Hey, Daddy

Daddy teaching us a song.

I am not sure why I feel the need to share my “daddy visit” stories. Maybe I am looking for validation that this is not just “a dream”, is real. Daddy always believed in messages from those who had passed- especially from his own mama and daddy. I in fact have a video of daddy telling the story of his own daddy’s visit to him a day after his (daddy’s) death. I fully believe it. I use to say “daddy, please visit me and give me signs after you die”. He knew I believed in it. So maybe it is only right for me to be the one to get the visits. I know my sisters get signs- Cathy always gets excited when she has a “daddy dream” too. So…..

Keep in mind these are not like “normal” dreams. In these moments you are fully aware its a “dream” but different. The people are clear- not fuzzy and they don’t turn into someone or something else. Last night (in my dream) I had driven daddy’s old white Ford 150 down to the “big house’ (not prison! it’s what everyone calls the original home place on the farm). On my way back I met another truck driving towards the big house. Whoever it was had his window rolled down and threw up his hand in a wave. I rolled down my own window and looked face-to-face with my daddy. {insert tearing up here}. Daddy was wearing one of his many caps slightly crooked as always. It was the “old” daddy- the one that was strong and lively. He had a big smile on his face. I stared in shock, wonder, and really, complete happiness. It was all so clear. I reached out to touch him and he “took hold” of my hand. We sat there- truck to truck and in that hand shake hold. I said, “is this real?” “Nobody’s gonna believe I am talking to you”. He said, “don’t matter what anybody else think”. I just kept saying, “I’m so happy to see you, I’m so happy to see you!” I could feel his hand in mine- solid. Daddy’s big hand. After a bit I let go of his hand. Daddy drove on down the road- still smiling. The healthy, happy daddy I once knew…..thanks daddy. Please come back soon.

Daddy throwing tobacco and me playing!

Daddy didn’t feel good here- but he rarely turned down a photo op. Here with my daughter- Ashley

Me and daddy during his best days.
The little Hamlett girls. We miss you daddy. Mama is holding down the fort like the champ she has always been.

More Than Picking Grapes- Canning with Mama part 2

Day 2-
Step #1-
Listen to your mama! Gather all your supplies first! Jars, Sure jell, lids, sugar, butter, pans. Put the jars in the dishwasher and rinse.

Gather all your ingredients and supplies.

“Don’t short cut, Linda” mama says. Measure correctly!

Mama preparing the jars.

Step 2- Continue to listen to your mama! We disagreed on what constituted a “rolling boil”. Explains why I had so many epic fails with my past canning! We followed the directions on the sure-gell package but reduced the amount of sugar by one cup. Myra, from Pinehaven Vineyard advised that wine grapes had more natural sugar than regular grapes. So, measure out the juice and add one box of sure gell (yellow box) and a tablespoon of butter. The butter, mama said “keeps the foam down”. Bring to a “rolling boil”! Lawd have mercy- a “rolling boil” is more than just a “simmer”!

Add your butter!


Butter added.

Rolling Boil!

Step 3- Add the sugar and bring to a “rolling boil” again- and time it! ONE minute!

Bringing it to a “rolling boil”.

Add sugar and bring to a “rolling boil” again for ONE minute.

Step 4- After one minute remove from heat and start filling your jars! Your jar lids should be in hot water by now to help with sealing. After filling your jars be sure and wipe off the excess jelly from jar tops. Mama says this is important to insure the jars seal. Place jars in a water bath and bring to a “rolling boil”- lawd, a “rolling boil” for about 15 minutes. This will help seal the jars. You will start hearing the jars popping as soon as you take them from the hot water.
Filling jars

Hot water bath- 15 minutes


All done! Let cool. As it cools it will begin to set up. Try not to disturb until the next day.


Mama and I ended up canning dozens of jars of Traminette jelly and giving many away already! This time spent with mama was useful and priceless. What a great day!

