Cong. “With the fire rainin’ down and the hell all around there were few men left standin’ that day…”




There are countless others, in case you want to put together a country and western playlist for your big Independence Day shindig! Take a look!

SOME GAVE ALL by Billy Ray Cyrus

LETTERS FROM HOME by John Michael Montgomery

HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN? by Darryl Worley


HOME by Dierks Bentley


FOR YOU by Keith Urban

IT’S AMERICA by Rodney Atkins

FLYOVER STATES by Jason Aldean





This isn’t all of them, either! Hope you all have a very happy 4th of July (though it’s still a couple of weeks away!) with family, friends, and loved ones. What’s your favorite country and western patriotic song, and why? It’s hard to pick just one!