Merry Christmas

Christmas Village.JPG - larger

 

 

 


Sorry I could not find the original creator of this artwork to give credit, but it’s one of my favorite Christmas graphics.

 

 

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Coffee Thursday 4/13/17: The Story of Maxwell House Coffee

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One of my favorite coffees is Maxwell House. I also really enjoy Folger’s and one or two other brands. But my family and I used Maxwell House regularly for years.  One of my favorite places to live has always been Nashville, Tennessee, and, interestingly enough, Maxwell House coffee was born there.

A colonel by the name of John Overton, Jr. built a magnificent hotel in Nashville in 1869 and named it in honor of his wife, whose maiden name was Maxwell. Over the years, until it was destroyed by fire in 1961, that hotel hosted seven different Presidents of the U. S. , as well as many other famous persons.

About 23 years after the Maxwell House opened, a man by the name of Joel Owsley Cheek came to the Maxwell House to offer the owners his special-blend coffee. Joel Cheek had moved to Nashville from Kentucky, worked as a salesman for a wholesale grocery company, developed a serious interest in coffee, and eventually established his own coffee company and developed his own special blends. Believing he had a blend that was perfect for use at the Maxwell House Hotel, he offered them the opportunity to purchase from him.

The Hotel contracted to sell the coffee on trial for a period of time, and during that time so many of the visitors to the Maxwell House raved about the coffee that it became a house feature and gained a wide reputation. Cheek named it after the hotel. President Theodore Roosevelt is quoted as complimenting the coffee during his visit to the hotel in 1907, and it is he who is credited with the statement “It’s good to the last drop.” That simple sentence became the advertising slogan for Maxwell House Coffee for many years.

And, of course, the Maxwell House coffee, as a product of Cheek’s coffee company, went on to be sold nationwide and even further. Cheek acquired a partner named Neal, and eventually the Cheek Neal company was bought out by another company, which changed the name to Maxwell House Products Corporation (later changing to General Foods Corporation).

The Maxwell House Hotel now has a brand new home in Nashville (Millennium Maxwell House, Nashville), but the coffee is still the same great-tasting beverage it has always been. And it really is “good to the last drop.”

Now, just for the fun of it, I’ve thrown in two very old Maxwell House Coffee TV commercials.  (And don’t forget to share your own thoughts on coffee in a post on your blog, then leave us the link in a comment box below.)

 

 

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Mommy & Me: First Cooking Lesson

MOMMY & ME - COOKING -brightened

I surely do miss my mom, but I’m hoping at least some of her good qualities live on in me.

I think I remember my dad telling me (as he took the picture) to act like I was looking at something in the oven, but since our oven didn’t have a glass in the door, I just look a little bit stupid. Oh, well anything for a family photo.

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The Fragrance of Home

Exif JPEG
This morning I  poured myself a cup of tea — well, actually, it was a mug rather than a cup — and that’s what made the difference. This mug was very deep, and when I picked it up to take a drink, the aroma of the freshly brewed tea wafted up and into my nostrils, but then swept over me completely with memories almost as fresh as the tea itself.

Back when I was a child, then a teenager, than a very young adult, my family always worked together in the kitchen. Cooking, eating, and even cleaning up were activities that bonded us together, and gave us lovely opportunities to share events in our lives as well as our hopes and dreams — and our fears. My sister and I were able to talk with our parents about any topic under the sun, and there was never a problem we didn’t find help for in their love and wisdom. We were truly blessed.

But during those years, there were some events that seemed to lodge themselves into my soul more than others, and each one of them represents something special about my relationship with my family. One of those unique events was the preparing of the tea for our evening meals. During warm weather especially — and sometimes at other times of the year — we always had iced tea as our main drink at our evening meal. Mom would boil the water on the stove and then brew the tea (according to the Americanized custom, using tea bags) to just the right consistency so that when we poured it into the pitcher, we then added an equal amount of fresh water, and the strength and the color of the tea were perfect for pouring over ice.

