cakes

Just when you think you know someone, you find out that maybe you didn’t know them at all. I have always known that my Aunt Bonnie McDaniels is a great lady. She has made many, many wedding cakes for her friends and family, and then gives them as gifts, so that the bride and groom don’t have to pay the price she could easily charge for them. Yes I always knew that she was a great lady, but I didn’t know the true extent of her giving…until now.

Aunt Bonnie has always had a special love for children. I remember attending activities at Grant Elementary School with my grandchildren, Shai and Caalab Royce, to find Aunt Bonnie there too, watching the her grandson, Anthony McDaniels participate in the same events. Of course, that was just one of the many times Aunt Bonnie attended for her kids ad grandkids, and now great grandkids. She was instrumental in the lives of three generations of her family’s lives. Her family was her true delight. She is selfless and gives to her family with endless joy and love.

That is a part of Aunt Bonnie that I also knew, and I’m sure that like Aunt Bonnie and me, this is something that many grandparents do for their family, but Aunt Bonnie didn’t stop there. And that is truly where the similarities between most moms, grandmothers, and great grandmothers, and my aunt end. Aunt Bonnie loves crocheting and sewing. It is a talent she has shared and taught to her family. These days, the family often shares gifts of yarn and pom-pom makers for birthdays! Each of them feels a very special bond with her through crocheting and sewing, but even that still doesn’t tell you the most amazing things that Aunt Bonnie does.

Aunt Bonnie’s love of babies and children has brought her to a place of giving to the babies in our community. Along with a couple of her friends, Aunt Bonnie sews and crochets for the new babies at the hospital and at Family Practice. She provides all of the supplies she needs for her projects…that’s a part of the gift…just like her cakes always were. She meets with her friends every other Thursday to cut out material and prepare for the week’s work. Over the years Bonnie has made baby gowns, hats, fleece blankets, quilts, onesies, crocheted caps, socks and bibs. Every other Thursday they meet to deliver the items they have created for the new babies. Aunt Bonnie is a giver, but I just never knew just what a great giver she is. Today is Aunt Bonnie’s 79th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Bonnie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

10923213_440170332807925_8150083029748186127_n[1]aThe past few years have brought much change in my Aunt Bonnie McDaniels’ life. About two and a half years ago, her husband, my Uncle Jack McDaniels left us for Heaven. That was the most significant and the saddest change for sure. Uncle Jack had been the love of her life, and his passing marked the end of an era for her. Her children and grandchildren have stepped in to help her cope with the feelings of saddness and loss, but then they were always there for her and Uncle Jack too.

Another change that has impacted Aunt Bonnie’s life recently is the fact that the bridge that she used to get to town whenever she went was burned down when someone set off fireworks on it’s wooden surface. I couldn’t believe that the state would not rebuild that bridge, because it made life very inconvenient for a number of people. For a long time, to go to town, Aunt Bonnie 1907760_440164256141866_7582873451092878696_n[1]had to take the back roads and let me tell you, it is a much longer drive. Of course, the biggest concern was the ability to evacuate in the event of a fire. That made me want to keep Aunt Bonnie in prayer for protection every day. After a time, and probably many complaints, the bridge was rebuilt, but I’ll still keep her in prayer.

These days, Aunt Bonnie is beginning to branch out some, and that makes me very happy for her. Recently, her family took the opportunity to go to Artisan Alley, and spend the evening painting. Artisan Alley is a newer place in Casper, where you can take a group of people in and paint…with a little instruction, thankfully. They also have wine if you want it. I have not been there yet, but everyone I have talked to who has said it is a lot of fun. Looking at Aunt Bonnie, who looks more and more like her mother every day, I can see that she enjoyed herself immensely. I am always glad 10407841_440615822763376_2975648401274259886_n[1]when the children step in and take their widowed parent to do things. It keeps their parent young, and it will always be a blessing for the children too.

From what I’m told, the family had such a good time painting, that the next planned adventure is going to be pottery. My Aunt Bonnie has long been a bit of the artist in the family. Her cakes are famous around here, and even beyond our town. That said, I think she will really excel at these new artistic ventures, and who knows, maybe she will take up the arts on her own time. Famous artists don’t necessarily have to start out young. There is always time to start something new. Today is Aunt Bonnie’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Bonnie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Baby GirlThis time of year, everything is so exciting for the little ones in our lives…and even for the not so little ones. The littlest ones especially find the lights, gifts, candy, and the excitement of it all to be almost more than they can believe. Their eyes light up as brightly as the Christmas tree, and keeping their little hands away from the tree and gifts can prove to be really difficult. On Thursday nights, I spend the evening with my mom, Collene Spencer and my sister, Cheryl Masterson. With school activities and Christmas shopping to do, my niece Jenny Spethman often drops her daughter, Aleesia off at my mom’s so she can spend a little time with her grandma and great grandma. That means I get to see quite a bit of her too, and she is so much fun to be around at this age. She is such a goofy little girl anyway, and I don’t know if it’s the candy or the season, but she becomes even more goofy.

