Tuesday, January 9, 2018

I'm riding off into the sunset (at least, for now)

me on a horse - the only time you will ever see this


The time has come—at least, for now. I’m taking a break from this blog. Along with my writing of novels and my historical magazine, I’m starting an author’s newsletter and a blog about my MacPherson clan on my author’s website. (You can find the historical magazine at worblysmagazine.com and my author’s website at mischellecreager.com)
You can always check back here every once in a while. Who knows when I might come up with an interesting tidbit from the past about our family?

Until then—Thanks for reading my family blog and stay happy!!!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Wrapping Presents

the presents around our tree this year


It’s almost that time! Christmas is just a few days away! The presents are all wrapped and under the tree—see the picture above.
In years past, Christmas presents in our family have been wrapped in everything from the colored comics from the newspaper to brown paper to Christmas wrapping paper bought at the last minute to Christmas paper bought the year before at half-price after Christmas. This year it is different.
I have never liked the paper bags (with tissue) for presents that I put under the tree. But several years ago, Discover Card ran a special for their cardholders who shopped at Amazon—they offer free gift-wrapping for items bought at Amazon. I thought why not and ordered all my presents to be gift-wrapped—I saved $146 in gift-wrapping with that special! When I got my gifts, I was amazed. While some of the gifts were in folding cardboard boxes with wide ribbon, a number of them were in beautiful fabric gift bags. One of them was a large wedge pillow and it came in a huge velour-type drawstring bag. There was no way we were going to throw away these beautiful bags, like we always had paper bags and wrapping paper.
Through the years, my kids always ordered from Amazon for birthdays, Mother’s/Father’s Days, and Christmas, and many of them were ordered gift-wrapped. They left those beautiful gift bags at our house (they live in apartments and didn’t have room to store them). Not thinking, I stuck those bags in different places. But last year, I gathered them together and packed them away in our Christmas decoration tubs.
Wrapping presents this year was so easy. Other than my granddaughter’s presents (little ones NEED to rip the paper off their presents—that’s half the fun of it), all the presents I “wrapped” went into those fabric bags. It took me about five minutes to wrap everyone’s gifts.
Well, I need to start my Christmas baking, so I’ll wish you a Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Christmas Dinner 140 Years Apart

my great-grandmother and grandfather

Well, it’s almost that time of the year again—CHRISTMAS DINNER! Or rather, buying and planning the prep of things for that family dinner. I bought a rump roast and put it in the freezer (it is only Dec. 10th but it was on sale and just what I wanted). I put it in the freezer so that Christmas Eve night I can put it in the oven (frozen, but with enough water in the covered graniteware roaster so that it won’t cook dry) and let it slowly thaw/cook/braise until 7 AM the next morning. The house will smell wonderful, the broth will be just right to make gravy, and it will have time to do whatever meat has to do before cutting it with an electric knife in nice thin slices. My daughter is making the mashed potatoes this year (they have allergies, so it’s best she makes these). About an hour before mealtime, I slide the poppers and stuffed mushrooms (which I prepped the day before Christmas Eve), along with the potatoes au gratin (made from a mix, of course) into the oven. By the way, I have a large oven. When those come out, I will heat the garlic knots and Hawaiian sweet rolls while I get out the different soft drinks everyone wants. As everyone sits down at the table, I take out the bread and put in the Marie Callendar’s Crumb-topped Apple Pie. Yep, Christmas dinner will be a breeze and leave me lots of time to visit with family.
The other day, I came across a Christmas Dinner menu from a book titled Fifteen Cent Dinners, published in 1877—my great-grandparents would have been married for about two years when the book came out. Here is the way they could have done it WA-A-A-Y back then:
IN buying poultry for Christmas-tide I have found that it is better to go market at least three days before that holiday. The prices are very much lower, and the weather is generally cold enough for you to keep your bird fresh until you want to use it. In estimating the cost of this dinner I shall suppose that you buy your turkey in advance at a shilling a pound, instead of waiting till Christmas eve, and paying at least twenty cents for it. If you are obliged to Wait you must add the difference in price to my figures. The following is our bill of fare:
Begin your preparations by making your pudding as follows:--
Plum Pudding.Mix. well together, half a pound of flour, (cost two cents.) four ounces of raisins, stoned and chopped, (cost four cents) four ounces of currants, well washed, (cost four cents,) four ounces of chopped suet, (cost two cents,) three tablespoonfuls of molasses, one teaspoonful of ground spice, (cost one cent,) and one gill of cold water; put in a floured cloth, or a greased and floured mould, or tin pail, and steam until yon are ready to put it on the table. It will cost you thirteen cents, Next, peel one quart of potatoes, and lay them in cold water while you get the turkey ready.
Roast Turkey.—Draw a five pound turkey, (cost five shillings,) carefully enough not to break the entrails, so that you will not have to spoil its flavor by washing it; singe it, and wipe it with a clean, damp cloth, stuff it with about a pound of stale bread, seasoned with salt, pepper and herbs, (cost about three cents,) sew it up, tie it in shape, lay it in a baking pan with one quart of peeled potatoes, (cost five tents,) and put it into a hot oven; as soon as it begins to brown nicely, take it Out, season it With pepper and salt, baste it with the drippings from it; and put it back in the oven; baste it every fifteen minutes until it is done, which will be in about an hour and. a quarter. Then put it on a dish, with the potatoes around it, and set it in the mouth of the oven to keep it hot while you make the gravy; do this by pour ing a pint of boiling water into the dripping pan, letting it come to a boil, and stirring into it a tablespoonful of flour mixed smoothly in half a teacupful of cold water; season it to taste with salt and pepper, and dish in a bowl.
Apple Sauce.—As soon as you get the turkey in the oven, make the  apple sauce as follows. Pare, core, and slice two quarts, or five cents worth of cooking apples, put them over the fire with a half cup water and stew them until soft: then stir in four ounces of sugar, (cost three cents,) and one ounce of butter, (cost two cents,) and cool it, or keep it warm, as you like. It will cost ten cents. Next make the pudding sauce.
Cream sauce—Stir together over the fire one ounce of butter, one ounce of flour, and a little spice, (all of which will cost about two cents), put a little mill; into a pint of boiling watt;, and stir t gradually in the flour and but, when it is quite smooth stir in two ounces of sugar, (cost two cents,) and let it boil up once; then set the sauce-pan you have made it in into another containing a little hot water, so as to keep the sauce hot until you want it, without thickening or burning it. It will cost about five cents, and be good enough for the nicest of plum puddings.After you have done with the sauce the rest of the dinner will probably be nearly cooked, and you can get it ready for the table.