More Than Picking Grapes-Canning Jelly with Mama: A story and a tutorial Part 1

When I was growing up mama did it all. She got up before light and fixed daddy’s lunch before he headed to the sawmill. Mama then got us four girls up and ready to head to the fields. When she wasn’t in the field she was in the garden or in the kitchen canning something from the garden. I didn’t think it was fair that after we finished working in the tobacco field we had to work in the garden!

Needless to say- learning to can when I was younger was very low on my list of priorities. The years passed and my priorities have changed. In the blink of an eye I am without my daddy and looking at my mama and really needing to spend more quality time with her. I wanted to learn all she had to teach and canning was at the top of my summer list. When I heard Pinehaven Vineyard had some wine grapes for sale I asked mama to teach me to make jelly. Kelly, my youngest sister, already had this down pat- thanks to mama. Now, it was my turn. Here we go!

Step #1- Grab your 5-gallon bucket and head to the field. Kevin Trent, co-owner of Pinehaven Vineyard had to show us which grapes were good to pick and which were too far gone. My nephew, Austin Bryant joined us there to pick for his mama (sweet). In the dew of the morning, the sun shinning and the bees buzzing harmlessly around us we began to fill our buckets. How lucky am I? Beautiful day, priceless moments.

Picking Traminette grapes at Pinehaven Vineyard with mama and Austin.

Step #2- Bring those babies home!

Traminette wine grapes ready to go!

Sep#3- Gotta get those grapes off the stem and we didn’t have a tool for that- only our fingers. Lawd have mercy- it took forever!

“Plucking” the grapes off the stem.

Mama “plucking” her grapes off the stem.

Step #4- Mama said we had to now wash them 3 times! “Three times?” I whined. So, I did and boy am I glad I did! Yuck!!
Nasty, dirty grape water!

I also found a june bug!! Yes, mama I will wash them 3 times!!

Step 5- Time to sqeeze the juice from the grapes. A automatic tool would have been nice! Nope- just some strainers, cheesecloth, and elbow grease. We put the grapes in mamas “jelly pan” to soften the grapes. When mama thought they were soft enough to press we took them off the heat and began pressing the juice out and then straining it a second time through some cheesecloth.

Boiling the grapes to soften.

Pressing the juice from the grapes.

More pressing

Straining through cheesecloth.

Step #6- We poured the juice into jugs and put them in the fridge. We called it a night. Wow, the next time someone gives you home canned goods please appreciate the time and effort that is put into this gift!

Ready to make jelly!

Next post:
Day 2- Actual Jelly processing!

“No, she’s perfect.”

