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Category Archives: Nostalgia

I can’t believe that the granddaughter is going to be 2 next month. I swear it was just last month that I was rocking her and feeding her a bottle. Honestly, I’m getting a little freaked out about how time is passing by so fast. It didn’t go this fast when I was younger. I swear it.

Of course this big event requires a new dress. In my head, I see this beautiful child in a frilly dress with matching accessories. All of her little friends and their mothers will oooo and awww at the matching bow and bracelet while my daughter looks at me with a sweet smile and says “It’s beautiful…you are the best Granny in the world”. This darling child picks up her fork to nibble at her cake, being careful not to get anything on her lovely dress.  In reality, the cake will be in the fingers, on the dress, and in the hair. I figure that within 10 minutes the matching accessories will probably hit the dirt, along with the sash on the dress. My daughter will be so busy feeding toddlers that she will whiz past me with a peck on the cheek saying “thanks mom” and go off to rescue her carpet from the herd of kids with cupcakes. Within 20 minutes, the dress will have food spatters and grimy fingerprints and grass stains…and that is all just perfectly fine with me. I think reality is a bit more fun than my starched and pressed imagination. We are definitely not a family that will ever be portayed in a Martha Stewart magazine!

I loved making this dress. I want to make more. It is one of the cutest, easiest things that I’ve ever managed to pull together in my rushed and sloppy way. It can be made in about an hour. Add an hour for the sash, 2 hours for the bows, 1 hour for the bracelet, and another hour ironing and posing it for picture….well that’s just me. You can make in an hour…promise. The tutorial I used is from The Crafty Cupboard. I Found it on Pinterest…where else? Cute huh?

 So how is this post related to a Button Box? Well, since I try not to write about random things that interest only me (like all of the above), I have to find my inspiration somewhere. And while I was making the matching hair bow, I had to get out THE Button Box.

The button box is probably the single thing that I possess that brings my Mom back to me for a few minutes. It’s old and beat up and is so beautiful to me. It’s an original, back when shabby wasn’t chic, just practical. I have no idea whose fruit cake it was, or if anyone ate it. Since nothing was ever wasted in my family, I am sure that someone choked it down. And I know that Mom spied that tin and thought of the millions of things she could store in there. She was a keeper in more ways than one!

There is no end to the treasures that it contains. As a child, I thought it was magical and was so proud when a button from my outgrown clothes made it into the box. I know they are still in there somewhere.  I am sure there buttons from all 5 of us, plus the ones that I’ve added over the years.

There are common buttons.

There are some matching ones

There are bargain buttons

There are very ugly buttons that resemble severed fingertips.

There are some really pretty ones that are one of a kind.

There is even a little tiny bunny rabbit button and a little wooden goose left over from my country decorating days.

When I was very small, my Mom used to have me do little chores for her to “help her out”. You guessed it! Separating the buttons by color and stringing them together so they would be “easier to find”.  Of course now I know that she was just keeping me busy and out of her hair by making me feel productive and useful. I think that this is a dying art in parenting. I fear that kids are losing that feeling of “helping” because it’s so much easier to stick them in front of the tv than to make up a job for them to do. I think that these small tasks that Mom delegated to me helped to form my work ethic and my servant’s heart, and I am grateful every day for those qualities.  There were lots of little things that I helped with such as sorting through her mementos and pictures which gave me a love for old trinkets and baubles and histories. I can remember beating rugs (to make me spend time outside;) washing dishes (and if you don’t get them clean, Daddy will make you do the ALL over again); cleaning the bathroom (because you can make it all shiny!); grating carrots (for my birthday carrot cake and carrot raisin salad ((YUM)); snapping beans and shelling peas (which I HATED to do). The list goes on, but you get the point. Hands were not idle in our house. I do have a hard time sitting still and I like to be doing something with my hands,  or reading, or eating :-/ at all times. I have a hard time relaxing. But it’s much better than the alternative of sitting around on my keister. I am so blessed to have had parents who understood the value of work…not just for money but for that inner satisfaction you get from a job well done. Thanks Mom and Dad!


I’ve always been a gardener….in my head. My Dad was the BEST gardener I’ve ever known. He did it right….tilled and fertilized and babied his plants. We composted everything from the kitchen…our very lives were threatened if we threw away any compostable material.  He had the touch. But he wouldn’t do anything frivolous like flowers or shrubs….no sireee. Huge cauliflower. Cucumbers that were as long as his arm. Okra that grew up over his head with 8″ pods that were still tender enough to fry. His tomatoes probably could have earned him a record somewhere.

Maybe all that garden/canning/freezing frenzy scared me away from wanting a vegetable garden. Or maybe I am aware of the fact that all my farmer ancestors would be rolling over in their graves when they saw my weeds, puny plants, and bug-infested harvest. I can promise you, that’s what it would be. I don’t have the patience or the time to do it. I will just mooch off of others or buy what I need.

