Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Good and Faithful Servant

Arch E. Bartelmay, Jr. October 19, 1919 - September 5, 1987
This is my father in law,
Arch E. Bartelmay, Jr.
Sergeant in the United States Army in WW2.
He fought with the Thunderbirds in the 45th Infantry Division.
This picture was taken when he was home on leave sometime in 1944.
He's standing in his backyard just two doors over from where we live.
My mother in law still lives in the house between the old home place and ours.
We will celebrate her 90th birthday next month.
This photo was taken somewhere in France.
It's actually a postcard.
We don't know who the original writer was.
The addition of his name is my writing.
Sadly, we don't know who he's pictured with
nor whether his friend survived the war.
We honor his memory and his service to our country along with Arch's however,
by keeping this postcard in a frame in our foyer.

My Father in law was in five major landings and one H - Hour.
He fought the bloody Battle of Anzio alongside his Thunderbird compatriots.
Their slogan was "Semper Anticus"
Always Forward.
When General George S. Patton described the 45th Infantry Division,
he said it was
"one of the finest, if not the finest infantry division
in this history of modern warfare."
High praise from a man who was known to be more critical than complimentary.
Here he is pictured with his father, Arch Bartelmay, Sr.
who is holding one of his grandchildren,
Mary Beth,
daughter of Dale,
one of my father in law's many brothers.
He was from a family of eleven.
Eight boys and three girls.
Grandma Bartelmay had five sons fighting in WW2 at the same time.
I cannot even imagine such a thing.
One thing I know,
there must have been a lot of prayer involved.
Each one of those sons of hers came home alive.
Arch was her son who saw the most action.
At one point when he was on a transport ship, well into the war,
the commanding officer on board called for him.
He ordered him to walk back and forth in front of him.
Then he wanted to shake his hand.
He said,
"I just wanted to see you walk and shake the hand of a man
who has survived all you have been through.
You shouldn't be alive at this point.
Is there anything I can do for you?"
My father in law's response,
"No Sir, Not where I'm going..."
And soon he was back in the thick of it.

His war took him through North Africa, France, Italy and Germany,
eventually earning him five battle stars.
The 45th Infantry Division was recognized as a liberating unit by the
US Army's Center of Military History and the United States
Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1985.
They liberated the camp at Dachau.
My father in law was home on leave when that took place.

Casualty figures for the 45th Infantry:
Total Battle casualties: 7,791
Total Deaths in Battle: 1,831

Yet my father in law made it home alive.
God had a plan.
Thankfully, he married and had two sons.
I married his second born.
 So like his father in many ways.
Strong, quiet, gentle.
A Survivor.
One survived a war when so many around him fell.
The other survived Pancreatic Cancer when most don't.
With a heart full of thanks, I salute them both.

Arch eventually became the Sheriff of his home county.
Upholding law and order.
Just another form of the freedom fighting he was born to.
He seldom spoke of his wartime experiences,
however when he dozed off in front of the television he was there again,
reliving something from forty years ago.
We would hear him cry out to wounded men in foxholes
as he feverishly tried to help them one more time,
probably in hopes the outcome would finally be different.

His final battle came in the form of lung cancer.
It was short and swift.
Although we were not ready to let him go,
I think the Lord knew this was one soldier who had already
fought enough battles for one lifetime
so he called him home to his final reward and let him rest.
Scott and Gabby at Arch's grave, Memorial Day 2016
"Well done good and faithful servant."
Matthew 25:23

We will never forget his love and service to his family and his country.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Peonies in the Rain

My soul awakes in early dawn.
Angry storms bursting all around.
Whipping, blowing,
Shouting from within.
They scream and writhe,
Determined on their track.
They cut a path outside my window ...
Or are they in the hollows of my mind?
I emerge into full awareness.
They are everywhere.
Inside and out.
Though the rage seems relentless,
No storm exists forever.
Be it in the clouds
Or deep within my soul;
There will come a point of stillness.
The heavens will find their quiet place.
My soul will know its rest.
As I step forth into the sun,
Assuredly I move with bated breath,
Knowing what is waiting there for me...
Yes, I will step into the Son ...
Where my heart is captured once again
 By Peonies ...
Peonies in the Rain.
"He restores my soul."
Psalm 23:3

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Please Don't Eat the Daisies

Yellow Cake.
It's basic and simple, moist and delicious.
You can top it with anything you like best.
Most people seem to prefer it frosted in chocolate.
What's not to love about this classic cake?
Over the years I have discovered that all yellow cakes are not created equal.
My quest for the perfect recipe
has caused me to bake literally countless yellow cakes.
Some were too dry, while others were too spongy.
Then there were those that were just about tasteless.
Several years ago I finally found this recipe.
Honestly, I have no memory of the source 
but once I baked it my search was finally over.
So here's the recipe.
Still basic, simple and classic but...
Oh So Good.