A month after my 21st birthday I finally got my present. Steve had gotten off his shift as a Virginia state trooper on August 29th and was settling in for the night.
I put on my yellow nightgown and went to pee for the one thousandth time that day. I was also really tired from cleaning house all day (nesting perhaps). Well, the pee just didn’t want to stop- a stinking annoying trickle. That’s all it was because this baby wasn’t due until September 9th and the doctor had just told me THAT day that it was going to be awhile longer….ugh.
So, I figured I might call my neighbor, Nancy DeMasters the OB nurse, and ask her what she thought. “Nancy, I can’t stop peeing!” Laughing at my naivety she said, “child, call your doctor, you gonna have a baby!” “But I feel fine!” “Call your doctor.” So I did. It was about 11 pm August 29.
My doctor called me back. He sounded like he had been asleep for hours. I told him my story and he said, “Go to the hospital”. But, I feel fine!” I whined. “Just go to the hospital!” Ok. But Steve had to wash his hair. What!! By the time he finished washing his hair I was no longer saying, “I feel fine”. I was feeling pain! Step on it Trooper Childress. He did not drive fast enough for me. I was sure this baby was gonna come out in the car! It was 11:30pm.
We got to Virginia baptist hospital and walked right into labor and delivery. The nurses looked at us like we were crazy and I felt crazy. “Can I help you?” one of the nurses said. Well, duh. I then squeaked out, “I think I might be having a baby”. Well, that got their attention pretty quick. By this time I was still peeing a lot! That stopped when the damn broke and the nurse said, “well, I guess you are staying now”. I was like “okay- get it out!” It was now 1am August 30th.
For the next couple of hours Steve thought he was a real funny boy, a real comedian. No, you are NOT funny. Not one bit! “Having fun?” He grinned. “I hate you.” Pretty sure I said that. It was now 3am.
The nurse came in to check my progress and I remember saying, “I change my mind- I don’t want to do this right now!” “Too late little girl…. It’s time to push”. No problem there my body wanted that thing out of there. We had no idea what this live creature was…girl, boy?? Never had a preference. I will admit my daddy wanted a boy. He had had five trips to the hospital for babies and all five were girls! So, I might have thought about a boy, but really didn’t care. It is now 4:30am.
The nurse leaves and it’s just me and Trooper Childress. I’m just a pushing and he’s yelling at me “breathe!!” “I hate you!” He’s freaking out because he sees a head! “It’s got hair!” “Call the nurse, call the nurse” he all but shouted. I didn’t care who caught this baby! The nurse came in and Steve ran out! Chicken. “I need to call people” he said as he ran out of the room. I didn’t care if a marching band came in at that point. But then my world got complicated- not really. The nurse said, “stop pushing, the doctor is not here yet”. What! I can’t STOP pushing. I did try. So he flew in and I think I said something sassy. It was 4:40am.
Push! Splash! What was that? I actually felt so much relief that I forgot why I was there! Oh, I had a baby! Steve was still MIA. Wow, I had a baby! “It’s a GIRL!” The doctor announced. “My daddy will be so dissappointed” was my first words and then I looked at her. She was twisting her head as far around as she could listening and looking for my voice. I was in love. It was 4:52am. I told the nurse not to tell Steve. I wanted him to suffer a little longer for running out!
They cleaned, measured and weighed my 7 pound 7 oz 21 1/2 ” baby girl, wrapped her in a nondescript blanket and took us back to the room. Steve cracked open the door and dang, he looked worse than me! Poor thing, it was harder waiting than doing.
He walks up to his new baby and asked “what is it?” I said, and I swear I did say, “it’s a girl, isn’t she ugly?” She had that birth canal flat head and was all red. Her daddy had unwrapped the blanket and was touching her little fingers and toes and said, “no, she’s perfect”. A thus, the daddy/daughter bond began. This was the very best moment of my life, the best event in my life. The best belated birthday gift anyone could ever ask for…ever. Happy 34th birthday to my baby girl…Ashely Nichole Childress. I love you.

Happy birthday!

Daddy’s girl

Gave her away this day….sorta!

Always my girl.

Now Ashley- get me one of these!

Reviving my Grapevine Tobacco Wreath

Today I found myself spring cleaning a little (yes, I know it’s late summer). Where does all the dust come from? I think the tiny dust monsters come out at night and put it right back! I hate dust. In fact- when asked what I want for Christmas I always say, “If I can’t eat it, wear it, or sit on it- I don’t want it!” (family heirlooms excluded). Anyway, I took down my tobacco grapevine wreath and, whew (cough, sneeze) the dust! Must have been at least a year since it was dusted last (okay it has NEVER been dusted- it’s fragile!). Question to self was, “How do I clean this fragile wreath? Should I just take it to Goodwill”? NO!! I love this thing.

Mama, Cathy and I each bought one at the Campbell County Heritage festival one year. Mama has hers hanging on the back porch, slowly making its way to the Goodwill pile. Not sure where Cathy’s is- maybe Cathy gave me hers?? Kept her from taking it to the Goodwill! Regardless- I treasure it and want to SAVE it, but how? Here’s what I did:

#1- Remove from wall and take to a well ventilated area. The dust particles can kill! I then took a soft, slightly damp paintbrush and gently began brushing into all the nooks and crannies. (did I see a spider?)

Slightly wetted soft paintbrush.

#2- My Vidal Sassoon hair dryer was used to blow away any additional loose dust. (Cough, sneeze- note to self: use low setting on cool).

Who said Vidal Sassoon was just for hair?

