Four Years And Counting!

Four years ago, on March 14, 2014, I started this blog. My very first post was entitled, “Write Me A Letter” and was about how nice it is to receive a hand-written letter in the mail. I went back and reread the post and it sounds like one I might still write today. I did notice that I add a lot more pictures to my posts now than I did in my first year.

Since that first post, I’ve written 187 more. During the last four years, I’ve had 65,000 views of my blog. I’m delighted that so many of you have been regular readers. Thank you for that!

I love writing this blog and I’m thrilled that my readership is still growing after four years! I also love the comments about my blog posts…thank you to all who take the time to comment.

My top ten most popular blog posts (by number of views) over the past four years have been:

1. Where Exactly Is The Mason-Dixon Line?
2. Do Drink The Water (This is my top post for comments)
3. The Kissing Bridges
4. Guess What Happened 95 Years Ago?
5. Whatever Happened To S & H Green Stamps?
6. Mumming, Souling, Guising, and Trick-Or-Treating
7. A Rose-Colored View Of Depression Glass
8. Patchwork Memories
9. Is Kindness Important?
10. Don’t Lose Your Marbles!

These are some of my personal favorites as well, but I would add to them my other favorite posts:

“To Everything There Is A Season” about my son’s wedding day.

“Not Your Grandmother’s Mason Jars” about how I use the Mason Jars I inherited from my grandmother.

“Road Trip…I-70 Exit 129” about an opportunity my husband and I had to help complete strangers one day while we were traveling.

“It’s How We Roll” about the not so long-ago history of the invention of toilet paper.

“Smith Corona” about the much longed-for typewriter I received for my 18th birthday. I posted it in typewriter font just for fun!

My blog is not fancy or sophisticated but hopefully, it’s well written. It’s about every-day things that we all deal with from time to time, and stories from my own life that I think might interest, or have value for others.

One day, a friend said, “I notice you never write about anything political or controversial in your blog posts.” She’s right. I deliberately steer clear of the political and controversial because there’s enough of that out there. Could I write that way? Of course, I could. I have opinions just like everyone else. But I choose to stay positive and as I said when I started this blog:

It’s my goal to give you something to think about as you go through your day. I hope to make you chuckle and I hope you occasionally say to yourself, “I didn’t know that” when I’ve written about something new to you.

As I begin year five of my blog, thank you to all who have walked down the lane with me. I hope I’ve made you chuckle from time to time and also given you some food for thought!

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Read Early And Often

I had the privilege of reading my latest book for children at a school last Friday, March 2nd. It was national Read Across America Day. This annual celebration of reading, is sponsored by the National Education Association and is held every year on the birthday of Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

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Reading for kids is one of my favorite activities as an author. As a kid, I was the one who always had a book in my hand and would check out as many books as they would allow at my local library. As an author, it is my goal to spread my love of books and stories to as many children as I can.

A recent study by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital that was published in the August 2015 issue of Pediatrics Magazine, found that reading to 3- to 5-year-old children helps in literary and language development. The study found that preschool children who were read to by their parents and other caregivers, had the parts of their brains activated which help with mental imagery and the understanding of narrative…both keys in the development of literacy and language.

Dr. Seuss Quote Print Classroom poster or nursery by SSDdesign

One of my earliest memories, was being read to by my mother. We would curl up together against the pillows on my bed and read a chapter every night. I remember hearing “Heidi” and “Black Beauty” and “Charlotte’s Webb” and “The Secret Garden.” Later, we moved on to the Little House books, “Little Women” and Nancy Drew. By then, I was old enough to read for myself, but it was a time together that we both enjoyed and weren’t eager to give up.

As a parent, I loved reading to my own children. I read to my sons together, but my daughter was seven years younger, so they were both reading on their own by the time I began reading to her. I remember one night I read two books to her before I tucked her in. As I left her bedroom, I found both of my sons sitting against the wall outside her room. They had quietly come down the hall to listen to me read to their sister.

In addition to fostering language and literary development, reading to children creates nurturing relationships between parents and children. It also creates shared points of reference and memories and often (as in my case) a life-long love of reading. What a gift for both children and their parents!

