Writing 101: Day Six, Character-Building

I ran into Kerry for the first time in ten years. I remembered her from  high school, but all she cared about then was cheerleading and getting married. The last time I saw her she had been headed for college to get a degree in elementary education. Somewhere between her freshman and sophomore years her vivacious personality and toothpaste-ad beauty had snared her the sought-for husband. Soon I began to receive monthly updates of letters spilling over with baby pictures. Nothing very personal was ever said, just reports on how the baby was doing and how happy she was. I moved away and we lost track of each other. Since she hadn’t really penetrated my consciousness very much, I gave her little thought in the intervening years.

But seeing her this Tuesday was a shock. It was as if all the light had drained from her eyes and something had pricked the balloon of her personality until it lay on the restaurant table between us, flat and deflated. Everything irritated her: the service, the menu, the voices of the other patrons, the fact that I was wearing a color she didn’t approve of. I was trying to think of excuses to leave before the meal arrived, but none came. I was only half listening when the giveaway sentence fell like lead between us. “And then after the divorce –” What? What divorce? I had long ceased receiving updates on her idyllic life. I had no idea.

“You just don’t get it, do you?” she smirked. “The majority of people in this country who get married get divorced. So what’s the big deal?”

I mumbled something about not knowing about the divorce and was trying to think of some way to change the subject. This definitely qualified as an awkward moment.

“Come to think of it,” I said. “I only know of one girl who is still married from high school. You remember Carol?”

“Carol just trapped him into marriage. If anybody should be divorced, she should.” There was a biting meanness in that remark that left me speechless. She tapped her fork on an invisible spot about three inches in front of my nose. “And don’t try to pretend you’re happy. I know better.You were the one who was supposed to go on to college and get that big-shot degree. Didn’t happen, did it? I heard you ran out of money right before your junior year. Husband didn’t make enough money, did he? And your parents didn’t chip in either, did they? They didn’t care, did they? That makes you a failure, too. Don’t pretend you’re not. What a joke. Life is just a joke.”

That gesture with the fork had frightened me. Its resemblance to a pitchfork was a little too much for this country girl. “Maybe we shouldn’t be having this conversation,” I said shakily.

“Ha! I got you there, didn’t I? I hit a nerve!” she crowed. “So now you want out of the whole conversation. You don’t want to talk. Miss Fancy Pants doesn’t want to talk.”

I was beginning to want a pitchfork of my own. “Look,” I said. “You are obviously hurting too much from something I know nothing about. I came here to have lunch with you just because we met on the street. I knew nothing about what happened to you and Tom –”

“You certainly did. I’ll bet everybody was just dying to tell you all about it. That’s why you asked me in here. You just wanted to  gloat.” She got up and slammed the chair under the table, snatched her jacket off the back of it and started digging in her purse. “Here’s a tip. Tell them to send mine back. I didn’t come here to be insulted.”

“I didn’t know anything about this. If you weren’t hurting so badly we could’ve gotten through this dinner without my even suspecting. Look, we weren’t the best of friends. We ran in different circles  –”

“You never ran in any circles at all. You were just a loner.” And with that she stalked away. I can still hear the clump – clump of her stylish heels on the restaurant floor, fading out to the door and then blending with the traffic.

It was as if I had been caught up in a roaring tornado and then slammed to earth miles away. I was aware that the noises in the restaurant had almost ceased. My cheeks were red and burning and I was trying to figure out how to sneak out with all those eyes on me.

I jumped when the waitress set my salad in front of me.  “It’s on the house,” she said in a whisper. “I wouldn’t talk to a dog like that. But believe me, there’s one like that in every family.”

“There is?” This was a new concept to me.

She nodded. “It’s like the stages of grief people go through. Someone wrote a book about it. You know – denial, bargaining…. what was the other one?”

That broke the spell. “Anger!”

You can meet the nicest people in diners.

Lessons from one special flower

Our home was surrounded by trees and flowers – a bed of hydrangea and snowball bushes rimmed with a ruffle of pink phlox, a wisteria vine so thick I could use it as a seat, fragrant jasmine and honeysuckle outside the bedroom windows, and a long line of redbud trees down the side of the house. A huge shade tree in the front yard made a wonderful place to play, and a beautiful, thick hedge rimmed the back yard. But the one plant everyone remembered best was my grandmother’s tiger lily.Orange tiger lily flower with buds

The tiger lily bloomed each year in its special place by the back door. It was a sort of family treasure, a little piece of beauty that only the family saw. I would sit on the back steps and just bask in the glory of the soft air and the loveliness of those few perfect petals.

