Crafty Cousins

Christmas Eve night, the Dyer girls got crafty.  My cousin Kristen had bought a gingerbread house kit at Sam’s club for $5 on a whim and asked us if we’d like to entertain ourselves by putting it together.  Of course we did!


We sat around Granny and Papa’s table and giggled and cut up like old times as we took a stab at confectionery construction.  We’ve had some good times and crazy conversations at that table.  One thing is for sure: what happens at Granny and Papa’s table stays at Granny and Papa’s table.


Though we were certainly enjoying ourselves, we took our craft very seriously, too.  We worked hard to get the walls and roof pieces to stick together.  We even enlisted the pepper and jam containers sitting on the table to hold the pieces in place as they set.  We soon discovered that our “mortar” (icing) wasn’t exactly of the highest quality.  I had the bright idea to use marshmallow creme as a binding agent because, as I recalled, it sticks to EVERYTHING.  It wasn’t exactly easy to control, unfortunately, so one side of the house looked like it had insulation bursting out between the roof and the walls.  Rookie mistake.  We kept that side concealed from our photographer.


The kit also came with fondant (or fon-DANT! if you’re my enthusiastic cousin Kristen) to make the doors and windows.


It was looking a little rough there for a while, but with the addition of the windows, bushes, random peppermints adornments, layer upon layer of frosting that tasted like joint compound but didn’t act like it, and dusted flour (an improvised touch) it really came together.  You could barely tell it was homemade.  Ha.

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Papa did say it was the prettiest house he’d ever seen.   It was charming in a very haphazard, out of plumb kind of way.

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This is where the $5 cost came into play.

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Not 5 minutes after we completed the house, disaster struck and it toppled to its death on the way to the dining room table from the kitchen table.  No one was sadder than Granny.  She almost cried for us.  We took it pretty well.

For next year, we’ve vowed to make our own superglue-infused icing and construct the house out of graham crackers instead of gingerbread so the walls and roof aren’t so heavy.  Just wait for it.  It will be epic.  And we’ll have Papa write us a State Farm homeowners’ policy just in case.

Y’all come back,


Christmases Past

I stumbled across a few gems from Christmases in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s.


Evidently, I used to be a Christmas angel.

(My mother just informed me that this was not a good day.

Apparently, I did not want to have my picture taken.

Can you blame me?

Two words, Mom: white tights.)


While sitting to have my picture made was not high on my list, I certainly got my money’s worth out of my toys.  Never was a child more content to play with her dollhouse for hours on end.


I enjoyed commanding the attention of many a den full of family members.


I was happy to pitch in and help document the family Christmas.

(Thankfully, Fashion Police hasn’t gotten wind of these pants.  I was a very skinny toddler and all I can say about these pants is that my mother must have had high hopes that I would expand drastically and require pant legs large enough to store my toys in.  No such luck.  I bet even now I wouldn’t have an issue getting those things over my thighs.)


Christmases were going swimmingly.

(Aside from the fashion.)

And then suddenly I wasn’t the only grandchild anymore….


By 1993, there were four.

Oh how Christmases have changed over the last couple of decades…

Merry Christmas, y’all,


Showing Cattle

Yet another gem from the childhood summer adventures of cousins Lauren and Emily, here we have documentation of our days showing cattle.

In preparation for our debut at the fair, Granny took us to the big city of Bowling Green to get some matching outfits.  We landed on these precious denim vests, black shorts and black boots. Naturally, we chose to coordinate our socks with our t-shirts.  And in case you missed them, we were wearing gigantic black bows.  We kind of had a double layer Oreo thing going with the black and white.  Granny added a nice touch by sewing little sunflower patches onto our vests.  I think they really pulled the look together.

Here we are posing with our trophy cow. She was just thrilled to have a couple of little girls around.

This young lady certainly wasn’t going anywhere with all of us anchoring her rope.  We were so much help.  For all I know, this cow might have been a young man.

That’s my dad in the red cap.

I can’t help but notice that this calf and I have nearly the same leg shape: knobby.

Man was I happy to be there.

We don’t seem to have any pictures of me and Lauren showing our calves individually.  Poor cousin Lauren got a wild one and I think he stepped on her foot a time or two.  She persevered.

Granny and Eugene cheered us on from the stands as we won a few ribbons for our efforts.   The event concluded with a celebratory Sippy cup of apple juice.

Today, cousin Lauren turned 22.  In the 17 years since these photos were taken, she has learned a tremendous amount about cattle and showing them.  Regrettably, the same cannot be said for me.  Maybe someday we’ll get back out there in our sunflower vests and cousin Lauren can give me a few pointers.

Happy Birthday, Lauren!  I will always treasure our summer adventures.

Y’all hurry back,


Dynamic Duo

When we were little, cousin Lauren and I were a seriously dynamic duo. Every time I would come to visit, we got into all sorts of things at Granny and Papa’s. We had miniature chairs (which I believe had been … Continue reading

Melon-y Felony

I don’t know where to start. These are watermelon outfits. MATCHING watermelon outfits, no less. Granny loved to have her babies dressed in matching outfits.  Why these outfits had to feature large watermelons and candy-cane striped legging-shorts, I’m not sure. … Continue reading

The Cowboy Store

A little while back, as I was checking the facts for my Rite Aid post, I consulted my cousin/partner in crime Lauren about when Rite Aid closed and its Cowboy Store replacement opened.