I’ve already had the delightful opportunity to read for my grandson, Graham. I’m hopeful that I will be able to do that a lot more in his young life!

Author’s note: Last Friday was the 114th birthday of Dr. Seuss. If you have ever wondered where the “Seuss” came from, it was his middle name…Theodor Seuss Geisel. He added the “Dr.” to his name because his father had always wanted him to practice medicine.

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Fourscore…The Rest Of The Story

My Dad turned 80 last Friday…on February 23rd. We had his birthday celebration on Saturday evening to give all the out of town family members a chance to get here.

During the party, Dad told a story about how until he was 28 years old, he thought his birthday was February 22nd. He had been born at home, late at night, and that was the date his mother had always said he was born.

When he was 28 years old, he went to the Social Security Administration office to get a copy of his birth certificate so he could get married to my Mom. He was shocked to see February 23rd instead of February 22nd on his birth certificate.

We started the party on Saturday by all of us wearing “80” glasses and shouting “Happy Birthday” as Dad came in the door.

Next was dinner and birthday cake. Written on the cake was: “Good Gravy, Look Who’s 80!”  I told Dad ahead of time to be prepared to blow out 80 birthday candles.  I was only kidding, but he did come prepared with a fire extinguisher!

After the food, was a fun true/false game to see how much the family knew about Dad’s life. Everyone did pretty well on this except for knowing that Dad actually owned and rode a Harley as a teenager. I think we were all pretty surprised by that one!

Next came gifts, and in addition to a lot of great gift cards and certificates, Dad received a supposedly “winning” Powerball ticket, a shirt from his beloved Notre Dame, a money tree plant, an “Indiana” shadow box, and a bottle of Wild Turkey. He so enjoyed reading all the cards and notes.

Finally, it was time for everyone to read their favorite memories of Dad. Some were funny and others were serious and sentimental. After we each read ours, we placed it in the treasure chest for Dad to take home along with others sent to him from out of town family and friends.

I asked Dad what his favorite part of his 80th birthday party was, and he said it was “getting to spend the evening with so many people that he loves.” I think that’s pretty much how it is with most of us. As we get older, what means the most, is time with our loved ones.

Author’s note: Another surprise for Dad during his birthday celebration, was the announcement of a new great-grandchild on the way. It doesn’t get much better than that!


My father will turn 80 this Friday. It’s a little disconcerting to me because if he’s turning 80, that means that I’m…uh…getting up there as well!

He’s in the front on the left

Senior picture, 1955

That’s us Thanksgiving 2017

I’ve been planning a family party for him for the past month. At Christmas, I told the rest of the family that I was planning a party to celebrate his 80 years on the planet. I told him too, and he said, “It’s just another day and I’ll be working that day.”

Yes, my father is still working. He has retired three times but he just keeps going back to work because he likes being around people. He’s a school crossing guard for an elementary school here in Texas. He told me last week that it’s his favorite job ever.

I went to watch him work one day last year and I understand why he likes it so much. He gets treated like a Rockstar at work. The kids call him “Mr. Paul” and they all high five or fist bump him as they cross the street…even the younger siblings in their parents’ arms stick a little fist out to him as they go by.

Parents stop and say “hello” and call and wave to him from cars. Kids show him their new shoes and backpacks and school projects. One little girl even showed him how she could do a cartwheel while they waited for the traffic to clear.

My dad takes his job very seriously. One extremely cold week not long ago, I asked him if he would be okay outside in such frigid weather and he said, “I have to be there to keep the kids safe.”

So, this weekend, our family will come together to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday. His grandchildren are flying in from Michigan and Indiana and bringing two great-grandchildren along. (He almost couldn’t believe it when I told him.) My brother and his family will travel from the Austin, Texas area to be a part of the celebration. And now that it’s all happening, my dad is very excited about having a birthday party, even if it is just another day!

What he doesn’t know, is that family and friends from across the country have sent cards and notes and favorite memories of him that we will read at the party. He also doesn’t know that the school where he works is doing a little something for him to mark the day. And, there will be lots of other surprises because turning 80 is a pretty big deal!