When we moved to a new home, my mother continued the tradition. Right under my bedroom window, if you bent down low and knew where to look, was a patch of tremulous, pink, heart-shaped blooms – a beautiful bleeding heart plant.

Hot pink tear-drop shaped bleeding heart plant blooms

Bleeding heart blossoms.

My best friend’s father was a horticulturist. At their home, in its splendid, creamy glory, was a gardenia. He took us on regular viewings (even though it was right outside the front door) and explained to us how delicate the petals were. We wouldn’t have touched one for all the money in the world. Then he would get into the more technical aspects, such as soil acidity, and our eyes would glaze over. But we got the idea – Mother Nature has all sorts of complications and demands, and we’d better respect them. We could end up living in a desert if we didn’t play by her rules.

It seemed that everyone I loved had that one special flower that defined who they were. Name a flower, and I will come back with the name of the person I associate it with. The agonizing wait for the plants to bloom and the joy of their blossoming are memories I treasure to this day. What a wonderful thing to give a child, a thing of beauty to be anticipated and then reveled in. How marvelous to have one special thing, no matter how inexpensive, to provide you with joy and beauty.

Through these stunning flowers my mother and grandmother taught me that life is a cycle. I learned the value of patience, of waiting for things of value. Never give up in the dead of winter – Spring is coming!

Text copyright 2015 by Jill Teresa Farmer

Mother’s Microwave Peach Jam

This doesn’t last as long as regular preserves, but it will probably be eaten quickly! I like to use sterilized jelly jars just on general principles. Be sure to label them for use within two weeks. If you have good peaches, you can leave out all the spices.

2 cups peeled cubed, sliced or chopped peaches (It usually takes me about 5 peaches)

3 tablespoons cane sugar (you may want to add more, depending on your peaches and your personal taste)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

A pinch of salt (if you want it)

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

First, get a microwave-proof quart bowl and combine the peeled and chopped peaches, sugar, cornstarch, ginger, allspice, and salt (if you’re going to use it). You want the peaches to come up no more than about a third of the way in the bowl. Microwave on high for 3 minutes without a cover. Keep an eye on it so you’ll know how your microwave cooks this recipe. You’ll be more comfortable knowing whether it might start to boil over or not.

Next, stir it well and give it another 3 or 4 minutes or until it starts to thicken. Remove it from the microwave and use a potato masher or a fork to break up any large pieces. Stir until it is the right consistency for spreading.

Add the lemon juice, stir, and set it aside until it is cooled a bit. At this point cover it and put it in the refrigerator until it thickens. It is best to leave it in overnight or at least for several hours. You can also put it in individual little jelly jars. Label so folks will know it must be used within two weeks.

This recipe gets better as you make it. You get to know just how long to cook it to your taste and just what spices you want (I sometimes use a pinch of ground cloves). Each batch will be better as you experiment.

If you find you enjoy making this recipe, just substitute whatever fruit is in season and change the spices accordingly.

Happy cooking!


Buttons – from pearl to hand crocheted

One by one, the sewing supplies my grandmother once used disappeared or became of such inferior quality that she wouldn’t use them. She had once been the seamstress of our little Southern town, and no cost-cutting measure escaped her sharp eye. She always complained that no one had “dainty” lace any more. Or soft enough cotton fabric. Then she couldn’t find eyelash cotton. Then all the dotted Swiss “got funny”. She was very particular.  “I wouldn’t waste my time sewing that up,” she’d often say. And one of her prime targets – after the quality of the fabric – was buttons.

My grandmother’s button box was filled with tiny pearl buttons, exquisitely small with minute holes that only the slimmest of needles could penetrate. When she and my mother and I would go on one of our marathon fabric shopping trips, she always went prepared.There would be her little sack of fabric swatches, sketches of what she wanted to make, all sorts of measurements and yardage notes. And her glasses were freshly washed. (“They’re not going to put anything past me!”) From the moment we hit the parking lot, she got that steely determined look that told us she was ready for the hunt.

