Tag Archives: Holidays

To a Cup O’ Kindness, My Friend, by Beverly Hicks Burch

And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet…” ~ Robert Burns, Auld Lang Syne ~

Horton Mill Bridge K2

Some years are just better than other years. I think we can all agree on that. Some years are a mixed bag, and then some years are what I call a mountain top year – those years where everything is golden.

The last few years Tall & Handsome and I have almost decided to call ourselves Mr. and Mrs. Job. As in the tornado has hit, the livestock are dead and we’re waiting on the boils and what’s next – literally.

You know you’re having plum years when your Miniature Schnauzer develops prostrate problems one Christmas and the next Christmas he develops life threatening bladder stones. In the interim you’ve rescued a female mini Schnauzer who turns out to be Rain Main in a dog suit.

And, that’s just the canine “issues”…

We won’t talk about health, jobs, crazy people, insurance, thieves, hardness in people, the economy…


The world at large lost some irreplaceable people. Many of us lost good people this year. People we loved very much, people who left gaping holes in our lives. I lost my aunt in June 2012 and I still haven’t recovered. If anything, this holiday season was worse than last year. She was that important to me.

Back in the spring Tall & Handsome and I drove up to Blount County, Alabama to visit the Horton Mill Covered Bridge. He’d not had the opportunity for a visit. It was a lovely spring day and I took advantage to grab some shots while there.

I was going through those photos and today’s photo of the day caught my attention.

A bridge. For those who have passed on from us to better things. To time we can’t get back – and may not want back.

A bridge. To better days. To the future. To the ones we love.

A bridge. To a cup o’ kindness, my friend…

Happy New Year and a golden 2014!

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.


Filed under Alabama, Bank of America, Blount County Alabama, Covered Bridges, Holidays, Horton Mill Covered Bridge, New Year, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Robert Burns, Tall & Handsome

All Labor that Uplifts Humanity has Dignity, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“ All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr. ~

Oh Say Can You See_edited

By the time the first Monday in September rolls around, many of us are prepared for and look forward to that particular day. Labor Day, the first Monday in September means different things to different people.

For some it signals the last day of summer even though officially autumn arrives a couple of weeks later around the 21st of September. When I was a young lass, the school term usually started after Labor Day. I look back now and compare the early start of school systems today and ponder the difference. I suppose back in my day it was delayed until after Labor Day because we went to school in buildings that lacked air conditioning. September does tend to bring cooler weather.

Labor Day is the last big “hurrah” of the summer, instigating many last minute jaunts to beaches, mountains and places of pleasure. For many adults, Labor Day is the last chance off a needed day off before the end of the year’s holiday season.

Fashionistas view Labor Day as the demarcation of the proper time of the year to wear the color white. In case you’re wondering: any Southern gal worth her weight in turnip greens would never be caught dead in white after Labor Day. Also you would never wear seersucker after Labor Day.

Labor Day also drives certain events. It’s the second largest retail sale weekend, just behind Black Friday. And, Labor Day weekend usually marks the official beginning of college and professional football season. Here is Alabama, a state that has held the last four National College Football Championships, the anticipation builds to an almost torturous crescendo until fans can gather in their respective stadiums and shouts the first “Roll Tide Roll!” or “War Eagle” of the season.

But, what is Labor Day exactly? Do you know the history of the day? If you pause and inspect the day it will dawn on you this is a holiday that doesn’t mark the anniversary of a military victory, an accomplishment of one man or one particular historical event.

Maybe that’s why Labor Day has an identity crisis…

You see, Labor Day is a celebration of the achievement of the American worker (I could say North American worker because Canada also celebrates Labor Day on the same day.) This holiday grew out of the recognition of the labor movement of the 1880s.

To put is simply, Labor Day celebrate and recognizes the hard work this country was built on and the hard work that strengthens this country and leads it to prosperity.

I know many of us would agree our country has been “sick” for some time. We have unemployment rates way too high and if truth be known those numbers are higher than reported because millions have run out of unemployment benefits and have given up looking for work. Certain segments of our population have enormous unemployment rates. For one of the first times in our history we are now having people underemployed because companies are only creating part time jobs. And, our economy is growing at a snail’s pace. We could probably watch grass grow faster than our economy is growing.