#3- Well, its dust free but still looks faded and worn. Goodwill it? Nooooo! I took my can of Valspar Project Perfect Top Coat in gloss from Lowes and sprayed the grapevine and the dried tobacco leaves. Voila! Ta-da! Like new!! I let it dry a little and then put it back in its place of honor (to be cleaned again in another five years). We avoided the Goodwill pile!

Ta-da! Good as new and saved from the Goodwill box.

Blue Daisy Meets the Neighbors!

Welcome to Merville Blue Daisy!

The Mermores were so happy to have their little Blue Daisy. Soon the whole town of Merville had heard the happy news and they all wanted to visit. So they did! One by one they came to the Mermore’s to meet Blue Daisy and hear the story of her arrival in the baby shell.

The first to visit was Mrs. Dolphy and her son, Fin.

Let’s go see your new friend!

“Look Fin, Blue Daisy is close to your age and soon you will be able to play together!” “Eweeee, no!” said Fin in disgust. “I don’t like girls.” “You will one day”, Fin’s mommy said with a smile. Fin looked at Blue Daisy sleeping and said, “she’s okay”.

I don’t like girls!

Next the Starfish family came to visit. They brought Blue Daisy fresh sea foam for her new bed. They couldn’t wait to take a peak at the new member of the town!

We are here to see Blue Daisy!
She’s so sweet.

Even Mr. Octopus came to visit. He brought a gift in each hand so there were lots of them!

Happy Birthday and Welcome Blue Daisy!

Blue Daisy had so many happy visitors. The Turtle family and the Shark family. Everyone was laughing and talking. There was so much happiness.

“She can play with us!”

It was a very exciting day. Blue Daisy and mama and daddy Mermore felt so happy and so much love but then everything suddenly got very quiet. Mama and daddy Mermore looked over and Blue Daisy was fast asleep.

In a whispering voice Daddy Mermore said “Let’s let her sleep- she’ll be swimming everywhere soon enough!” Mama Mermore gave her Blue Daisy a gentle kiss and whispered a goodnight wish and an old Irish Mermaid blessing:

“May you always have shelter from the storms,
A roof for the rain, tea beside a waterfall,
Laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
And all your heart might desire…..”

Goodnight Blue Daisy

Next: Blue Daisy finds her sea legs!

Don’t miss the eclipse! I’m making my own viewer.

Thanks to the Charlotte county library for posting this link. I couldn’t find any glasses but needed to find a way to view the eclipse! In 1979 I was terrified of blindness and basically missed the eclipse.

Not this time! So – grab your kids and have a science and craft lesson all at one time! Follow the link below:


Making my own viewing station!

Pretty Potty- A story and a tutorial

It seemed fitting that my first tutorial be about a toilet. You see- until age 13 I was privileged. I didn’t have to clean toilets- they were self-cleaning.

Self-cleaning toilet

At night we did have indoor plumbing, but I still didn’t have to clean it! We had to take turns dumping it in the mornings- ugh!!

Is it my turn to dump it!

At age 13 daddy finally took the leap and built us a bathroom!! Daddy said up until this point an indoor bathroom “was unnecessary!” Anyway, we could finally do our business inside! Daddy was still funny about us flushing too often, “Ya’ll go run the damn well dry!” We also couldn’t put more than an inch of water in the tub! To this day I feel guilty when I fill a tub or stay in the shower too long (unless I’m in a hotel- then its a pass). So, today I have two bathrooms (thank God). For years now I have looked at that UGLY toilet brush- nasty. Today I decided to make my toilet brush pretty. Now for the DIY- toilet brush beautification project.

Start with a new toilet brush- one that’s in a closed container (so boring, but cheap).

I went to Big Lots and found this Mr. Clean Toilet Brush Set for about $3.00. Taking left over blue and yellow spray paint I painted the top and bottom. You can paint it any color you like!

