jam mama (part 2)

Ten years ago almost to this very day I wrote a post on my blog which was untitled but included the words…..JAM MAMA……

“You should have seen small Grace
diving into the warm cup of jam
that I set out on the table,
with a loaf of soft white bread from the bakery.
She tore of big chunks of bread
and dipped the majority of it down
into the bright red jam. . . .
there is just nothing like that warm, strawberry taste
. . . .it’s heavenly.

She called me ‘jam-mama’.”
July 12, 2008

Ten years have come and gone……

Grace is 18 now and was at work (as a cashier downtown at the grocery store) yesterday when I walked up the road to “see if there were any raspberries left”.  I determined to really look and really pick every single good enough berry I could find.  This involved lots of bending over and looking underneath the tangle of vines and briars and taking my merry ol’ sweet time.

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I eventually came home with 6 cups.

Incidentally, these berries grow on the side of the road, free for the foraging!  I already have a gallon of them frozen in our chest freezer in the pantry.  Once they ripen, we have to go back every couple of days to pick some more until they are finally all done.  They are productive!

We have a small patch of wild raspberries over by the chicken coop, too, which the chickens love to jump up and eat off the cane.  Then they lay us the most lovely eggs out of appreciation.

The black-cap raspberries grow on the bank by our drive way and under the dead pine tree at the bottom of the yard by the pond.

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I always pick clean but you never know what little creatures may have taken a ride home with the berries.  So I dumped them out to look through them.

I put them in a pan and simmered them until they released all their juice.  I strained out the seeds, measured the juice (2 cups) and added them back to the pan with the same amount of sugar (2 cups).  Brought to a rolling boil for 3 minutes and then beaten with the mixer for another 3 minutes.  Done!  So easy, so satisfying.

I was given the recipe by my very own jam mama, Cindy.

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Jacob said the jelly would taste good on “that cake you made the other day” and Ethan suggested some other baked good and I said “How about homemade biscuits?” And he said YES PLEASE.

I made a double batch of biscuits and we all ate them up right away with the homemade jelly on top.

Everywhere I looked there were children grabbing  another and another biscuit, slathering it with butter and jelly, and walking away with it………

This morning my feet are sticking to the carpet and the floor.

big bow, books, and a heron

I had serious reservations about Sarah’s requested hair style this morning (I’m her hair stylist).  “I want the ponytail on the top of my head like this,” she turned upside down and gathered it up in her hands, “and then put the bow on.”  The bow was all of 8 inches across, large, white, with silver sequins all over it.  She won the bow yesterday by “moving up her clip” at school.  Rather ridiculous.  Still, I couldn’t see any reason to deny her.  Up up and up went the hair, with the big bow on the very very top.

Two hours later, I was sitting in the front row of the auditorium trying to find my girl, the one with the big white bow on her head.  And to my amusement, there were girls all over the place with big bows of all different colors on the tops of THEIR heads!  It’s a trend!  An 8 year old school girl fashion trend!

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After the concert, where I heard adorable songs sung by adorable children, I decided to check out a local used book store for more Newbury books.  I’m trying to collect all the gold and silver medal winners, and read them all, too.  Or rather, I determined I would read them, and then found myself collecting them.  I have already read some of them, of course.   And we owned a surprising amount.  But there are over 300 titles and now that I’ve set this goal as a 40-something year old woman, it will be an absolute treat to read most of them for the first time, and some of them over again.  I’ll be sharing most of my “Newbury book news” on my instagram account, with some now and then updates here, too.  Since I began my challenge, I’ve read 1)Roller Skates 2)The Dark Frigate 3)Sounder 4) Secret of the Andes 5)The Twenty One Balloons  and am currently reading 6) Hitty, Her First Hundred Years.  It feels like it’s taking me a hundred years to finish it but that’s not to say that it isn’t a good book because it is.  It’s just taking me almost a solid week to read it.  Next I’ll read Out of the Dust because when I posted a photo of it on Instagram two of my friends said it was a favorite.  If I’m going to read them all I want to own them all (a treasure of a library for myself and my family) and since I love a bargain and a treasure hunt I’ll be spending the summer searching.  It’s such fun.  I get confused.  Some of the titles I’ve never heard of and don’t know what the covers look like.  So I printed off a big long list of the titles to check and double check and rely on my phone to look things up, too.  All that said, I still have managed to end up with some “doubles”.

*****

I didn’t realize my laptop would stay connected to the internet away far over here by the chicken coop but it is and it does so I am!  The pond is just down the bank in front of me, and I am sitting in an Adirondack chair, with my purse on a little table next to me.  Inside the purse there are 8 eggs as I didn’t want them to roll out of my pockets and crack against the chair seat.  The chickens wandered around my feet for a while, one of them beaked my toes!, but have mostly wandered away, eating bugs and grass while making soft cooing sounds.  They look so pretty against the tall dark pink clover and daisies in bloom next to the coop.