Author’s note: The hardest part of planning a party for an 80-year-old, is that the stores don’t carry birthday decorations for anyone older than 60. Do they think we stop having birthday parties at 60? I searched every store in the area and only found a few “80th” birthday cards. Finally, I went online and was able to find some decorations and paper products on Amazon. I also found some fun decorating ideas on Pinterest.  I’ll post pictures from the celebration next week!

Love Notes

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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What could be more fun than a holiday that exists to celebrate love! And, the celebration often involves presents and flowers and chocolate and Valentine love notes. Woo Hoo…could it get any better?

Honestly, I adore every single thing about this holiday but being a lover of words, I want to receive a love note. I don’t care if it’s written on a Post-it, on the back of an envelope, in the dust on my car, on the bathroom mirror, or inside a flowery and beautiful Valentine card…I want a love note.

I received my very first love note when I was eight years old. It was sent by a boy named Oliver who lived near my grandparent’s farm. He sent it to my grandparent’s house about this time of year, and it was waiting for me on the kitchen table the next time I visited.

Even though he was a year or so older, I was impressed that he had actually mailed it to me. In the letter, Oliver told me that he liked me and hoped that I liked him too. He said he also hoped we could walk down to the creek together in the springtime and look for minnows and cattails.

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It was a very sweet and innocent note. We never did take that walk together and I always wondered if Oliver might be a forest ranger somewhere since he obviously loved the outdoors!

But the thing I most remember, is how special I felt because another person liked me enough to take the time to write and tell me. I’ve received many love notes in my life, but I still remember receiving that first one and how it made me feel.

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When my children were small, I used to put little love notes in their lunch boxes for them to find at school. I would also cut their sandwiches in the shape of a heart with a cookie cutter.

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One day when my oldest son was in the second grade, he came home and said, “Mom, the guys are teasing me. I need you to stop cutting my lunch into heart shapes. I know you love me, but it’s getting embarrassing.”

So, I stopped with the heart shapes and notes but I would still put a couple of Hershey’s kisses in his lunch now and then. That seemed to be okay.  And, I did save the heart-shaped cookie cutter for when my grandchildren come to visit.  Love notes are not just for Valentine’s Day!

We are all used to getting electronic emails and text messages, but there is still something about getting a handwritten love note that you can hold and keep and cherish…and pull out when you’re having a bad day.

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I hope you will write a love note to someone in your life today. It can be long and Valentine’s Day mushy, it can be short and to the point, or somewhere in between. No one ever gets tired of hearing “I love you.”

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Mom-1, Clyde-0!

Years ago, I had a groundhog living under my gardening shed. He would waddle out from under the shed on sunny days and munch on the flowers in my well- tended gardens. Being a gardener, you can imagine how I felt about that!

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I tried chasing him out of the yard, spraying him with the hose, borrowing a friend’s dog to scare him away, leaving the radio on outside, and filling in his tunnel under the shed. But nothing worked and he stayed and dug more tunnels.

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My battle with the groundhog became such a running family joke that my kids named him. Even their friends knew about my battles with “Clyde”. One morning after I got everyone out the door to school, I found a message on the magnetic white board on the refrigerator:

“I’m still here. Love, Clyde”

“Very funny” I said out loud as I went to the kitchen window to check to see if my nemesis was eating my flowers.  And of course, he was.  Taunting me.  Clyde-1, Mom-0.

Crystyle Magnetic White Board 12"x17" with 2 Magnets Markers and Eraser for Kitchen Fridge Magnetic Dry Erase Board Weekly Reminders

This went on for a couple of months. Clyde would boldly lumber out from under the shed to eat my gardens, and I would chase him like a crazy woman! In spite of being chased, he grew fatter and fatter and didn’t seem to care that he was living under an eviction notice.

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Finally, I had enough and called animal control. The guy that came out brought a trap and showed me how to set it up. He said that groundhogs like fruit so to try melon, especially cantaloupe, in the trap.  I set the trap the first day and put some juicy orange cantaloupe in there for Clyde. And every morning for a week, the cantaloupe was gone and the trap was empty.

