7 12, 2022

Pearl Harbor Remembrance

By |2022-12-06T10:10:17-06:00December 7th, 2022|Holidays, Wednesday Words of Wisdom|0 Comments

Today is the 81st Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor Attack, the day known as a Day of Infamy.

Long before I was born (and probably before most of you were born) on this day in 1941, Japanese fighter planes attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, Hawaii.

The day after the surprise attack Congress approved President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s request to declare war on Japan with only one dissenting vote.

Then three days later, Germany and Italy also declared war on the United States. Congress reciprocated. America had finally entered the fray known as World War II.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.” Our national history (and many of our personal histories) changed that day forever. Fathers, husbands, boyfriends, sons, and daughters went off to fight the war. Brave soldiers who answered the call.

My father did.

My uncle did.

So did my father’s sister.

Let’s take a minute this Pearl Harbor Day to remember those men who Tom Brokaw duped the Greatest Generation.

Men who willingly gave their all to provide protection and security to our nation and the world.

5 12, 2022

Christmas Stockings – Tradition and Legacy

By |2022-12-04T10:20:59-06:00December 5th, 2022|A Writer's Life, Holidays|1 Comment

Why do we hang stockings at Christmas? The origin of the tradition comes from a folkloric story. The Cliff Notes version goes like this:

A kindly Saint Nicholas learned of a penniless widower with three daughters and no dowry for them. St. Nick came to the widower’s house and filled his three daughters’ stockings, hanging on the fireplace to dry, with gold coins.

Different versions, each with its own twist, have continued to fuel Christmas decorating for hundreds of years. You can read more details here.

Our family’s Christmas stocking tradition started with my Irish grandmother, who made stockings for each of her grandchildren.

Every Christmas morning we’d go over to her house to find Santa had left our stockings. We never questioned why there and not at our house. Instead, on Christmas morning we piled in the car with our mother and went to her house to find our stockings stuffed with small gifts like jewelry or nail clippers, an orange, an apple, Hersey kisses, pecans, almonds, walnuts, and Brazil nuts.

The orange supposedly represented the gold coins the three impoverished girls found. The nuts, I think, were merely filler. I never ate them as a child.

That ritual continued until I got married. Then Grandmother made a stocking for my husband soon to be followed by three more for our children.

We always hung the stockings and opened them on Christmas morning along with “Santa” gifts from under the tree. Because we never lived nearby, we never got to continue the stockings at grandmother’s house tradition.

Time passed and our children married and had children. We’d lost Grandmother so making Christmas stockings fell to me.

I made four stockings for children’s spouses and twelve grandchildren. Plus, a couple for nieces and nephews.

Our grandchildren started getting married which meant more stockings to make for spouses and three great-grandchildren. I’ve made seventeen!

Grandmother would never make stockings for pets. I couldn’t say no and have stockings for granddogs and grandbunnies.

She’d shortened long names like Stephanie Jean, to the initials S.J., which troubled my youngest all her life. Remembering how she felt, I don’t shorten names on stocking instead I substitute nicknames like Alex for Alexander and Theo for Theodore. I’m hoping the guys won’t mind when they’re older.

Making Christmas stockings is a labor of love, a family tradition, and this Nana’s Christmas legacy.

2 12, 2022


By |2022-12-01T19:10:36-06:00December 2nd, 2022|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|1 Comment

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

I have a tendency not to take things very seriously – including myself.  Perhaps it started in my first music education class when the teacher told us to leave our inhibitions at the door.  During that semester we danced, played, sang, and played instruments as if we were school children.

At that moment I knew I had chosen the right career.

I realized as we spent time with our children last week, that I just might have passed on some of those goofy traits.  I went shopping with Rachel and we ended up with Thanksgiving headbands.  She is, after all, a kindergarten teacher!

Catherine is a mother of two, a private oboe teacher, and a professional musician.  We took family pictures at Thanksgiving.  My favorite part of the picture is this:

I am wearing pumpkin pie socks and she is wearing Christmas socks.

I suppose I could leave a more serious legacy…. Nah.  This is much more fun.

Matt and Brian do not always join in the goofiness.  Someone has to keep order.  I’m just glad it isn’t me.

28 11, 2022

Is It Time to Pitch Your Turkey Leftovers?

By |2022-11-27T16:58:25-06:00November 28th, 2022|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

If you live in the U.S., you probably sat down at a Thanksgiving table loaded with enough food to feed a third-world country for a week.

We sure did. And we had leftovers.

For me, leftovers are the best part of Thanksgiving. I love the smell of the stripped carcass simmering with onions and celery in our traditional turkey brown rice soup on Black Friday.

With only two of us now, cooking the whole turkey carcass into soup is too much. This year’s bare Tom Turkey bones went with a granddaughter and her growing family. Instead, we took enough slices of turkey for sliders on Black Friday.

I’m guessing many are still moving leftover turkey or dressing or sweet potatoes around in your refrigerators to eat next week…but is that safe?

