Donna Cronk / Courier-Times Photo // Courier-Times, Connersville News-Examiner and Shelbyville News Publisher Tina West is retiring next Friday after 41 years in the newspaper industry. She began as an advertising clerk, delivering proofs to businesses, working her way up to publisher of multiple newspapers at once. She holds the current and first issue of her magazine for women, which she started, and of the daily Courier-Times.
By DONNA CRONK
Tina West didn't set out to spend her career in the newspaper industry. But it worked out that way and she would do it again.
West, a graduate of Anderson Highland High School, attended Ball State University to major in
elementary education. Then came a summer job with the Anderson Herald delivering advertising
proofs to businesses.
A promotion came quickly to the classified department. In less than a year she was promoted to the
"In a short time I had done payroll, accounts payable, sales, accounts receivable and saw different
sides of the newspaper," recalls West. "I loved every department I was in so I just decided this was the
career for me. Forty-one years later, it has been a great career. I would choose it all over again."
When she started out in the industry, most publishers and editors were male. "For some reason, I did
not see that as a hurdle to keep me from climbing a ladder," West recalls. "My thoughts were yes I am
a woman but I can multi-task with the best of them."
Being a mom prepared her to wear many hats. "My advice to young women starting a career is just to
work hard and respect yourself. If you do that, others will start respecting you and see your potential."
West has always found faith and family extremely important. "My faith is absolutely the most important thing to me," she says. "I am just an average woman with an amazing God. He's pretty good at what He does and He gave me some skills."
She stresses that she did not get anywhere on her own and has never taken jobs, promotions, awards
and paychecks for granted.
"I am really not that smart," says West. "He just gives me wisdom and love for people. Both of those
characteristics are very important in the workplace."
When asked which achievements and memories leading The Courier-Times mean the most to her,
West finds it an emotional question. "So many memories," she says. "Obviously the memories will be
meeting and working with so many wonderful people."
West founded her magazine for women, a specialty publication the paper launched in 2011, and says
she is proud of that. She credits staff and columnists with their work on the periodical.
"Every time it is published, it is like holding a newborn baby in my hands," says West. "Women tell me
all the time about how much they love it and can't wait for the next edition."
She said on Super Bowl Sunday, the day the current issue came out, she got a text from a friend in
Florida who had friends from New Castle already texting her about an article in it.
"Anything that brings joy to people, brings smiles and fun in their lives, is good," West says. "It was a
blessing to be a part of it."
When recalling stories from her work here, West remembers one from 1996 when the Colts played the Steelers in a championship game. Those who know West are aware that she is a huge fan of the
"My two least favorite teams are Patriots and Steelers (in that order)," says West. "Anyway, my boss
and his partner in crime (my neighbor) thought it would be funny to have me drive all over town with a Steelers license plate on my car."
She continues. "I think I drove it for a few days before I walked out of Kroger and saw a car like mine
with the Steelers plate on the front of it. Knowing that it was not my car, I kept walking around the
parking lot, again and again. Finally, I went over and looked in the car and realized it was my car. I
went back to work. I walked straight into my office and grabbed a screwdriver to remove the plate. My boss laughed for days. By the way, the Steelers won 20-16."
With 41 years under her belt in the news business, West decided at age 62 to make a change and
retire. "I want to spend time with my family," she says. "Also, my daughter and I just released a book
called 'Be Still: Memoirs of a Motherless Daughter.' I want to do more in women's ministry."
Specifically, she plans to watch Hallmark movies, read books, spoil her children and grandkids more
and pursue speaking opportunities in women's ministry. She's also writing a second book.
Tina's children are: Lyndie (husband Taylor) Metz of Pendleton. Their children are Emerson, Tennor and Beckham; Amy (husband Kevin) Westfall of Melbourne, Florida, whose daughter is Abby; Michael (wife Rachel) West of Batesville, parents of Coleman and Lucy, and Mallory (husband Sean) Finley of
"I would just like to thank all of the employees at The Courier-Times and people I have worked with at
other newspapers," says the newspaper veteran. "I have made some awesome friends. Also, my boss
David Holgate and Paxton Media Group have been nothing but great to me. Thank you for that."