Yellow Cake

1 Cup Butter {softened to room temp}
2 1/2 Cups Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1 1/2 Teaspoons Pure Vanilla
2 1/2 Cups Buttermilk
3 3/4 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 1/4 Teaspoons Baking Powder
2 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line bottoms of  three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper.
Spray bottoms and sides with cooking spray.
Sift flour, baking powder & baking soda together in medium bowl.
Set aside.
In large bowl, cream butter & sugar till light and fluffy {app. 2 minutes}.
Beat in eggs and vanilla.
Beat in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk until well blended.
Pour into prepared pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes.
Remove from pans.
Peel parchment paper off.
Cool completely on wire rack before frosting.

Chocolate Buttermilk Frosting

1 Stick Butter {softened to room temp}
5 Cups Confectioner's Sugar {sifted after measuring}
3/4 Cup Hershey's Cocoa Powder
1/2 Cup Buttermilk
2 Teaspoons Pure Vanilla

Cream butter in medium to large bowl.
Sift confectioner's sugar over butter.
Add cocoa powder, buttermilk & vanilla.
Beat to spreading consistency.
Frost cake and enjoy!

For Chocolate Curls ~
Run a vegetable peeler along the edge of a giant Hershey's chocolate candy bar.
When chocolate becomes too soft from the warmth of your hand,
place in freezer for a few minutes.

I had some lovely flowers left over to sprinkle around the house.
A little vase for my desk and some to float in
a crystal bowl for the dining room table.
Don't look too closely...
You might see tiny smudges of chocolate here and there.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

85 1/2 Days ...

Gabriella on her last day of school

Do you remember those magical Summer Days of your childhood?
I certainly do.
Days filled with sunshine and heat,
running through sprinklers with friends to cool off.
Riding bikes, playing hopscotch, swimming, swinging,
chasing fireflies until we were forced to go in,
sleeping at first one house then the next;
trying to stay up all night with each other.
The most wonderful thing was the pure freedom of it all and the feeling
that it just might never end.
I grew up in a neighborhood that was absolutely overflowing with kids.
They were everywhere and of all ages.
We ran around all summer long in packs.
It was glorious.
All of the moms were friends and kept an eye on each others children.
We darted all over with total abandonment.
Free and wild.
Sun up to sun down.
We took breaks only when we were called into to eat and usually we did that
back and forth at each others houses,
depending on whose mother was fixing what we liked best each day.
If one of us couldn't be found,
the phone network would start up between the mom's.
That was back in the good old days when the only phone we had
was attached to the kitchen wall
with a cord that forced you to stand or sit right up close to it.
If it was suppertime and my dad was already home,
he would just open up the side kitchen window and let out a loud whistle.
One of the neighborhood kids would holler out,
"Danette! I think it's time for YOU to go home."
The memory of those days of laughing and playing in the sunshine
still brings me joy.
I had a beautiful childhood.

Now I'm enjoying the delightful summers of my grandchildren.
I get to be a part of their grown up memories some day.
My grandparents were a huge part of my world well into my adult life.
Archer's first dandelion forage

As the weather warms up I look forward to another summer.
One filled with new possibilities.
Days of picking dandelions, blowing bubbles, drawing with sidewalk chalk
and sitting on the porch swing
with my grandchildren.
Parkers first sidewalk chalk artwork

When I picked Gabby up on her last day of school she was so excited.
She said,
"You know Grammy,
They say there's 85 days of Summer,
but we only had a half day today,
so really I think there's 85 1/2 days,
don't you?"

I think we'll go with that.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Follow My Blog with Bloglovin

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Apparently in order for my blog to show up in
so that those who wish to follow me there can do so,
I have to first "claim it" here.
This is my blog post to do just that.

Mercedes and I are putting the finishing touches on some
Organic Cotton Bobbles
this weekend.
I will show you what it grows into real soon.
May your weekend be filled with
sweet family and friends,
sunshine and laughter,
maybe some handwork
a good cup of tea.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Pink Champagne and Roses Cake

Pink Champagne and Roses Cake

Let stand at Room Temperature:
6 Egg Whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In Medium Bowl Mix:
3 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda

In Large Bowl Beat:
3/4 Cup Crisco for 30 seconds
2 2/3 Cup Sugar
1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla
8 - 10 Drops Red Food Coloring
Beat until well combined.

