Memorial Day

Posted May 28th, 2012 by Ellen and filed in Family, Holidays, My collections


In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.  Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

By John McCrae, May 1915

When I was a little girl, I remember my father bringing home hand-made paper poppy pins on Memorial Day.  He’d gotten them in town, where they were being distributed by members of the VFW and the American Legion.  I was always fascinated by them, and still have one tucked away.

Like Stepping Into the Past

Posted April 14th, 2012 by Ellen and filed in Garden, Holidays, Personal, Travels

Ronnie’s Country Store, 642 N. Cherry St., Winston-Salem NC

We came across this gem not far from the Arts District in Winston-Salem by accident several years ago. Going to Ronnie’s Country Store the day before Easter has since become a tradition.

The store was originally the W.G. White Grocery until 1994, when Ronnie Horton purchased it.  Stepping through the front door, edged with fresh produce,  is like stepping back in time.  Old-fashioned candies, purchased by the pound, wait in wooden cheese hoops.  Whole country hams hang from rafters in the back of the store, while pickles of all types (including pickled egg varieties) and jams and jellies line the walls. Mops and brooms are nearby.   Canned goods such as Spam and pork ‘n’ beans and beanie wienies are well stocked as are several types of corn meal and grits.  Old-timey glass bottled grape, strawberry and orange soda pop await in a cooler. Barrels hold peanuts and dried beans of all types while country antiques adorn walls and hang from the ceiling.  Along with whole country hams, customers will find ham slices, ham hocks, ham meat (and almost sold out that day) fat back, the favored green bean flavoring of southern cooks.  Tomato plants, marigolds and gorgeous dahlias were available out front.

Mr. Ronnie Horton was there the day of our visit and very kindly consented to having his picture taken with my DH.  He was also gracious enough to allow this blog post about his establishment.

Treat yourself to a visit to Ronnie’s, truly a treasure. It’s just a block from the convention center.  I wish we’d had time for a visit to the nearby Rescue Mission thrift store.  Just look for the illuminated cross and Jesus Saves sign a block to the northeast.

For more photos of Ronnie’s, click here:

Pumpkin Rolls

Posted November 22nd, 2011 by Ellen and filed in Family, Holidays, Personal, Recipes

DH says these rolls “taste like fall”.


Makes 24

1 cup whole or reduced fat milk

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 cup canned, solid-pack pumpkin

1 egg

1/2 C butter, room temperature

1 T. instant or quick-rise yeast

2 tsp. salt

5 1/2 cups bread flour

1/2 cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds), toasted

4 T. melted butter*


Combine  milk, sugar, pumpkin, egg, butter, yeast, salt and flour in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.   (NOTE:  I disolved the yeast in about 1/3 cup of the milk (warmed) before adding it to the other ingredients).  Mix on low speed until combined, then increase speed to medium-low and mix for 5 minutes to knead.  The dough should be soft,  but pull away from the sides of the bowl.  If it is too sticky, add a bit more flour.  Add the pepitas (I gave these a rough chop) and mix until incorporated throughout.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 – 1  1/2 hours.

Punch down dough, then turn it out onto a lightly floured board.  Knead slightly.  Divide dough into two pieces.  Form 12 rolls from each half for a total of 24.  I made small rolls, so results may vary.  Place  rolls on greased or parchment lined cookie sheets.  Cover with plastic wrap (spray with Pam so it won’t stick) and let rise 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until rolls are “light.”

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake 20-25 minutes if you’ve made just 24 rolls); about 15 minutes  for smaller ones.  *Instructions recommend brushing tops of rolls with melted butter before AND  after baking.  I saved a few calories by not doing this.

Recipe source:  I found this in an article by the AP’s Alison Ladman in the Carolina Living section of  “The Charlotte Observer” about this time last year. In it Ms. Ladman writes, “Adding squash or pumpkin to a dinner roll produces a bread that is soft, slightly sweet and wonderfully rich.  It also helps keep the rolls moist, making it easier to bake them ahead without worrying they will dry out”

For every Thanksgiving and Christmas for as long as I can remember, my aunt Alda made “Three Day Buns.”  Oh my.  They were absolutely divine! Very yeasty, my favorite kind of bread.  I have the recipe, which was my Grandmother’s, but have never made it.  Too much kneading for someone with hand problems.

The recipe for Double Pumpkin Dinner Rolls caught my eye not only because the dough didn’t need kneading, but because it sounded different.  The color and flavor of these rolls are both wonderful, and the dough so easy to handle.  In a marathon session last night, I baked enough to last through the holidays.   Give them a try…. maybe they’ll be a favorite at your house too.  Enjoy!


Posted November 11th, 2011 by Ellen and filed in Family, Holidays, Personal

Bill Guerrant, US Army, Americal Division, Chu Lai, Vietnam

He remains forever changed.

DH in Ukraine working with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)  for The State Department.

My husband’s life has been one of public service.  He has served his country, his home town and many parts of the world well.

Go out of your way today to thank a veteran.


Veteran’s Day

Pumpkin Patch

Posted October 6th, 2011 by Ellen and filed in Family, Garden, Holidays, Personal

The late afternoon light cast interesting shadows on these ghost pumpkins.

We are so fortunate to have a farmer’s market at the bottom of our street – just seven houses away.  Open Tuesday, Friday and Saturday (daily in October), the market gives us easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables, glorious bouquets, plants, baked goods and even fresh shrimp and grass-fed beef.  Fall is one of my favorite times there, as that’s when the pumpkins arrive!

We and the kids walked down Tuesday with their sweet baby Leven for her first visit to a pumpkin patch.  It was fun to watch her propped up for a photo shoot.

The Cinderella pumpkin Matthew is holding is popular this year, due to the October cover of “Southern Living” magazine.  Cinderellas,  along with the  turbins (see third photo above) and the heirlooms in grey-green, are selling like crazy, according to Simpson family member Sandy.

It was a glorious day, with a bit of chill in the air. We had fun watching all the little kids choose pumpkins.  Many were drawn to the tiny ones, grabbing them by the stem.  So many different kinds!  Striped, white, speckled, grey and traditional orange.

Ghost pumpkins were my favorites for a while, but I fell in love with the color of the heirlooms.  My DIL has a gorgeous soup tureen from Williams Sonoma which looks just like them.  But of course we have to have a big old Halloween pumpkin for the little goblins!

Helpful Info:
The Kings Drive Farmer’s Market (Simpson’s)
Location: Corner of Queens Road and Kings Drive, Charlotte, near Carolinas Medical Center.  Parking is free.
Hours: Pumpkin patch  and market are open daily in October.   Normal hours are Tuesday and Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Note: Workers normally take a break in November, reopening the day after Thanksgiving with Christmas trees.

The market is a much-loved Charlotte establishment.   It’s been operated by the Simpson family  from Indian Trail NC since the early 1940’s when it opened as a Christmas tree lot.  Be sure to visit soon!