I really like my menu better, but then I live in a different time and place. But whatever you have for Christmas Dinner, I hope you have a wonderful day.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Memory Monday: Another Generation Learns

my granddaughter and the nativity

It started the day after Thanksgiving. We hauled in lots of boxes (actually they are plastic cat litter tubs with lids) and our artificial tree. We put up the tree and wrapped it in lots and lots of lights, then I put on tubs of ornaments. After that, I set out the rest of the decorations.
The one thing I don’t do is to set out the nativity. Years ago, when my children were young, I hosted some kind of home decorating party. One of the things I “won” was a nativity of cutesy people and animals. I don’t remember how it worked out this way, but the tradition started that my daughter would be the one that arranged all the items in the stable. For years, my daughter set it up the “normal” way, but then she started putting the wise men figures some distance away. She would say the wise men weren’t at the stable when the shepherds were. The wise men came later. Which is true—smart kid.
My daughter now has a three-year-old daughter. While I am not ready to pass the nativity set down to my daughter, I did want it set up (and she’s the only one that does it—tradition, you know). So, the Monday after Thanksgiving when my daughter came to pick up her little one from our house (we pick up our granddaughter after pre-school and keep her until her mommy gets off of work), I had her arrange the people and animals. She told her daughter who each person was and then set the wise men of a small table a foot or two away from the stable. When my granddaughter came to our house on Tuesday, and every day since then, she gathered up all the people and animals, then set them up again, always saying how the wise men were far away—quick learner, smart kid.
I love this time of the year. I love traditions. I love my family.

I thank God that He sent Jesus and that we can pass the story of His birth down to the next generation.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Time in My Family

my grandfather in his shoe repair shop


Well, that title might be a bit misleading. I’m really talking about the watches we have had in our family. After my mother passed away, I found a zip-lock bag in her things. It contained a pocket watch with a strap attached. Mother had left a hand-written note in the bag . It said that the watch had belonged to her father and she remembered always seeing it tacked to the wall in his shoe repair shop. She said that she wanted the watch to go to my son—she thought it would look good with his suits when he was a lawyer.
There is another pocket watch that I have and it also involves my son. Years ago—after my paternal grandparents passed away, I was looking at some of the things that had been theirs. There was a box of old pocket watches, most of them were in silver (silver-tone) cases, but the case of one was different. It has a pinkish gold tone to it, not yellowish brass. It didn’t work but my father took it to the jeweler and had it repaired. Unfortunately, the jeweler replaced the button on the winding stem with a yellowish brass one—not really noticeable, but I knew. The watch was the style that had a covering that opened on the front and the back. When my son was little and watched some children’s show on TV where the characters had a “magic” something (I don’t remember exactly what the thing was—I’m just too old to recall something like that), he asked if he could use my pocket watch to play like the characters on the show. I let him and he had a lot of fun with it. By the way, that watch is safely back in my jewelry box.
Another watch that has seen multi-generation use in our family is my daughter’s Mickey Mouse watch. When she was younger (much younger), she got that particular watch for Christmas one year. She has asked for it and wore for some time, then set it aside (actually, she said I could have it, if I wanted it). Once again, I put a watch in my jewelry box (yes, it is a large jewelry box). Three or four months back, I came across the watch and had the battery replaced. I showed it to my granddaughter and told her how her mommy used to wear it. My granddaughter was fascinated by it, not because she could tell time or because it had belonged to her mommy (remember, she’s only three). No, what she really interested her about the watch was the two buttons on the left side of the watch. When you press one of the buttons the song It’s a small World After All plays and when the other button was pressed it plays The Mickey Mouse Song—you know M-I-C-K-E-Y-M-O-U-S-E. Mickey was on the watch face and his arms were the minute and hour hands. When the music played the hands moved faster and in time. When the song ended, the hands reversed and went back to the correct time. My granddaughter played both songs over and over and over and over. Fortunately, the volume on the watch wasn’t very loud.