One of grandmother's tiny pearl buttons on a baby dress she made in the 1920s. ©Jill Teresa Farmer

One of grandmother’s tiny pearl buttons on a baby dress she made in the 1920s.
©Jill Teresa Farmer

Her first target was always the notions counter. (She was always running out of those short, thin needles, her favorite tool.) She would “tsk, tsk, tsk” her way up and down the rows, and when she got to the buttons she would suddenly lean forward, squint, and adjust her glasses. “Awful, just awful,” she would proclaim. None met her standards. (Neither did ribbons, but that’s another story.)

“You have to buy buttons when you find them,” she instructed my mother and me. “You can’t wait. If you find a nice button in a basic color – buy enough to do a blouse that buttons up the front and add two for each sleeve. That’s the only way you can be sure you’ll have enough.” We filed this gem away. My grandmother’s proclamations about sewing were always right.

We rarely had “store-bought” clothes, but when something impressed one of us it inevitably had to be altered. Something was always wrong. Being short, with me it was usually adjusting the hem. A dress for my mother had to have the waist taken in. My grandmother was tall and thin, so she could usually wear anything as is, except for one thing – you guessed it, the buttons. I recall our finding a dress for my teenage self that was a real find. But of course the buttons weren’t good enough. On the way home we took the dress into a fabric store to find some of a better quality. Then we were so excited that we sat up and replaced every fastener on the dress. After that, my mother took it to her sewing machine and reinforced the sleeve seams. It didn’t seem so store-bought after all the extra time we put into it.

Various buttons

©Jill Teresa Farmer

Mother’s favorite designer was Coco Chanel, and she copied many of her beautiful suits. For these she bought gold dome buttons and white plastic rings. She would carefully cover the ring with coordinating fabric from the suit, nestle the gold dome inside, and sew it in firmly. Voila – Chanel-style buttons! My big love was covered buttons. To me they were the epitome of style. But the day came when they changed up the whole system and I could no longer get it right. I was blue for a week.

One day, after my grandmother had made her way to Heaven, my mother came to me with a beautiful linen suit she had made. “I made it, but now I can’t find any buttons to match. All of them are just so tacky.” I sympathized. She had some choices, but the elegant outfit lost some of its beauty with what she had on hand, and we knew there was nothing better at the store. The fabric had been an impulse buy because of its quality and beautiful, subtle color. But we had nothing in any of the button boxes to work with. But with an inventor for a father, I knew there was an answer to this. It took me a while. And then I hit on the answer – crocheted buttons! At first my mother was horrified. Crocheted buttons on a chic suit? But what I had in mind was a little more sophisticated than that. I got some of her scraps and unraveled the threads. Then I added one fine strand of gold thread. And with them I crocheted matching round buttons. She loved them.

Crocheted button made from fabric ravelings and gold thread

Button crocheted from unraveled threads with a strand of gold embroidery thread. I pulled the thread that holds it all together to one side so you could see its heaviness. ©Jill Teresa Farmer 2015

Looking through four generations of button boxes is a sweet trip down memory lane for me. My grandmother’s tiny pearl buttons, too rare now for me to bear using; the gold buttons in all sizes and designs; the cute little daisies with the yellow centers that we were sure we’d never use but were just too cute to pass up; the ones we cut off the men’s shirts before they became dust rags; the feminine pale blue buttons with the tiny rhinestones from a decades-old lingerie set….

Those were happy days, with my grandmother sitting on the window sill so she would have plenty of light to make her tiny hand stitches; my mother bending over the old Singer with her toolkit and oil can, overhauling the entire contraption; and me, wondering if I would ever grow up to be as talented as they were. I didn’t, but I have beautiful memories of the women in my family doing what they loved.

Copyright ©2015 Jill Teresa Farmer. All rights reserved.

Walks in the woods – Bring your bucket, shovel and the Guide to Wildflowers

forest with blue and pink wildflowers

(Image courtesy of Rob Wiltshire at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Some of the happiest outings of my parents and grandparents and I were treks in the woods. Sometimes it was a trip that ended in the Davy Crockett National Forest, where we walked under the many different types of pine trees and competed to see who could name the species first. I loved the “loblolly” pine. Who wouldn’t with a name like that? Then we’d rest on a bench and unpack our lunch of ham sandwiches, Fritos and Dr. Peppers.

