Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Curl up in a keepsake

A lap quilt or wall hanging commemorating special events or the life of a loved one can make a wonderful keepsake. Fabric and other mementos from graduations, weddings, the birth of a baby, sports activities, scouting, anniversaries or even clothing items from loved ones that have passed away can all be incorporated into a memory piece. Mary M. Wiseman of Patchwork Keepsakes in Reading, Ohio specializes in creating these one-of-a-kind, custom quilted memories.

According to Mary, memory quilts and wall hangings are based in our past. Many of our ancestors brought patterns and quilt themes from their homelands that are still incorporated into patterns we use today. The pioneers of our nation took their prized possessions west in covered wagons in hopes of finding land for a new home. Among these possessions were quilts made of family clothing, weavings and other precious bits of textiles. When a loved one died on the trail, the family often buried them in one of their precious family quilts.

Mary has lost two very dear loved ones, her mother and her husband. While the grief was very intense, she still had the desire to preserve and remember the good experiences she shared with them. Through her memory quilts, she has followed in the traditions of our ancestors, burying her loved ones with precious memory quilts, as well as adding a new tradition of her own, creating memory quilts for her family to cherish.

Depending on the theme of the memory quilt, many items can be used to create the piece. If the quilt commemorates an event or involvement in an activity, clothing, patches, medals and other mementos can be used. For a memorial quilt, Mary usually uses a loved one’s clothing for the fabric, such as blouses, dresses, coats, jackets, jeans, pajamas, robes, ties and t-shirts. The items selected are then cut into patchwork pieces. A photo can be also scanned and printed onto fabric and also incorporated into the design.

These quilted keepsakes are then machine pieced, with the fabrics and designs chosen for the memories on the top, cotton or polyester batting in the middle and cotton fabric on the back. Other hand-stitched details or phrases can also be added, as well as beads, buttons, cross stitch, embroidery, lace, jewelry, medals and pins.

For more information contact Mary M. Wiseman at Patchwork Keepsakes, 513-473-6424 or

Let's make a memory

I love family traditions. I think they help us craft a history of good memories and bind us together as we spend time creating them and carrying them out together.

As we enter into this time of holidays, I am already looking forward to them. Here are a few ideas that are sure to be included in our plans this year…

Taking the metro bus from the suburbs of Cincinnati and riding downtown to see the train display at the Cinergy building is always a treat. Taking the bus is essential, and never fails to be an interesting experience in itself.

When the family gathers for Christmas, the opening of gifts is always preceded by the reading of the Christmas story from the Bible. This is a time-honored tradition and has been practiced as long as I can remember. It was my grandfather who did the honors until he passed on. Then my father. Now, my brother has taken on the responsibility. The younger kids get a bit impatient as I did when I was their age. But as we all get older, this has meant so much and gets us all focused on whose birthday we are really celebrating.

Our family gathering also features a talent show. Some of the kids work on their ideas for the talent show for weeks before we gather. The adults get pretty involved too. Actually, I think the adults got it started. One brother does a great imitation of an ape, another brother does his turtle. I do a pretty good peacock. My daughter does a barking dog. We have had Elvis show up on our little stage. Sometimes it’s a poem someone wrote or a song one of the kids did for the school Christmas program. We have more fun with that talent show than we do with the gifts!
This year we plan to start a new tradition. We’ve been collecting our change all year and plan to put it all together when we gather for Christmas. Rather than buying gifts for each other, we hope to have enough money collected to buy a cow or some chickens or a goat or maybe all of those things for a needy family overseas. I can’t wait to see how much we come up with!

My three step-kids and their creative mother have always made everyone a Christmas ornament. The ornament is often a reflection of the year. One year it was a coin from a European trip. Another featured a small flag from Cameroon since it was the year Divine Grace, a young man from Cameroon, came to live with them. Another ornament was fashioned like an advent calendar with a picture of each family member, including the picture of the exchange student that lived with them that year. They have recycled Christmas cards, fashioned nuts into little faces (“We’re nuts about you”), made little yarn dolls with google eyes, and made angel dolls out of macaroni and Spanish Moss for hair. We have years of these ornaments, and they are so precious to us.

Another important tradition in our family is the food we prepare and share together. We have certain recipes that are absolute “musts” as we plan our gatherings. One of those is Curry Rice and it’s one that my family became very fond of when we lived in Japan years ago. It is one of those that the kids request when they come home, and that nearly everyone seems to love. I thought I would share it with you and maybe you would like to try it. Who knows? Maybe it could become a new tradition for you and your family.

Marinate the ground beef in soy sauce for a couple of hours before. Brown the beef in a Dutch oven in a little oil. Add about 3 cups of water and add the onion, carrots and potatoes. Boil gently till they are tender but not overcooked. Add the curry cubes to thicken. Reduce the heat and add the peas. Serve over steamed rice.

Cottage cheese, bread and butter pickles and soy sauce are some of the essentials we like to have alongside.

So, the best to you and yours as you create your own great memories. I hope you will have some to share with us.

In the meantime, please pass the Salt…

By Pamela Stricker

Curry Rice
1-lb cubed beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup of carrots, chopped
2-3 potatoes, cubed ( I like to leave the skin on, Mom takes it off)
1 small box of frozen peas
2-3 cubes of curry with thickening (You can buy these in many of the grocery stores now but especially in Oriental specialty stores)
1 cup of rice

Wrapping up memories in the fabric of life

Memories hold special places in our hearts and play a large part in shaping our lives. In the fall of 2005, Carol Earhart had to say goodbye to the father that meant so much to her and her family. Like so many fathers, Carol’s dad touched the lives of those he loved, and made a positive difference for each of them. Preserving his memory was important to Carol. Many times, memories of a loved love one are lost within just a generation or two, but Carol was determined to preserve her father’s legacy.

Quilting has been a long-time passion for Carol, but it took on special meaning after the death of her father in 2005. A year later, Carol’s mom was finally ready to go into her husband’s clothes closest and begin packing up his personal apparel. As an avid quilter, Carol knew of memory quilts which have been around for a long time and felt that combining her passion for quilting and preserving her father’s memory could go hand in hand.

The memory quilt actually became popular in the mid-1800’s as pioneers began moving west. These quilts were often made and given to newly married couples, or to families leaving the area, as an item of remembrance of those being left behind.

When the death of a loved one is involved, a memory quilt can sometimes be too painful to make, as Carol soon found out. “It was a very hard process to begin,” says Earhart. “As I sat down and held my dad’s jeans and handkerchiefs in my hand I became very tearful. But five years later, I can say how much these quilts have meant to all of us in my family, and my dad’s quilt has been a great way to preserve a part of him.”

Quilt making can be a rewarding activity that can be enjoyed by all ages of people with all skill levels. It is an act of expression that can capture emotion and beauty. Memory quilts in particular are a great way to preserve a specific memory, celebrate the life of a loved one who has passed on, or to remember an important event in life. Many memory quilts are made from the clothing of a loved one, and can help “let go” while still honoring their memory.

