Try something new for Thanksgiving this year! Read on and I'll tell you how.
I recently saw Ina Garten on "60 Minutes". She has a cooking show on the Food Network. When she was interviewed, she said something to the effect that if you're not having fun with your cooking and entertaining, then why do it? I agree. As another old commercial used to say, "You only go around once in life. You gotta grab for all the gusto when you can." Anyway, something to that effect, but I so agree. Put a little spark in your Thanksgiving get-together. Maybe these suggestions can help.
The first one I'm going to try this year is this questionnaire. I got this from a blog--the link is at the end of my blog. I have rarely had an original idea--I get my ideas from everywhere. And these days, there's a wealth of information and ideas on the internet. One only has to go exploring. I intend to put this questionnaire at everyone's place setting. Instead of the usual round-robin of everyone telling something they're grateful for, they have to fill out this brief questionnaire. Then they share one or two items or the entire list. This list delves a little deeper than the usual items one might think of. And I think that's a good thing. And I like the sharing with your family and friends.
This you wouldn't have to do. I'm just adding it here as we keep a "Big Book of Thanksgiving." In that book, I write what everyone said regarding their statements of gratitude. Then I add it to this scrapbook I keep it solely on Thanksgiving each year. I've been doing it since my grandkids were little. Every year we get it out, and Poppa reads the list from the previous year. As I said, this is just our tradition.
But wait! There's more! In my search on Pinterest, I also found "Conversation Starters" for your Thanksgiving table. I know these are often printed on individual cards and everyone takes one when it's your turn. I'm doing a variation of that, and asking each person only two questions, and everyone gets the same two questions: "What do you admire about the person on your left?" And the second question is, "Why is the person on your right important to you?" We have a family tradition of passing the Navajo talking stick around, and when it comes to you, you have to name something you are grateful for. This year I've added those two questions to our talking stick, so when the stick comes to you, you answer those questions about people on your left and right.
It's such a wonderful holiday--a time to count our blessings if you will. And yes, often people express gratitude for their family, but here's a chance with those two questions to be more specific in your love and gratitude. I've done such table talk before and my daughter-in-law does it fairly routinely at their dinner table. It's such a great bonding time, and a time to learn about and appreciate each other.
And there you have it! Two more ideas for customs to add to your Thanksgiving celebration. The little kids can do this too. Even if they can't write on their cards, an adult can read the questions to them and they can respond. What little kid wouldn't like to tell their grandma that they love their hugs. And what grandma wouldn't want to hear that! It's all good. Just adds to your many, many blessings. Give it a try! And happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
Blog with a Thanksgiving questionnaire:
Blog with conversation starters:
Blog with Thanksgiving table talk:
My blog about our "Big Book of Thanksgiving."
I'm always looking for ideas for what to do with all those photos on my cell phone. I've done blogs about it before, and there are some great ideas out there. This week I found creating luminarias with your photos. I like this idea for my fall decor, and also to send these photos to my mother-in-law and my grands' great-grandmother. I think she will enjoy them as well.
I decided on an autumn theme. I like to send her a fall-inspired care package. And she loves photos of her grands. What grandparent doesn't? So here is my step-by-step routine:
And that's it! Cut out those photos that you ran off on the vellum, and using Mod Podge, glue them on the glass candle holder. Easy as can be. Because they are Halloween photos, I think the luminaria idea is a good one, and lends itself to these spooky Halloween photos.
But wait! There's more! My grandson and I have been using those cell phone photos for note cards. They are a great use for them as well. My daughter-in-law used to use them for note cards and thank-you cards. I've started using those photos as well. As I said, my grands' great-grandmother always loves photos and notes and letters, so we combined those two ideas. Perhaps you can too. Here are two examples:
And there you have it, grandparents! Ideas using all those photos on your phone. We've got to use them for something! Note cards and lumininarias are great ideas. If you have other ideas, please send them to me. I love to share. That's what it's all about.......live and learn and pass it on.
Until next week!
It happened again. I was doing research on family histories, and discovered an online article about writing a brief history on a piece of furniture and taping it to the bottom of that piece or in a drawer. I thought this was such a good idea and wanted to share with my readers.
I'm sure it's happened to you. You have guests in your home, and they ask about a piece of art or furniture and you relate the story behind it. Or you tell your grandkids those stories. And we've all visited a friend's home and they delighted in telling you where they got the painting or that their grandfather made that particular piece of furniture. This article said to just write a brief history of that piece and tape it to the back Why let those stories get lost? Besides, can't you just hear the conversation of your kids and grandkids as they go through your things after you're gone? Why did mother save this? If there is a history stapled to the back, they will know. They may still give it to Goodwill, but at least you shared the history or sentimental value.