Often we’d go to the woods for a different purpose – to get humus (not the edible hummus!), the wonderful soil that is produced by decaying leaves. Rich in nutrients and marvelous in texture, it is perfect for flowerbeds. Instant naturally composted topsoil! We’d bring our bucket and shovel and set out driving down the back roads, eyes peeled for side roads and a promising stand of  thick trees and healthy undergrowth. All the while we’d be watching carefully for the “Posted, No Trespassing” signs that we often encountered. We knew to steer clear of them, especially the homemade ones with a rifle sketched underneath misspelled words. “Trespassers will be shot on sight” was also effective.

But it would always end in a good tramp in the woods, as we carried our bucket, shovel and Field Guide to Wildflowers. You never knew, after all, when you might spot something you’d never seen before. Soon we’d be shoveling a bucketful of rich earth, inhaling that wonderful fragrance that is so dear to the heart of every country lover.

blue and orange wildflowers

Poppies and Bluettes
(Image courtesy of Dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

The biggest thrills of these trips were the wildflowers we encountered. I still remember my first Jack-in-the-pulpit. And of course there were always the beautiful Texas bluebonnets that lined the highways. Indian Paintbrush was another favorite. There were so many. And if we hit a snag on naming one, my grandmother would whip out the wildflower guide, lick one long elegant forefinger, and turn the pages until she found it. Then she’d carefully annotate the description with the date, time, and place we’d first spotted it. Everyone would stumble over the Latin pronunciation of the names until my father could bear it no more. He’d take over and carefully pronounce the long, scientific name.

The most curious of all was one singular tree that grew in the woods, near the side of the road. We never understood why someone hadn’t dug it up and carried it off as a garden trophy long before. It was a Grancy Greybeard. Sound familiar? I didn’t think so. They tell me that up North it is called a Fringe Tree. In spring it is a small tree covered with lacy white blooms. The car would fill with “oohs”s and “aahh”s whenever we’d pass it.

Back then we lived among such a profusion of trees and flowers that it never occurred to us that we might be upsetting the balance of nature by taking home a bouquet of wildflowers and a handful of pine cones. Who knew that one day, in our lifetimes, these things would become endangered by their very admirers?

girl with a garland of flowers

Courtesy TotallyFreeImages.com

Once home, my father and grandfather would man the shovels and work the humus into the flowerbeds under the watchful eye and direction of my mother. My grandmother would be making the ice tea – plenty of lemon and sugar, please – and getting ready for the best part of the day: a long time sitting on the front porch, aching pleasantly from digging, talking to gathering neighbors about what we’d seen, passing around the Wildflower Guide for everyone to admire all those dates and check marks. I would always be trying to make an arrangement or a daisy chain as the family dog pushed her nose into the blooms, trying to get the attention she’d missed while we were gone.

Those were happy days.

Text copyright 2015 by Jill Teresa Farmer. All rights reserved.

Writing letters that are fun to receive

Receiving a letter should be fun. Last time we talked about my mother’s and grandmother’s conversions from hide-bound traditionalism to more creative thinking in the letter-writing department. This time I’d love to share the little tips we collected over the years about making a letter special.

Irish women reading letters from America in front of a thatched cottage.

We’ll drop everything to read a letter from loved ones.
Image courtesy totallyfreeimages.com

    • Write on pretty stationery. (Bet you knew I was going to mention that one!) Whether you love vintage papers you find on eBay or at the antique store, get something that expresses your personality. You may be the little kitten type or the abstract type or the gold-border type. No matter what your personality, let it shine on paper as well as in daily life.
    • Coordinate the ink color. Now this may sound silly, but some colors just don’t go together. Can you imagine brown ink on lavender paper? Blue would be a better choice. Or my friend’s purple!
    • Have fun with pretty stamps. The U.S. Postal Service comes out with all sorts of commemorative stamps. I usually buy the birds and flowers, but often people who have been in the military prefer receiving a stamp depicting the flag. It’s a nice touch to coordinate the stamp with the envelope. I recently had to put an orange zinnia stamp on a lilac envelope. It was not a pretty sight.
    • Enclose some little lagniappe – a little extra something of interest like a little pressed flower or a short poem may be just right. Photos are a nice touch, and with a little cutting and pasting and resizing, you can use photo editing software to print two small pictures on 4-by-6 inch photo paper, and voila – small, wallet-size pictures that will fit into any envelope. Just don’t overdo it. No one wants to open an envelope and then spend five minutes on their knees crawling around to pick up all the little treasures that fell out.

