Family Stories

My parents,
Aprox late 1930's
My Father, Arthur Seymour’s Stories

Growing up my father Arthur (Art for short) used to tell us stories of the adventures in got himself into as a kid growing up in the country.
I remember asking and begging for him to retell the stories to us. I also remember waiting up for my father to come home from work.  He worked a full time job but also was always working in his spare time.  He had a quarter acre garden every year, built the house we lived in and all the outbuildings, hunted and had a firewood selling business on the side. Many nights he would come home late.  One of my fond memories is him chasing us littlest kids around the house, catching us and rubbing his chin whiskers on our face.

My father passed away many years ago, way before my youngest children got to know him which saddens me.  He was not perfect, in truth he had many flaws, but the good times were the best!

There are many many stories he told, but most I have forgotten.  Some come to me when I least expect it, like today.  And so, even though I have told and retold all these stories to my children, I decided to write them down.  Hopefully they will tell them to their children around a campfire, just as I did.

Here are a few of the stories my father told:

Shaky Covered Bridge
My father was born in 1917 and growing up in the 1920’s, my father Art and his brother William had a dog named Bottle-Ass.

It seems from the stories they told that they dearly loved and yet tormented that dog.  I remember my father sitting up late at night after work, a couple stiff drinks in him and saying how much he missed his childhood dog.

One thing Art and William loved to do is call and coax Bottle-Ass onto the covered bridge.  Once in the middle of the bridge the boys would begin to jump up and down causing the bridge to bounce and shake which of course scared Bottle-Ass half to death.  

They would laugh until they could not breathe watching Bottle-Ass belly crawl the rest of the way off the bridge.

Covered bridge I visited outside Bedford, PA

The Ground Hog (Wood Chuck)
Bottle-Ass was a country dog and a born hunter and killer.  My father said he would kill anything if he could catch it.  One hot summer day, with nothing to do, Art took Bottle-Ass in search of a ground hog hole, which are plentiful in any corn field.   After finding and blocking the secondary exit hole ground hogs have and with shovel in hand Art dug while Bottle-Ass dug. 

They spent the entire day digging out the ground hog from his hole.  Once they got far enough and deep enough that they could see the ground hog, Bottle Ass took over.  Bottle Ass fought that ground hog until both were exhausted but the dog was finally able to drag the ground hog out and kill it.

Out House Plunge
Since Bottle-Ass was always on the hunt for a varmint to kill, Art and William, came up with a trick to play on that poor dog. 
The floor boards of the outhouse floor were laid in place but not nailed down to make cleaning a little easier.  

Art positioned the floor boards to teeter and went to get Bottle-Ass.  Him and William yelled “sic him Bottle-Ass, get him” and ran and pointed to the outhouse.  

Poor Bottle-Ass went full throttle barking and growling into the out house, hit the teetering floor boards and went right down into the shit.
My father told us him and William got a good thrashing and both were made to wash Bottle-Ass by hand.

Horse and Buggy Ride
When the boys got a little older, they came up with the idea to hook the horse and buggy up and go for a ride.  My grandmother was busy in the farm house and grand father was not around that day. 

My grandfather could have just been in the field or working, but he was a talented fiddle player known far and wide, so may have been away playing at a barn dance, party or dance hall.
Art and William got the horse hooked up with little trouble and climbed into the buggy.  They had never driven a horse and buggy before so were unsure what to do.  They only succeeded in spooking the horse, which took off at a full gallop.  Running scared the horse drug the buggy into a sharp turn around an apple tree.  The buggy smashed into the apple tree, demolishing it.
When their father (my grandfather) finally came home they got a good whipping to within an inch of their life.

Barn Dance Booze
My grandparents grew up in Chillicothe, Ohio and recently I found the cabin my grandmother Lucy grew up in, the Curtis family cemetery, a hill with our family name of Seymour, and most likely the location this next story took place.
My father told us that our grandparents met at a barn dance, and back then it seems like barn dances were a common event.  Years later and married, my grandparents took their children, six of them to a summer evening barn dance.  

 My father and uncle decided to sneak a few bottles of booze from the party and hide them to retrieve at a later date.  The boys took the bottles undetected and hide them near a pasture fence.  Busy the next few days Art and William were unable to retrieve the booze.  Finally, with a little free time the boys set off, thinking they would taste and sample their loot.  Being really young they did not realize that the hot summer sun beating down on the glass bottles full of booze for days would cause all the bottles to explode! When they reached the spot where they had hidden their stolen treasure, all that was left was broken glass.