There are several types of memory quilt styles. Many quilts can be made with a number of different fabrics and selections of clothing. When preserving the memory of a loved one, clothing such as shirts, ties, jeans, dresses, t-shirts, trousers blouses, and handkerchiefs are good items to cut and piece together to form the quilt. By using small personal clothing pieces throughout the quilt, it allows the family to feel that a part of their loved one is still with them.

Not all memory quilts are made based on the loss of a loved one. They can also represent a change or growth in life, such as baby clothing to remember when a child was an infant or toddler, old school uniforms to remember the high school years, work shirts to remember a specific time in adult life or a promotion in life.

A very popular style is a memory quilt for the student who goes off to college. This type of quilt is designed with old t-shirts are collected, cut and pieced together to accompany the student to the dorm.

Another popular memory quilt style is the family tree quilt that traces family history and commemorates special moments within the family. Computer graphic designs of genealogical trees or family biographies can be computer generated to be transformed onto fabric.
Photo memory quilts are fast becoming a popular style that can be made completely with photographs or be used in a combination of clothing and photos. Living in the computer age has made it increasingly easily to make this type of quilt, which involves the process of transferring photos onto fabric thorough the computer and computer printer. Manufacturers have now made it possible to make fabric squares that can be put into a computer printer. With this style it is easiest to use a digital camera or burn photos onto a CD.

Memory quilts are a great way for a family to pass along information from one generation to the next. “The memory quilts I made for the members of my family have been a great way to preserve my father’s memory,” says Earhart. “I can remember him wearing his jeans that I incorporated into the quilts. I made six quilts all together that honor my father with that particular family member. I used photos I had taken of my dad with my mother, my two brothers, my two children and myself as the centerpiece of the quilt, then pieced the quilt together with his clothing and handkerchiefs.”

Memory quilts create a family heirloom that can be passed down through generations. They can be used as wall hangings or sofa throws. Whatever the use, they are a unique way to preserve and display a family’s treasured memories.

By Maribeth Uralrith

Carol Earhart is the owner of the Cotton Junky Quilt Shop – the area’s only quilting and quilting supply store. The Cotton Junky is located at 199 North Spring Street in Wilmington but will be moving to a new location at 110 West Main Street in early November. The Cotton Junkie houses over 750 bolts of fabrics, notions, tools, thread. Along with supplies, the Cotton Junkie also create custom quilts and has quilting classes available to the public. Hours of operation include – Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 6 and 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 on Friday and Saturday. Closed Sundays. For more information on quilting, memory quilts or the Cotton Junky Quilt Shop, please contact Carol Earhart at 937-366-3602.

Fond family memories

Holidays are that special time of the year that brings memories both bitter and sweet - bitter because we may miss that loved one who is no longer with us, sweet because it is a time to remember that missing loved one.

My story starts with the fact that I am southern born and bred, which means that the holidays are the perfect time to showcase my culinary prowess. I am an excellent cook, and if I had had exposure to the culinary arts as a career choice when I was much younger, that is what I would be doing right now. I have loved kitchens and cooking since I was a young child watching my great-grandmother making peach and fig preserves, and using the skins from the peaches to make wine. I remember one time, when my mother, brother, sister and I were driving to Virginia to visit my aunt, we passed a sweet potato field. My mother wanted to stop and pick some, and my brother was just not interested at all. I, on the other hand, encouraged her to stop and suggested that we use them to make sweet potato pies. My brother didn’t speak to me the rest of the day; he didn’t like picking anything, and he didn’t like sweet potato pies.

With all that said, I was extremely excited when my family announced in October of one particular year that they would be visiting me for Thanksgiving. I was excited because it was the first time they had visited me since I moved to Ohio, and secondly, it would give me the chance to welcome them to my new home. Everything had to be perfect. Everything had to be just right. I knew that I had to prepare favorites of my parents and siblings, but I also wanted to throw in some dishes they had probably never had.

The menu consisted of turkey marinated in a plastic bag, ham, collard greens swimming in unctuous smoked pork, oyster and sausage dressing, cabbage, candied sweet potatoes, cherry and thyme cranberry sauce, assorted rolls, and macaroni and cheese. For dessert, I was preparing that decadent Southern dessert, banana pudding, as well as a coconut-pineapple layer cake and purchased sweet potato and chess pies.
They all arrived on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, so I also had to prepare dinner, and decided that spaghetti and meatballs was relatively quick and easy, since I knew that the next few days would be quite tiring with all of the cooking that I had to do, which also included a full breakfast on Thursday morning, and each subsequent morning.

On Tuesday, I had started preparing my “mise en place,” the organizing and arranging the ingredients, for Thanksgiving dinner. All of the onions, celery and everything else had been diced and were ready to be sautĂ©ed. The turkey had been marinating in the trash bag since early Tuesday morning and was eager to be trussed and stuffed into the oven. Over the next several hours on Thanksgiving, my sister and I toiled in the kitchen, laughing, teaching each other and just having fun. Every now and then my mother would come in just to see what we were doing and to tell some joke.

Everything in the kitchen was going great. The turkey came out magazine perfect with the breast skin fully in place, causing me to pat myself on the back for cooking such a beautiful turkey. The greens were both vinegary and peppery all at the same time and had just enough crispiness to delight the taste buds. The macaroni and cheese was hot and bubbling, as well as the oyster dressing. The cranberry sauce was chilled and ready to provide its sweetness to the savory turkey and dressing. Everything was ready, except the gravy.

I must tell you that I had purchased packages-o-gravy mix and had planned on mixing in the giblets from the turkey. Yes, I am a purist in the kitchen and really don’t like to use store-bought mixes and dried seasonings. I like things fresh and freshly-made. But, I could not make gravy from scratch. My mother saw the packages and asked what they were for and I sheepishly replied that they were for the gravy. She then said, “You don’t know how to make gravy?” I replied, “No, I always just use the packs and doctor them up.”

She then asked for a pan, some grease and some flour, and began to teach me how to make gravy. As she was showing me, I taught her a new word, roux, and she yelled out, “I am making roux!!!” It was something that she had been doing all of her life, but never really knew the culinary term for what she was doing. You had to know my mother to know that this was just the opportunity that she relished. It was a time for her to walk back into the living room as if she was on a runway during New York Fashion Week, place her hands on her hips, and announce, “Dinner is ready!” My father shot back, “What did you go into the kitchen and burn?” My mother quickly shot back, “Don’t worry about it, you just eat and enjoy.” This was just the beginning of a great meal.

For some reason, my mother had wanted everyone to put on “nice” clothes for dinner, which at the time I found odd, but I went along with her request. In looking back, I often wonder if she knew this would be our last Thanksgiving together as a family and that she was just as committed as I was to have a perfect holiday dinner, a storybook dinner.