A few weeks ago a speech was delivered to a group of our younger generation. It came from an unlikely source – actor Ashton Kutchner. Given his Midwestern roots, it’s probably not hard to see where his thought processes developed. To paraphrase Mr. Kutchner, the jest of his speech was this: Opportunity often knocks in the form of work; his first job did not see him starting at the “top”; he never had a job he was too good or high and mighty for.

As, the kids say today, “Word.” For you baby boomers, that’s the equivalent of, “Right on, man.”

Looking back into my own family history I see hard, hard workers. One of my personal pet peeves has been the tendency to paint women from bygone eras as mousy little things that were always barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. Not in my family!

My granddaddys were hard workers. My Pawpaw farmed, was a master carpenter and clerked in the company grocery store. He also was the substitute mail carrier in Cade’s Cove, a route my daddy made with him a time or two. My PaGee was a barber, pastor and business owner.

When the WPA brought in Italian stone masons from New York to build the beautiful bridges and tunnels you see around the Smoky Mountains, Pawpaw and Mamaw boarded three of those stone masons in their home. One day when I was enumerating the 1940 census, I discovered Mamaw listed her occupation as “laundress”. Yes, she took in laundry and ironing – she worked hard to help take care of her boys.

My MaGee was a teacher, a pastor’s wife and later a business owner.

My grandparents were honest, decent, good, hard working people. The kind of people who make up the backbone of America.

On that same 1940 census, my great-grandaunt Eliza proudly listed her occupation as “seamstress”. When I look at her quilts I know the pride she took in her work.

My great-grandmother, Becky Shaffer McGee was the county midwife in Lawrence County, Tennessee. She quilted, gardened and left a loving mark on her family that followed her for many generations.

These people lived during the Great Depression and survived – many coming out on the better end. How and why? Well, because like Dr. King, they knew work uplifts humanity, gives it dignity…and they did it with painstaking excellence.

Happy Labor Day, America.

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.


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Filed under Family, History, Holidays, Labor Day, Martin Luther King, Jr., Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Work

40 Percent of the Boots on the Ground, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“Our National Guard, as I think everyone knows, has provided about 40 percent of the boots on the ground…” ~ Kit Bond ~

National Guard

Since today is the 237th birthday of the USA, I couldn’t think of any more fitting picture for today than the picture above.

I happened to shoot this picture over Memorial Day weekend (another very fitting occasion). But, when I was going through my images, this one grabbed my attention as appropriate for today.

It’s obvious the balloon in the back is a National Guard balloon and that there is an American flag on the balloon. Again, very fitting…

But, what I find very symbolic in a subtle way is where the image of the National Guard balloon is…in the background…

When we think of the protection and security of our country we do tend to think of our standing military. Regardless of the branch, the men and women are there to protect us. But, where we are amiss is to leave out and ignore the service men and women in the National Guard and Reserves. These people play a critical and important part in the security of our country.

They are more than “weekend warriors”…

As the quote today indicates, in recent years, especially since September 11, 2001 the National Guard has contributed at least 40% of the “boots on the ground” in the war on terror. I would know this personally because my son was an Air National Guardsman who was activated on 9/11 and spent many years in the “sandbox” of the Middle East.

It was a frightening time for a mother who had just gone through a personal trauma of her own. I was terrified, yet proud of my only child.

The history of the National Guard actually predates the standing US military. The Guard is the direct descendant of the militias of the original 13 colonies, the oldest unit being formed in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1636. The early colonists knew they had to depend on themselves for their defense. There would be no British military rushing to their defense against the wilds of the New World.

Years later, it was those militias…those Minute Men, who made a decided difference during the American War for Independence. Today you can find statues dedicated to those hardy patriots in New England.

So, on this 4th of July as you celebrate don’t forget the men and women who have paid a price to keep this country free, and, today, especially remember those “40% of the boots on the ground”…

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch Al Rights Reserved.

