Sunday, April 29, 2012

Simple Scoop DIY

 The best things in life are free

Create a simple household or garden scoop without spending a penny.  Chances are you have the materials you need in house.  How about a handy scoop made from upcycled materials?


Easy peasy

This is so simple and easy.  HUBBY and I got four new blueberry bushes for the garden.  He made me a big scoop to move lots of planting mix quickly. It is so much kinder to shoulder and arm muscles than a shovel.  Plus, the scoop is way easier to handle.


There are many types of plastic jugs you can use to make your upcycled scoop.  Keep the lid if you can.  The scoop makes an excellent funnel, too.  All you need are a pair of scissors and a clean jug.  We use vinegar to clean just about everything in the house now.  HUBBY made this scoop from an empty gallon jug of white vinegar.  Perfect!  With the handle side up, cut a semi-circle arch just below the handle base.  Then cut straight down toward the bottom of the jug.  When you get near the bottom, curve it down a bit toward the lip.  You'll want to leave a little bit of the bottom of the jug as a lip at the base of your scoop.

Simple, easy, and so handy

 This gallon size jug was the right solution for my garden needs.  Try a smaller jug to make a scoop for other things like legos, pet food, or cat litter.  Like I always say, I want to hear from you.  What kind of a scoop would you make?  What kind of jug would you use for your scoop?

Gardening is good for the soul.  Expect to see more gardening posts soon.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Twitter - pation

 To tweet or not to tweet...

To tweet, or not to tweet, that is the question.  Okay that is updating and pigeonholing Shakespeare's famous quote, "To be or not to be, that is the question:..."

So many questions

Why is a bluebird the internationally recognizable symbol for Twitter?  Maybe they chose the bluebird because it is also the international symbol for...happiness?

Bluebird Animal Wildlife Blog

Why do they call it Twitter?  Why is a message called a Tweet? Should there be an age limit for Twitter?

Twitter Blog

 Another first

As shared in an earlier post, this whole blog experience is new to me.  Recently, my tech and social media savvy daughter, PUMPKIN, said that I should join Twitter and use Tweets as a tool for blog-building.  Say what? I'm still not sure how all of this stuff works! Seriously.  PUMPKIN is smart.  She's also a loving aunt and a champion hula hoop-er.  TINKERBELL loved playing Fairies and Hula Hoops with her.  The game started inside, but they had much more room out here by the juniper trees.

Fairies and Hula Hoops starring PUMPKIN and TINKERBELL.

Bluebird house tutorial and free printable from Cornell University

This article about bluebird happiness and bluebird houses (aka nesting boxes) is posted on the website for Cornell University.  Check it out for a great tutorial and free printable nesting box plans.


Plans to build nest boxes for Eastern bluebirds (Sialia sialis). Boxes should be placed at (human) eye level for easy access by bluebirds and the people who care for them. Plans courtesy of Richard B. Fischer/Cornell University. Drawings by Gene Endres.

Completed Bluebird house

I'm not sure about Twitter and the age thing yet. But, it sure sounds like fun to build a bluebird house.  Watching bluebirds is enjoyable for bird enthusiasts of all ages.

Licensed bird-banders Richard B. Fischer and Linda Buttel of Cornell University check one of the 119 Eastern bluebird boxes they maintain, while grandsons Dickie, left, and Eduardo Fischer, visiting from Nacogdoches, Texas, hold baby bluebirds. Photo: Charles Harrington/Cornell University.Copyright © Cornell University

Stay tuned

Will Twitter make us happy?  Are Tweets beneficial?  How old is too old for Twitter?  There are so many questions.

Twitter is yet another of many new experiences for me this year.  If you have thoughts or comments about Twitter, please share.

Monday, April 23, 2012

1940 Census - Ride the Time Machine

Come on and take a free ride

The 1940 U.S. Census has a 10+ wow factor, and it is absolutely free.  Unlock the treasures of the greatest generation in your pajamas. With one click, climb aboard this legendary time machine and let the adventure begin! 

Uncle Sam asks you...

How about this vintage Census poster?  Evidently,  Uncle Sam was making an effort to reach out and touch the rural branches of his American family.  Can anyone tell me who the model was for this depiction?

Source: National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons
Caption: The 1940 census was released online Monday April 2. Posters, like the one above from the mid-1940s, instructed Americans how to participate in the mandatory census. From College News

He looks familiar

Uncle Sam in the above image reminds me a little of Moses.  NO, not the REAL Moses.  The MOVIE character Moses, portrayed by famous actor Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments.  Do you agree?