After the spray paint dried I hand painted “pretty potty” on the side using Liquidex Basics acrylic paint from Michael’s in primary blue. You could use any acrylic paint you have laying around. When it was dry I sprayed a finish coat using Valspar Project Perfect Top Coat in Gloss. This can be found in Lowe’s or Home Depot. I had all the materials from other projects and only had to buy the toilet brush!

The final result was so cute and much better than that old, plain white. I may paint something more artsy next time. Fun, easy project or a “pretty potty”.

The Adventures of Blue Daisy- Blue Daisy Arrives!

The Adventures of Blue Daisy
Blue Daisy Arrives
By Linda Childress and Hailey Moore

Once upon a time there was the Mermoore family that lived in the sea. They lived in a quiet little town called Merville. In Merville there were so many happy families. There was the Starfish family; the Dolphin family; the sea turtle family and even a Shark family!

Everyone in Merville got along very well and were very happy. The Mermoore’s loved their town and especially adored watching all the children playing in the water. They loved watching them swim and have fun, but at times the Mermoore’s were sad. They wanted a little boy or girl of their own. Every night they prayed that they would find their own little one inside the baby shell. The baby shell is where the Baby Fairy always left a special little one for a family- when the time was right.

Every morning the Mermoore’s checked their baby shell and every morning they were sad. “Why can’t we have a baby?” “Why does Baby Fairy keep missing us?” cried Mrs. Mermoore. Mr. Mermoore said, “Baby Fairy is waiting until the perfect little one comes. She is waiting for the most special baby just for us.” So the Mermoore’s just kept hoping and waiting. They were patient and trusted Baby Fairy.

One day there was a very bad storm in Merville. The ocean was swirling and the waves overhead were twenty feet high. It was hard to swim and you could hardly see! Mr. Mermoore said, “We had better get inside and stay safe from the storm!” They swam inside their cave home and pushed a big shell in front of the door to keep it from flying open! The churning water made it so hard! They pushed as hard as they could and finally got the shell in place. “Wait!” Mrs. Mermoore cried, “I forgot to bring in our baby shell!” “It will get washed away and we will never get our baby from Baby Fairy!” “No! You can’t open the door” cried Mr. Mermoore. “It’s too late”. They both hung their heads and were so sad.

Finally the storm passed and the sea calmed. Mr. and Mrs. Mermoore could once again hear all the children laughing and swimming around outside. Sadly, Mrs. Mermoore opened the door knowing their baby shell would be gone- washed away by the storm. She was so unhappy.
Mrs. Mermoore peeked outside the door and sure enough their baby shell was gone. Sadly, Mr. and Mrs. Mermoore sighed and began to clean up after the storm. They moved rocks and shells, and even an old ship anchor that had been washed away. The anchor was so heavy! They tugged and pulled but it would not move- it was STUCK on something.

Finally, the anchor gave way. “Oh, my!!” cried Mrs. Mermoore. “What is the matter?” asked Mr. Mermoore as he swam to her. “Look!!”
Buried in the sand was their BABY SHELL! After the waves washed it away the anchor must have caught it and held it down!

The Mermoore’s bent over to pick up their baby shell but something was different. The baby shell was sealed with a golden ribbon. “What’s this?” asked Mrs. Mermoore. “I don’t know” said Mr. Mermoore, “Open it!” They gently untied the golden ribbon and the baby shell floated open. A bright ray of light almost blinded them and when they finally could see they wept with joyfulness. Inside their baby shell, wrapped in soft sea foam that looked like a cloud surrounded by a bed of blue daisies, was their very own baby. They could not believe their eyes, their hearts bursting with love. The Mermoore’s gently lifted their baby up. “Is it a boy or girl?” asked Mr. Mermoore. “It’s a girl!!” Mrs. Mermoore cried with delight. “We have our very own Mermaid”!! “Isn’t she the most perfect baby?”
“We must give her the most perfect name. What shall we call her?”
Mr. Mermoore said, “Let’s call her Blue Daisy” just like the sea of blue daisies she was delivered in.
“Blue Daisy” they said aloud. Blue Daisy it is- and thus the adventures began.

Next: Blue Daisy discoveries the sea.