I'm sorry to be so simplistic in my descriptions, but I'm a visual learner and it's easier if I can SEE what one is talking about. I approach this blog the same way. So here is a pictorial description.
And there you have it. Whether your children and grandchildren actually keep the art or furniture, at least they will know the history. Another way to go if you don't want to damage the piece by stapling or taping a tag in it or on it, is to take a picture of it, and place it, along with the brief history, in a binder. That might be much easier. A friend told me that she was taking a photo of her jewelry and other pieces to be passed down and putting the name of the recipient. If you've had any kin request a piece, that's another thing to include in your photo binder.
Lastly, humor me on this one. When my mother passed, and we went through her house, my brother requested her sewing machine. It's an electric sewing machine and certainly not an antique, so we wondered why he wanted it. It was because that was his favorite place to do his homework growing up. So it reminded him of home and his mom.
I still have the chair that went to my middle son's bedroom furniture and desk. And yes, that's where he did his homework....sitting in that chair at his desk. So indeed, I'm putting the history on an index card under that chair. You just never know. Someday one of his kids might want it and tell their kids, that's where your granddad did his homework.
We all have these stories. Perhaps something you and your husband purchased on your honeymoon. What a treasure. My sister still has the dining table and chairs that she and her husband bought early on in their marriage--I think they had it on layaway, and it was such a treat when they could finally bring it home. What you write about doesn't have to be an antique--just that it has a history to you and your family. Share those stories.
"This was something sure to be crammed with warm secrets, like an antique clock built when peace filled the world." Haruki Murakami
Last week I wrote about different ideas for journals besides, "Dear Diary." In exploring journal topics, I discovered "doodling journals." I've also been toying around with Nataly Kogan's idea for a "Morning Bliss Practice." She describes it as setting aside 15-20 minutes each morning for something artistic--even if you think you're not artistic. That's not the point; the point is rather just some time of zen. I realized these two ideas can come together--a doodling journal that you grab in the morning to just draw and doodle away. And what better place than in a journal. Kogan got her idea from Joseph Campbell's idea of a Bliss Station, which he describes as a time or place that's just your own--a place where you can shut out the world. So there you have it--a SMASH UP of those two ideas. A quiet place where you can go and doodle in a journal.
*Joseph Campbell describes a bliss station in his book, The Power of Myth. He says, "You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen." I'm thinking that one might ascertain that he was talking about writing, but I like Nataly Kogan's idea wherein she says, "Give yourself 20 minutes. Do something your inner most being feels is blissful, joyful." She further adds, "I love thinking about this as a practice. Something you intentionally do every day."
I happen to think this is a great idea for ANYBODY--not just writers or artists. When the news of this old world is so unsettling, we all need this quiet time and place. And a zen practice, whether it be crocheting, knitting, quilting, sewing, sketching, and yes, even doodling.
I think I discovered this idea of a bliss station during the pandemic. We were home-schooling our grandson, and I knew the importance of inserting music and art into our day. Adney loved the quiet art time, whether he was drawing or coloring one of the above coloring books. They are not the traditional coloring books of our youth--they are more like the adult coloring books you see today, but with pictures that appeal to kids. We BOTH looked forward to what we called our art time.
But wait! There's more. I also have something else you can put in your doodling journal. Zentangles! I discovered zentangles on Pinterest. My friends were pinning a lot of zentangle patterns, and I was intrigued. So I went exploring. I just copy various zentangle patterns from miscellaneous websites, but you can do a search on youtube and there are videos on there that will give you step by step instructions. I don't actually have a doodling notebook (but I may start one), but I draw my zentangles in my prayer book. I use them to embellish my prayer requests and favorite verses. Just drawing them is a prayer or meditation in themselves. Zentangles might be the way you'd rather go, than a color book.
And there you have it! A SMASH UP of two ideas I've seen recently--a doodling journal and a morning bliss station. This old world doesn't seem to be getting simpler. It's getting more and more complicated and more stressful--even for us retirees. I think we all need a bliss station and a doodling journal. These two can help in these difficult times.
Please note: The idea for a morning bliss practice came from Nataly Kogan. I follow her on Instagram. Here is her website as well:
Have a lot of empty journals around your house that were gifts from friends and family? What to do with those?