      young woman opening a letter

      Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    • Of all the things we can send, something of ourselves is always the most meaningful. If you can take the time to make a little drawing or write a stanza of verse, your reader will know you truly care. My great grandmother was a master of sending bits of poetry, and they are treasured today.
    • Make your recipient feel loved (unless it’s your boss or your friend’s husband; in that case skip this one). Don’t just talk about yourself or brag on your children. Of course you want to pass on information, but not to the extent that you come across as egocentric. You’re writing because you want to talk to them, not go on and on about yourself. Asking questions shows the person that you care about them.
    •  Mention those they love. Inquire about their pet. It’s a nice practice to take a little present of dog treats to a collie-owner’s party, and it’s equally nice to mention Buster and Fifi in a letter.
    • It goes without saying that we should adjust our handwriting to a larger size when writing to someone who doesn’t see well, and to print a letter to a child who doesn’t read cursive handwriting.
    • Always write with the person’s last letter before you. Everyone knows that annoying feeling of waiting for an answer to questions in a letter and then receiving a reply that makes you wonder if they ever received it.
    • And always, always, send your regards to the rest of the family or group. Unless you just can’t stand Aunt Ann – then leave this part entirely out rather than pointedly naming everyone except Ann. Or you can just add “Remember me to everyone.” Then however she takes it is up to her.
      Ink well, quill pen and old letter

      Image by Simon Howden courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

      There are some things we should never do. Some of them, like juicy gossip, can be hard to resist. But my mother said we really must try:

    • Don’t be pessimistic. Try to encourage people. Remember that they may read your letter over and over, especially in times of stress or illness. Just a few words of comfort can mean so much. Never put on paper something such as “It’s too bad he’s sick. I hear most people only survive a few months with that.” If the person isn’t depressed already, that’ll do it.
    • Don’t use curse words. All letters should be G-rated, as you never know where they might be left out where someone other than their intended recipient can read them.
    • Don’t get in the middle of a quarrel. The dust may have settled by the time your letter is received.
    • Never criticize other people. There’s enough of that. Be the lark singing in the tree, not the vulture circling overhead.

For more ideas and sources:

Crane & Co. has beautiful, traditional stationery and a host of useful information, such as forms of address and answers to etiquette questions.

Click on the U.S. Postal Service to see the current stamps on offer and other mailing goodies you can purchase online.

Click on Peter Pauper Press for stationery and note cards to fit any taste.

Click on eBay for some real treasures of vintage stationery and cards.

If you’d like to include a beautiful quote or piece of verse, check Bartleby.com. I chose the “verse” tab and typed in “blueberries”. There were three lovely poems!

Text copyright 2015 Jill Teresa Farmer. All rights reserved.

A family love affair with stationery, or, How Mother kicked over the traces in a Hallmark store

We had family members scattered in small towns across two Southern states, so we wrote letters. Lots of letters. Grandfather typed everything on his old Underwood. Great grandmother continued to use a number two pencil and anything she could find – a paper bag would do – but the rest of us were hide-bound traditionalists. We did it right.

There were half sheets

Mary Pickford writing a letter on a traditional letter sheet.

My mother was raised with all the strict rules of letters: white or cream paper with black or dark blue ink only, a strict idea of the salutation, the body, and the closing paragraph. The rules she went by still exist, though no one I know adheres to them any more. An entire wardrobe of stationery was necessary: letter sheets, half-sheets (nothing to do with linens for twin beds), correspondence sheets, fold over notes, and  – well, you get the picture. And only one piece of stationery was proper for the type of letter you intended to write. Then, once you had the expensive wardrobe, you had to have the accessories to match – black or dark blue ink. And of course you never, ever, wrote on the back of a sheet. Anything else my mother proclaimed “tacky”.

But my mother met her Waterloo one day in a Hallmark shop. There, displayed right where she couldn’t help but see it, was the most beautiful box of pink rose stationery. As a china painter, many gorgeous pink roses had flowed from her brush. And there was one right on a piece of writing paper. And there were more sheets in that box just like it. She caved. And like a line of dominoes, every woman in my family abandoned the rules forever. It was a brave new world – roses, rosebuds, daisies, even monograms that weren’t blue or black. All bets were off.

