Dishing About My China

A few months ago, my husband and I began talking about the possibility of downsizing to a smaller house with a smaller yard.  The idea was appealing to us both, but the problem was we had too much stuff to move into a smaller house.  I started making a mental inventory of the items I would want and need to get rid of, and one of the things on the list was my china.

It was the very pretty “Carolyn” by Noritake China pattern that I had chosen during the summer of 1980 when I was just 19 years old.  The dishes were pale blue and pink and white with a silver ring around the plates.


I married that August, two weeks after I turned 20.  For wedding and shower gifts, my new husband and I received multiple place settings of our fine china dishes.  We were both still in college at the time, but we thought that someday we would be settled with a home and a family and be glad we had the nice dishware.

Over the ensuing years, as Christmas gifts, my parents would add serving dishes and other pieces to our collection.  By the time I was 25 years old, my china dishes numbered 12 complete place settings, 14 cups and saucers, a sugar bowl and creamer, a butter dish, a platter and several serving bowls.


By the time I was 30 years old, my taste had changed dramatically, and I wondered why I had ever chosen those colors for my china pattern.  My home was decorated in earth tones with accent colors of green and red that didn’t really go with the pretty blue and pink and white dishes.

For the next 15 years, I used the china only a few times a year for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.  For my daughter’s eighth birthday party, she hosted a tea party with all of her little girlfriends.  They arrived in all of their eight year old finery of beads and feather boas and tea party hats.  For this grand event, we pulled out the china dishes and had lemonade tea in the china cups, and cake and ice cream on the dessert plates.

Image result for little girls tea party


About 10 years ago, I saw and fell in love with a set of Christmas dishes.  By this time, I had money to buy them myself and could choose all the pieces I wanted.  The poor blue and pink and white china was relegated to the back shelves of the buffet where it stayed unused and dusty at the holidays.

When I moved to Texas nearly seven years ago, I lugged it along with me, thinking that maybe my daughter might like to have it someday.  Sadly, it still stayed hidden in its place in the bottom of the cabinet.


I offered it to my 22 year old daughter a couple of weeks ago.  She declined and said, “Thank you, but I would prefer to choose my own dishes.”  I certainly understood that; her taste is going to change anyway over the next few years.

I Googled “selling china dishes” and found there are companies who will actually pay you for your dishes.  Of course, you have to pack and ship them to the company yourself.  I mentally tucked that idea away for after the holidays.  Next, a friend suggested that I might try to sell them on Craig’s List.


I took pictures of my pretty china and guessed on a price for the Craigslist ad.  I posted the ad on Saturday morning and heard nothing all day.

That evening, I received an email asking about the china.  The woman, Tracie, asked me to call her.  When I called, Tracie told me she had the same china pattern years before and had given the dishes to her sister.  She regretted giving up the blue and pink and white dishes because they matched her home perfectly.  She said she was interested in buying my china and we set a time to meet.


When I met Tracie, she told me how she had looked for the same china but found that the pretty blue and pink and white china pattern had been retired or discontinued.  Then, she searched for a similar pattern but had no luck there either.

Finally, a friend had suggested she check Craig’s List and when she did on the same day I had listed the china for sale, my ad was the first one she saw.  I actually got shivers when I heard that…she was meant to  have my china!


Tracie was as thrilled to get the pretty blue and pink and white china as I was to give up my role as caretaker.  It was a win for us both.  And, since her first child is due to be born in just a few months, there may be another little girl tea party with the pretty china in the future!

Here are some interesting facts about china with information from the Noritake China website:

*China is a combination of clay, kaolin, feldspar and quartz.  After the raw materials are mixed, the product is molded into the desired pieces and then put through a series of firings.

*The firing of china at extremely high temperatures for long periods of time makes the body of the china pieces very strong.  The firing process also causes the china to become very white and translucent.

*While china is very beautiful and delicate in appearance, it is known for its great strength and resistance to chipping, which results from the high firing temperature.