I was on Pinterest and a title of a blog crossed my feed: "Empty Journals Cluttering Your House--Fill Them Up with These 30 Ideas." It was from the "Learning to Be Free" blog, and I'll include the link at the end of my blog. It's a good one for ideas. I'm afraid I'm one of those people who has a TON of journals, and over the years, I've found a use for every one of them.
First the list that I culled from the previously mentioned blog and other blogs on the internet:
"Things I Learned Today" journal~
What is it that meme that's going around says? Something like....you're never too old to dream a new dream or make a new plan. I would add, it's never too late to learn something new. I like this idea for a journal. At the end of the day, one could write at least one new thing you learned. My husband and I recently retired our CD player and got a Sonos. Needless to say, we had a lot to learn about that. But it's good for us--gets our brain cells clicking. And just like starting a gratitude journal, when you have such a journal, it makes you consider all the things that made you happy on any given day. I would think the same thing would be true of a "What I Learned Today" journal. It makes you stop and think about something you learned that day.
"Travel Plans" journal~
This is a little different from a travel journal wherein you record your experiences when traveling. This is actually all the plans--where you want to go, list of hotels, airline ticket costs, what to pack, weather forecasts, etc. I read once that even just PLANNING a trip tickles the happiness part of your brain--even if you never get to go. Just the planning can be worlds of fun. We should all try this.
I'm not the gardener in my family. I don't keep such a journal. But my husband is a gardener and keeps a gardening journal and a record of everything he plants, where he planted it in any given year, and when to plant. I'm sure all you gardeners out there keep such a journal.
More ideas for journals.
I'll share my list of journals I keep. I do this because there might be some things in my list you haven't thought about. I used to keep a notebook by my computer to jot down anything I wanted to remember, such as a recipe or prayer request. I told a friend that I sincerely wanted to say a prayer for any friends who requested such, but that the request would get lost in my notebook and I would forget. She told me that she kept a journal specifically for prayer requests. That way she could always find the request. So that's what I do now. And for that reason I share my list of journals--perhaps it will give you an idea for a journal just as Beth's suggestion helped me. Live and learn and pass it on, I always say. :)
Random thoughts on my journals~
Memory journal? I actually don't keep a memory journal. I simply have a section of my date book called, "I want to remember..." It's just a list, and I might add something I want to remember such as something one of my grandkids said or did, a lunch date, a celebration, a news item. You know the drill and I'm sure it's happened to you. You'll relate something that your kid or grandkid said, and someone invariably says, "You should write that down." In a memory journal, you can!
Bird journal? I have a backyard bird feeder and I like watching the birds who visit. My friend gave me a journal one year, and apologized, saying something like....I'm afraid I always give you journals. A pretty goldfinch visited my feeder, and I thought.....that's it! I'll use the journal Kathy just sent me to record observances and pictures of my birds.
Favorite quotes journal? I use it to share favorite quotes with friends, either in correspondence or birthday cards.
Gratitude journal? Once again, I don't actually keep such a journal. It is a section of my datebook that I've written the phrase, "I am thankful for." It's just in list form and I can turn to that section and jot down something I'm grateful for on any given day.
A Book of Suggestions? I didn't mention this in my list of journals, and I really don't keep such a journal, although lately I'm feeling a need to do so. Right now it's a section of my daily journal, and in that section I can record books friends have recommended or movies, TV shows, and music.
Books, journals, diaries, lists--they put order in your life. As I always say, this is a blog for grandparents. We've all come to that time in our life where we are very reflective on our lives, A journal is a great place to record those thoughts. We've also come to a time where our short-term memory is not what it was. Keeping lists in an organized fashion and where you can find them is a good idea.
I hope this blog this week gives you some ideas or inspires you to keep a journal.
Until next week, happy grandparenting!
Blogs with ideas for journals:
Blogs I've written about journaling:
Last week's blog was about telling your family's stories, recording them in a mini-book format, and then putting all those little books in a box. A box of family history if you will. Another way to go is simply a scrapbook. The books are readily available in stores or online, and there are tons of clipart and stickers to jazz up those books as well.
While I am doing a box of family stories, I am also doing a scrapbook of my life. It's just about me, and my life experiences. So I thought taking a peek inside my scrapbook might inspire you to do a scrapbook about yourself or about all those rich family stories from the past. Sometimes when you see what someone else has done, you realize that you can do that too! And rest assured, I know most of your books will be ever so much better than mine. I'm just not that creative. But let's proceed!