That was the last time that my mother and I were together for the holidays and it would be the last time that we would cook together. It is the one holiday memory that stays in the mind, year after year. In fact, whenever I make gravy, I still think about that last Thanksgiving with my family, the fun that we shared, and the good food that we ate. It is a memory both bitter and sweet.

By Keebler K. Holley
Cincinnati, Ohio

A Christmas memory

Christmas comes and goes so fast. The hustle and bustle can be exhausting. It is so difficult to find that perfect gift for those who have everything. Yet, I learned last Christmas in the midst of it all a life lesson I will always cherish.

Last Christmas, I gave my 79-year-old dad a toy - his very own Farmall B tractor. I stumbled upon it by pure luck, at the Tractor Supply store. Quite honestly, it is this farm girl’s’favorite store of all time and the only store my dad ever shopped at when I was his girl on the farm. I get it from him!

I was so excited to finally see exactly what this Farmall B looked like up close. It was my Dad’s most recent childhood story he had shared with me. I loved hearing all the stories he told of days past, and this was the newest.

On several occasions as his story unfolded he would say, “I sure would like to own one of those now. I would if I could find one I could afford.”

Dad always loved farming and farm equipment, and he loved the antique machinery show, a time of reminiscing. So until he could “find one he could afford” I hoped he would enjoy having this shiny red toy tractor as his Christmas present; a reminder of his wonderful childhood memory.

When Dad opened his Christmas gift on Christmas Eve at my house, I will never forget watching him become that boy again in his mind’s eye. He smiled his signature grin ear-to-ear and began telling bits and pieces of the story I had already heard. Others gathered round.

“I will never forget that day,” he said, holding that tractor in his hand and looking it over, “When Dad and I went to buy our first new tractor. I rode right here.” He pointed to the left axle, just wide enough for a young boy to sit on, next to an offset tractor seat.

“We only had a couple miles to go, my legs swinging.” He paused, remembering, his eyes glistening. “We paid cash for it too,” he proudly exclaimed with a slight pucker to his lips that he always did when he was really pleased, touched or choking back tears. In this instance I knew it was all three. From the stories that my dad would tell me through the years, I had an understanding that for a poor Appalachian boy, raised in Black Fork, Ohio, and having experienced growing up during the depression, eventually paying cash when times got better was a great accomplishment.

His father moved the family to Amelia, Ohio, and became a school teacher, which proved to be the right decision indeed. And because of it, they eventually had the wherewithal to save enough cash for this long-awaited tractor, though Dad thoroughly enjoyed driving a team of horses. (One of his horses had been struck by lightning and he never forgot it, but that is another story.)

He eagerly learned to plow, disk, harrow, cultivate and make a truck garden with that new tractor. “And I made good money doing it too,” he boasted. At one time in his boyhood he had worked for ten-cents an hour picking vegetables. But by trucking, he made his own money.

Later, after graduation, marriage, three kids and another on the way, Dad’s big dream came true when he purchased his first 100-acre farm in Buford, Ohio. I was the second of the children he would raise on this and another farm he would own on Route 286 at Five Mile. I loved the great outdoors, my special attachment with farm animals, and learning, and him.

Throughout our journey, Dad taught me how to drive a tractor, how and when to work the ground, the ups and downs of making hay, planting corn and pumpkins, and how to work on farm equipment, as we certainly had our share of breakdowns. I was his sidekick growing up, and later he was mine - and such a wealth of knowledge.

When I would drop by to visit him and mom, now living on the corner of our farm at New Hope, Ohio, we shared past and present “adult talks” about our flower beds, his gorgeous roses, our vegetable gardens, about chickens, cows, hogs, farming mistakes and remedies, our growing up years and, of course, his growing up years, which I will always cherish.

The seeds planted in my heart before, during and after he passed this past spring - when potatoes could be planted and cold crops too - he continues teaching me, “To everything there is a season,” and reminds me that life goes on. My days are both full of joy and sadness as I remember him in so many of my daily chores and memories. I have lots of joyful memories, and only sadness when I realize he is gone.

As Christmas approaches, I am planning on decorating the fireplace mantel with all the greenery and twinkle lights as I usually do. But this year, right in the middle of all that, will be that beautiful red Farmall toy tractor that mom gave back to me. And I’ll remember last year, when he looked deep into my eyes.

“I really like this,” he said, looking back and forth from me to the tractor, his eyes glistening.

As I finish writing his story, I find myself looking up toward the heavens from my upper library window, my eyes glistening. I love you Dad, still.
So, this Christmas, I say to you, joyful memories are for the making each and every day, and those memories will sustain us through our sorrows when our loved ones leave us.
But my life lesson learned is this - life is short, and there is no better gift than the gift of self. Or perhaps a toy tractor.

By Sherry Mitchell

Favorite foods kindle fond memories

The air is crisp, the days are sunny; the trees are displaying their rainbows of parting color. It’s finally fall! As you already know, I absolutely love this time of year… pumpkins, Indian corn, hay rides, apple cider, snuggly sweaters and family time.

It also marks the imminent return of winter and with it… snowmen, snow boots, holiday lights, Christmas carols, Christmas trees, hot cocoa, gift giving and family time.

The holidays bring many fantastic things to mind, each with their own colors, ideas and memories, all unified by time spent together. It’s most often during this time of year that we consciously make the effort to come together and really take quality time to celebrate each other, our traditions and our families. And that right there - the focus on our families and traditions - is why I adore the holidays, and everything they entail.

With all this wonderful family time approaching, it’s also time to dust off our recipe boxes and cookbooks. As we all know, when families come together, they like to eat… a lot! Thanksgiving turkey with apple cider brine, grandma’s stuffing, your aunt’s pecan pie, my mom’s Christmas cookies and fudge, my sister-in-law’s honey-baked ham glaze, my mother-in-law’s sweet potato soufflĂ©. We all have those kinds of recipes, collected just for these occasions. And with those recipes come some of our fondest memories, many spent in the kitchen preparing traditional meals and treats for the upcoming family celebrations.

On page 54 of this issue, I’ve shared some of my mother’s Christmas cookie recipes. They’ve been a staple at our holiday get-togethers for as long as I can remember. Each year, when we get together to bake these delicious treats, I am taken back to years past. I have also asked some of you to share your favorite holiday memories in the kitchen and the recipes to go along with them. This year, we start off with my friend, Keebler Holley, and his memories of his turn hosting Thanksgiving dinner for his family, followed by many more cherished memories from our readers and staff. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Here’s to a blessed, beautiful and delicious holiday season, from my kitchen to yours!

By Lori Holcomb
Food Editor, Salt Magazine

Satisfying an emotional need

Scrapbooking is more than a hobby or a pastime. This absorbing, creative endeavor preserves the history of a certain time and place. It tells the story - your story - through pictures.

“Every picture has a story,” says Karen Campbell, independent consultant for Creative Memories. Karen holds regular monthly scrapbooking meetings in her Wilmington, Ohio, home where she offers space, tools, materials, a meal and a welcoming atmosphere. She also holds parties at people’s homes or offers her own home for others to give parties.