Gradually add egg whites, beating well after each addition.
Alternately add flour mixture and 2 Cups of Champagne to beaten mixture.
Batter will look curdled but will smooth out.

Heavily spray a Rose Bundt Pan with cooking spray.
Pour batter in evenly.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes.
Ovens vary and this recipe and pan can be tricky.
Check for doneness and continue baking as needed.

Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 - 30 minutes.
Turn cake out.
When completely cooled drizzle with glaze.

Champagne Glaze

3 Cups Sifted Confectioner's Sugar
3 Tablespoons of Champagne
1/2 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla

Stir in additional champagne one teaspoon at a time
until icing reaches glazing consistency.
Makes one cup.
*May substitute Sparkling Juice for Champagne throughout recipe.

Though there might be a little extra work involved in this recipe,
once this elegant cake reaches your mouth,
it will be well worth the effort.
I first made one years ago when Hilary,
my eldest daughter, graduated from high school.
Instead of ordering the traditional graduation cake
I made several choices for our party quests and this one was the favorite.

The one pictured here, however, was not baked by me.
My son in law Eric, who is married to my daughter Chelsea, baked this lovely cake.
Jack of All Trades...
Licensed Cosmetologist
Talented Artist and Sculptor
Wood Worker
Fed Ex Employee
Fabulous Father
Baker Extraordinaire
Son of My Heart

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Waiting to Unfold

It Endures deep within
waiting ...
waiting ...
Waiting to Unfold.
This place of hidden Beauty.
Where hides our Love and Dreams.
A land of soft shaded Truth;
Dusty halfhearted Hope.
In the honesty of Knowledge
It emerges as our Self.
We Need it and Long for it
And yet we Know it not.
We Invite it and Fight it;
Seduce it to emerge,
Then Subdue it once again.
Our Spirit calls it forth ...
Come ...
Be ...
Just let it Be.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


If asked I think most people would say their most dreaded day is Monday.
There have been times throughout my life
that it has been quite the opposite for me.
Years ago, as a cosmetologist, I always looked forward to Monday
because it was my day off.
I worked long hours on Thursday and half of every Saturday
just so I could enjoy the sheer bliss of
calling that first day of the week my own.
Then for the last seven years Monday has become
a constant new dawn in the ebb and flow of my life.
As the weekend slowly fades,
 I begin to await this sacred day like a child on the edge of her seat.
At this point my plans have already been made.
My ingredients have been gathered and my table has been set in my mind.
Sometime between the sixth and seventh hour of the evening,
 they will start to trickle in my front door.
My beloved friends.
My family really.
These Sisters of my Heart.
There are six of us, ranging in ages from our thirties to our sixties.
The words get stuck somewhere deep down within me
 when I try to dislodge them
to explain what these women mean to me.
When I am suffering from the worst times of my constant battle
with two forms of rheumatoid disease
they pray for me, feed me, cry with me, laugh with me,
hug me and hold my hand.
They walked through the unknown days of Scott's
battle with Pancreatic Cancer
one step at a time with us,
lifting him up as well as me.
They are my rocks when the ground becomes rugged and too difficult
to navigate on my own.
Knowing that my week will start with them gathered around my table,
keeps me focused and helps me push through the morning pain at times.
It gives me a goal; a purpose.
My week is off to a good start because they have given of themselves once again,
sitting around my table with their stories and their knitting,
their laughter and tears,
and their absolute beauty.
They think because I bake each Monday that I am pampering them.
When in reality I am only trying to offer back a tiny measure of
the sweetness they bestow upon my life.
Because of them my soul has continual refreshment.

"Friendship consists in forgetting what one gives
and remembering what one receives."
Alexander Dumas

Blueberry Buttermilk Coffeecake

2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
3/4 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Butter, Softened
1 Egg
1/2 Cup Buttermilk
1 Cup Blueberries, Fresh or Frozen
1 Cup Pecans, Chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together.
In another bowl, cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
Add egg and buttermilk.
Stir into dry ingredients.
*If batter is too thick add a splash of milk.
Fold in blueberries and pecans.
Spread into a greased 9 inch baking pan.