Before I continue by showing you examples, I would just like to appeal to you again to tell your stories. Doesn't matter how much you know, just seeing their family portrait or their wedding photo makes those ancestors come alive for your kids and grandkids. Online I saw a scrapbook of old family photos, and the creator had simply put 'before' and 'after' pictures on that page. Perhaps you have a old photo of your grandmother as a baby. On the same page, you can post a current picture of her. Title the photos, "Then and Now." It's all about making those old photos and people in a box come alive! So here we go!
Don't forget to include artifacts or documents if you've got them. My husband has a ton of documents and printed memorabilia in his scrapbook on his family. He has deeds, receipts, loan applications, old schoolbooks and church songbooks. He even has the menu from the ship that his parents sailed on from England to America! If you've got such things, put them in your scrapbook.
And ESSAYS! Don't forget to include a short essay or bio on any family member you place in your book. Future generations will want to read about them. Include anything and everything to make that person come alive!
And that's it! In a former blog, I posted a photo of a friend and her daughters and granddaughters poring over their grandmother's box of memorabilia. You could sense their great interest even from the photograph. I'm sure you've had this experience when looking at old-time family photos. You'll hear people say things like, "Look how handsome he was." Or, "Wow! She looks just like Aunt Martha!" Simply looking at the photos with their names and relationships makes those people come alive to the generations.
And creating a scrapbook is such a great hobby! If you're looking for a new hobby, this is a great one. Until next week, stay cool and collected!
I visit lots of ancestry sites, and when I visited "Teach Me Genealogy" to get ideas for recording our family's stories, I saw this wonderful opening statement. I have to share the poem, and I will share the web address at the end of this blog--it's a good one.
Yes, I'm at it again--creating little mini-books on our family's ancestors and putting them in a box. This oppressive Texas heat has me staying inside and returning to my crafts and writing. Most of my readers (I'm guessing since it's a "grandmothers' blog") are my age, and we're at a stage in our lives wherein we want to tell OUR stories and those of our parents and grandparents. Our children and grandchildren should know these stories. The way I've chosen to do it, is with little mini-books, but there are endless ways to record those stories. I plan to cover all the ways to do it in future blogs. Stay tuned.
But I have to show you the old photo my husband found that so intrigued me. Take a look at this guy, my husband's Great-uncle Charlie. How can you not want to include him in a box or scrapbook of ancestor stories? Here he is:
I'll admit, we didn't know much about him. But as we researched, two important facts came to light. He was able to purchase a car in 1917, and he died in the Great Pandemic of 1918. Now while that might not seem important to you, I realized I wanted my grandkids to read about that. They study the invention of the automobile in school, as well as the terrible world-wide pandemic of 1918. By recording Uncle Charlie's story, those wouldn't be just myriad facts in a history book. They actually had ancestors who died in that pandemic or lost loved ones. And buying a car in the early days of the automobile industry was no small feat. Uncle Charlie, who farmed in Oklahoma and Texas, was able to afford one.
By telling these stories, I want my children and grandchildren and great grandchildren to know that their forebears quite often suffered through hardships and difficult times. And they made it! Children need to know they come from strong stock, and no matter their own difficulties, they can survive those things too.
Lastly, my mini-books--the format I've chosen to record my stories and my ancestor stories. It works for me as quite often, I don't have a lot to tell about some of these people. I taught with a woman who would often include the item "Fun," in her rubric for an assigned project or piece of writing. I liked that. She tried to convey to her students that they should make it fun, make it eye-catching, include something to entice their readers to want to pick it up and read it. As I said, I liked that. I liked the idea of my grand kids going through my story box--such a fun concept. And choosing a mini-book that caught their eye! I've done a blog about these mini-books before, but here are some photos to recap. I've also included a youtube video with instructions on how to make these little books. If you're a grandmother looking for a new craft, these are quite fun!
And those websites as promised:
Need ideas for a final summer craft with your youngster before they head back to school? Actually I think these are so cool that parents and grandparents could do these themselves. Maybe place the finished product on the patio or along the backyard fence.
We keep our youngest grandson during the day in the summer while his dad is working. Adney and I are often looking for a craft. These "sticks" caught our eye on Pinterest. I wish I could give you a website for these, but alas, there was no one to credit.
So we did our own version of the project. You'll need 1x1 wooden sticks (36 inches in length) from the craft store or lumber supply. You'll also need paint, various embellishments, paint pens, and twine to be used for hanging their masterpiece.
What is it they say? A picture is worth a thousand words. Probably not used in this context, but I'll let my pictures talk you through the rest of this craft.
And there you have it! A fun craft for your kids, grands, or great-grands. And a fun craft for adults too! We have to do something to get us through these dog days of summer.