“I like to have people in,” says Karen, who has scrapbookers from all over the area come to her home. “I started my home-based business in Florida where my husband was stationed in the Navy. I started scrapbooking because I wanted to preserve his Navy career in a scrapbook. I became a consultant to get my stuff at cost, and it soon became because of the people I was meeting.”

Karen says the people she worked with “became dear friends.” Then her husband retired. “He wanted to go home to Ohio where he grew up,” recalls Karen. “I thought, ‘What am I going to do to get the business started again?’” But “moving was the best thing I could’ve done.”

Karen explains why. “My daughter had a group of four ladies that wanted to scrapbook on a regular basis, and it’s grown from there. The Clinton County Corn Festival, where I always have a booth, was such a wonderful event for me. They don’t have anything like that in Florida. Anyone can have their own scrapbooking business, and I’m always glad to help them get started. It’s now my eighth anniversary with Creative Memories.”

There are many venues for scrapbooking. Some scrapbookers get together occasionally with a few friends, while others, like Rita Butcher, just have an occasional gathering. Rita started as a consultant for Creative Memories in 1999.

“I started with a group of eight women,” says Rita. “My husband and I just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary, and now I’m making a digital album of that. We have ten kids and I made two albums for each of my kids. Some I made more if they were in more sports.”

Rita eventually quit consulting, but the relationships endure. A group of ten or so women still get together for a social weekend once a year and scrapbook.

“Our group is called the ‘Scrapping Sisters,’ and it sounds like we fight, but we don’t,” quipped Rita. “We even got matching shirts and bags with our name on it. We used to stay at two cabins on Cowan Lake, but we grew and needed more room. So we moved to the Wilmington Inn and used their community room. This year, we’re going to a summer house on Cowan Lake. It’s a beautiful setting. Karen Campbell joined us and she is now our consultant. Everybody looks forward to our weekend from one year to the next.”

Interestingly, there is a Creative Memories plant in Yellow Springs, Ohio, filled with friendly, gracious workers and large machines producing brightly colored materials of every size and shape. A tour is available, but the group must be accompanied by a consultant.

A popular event for scrapbookers is the quarterly garage sale in Kettering, Ohio. Scrapbookers can get a table, bring materials and equipment to sell or, if they wish, shop and buy bargains from other tables. Two important events for home scrapbooking groups are the Croptoberfest on October 28th and 29th and the National Scrapbook Day in May. Special gifts, free products and rewards are given by a consultant to those attending and/or joining.

The biggest event of the year is Celebrate Southwest Ohio. The event is held every February at The Roberts Centre, located north of Wilmington at the interchange of Interstate 35 and Highway 68.

“There are 1,100 scrapbookers and 126 consultants who come from everywhere for Celebrate,” says Karen. “People have to sign up under a consultant well before then. They are assigned tables and scrapbook all day from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. They give away hourly prizes and teach classes on new techniques. We have such a good time. The day goes so fast. It’s just amazing.”

Not all groups are under a consultant. Shari Brucken enjoyed scrapbooking, so she recently started a group that meets at the First Church of God in Wilmington.

“There is no fee with the church,” says Shari. “We bring our own tools and a brown bag meal. We have plenty of room with more space available. We get together the second Saturday of every other month. It is open to the public. It meets from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. or whenever we decide to leave.”

“We talk about things, give ideas and (discuss) what to do with pictures,” says Ewanda Stewart, who attends with her sister, Teresa Tharp.

The group suggested that people write on the backs of photos the information of who, what, where and when, in order to remember. A photo safe pencil needs to be used instead of a regular pen so the ink doesn’t bleed through the photo.

“I would like it to be more people,” says Shari. “On Saturday, January 14th, we’re going to try the Wilmington Public Library Community Room. We’re going to call it the Scrapbook Club. Anyone’s welcome to come to that. There will be no fee. We’ll see how many come and decide whether to stay in the library or stay at the church.”

“We’re leaving a legacy for our families,” says Ewanda Stewart. “That’s how I feel about it.” The others agreed.

“It satisfies some kind of emotional thing in me,” says Karen. “I’m not real creative, but I have a little creative outlet. The way I look at it… even if not one other single person looks at what I’ve done, it made me happy. And, it’s a fun group. It’s also a way to meet people.”

“And make friendships,” adds Shari.

By Carol Chroust

Leaving behind a digital legacy

There is little room for doubt that making a lasting impression on the world inspires many of us.

Whether it's the profession we choose, the person we marry, the manner in which we rear our kids or the volunteer work we do, our decisions are affected in ways great or small by how we want to leave the world.

Preserving our heritage, through photos, videos and journals is as American as apple pie. For me, blogging has taken on that role.
Blogging (short for weblog) is simply a new form of journaling, a public medium of self-expression.

In early 2008, I started training for triathlons. I wanted to share those experiences with my family, friends and anyone else in the world who would care enough to visit my site. What has been most surprising is how many other triathletes, runners or cyclists frequently visit or interact with my blog, and how I've only heard from someone related to me one time.

According to Technorati's 2010 State of the Blogosphere, 65 percent of bloggers are termed hobbyists, 21 percent are self employed, 13 percent are part-timers and corporate bloggers account for one percent.

Seventy-four percent of hobbyist bloggers measure their success by personal satisfaction. Among the other three categories, “unique visitors” was the “leading metric of success.”

As a hobbyist blogger, I can readily agree that personal satisfaction is how I measure success; though I do love to study my metrics. To be more specific, that personal satisfaction comes from knowing that my thoughts, whimsies, challenges and accomplishments have been locked down and recorded.

Perhaps someday after I'm gone, those who once knew me will visit my site as a way to reconnect. Perhaps my nieces or nephews will try and discover a little more about their past through what their aunt had experienced.

However, one thing is indisputable: Whatever may happen in the future with my blog, I'm certainly enjoying cataloguing my past right now.

By Lora Abernathy
Health and Wellness Editor, Salt Magazine
Southwest Group Online Editor, Ohio Community Media

Preparing your garden for winter

A backyard garden in November can be a pathetic sight. The heat-loving plants of summer have withered away, the plot is littered with leaves and a general – and understandable – neglect has allowed the weeds to triumph. Your tomato plants might still be producing some late season fruit. Your bell peppers are probably clinging for life, and if you’re lucky (or smart) you remembered to plant some cold-season favorites like broccoli or kale to redeem your unsightly mess.

Maybe your garden doesn’t look like this, but mine sure does.

When your mindset shifts from fresh garden goodies to soups, stews and staying warm, it’s time to put your garden to bed for the winter. By taking a few pro-active steps in the fall, you can ensure your garden plot is ready to go when the last frost hits and warm weather returns. Here are five tips to get you started.