Streusel Topping

1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 Cup Pecans, Chopped
1/4 Cup Cold Butter

Combine brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon.
Fold in pecans.
Cut in butter with a pastry blender until crumbly.
Sprinkle over batter.
Bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack.

Make a drizzle with the following ingredients to your preferred
taste and consistency:

Powdered Sugar

Drizzle over coffeecake and enjoy.

"Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo,
but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you
when the limo breaks down."
Oprah Winfrey

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Gabriella's Garden

Since my granddaughter Gabby was very young,
we've been gardening together.
Grammy and Gabby playing in the dirt side by side,
planting, watering and making things grow.
I think the first time she helped me plant flowers was that precious
Summertime of her third year of life.
It's hard to believe she is nine years old already.
This beautiful creature so full of her own sunshine and flowers.
A lovely friend of mine from Tanzania, Africa once told me,
in her melodic Swahili accent, that,
"Gardening is in the heart of the individual."
I believe she was right.
It was definitely born in the heart of this child I love so much.
She loves the pansies and viola's because they have little "faces" that
smile up at her.
Then there's the old fashioned pink snapdragons that have always been a favorite;
with their "mouths" she loves to gently squeeze open.
Her school is walking distance from my house.
So yesterday,
after we walked hand in hand together while it sprinkled lightly,
I told her there was a surprise waiting at home.
She was delighted to find a happy mixture of flowers waiting for us.
I did the digging and she did most of the planting.
We talked of many things.
From time to time a worm would surface and Gabby would,
ever so gently,
pick it up and set it aside,
reminding me of the placement so I would not
"hurt the worms when I was digging with the shovel."
A Gentle Spirit...
Another Nature Lover
Animal Whisper
A Girl after My Own Heart.

We had a visitor in the garden.
Rosie thought she just might have a nibble or two.
She lives in my yard, spending all of her days here
lying about in the sunshine or the shade.
One moment she's munching grass,
the next moment she is playing with the dogs.
They chase each other round and round the walnut tree.
I've never seen a wild rabbit stop and get nose to nose with a dog before.
She is not intimidated by me in the least.
When I snapped this picture of her
she was literally at my feet and I was talking to her.
The begonia was the first delicacy she decided upon.
No worries however.
I made a quick trip to purchase some spray - on repellant.
Of course I made sure it won't harm any of the wildlife, especially
Miss Rosie.
We needed this hanging basket too.
The gorgeous color explosion just makes us both feel so happy.
The chives are something we planted several summers ago.
I love it when they start to bloom and sway around in the breeze.
Bobbing their tufted heads of soft, soft purple.
A few variety's of mint have lived happily next door to the chives
for many summers now too.
Even though we have to wait until almost the end of the season for it to bloom,
it does get some pretty purple blossoms.

These ancient lover's keep a watchful eye as the season's come and go,
while the birds dine at the feet.

Our little garden grows just beyond my side kitchen window
so when I sit at the table it's what I see.
While I eat, drink tea, knit and daydream,
I watch the dance of flowers in sunshine and rain,
remembering two sets of hands in the dirt,
side by side,
year after year,
growing older together,
and I am happy.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Homemade With Love

I spent the afternoon at my daughter Chelsea's house yesterday.
It's fun to be there when Gabby gets home from school
because she has a little brother who gets very excited.
He napped all afternoon but the moment she entered the door and her voice rang out,
there was another little voice calling out from the bedroom,
"Gabby, Gabby...
Sissy, Sissy...!!!"
He was happy to see his Grammy was there too but quite honestly
it's that Big Sister who really lights up his world!
He likes to pull out books from the corner cabinet
for her to read to him while he sits in the bottom shelf.
Notice Gabby is backed up to a gate.
That's her bedroom door.
The gate has to stay up or Parker will ransack her room.
He's pretty sure it's the
Promise Land
with all it's glitter and glory.

This is Archer and Parker taking a front row seat to the TV at Grammy's on Mother's Day.
I love capturing moments of the two of them together.
When we found out both our daughters were expecting babies so close to the same time
 we were absolutely thrilled.
Then to find out they were both Boys!
That was even more exciting.
It's wonderful to know they will grow up so close.
We all live within 10 minutes of each other.
My girls actually live on the same street.
I am so thankful for all of them.
I really do love being a Grammy.

One last thing today...
An old family recipe.
If you love chocolate and brownies,
this one's for you.

Fudge Pie

2 Eggs
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Butter {softened to room temperature}
3 Tablespoons {heaping} Hershey's Cocoa
1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla

Spray a glass pie plate with cooking spray.
Blend all ingredients together.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
Cool slightly but serve while still warm.