However, before we poured in the extra water, we scooped in the sugar. Now, I have to tell you that I’m old enough that this project was carried on back in the day before everyone and his brother had gone crazy trying to stay away from ordinary staples like butter, eggs, and good old granulated sugar. So we always scooped in a hefty amount of that good old granulated sugar and stirred happily. By adding it before the extra water, the sugar melted very quickly and united thoroughly with the tea so that there was no residue left in the bottom of the pitcher.

During this whole exercise, the most prominent characteristic of the process was the rich aroma of that tea — as we stirred in the sugar, then added more water, and stirred some more. There was something so sweet and satisfying about that fragrance, and it has stayed with me all these many decades since. And every once in a while — just every once in a while — when I’m having just a cup of tea — the various elements of the moment — the temperature of the tea, the movement of the air, the strength of the brew, the position of the cup — whatever it is that makes the difference at the time — but just once in while, I get that aroma rising up and meeting me once again, and I am instantly taken back home.

My family lived in four different towns during my growing up years, and in about six different houses, but home was still always the same place: it was wherever my mom, dad, sister, and I were together. The name of the town or the street made no difference. It was the fact that we were together, sharing all the wonderful aspects of our lives — brewing the tea and enjoying its rich aroma — knowing that even when there were some problems facing us, we had each other and the safety of our love for one another.

So every time I smell that special sweet aroma of my tea (even though I do have it without sugar today), I am swept back to those days. I find myself in the kitchen with my mom, standing beside the cabinet, stirring the tea, and enjoying the happy aroma of a home filled with love.

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Writing 201: Poetry – Day 8 — Ode To Grandmother’s Engagement Ring

Today’s Prompt: Drawer.
Assignment. Write an ode based on this prompt, using the technique of apostrophe.

Okey-Dokey.

HANDS WITH ENGAGEMENT RING - GOLD

Ode To Grandmother’s Engagement Ring

Delicate band of gold,
Crested with a tiny crown of diamond,
Snuggled safely ‘neath sweet-scented hankies,
In the top drawer of my Grandmom’s chest.

Though your jewel is tiny,
It sparkles with a fire that doesn’t fade.
Decades have come and gone since you were given,
And decades more since you were laid to rest.

That day so long ago,
When Grandpop slipped you onto Grandmom’s hand,
Betrothing each to each in awesome love,
Their journey thus begun, they gave their best.

And from their love
Two generations more have now been giv’n
Those seeds of love, watered with their examples,
And generations more will soon be blessed.

Delicate band of gold,
Crested with your tiny crown of diamond,
I’ll hold you dear and treasure you my whole life,
The symbol of a love that passed the test.

 

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Ever Wish You Were a Wiener?

hot_dog
“Oh, I’d love to be an Oscar Meyer wiener.
That is what I’d truly like to be.
‘Cause if I were an Oscar Meyer wiener,
Everyone would be in love with me.”

This jingle kept running through my mind when I was up about 5:00 this morning. I couldn’t get rid of it, so I figured why fight it — blog about it.

Bet you’re hungry for a hot dog now, huh?????

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Pages Good Enough to Eat

It is no secret to any of my regular blogging friends that I LOVE Christmas. And one of my favorite sites on the entire Internet is the Vintage Christmas Catalog page:  http://www.wishbookweb.com/

I’m feeling a little sad right now because that page is going through some kind of technical problems (hopefully temporary) and cannot be accessed. So … alas … I must try to console myself. I figured the best way was to post a nice big picture of one of the candy pages from a 1957 Sears Canada Christmas Catalog. I especially like this particular page because it also features another of my favorite food groups: fruitcake.

 I hope all of you enjoy this yummy page as much as I do.

SEARS CANADA - 1957 - CANDY 2

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Friday Fictioneers – 6/14/13 — On Stage

Copyright -John Nixon
Copyright: John Nixon


ON STAGE

Cold sunlight glares through the high windows onto the scarred, wooden stage as I walk its length slowly. My old friend the upright just sits there – battered – bruised – silent.  No more music. A catch-all now for props from long-abandoned comic skits and love scenes.