The hunt was on. No matter where we went, everyone had an eye out for more of these beautiful writing papers. Stationery hunting became a big-game sport in our family. The winner was my grandmother, who found a box of white paper, delicate as an angel’s whisper, rimmed in pale blue with a single monogrammed initial. When she made a present of it to my mother, the search was on for a little lighter shade of blue ink. “I don’t want to overwhelm it,” Mother explained.

And then it happened: my best friend wrote a letter on lovely stationery with coordinating purple ink.

The letter from my friend that changed it all.

And then we discovered the joy of owning pretty pens. A basic black Waterman had its place – but from the moment my mother put an imitation mother-of-pearl ballpoint under the tree for me at Christmas, I fell harder than anyone. We searched for writing accessories to feed our habit in every kind of store imaginable. In catalogs, in antique stores – “Who cares if it doesn’t write? Maybe we can soak that old ink out of there” – and I’ve even seen my grandmother’s eyes dart to a neighbor’s desk to check if there might be something she hadn’t discovered in the letter-writing line.

But one day something happened that nearly caused us to revert to our strict old ways. Hearing a gasp, I went to see what was wrong with my mother. She mutely held out a book and pointed to an offensive passage. The lifestyle guru of the day had declared that purple ink was permissible and even desirable. Purple? That was as bad as green. My grandmother was brought in on the case. She was appalled. “But then…” she said thoughtfully, “it might go with that paper with the spray of lilacs on it….”

Grandmother, et tu? But it was just a thought. No one actually used green or purple – we were too old-fashioned and traditional for that. It would have been tantamount to dotting our i’s with circles. And then it happened: my best friend wrote a letter on lovely stationery with coordinating purple ink. And the beautiful letter came in a floral, watercolor – lined envelope. It was in the gentle hues of violet that my grandmother loved. And my friend had enclosed a pressed violet. From then on we roared into letter writing with no holds barred, free as birds, all our half sheets and fold over notes stuffed in the top of the closet with the old tax returns.

Many years of letter-writing were ahead.

Join me next time as I share the letter-writing tips and tricks we picked up down through the years.

Copyright 2015 by Jill Teresa Farmer. All rights reserved.

Collecting beauty

little doll with camera med We are so blessed when we have anything beautiful around us.  A lovely idea is to record that beauty forever. You don’t have to be a great artist or poet or photographer to create a little reminder of something in your surroundings that you appreciate. If you can doodle, draw stick figures, or make a recording of the birds singing, you can capture a precious moment in your life – one that contained something beautiful!

But there are hidden dangers in focusing on your recording of a beautiful event. How often have you vacationed at some scenic spot and found tourists busily taking photographs of the experience rather than actually having it? Sometimes the best thing to do is to savor the experience, soak it up, and then buy a few postcards with photos taken by professionals. Then everyone in the group can autograph it and perhaps add a short impression, such as “Great strudel!” or just draw a smiley face.

Some people carry a sketch pad and a journal.This is a method I love. Fifteen minutes under a shady tree or seated at a cafe table with a sketch pad will result in your own perceptions of a place, not those of a guidebook or another photographer. A quick drawing often distills what you are seeing and feeling – you will be putting down the things that have impacted you.

Woman writing memories

Recalling the sight we’ve seen as we write deepens our beautiful memories.

I love to leave a blank page between drawings. That way I can find a quiet spot at the end of the day and write down my impressions. It becomes more meaningful when you avoid facts that might be found in a travel guide. What did the area smell like? Was that jasmine on the air? What were the sounds? Was it quiet with an occasional bird call, or was the traffic such a din that it took away some of the enjoyment? That experience, that feeling you got from a place is yours and yours alone. These small details add layers to your happy memories.

It is easy to snap a photo with smartphones, but what do we do with them? Today’s digital lifestyle is a disposable one at the tap of the <delete> key, a system crash, a corrupted file. It’s easy to erase a treasury of future beautiful memories. Don’t forget to back them up or download and print them. And store them properly, away from heat and acid paper. Sketch pads with archival paper are inexpensive and readily available. Savor the heart-warming images you see before you; then record them in your own artistic way to enjoy again and again.

For more ideas: Click Kodak for their top ten tips for taking good photographs.

If you want to preserve your photos properly, click on The American Museum of Photography and follow their expert advice.

For a helpful article on helping children learn to draw, click on Marvin Bartel of Goshen College.

Copyright © 2015 Jill Teresa Farmer. All rights reserved.