The Chicken Thief
My grandparents, Alonzo and Lucy
My grandfather had chickens and in those days the chickens were free to roam as they pleased.  Today we call it free range chickens.  Anyway, my grandfather’s chickens would all roost in the apple tree at night.  
One night the dogs, with old Bottle-Ass included I’m sure, starting barking and raising the intruder alarm.  My grandfather grabbed his shotgun full of buckshot and ran out into the night. 
My grandfather saw someone climbing out of the apple tree carrying some of his chickens.  He opened fire, shooting buckshot everywhere, but the man got away.

Years later my grandfather was headed down the lane with his horse and wagon when he noticed a man walking along the road.  My grandfather pulled on the reins to slow the horse and ask the man if he needed a ride. 
Once the man climbed into the wagon my grandfather noticed that the man had scars from being shot with buck shot.  The man said he had been gone for years and was just returning to visit his mother and sister.  My grandfather told everyone he wass positive that was the man he shot stealing his chickens all those years ago.

The Bridge Ghost
A little scarier story goes like this.  
One cold winter evening a couple, madly in love was to be married at a nearby church just down the road from where my father grew up.  The bride was heading to the wedding in a buggy when the horse hit a patch of ice on the bridge.  Horse, buggy and the soon to be bride all went off the bridge into the river below and perished.
Now it is said that on certain nights travelers on that dark lonely road, see a woman dressed in old fashioned clothing, walking towards the bridge and stop to give her a ride.  Once they get to the bridge the woman disappears.

Fishing in The Creek
This story still freaks me out and gives me nightmares. 
The story goes that a young neighbor boy went fishing by himself in the nearby creek.  Digging for worms was common for county boys when planning on going fishing. To make sure he had enough bait, the young boy dug up what he believed to be worms.
He fished all day and came home with a huge string of fish.  

Surprised by the large quantity of fish, the boy  being so young, his mother asked him how in the world he was able to catch so many.  From his pockets he pulled out “worms” and said “these!  They bit me a little all day but wiggled so much I was able to catch lots of fish.” 
The “worms” turned out to be baby copperhead snakes and the boy later died from multiple snake bites, having been bitten each time he put his hand in his pocket to retrieve a “worm” or while baiting his hook.

A UFO Sighting
My parents came from two completely different backgrounds.  My father was a county boy with lots of family but my mother was a city girl growing up in German Village, a neighborhood of Downtown Columbus, with only her mother, grandmother and brother.
This story takes place either while they were dating or soon after marriage.  
One late summer night while driving outside of Circleville, Ohio along a country road lined with cornfields and woods my parents saw a large bright glowing light hovering over a cornfield.  As they approached their car radio went to nothing but static.  
As they got closer still, the car just shut off, went completely dead and my father could not restart it.  

The bright glowing light suddenly went straight up into the sky and then at a phenomenal speed zoomed off sideways.  Immediately after my parents were able to start their car and the radio was fine.  The sighting left them both shaken and a little scared. My father told us he still doesn't know what he saw that night but was convinced it was a UFO.

Social Class
Leave these two stories out or put them in?  Because these two stories are embedded in my memory, I put them in the post.  It is an indicator of my father's beliefs I think.
These are something else about my father I remember.  Stories he told about social standing and social classes and human behavior. 
One Friday my father was in line to cash his paycheck at a local grocery store.  My father was a foreman at North American Rockwell, a factory that built airplane parts, I think.  While standing in line with other working men, a man came up to the line and tried to step in front of many others.  Ditching we used to call it as kids.  Well my father wouldn't take that from any man. (A trait I see in myself)  He told the man to get to the back of the line.  The man (who’s name has been forgotten long ago and doesn't really matter for the story) said “Well, don’t you know who I am?  I’m so and so from the evening news” (or some other local famous personality). My father replied, “I don’t care if you’re the president; get to the back of the line like the rest of us.  And the famous man did.

And another similar story he told me.  One day when driving on a Sunday, he saw a black family who's car had a flat tire on the side of the road. 
What irritated my father was that it was Sunday and church had recently let out.  My father was not a religious man, never attended church that I remember although he allowed us to attend.  He says that on that day, not one of those church goers would stop to help this family on the side of the road.  My father stopped to offer what help he could. 

I may add to this post, as other memories come to me.  Some of my memories are sad or of unhappy times or events, and those I try not to remember and rarely retell. 
We all have our faults and flaws, myself included. 


A photo with five of my sisters and one brother.
 I am in the front on the right with short boxy hair. 