*China and porcelain actually refer to the same product.  The term “china” is preferred in the United States while “porcelain” is favored in Europe.

*Bone China is usually thinner than porcelain china and the glaze is smoother.  Bone china includes the same raw materials as porcelain china, but adds bone ash, which is a byproduct of incinerated animal bones.  The bone ash gives the china a unique milky white color.


Who’s Missing From Your Thanksgiving Table?

“Missing too many family members today.”

My friend posted these six simple words on Facebook this week.  When I read them, all I could think was, “Me too, my friend.”  Then, the thought that had been hovering in the back of my mind for the past week moved front and center.

He should be here. 

How I miss my brother at Thanksgiving.  He loved all the holidays but he really loved Thanksgiving and Christmas.  This will be our 11th Thanksgiving without him.  While time truly does take away some of the searing pain of loss, it also means it’s been longer since we’ve seen one another.  More time has passed since I’ve heard his voice and his laughter.

Jeff, Mom, & Dad circa 1990's

I can still hear my brother’s voice inside my head.  I can still hear his laugh.  I don’t want to ever lose that, and I worry that I will.


In Thanksgivings of yesteryear, the phone calls would have been flying about now between my brother and my mom and me.  Who was bringing what?  Were there enough chairs?  Does Grandpa need a ride and who will pick him up?  Who’s bringing games for the kids?  Do we have a football to throw around before dinner?  How big is the turkey?  Who’s making the banana pudding and the cheesecake?


This Thanksgiving is the first one that my brother and I are both grandparents.  We would have had so much fun showing off pictures and trading stories.  This is the time of life when I thought he and I would have had more time together after the busy parenting years.  We would have held and admired one another’s grandchildren while telling stories about our own children when they were small.


As I was writing this, my husband, Jeff, came out of his office and asked what I was blogging about this week.  When I told him I was writing about my brother and those who will be missing at Thanksgiving, he said, “That’s kind of a downer.  What about all of those who will be joining our family down the road?  We will have sons-in-law and future grandchildren to join little Graham, who became a part of our family in September.”


And, he’s right.  I miss my brother daily and especially during this time of year.  He made the holidays so much fun and I am thankful for the 41 years I had with him. I hope somewhere somehow he is sitting around a table of Thanksgiving and watching both of our children and grandchildren from afar.  I hope he knows how much he is missed.

We all have people we are missing this time of year.  I think it’s important to cherish our memories of them while also being thankful for the time we had with them.  I know this, but sometimes I get lost in the missing and forget.

I have much and many for which I am thankful this Thanksgiving and I bet you do too!  Sometimes, the people in our lives are there to remind us.


Wishing you all a blessed Thanksgiving filled with both old and new wonderful memories!




But It Isn’t Thanksgiving Yet!

While driving home from an elementary school literacy event last night, I noticed that my local radio station had changed its format to “all Christmas music, all the time” until after the Christmas holiday.  Then, I passed a giant Santa peering over the back fence of a house near mine.  And when I pulled into my neighborhood, I saw that two of my neighbors had their Christmas lights up already.



I’m not sure when the holidays got all jumbled together into a mass of orange and black and brown and red and green, but I miss the days of celebrating one holiday at a time.  The pharmacy where I work part-time was decorated for Christmas before Halloween and I noticed that other local shops also had Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas items for sale starting in October.


When my children were small, they would get very excited about the different holidays during the year.  They would ask me which holiday came next and how our family would celebrate.  We would talk about the reasons for each holiday and plan how we would decorate our house and what fun traditions would be a part of our celebration.


Times do change but it used to be that each holiday had its own moment.  It seems like we as a society are so busy looking ahead to what comes next, that we are forgetting to stop and enjoy the present moments.  Shouldn’t every holiday be celebrated to the fullest?

For me, there will be no Christmas decorating until after Thanksgiving…all things in their own time.  Let’s give Thanksgiving its due and savor this holiday which celebrates family time and good food and football and thankfulness.