You know the saying, "Enjoy yourself. It's later than you think!" And it couldn't be more true about that precious time with your grandkids.
Craft fun for the Fourth of July!
And it's not just for kids. I write this blog for grandparents and their grands, but these crafts can be done just by grandparents. If your kids are out-of-town or just unavailable, there is no reason grandparents can't do these on their own. It's too darn hot in Texas to be going outside, so if you're looking for a craft to do inside, these might be the ticket!
What was it John Adams said about Independence Day? "I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival...It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade..." And this from the Pennsylvania Evening Post on July 5, 1777, "About noon all the armed ships and rallies in the river were drawn up before the city, dressed in the gayest manner, with the colors of the United States and streamers displayed." And that's what I try to do at my house--dress it in the happiest style, with red, white and and blue and streamers displayed! And I love to involve my grandkids in this endeavor. This year we did another craft. Instructions follow.
Red, White and Blue Wall Hanging.
The first craft we did was the star door or wall hanging pictured above. It is made of popsicle sticks and raffia ribbon. It's pretty straight forward--create the stars from craft sticks, paint them in patriotic colors, and attach to raffia streamers. My grandson is eight years old, so this was a fairly easy craft for him.
You'll need these supplies: acrylic outdoor paints in red, white and blue, raffia ribbon, a hot glue gun, and craft sticks.
It was a fun activity. After we made three patriotic hangings, we sent one in the mail to his great grandmother; we delivered one to his favorite great-aunt who lives here in town, and then we presented his dad with one to be displayed on their front porch.
Next up--a 4th of July porch display!
Wooden firecrackers just for the fun of it!
Another straight forward task. His grandfather used a leftover wooden cedar post (from a fencing project) for this patriotic display. Adney couldn't help with the sawing of the posts, but everything else, he did, from the painting to the shopping for ribbon and sparklers.
This craft requires one cedar post cut by an adult in various lengths. You'll also need silk ribbon in red, white and blue, paints in those same colors, and some sparklers
Many blessings to doing this craft with your grandkids (or sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, friends and other relatives). Decorating your home shows to your grandchildren the importance of love for your country and the blessings and freedoms we enjoy here. It's such a great bonding time when you can do some craft or art activity with them. They tend to share their thoughts and feelings during this time of working together. It shows them you value their expertise and opinion when you take them to the craft store to pick out any items you might need. And I try not to do any craft "in and of itself." I always try to provide an avenue for them to share their finished product with others. We usually send our crafts to his great-grandmother and other family members.
Happy Fourth of July, everyone! Celebrate and festoon your own home the way our forefathers suggested!
We all have memories to share. Let's do this!
It happened again. There was an article in a local newspaper about sharing and preserving your story as well as your family's stories. And then a fabulous story on "60 Minutes" about StoryCorps which seeks to record videos of people telling their stories in order to preserve this informal history. It put me in a mind to continue writing stories of my time on this earth.
You might be thinking--who wants to read my story? Plenty of people do! We need to do this for our children, our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren, our nieces and nephews, and beyond. And everyone, EVERYONE, has a story to tell.
A list of questions to answer seems a good way to begin.
Several years ago, my son and daughter-in-law gave me a book to begin to write my story. It's entitled, Legacy, A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Personal History by Linda Spence. (I notice it's still available on Amazon.) Now you can find sites online with questions for you to answer, but they are often generic and don't go much further than, "Where were you born?" Or where did you go to high school." That's fine and that's a start, but this book and other online sites go a little deeper and ask questions that are much more fun to answer.
A sample list of questions that dig a little deeper~
I cannot stress this enough. Someone will want to read your stories.
I was once at a dinner party in Round Rock, Texas, The hostess had just received an old letter from a relative that was quite a treasure, and she shared it with us. It was a letter from one of her ancestors who had fought at San Jacinto with Sam Houston! Now I realize most of us won't be sharing events like that in our memories, but I've loved my husband's family letters on life on the farm here in Texas in the early 1900's. I repeat.......someone will love reading your letters or memoirs. Take a look at this picture from a friend as her children and grandchildren read their great grandmother's letters.
It's a fairly quiet January, and many of us have some time to spare. Write your memories, or add to your memories. It's good exercise for your brain! Let's do this:
O Book described above, and it's a good one: Legacy~A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Personal History by Linda Spence.
O Article from the Houston Chronicle on preserving your stories:
O Online article with useful questions to answer in order to write your personal essays:
O One of my previous blogs about writing your story:
Retired school teacher and now full time grandmother sharing ideas and looking for new ones about grandparenting!