My father and I and my daughter Alexis, at the Millersport Corn Festival,
 just a couple years before his death (mid 1990's)


Homemade Vegetable Soup

This soup can be made with garden or farm market fresh vegetables, vegetables you canned during summer months, leftovers or store purchased.

Making a large pot of soup at one time leaves enough leftovers to heat up on a cold snowy day when you are short on time.  
Canning the soup will be even handier to quickly heat and serve for a quick meal after a day playing in the snow or hiking. 

Here’s a great tip a friend gave me.  Anytime you have leftover vegetables from a meal, simply store them in a Ziploc freezer bag.  Keep adding different leftover vegetables until you have enough to make a pot of vegetable soup!

And don’t be afraid to add different types of vegetables like squash, cabbage, peas or lima beans.  Each will add their own distinct flavor to the soup.

I used last years canned vegetables and fresh for my soup

Soup History in America
In America, the first colonial cookbook was published by William Parks in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1742, based on Eliza Smith's The Compleat Housewife; or Accomplished Gentlewoman's Companion and it included several recipes for soups and bisques. 
A 1772 cookbook, The Frugal Housewife, contained an entire chapter on the topic. English cooking dominated early colonial cooking; but as new immigrants arrived from other countries, other national soups gained popularity. In particular, German immigrants living in Pennsylvania were famous for their potato soups. 
In 1794, Jean Baptiste Gilbert Payplat dis Julien, a refugee from the French Revolution, opened an eating establishment in Boston called Restorator, and became known as "The Prince of Soups". The first American cooking pamphlet dedicated to soup recipes was written in 1882 by Emma Ewing: Soups and Soup Making. 

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Vegetable Soup Recipe

8 cups (2 quarts) chopped, peeled, cored tomatoes
6 cups cubed and peeled potatoes (about 6 medium)
6 cups 3/4-inch sliced carrots (about 12 medium)
4 cups green beans (1 quart) (or lima beans)
4 cups uncooked corn kernels (about 9 ears)
2 cups 1-inch sliced celery (about 4 stalks)
2 to 3 green bell peppers, chopped
2 cups chopped onions (about 2 medium)
1 head cabbage, diced medium pieces
6 cups water or use ½ Chicken stock
A little diced garlic
Salt and pepper or other spices such as thyme or parsley (optional)

Combine all vegetables in a large saucepot. 

Add all the vegetables into a large stock pot

Add water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 to 2 hours or until all vegetables are cooked. Season with salt and pepper or other seasonings, if desired.
Serve with a grilled cheese sandwich, crackers or warm homemade bread.
Leftovers can be frozen in serving size containers for a quick meal on another day.
Soup cooked and ready to eat!

Canning The Soup
Makes about 7 quarts

You Will Need:
7 quart or 14 pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands
Ladle and other canning tools
Pressure canner

Prepare pressure canner according to the instructions that came with it.
Wash and sterilize the canning jars. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
Combine all vegetables in a large saucepot. Add water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Adding cabbage to vegetable soup is wonderful!

Ladle hot soup into hot canning jars leaving a 1 inch headspace.

Fill jars leaving a 1 inch headspace

Remove air bubbles. 

Remove air bubbles

Wipe jar rim. Apply lid on jar then apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight. (turn until you meet resistance)

Apply two piece lid

Process filled jars in a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure 55 minutes for pints or 1 hour and 25 minutes for quarts, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars from canner and cool. Do not disturb, checking lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.
Store in a cool dark pantry or storage area.


We woke up to inches of snow this early November morning. Although it's a beautiful sight it underscores the predictions of a cold long winter ahead this year!

Nothing better than hot soup on a cold day


Thanksgiving Place Cards

Place Cards Using Scrapbooking Paper

First, for those of you who have never used them before, you may be wondering what exactly is a place card?  
A place card is a card or something similar bearing a person's name and used to mark their place at a dining or meeting table.
It’s really anything you wish to use with a name tag on it, placed on the table for assigned seating. 

The placing of the place cards are usually never set in stone at my house. As guests arrive they like to rearrange where they and others are sitting.  Some guests wish to sit next to other guests (or far away from them), so they just move their place card. 

My kids like to keep their personalized place cards as a keepsake each year and we have fun making them. 
Some years I purchase place cards and just embellish them, but most years I make them myself.