Clean it up
Some gardeners abandon their plots entirely when fall arrives, letting the spring and summer crops return to the earth in their own way. Most gardeners will agree that it’s better to clean out your dead plants to help prevent harmful disease or insects from taking hold. I’m generally in no hurry to pull up my tomatoes or peppers if I can eke out a few late in the season, but eventually it’s best to pull them out. Pull all of the out-of-season plants, roots and all, from the soil and set them aside.

Start a compost pile
If you don’t have one already, the fall is a great time to start a compost pile using the plants you’ve pulled from your garden plot. You’re likely to have a heaping pile of plant material and soil still clinging to the roots, both of which will make for great compost once they begin to decompose. To keep the elements out of your pile, I recommend building a four-sided structure to shelter your compost. Shipping palettes work great and most grocery stores will sell them to you cheap or give you broken ones. Nail them together and cover the finished structure with a tarp or other waterproof covering, and your pile will be safe from erosion or run-off. During the winter, add your egg shells and fruit and vegetable scraps to the pile, turning it every few weeks.

Plant a cover crop
After you’ve cleaned up your plot and tidied it for the following spring, you should take care to cover your soil in one way or another. Without a cover, your soil will suffer from erosion and be washed away by the winter rains and snowfall. One way to protect your soil is to plant a cover crop, or a crop you grow solely to let die and cover your soil throughout the winter. Some popular cover crops include rye, wheat, oats, clover and hairy vetch. In addition to providing a protective cover for your soil, the “green manure” of the cover crops will deposit valuable nutrients and minerals back into your soil once they decompose, making your soil all the richer come spring. To plant a cover crop, rake your soil and make sure it’s free of large stones and other debris. Spread your seeds across the plot according to that species’ planting instructions. Gently rake the soil again and water with a fine mist to avoid washing the seeds away.

Till in the fall
One alternative to planting a cover crop is to till and cover your soil by hand in the fall. Oftentimes, a wet spring will make soil too damp to work when you’re ready to plant, so some gardeners will till their plot before winter and cover the plot with straw or mulch to prevent weeds from taking hold. This method might be beneficial to gardeners in zones with particularly clay-ey soil (Clinton County gardeners especially).

Plan for the next garden season
Your mind might be elsewhere, but it’s not a bad idea to think about what you want to plant and where when the snow and cold temperatures retreat. For example, I reluctantly tried a new tract of land this past year for a raised-bed garden, only to find that the direct sunlight wasn’t nearly sufficient to really get the most out of my plants. I’ll be relocating the garden next season, and I’m using the off-season to determine where that will be. If you’re ambitious and the ground isn’t too wet, you can also prepare your beds or rows before the winter season by turning sod or tilling already flipped soil. Just make sure to cover them, or wind, rain and weeds will make short thrift of your garden soil.

By John Cropper
Editor, Salt Magazine

A quilt from home

At first glance, a quilt is a masterpiece of rich colors pieced together by the artist, opening the mind to a new level of imagination and intrigue as the eyes take in the intricate pattern.

Look again. Deep within the fabric another pattern evolves of squares and loops and hearts, all skillfully placed by the quilter one stitch at a time, firmly connecting the quilt top to the batting (warm lining) and the backing.

Look again. Place the quilt around your shoulders and snuggle in. Take a deep, relaxing breath as generations of love passed from grandmother to mother to daughter envelope you in a hug.

An Amish tradition is for the family to give a quilt, or often two, from home to each child as he or she marries and establishes a home in which to raise the next generation. The Amish family’s faith and love go with them, along with the quilt.

When Mary Miller of Wheat Ridge Road in Adams County, Ohio, and her husband, Daniel Miller, were married, she received a quilt with rich, deep colors forming a broken star pattern from her mother. Daniel received from his mother a quilt with a triple broken star pattern in colors of light rose and steel blue.

Among the half dozen or so quilts the Millers have in their home, the most treasured one is Mary’s grandmother’s quilt from home, a pieced quilt of lilac and yellow. Mary says she doesn’t use it much because she doesn’t want to wash it.

“If you launder a quilt too often, the stitches will come out,” she says.

Mary is an experienced quilter. It was something to do while her five children, three boys and two girls, were younger. She would take in quilts assembled by other women and add the stitching that held the quilts together.

“I used to babysit and take care of my children and have a quilt in a frame,” she says. “In a couple of weeks, it would be out.”

A single quilt would take two to three large spools of thread or more to complete the quilt stitching, depending on the quilt. The fabric pattern used in either a pieced quilt or an appliqued quilt, as well as the stitching design is usually whatever the artist likes.

“Just so the pieces are even and lay flat. Every one must be exactly the same size,” Mary explains.

Although Mary no longer quilts at home due to other pursuits now that all of her children, ages seven to 21, are either in school or at work, she enjoys going to the community quiltings to help stitch quilts for charity or the local school auction. The women gather together to make six to eight quilts a year.

Covered dishes are brought in to share for the day, and quilt frames are used with two quilts in them at a time.

“There are lots of sides for us to work from,” Mary says. “There will be 20 to 30 people working on the quilts. Some of the older ones can only work for a couple of hours, as it is physically demanding. It is hard on the shoulders after sitting uneven for so long with one hand under the quilt and one hand on top. Also the first few times you quilt, your fingers get sore from being pricked so many times. After awhile though, you get used to it."

As they work together, grandmothers, sisters, neighbors, cousins and friends become firmly connected generation to generation with the love and the fond memories stitched into each quilt.

By Carleta Weyrich

At Bayview Campground, family comes first

Todd and Amy Warren wanted to get away from the rat race and seek a quieter, more peaceful life. An opportunity to manage a new campground and outdoors store at Rocky Fork Lake in Highland County seemed like the perfect fit.

More than two years later, the couple couldn’t be happier with the choice they made.

“It seemed right,” said Todd, a Navy veteran who sports a mischievous grin. “We love the outdoors. We love living on the lake. We home school the kids.”

Todd and Amy are managers of Bayview Campground & Outpost, located on North Shore Drive, about six miles east of Hillsboro. Bayview boasts that it has the lake’s largest tackle inventory, hunting and fishing licenses, specialty bass baits, water sports, boating, camping and hunting supplies, and free coffee throughout the day.

“Yes, free coffee,” confirms Amy. “We like to encourage people to drop by and just hang around and talk.” In fact, the store has become a central gathering point at Rocky Fork.

Amy was raised in the country, and was working as an accountant for Kathleen Madison, a Wilmington businesswoman who owned Bayview, which at the time was a trailer park. Madison wanted to transform the park into a campground and outdoors facility, and turned to Todd and Amy to oversee the business.

As Todd describes the business and its amenities while relaxing inside one of two cabins on the property, Amy keeps a close eye on their 14-month-old toddler, Todd Jr., an obviously happy child who busily litters the floor with educational cards and small toys. Amy’s two older sons, Skylar, 14, and Hayden, 10, soon join them for a family photo. Amy is expecting another child in November, this time a girl whom they’ll name Abigail Keta-Marie Warren.