I have had a chance to hear Aleesia say a lot of things, and believe me they are all just as cute as they can be. She always calls the movie Despicable Me, Spicable Me and the Minis. She calls my mom, her great grandma, GeeGee. She loves to say Paaaaleese with her grandma. These are common mispronunciations among little kids to be sure, but such fun to hear the kids say. And as we all know, kids grow up so fast that before you know it they can say all their words without mispronunciation, and those cute little sayings days are gone.

This last week, while my niece, Jenny was shopping, Aleesia and her brother Zack were at Mom’s house and we were watching kid movies. It’s funny how easily you can get used to those kid shows, when there is a little one around trying to say all the words they aren’t sure how to pronounce. That night though, Aleesia was having a lot of trouble concentrating on the movie. She kept touching the tree and pointing to the tree. Then she got up on the couch and looked out the window and saw the lights on the other houses and said, “Moo Lights!!” I laughed in spite of myself. I knew that she was trying to say “more lights”, but in my head I pictured cow-shaped lights. It was such a funny thought, that I could not keep a straight face.

Of course, what would Christmas be without candy. Christmas especially seems to be filled with baking of cakes, pies, cookies, and candy. By the time the holiday is over, the kids have had so much candy that is takes a couple of weeks to bring them back to earth. My sister, Cheryl had a really difficult time limiting the amount Decorating the treeof candy Aleesia had. Aleesia kept coming back for more, saying, “Chocoleet!” She placed a strong emphasis on the “leet” part, and her high little voice just made it sound so cute. Of course, it was chocolate, but any candy would have been just fine.

I know that these days are very short, at least for Aleesia mispronouncing word, so I am very thankful that I have had the opportunity to be around to hear her funny little sayings. They will most likely be said only this year, and then next year, she will either not mispronounce words, or the mispronunciations will be entirely different words. Either way, I think I will always smile when I look at Christmas lights, because the thought of cow-shaped lights called Moo Lights will always be in my memory files.

Aunt Ruth  for bookmarksMany little girls want nothing more than to be just like their mommy, and my cousin Shirley was no different. In her eyes, her mom was the most beautiful, sophisticated, elegant, and yet strong woman in the world. Her mom, my Aunt Ruth Wolfe was her hero. She was everything Shirley ever wanted to be. Aunt Ruth was so good at so many things. It’s strange to me, that while we saw Aunt Ruth a lot when I was a kid, somehow I didn’t know about all the things she was capable of doing. I knew about some things of course, like her gardening and cooking, but that is something lots of people are good at, so it didn’t seem unusual. While those things didn’t seem unusual to me, finding out years after her passing, that she was an artist and a musician as well, was surprising to me. Aunt Ruth was one of those people who could pick any instrument and play it like she had been taking lessons for years, and yet she hadn’t. Hers was just a natural talent. Shirley remembers the old horn she found. She took it to her mom, and within two days, Aunt Ruth could play it. Shirley is pretty sure it was a Trumpet.

Shirley tells me that Aunt Ruth had the voice of an angel, but because of her shyness, very few people ever got to hear her sing. Sadly, I don’t recall ever being privileged enough to hear her sing. She could yodel too, but only her husband, my Uncle Jim got to hear her do that. I just never realized that she was so shy. How could I have not known that? I guess she just wasn’t shy around me and the rest of our family. Shy was something Aunt Ruth never was with us. Our families loved to get together, and when they lived here in Casper, we saw a Shirley, Uncle Jim, Aunt Ruth, and Larrylot of them. There were picnics and camping trips to the Big Horns and Casper Mountain. Another thing I never knew about Aunt Ruth is that she was claustrophobic. When camping, she had to sleep with her head outside the tent. Where Aunt Ruth went, of course, Uncle Jim went too, so when she slept with her head outside the tent, so did he. That gave their kids something to tease them about. They were dubbed the star gazers. On one trip to South Dakota, the family went to the Rushmore Caverns. They were worried about how Aunt Ruth would do there. She made it further than expected, even going through Fat Man’s Misery, but just couldn’t make it the whole way. I’m sure my sister, Allyn Hadlock could totally agree with Aunt Ruth when it came to claustrophobia.

Over the years, she learned many things about medicine, which is another thing she and I have in common. She could care for cuts, even deep ones, without scarring and without benefit of a doctor. From setting broken noses, to cuts deep enough to almost run from heel to ankle, she could do it all. I suppose that is also what made living on the mountain top in Washington state feel safe and cozy to her. While she didn’t really like the snow and cold, she did love her mountain, and being so close to her family. While Aunt Ruth loved spending time with our family too, she was nevertheless, a Gypsy of sorts, and liked to go and see new places. The Uncle Jim and Aunt Ruthgypsy in her would eventually take the family to Nevada, California, and finally to Washington state. Shirley tells me that she was the happiest when she was traveling. After they retired, Aunt Ruth and Uncle Jim traveled to Oklahoma, and wintered in Arizona and several other places where it was warm.