"Let My People Go", Charlton Heston as Moses from "The Ten Commandments" (1956) Classic Cinema Quotes

Movie stars and Presidents

While we're on the subject of actors, guess who else you can find in the 1940 U.S. Census? None other than famous movie star and future U.S. President Ronald Reagan.  Here he is in 1940 with his first wife, Jane Wyman.  What a sweet wedding photo.

Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman wedding photo, January 26, 1940.  Getty Images, Real Simple

Here are the stellar newlyweds at their California home on this 1940 U.S. Census record, as reported by ABC News:

An image of a page from the 1940 U.S. census shows the names of Ronald Reagan and then wife Jane Wyman Reagan on lines 33 and 34. (United States Census Bureau) ABC News

The Census Taker

While it is fun to search out movie stars, politicians, and other famous folk on the 1940 U.S. Census, it is even more rewarding to travel back in time to find people you know.   Many Americans that were part of that census are still living today.  Perhaps that's why we as a nation feel such a strong connection to this particular census release.

The Census Taker, Norman Rockwell, 1940, from Nutfield Genealogy

Although a lot of us were born after 1940, most Americans have family listed in the records.  Who will you find?  If you're a baby boomer like me, you'll probably find your parents listed there.  If you're younger, you'll discover grandparents and great-grandparents.  How about those vintage trailers?

A 1940 census worker counts a family
A 1940 census worker counts a family, US Census Bureau photostream, Flickr

What's your connection?

Here is a photo from an earlier post of my own Mom and her Mom, my Nanny.  This was taken in 1939, just one year before the census.

Nan and Mom "Love to Daddy" November 1939 by Gentry Hall, Wichita Falls, TX

I am proud to say that HUBBY's father was a tail gunner in the U.S. Air Force during World War II.  Here is a photo of him with his combat crew and their B24 Bomber, the HE Cordell.  He was a modest man of great courage, bravely risking his life during each of his 33 combat missions.

Howard Henderson, far right, front row, with HE Cordell combat crew, USAF, WWII

Who do you know?

Who do you know that was in the 1940 U.S. Census?  What will you find?  Discover your own adventure.  Get started here:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Simple Woman's Daybook

The Simple Woman's Daybook


Outside my window....the bluebonnets are blooming.


This is our precious granddaughter TINKERBELL in the bluebonnets.  We have a family tradition of making bluebonnet photos!

I am thinking...that the air conditioner is turned down too low in here.  Brr!

I am thankful...for daughters that are so loving and kind.

In the kitchen...I made some fresh chocolate chip cookies.  HUBBY has been asking and asking for them.

I am favorite penny loafers.

I am family history posts on my blog.

I am church tonight for a youth activity.

I am my friends are doing.  My three best friends are really struggling, each in her own individual way.  Two are far away from me now.

I am reading...The Book of Mormon.  Right now I'm in the midst of the Book of Alma.

I am hoping...that I can get some normalcy back in to my daily life.  Sometimes routines are good things.

I am looking forward to...seeing my grandsons blessed at church in June.

I am learning...a lot more about my blog layout and html codes.

Around the house...I have some organizing work to get caught up on.

I am exercise routine.  I need something that doesn't hurt more than it helps.

A favorite quote for today..."The difference between our rich and poor grows greater every year. Our distribution of wealth is getting more uneven all the time. A man can make a million and he is on every page in the morning. But it never tells you who gave up that million he got. You can’t get money without taking it from somebody."  Will Rogers

One of my favorite the new TV show Smash. Yep, I'm a big fan.

A few plans for the rest of the week:  I'm so far behind on so many plans, it would be nice just to get caught up on SOMETHING.

A peek into my day...
My father-in-law, far right side, front row
HUBBY and I attended his aunt's (his father's sister)  funeral recently.  After HUBBY reconnected with a cousin (the one whose Mom had just passed away), the cousin gave us this priceless photo.  My father-in-law was a tail gunner in a B 24 bomber during World War II.  A very brave man, he flew 33 dangerous missions.  This is him with his crew.  The plane is behind them.  This is the first photo we have ever seen of him with his plane and crew.  What a fabulous and irreplaceable gift.

 Join us in for the Spring Edition of The Simple Woman's Daybook to create your own.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

1940 US Census Community Project

The Greatest Generation Goes Online

  I was asked to speak to the Johnson County Genealogical Society last week about using their Facebook page and other social media to promote their endeavors.  Although it wasn't the first time I'd heard the news, it finally sunk in my brain while I was listening to their meeting announcements.  I must admit, I got pretty revved up when it was mentioned.