So why am writing about gardens? Because I want flowers and shrubs and trees and bushes and ornamental grasses. I want a little place to sit outside where I can hear the birds and see the butterflies and smell the earthy sweetness that you can only get from living plants. I want tacky, quirky little accents that match my tacky and quirky personality. ( I believe they call it “whimsical”!)  I want a place where the dogs can visit but not “make it their own”. A place where I can sit out with my family and catch fireflies and watch the kids play in the sprinkler. I want a place that is small and contained and easily maintained. I want something like this……..

So why don’t I have it? Because I don’t know how! I am 55 years old and everything I have ever planted has died. My son-in-law gave me the best present 2 years ago. He planted a little area with azaleas and flowers….he worked so hard on it. He bought the good garden soil and dug and sweated for a whole day to get it done. I babied it and watered it and fertilized it and talked to it. And they all died. The bushes never took root….I watched one of them get caught in the wind and just blow away! I was so sad…..

As I mentioned earlier, my sister is a huge inspiration to me. Whatever she needs or wants to do…she just does it! So after my vacation this year, I determined that “by golly….I’m just going to do it!” Right or wrong, I was going to sweat and dig and tote and carry and stack and hang….whatever I needed to do to get a little garden started. I didn’t care if it was just a few bricks and a tree….I was going to get it started. I may not know much, but I do know that NOTHING in this life ever gets done without being started. Even a bit at a time. So I ordered a bunch of discounted cheap trees. We planted a little red bud that my son-in-law gave us. I went to the nursery when everything was 75% off and bought dracaena, grasses, peonies, hibiscus, and a crepe myrtle. I went to Lowe’s and bought vincas and moss roses for 50% off. Now the reason everything was so cheap is because planting time is past here….it’s too HOT. But did I care? NO.  Did I research these plants to make sure they were okay for my area or soil or sun/shade? NO. (That would require planning and forethought and I hate that.  I don’t read instructions either. I just fiddle with it and try to get it right…and then give up and have hubby do it 😉 )  I decided to be safe and just use containers and do the real planting in the Fall. But I was excited! I was actually DOING something that I wanted/needed to do! YEAH!  In North Dakota I saw some painted boots used as planters. I wanted that! I saw old pitchers and teapots with flowers spilling out. I wanted that! I saw old rusted out pans filled with succulents. I wanted that! So now I have that! Not the garden of my dreams yet, but I got started…and that’s good enough…for now.

Now I know all you snobby gardeners are laughing at me! And I don’t really care. You have to start where you are with what you have. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t up to someone else’s standards.  I’m having fun with it. I’m babying my plants and trying to keep them cool. I am appreciating them. I am giving them LOTS to drink in this heat. I move them to the shade when it gets to be too much. They are still alive! It’s a miracle. And our little red bud tree has tripled in size since I gave it some company. Hubby is even talking Pergola! So all you doubters and haters out there….miracles can and do happen all the time. Can’t wait to post an update this next year!

I  always dreaded that assignment in school because we didn’t do the typical vacations in my family. We lived in California but I never saw the beach or Disneyland until I got old enough to go with other people. My Dad’s idea of a vacation was driving like a mad man all day and all night to get to where you were going, which was always to visit a relative. My brother and I would be wrestling for space in the back seat amongst the thermos, blankets, and food sacks. Sometimes the only way to get comfortable was to hang our feet out the window. Yes, that was me that you saw in the 1963 red Ford Comet.  Lunchtime meant parking under a shade tree with a box of crackers, a can of squeeze cheese and some vienna sausage (known in my family as “Vi-EENY sausage”). If we were eating “high on the hog”, we’d stop at a grocery store and get some bread and bologna.

Mom and I were careful not to drink too much water. It was fine to stop long enough for Dad to “water the bushes”, but heaven forbid that Mom and I had to stop unless it was for gas….then we made a mad dash into the gas station for the ever-present bathroom key that opened the hell hole sewage pit. You know the one…behind the gas station, in the alley between the old tires and the dead car parts. But it was better than squattin’ in the bushes off the side of the road (I’ve done that plenty of times). These road trips were long before Ipods, Ipads, and CD players. If I were really lucky, my brother would play the license plate game with me. I don’t know how we passed the time, but we managed. We dreaded these trips when we were kids. What I wouldn’t give right now to hop in the car with my parents and have one of those hellish road trips. Sadly, I don’t have any pictures from those days. But here is one from a short Easter trip to see the California cousins. That’s me in the middle. I have no idea what kind of top knot was on top of my head! The tall one is my too-cool-for-Easter Eggs brother, and the old Ford Comet is on the right. Good times.

I just returned from a different kind of vacation/road trip. And since I have no life, I will tell you all about it (in detail) in future posts. It was amazing!!!!!!!!!!