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The second week, I caught a raccoon in the trap and boy was he ever mad and hissing about being caught! When animal control came to pick him up, the guy said, “I thought you had a groundhog you were trying to catch?”

“I do…he keeps eating the cantaloupe without being caught and he’s getting fatter every day!”

The guy thought for a minute and then said, “Maybe you need something larger. If your groundhog is really big, his body might be keeping the trapdoor from closing when he takes the food. I’m going to leave a larger trap for you.”

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That night, I caught a second unpleasant raccoon and animal control came and took him away and left me another large trap. Meanwhile in my back yard, fat Clyde was sunning himself and having a flower smorgasbord.

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I went to the grocery store and bought more cantaloupe as well as some watermelon and honeydew. Since Clyde liked eating so much, I was going to put a melon feast in the trap!

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That night, the temptation must have been too much because the next morning, Clyde was in the trap. When animal control came to take him away, they said he was by far the biggest and fattest groundhog they had ever picked up. Mom-1, Clyde-0!

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Author’s note: Groundhog Day was last Friday. Punxsutawney Phil, that groundhog in Pennsylvania, saw his shadow so that means there will be six more weeks of winter. The additional cold weather will give us all a chance to watch the 1993 film, “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray!

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Over The Moon For The Moon!

Last night, we were returning from a movie and we stopped outside and admired the big, bright full moon in the sky. There’s been a lot in the news feeds this week about the moon. I hope you’ve taken a few minutes to look up and see the “Super Blue Blood Moon” as it’s being called.

The reason that this particular moon sighting is being talked about so much, is because it’s rare to see these three moon events at the same time. It’s the first time since March 31, 1866 (the year after the Civil War ended) that we have had a Super Moon, a Blood Moon and a Blue Moon all at the same time. They are calling it “a lunar trifecta.”

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Our moon orbits the Earth approximately every 27 days and a Super Moon occurs when a moon is both full and at its closest point to the Earth. Being closer to the Earth is what makes it appear larger in the sky.

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The second full moon in the same calendar month is called a Blue Moon…not to be confused with a Blue Moon Beer. Blue Moons usually occur every two to three years, and most often when the first full moon falls very early in a calendar month.

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A Blood Moon refers to the color of the full moon on the night of a total lunar eclipse. A lunar eclipse is when the sun, the Earth, and the moon line up in space. When the moon is fully eclipsed, it turns a coppery orange red in color. This eclipse happened early this morning and I hope you were able to see it!

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Sometimes we get so busy with our lives that we forget to notice the celestial artwork above us. In case you are wondering, the next full moon will be on March 1, 2018.  We’ll be looking up…how about you?


When’s Your Golden Birthday?

My daughter’s Golden Birthday is today. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept, your Golden Birthday is the birthday when your age matches the day of the month that you were born. So, today is January 24th and Anna is turning 24.

Since this is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime birthday, it’s called a Golden Birthday. A Golden Birthday is also sometimes referred to as a Grand Birthday, Champagne Birthday, Lucky Birthday, or Star Birthday.

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My birthday is August 1st, so my Golden Birthday was my very first birthday. I don’t really remember it but I do have a picture (in black and white) from the day!

Author, Joan Bramsch, first came up with the idea of a Golden Birthday in 1955 when she was raising her five children. Over the years, this fun idea has spread. Ms. Bramsch also has a book about Golden Birthdays which includes general birthday trivia and gift ideas. (

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The concept of a Golden Birthday is sometimes confused with a person’s 50th birthday. This must be because a 50th wedding anniversary is considered the golden wedding anniversary.

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Some people take the Golden Birthday idea a step further and call the birthday when you turn the same age as the year you were born, your “Golden Year”. If you were born in 1960 and will turn 60 in the year 2020, then 2020 will be your Golden Year…not to be confused with the Golden Years!

I looked in store after store for a Golden Birthday Card for Anna but didn’t find one. Perhaps the card companies haven’t embraced the concept of a Golden Birthday yet.