Enjoy with your favorite Cuppa!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Shabby Chic Bunny

This Sweet Shabby Chic Bunny just hopped onto my Shop today.
She's knitted from a beautiful Virgin Wool
that is what I would call a heathered oatmeal.
It is imported from Ireland and undyed.
This is the color of the lovely sheep who wore it first.
While knitting it up, I held the worsted weight yarn
double stranded to ensure no stuffing would peek through.
I gave her some pretty green embroidered eyes and a soft pale peach nose.
She's a bit dressed up in her rosy bow of cotton fabric.
Then there's that oh~so~cute tail.
I was so excited when Joanne contacted me to tell me
she had changed her policy and I was now allowed to
sell the bunnies made from her darling pattern.
Here's the link to her
where you can find the absolute cutest patterns.
Happy Day to You All!
I hope your Mother's Day was Beautiful!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Soothing My Spirit

Just one little pumpkin...
But I've already started knitting pumpkins for our annual
Fall Festival.
This year's Morton Pumpkin Festival
will be our 50th year.
The Anheuser Clydesdales will even be here
to help us celebrate by prancing down Main Street
in all their
beautiful glory.
I live on Main Street.
I am already excited!
There is much to be done.
Lots and lots of knitting and crocheting.
My friend Mary Anne, my cousin Kathy and I always have a booth together at the Craft Faire.
We work hard all year long to come up with new ideas and keep the classic old ones that we know customers love and will be returning for.
We realized last year that we have out grown just one booth space
so this year we will be filling two spaces for the first time.
Needless to say,
our hooks and needles are flying through the air at lightning speed.
It always seems out of season to me to knit pumpkins and other
Fall and Winter items throughout the Spring and Summer
but in order to be ready I have to work constantly on these
as well as trying to come up with new things
for my
that are appealing for warm weather months.
That's why people see things like pumpkins and fingerless mitts
popping up on my shop in the Summertime :-)
Truth be told,
as long as I'm knitting or crocheting,
I am happy.

"Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit,
and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either."
Elizabeth Zimmeramann

"As I get older, I just prefer to knit."
Tracey Ullman

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Breath of God

The Rain is finally sleeping,
so the Sun is wide awake.
It smiles through Clouds of cotton
as they float in Skies of blue.
Flowers sway and bob their heads,
 singing to the Bumblebee.
The Breeze whispers gently ...
I think it might be calling Me.
I smell the Breath of God
as it encompasses my soul.
And I know in this moment,
That I cannot let You go.

"Bless the Lord,
O my soul,
And all that is within me,
Bless His holy name."
Psalm 103:1

Monday, May 2, 2016

# Love This

Hobby Lobby is one of my favorite haunts.
This morning I made a trip over with my daughter Chelsea and my grandson Parker.
Of course I headed for the stamping aisle.
It's like a treasure trove of its very own to me.
I found these darling little tags that I plan to use for pricing
at my next Craft Fair.
The prices will be written underneath the stamped
{which I do just love}.

Parker felt the need to wear my jacket while we were there.
He was delighted with the length of the sleeves
but was certain the button holes were areas that were

Both of my grandsons were at my house
for awhile early this morning.

Archer & Parker

They are so cute when they're together.
It's a good start to my day.

"I love music of all kinds,
but there's no greater music
than the sound of my grandchildren laughing;
my kids, too."
Sylvia Earle

Sunday, May 1, 2016

A Morning Like This

May has entered my world softly.
The dogwood tree outside my kitchen window is just beginning
to open its lovely blossoms to the sky.
Though we have had more rain
and cooler temps than I prefer lately,
I know all will be well
now that May has finally
made her debut.

During the long Winter months
May and I are playmates
in Dreamland.
When I sleep at night
my dreams are always
filled with
warm days of
flowers dancing in the breeze.
I never dream of Winter.
My Spirit is a child within Me.
Always waiting...
For the return of my friend...
She carries with her the promise of beautiful days ahead.
Days full of breezes through open windows,
laughter on the porch swing,
and warm evening walks.
Even Rosie is happy in her usual morning spot
underneath the dogwood tree.
She makes a show of her morning grooming here so
can watch from her favorite kitchen window.
I have to love
A Morning Like This.

"When I first open my eyes upon the morning meadows
and look out upon the beautiful world,
I thank God I am alive."
Ralph Waldo Emerson