The following is our text conversation regarding the matter:

Me:  “Hey! Quick question: about how long ago do you think Rite Aid went out in Burkesville?”

Lauren:  “10 years probably.”

Me:  “Ok.  I’m still sad about it. :(”

Lauren: “I know!”

Me:  “I haven’t even been in the cowboy store because I’m so sad!”

Lauren:  “I doubt there’s much in the cowboy store you would need anyways.”

Me:   “I don’t know about that!  I might need some chaps. :)”

Lauren:  “Haha well it’s not really that kind of cowboy store.   And who doesn’t need a good pair of chaps? Ha.”

She’s very encouraging of my efforts to be a farmer/cowgirl/crazy lady.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try to find an establishment nearby that sells chaps so I can get my farmer on.

Y’all come back,


Rite Aid

When my sister and I would visit our family in Kentucky in the summer as young kids, we had a bit of a ritual.  My cousins, my sister and I would make the long-awaited trip to….


To the average person, that may not seem very exciting.  In fact, for many people it falls into the category of “errands,” thus making such a trip dull and uninteresting.

My cousins, my sister and I, however, lived for Rite Aid in the summer.  Papa would give us each $10 or $20 and take us to Rite Aid, where we really knew how to stretch a buck.

My sister, Eugene (who is 4 years younger than I am), and my cousin Kristen (who is 5 1/2 years younger than I am) were still pretty small when we would go to Rite Aid so they bought toys and bubbles and things.  My cousin Lauren (who is 2 ½ years younger than I am) and I, however, were quite serious about our purchases that would entertain us for the next three weeks.  We spent our money on…


Exciting, no?!


Oh. Ok.  Well, Lauren and I thought it was exciting.

We would play “passport service,” a game we invented and probably spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours playing when we were young.  To play passport service, we needed paper and index cards and pens and highlighters and hole-punchers and paper clips and lots of office-y things.  And gum.  We always left room in the budget for a package of bubblicious gum.  That was our one splurge.  Other than that, our purchases were strictly business.

You probably think I’m making this up, but I have evidence:

See how proudly we were displaying our Rite Aid bags? We were very serious and enthusiastic about Rite Aid.  Papa was just glad to have his polecats together.

Sadly, about 10 years ago, the Rite Aid went out in Burkesville.  We wore black for a month.

Not really, but we certainly took it hard.

There is currently a cowboy store in the former Rite Aid location and I can’t bring myself to go in there because I haven’t gotten over Rite Aid closing yet.

R.I.P. Burkesville Rite Aid.   Thanks for all of the good times and practical purchases.

Y’all come back now, ya hear?


Driving to Burkesville

Welcome to Cumberland County.

This is my (very dirty) car, Chino, sitting in my grandparents’ driveway in Kentucky.

Why is this noteworthy?

Well, let me tell you.

I’ve never been able to just drive to my grandparents’ houses in Burkesville, Kentucky.  Having lived in the Northeast and about 1000 miles from my grandparents my whole life, any visit involved at least one plane ride (usually 2) and then a 2 ½ hour drive from the airport in either Louisville or Nashville to rural Kentucky.

Now that I live in Nashville, I can drive up to visit and be there in 2 ½ hours.  It’s glorious.

The blue Jeep, Azul, is my cousin Lauren’s.  Since this is Chino’s first time in Kentucky, he and Azul had never met and they are just tickled to death (a favorite Southern saying) to finally be together as family.

Naturally, as soon as I arrived in Burkesville, we had to eat.  We went to one of my favorite little spots on the square in town: Annie Ruby’s.

Now, Annie Ruby’s is in the location that was formerly Smith Pharmacy.  My papa thinks it had been open since the town was founded in 1810.  He said that when he was little a single ice cream cone was a nickel and a double was 10 cents.  My parents used to go there as kids for ice cream and orangeades, which they could purchase for something like a quarter. This was pretty amazing (even back then) since it took 2 fresh, sweet oranges to produce enough juice for this specialty.

My cousins, sister and I had a summer ritual at Smith Pharmacy when we were growing up where we would go sit at the old-timey fountain and order coke floats after a long day in the office (more on this later).  They had the BEST old school vanilla ice cream that was sort of a creamy yellow and then they would pour over the fountain coke to create the perfect ice cream to coke ratio.  This sounds pretty basic, but there’s quite an art to making a coke float.  Trust me, I’m a coke float connoisseur.

While we were devastated when Smith’s pharmacy went out a little while back, we were so excited to learn that Annie Ruby’s would be opening with good food and with the fountain.  It’s the same fountain that was in Smith’s and they do a darn good job with the coke float.  Their curry chicken salad is also pretty delicious if you want something to go with that coke float.  Actually, maybe eat the sandwich first and then savor the coke float.

Annie Ruby’s is known for “tomato pie,” which I’m sure is delightful, but unfortunately I’m some sort of genetic mutant and do not like tomatoes.  As my granny says, “what a shame” because my papa grows a whole mess of tomatoes that the rest of my family lives for.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve worked up a craving for a coke float.

Y’all come back now, ya hear?