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When I stopped outside with my book to read, I saw a heron at the pond so I put the dog in the basement (he would bark and chase it away) and put my zoom lens on the camera.

They aren’t the best photos in the world but they’re special because I took them standing on my own front porch!

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I’m mainly amused by the long legs.  And knowing eye.

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“The Knowing Eye”

After trying to hide from me in a pine tree, it flew far far away and I retrieved my laptop to try to post the photos outdoors in the very best office in the world!  Nature!  I heard someone say this morning that nature isn’t romantic it’s just out to kill you but you know what, that’s just part of the charm.  At the moment, I feel perfectly safe.  I doubt the Heron would say the same.  He probably thought my long camera was a gun.

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The parting shot.

*****

Back to Hitty!  I’m determined to finish it before 2!  That’s when I need to pick up Grace from school (she’s been helping her former HS English teacher this week!  One more step closer to her dream of becoming a teacher herself).

Happy Thursday!

such small creatures….still, so lovely

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This morning David and Caleb left for school on the bus and Ethan and Grace left together in Ethan’s new truck so Ethan could take Grace to the HS before he drove to work and that left Seth, Sarah, and Jacob still at home.  Then, Jacob left for work but texted me 10 minutes later saying, “I’m coming back, I forgot my I.D.”

He was not happy as he tore around the house (all 6 feet 2 inches of him) looking for it.  I finished up what I was doing and told Seth to keep an eye out for the bus so he wouldn’t miss it as I helped Jacob.  “He can’t find his I.D, Seth, do you know where it is?”  “I don’t even know WHAT it is,” he said.  “It’s his picture on a shoe-lace type necklace.”  “For work?”  “Yes”  “I didn’t know he had to have his picture taken for work…….”  Jacob stomped through the room again.  “I ALWAYS PUT IT ON MY DRESSER AND IT’S NOT THERE!”  He’s getting more and more steamed.

“Did you look underneath it?” says Seth……

A minute later I found Seth’s big brother Jacob on the floor looking under his dresser.  Lo and behold….there it was.

I ran up the stairs, “Seth, Seth!! you saved the day!  It was under the dresser!”

21 year old big brother Jacob was right behind me, very relieved, and we found 9 year old little brother Seth waiting for us, doing a slow clap and nodding his head up and down with a knowing smile, because he saved the day.

*****

Yesterday evening there was a house FULL of young people and as I was scrolling Facebook I saw a photo of a PINK praying mantis (young one) and it immediately made me want to go outside and look for insects to photograph.  It’s one of my favorite things to do at 6:00 on a Sunday evening when the house is super loud and crazy and my husband is away on a business trip and any other time, too, really.

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What shiny eyes you have, dragonfly.

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Can you imagine having antenna this long and graceful?  Did you take whiskers from a cat?

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I laugh at bugs because they are so smart.  As soon as they see me they *quick as a wink* hide underneath whatever leaf or grass they are perched upon.  It’s a great game of hide and seek.

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Look at it’s tiny black eye.  Just the tiniest of dots.

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buttercup pedals // heart

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This flower is about the size of a dime.  So lovely.  6 pedals with pointed ends of the loveliest shade of purple.  They grow on the tops of thick grass-like stalks and are a flower of my childhood.

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There is a bug underneath all that spit.

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Lovely red cloak

I had to twist around the stem to take the photo because he kept going behind the flower to hide from me.  Imagine spending time in a buttercup.

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butterflies and moths are impossible to get close to, I only got this photo because it was dead.

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It’s so beautiful!!!!  I bet he would be fun to draw.

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a couple of these photos will not contain an insect.

Yarrow is just coming into blossom.

Their whiteness looks so lovely in a sea of green grasses.  Their stalks are still nice and bendy and tossed back and forth in the wind in a very sea-like wavey way.

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mating bugs

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I admit this one gave me a creepy feeling.

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Teeny tiny spider and two teeny tiny black bugs.  Do they know they are being watched by a spider?

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“What big eyes you have, Grandmother!”

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I imagine this is one of those super-hero bugs wearing dark shades and a business suit and out to save the day *like Seth*.

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with pedals

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and without.

And all God’s people said……….

happy mother’s day!

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Go on doing the little things,
no matter how small,
only making sure that you breathe love into them.
Let them fall where they may,
no matter into what heart,
no matter how silently,
no matter how hopeless may seem the soil into which they drop,
no matter how you yourself may appear
to be forgotten
or overlooked
as you do your deeds of kindness,
and speak your words of love.
These words and deeds and influences of yours are living seeds,
and not one of them shall perish!

J.R. Miller

one little patch of beauty

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The ministry of kindness is unceasing. It fills all the days and all the nights. In the true home, it begins in pleasant greetings with the first waking moments, and all day goes on in sweet courtesies, in thoughtful attentions, in patience, in quiet self-denials, in obligingness and helpfulness.