The 1940 US Census is now online

Yes, they reminded us that the 1940 US Census is now online!  I am so excited to share this information.  Before you tune out and decide this post isn't for you, allow me to confess something.  I feel your pain. This blogger was once the QUEEN of the "Genealogy is sooo boring!!"' crowd.  That was before I was bitten by the family history bug.  However, this post is NOT about me or my family history bug or blah blah blah (insert a bunch of dry and irrelevant data that no one feels any connection with whatsoever).  NO, NO WAY!!!

Did somebody mention Rock and Roll royalty?

This is about the Greatest Generation, and the King of Rock and Roll is part of that.  Yep, Elvis Presley was born in 1935, so chances are very good that he is on the 1940 Census.  That's not all, folks.  This is about Princess Grace and and the future heroes of World War II and Elvis Presley and Red Skelton.  It's about Judy Garland and Eisenhower and Jackie Gleason and Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. and Phyllis Diller.  It's about JFK and Gene Kelley and Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and your Mom and Dad and their Moms and Dads and mine too.  It's about folks got together on Saturday nights and paid a nickel apiece for tickets to see movies featuring those real-life stars of cinema's Golden Age at their local theater.

Like I said before, I am SO excited.  Are you awake now?

Census Records Release Data State-by-State

From the Family Search Blog, this post lists the order of records released state by state.

Vintage 1940 US Census Poster

Hang in there, don't you dare fall asleep yet, you haven't heard the best part!

It's so big, even Bloomberg is buzzing


An enumerator interviews a woman for the 1940 Census. Photograph: National Archives at College Park/AP Photo

The best part of this entire post is NOT the snappy census taker in the photo or the Bloomberg report.  It isn't even the fact that all this stuff is available for free and you can literally touch history with your fingertips on your smartphone or your iPad or your laptop or desktop keyboard.  Nope, not even close.  However, it is pretty cool that you CAN now discover those cool stories with a simple touch.

The 1940 Census Community Project

The 1940 Census Community Project says it so much better than I can. Here is their description:

The “Greatest Generation”

The 1940 U.S. Federal Census is the largest, most comprehensive, and most recent record set available that records the names of those who were living in the United States at the time the census was taken.
132 million people were living in the 48 Continental United States in 1940.

Tens of millions of people living in the United States in 1940 are still living today, making this a record set that connects people with recent family records.
Many of these individuals are part of what has been called the greatest generation.
These are people who:
  • Survived the Great Depression
  • Fought in the Second World War
  • Innovated technology (TV, Microwave)
  • Sacrificed in the name of freedom
  • Practiced thrift and compassion
  • Understood hard work and industry
The people in the 1940 census deserve to have their records preserved and made available online.

That's right.  Not only did they sacrifice and fight and save the world from the Nazi terror and fascism, they gave us the TV and the Microwave.  Without the Greatest Generation, we would LITERALLY not be here.

So, all you escape artists that disappear when the dreaded word "Genealogy" is mentioned, thanks for hanging in there.  For your benefit, I have avoided all references to "third cousin twice removed" because this has NOTHING to do with ANY of that dry dribble.  Want to know what the best part of all this is? 

I saved the best for last


  •  This is real, not some faded old memory
  • This is happening now, today, to you.
  • This is something you can touch and feel and see.  It is alive.  
  • You can become a part of history and touch the Greatest Generation!   
  • Watch this short video and discover something incredible.

History is waiting.  Your date with destiny is here.  Join the national service project!
Click on the icon below to learn more:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Texas Family Bluebonnet Photos

Bluebonnets have inspired Texans for centuries

Why are bluebonnets so special?  If you're not from Texas, it may be difficult for you to understand.   The bluebonnet is the State Flower of Texas, but do all people covet the official flower of their home state in this way? Perhaps it is because we love all things Texana, and bluebonnets are definitely part of the Texana culture. According to the Texas Less Traveled website:

"Bluebonnets have been loved since man first trod the vast prairies of Texas. Native Americans (Texans) wove fascinating folk tales around them, crediting them with everything from having natural medicinal qualities to being spiritual messengers sent from the heavens. The early-day Spanish priests gathered the seeds and grew them around their missions to beautify. This practice gave rise to the myth that the padres had brought the plant from Spain, but the two predominant species of bluebonnets are found growing naturally only in Texas and at no other location in the world."