Stark shadows punctuate the old, stained backdrop.

My footsteps once brought standing-room only audiences to their feet. Now, they echo across the emptiness.

Condemned,” the billboard reads!  They tear it down tomorrow.  

One sob escapes.

I inhale the dust and wonder: does it come from the room … or from my memories?

~~~

Join the 100-word story challenge over at Rochelle’s: http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/

‘Read’ Me A Story

Will you read me a story?” Just how many times I asked that question of parents and grandparents during my growing-up years I’ll never know. But ask it I did, because I loved stories. In fact, I loved the whole idea of someone being able to pick up a book of pages filled with letters, and being able to understand those letters to such an extent that they told a complete story that I could then understand and enjoy.

Reading. It was one of my fondest dreams and proudest accomplishments when still a very young child. Along with learning how to write those same letters on a page myself so that they would make sense for someone else. To say that I was fascinated with books would be an understatement indeed, and I have since spent my life pursuing the adventure of devouring written matter in virtually every form in which I could find it.

Now, in my middle-age season, as I work toward getting more of my own written work published, I’ve naturally been looking into all the various media currently available for getting written material into the hands of the public. With each passing day, I’ve become even more aware of the fact that I am now living on a new planet — Computer-World. Virtually every kind of transaction and correspondence is carried on via the internet, and even a good deal of our entertainment and recreation is now often found in the hallowed halls of the computer terminal.

But I’ve been especially concerned personally with understanding the whole electronic book media, since it is gaining more ground every year. One of the young men who was working with me a few years ago in the development of a publishing enterprise threw me for a loop when we were talking about my getting two or three manuscripts to him in order for him to help critique and edit the material. He suggested that I just send the manuscripts by e-mail. I looked at him in surprise and said, “But then you’d have to print them out yourself, because you wouldn’t want to have to sit in front of the computer to read whole books.” He gave me what I call a sympathetic but condescending look, smiled sweetly, and said, “We’re a new generation . . . we read off the screen.”

I’m sure my face registered my shock, and his words stayed with me for weeks after that conversation. (Now, I think I should add here, for the sake of any writers out there who are working on editing their work on the screen: Be sure you print out a hard copy of your manuscript and do at least one edit from that. Every good editor knows that you will inevitably find errors that simply do not come to your attention on the screen.) But back to my main thought:  I began to ask myself, “Is that what we’re coming to then … a time when nobody will want to pick up a book and hold it while they read the words printed on the pages?” Something deep down inside of me answered, “No.”

Shortly after that, I spent a couple of hours talking with the owner of three large independent bookstores, and I asked him if he thought there would be a total shift to electronic books soon. He said that he could see a slight swing in that direction, but he believed it would be another four or five years before it made any major difference. It’s now all those five years later, and it has made a definite difference, but it still hasn’t emptied the hardcopy bookshelves enough to see the dust on them.

So still the question has been hanging around in my head … and in my heart. I say in my heart because the idea had made me a little sad … like realizing that instead of sitting with friends and being able to touch them while you visited, you’d have to just listen to their voice over a phone line. There’s just something about picking up a book and holding it in your hands … feeling the weight of it … smoothing your fingers over the cover … whether it’s made of fine leather, soft paper, or some other material … it doesn’t matter … it’s a book. And then there’s the expectancy of opening it for the first time … or even the hundredth time … and moving through the pages, smelling the scent of paper and ink that no computer will ever be able to simulate.

Those experiences are the appetizers, leading me into the bountiful main course of the book itself, which is followed, of course, by the sense of being satisfied and replete at the end of a magnificent meal. Nothing else can quite compare to that sense of fulfillment and that gratified smile that accompanies the reading of the words, “The End” at the conclusion of a good book, and the feeling that I’ve truly completed something worthwhile when I close the back cover for the last time.