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Filed under "4th of July", American History, History, Holidays, Hot Air Balloons, National Guard, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day

Middle of the Bench, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“Love is what makes two people sit in the middle of a bench when there is plenty of room on both ends.” ~ Unknown~

anniversay roses C

In the short space of six weeks, between Thanksgiving and the beginning of January, there is ample reason for celebrating in our house. To be even more specific, from Dec. 24th until the beginning of January we celebrate Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, our wedding anniversary, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and my birthday!

Can you let out a really big, “Whew!!” after that whirlwind?

This year added into that mix was the fact that my mom had surgery and my back was out of sorts and totally non-functional and I had terrible gastrointestinal problems. I am barely beginning to mend now, but I have to admit I am mending and the dark circles are gradually fading from under my eyes.

Today’s picture is evidence of the TLC I had during that time. My T & H bent over backwards to take care of me and make each occasion as special as he could.  He shopped, cooked and presented me with the sweetest cards. He went out in pouring rain and came home with this dozen of beautiful red roses for our anniversary.

I can’t believe over a decade has passed since T & H and I first met and he was my Knight in Shining Armor…my Tall & Handsome southwestern cowboy. It’s even harder to believe we have already been married nine of those 12 years.

Someday I will share our story, but for now I will say that in finding T & H I found a man with one of the kindest, purest hearts of anyone I’ve known. He has encouraged me, we have enjoyed wonderful new experiences together and grown together. There is not a day that goes by in our house without laughter. In goods times and bad, we are together. He is my Jeff to my Mutt, my peanut butter to my jelly, my Richard to my Liz, my Ricky to my Lucy…

He is the reason I sit in the middle of the bench…

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.



Filed under Anniversaries, Holidays, Horticulture, Love, Roses, Tall & Handsome

Labor Day…Goodbye, Summer, by Beverly Hicks Burch

just in time

It’s been a crazy summer…in many ways…

About mid-summer we had unrelenting heat. I’m talking about fry those eggs on the sidewalk heat. And although it wasn’t the driest I’d ever seen, it had been dry. We had decided to establish another container garden…a prep for a garden in the future; we had a Japanese maple to set out and lots of weeding to do because absolutely none was done while we were living out of state.

Then August rolled around and it was unseasonably cooler with some evenings dipping into the 50s in parts of the state. And, then Isaac hit and sections of the state were hit with torrential rain. Needless to say, drought conditions were broken and were no longer standing after Isaac.

Our goals were prioritized this year: Revamp and update the inside of the house – check. Get moved in and settled – pretty much check, although I still have a guest room I’m working on.

But, and this is still a really big but…shape up the yard and work on the front porch and decks and clean out the garage. That one task makes my teeth itch just thinking about it…yeah, that bad…

Decks are coming along and the front porch is shaping up, too, just in time to enjoy it for fall.

A couple a Saturdays or so Tall & Handsome finally hung the porch swing we bought about two years ago. It was an all day project and almost put him down with heat stroke because he had to crawl up in the attic to make sure there was enough support to hang the swing. The fact he didn’t eat or drink anything even after I recommended he do so had a tad to do with that, but we won’t discuss that…

Only major thing missing on the front porch are the ceiling fans. I had some when I first built the house back it Nov. 2001 but a tornado rumbled through and sucked those puppies off the porch ceiling. I was going through a divorce and then I remarried and we moved out of state for a while so I just capped the outlet boxes and now that we’re home I’m back in the market for ceiling fans.

This past Monday was Labor Day here in the States, a holiday. It was rainy and cool. T & H had the day off. That morning I happened to noticed him missing and I found him outside sitting on the porch swing with a cup of coffee and his Nook. I grabbed a cup of Golden French Toast coffee and joined him. As we gently swayed in the swing I noticed that leaves have the slightest tinge of color and a few were beginning to fall.

It was a very good day…

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Fall, Flags, Front Porch Swings, Front Porches, Front Yards, Holidays, Labor Day, Photography, Picture of the Day, Tall & Handsome

Firecracker Red, by Beverly Hicks Burch

mom's geranium c

Mom's geranium b

I could think of nothing better to start the holiday off than my Mom’s firecracker red geraniums. They are exceptional this year and just the right color for the 4th of July.

