~December Road Trip~

We began our Merry Christmas Road Trip, early Christmas morning. Our first overnight stop was Paducah Kentucky. When looking for lodging, I was happy to learn of Paducah's Flood Wall murals. Paducah is situated on the Ohio River. We enjoyed a walk along the riverfront, viewing beautiful murals, by Robert Dafford.

We met a man, along the way, who could be best described as a character. J and I find, as we grow older, we are drawn to "old characters". Perhaps it's because we are a couple of old characters ourselves! We enjoyed our visit with this man, who told us of his boyhood memories, growing up in this area of Kentucky and his adventures along the Ohio River. He certainly added something special to our Paducah stopover.

Below are a few photos, from our Christmas Day walk.

Murals on the Ohio River.
The Paducah Market is now a museum.
This mural depicts an Emancipation celebration.
Churches around town.
This mural shows pages from an old album.
A Summer day on the Ohio River.

The photo at right shows the door to a museum, closed for the Holiday. We hope to return to Paducah, during Spring. We want to explore the museums and shops, we found on Christmas Day, including the Quilt Museum.

Shops along a brick walkway.
This marquee is over the entrance to an alley, that leads to a theatre.

The arched window over Paducah Market.
I've divided our road trip into three separate posts. We took lots of photos and have lots of wonderful memories. Each stop is special, so I want to give each it's own place, here at the Back Porch. Look for the Inn at Christmas Place, on Wednesday and the magnificent Biltmore Estate, Friday.

~A Merry Christmas Road Trip~

We had a joyful Christmas celebration with our family, yesterday, the 23rd. Yes, it was very joyful despite the impression Mr Man, Drewby, gives in the photo, above. I laugh at this photograph every time I see it. Gabi is trying to escape, Drew doesn't want any part of this photo-op, Xanti, humoring her G'ma & G'pa, is hanging on for dear life and Noah is oblivious of all the drama going on around him!
We're continuing our celebration of this most wonderful time of the year with a year end road trip.
We look forward to seeing
Biltmore Estate, in North Carolina, all done up for Christmas. This will be our first visit to this beautiful estate.
Our plans also include two nights at a brand new hotel, in Tennessee. Construction of The Inn at Christmas Place, was completed during Summer 2007. The hotel is decorated, throughout, for Christmas. Being the Christmas decorating fanatics we are, I know we will enjoy our stay there.
Our trip begins early Christmas Day. We plan to drive to Paducah Kentucky where we will stay overnight, continuing our journey to eastern Tennessee, early the 26th.
We are finishing the week in Asheville, North Carolina and will begin our return trip Saturday, hoping to arrive home, December 30 (Sunday).
I'll have the cameras and a notebook, from start to finish! Look for a post about our wonderful Christmas road trip, early next week. Until then, Merry Christmas!
**The photo of Biltmore Estate is from the Romantic Asheville site.


~A Vintage Card and a Reminder~

My Father and Uncle spent two Christmases in the South Pacific area, during WWII. During the time of their service, Mother received many letters and V-Mail cards, from them. The letters my Father wrote, in his beautiful Palmer Method handwriting, on thin "onion skin" paper, were laced with tiny rectangles, showing where words had been cut away. All mail was heavily censored during the war. I have some of those letters and a V-Mail card or two. The V-Mail Christmas card, shown in the above photograph, was sent from my Uncle Ernie, to my Mother. I looked for a date with a magnifying glass, but could find none. I believe it was sent in 1943 or 1944. I've photographed it with ornaments, from the same era.

My friend, Amber, Blue Mango Creations, mentioned the song, "I'll Be Home For Christmas", in a comment she left on my Silent Night post. Ironically, just after I read her comment, J found the V-Mail card, while looking through old albums. "I'll Be Home For Christmas" was recorded by Bing Crosby in 1943. It's a beautiful song, that resonates with the same meaning today, as it did over 60 years ago.

During the planning and writing of this post, I've shed tears for those long ago Soldiers, who served our country and for our Troops, serving today. Many will be away from home at Christmas 2007. Our thoughts and prayers are with these brave men and women.

I'm dreamin' tonight of a place I love
Even more than I usually do
And although I know it's a long road back
I promise you...

I'll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents under the tree.

Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love-light gleams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams.

~Recorded by Bing Crosby-1943~

My thanks to Amber for the beautiful inspiration for this post.

**Mail was censored, for security reasons. It was thought a word or phrase might disclose important locations or maneuvers. My Father wrote several letters to Mother, trying to let her know, my Uncle Ernie had been located and was okay. In the end she "read between the lines".
***Clicking on Amber's name will take you to her site. Clicking on V-Mail will take you to the Postal Museum site, for more information about V-Mail.