It depends upon how long the leftovers sat before being stored. Did you refrigerate perishable foods quickly after your meal?

If not, it may be time to pitch the leftovers or risk foodborne illness – isn’t that a lovely way to say food poisoning?

Bacteria don’t typically change the taste, smell, or look, you can’t tell until the nasty germs attack your digestive tract. Happily, most cases of food poisoning can be prevented with proper food handling.

According to this Forbes article, you should follow these six guidelines for leftover food storage,

  1. Store leftovers within two hours of serving.
  2. Use clean airtight containers or wrapping
  3. Remember the three-to-four-day limit for refrigeration of leftovers.
  4. Froze the leftovers? Remember the three-to-four-month limit for freezers.
  5. Check refrigerator temperature is 40° Fahrenheit or lower.
  6. Heat leftovers to at least 165° Fahrenheit before eating.

My advice, check any leftovers, Thanksgiving or otherwise before you eat them. Better safe than sorry.

21 11, 2022

Thanksgiving Blessings

By |2022-11-15T15:57:16-06:00November 21st, 2022|Holidays|0 Comments

The American holiday is not celebrated in Ireland. Likely as not, my Irish forefathers never heard of an attitude of gratitude. All the same so many Irish blessings and quotations show a deep awareness of the importance of showing appreciation for our blessings.This is one of my favorites:

“Hem your blessings with thankfulness,

So they don’t unravel.”

Chicken Wrangler Sara and I will be gathering with our family this week to count our blessings. See you next week.

18 11, 2022

Duck Ears

By |2022-11-14T10:31:11-06:00November 18th, 2022|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Roosters have the reputation of being the noisiest birds on the farm. However, the ducks on Miller farm are really loud. A friend told me it sounds like they are laughing. I try to remember that when they annoy me.

The amazing thing is they seem to know when I open the back door and they start “laughing.” This gets the chickens started causing quite a cacophony at 6:00 in the morning.

I was wondering aloud if ducks have ears when Beekeeper Brian informed me that ducks actually have good hearing. This explains the effectiveness of duck calls in the hands of hunters. It makes perfect sense.

So then, I wondered what a duck ear looks like. I had to look at pictures because the ducks were not cooperating when I tried to examine their heads.

  I saw nothing resembling ears.

So I did what any tech-savvy person would do and googled “do ducks have ears?”  Up popped the article “Understanding Waterfowl:  The five senses.”

According to this article “Waterfowl ears lack external appendages and are located slightly behind and below the eyes. The ear openings are covered with soft feathers, called auriculars, which offer protection and help muffle the sound of the wind when the birds are in flight.”

Very interesting! Now that I have learned something new today, can I go back to bed?

14 11, 2022

Gratitude begins with Thankfulness

By |2022-11-14T07:25:56-06:00November 14th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Blogging about thankfulness and gratitude in November is cliché.

On the other hand, there’s no better time than the month when our nation pauses for a whole day to give thanks.

Ralph Waldo Emerson suggested we should “cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.”

Here are two ideas that can help focus an attitude of thankfulness.

Use social media

Author friend Daphne Dyer is doing 30 Days of Gratitude posts this month. She suggests daily topics and gives her answers. Check out her posts on Facebook for daily gratitude inspiration.

Another friend Shelia Athens uses every Thursday to share gratitude posts all year.

Keep a gratitude list.

It can be hard to think of something to be thankful for, especially when those terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days gang up. Research shows over time the act of physically writing out a daily list can produce a grateful attitude.

Writing’s not for you? Try grateful beads to help recall things to be thankful for.

I use a string of ten beads. Three beads remind me to be grateful for three people who touch my life. Six beads for six things, events, and occurrences, and the final bead reminds me to give thanks to our creator.

There are many options on Etsy  Pinterest also has lots of ideas.

I discovered an M&M thankful game. Pick a color, name something I’m thankful for, and eat the M&M. Now that’s a game I can get into. Bring on the M&Ms.

Being grateful is a choice. Wouldn’t it be lovely to seek out things to be thankful for daily rather than only one day or one month per year?

11 11, 2022


By |2022-11-03T18:25:36-05:00November 11th, 2022|Uncategorized|1 Comment

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

I am not sure there is a rougher week for teachers than the week of Halloween. And if Halloween is on a Monday, as it was this year, the week stretches into almost two weeks.

Our Fall Festival was on Friday then they had a Haunted House at the school on Monday evening. We are still feeling the effects two days later.

In times like these, I find myself doing more correcting than cheering.

As I greeted students this morning, I noticed one of my “happy notes” in the outside pocket of a backpack.  These are just small pieces of paper with a positive message that I hand out to kids who have done a good job in music. It made me smile. I forget how much it means to students to be recognized.

In a culture that gives trophies for everything, sometimes just a small note can make a huge difference.

I am determined to look for students doing a good job from now on. It is an important reminder as we head into more weeks of craziness between now and Christmas.

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