Community friends, colleagues, advertisers and readers are welcome to visit with West during a
retirement open house from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13 at the newspaper, 201 S. 14th St.
West will be available to chat with those who attend the come-and-go event. There will be a basket for cards and light refreshments will be available.
'A joy to work for'
Courier-Times Advertising Director Marka Sonoga said that when she heard West would be her boss,
she was delighted.
"I think she will be missed by the staff and by the community," says Sonoga. "She was a great
representative for our newspaper. She's been good to work with. I hate to see her go but she'll have
Sonoga, who will become interim publisher, admires all that West does inside and outside the
newspaper. For example, she said West plans to remain involved with her "little buddy" in a New
Castle school program organized by Believe and Achieve Mentoring (B.A.M.) She also mentions how
West is a hard worker who is not afraid to lead by doing and rolling up her sleeves and getting to work on a task.
That comment is affirmed by Courier-Times veteran reporter Darrel Radford. He admires how he would see West quietly at work on maintenance-type issues around the plant during off hours and assuming such tasks as leaf and snow removal.
Sonoga sums up how she feels about West. "She's been a joy to work for."
Longtime friend Beverly Matthews, president of the Henry County Community Foundation, said that on rare occasions, you meet someone in life who helps you fill a larger part of yourself.
"One of those people in my life is Tina West and she makes me a better person," Matthews says. "As
a friend, she encourages me; as a professional, she mentors me; and as a Christian, she influences me
with her solid faith."
She is thrilled that West gets to retire from her beloved career and "fulfill her passion of writing,
speaking and sharing her life experiences to bring help to others and glory to God."
Matthews continues, "She's not finished yet and I'm looking forward to sharing more adventures with
My name is Donna and I like to tell stories; good-news stories in particular. Here's one about a local girl who only wanted to give back to a hospital that has helped her family. From today's New Castle Courier-Times.
by DONNA CRONK
When thinking about how to celebrate her 12th birthday, Blue River Valley sixth-grader Ava Loveless had only one thing in mind. She wanted to raise money to benefit Riley Hospital for Children.
Her dream came true, taking in $400, and exceeding her expectations. She plans to hand-deliver the money soon.
Ava has a personal reason behind her love for Riley. Her brother Finnton Loveless, 9, was born there with a chromosome disorder, 5p minus syndrome, which is short for Cri du chat syndrome. Essentially, he is missing his fifth chromosome. He is unable to walk or talk.
“I know how hard it is to take care of him and to buy stuff for him,” says Ava. “I didn’t think I was going to get that much money.”
The siblings’ birthdays are very close. Ava was born Jan. 26, 2007 and Finnton three years later on Jan. 28, 2010. They are the children of Jerome and Brooke Loveless.
Says Brooke about her daughter, “She just always wanted to give back. I’m really proud of her for this.”
Ava’s Papaw, John Turner of New Castle, echoes the pride. “I’m just really proud of her for wanting to do it.”
Brooke says Finnton spent so much in-patient time at Riley that she and her daughter would stay together at the Ronald McDonald House.
The goal to raise money for the hospital that has served her family is not a new idea to Ava.
“I’ve actually been wanting to do that for my last birthday,” she says. “I’ve kind of always wanted to raise money for Riley.”
She’s excited about hand-delivering it very soon. When she’s not being a junior philanthropist, Ava enjoys volleyball when in season, social studies in the classroom, drawing, roller skating and playing on the trampoline. She attends Ninth Street Church of God.
Ava recently won an art contest by drawing the cover of her school’s upcoming yearbook. She also enjoys little kids and hopes to one day become an art teacher.