It’s appropriate that Bayview is operated by a family, because promoting a family atmosphere is what the Warren’s are working to achieve.

“People want more of a family atmosphere campground,” says Todd. “They want a place that’s safe for children and grandchildren.” At Bayview, children who are camping with their families at seasonal sites become part of a tight-knit community. “Everybody looks out for them,” says Todd. “They all play with each other, and everyone keeps an eye on them.”

Bayview offers 31 campsites with an abundance of shade and privacy. It’s a short walk to the docks and beach – “just 75 yards,” assures Todd -- and pull-through sites and seasonal camping are available and frequently booked. Pets are welcomed, and free Wi-Fi is also provided. Campers come from all over, but especially from Chillicothe, Columbus, Dayton and Xenia.

Clean new showers, flush toilets, a laundry facility and dump station are available onsite. The two available cottages with lake views sleep up to four, and include kitchen and bath.

The Warrens regularly plan events for campers and guests, ranging from corn hole tournaments to apple bobbing contests to chili cook-offs and pumpkin carving. The business caters to hunters and fishers, and the store has increased the kind of merchandise outdoorsmen are typically seeking. Bayview is also a check-in and weigh-in station.

The business has become a favorite destination for regional bass clubs and other organizations, and a draw for fishing tournaments. “Two or three tournaments have come here specifically because of Bayview’s outreach,” says Todd. Bayview gives back through various donations and events, such as free cookouts and campouts. And despite a poor economy, 2011 “has been our best year so far,” says Todd.

The Warrens make visitors feel right at home. When a participant in a fishing tournament recently found himself without accommodations, the Warrens invited him to spend the night on their couch, an invitation he happily accepted.

“That’s just the way we are,” says Todd.

Bayview Campground & Outpost is located at 11104 North Shore Drive. It can reached by phone at 937-393-3119, or by email at It is online at

By Gary Abernathy
Times-Gazette Publisher

Holidays 2011: 'Are they over yet?'

It’s that time of year. Just like clockwork, the holidays are nearly upon us. Sadly, it’s not unusual for people to lament, “I just have to GET THROUGH the holidays!”

Really? Get through? Is that the best we can hope for? You get through a boring meeting. You get through a colonoscopy. Aren’t the holidays supposed to be the one time of year when you are bursting with peace and joy and good will towards men? And women? And people you can’t stand?

The root of holiday stress is the gulf between our expectations and the unmet Visions of Perfection. We start off with ambitious plans that rarely work out as we intend them to. The problem is that we are already stretched to our limits with kids, school, parents, in-laws, family, house work, yard work, “work work” and the myriad of other activities that occupy our every waking hour. And yet, here come the holidays, like a relentless freight train of stress, crashing into our fragile schedules.

So - other than dive under the covers for two months until it all goes away--what can we do to make sure that people don’t find pieces of us in the next county come Christmas Day?

The key to minimizing our holiday stress is to set realistic goals to begin with. Below is a handy checklist so that you can begin to plan how you will work these things into your already-crowded schedule.

It is not an exhaustive list (although I get exhausted just thinking about it!) But, I hope that it will help you to realize that the time to think about the holidays is NOW. Tick tock, tick tock. The later we wait, the more the stress begins to accrue. And that’s no fun
for anybody.

I now present to you (drum roll please):

The Holiday To-Do (or To-Don’t) Lists
You’ll notice that each category starts with the choice that involves the highest investment of time and energy and also has the highest potential for stress. The last choice in each category is—well, let’s face it—the easy way out. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But most of us will not get the full holiday experience if we opt out of the activities altogether. There is a balance somewhere and only we as individuals can find where that place is for us. So, grab that #2 pencil and start check marking!

  • Prepare a traditional turkey dinner with all of the trimmings, by yourself. (NOTE: if you choose this option, get yourself to the doctor PRONTO. It’s important that you get tested to determine if you are an actual human being and not a robot.)
  • Prepare the turkey and enlist others to bring the trimmings.
  • Get yourself invited to someone else’s house and take ONE “trimming.”
  • Go out to a restaurant. No mess, no fuss! If your family disowns you for taking this option, there will be plenty of families at the restaurant who will be happy to adopt you. Maybe it’s time to trade your old family in for a newer model anyway.


  • Buy gifts for everyone you know or have ever known. (Come on, you know somebody like this. They are also the type of person who has everything bought, paid-for, wrapped and put away
  • by August 1. We hate them.)
  • Buy gifts for your entire family, down to second cousins.
  • Gift cards all around!
  • Give everyone the joy of giving … to YOU!

  • Send them to everyone you’ve ever known or ever hope to know. Rationalize that you are just doing your part to keep the Post Office in business.
  • Send them only to people that live out of town (or out of state, or out of the country).
  • Send them only to the people who sent you cards last year. (Now THERE’S the holiday spirit!)
  • Opt out of sending cards altogether. Offer a friendly wave to the people you pass in your car and just figure you’ve done your part for demonstrating the holiday spirit.

  • Decorate the inside and the outside of your house. (See above about having a doctor verify if you are, in fact, human.)
  • Decorate the inside of your house.
  • Christmas tree only.
  • Skip decorating and just drive around town admiring everyone else’s hard work. Wave as you go by to demonstrate your holiday spirit.

  • Throw a big holiday bash and insist that people don’t bring anything but their appetites.
  • Go to every party you are invited to and crash a few others.
  • Only go to the parties with the best food.
  • Only go to the parties where your lack of attendance could cost you your job or your marriage.

  • Plan on baking several different types of complicated, delectable goodies that would make Martha Stewart cringe with envy. (If this is the third or fourth Option #1 that you’ve chosen, don’t bother going to the doctor. I can already tell you that you are NOT of this world.)
  • Participate in a cookie exchange.
  • Buy all goodies, ready-made from the grocery store. (Did you hear that thud? It was the sound of your Great Aunt Millie collapsing on the floor from shock. That spinning sound is your great, great grandmother rolling over in her grave. Hey, don’t judge me, Grams. Back in the day, you didn’t have manicures, pedicures and a loaded Primetime TV schedule to keep up with.)
  • Skip the baked goods and just put out a full-length mirror. Invite your loved ones to take a look at themselves and then ask them, “Do you really think you need cookies?” (See above suggestion about what to do when your family disowns you.)

Remember that your choices for each holiday activity are essentially this: do it yourself, delegate it or let it go. The world will keep on spinning if you skip something. And your great, great grandma will keep on spinning as well.
And that’s okay.

Regardless of your level of involvement in holiday activities, you can still decide to make it a joyous time of year. At least plan to insure that by New Year’s Eve, you’re not so ragged-out that you fall face-first into your giant bowl of homemade egg nog. (Not that that’s happened to me. Ahem.)

Lastly, as you try to squeeze extra activities into an already over-crowded schedule remember that something’s gotta give. Don’t let it be your sanity or your sense of humor. Relax. Enjoy. Pass the store-bought cookies.