But then I thought, “That experience can’t be the only reason I prefer to hold a book while I read it.” And as I meditated on my reasons, I came to this conclusion: I enjoy television programs and movies; I see a real merit to using audio books if one has a vision problem, or is driving for long periods; and I can understand the value of e-books scrolling across my palm pilot if I’m sitting in a busy airport or bus terminal and don’t want the fuss of several heavy books to carry. However, it’s a fact that when I’m actually holding the book in my own hands and reading the material, I’m somehow absorbing what I’m reading and becoming a part of it more completely than I do when I’m just looking at the words or actions on a screen.

Then I began to think about how blessed I feel to be able to walk into a bookstore or a library and let my eyes feast on aisle after aisle of shelves covered in beautiful books. I thought about all of the excitement and joy of choosing from all of that bounty and wanting to hurry home, quickly getting other chores out of the way, so that I can sit down and open my treasure and … read.

So I’ve decided: No, I don’t believe that any other media will ever totally replace reading a real book. No other media will ever be able to give the joy and total gratification that is ours when we hold a book and let our eyes search out and devour what resides within it. Or when our children or grandchildren cuddle up with us and lean in close to see for themselvesthose printed words that make the special magic when we “read them a story.”

So now, although I’m going with the flow – Facebooking, blogging, online news reporting, and formatting my own books for digital readers – I’m also committing myself to help the “new generation of screen-readers” to discover and understand the unique satisfaction and thrill of picking up a book and reading it. I’m making it my job to encourage them not to get so involved with trying to get in touch with their computer that they get out of touch with books. Even those friends of mine who feels that man’s best friend is the “mouse” can benefit from taking a break and picking up a book.

So let me offer this personal invitation to one and all. Take some time to visit your nearest library or bookstore and wander through the aisles of beautiful books. Choose one; take it home; sit down in a comfortable chair and prop your feet up. Smooth your hands over the cover a few times; smell that sometimes new — sometimes musty — but always unique scent of a book. Open the cover, and turn the page. Give yourself the gift that no one else can give you: read a REAL book!

 

Longing For Them Now

A poem by Sandra Conner

Bright flashes of blissful moments,
Fluttering pages of Christmas memories.
Drifting through my mind.
Pages of memories of childhood beam
With living, expectant Christmas dreams.
Longing for them now.

Remembering how each page was able to ignite
My imagination, which brought each one to life.

Oh happy, happy days!
Bright daydreams & wishes,
Make-believing magic,
Found within the pages –
The Christmas catalogs.

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(Visit this link and get lost in the hundreds of pages of nostalgic Christmas catalogs that span a period of 6 decades.

http://www.wishbookweb.com/)

 

 

 

That Old Christmas ‘Wish Book’

A couple days ago, I found myself feeling nostalgic in a “Christmasy” sort of way: I was wishing I could pick up some of the old Christmas catalogs that I used to lose myself in back in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. When I say “lose myself,” that’s exactly what I mean. My sister and I used to practically live for the day the Christmas catalogs arrived, and we could be found, from that day to Christmas, “living” in those pages — dreaming, wishing, and make-believing.

So I decided to search the Internet, and to my great joy came across this site.

(Link below). It offers the complete Christmas catalogs from several different companies for the 1930’s through the 1980’s. OH THE JOY!!! Not only did I delight in looking at all those pages of my favorite things — including fancy house shoes, matching pajamas for the whole family, toy trains, record players, and all kinds of sweet confections — but I actually discovered some things that had been a part of my life during those years. I found a set of coffee mugs that some good friends of ours had owned and used for years. I also found a multi-colored vest that I really had ordered from the catalog and worn for years. When I told my sister about the site, she started spending time there and discovered the page showing a doll and doll bed that Mom and Dad had ordered for her from that particular catalog.
Well, as you can imagine, I have been back several times, and will make many more visits before the big day gets here.

This site loads the entire catalog of each issue — hundreds of pages in thumbnail size which enlarge to full-page size when you click on them. I felt sure that some of the rest of you, when you were kids, must have felt that special thrill when the Christmas catalogs came out each year. So I’m sharing this link with you for old time’s sake.  Enjoy!

http://www.wishbookweb.com/