Here is an easy place card to make from scrapbooking paper, glue and bead stickers.  You can hand write the names on each or if you have terrible handwriting like I do, use Microsoft Word Doc to create and print the names.
Supplies for Place Cards
Supplies Needed
Fall themed scrapbooking paper
Glue stick
Scissors or paper cutter
Bead or jewel stickers
Cut strips of scrapbooking paper

Cut the desired size strips of a solid color sheet of scrapbooking paper.  I use a little heavier weight paper for this step and remember to use fall colors.
Next fold the strip of paper in half.
Now fold the ends of the strip of paper about an inch or two.
This should make a triangle shape.  Glue the two end folded sections together to form the bottom of the place card, and form a triangle.

Fold strip in the middle, fold on ends and glue

Next, using a fall themed sheet of scrapbooking paper cut out a square of paper, smaller than the front surface of the tri-folded place card.  This sheet of paper should have a pattern such as fall leaves or turkeys or pumpkins, etc.
Glue the square onto the place card front.
Now cut an even smaller square of solid color scraping paper.  This square should also be a light solid color.  
Hand print names or create in Microsoft Word Doc

This is where you will hand write each quest’s name or if you are creating the names in a Word Doc, print them, cut them out and then glue onto this square of paper.

The final step is optional but fun.  I purchased a package of beads and pearls stickers in fall colors to embellish the place cards.  I also let the kids decorate their own!
Place cards finished and decorated with bead stickers

Happy Thanksgiving,


My place card decorate by me!

Ready for quests and Thanksgiving dinner

T ... Turkeys, tablecloths, being together,
H ... Happiness & homes to protect from cold weather, 
A ... Aunts and uncles, a reunion in Fall, 
N ... Nieces and nephews, family members all! 
K ... Kind-hearted kin coming over for dinner, 
S ... Surely we'll have fun, but we won't get thinner! 
G ...Gourds and pumpkins, arms open wide. 
I ... Indians and Pilgrims we remember with pride. 
V ...Very special times-there could even be snow. 
I ... Imagine what it was like at Plymouth long ago. 
N ...Never forget how the settlers led the way, 
G ...Giving thanks and blessing this special day. 


Indian Tacos

Indian Taco (Sioux, Cherokee or Navajo)

My husband and I and our kids have a love for South Dakota and the Black Hills.  We have made several trips out West and always discover something new, beautiful or amazing (sometimes all at once) on each trip.

This last September just my husband Bill and I made the trip.
When planning the trip, we made sure to reserved a couple days to drive the back roads off the beaten tourist routes, through and around the Badlands National Park and into the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation with a stop at the Wounded Knee Massacre Site. 


Fall Decorated Christmas Tree

Decorating a tree for Autumn or Halloween

I got this idea years ago from my sister Kathy and her husband Beau.  They are both very creative and even created, own and operate The South Jersey Pumpkin Show.

On one of my trips to New Jersey to see them and visit their pumpkin festival they had a 6 foot tree in their front room decorated for autumn.  I loved it!
I took the idea home with me, changed it a little and made it my own.

I have a bay window in my kitchen and since purchasing our farm, have had a Christmas tree in that window decorated for Christmas to match my kitchen.

I started out with the 3 foot tree for an autumn themed tree for October and have since purchased a 4 foot tree to hold all the wonderful fall and Halloween decorations I have found.


Halloween Costume Ideas, Part 2

This is the second blog post on Easy Halloween Costume Ideas.
Click here for the first blog post:  Halloween Costume Ideas, Part 1

Army costumes and a football player
Who doesn't love fall and Halloween? Around our house, we get really excited thinking about the coming pumpkin recipes, fall leaves, corn stalks, stews, college football and all things autumn. We even have an annual Fall Party

When the kids were little I made all their costumes.  Most years the costumes were made by hand and accessories purchased to go with them.  As they got older I started building some of the costumes from clothing I found at thrift stores then made or purchase the remaining items needed. 

Was I especially crafty?  No, not especially, not really.  I taught myself as I went along, learning from a lot of mistakes.  Looking for parts and pieces to use for Halloween costumes made it much easier and saved lots of time and sewing.

Pattern Savers

Pilgrim costume
Storing and Protecting Patterns

I know there are not as many people who sew as there use to be, but for those of you who still do this might come in handy.

I just finished sewing the parts I need for my Halloween costume to wear to our annual Fall Party
This year my husband and I are going to be Pilgrims!

I have been making the kids costumes (and my own), along with curtains, pillows, doll clothes and various other sewing crafts for quite a few years now, so I have a stockpile of patterns.

One thing that always seems impossible for me is getting all the pattern pieces back into the tiny little envelope they come in.  
I just don't think the envelope was that small when I took the pattern out!

And repeated use of one pattern usually always ends up with the pattern envelope torn and useless.