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Out in the world kindness goes everywhere with . . .
its good cheer,
its gladness of heart,
its uplift for those who are discouraged,
its strengthening words for those who are weary,
its sympathy with sorrow,
its interest in lives that are burdened and lonely.

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Some of us, if we were to try to sum up the total of our usefulness, would name a few great things we have done:
a gift of money to some benevolent object,
the starting of some good work which has grown into strength,
the writing of a book which has done good to many lives,
the winning of honor in some service to our community or to our country.

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But in every worthy life, that which has left really the greatest measure of good, has been its ministry of kindness. No record of it has ever been kept. People have not talked about it. It never has been mentioned in the newspapers. We do not even remember it ourselves. But wherever we have gone, day after day, if we have simply been kind to everyone, we have left blessings in the world which in the aggregate mean far more than the few large things we set down as the measure of our usefulness among men!

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Our Lord’s wonderful picture of the Judgment reveals another phase of the splendor of kindness. He tells us that the little things we do — feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, showing hospitality to the stranger, visiting the sick, and the other nameless ministries of love of which we take no account — if done in the right spirit, are accepted as though they had been actually done to Christ himself! He tells us that the godly will be surprised to know that in their kindly acts they had been ministering to the King, when they supposed they were only doing little things for needy neighbors. This revealing exalts to highest honor, the lowliest things of the common days, wrought in love for the Master.

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The best thing we can do with our love, is not to watch for a chance to perform someone fine act that will shine before the world — but to fill all the days and hours with little kindnesses which will make countless hearts nobler, stronger and happier.

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“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

~J.R. MILLER~

I found a new podcast that I listen to as I walk and it never ceases to soften my heart.  The speaker simply reads excerpts from books or essays from various spiritual writers.  His voice is soothing but –be aware–the children will laugh.  I was listening to it when I picked up David from track practice and he dropped his head back on the seat pretending to be put sound asleep by the voice reading to us.

The name of the podcast is Inspirational Living.  Yesterday was a reading from J.R. Miller called Be of Good Cheer:  The Blessings of Cheerfulness.  Miller has been quoted many times on this blog, so I thought it was high time to quote him again.  There is a great website full of Miller’s writing you might want to go peruse it…GRACE GEMS.   Highly recommended.

PERUSE:  read, typically in a thorough or careful way.

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Lily of the valley is coming into bloom.  I found some in the ditch as I walked yesterday and picked one so I could enjoy it’s lovely scent.

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A little peak at the flower garden by the patio and garage.  Hens and Chicks, Phlox, and Iris.

The best part of the day, besides figuring out the Marco Polo app so I could video text with my friend Lea Ann……..

…….was these two fine young men returning home for the summer.

We were all so happy as we ran to the car to see them.  They had quite a morning of trying to load the vehicle with all their stuff.  SO MUCH STUFF.  They learned a valuable lesson or two for next school year.

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As soon as they opened the doors it started falling out.

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Ethan showed me his seat, he had no room for his legs or any movements on the 3 hour drive back home.

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For whatever reason even the hens ran over to investigate.

Seth, Sarah, and David helped them unload.  I had made hamburgers and pasta for dinner, and peanut butter cookies, but had to leave after just a few minutes to take Caleb to his game.

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This is how they brought their clothing home.  Stuffed in a hundred thousand plastic bags found in a trash can at school.

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JUST as I took the photo, Jacob threw his football to Ethan.  We couldn’t have timed it better if we tried…..

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Rich and I sat in our lawn chairs at the top of the hill and watched Caleb play in his game (they lost 9-7) and the rest of the kids (but Grace, who comes home this weekend).  Jacob talked to us nonstop about his recent college stories.  As I studied their faces I was filled with pride and joy.  “What do you think of these fine sons of yours, Rich?”  And we looked at each other and smiled.  If you have children, you know the feeling.  These moments make all the stressful moments worth it, tens times over.

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Caleb was hoping that his big brothers would come to his game.  And they did.

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They were playing catch with the football right in front of me.

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Sarah came to get me so she could take me to a tiny nest that she found.  Could the night get any better?

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David said “I finally feel like I’m not all alone anymore.”

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flashback:

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This photo recently caught my attention again…..it’s from almost 8 years ago…..I made Sarah’s dress.  And look at those arms and legs and that face.

Just a few more quotes before we go:

fullsizeoutput_54db 1“Our attitude is to be ever toward joy.”

DSC_0633 1“Shall we not seek for the bright side? There is really sunshine enough in the darkest day—to make any ordinary mortal happy—if he only has eyes to see it!”

DSC_0659 1There is no lot in life so dreary—
that it has not
at least its
one little patch of beauty;

or its one wee flower looking up
out of the dreariness,
like a smile of God.”