Miracle credited with saving Bob Pierce's life
From today's New Castle Courier-Times. This is one of those stories where I float home from the interview. This is why it's my honor to be a community journalist.
Story and photos by Donna Cronk for The Courier-Times.
STRAUGHN — A week ago Saturday, Bob Pierce of rural Straughn decided to work on his lawn mower in the family's detached garage.
He wouldn't recall the events that happened next until a few days later when he woke up in St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis and at first, wondered why he was there.
When he went to the garage on Saturday, Kathy, his wife of more than 38 years, and their granddaughter, Ruby Pierce, 5, stayed inside the house. Ruby asked her grandmother, "Can I just go see my Papaw?" Ruby got ready and walked the few steps outside to the garage.
She came right back and reported to her grandmother, "He's sleeping and he's snoring."
Kathy knew something was wrong. She went to the garage and saw that Bob was breathing and called 911 and family members. "I figured he had a heart attack or a stroke," says Kathy, a New Castle school bus driver.
Seven minutes later the Lewisville and Straughn fire departments arrived. New Castle medics also showed up. "They thought they smelled something," Kathy says, adding that they suspected carbon monoxide.
Bob recalls that he had been getting his mower ready for spring by greasing it, then preparing to change the oil. So he started it and let it run in a closed garage for around 20 minutes.
"I had signs," he says. "I see them now. I didn't see them then."
He recalls thinking, "I just feel so bad," as he prepared to add the oil. His legs buckled, then he locked them and they buckled again. "The next thing I remember was being at St. Vincent Monday at 11 o'clock." But he had no idea why he was there.
First responders tried inserting a tube down his throat when they reached the garage, but his throat had swollen so much they were unsuccessful. Oxygen was not getting to his body as it should. He was taken to Henry Community Health where they forced oxygen into him. It was determined to transfer him to St. Vincent by ambulance at 1 a.m. Sunday.
He was on 100-percent oxygen, then slowly decreased it. They were able to insert a child's ventilator because his throat was swollen so much.
Bob was given some chilling news. "If I'd been in there (the closed garage) two more minutes, I wouldn't have made it," he recalls being told. "The doctor said it's a miracle how well I responded."
He was dismissed on Tuesday, and it is believed he will have a full recovery. "I got well as quickly as I got ill," Bob says.
Described by Kathy as very organized, disciplined and well trained, Bob expresses disappointment in himself because he knows better than to put himself in such a situation as what happened in his garage.
"Something good will come from it," Bob says. "I'm disappointed that I put my family through this."
When asked about his granddaughter saving his life by going out to see him at the exact right time before he was gone, Papaw is emotional searching for the words. Kathy fills in. "He's proud of her," she says. "He knows if she hadn't wanted to see him it would have been over."
Adds Bob, "I hated it that she had to find me like that but I'm glad she did."
Kathy asks Ruby why she wanted to go see Papaw in the garage. She answers, "Cause I love him."
The daughter of Bob and Kathy's son, Brandon and wife Brooke Pierce of New Castle, Ruby attends Kidding Around Daycare in New Castle. She likes spending time with her grandparents. She enjoys drawing pictures and letters, and shows a groundhog she made at daycare. She also enjoys her hoverboard, Barbie Dreamhouse, LOLs and watching SpongeBob with her Papaw.
She wants to someday be a ballerina—and a teacher.
When asked why she loves Papaw she is quick with an answer. "He's the best thing ever." The two of them agree that she's Papaw's girl.
The Pierces have another son, Aaron, and another granddaughter, Addyson, 9. Bob says he's blessed to be from a big, extended, close family, A 1974 graduate of Tri High School, he says he's "a Lewisville Bear by heart."
Bob says he's been blessed with a career working in the family business, a salvage yard in New Paris, Ohio, with extended family and his sons.
When asked how the incident affected his faith, Bob says, "We've always been Christian family. We are very faithful Christians." He points to Romans 8:28:
Romans 8:28 New International Version (NIV): "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose."