This is me and my darling HUBBY, Easter 2012.  Photo courtesy of Kimography

I found this explanation on the Life Is Just So Daily blog:

"As historian Jack Maguire so aptly wrote, "It's not only the state flower but also a kind of floral trademark almost as well known to outsiders as cowboy boots and the Stetson hat." He goes on to affirm that "The bluebonnet is to Texas what the shamrock is to Ireland, the cherry blossom to Japan, the lily to France, the rose to England and the tulip to Holland."

PRINCESS poses by the bluebonnets growing in her Grandpa's field,
Easter 1985.  Photo taken with my Polariod 660 Camera.

Here in the Lone Star State, we cherish our symbols

Perhaps our fondness for this flower is derived from something deeper than history and folklore.  We may incorporate bluebonnets as part of our identity as Texans living our own personal journey.  Maybe our precious bluebonnets symbolize something about our individual Texas heritage that we love and long for. 

PRINCESS took this Polaroid photo of me, Easter 1985 

Texans love to spin a good yarn

When we see bluebonnets, many of us recall cherished memories childhood memories of family outings. Parts of the following story are true:

One day we were driving south from Dallas down Interstate 35, (or maybe it was driving west on Interstate 20 from Dallas), for a visit with some of the family.   The kids were all sitting in the back seat of the family car, a late 1960s model wide track Pontiac Catalina just like this one:

1968 Pontiac Catalina - photo from AUTOWEEK

Situated elbow-to-elbow in the back of that beautiful car, time can pass very, very slowly.   A kid can only take so much family togetherness, right? 

Greg, Brandy, and Leeanna - north Texas environmental campaign pioneers and some of my favorite tree-huggers. Polaroid 660 photo.

I got irritated at one of my siblings and hollered out from the back seat, "Mom, he touched me on the arm!" My brother protested rather indignantly,"I did not!" I continued my loud lament. "Yes, the hair on your arm touched my arm. Mom!!"  (Don't judge me.At the time it seemed quite annoying.)

BELLE's first bluebonnet photo, Mother's Day 2004, old HP camera with 1MP.

Unruffled, Mom pointed her finger toward the front seat passenger window, smiling as she spoke, "Look out there, kids.  See the bluebonnets?"  Mom's voice sounded smooth and sweet, just like honey butter.  The back seat brouhaha was snuffed out like a flame deprived of oxygen.  Problem solved.  

HUBBY with our grandson COCHISE, April 2009, 2MP cell phone camera photo  

Does this remind you of any other family stories about bluebonnets?  Please share, I do love a good story.

PRINCESS with her beautiful babies BELLE and COCHISE, April 2011, Canon G11 Photo

Whatever the reason, it is clear that we Texans do truly cherish our bluebonnets. Does your family have a tradition of taking pictures in the bluebonnets?  Feel free to share any stories and photos you have.  I will blog about them in a future post if I can. 

Our four amazing children PEPSI, PUMPKIN, PRINCE, and PRINCESS,April 2011, Canon G11 Photo

Our family has a long tradition of posing for pictures amongst the bluebonnets

Our family now has a tradition of taking individual and group photos when the bluebonnets bloom.  27 years ago I began taking photographs of my family and friends in fields of Texas bluebonnets.  I love the rich color and beauty these flowers give to my shots. Of course, the date they bloom is nearly as unpredictable as our Texas weather.  Speaking of being unpredictable, that describes our kiddos when they get together.

Nobody in our family can be serious for too long, April 2011, Canon G11 Photo

Bluebonnets are wildflowers. According to my Nanny, you have to treat them like wildflowers.  You can't baby them because they hate it and they won't grow. Of course, Nanny is my MOST trusted source on flowers and gardens.  Bluebonnet seeds look like little black rocks. You just take a handful of seeds, toss them out wherever you want them to grow, and hope for the best. Bluebonnets will bloom whenever they darn well feel like it.  They're as stubborn, independent, and wild as our beloved home state. Hey, maybe THAT'S why Texans love bluebonnets so much.  We too have a reputation of being a little stubborn, independent, and wild.

PEPSI, DIXIE, and PUMPKIN, April 2011, Canon G11 Photo

Nan had a lot of experience with bluebonnets.  The ones she planted and babied never grew.  On the other hand, the ones she tossed out into the garden bed (and I mean TOSSED not planted) never grew either.  That is, they didn't sprout for five years.  Five years!  By the time they bloomed, she had almost forgotten about them.  What do you think about that?

Mayhem ensues when these three gals get together. April 2011, Canon G11 Photo

If you have bluebonnet growing experience and wisdom to share, please do! We have one acre at the back of our little homestead that borders a perennially dry creek bed.  I really want to toss some bluebonnet seeds out back there so that we can enjoy them every spring.  Yet one more reason for Texans to love their bluebonnets.  Seeing those beautiful blue blossoms peeping up from their long slumber reminds us that winter is finally over and spring has arrived.