I did find multiple Golden Birthday Boards on Pinterest for decorating and gift ideas. I also found lots of Golden Birthday gifts on Amazon, including a golden imitation Rubik’s Cube.  So, who needs one?

“Useful, With A Pleasant Degree Of Humor”

For the past 35 years or so, I’ve asked for the same thing for Christmas every December. It doesn’t cost much, but it’s always my favorite gift and my family knows that I look forward to getting the newest edition of “The Old Farmer’s Almanac.”

When I was a girl growing up on my grandparent’s farm, there was always an almanac lying around. And since I was that kid who read everything I could get my hands on, I would read the almanac from cover to cover before I moved on to seed catalogs and my grandmother’s “True Story” Magazines.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, an almanac is an annual publication that includes practical information such as weather forecasts for 18 regions of the United States, planting dates for each region, tide tables, celestial information about planets, eclipses, meteor showers, and times for the rising and setting of the Sun and the Moon, best fishing days of the year, religious and other holiday dates, recipes and jokes.  There are also interesting articles about gardening, nature, animals, games, household hints, and home remedies.

It’s exactly what it sounds like…an interesting combination of articles and facts and tables all presented with a sprinkling of humor. Or, as it says in the heading on the cover of “The Old Farmer’s Almanac”:  “Useful, With A Pleasant Degree Of Humor.”

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The writer in me loves the collection of facts all contained in one small book. I also enjoy their annual essay contest which has interesting and unusual topics such as last year’s topic:

“The Historical Figure I Would Most Like to Meet and Why”

and this year’s topic:

“How Weather Changed My Life”

There are multiple winners of the annual essay contest and cash prizes for the first, second, and third places. The winning essays are then printed in the next year’s edition for all to read.

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“The Old Farmer’s Almanac” was founded in 1792, just sixteen years after the Revolutionary War. The first edition cost just nine cents an issue and 3000 copies were sold. The founder was a man named Robert B. Thomas and his picture is on the front cover of each edition of “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” to this day.

Joining his picture on the cover each year, is one of Benjamin Franklin. The well-known inventor, statesman, signer of the Declaration of Independence,  and face on our $100 bill, was also a publisher and famous for his annual publication of the “Poor Richard’s Almanack.”

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Franklin published it under his adopted pseudonym of “Richard Saunders” for over 25 years from 1732 to 1758. The “Poor Richard’s Almanak” was very popular in Colonial America and sold as many as 10,000 copies a year. It may have been a model for “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” which came on the scene some 30 years later.

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For those of you who like facts and trivia like I do, today is Benjamin Franklin’s birthday. He would be 312 years old.

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Author’s note: It used to be harder to find “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” but now they are sold at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Wal-Mart, and of course, any farm and feed stores. The 2018 edition sells for $6.99.

Deja Vous Anew

I like this time of year. The newness of it. It’s so nice to have a whole new year stretching ahead with a clean slate and a chance to begin anew.

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January is a good month for writers. The world is quieter after the busyness of the holiday season. People seem more focused both at work and at home. There is less opportunity for distraction and more time for writing.

I recently saw a post on a New York Public Library blog that mentioned that a lot of authors throughout history have been exercise buffs. It makes sense that exercise would be a good way to not only stay fit, but to clear the mind and increase circulation and perhaps even improve the creative process!

Many of us have set new diet and fitness goals for ourselves in the new year. According to the Mayo Clinic, ( are six strategies for successful weight loss and a boost to your health.

1. Make a long-term commitment to your personal fitness goals because they often require permanent changes.

2. Find your inner motivation to be responsible for your own diet and fitness behavior and be accountable to yourself.

3. Set realistic weight loss and exercise goals which will keep you motivated and help you be successful.

4. Find healthier foods to eat that you really enjoy.

5. For the best fitness results, find a way to get active that you enjoy and then stay active.

6. Change your perspective so that healthy habits become a permanent way of life.

My Fitbit is reminding me that it’s time to get up and move! Wishing you much success in your fitness and other goals and resolutions for the new year!

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A blog by Janet Sever Hull