Adds Bob, "I always believe no matter how bad things get even in a bad situation good will come from it." The family attends Southside Church of Christ in New Castle.
Says Bob, "I've just been blessed so much and I knew it before."
As for Ruby, people are telling her she's a hero. She giggles at the idea.
And gives her Papaw frequent hugs.
A cozy, quilting story for your winter and wintry Tuesday. From Sunday's New Castle Courier-Times. Hope you're having a great week.
By Donna Cronk
For Carolynn Hyde of New Castle, it started with a hobby, then became a treasured activity. Now her quilted creations are part of a home-based business, Carolynn’s Treasures.
Carolynn and husband Bill relocated to New Castle from Indianapolis a couple years ago to be near their daughter, Lynnda Sparks and family. Bill is a retired pastor and Carolynn worked in administrative assisting. Married 51 years, both are retired.
They lived in a variety of locations during their working years, from Kentucky to several Indiana locations to West Virginia and Maryland before they started a church in Indy. They now attend Chicago Corner Church.
A graduate of Aresenal Technical High School, Carolynn was taught to sew in school where she also learned to make hats. She used to make her daughter’s clothes. In 1994, she visited a Greenfield quilt shop and began attending a quilting club. She began making quilts for herself and as gifts.
Several hundred quilts later, she sells them as a vendor at special events, at the Henry County Farmers Market, and does custom orders. She also makes appliqué-embellished bibs and T-shirts.
“Appliqué is my favorite quilting technique,” says Carolynn. “It has more character than regular pieced quilting.”
That character is quickly evident inside the Hyde home where a whimsical chicken-themed quilt hangs on the dining- room wall. Carolynn says it’s one of her favorites. “They’re (chickens) goofy looking and you can make up things that they’re saying,” she says. Chicken-themed place mats are found on the dining-room table to go along with the quilt.
Nearby is a cat-themed quilt, also on the wall, and a snowman wallhanging. The snowman is part of series of seasonal quilts Carolynn has completed to showcase each month of the year in a unique and colorful way.
“With quilting, there’s not very many rules,” Carolynn says. She enjoys embellishing some of her work with buttons. “You can change it. My daughter says a pattern is a suggestion.”
Along with her daughter, who also quilts, the Hydes have a son Jeffrey, who lives in Pennsylvania. The Hydes have three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
The handiwork is all machine-quilted but Carolynn hand-binds the backing.
When asked about the appeal of quilting, Carolynn says, “Because it is so versatile. It’s not cookie-cutter anything.”
She comments that if six women all created the same quilt, each one would look different.
Carolynn has her own designated quilting room, which she thoroughly enjoys. When asked what advice she has for those who might like to try their hands at quilting, Carolynn says to start small with a small project such as a mug rug to see how they enjoy it. “That way they get an idea if they want to pursue this.”
She enjoys teaching quilting and the small mug-rug projects and welcomes opportunities to do so.
She’s thinking of expanding her business to make rag dolls, another thing she enjoys.
Of quilting, Carolynn says, “You can just let your imagination go wild.”
To connect with Carolynn, call her at 317-536-2906 or email: email@example.com.
Donna Cronk photo // The Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C. in December. A tour guide at the site said the memorial is designed to appear unfinished to symbolize that the work of the clergyman and civil rights activist remains unfinished. King lived from 1929 to 1968 when he was assassinated. The granite memorial was done by Lei Yixin and is inspired by a line in the "I Have a Dream speech: "Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope." The sculpture is called Stone of Hope.
This article appeared in Sunday's New Castle Courier-Times. It was a thrill to see the memorial during a night tour of capital monuments last month.
By Donna Cronk
This year’s celebration to honor the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will take place in New Castle at 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20 at The Place, 205 S. 21st St.
The evening features a program along with song and liturgical dance. An optional dinner will be served at 5 p.m. for anyone interested. Everyone is welcome to the meal and / or service. No reservations are needed for either.