By Kay Frances

Memories in a box

There is no better time to bring out family memories and keepsakes than during the holidays. The many items collected over the years can tend to get lost, leaving only memories when we take time to recall the wonderful things in our lives that pertain to our friends and family.

I have a wonderful suggestion that I would like to share with you! Hopefully, you will find it something your whole family can enjoy, too. You can preserve all of those precious items you collect by building a Memory Box for your family.

Many of you already have a pretty box with a lid or large tin that you can use to begin your box. If not, you will find that local craft and box stores have a large variety of decorative boxes that are fairly inexpensive. I suggest you buy a large one, as it will grow over the years and you will want plenty of room to keep your treasures.

These boxes may be plain or fancy, the choice is yours. You may even elect to find a plain box and decorate it as a family, getting the kids involved. Remember, things done in the past make tomorrow’s memories.

Each year on Christmas day, or whatever day you celebrate the holidays together, sit down and go over all of the items that you want to place in the box. I suggest things like a special newspaper clipping about someone in the family, a new family photo, an award someone won, a special drawing by a small one in your group, a lock of hair from a newborn family member, cards, programs or invitations to a memorable event or a trinket that represents a special memory.

I believe that all families should have traditions. In today’s hectic world we tend to be too busy to slow down and remember what the important things are in our collective lives. Yes, you might know that Johnny got the award for being the MVP on the baseball team this past summer, but do Sue and Uncle Bob? If not, you just lost a chance to create a memory for Johnny. Show him how important his achievement was and enter that recognition in your family memory box. I find that recital programs as well as wedding invitations are another great item to add to your box.

Then, ask someone in the family to be in charge of writing a short letter telling what this year has meant to each of you, or telling of a special experience you all shared. Be sure to date each letter or memory put in the box. Line the box with special acid free tissue paper that can be found in a craft store to protect your items. Seal your box with a ribbon and place it safely away until the following year when it will be re-opened and shared with the entire family. Then, the process begins again, with new items added each year by family members, creating new memories for the years to come.

I hope that each of you will find your own “memory box” and decorate it to fit your family’s life style and start thinking what you might place in this year’s box.

Remember that your parents and grandparents created lovely holiday memories for you, and it is your responsibility to create new ones for your family. As you enter the senior years, these will be even stronger loves of the heart for both you and your family.

By Sheryl Sollars

The making of memories

What makes a memory?

Is it a particularly bad joke or a line from a great movie that sticks with us longer than it should? Is it grueling road trips with siblings packed like sardines in the trusty family van, or a Christmas Eve tradition passed down to a new generation? Is it simply the firing of neurons in our brain each time we taste, touch, smell, see or hear something, regardless of what that something is? It depends on who you ask. But if it’s me you’re asking, all of the above are true.

It’s impossible to count the number of things we have remembered throughout our life. It’s equally hard to pinpoint what makes those things worth remembering. But a few constants in my life seem to get my neurons firing more than others — friends, family and fun. (This is beginning to read like a cheesy, manufactured, feel-good column. Bear with me.)

Most of my favorite memories have one or a combination of the “three Fs.”

Driving across the American southwest and camping along the way — friends + fun.

Pizza fondue, “It’s a Wonderful Life” and midnight mass on Christmas Eve — family + fun.

My wedding day — friends + family + and a lot of fun.

There’s a pretty good chance that if it’s worth remembering, it took place with either my friends or my family, and it was fun. Of course, not all memories are happy and even sad things are worth remembering at times, but I can all but guarantee that when I’m bumping a grandchild on my knee and regaling her with the daring tales of her grandpa’s adventurous and brazen past — emphasis my own — it will be those stories heavy on the “three Fs” that come up each time. Family. Friends. Fun.

The holidays tend to be a time of year with an unlimited amount of good memories, both to be made and to remember. In this issue of Salt, we’ve compiled a number of articles that aim to address the making of memories. In reading, we hope you’ll draw on your own life and experiences and perhaps gain a better understanding of the truly important things in life. You know, like who gets Park Place and Boardwalk in that annual, cutthroat game of Monopoly.

As always, thanks for reading and Happy Holidays.

By John Cropper
Editor, Salt Magazine

A quilt for Casey

Sometimes creating memories can be surprising as well as caring. No one knows the process better than Jean Crites, a long-time resident of Wilmington. Jean’s music students are spread across the nation. Her creations and gifts reach almost as far.

Jean loves to bestow hand-made gifts when friends and family have birthdays, babies, or weddings - a true testament of her love for others. Her quilt for Casey began as a surprise.

Jean was in a local store, Warings, getting materials to frame a picture, when she saw a picture on cloth. She was intrigued. Her granddaughter, Casey, was turning eighteen soon. The “wheels started turning,” and she thought, “Why not a quilt for my granddaughter?”

Later, as Jean reviewed her pictures, she was surprised at how fast the memories began to flood her mind. She began reminiscing about Casey’s birth, about Casey and her brother in the cockpit of a 737 their father, Joe, was flying for A/A, about Casey as a bridesmaid in a wedding and, finally, about Casey’s graduation from high school.

Jean organized the pictures and added some “embroidered old-fashioned girl squares.” When blue material, “girl squares,” and the pictures were pieced together, she knew the gift was special. Her eyes sparkle as she remembers, “A good friend and neighbor, Kelly Kay, did the quilting. It was really an exhilarating, fun experience. Casey’s at Ohio State - made the Dean’s List - and uses the quilt on her bed. Modern Homemakers had a party for my 90th birthday where I shared the quilt. Thus, the crown on my head in the picture.”

Perhaps Jean was taught long ago about creating memories. She has a priceless wedding ring quilt and an even more “expensive” story.

“My Wedding Ring Quilt is handed down from my mother,” says Jean. “When I was 10 years old, living in Struthers, Ohio, the neighbor’s cat came across the street and howled under my brothers’ bedroom window night after night. They’d finally had enough, and boys being boys, they shot the cat with a BB gun. The neighbor lady was furious even though my mother made the boys apologize. She wouldn’t speak to Mother for three or four long years.”

Jean smiles as she recalls that “one day she came over with this beautiful quilt, saying it was her penance for being angry. Quilter friends have said she must have been extra penitent, for she added an extra row of tiny pieces which are not a part of the original pattern!”

Understandably, Jean cherishes that quilt. When the quilt is passed on, the story goes with it. She’s written the story on cloth and attached it to the back - a surprising “flip side” to a time-consuming creation!

By Beverly Drapalik

Homemade gifts are nice, but try 'heartmade' gifts this year

Many of you are crafters at heart and some of you only try your creative talents during the holidays. Then there are those of you who are like me, whose creative juices work 24/7 and you just keep filing the ideas away for a rainy day. Well, it is time for me to open my file and share with you some ideas that you can use during the upcoming holidays.