This are other watches in my jewelry box, but those are the most interesting—at least, to me. Who knows, maybe if I think hard enough (remember, I getting older), I’ll remember more stories about those watches that are just sitting in that dark vastness known as my JEWELRY BOX.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Thanksgiving and Popcorn

my sweet granddaughter
Thanksgiving is this week and I am so excited!!! I love this time of the year with all its get-togethers, food-eating, and food-preparing. It’s not just excitement about all the “busy things,” no, it’s just that each of those things makes me remember what I’m truly thankful for.
The get-together means that I have family to love and who love me, especially my sweet granddaughter. Last year, she was still getting used to being her with her new family. But this year, she “knows” us—she grins and runs to me when she sees me, she has started bringing books for me to read to her in my office/library, and she even had her pre-school teacher write my name (chest puffing out in pride) on a strip on her “Thankful pumpkin”—in all reality, I probably got a whole strip to myself because nothing else would fit after the teacher printed “Grandmommy.” The pumpkin wasn’t huge, after all. Also, this is the fifth anniversary of my husband’s liver transplant. He’s strong and hearty—well, he’s strong and hearty enough to keep house and do the laundry (seriously, a writer’s got to have time to write, and I am a writer).
The food-eating makes me thankful that God has generously poured out His blessings on us all year long—not only our food, but our home, our marriage, our family, our friends, and so many more blessings. And most especially Jesus and His sacrifice.
The food-preparing means that I’m healthy enough to do the things I love to do. Even though I have RA, diabetes, and a few other thing going on in my body, I can cook (which I love to do), I can write, and I can play with my granddaughter. Being able to do all of those things is due in large part because of the blessing of having wonderful doctors who take care of me.

One thing I’m going to TRY and do again this year is something we had done years ago when my children were younger—tell the story of the three grains of corn. I had read that the Pilgrims had a very hard time in the New World. At one point, their daily ration of food was three grains of corn (now, I don’t know if this is really true, but it led to a way of showing what we are thankful for today). I would put three grains of unpopped popcorn on everyone’s plate and before we ate, I would pass a small dish around and everyone would put their popcorn in, telling three things they were thankful for. I love hearing the things. The kids hated doing it. We finally stopped doing it when the kids BEGGED me to stop making them it. But we have added a new generation to our family, SO-O-O-O, I think it’s time to try it again. After all, our granddaughter needs to be reminded to be thankful and needs to hear what others are thankful for. Do you think it will go over any better this time than last? Who knows, but a mother/grandmommy has to try.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Memory Monday: Precious Memories

four generations of our family
I was traveling in the car the other day and the song “Precious Memories” came on. The lyrics nestled in my heart. I thought of all of who came before me—the examples they left, the words of wisdom they shared, the stories of perseverance they left behind.

My grandmother raised seven children as she cleaned other people’s houses and took in laundry, while her husband had a shoe repair shop. The thing I remember most about my grandmother was when she was about 95 or so, she needed paint for her house but she insisted that it come with a 25 year guarantee. Oh, and another thing, my mother said Grandma didn’t care what grades her children got in school, as long as they got an A in deportment. She knew how her children acted and treated others was so important. Growing up, the thing I remember most about my grandfather was that he hated to have his picture made, even snapshots—NO PICTURES. That is until their 50th anniversary—which by the way was when my grandmother got a wedding ring. After that, he seemed to love having his picture taken. I just realized that I have something in common with my grandfather—I hate to have my picture taken, too. Maybe when I have my 50th wedding anniversary, I won’t mind so much.

My daddy always dreamed of trying to do things to improve his life, from reading to trying to start some type of business, to changing types of jobs. For him, it never seemed to work—BUT HE TRIED. I guess that’s where I got the part of me, where at 60 years old, I published my first three novels. My mother always voiced her acknowledgement of God’s working in her everyday life. When it rained, she would always mention how God had washed her car or watered her flowers and vegetables. Her words still live on in my heart and make me recognize how God is in all the things we do—big things and little.

I hope that my children have precious memories of me that will live in their hearts and minds for years to come, and maybe even be passed down to future generations.

I wonder what memories of me my granddaughter will cherish in years to come. Will those memories help her in trying times? Will they nestle in her heart and help her to be a better woman? Will memories of a loving grandmommy help her when she feels lonely or troubled as she goes through life?

What precious memories do you have of your parents or grandparents that have helped you through life?