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved

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Filed under "4th of July", Alabama, Flowers, geraniums, Holidays, Horticulture, Photography, Picture of the Day, Plants

Home for the Holidays: Some of My Favorite Things, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Today’s post will continue the Home for the Holidays spirit I started the other day. I shared the over all effect in the first post and then in another post shared some of the holiday quilts I’ve made over the years and use just for this time of the year.

Every time I pull out my decorations it’s like seeing old friends again. This year it was more so because some of my decorations have been packed up unused for years. As I pulled out each new found old friend I would go, “Ohhhh, hello old friend!!”

At one point Tall & Handsome asked, “Did I hear you say what I thought you said?”

I asked, “Well, what did you think I said?”

“Hello old friend.”

“Yep, you heard right then.”

He just chuckled…

Today I thought I’d share some of my favorite things…decorations and ornaments and such. In 1974 I started collecting a dated ornament for each year. I’ve also collected Christmas ornaments from places I’ve traveled to…Christmas ornaments and fabric are my favorite souvenirs. I figure they beat ceramic ashtrays and shot glasses any day!

I have the satin ballerina slippers from the Biltmore Estate, the teddy bear from Hershey, PA; and the bell tree from Faneuil Square in Boston.

Then of course there are my old friends from Hallmark. Each year marks a milestone in my life. The year my son was born, the year I moved one place or another, the year T & H and I married and so on… I guess you could say in a way my favorite things form a type of diary of my life.

So, just before Santa arrives…here are a few of my favorite things…

Some of my favorite things H

This marks the beginning of The Twelve Days of Christmas…A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Here Comes Santa B

From the Hallmark Here Comes Santa series – this is the first or second in the series which started in 1979

Here Comes Santa A

Third in the Hallmark Here Comes Santa Series

Here Comes Santa C

A baking Nutcracker and another in the Here Comes Santa series…this time a stagecoach

Here Comes Santa E

This is one of my favorite of the Here Comes Santa series…the Ice Cream Vendor

Here Comes Santa G

Another Here Comes Santa favorite – Santa and the handcar

Here Comes Santa F

This was the last in the Here Comes Santa series

Some of my favorite things A

A hot air balloon to remind T & H of New Mexico, a Southern Colonial that’s part of Hallmark’s Nostalgic Building series and one of the satin ballet slippers from the Biltmore Estate

Some of my favorite things B

Father Christmas (series) and a Schnauzer in a Stocking

Some of my favorite things E

A Woodpecker from the the Hallmark bird series and a blown glass lighthouse

Some of my favorite things K

My lovely Blue Jay

some of my favorite things O

On the left, the Bell Tree from Boston…and one of my Hallmark lighthouse ornaments

Some of my favorite things N

Of course no tree of mine would be complete without a snowman…or two…three

Some of my favorite things G

Father Christmas

Some of my favorite things I

God Bless America

my christmas bell B

This little bell has been on every tree of mine since I was a toddler.

the ONLY dishes allowed at Christmas

The daily dishes from Thanksgiving until my birthday…a yearly tradition

Guest bath

Snowmen just turn up everywhere Smile

the gift bearer

The gift bearer – the year Tall & Handsome moved to Alabama he placed this Godiva bear under my Christmas tree. In the bear’s back pouch was an engagement gift…a beautiful garnet and diamond pendant he had purchased in Santa Fe.

and just for fun…

tall and handsome when he was short and cute

Tall & Handsome when he was Short & Cute while living in Germany…

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!! And God Bless us all…


© 2011 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved



Filed under Christmas, Christmas Decorations, Christmas Heritage, Collections, Hallmark Ornaments, Holiday Decorating, Holidays, Home, Memories, Nostalgia, Photography, Picture of the Day

At Around the Block with The BamaSteelMagnolia™: Home For the Holidays–Quilts at Christmas

Today I continue Home for the Holidays by sharing some of the Christmas quilts, I’ve made over the years. I’m sharing one here, but for more detail on these quilts and the many others I use at Christmas click on over to Home for the Holidays – Quilts at Christmas.


Chinese Mandrian Garden

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Filed under Around the Block with The BamaSteelMagnolia(TM), Decorating with quilts, Holiday Decorating, Holidays, Photography, Picture of the Day, quilting, Quilts

Home For the Holidays, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Tall & Handsome and I both are hopeless when it comes to the holidays. The decorations, the music, the kitschy movies, the food, and the festivities.