*J.R. Miller

 

you are loved.

wild violets & a trip to brimfield antiques show 2018

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We haven’t had our lawn mowed yet so there are wild violets growing everywhere.  They are abundant and I found myself wandering around picking a tiny bouquet of them.  The white ones are the most fragrant; beautiful, creamy white with deep purple lines from the middle pedal and just a hint of yellow there, too.

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We are blessed in violets.  Another kind that I noticed was white with a deep blue center, with blue veins coming out from the blue.

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Also noticed was a thin grapevine twisted around and up a tree, just the right spot for another photo opportunity for my violets.

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My very favorite one is light lilac in color, with thin delicate pedals and a flat face…in the photo it is the one closest to my hand, picked last.  I only know of one small patch of these.  The most common purple ones are growing everywhere.

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Tied with a ribbon, they dress up the kitchen windowsill very nicely.

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Yesterday was opening day of the Brimfield Antique Show so when the children left for school, I drove to the show.  I arrived early enough to get parking easily.  Later on when I left it was crowded and some of the parking lots were full.  It cost 10 dollars to park at the church, and I always park there each time I go.  When I got out of my vehicle I heard one of the attendants call over to another older parking attendant to ask “Which one of these trees did you plant?” He laughed and looked back and forth to a couple trees; “That one.”  It was stately tall and mature and I marveled that it had grown so much in the man’s lifetime.  Already I was collecting beauty and inspiration from people…….I wanted to go home and plant a tree.

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I thought of Jo and Dawn when I saw these darling little tap shoes.

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Within 10 minutes I had made a fiesta purchase; a tea cup and saucer in the hard-to-find-and-afford lilac color.  (to match the violets) at a great price!

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And I thought of friend Hannah, and my dear mother, whenever I saw sewing things and fabrics.

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Vintage fiesta ware

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I bought a vintage yellow dessert plate with stripes.  Someone mentioned on the fiestaware FB page that they thought it was part of a Sears cake set sold years ago.

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I found a shiny and perfect medium green plate (most rare of all the colors) and was able to purchase it for 30 dollars.

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I normally go to Brimfield with someone else (or two or three) and I wondered how I would enjoy going alone, but I simply loved it.  I would rather go with one or two of the children, or my sisters, or aunts, or friends of course but going by myself this time ended up being a much needed treat.  I loved thinking only of myself and quietly going around watching people and looking at all the things people were displaying and selling.  I took my lunch and ate it as I walked; a pb and honey sandwich, a cliff bar, an apple.  All in all, I spent almost 4 hours and walked about 4 miles before I left.

It felt wrong in a way to leave Brimfield and go straight to an antique store (because Brimfield is nothing but antiques as far as the eye can see) but I had remembered a few things that I had wanted to buy a few months ago, so I headed to one more shop before going home for the day.  The things I was looking for were gone, but I still enjoyed browsing.  Antiquing is like a little history lesson of ordinary life.

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Jus took at that big red fiesta platter (not purchased, but admired) The colors are so energizing and cheerful.

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~A chartreuse display (fiesta disc pitcher)~

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Well, then I drove back home and determined to stay in my kitchen until it was spotless so I turned on some music and mindfully washed up the dishes, cleared off the counters and scrubbed them, and swept the floor.  It’s more fun when you can concentrate on what you’re doing rather than rush through to get to the “next thing”.   Pictured above are the fiestaware pieces that I bought yesterday.  But I have already thought about NOT buying anymore of it for a while.  I am content with my collection.  I have a piece of every color and then some.  I have vases and teapots, pitchers, canisters, vintage, and new.  Salt and pepper shakers, spoon rests, trivets, pie plates.  Plates galore.  Common pieces and rare.  Some to display and others to use everyday.  It’s a satisfying collection.

Photos of other finds brought home:

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A Tasha Tudor craft-type book, paperback, which I had never seen before.  I can’t wait to look at it slowly and try some of the projects.

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A lady in Brimfield had a “just my style” booth that she told me she started doing when she retired.  She does all three Brimfield shows a year and also does her own show.  She had pieces of furniture, and housewares, vintage laces, baby things, new and old.  At the counter she had a display of scrapbooking packets that she put together and I couldn’t resist buying one.

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More old papers for scrapbooking and journals.

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L O V E

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L O V E     **Eloise Wilkin**

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This was such fun.  “My School-Day Autobiography” owned by Doris Jeanette Reid. Perhaps you know her.  I would love to send it back to her, or her descendants.  How do things end up being sold and bought by strangers?

In the meantime, here are some of the pages:

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“Stay as sweet as you are and you won’t have a hard time getting a husband.”

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“Best wishes to a bad girl.”

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“Your one of my best friends I mean it”

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BEAUTIFUL script and blessing

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Taped on the last page.

*****