I think it is time for a change in what we call gifts that are made with our hands. The word “handmade” has lost its meaning. Since the thought of giving these gifts comes from the heart and they are actually made by you, I am going to refer to them as “heartmade”.

It is so easy to just hit the mall for a gift; but taking time to create a “heartmade” gift shows that you are giving of yourself more so than your pocketbook. These gifts will mean so much more to the recipient and they will warm their hearts. After all, isn’t that what true gift giving is all about?

Most of you think of candy, cookies and other food products when making a gift. But I want to give you some new suggestions. I know that for many of you, time is a big consideration when selecting a “heartmade” item and want something quick and easy. Cookie (or muffin) Ingredient Jars are always a great idea that take very little time since you are only layering the ingredients and attaching a recipe. In addition, you have saved yourself the time involved with the baking and presentation of baked items.

I like to layer the ingredients in an order that is most appealing to the eye. Then, using a recipe card, attach the recipe of how to make the cookie or food item in the jar. If you are real crafty this card can be created easily on the computer and then you can just print multiples if you are creating several jars. I like to add a little Christmas art and colorful ribbon to brighten the jar.

A new item that will be tucked in my Christmas gift bag this year is a colorful jar of Honey Cinnamon Butter. Now this is what I really call easy and delicious! You just mix the ingredients and pour them into a ½ to 1 pint jar, tie on a bright ribbon and attach your gift tag. On some of the jars I attached some self-stick jewels from the craft department and found their sparkle created a gorgeous gift. I guarantee that the recipient will be drooling over this neat “heartmade” item.

Since my creative juices work on overtime (I wish I got paid for every idea I come up with!) I found another unique gift idea. I was shopping in the kitchen department the other day and found some tall bottles with a hinged stopper. They were a pretty clear gold color and were on sale for only $1.75 each! I was so excited I bought all of them knowing that I could use them in creating wonderful presents for friends on my list. (Those of you on my list know who you are, so plug up your ears!) I decided to fill some of them with tasty Dipping Oils and others with Herbal Vinegar Bath Refresher.

It is funny how sometime you find an interesting article just when you need it. I found a great one in one of my magazines this month. It explained how the use of Apple Cider Vinegar in your bath water would help relieve dry skin and leave it soft and refreshed. Now I know that some of you are saying, “I don’t want to smell like vinegar,” so I am adding rosemary and honey to mine. The rosemary will give it a wonderful aroma and the honey will also pamper the skin. Another great combination is created by adding lavender and vanilla. I’ll just tuck this lovely bottle in a wine bottle gift bag and now I have a few more people crossed off my gift list.

My last gift idea is NOT for a kitchen fan but rather for the athletes on your Christmas list. That means three grandsons for me, two pole vaulters (Clinton Massie and Ohio State) and a serious high school wrestler. I came up with the idea of making sport pin shadow boxes. After a few hours on the Internet, I found rare, old Olympic pins for wrestling and pole vaulting. I then inserted them in shadow boxes that I purchased from a craft store. They are now being preserved and can be hung on the wall in their rooms.

I was amazed at what could be found if you take the time to research - and with a little sharp bidding you can get them really cheap! My favorite was the Romanian Communist pin from a 1932 wrestling competition. This can be done for any sport the person has an interest in and is something that can be added to each year.

Well, I have just about everyone on my Christmas list crossed off with “heartmade” items. Hopefully, with ideas I have given you, you can too!

Happy Gifting,
Sheryl Sollars

Keeping cherished moments can be done in ways big and small

Do you miss opportunities to create memories? Your digital camera is your friend. Put that device into your purse!

Can you make cookies at least one time a year? The most important time would be Christmas, right? If your child is two years old, he can sit on the counter and hand you items as you prepare dough. He can also cut out cookies! Each year he’ll be able to mix, read directions, find ingredients, and before long he will be mixing the dough and chilling it in the refrigerator for the family event. Go out and buy a child’s apron and cookie cutters!

Easy cookie dough: 1 stick butter, ½ cup sugar, l/2 cup brown sugar, 1 egg, 1-l/2 cups self-rising flour, 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix all. Divide into thirds. Use drops of food coloring to make red and green dough, leaving the third amount plain. Chill in fridge for about an hour. Have fun cutting out cookies. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Decorate and don’t worry about looks - the cookies taste great!

Have you heard about If you have years of pictures housed in a huge box, consult this website and you’ll become a designer of a priceless digital book. The quality is tops. Also, check out the “specials” and save money.

Are you aware of the wooden chest-type boxes at craft stores? Instead of creating a scrapbook of memories, buy a box and paint it in a bright color. Buy a paint pen and add your child’s initials on the front. Then begin to file important pictures, school records and artwork. Actually, this is a very “masculine” keepsake. It’s a great place to keep all of the 3-D awards such as school pins and letters because – alas - letter jackets are not popular!

Where are all of those cross-stitch pictures from friends and family? Are they piled in a closet because you can’t seem to pitch hand-crafted textiles? Take the cross-stitching from the old frames. You may have several, so each one will be a different size. Add borders of material to some in order to make equally-sized squares for a pieced memory quilt. One wall hanging could be better than small outdated crafts!
Have you seen wooden trays? These trays come in all sizes and can be stained or painted. Gather your favorite pictures, make a collage that fits the inside of the tray, and finish with a decoupage medium. These trays can be seen on a daily basis as they hold car keys and other personal items.

Do your family members have favorite flowers and bushes? Create a memory garden in one part of the yard. Add plantings in honor of people. As babies are born, add to the yard. Take pictures of your loved ones next to their plants and notice the changes each year. Take pictures for grandparents or dry flowers and paste to candles. Bouquets are even faster!

Is e-mail still your friend? Have you converted solely to texting? Find family pictures. E-mail those family members and ask them three questions of your choice such as “favorite food, favorite gift ever received, and favorite song.” This easy task might guarantee an answer within a week. Simply print answers and add to a quick picture album.

By Beverly Drapalik

Front Porch Profile - Shane Wilkin

Shane Wilkin - Highland County, Ohio Board of Commissioners President

What is your favorite movie?

Where is the most interesting place you've traveled?
East Germany/East Berlin before the wall came down.

What is your favorite Elvis Presley song?
American Trilogy/Elvis' version of My Way.

What character from a book would you be?
Tom Sawyer. Always an adventure.

Cats or dogs?
Is this really a choice? Dogs.

What quote best defines how you live your life?
Don't miss it.

Winter, spring, summer or fall?

Regular or decaf?
What's the point of decaf? Regular.

What is the thing you love most about your community?
The sense of family we have here in Highland County.

What is one of the funniest things a kid has said to you?
At church, a young boy had a prayer concern for his goldfish because the fish was swimming on its side. Then his praise 10 seconds later was, "At least my fish is not floating." It is all a matter of perception!

By Lora Abernathy
Health and Wellness Editor, Salt Magazine
Southwest Group Online Editor, Ohio Community Media