I’m normally a “gonzo” Christmas decorator. All in good taste of course…

Well, the last few years T & H and I have had very little opportunity to partake in our shared love of Christmas gone wild… Many times our things were packed up and unavailable…we were living out of state…just a whole cornucopia of things stopping us.

Well, not this year!

Despite my warning him that his back would never heal, T & H insisted on decorating a few days ago…and we did.

It now looks like Christmas done “Bev lite”, but it still looks like Santa’s elves were busy spreading cheer and we are enjoying it!

I’ll share a few things with you including some of my dated ornaments I’ve been collecting since 1974. I also try and pick up a Christmas ornaments as a souvenir when ever I take a trip…just to have a reminder of that place and time.

And, so…Home for Christmas!

Tree in the living room

The tree in the living room

LR tree

Another view of the living room tree

Grandfather Clock at Christmas

The Grandfather Clock

Christmas greeters

Christmas Greeters

Fireplace at Christmas

The Fireplace

Bev and Frosty

When I was a toddler I began a love affair with all things snowmen…that’s my buddy Frosty on the ground…


Today’s Frosty


The stockings are hung…

Christams Magic

Christmas Magic

LR bookcases

Living Room Bookcases

Merry Christmas blocks

Merry Christmas blocks I made years ago…they reverse to Happy New Year

Sara Plain and Tall village

The Hallmark Sara Plain and Tall Village

santa and his reindeer

Santa and his Reindeer

santas train

Santa’s Train

for santa

For Santa

Character mugs

Holiday Character Mugs

Christmas Heritage snow globe

Christmas Heritage snow globe

Dining room tree

Dining Room Tree

Hallmark miniature tree

Miniature Hallmark Tree

hallmark carousal

Christmas Carousal

Tomorrow and the next day I’ll try and share some more…some of my favorite things…ornaments and Christmas quilts.

Merry Christmas to all…


© 2011 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved



Filed under Christmas, Christmas Decorations, Hallmark Ornaments, Holidays, Home, Photography, Picture of the Day, Seasonal

`Twas the Night Before Christmas, by Beverly Hicks Burch

`Twas the Night Before Christmas

By Beverly Hicks Burch

I’d like to share a little of what has kept me so busy in the last few weeks. Believe me when I say this is “Bev lite”…yep, there’s a lot more somewhere still packed up in boxes sitting out in the garage. I’ve opted NOT to unpack those until the next move. The bonus – and little gift – I received while decorating this year? Well, I uncovered some of those quilts and unquilted tops crammed in with the Christmas decorations…and that Virginia is Professional Van Line packing for you…

…and to all a goodnight…Merry Christmas, everyone…God bless us all!!


Family Room Christmas 2008


Burch Christmas Tree 2008


A delicate blown glass ornament next to one of the Hallmark Victorian House (series) ornaments


A Father Christmas and the very 1st ornament in the Here Comes Santa Series. There was 25 and I have them all and they all hold special memories.


Store bought (Hallmark lighthouse) and hand-made (a tole painted ornament I made one year for my son’s class when he was in elementary school.


Christmas Magic


More Christmas Magic


Favorite Holiday Reading


The Little Engine that Could…with Friends


The Burch Dining Table – I couldn’t squeeze in the Christmas tree in the dining room


The “Everyday Stuff” – rule is…we start using this everyday at Thanksgiving until my birthday Jan. 2


Coffee with Santa & Frosty


The Breakfast Table is Ready


Besides the obvious reason, the birth of the Christ Child, this Nativity is special to me because it belonged to a beloved aunt who passed away in 1973


Village 1 – Christmas 2008


Village 2 – Christmas 2008


Village 3 – Christmas 2008


Visions of Sugar Plums – one of my founds treasures – just in time for Christmas


Sugar Plums and Bears…Oh, My…


Poinsettias & Flowers


Woodland Christmas Trees


Mandarin Garden – A Christmas Sampler

© 2008 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Christmas, Christmas Decorations, Hallmark Ornaments, Holidays, Life, Photography