She gardened, canned, cooked, baked amazing cakes and then decorated them too, and she sewed their clothing. She was the kind of woman the Bible calls a blessing to her husband and family, and so she was. Today would have been Aunt Ruth’s 89th birthday. Shirley says and I agree, that her laughter is what she misses the most. It lit up her world. Happy birthday in Heaven Aunt Ruth!! We love and miss you very much!!

Aunt BonnieOften, when we ask about the events of someone’s life, it is amazing the seemingly little things about them, that were really big things, and yet, we did not know about them. My Aunt Bonnie is like that. There are a lot of things I knew about her, like her talent for cake decorating. She made my 25th anniversary cake, my girls wedding cakes, and so many cakes for other people. So many wedding receptions were made beautiful because of those cakes. They have endeared Aunt Bonnie to all of us for many years.

But it was not the cakes that I found out about recently, but something else…and I suppose it shouldn’t have surprised me, because of the way she was with the cakes…giving them as a wedding gift to the couple. It was that years ago, when Aunt Bonnie was 13 or 14 years old, she did some volunteer work. My mom wasn’t sure exactly what the work was, because she was married and living in Wisconsin, but she thought it had to do with making phone calls and service men. I’m sure that my story will bring to light the whole story, but Mom told me that it was important work, and Aunt Bonnie was very proud of the work she did. I never knew that she had anything to do with volunteering for the USO or the Army.

As I said, my story brought out the real story, and Aunt Sandy called me to fill in the missing details. I want to thank her for her assistance in getting to the whole story. Aunt Bonnie worked in the Airforce Filter Center. Her job was to keep track of where each company of men were to pass on to their relatives. I agree that her work was very important…especially to the families of the soldiers who were deployed. I am  very Our 25th Anniversary cakeproud of my aunt’s service to our country, and to our soldiers.

Another thing I didn’t know, is that Aunt Bonnie did some acting in plays as a young lady. She was a part of a local theater group. Acting…a far cry from what I would have thought. It isn’t that I can’t see Aunt Bonnie acting, because she has so many talents, that it makes sense that acting was one of them. I would love to have seen some of the plays she was in. Who knew?? Maybe I can’t say I knew herthen, but I can say…I know her now!!

Today is Aunt Bonnie’s birthday. She is a very special lady, and bring much joy and beauty into the lives of all who know her. Happy birthday Aunt Bonnie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

How well I remember the visits to Bob’s grandparents house in Forsyth, Montana. We used to go there every year for a visit. A lot of the visit revolved around the kitchen, where Grandma always seemed to be busily cooking up something. From that first cup of coffee in the morning with real cream from the cows they milked, and fresh eggs that she went out and gathered herself, toast and real butter, to the jellies and pies and cakes she made, everything just tasted different there…special. I suppose it was because of the fact that it was all farm fresh, and not store bought, but I think it was the love that it was made with too.

We loved going out to that old house, even though it was a bit of a drive to be sure. They owned a lot of land…I’m not just sure how much, but it was a big ranch, so the drive out to the house took some time. You could see the highway from their front yard, but it was a long way off. Mostly they owned everything as far as the eye could see. I remember sleeping in the bedrooms upstairs where they raised their children, Bob’s aunts and uncles. The rooms still looked like they did when the kids were living there, complete with the pictures they had on their dressers. It was like stepping back into time, for a little while.

But the best times were spent in the kitchen. We would play cards, for as long as Grandpa (Walt, who was Bob’s step grandpa, but never felt like it to us) could keep the game going, or Grandma would call it a day. Grandpa could play cards all day if she would let him, but she has other things she needed to do. She was always busy in that kitchen. I often wondered if she was so busy because we were there, or if that was always how she was. Of course, when we were there, my girls and I would help out, which they really enjoyed. Funny how your kids enjoy helping out at someone else’s house, but will do anything to get out of work at your own house. She just made it feel like fun, I guess. The girls always felt special at Grandma’s table too, because she had these old pans, that looked like a camping skillet, that the kids got to eat out of. I suppose most people would laugh at that, but there isn’t a one of the grandchildren that didn’t get to use them, nor one that doesn’t love those old pans.

I have been thinking a lot about that old house, and the treasured memories I have from there, and wishing that those days weren’t in the past now. Grandma and Grandpa have gone home to be with the Lord, and while I miss them a lot, they will always live on in my memories…especially the ones in Grandma’s kitchen.

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