~Silent Night~

Originally a poem written in 1816, by Austrian priest Joseph Mohr, Silent Night is one of the most famous Christmas Carols.

With Christmas just a few days from now, I'm sharing Nativity scenes, displayed around our home.

The scene, pictured above, is a music box that plays Silent Night.

The scene above, sits on a child size school desk, in our hearth room.

This scene is displayed on the round table in the center of the living room.

Another Nativity scene sits on a table on the landing, overlooking the living room.

The Hallmark Holy Family is in one of the guest rooms. Also displayed on this chest are photos of our Mothers from around 1940. The watch under the dome belonged to J's maternal Grandmother. The rose lamp was J's Mother's.
Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light.
From now on,
our troubles will be out of sight.
Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay.
From now on,
our troubles will be miles away.
Here we are as in olden days,
happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
gather near to us once more.
Through the years we all will be together,
if the Fates allow.
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.
~Hugh Martin & Ralph Blane, from the film "Meet Me in St Louis", 1943~


Snowy Morning & Christmas Memories

Snow on our patio chairs, this morning. We expect to see another 5 or so inches before the snow ends, early Sunday morning. Molly certainly enjoys seeing snow. She loves to romp around and roll around in the white stuff! She's outdoors, as I type, having the time of her life!

I've been tagged by Sher of Sher's Creative Expressions. I'm to list twelve things about myself, with Christmas as the theme.
I've included several black and white photos. Some are from Christmas, with our Grandchildren, 2006.

1. Christmas is my favorite of all holidays. The reason for the celebration is what makes it so special to our family.

2. When I was a child, just about everyone, I knew went to the country, to cut a tree, for Christmas. In southwest Missouri, a Cedar Christmas Tree, graced most homes, in those days.
3. One Christmas Tree, stands out in my memory, in particular. Most of my childhood Christmases were spent with Grandad and Granny. We seldom had a tree in our own home. One year, when I was about 16 years old, we decided to have a tree at home. My sister and I, along with several friends, found a huge old Cedar and brought it to our tiny home. Alas, we had no ornaments or lights! We were resourceful, my sister and I ! We returned soda bottles, found here and there and used the deposit money to buy a can of snow spray. With the help of our friends, we managed to secure the tree in a makeshift stand and sprayed it with the canned "snow". With some of our soda bottle money, we purchased tinsel icicles and carefully placed them on our tree. That tree was gorgeous. It certainly was a tree I'll never forget. It's only adornment, the tinsel and snow and it's wonderful fragrance.
4. At the age of seven I was one of the tiniest Angels in our church Christmas program, my 4 year old sister was the other. Even though I was only 7, at the time, I've not forgotten the program, my wings and halo or the wonderful music.
5. Many times we celebrate Christmas a few days early. Our children are able to visit other family, without the stress of going from home to home to home on Christmas Day.
6. A scavenger hunt for a special gift, is often included in our Christmas festivities. It's fun to write the clues and wrap them in pretty packages, then watch the gift recipient search the house for more clues and finally the gift!
7. Our Christmas menu usually consists of Clam Chowder, Appetizers and Dessert.
8. Each year, our family eagerly awaits the "game". Each person brings 5 inexpensive gifts. A gag gift is always included. We pile the beautifully wrapped gifts in the center of the floor or the big farmhouse table, in the breakfast room. Dice is rolled to determine who takes a gift. Our version requires a 7 or 11 to choose a gift and doubles to rob your neighbor. At the end of the game, we always make sure, each of us has the same amount of gifts. After opening these packages, the game continues, with a gift swap. It's fun to see all the bartering!
9. Christmas Eve is a special time for church services.
10. A special memory, Mother reading the Christmas Story, from the Bible.
11. Last night, I once again enjoyed one of my favorite Christmas movies, It's a Wonderful Life. No matter how many times I see this movie, I still laugh, cry and enjoy seeing it, as if it was the first time.
12. Last, but certainly not least, J and I met just after Thanksgiving, 1982. Another reason to celebrate this special time of year.
This photograph was taken by Xanti, who has an amazing natural gift for photography. Drew seems to be watching for Santa Claus.

This is one of my favorite photos of Gabi, last Christmas. It's absolutely unposed. She picked up the ornament from a candleholder on the hearth. Luckily, I had the camera ready!
Our beautiful Xanti, wearing her Princess Santa hat.
Our newest Grandchild, Noah. We eagerly await his first Christmas!
Please post 12 things about yourself, with Christmas as the theme, for the Holiday Hoopla Tag, then tag several others for the challenge.
Merry Christmas!!