Precious! TINKERBELL's  first bluebonnet portrait, April 2011, Canon G11 Photo

It is only a matter of time and money, right?  Whenever I have the time to buy seeds, I don't have enough money.  Whenever I have the money, I just don't have the time to get seeds.  Those things are like gold!

PEPSI and PETER with their darling firstborn TINKERBELL,  April 2011, Canon G11 Photo

Bluebonnets along Texas highways and byways

Have the Texas roadsides always been dotted with bluebonnets?  The Root, Wing, and Fenceline website tells the story this way:

My friend Silvana and her sweet children, April 2012, Smart Phone Photo.

"Summer drives didn’t always include hillsides of black-eyed Susans and big bluestem. When a stretch of state or county roadside begins to bloom in a blanket of yellow and purple, it seems so, well, natural, that you tell yourself it has always been that way."

HUBBY and I with my brother, sister-in-law, and some of their lovely family, April 2012, Canon G11 photo.

"Before the Interstate was built, most highways were bordered in brome grass, mowed as neatly as a front lawn. An unending row of advertising billboards provided color, and junkyards proliferated.  During the 1950s, Congress under President Eisenhower funded the Interstate system, basically to enhance our national defense during the Cold War with communist Russia. They didn’t realize how we would love our  Interstate highways. "

Adorable great-niece and nephew, April 2012, Canon G11 photo.

"Many people credit President Johnson’s wife Lady Bird with the idea of planting wildflowers along highways."

Nephew DR with his wife LR, April 2012, Canon G11 photo.

"However, the Texas DOT began planting bluebonnets and other wildflowers along Texas highways soon after it began in 1917.Lady Bird gave a big push toward better funding for wildflowers, and influenced the 1965 Highway Beautification Act, which encouraged wildflower planting along the new Interstate system."

My brother HR, April 2012, Canon G11 photo.

"Congress also placed restrictions on billboards, after states were unable to get legislation past the Outdoor Advertising Association. By 1987 the Federal Highway Administration required a percentage of every federally-funded roadside landscaping project to include some native wildflowers and grasses."

A few bluebonnet photo tips

Well, now you know purt near everything that I do about bluebonnets.  Are you ready to start taking bluebonnet photos of your loved ones?  Here are a few tips:

  • Don't pull over on the side of the interstate highway and whip out your camera. You might cause a vehicle accident.
  • You can find a great spot on your own.  Check out some of the Texas State Parks.  A few quick phone calls will point to you a beautiful spot.  If you prefer, try a google search.  Every year people picturesque spots to show where bluebonnets are blooming.
  • Watch out for bugs and critters.  Dress appropriately.  Sandals and shoes are cute, but this is Texas.  We have all kinds of itchy stuff lurking in the our wilderness landscapes.
  •  Don't trample down all the bluebonnets!  Find your spot and gently get to it, saving as many as possible for others to photograph and enjoy.  You might see a 'nest' or spot where someone else has already knelt for pictures.  Use that same spot if you can.
  • The best tip I have is to hire a professional photographer.   I highly recommend:

Kimography, our choice in photography

The following photos are by Kimography.

Photo courtesy of Kimography

Some people won't get couple photos taken outside in the bluebonnets after they reach 'a certain age'. HUBBY and I are both 50-something.  

Photo courtesy of Kimography

Kimography did a superb job.  These portraits were all made in April 2012, within a week or so of the photos I posted above of me and HUBBY with my brother and his family.  Wow, what a difference, right?

Photo courtesy of Kimography

HUBBY's eyes are so pretty and blue.  I love the way this portrait captures their color and sparkle.

Photo courtesy of Kimography

The BEST individual picture of me since I was 20-something, no kidding!  I look at least 10 years younger than I do in the photos with my brother and his family.

Photo courtesy of Kimography

This is my favorite shot of the whole session.  Overall there were 20 proofs posted on the Kimography site for us to select from.  It was so hard to choose!

 Photo courtesy of Kimography

Our family tradition of bluebonnet photos will continue.  I certainly plan to use Kimography from now on.  How old is too old to do this type of couple photos?  I'll let you know if we ever get there.  Right now we're enjoying spending some well-deserved uninterrupted couple time together.  Here in the bluebonnet patch we felt a little younger and happier.  After 30+ years of having kids living at home, it is refreshing to have more opportunities to stop and smell the bluebonnets.  The fragrance was absolutely sublime.