Once Thanksgiving is over, I will be happily decking the halls and trimming the tree to celebrate His birth.  But for now, I’m thinking about all the people and things for which I am thankful.


The Best Gifts

Recently on Facebook, I saw a post from a mom in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  She told a story about her daughter, Abby, and the special gift she received for her 18th birthday.

For Abby’s first birthday 17 years earlier, family and friends were asked to write a letter to Abby in lieu of gifts.  The letters were for a time capsule that was put away in a special box to be opened on her 18th birthday.

Abby opened her special birthday box of letters last month.  Of the 25 letters she received from family and friends, seven of the letter writers had passed away in the 17 years since her first birthday party.  Abby called the box her “letters from heaven.”

I was so touched by this very simple and heartfelt idea for a birthday gift.  It’s so meaningful to have words written to you by loved ones who have passed on.  Personally, I treasure the cards and letters I still have from my grandmother and my brother who are no longer with us.

write me a letter 005

Abby’s story also made me think of a similar gift my family gave my grandmother for her 80th birthday.  My grandmother turned 80 in September of 1994.  For her birthday party, her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren wrote down our favorite memories of times with her on colorful index cards.  We placed all of the cards in a special box for her to open and read at her party.


How she enjoyed reading those memories and how we all enjoyed reliving them!  We laughed a lot, we cried a little, and we all heard some family stories we didn’t know before!

After my grandmother died seven years later, the box of index cards of memories ended up in my possession.  Apparently, my Aunt Edie who was the executor of her estate thought I would be the family historian.  I wonder why?  I keep the colorful cards in one of Grandma’s old Mason Jars.


After I saw the post about Abby’s letters, I pulled out Grandma’s index cards and read through them again.  I found the ones I wrote that day about my favorite memories of her.  Here is one of them:

“When I was very small, and would spend the night with Grandma during the winter, we would go to the basement early in the morning to light the coal furnace.  While we waited for the house to heat up, Grandma would wrap me in a blanket and sit me in a chair in front of the open oven door to keep warm.”

I also have an index card that Grandma apparently wrote during her 80th birthday party.  Here is what it says:

“These are my favorite memories too and I wish I could live them all over again.  I recall most of them but of course, there are a lot more.”  It was signed “Grandma Pearl.”

Last September 17th, I was blessed with my first grandchild.  That means little Graham Michael will be turning one in September of 2017 and I have the next 10 months to write him a letter to be opened on his 18th birthday.  Hopefully, I will also still be around to help him celebrate that day!


One of my dear friends on Facebook also liked the post about Abby’s letters.  She said she is going to write a letter to her one-year-old granddaughter and also one to all of her grandchildren who are not yet 18!

Recently, one of my young friends at work told me about writing 60 things she loves about her grandmother for her grandmother’s 60th birthday.  Who wouldn’t love that!

If you have someone special in your life that has a birthday coming up, perhaps a gift of your words is something to consider.  Whether you write about your favorite memories with that person, or what you love and appreciate about them, or perhaps your hopes for their future, your words are a unique gift that only you can give.

Sometimes, the best and most meaningful gifts are not bought in a store but rather, come from our hearts.


Did I Vote…Are You Kidding?

Author’s note:  I normally write all new content each week for my blog.  Because of the upcoming election however, part of this post is pulled from one that ran in August of 2015 called “Guess What Happened 95 Years Ago.”  I think it’s fitting that I run the historical portion of it again.

I Voted Sticker

I voted today as I have in every presidential election since 1980 when I was first old enough.  It’s an obligation and a privilege that I take very seriously because I know of the hard fought battle to obtain this right.


When I went to my local voting precinct, I was welcomed warmly and treated with courtesy and respect.  No one called me names, or spat at me, or physically assaulted me…all things that were done to women who simply wanted the right to vote not so very long ago.

When my two grandmothers were born in September of 1914 and March of 1920, they both entered a world where women did not have the right to vote.  In fact, at that time, women were not allowed to own property in their names and were considered the property of their fathers or husbands.