~Christmas Home Tour~

Sunday December 9th, we visited homes featured on the 2007 Garden Club Holiday Home Tour. Even though we had an overnight ice storm, the roads were clear. The homeowners prepared walkways, for safe walking during the tour.

The home in the first photo, is the 3rd and largest we visited. As soon as we walked through the double front doors, we felt completely at home. We visited with the homeowners, their children and many people we know, who were taking the tour. We enjoyed spending 2 hours at this lovely,warm home.
The foyer tree and nativity scene, beside the stairway.

The stairway, leading to the second floor.

A window in the dining room, looks out on the circular driveway.

The dining room.

The mantel in the living room. The use of varying sizes of chunky candlesticks and large candles, with fresh greenery is perfect.

A view of the living room from the second floor landing.

A tree on the second floor landing, which is also used as the children's living room.

A table in the lower level. The windows look out onto a covered terrace.

The screened porch, just off the hearth room.

Another view of the screened porch, looking out toward the pool house.

A window in the breakfast room looks onto a terrace and building, beyond.

We had the impression this was a horse barn, in the distance. The homeowner told us, it's actually a shed for machinery and other landscaping equipment.
The first home, we visited, is in our subdivision. Soon after we entered, electrical power was lost. I took a few photos, but the quality is poor. The homeowner has collected memorabilia of our town. He has constructed a replica of a small railroad that once ran between our town and a village to the west. I hope to feature this home, in a future post.
I have no photos from the second home. There is an interesting story to relate from that home, though. The homeowners are funeral directors. The husband collects antique cars. Many with some connection to his business. We were shown a car, sitting in the garage. I'm not sure what make or model. I don't know why, but my thought was Packard. It looks to be from the 1930's. This particular car carried the cremains of Eliot Ness, to their final resting place. We both thought that was very interesting!
The 4th home we visited, is this sweet little Victorian. It's owners are currently in the process of restoring it to it's former glory.

The Christmas tree sits in a bay window, in the living room. I'm sure this was once the front parlor. Notice the radiator to the left, in the photo. This room is now heated with a pellet stove, similar to a wood stove. It was toasty and comfortable here.

This arrangement hangs over a door, in the home's bathroom, which includes a clawfoot tub.

This is a larger Victorian, not on the tour, next door. Doesn't she look magnificent?

This home is very close to our hearts. We are so happy, she wasn't featured on the tour, this year! Although opening our home for the tour, in 2006, was enjoyable, it was also lots of work.
Edit: J just told me, the Eliot Ness car is a Buick.


~Judy's Ribbons & Bells~

Joy platter, from the Ribbons & Bells collection.


South Dakota artist, Judy Westegaard, has been painting many years. She has also authored several painting how-to books. A few years ago, she was invited to paint an ornament for the White House Christmas Tree.

Not long ago, Judy was approached by Certified International, to present a dinnerware design, for a future line. The result was Judy's beautiful Ribbons and Bells.

I met Judy, through online decorating board, Great Impressions. I was delighted to learn about Ribbons and Bells. The first photo shows the Joy platter, my first purchase in Ribbons and Bells.

Cheryl, another Great Impressions member, photographed this table, set with Ribbons and Bells, at a recent home tour. She was happy to share Judy's story with the homeowner. Visit Cheryl's gorgeous home, decorated for Christmas, at Southern Hospitality.

Pepperleaf is another design by Judy Westegaard, for Certified International. I found these dessert plates at Steinmart, during our recent trip to Kansas City.

After Christmas, I plan to display these plates in our breakfast room.

Judy is a very gifted and prolific artist. Her work also includes amazingly beautiful Santas among other subjects. She has rented/leased the Ribbons and Bells and Pepperleaf designs, to Certified International.

During a visit to his grandparents', Judy's 2 year old grandson kept saying "eat"! The Westegaard dining room table was set with Ribbons and Bells, so he thought it was time for dinner. Soon, Judy found him sitting at the dining room table, his Goldfish Crackers on one of the plates. It's clear, he loves his grandmother's dishes as much as I do!

Ribbons and Bells is available online at This dinnerware and Pepperleaf can also be found at specialty shops across the US and the Certified International site.

A photo of our mailbox berm, after the recent ice storm. The temperatures are warming. We expect to see the ice disappear soon. We were among the lucky ones. Although we have several broken tree branches along our creek, we only lost electrical power, briefly. There are still several homes, in our area, without power this morning.