On August 18th 1920, (the same year one of my grandmothers was born) the 19th amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified by Congress.  This amendment gave American women the right to vote.  It’s hard to believe that women have only had this right for 96 years.

The women’s suffrage (right to vote) movement in the United States began officially with the first women’s rights convention in the world which was held in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York.  The convention was organized by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who were also active members of the abolitionist (anti-slavery) movement.

In 1851, Stanton met Susan B. Anthony and the two women formed a life-long friendship and collaboration focused on obtaining voting rights for all women.  Once slavery was abolished after the Civil War, the two women founded the “National Woman Suffrage Association” (NWSA) and began campaigning for a constitutional amendment for universal suffrage and for other women’s rights.

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth

Another organization, the “American Woman Suffrage Association” (AWSA) was formed around the same time by Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe, and Josephine Ruffin.  The AWSA focused on trying to win the women’s right to vote state by state.

In 1890, the two organizations merged in order to be more effective.  The new organization was called the “National American Women Suffrage Association” (NAWSA).  In the early 20th century, the NAWSA held parades and rallies to draw attention to their cause, and allied themselves with local women’s clubs and some labor unions.

At the time, marching in parades and giving speeches on street corners was considered by many to be “unladylike” behavior and there was a wave of hostility against the suffrage movement by both men and some women.  Many women wanted the right to vote and believed in the work of the suffragists, but were too timid or afraid to openly join the effort.

Bryn Johnson Consulting

On March 3, 1913, the day before Woodrow Wilson’s presidential inauguration, 8,000 women suffragists marched up Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. demanding the right to vote. Using the nation’s capital as a backdrop for their event was intended to show the world the national importance of their cause.

Women's suffragists parade in

The parade turned into a near riot when the crowds of mostly men surged into the street grabbing, shoving, tripping, and jeering at the participants.  Police who were there to protect the marchers, stood back…and in some cases joined in.

Photos of men manhandling and dragging women hit newspapers around the world. The events of the day were in the papers for weeks and ultimately publicized and helped the cause of women’s suffrage.

March 8, 1913, front page of

In 1916, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns organized the National Women’s Party (NWP) and began a more militant campaign for women’s suffrage.  The NWP picketed and held demonstrations in front of the White House and all over the country.

Moms Have Demands!


Suffragist Picket Line - Desktop Wallpaper

Many suffragists were arrested for “obstructing traffic” and thrown in jail where they went on hunger strikes and endured force feedings.  Women kept marching and demonstrating and believing in the cause of suffrage for three generations until their efforts finally paid off.  The 19th amendment was ratified by a margin of just one single vote in August of 1920.

Suffragist Helena Hill Weed,

The 19th Amendment reads:

Section 1. The right of the citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

I have a family connection to the women’s suffrage movement.  My great-grandfather’s sister…who would technically be my great-grandaunt…was a suffragist and according to family stories, hosted women’s suffrage meetings at her home in Elkhart, Indiana during the early 1900’s.

Women's suffrage 039

Her name was Laura Mae (Parker) Foster but she went by her middle name.   I am her namesake and my middle name is also Mae.  I never knew Aunt Mae (she died eight years before I was born) but I inherited some items that once belonged to her.

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I also have an old, yellowed newspaper clipping of her obituary from 1952 which ran in The Elkhart Truth, my hometown newspaper.  Apparently, she was also president of the Progress Club and the Thursday Club in addition to being a charter member of the Elkhart chapter of the League of Women Voters.  Oh, how I would have loved to talk with her about her experiences during that time.

Women's suffrage 050

I’m proud that my great- grandaunt was one of the women who worked tirelessly to gain the right to vote for all women in the United States.  So yes, I voted and will always do so because it’s a privilege that I will never take for granted.  My daughter’s generation, my generation, and my mother’s generation stand on the shoulders of the women who made it possible for all of us.