Sponsoring New Castle congregations are First United Methodist Church, The Place, Bethany Tabernacle Church, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, First Friends Meeting and St. James Episcopal Church, among others, according to the event facilitator, Barry Cramer.
Cramer, of Richmond, is an ordained deacon at St. James Episcopal Church. He will speak on the topic, “Finding Beloved Community.” He says that to him, the concept of beloved community means to recognize a shared human nature among people, and a calling to drop divisions along with discovering how we can all get along while recognizing our commonality.
“I believe the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday should be a holiday for all Americans, not just for the African-American community,” he said. “Our observances should be more than just remembrances of his life, but opportunities to be reminded what he taught – and to learn from him.”
He understands King’s message as one of racial reconciliation, economic justice and use of non-violent means to work toward justice and peace. “He was a contemporary prophet,” says Cramer. “He was a Nobel laureate because of his work. His stature compels us all to honor and learn from him.”
Along with his address will be various readings and prayers. The evening also features vocal music presented by several of Rosie Hua’s voice students; Stacey Torres is providing a liturgical dance accompanied by Hua singing, Kay Rogers on the flute and Sam Hua on the piano.
Cramer estimates that between 60 and 80 people attended last year. He hopes the annual tribute will continue. He would like to see more student involvement such as possibly writing or art projects, and possibly organizing a trip to the Underground Railroad Museum in Cincinnati.
He also welcomes involvement of additional churches. Any individual or church interested in becoming involved with next year’s program is welcome to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Along with serving as a deacon, Cramer is a behavioral clinician in the addictions field at Meridian Health Services at the Addictions and Recovery Center in Richmond. He has also worked in blue-collar jobs, in the legal field, in mediation and conflict resolution.
His bachelor’s of arts degree in social sciences is from Ohio State University. He has a master of divinity from the Earlham School of Religion and a juris doctor (J.D.) from the International School of Law, now George Mason University School of Law.
The federal holiday of Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Monday, Jan. 21.
The weekend shifted from Plan A to Plan B on Friday.
I was supposed to go with a group of friends to Terri's lake house in Brown County this weekend. We were ready to enjoy the fireplace, movies and HGTV, someone was bringing a craft, we'd have all the yummy food we could eat, and then some. The conversation would be enjoyed along with the naps and weekend of carefree relaxation.
Then came Winter Storm Gia. Since when did they start naming snowstorms?
With predictions of 5 to 7 inches of the white stuff, we canceled early yesterdy morning. But Terri offered a consolation prize: Why don't we come over Friday night for a soup supper? So we did, joined by two of her sisters and even a craft.
It's after 2 Saturday and Gia is still doing her thing. We've had four or five inches of snow by now, with more coming. We gathered groceries yesterday and in a couple of hours the Colts will take the field in Kansas City in the NFL Playoffs. Life is good.
I've got McClellan Sisters' Homemade Vegetable-Beef Soup in the slow cooker, the last of the dirty clothes in the dryer and the unexpected snow day is working its usual magic, which means I'm in organizational overdrive. I cleaned out and organized all the tubes, jars, bottles, sprays and other weird bathroom miscellany and then hit my clothes closet.
If the Colts make me nervous, and they will, I'll find something else to organize. Somehow, it's a good activity for me for jazzed-up nerves.
Snow, ice and other winter weather issues take their toll before spring's arrival. But for today, the snowfall is a novelty as the weather has been a breeze so far. The house is cozy, the pantry is full, our team is in the Playoffs! So go Colts! Go Gia!
Now that I’ve settled into age 60, I have a few observations.
One over-arching theme of 60 is humility. It’s humbling to recognize that so many cliches about one’s – ahem –advanced years are now true. Attention young people: Yes, I'm talking to you 59-year-old whippersnappers. Please take notice when your elders offer these thoughts because your day will come sooner than you think.
Now don’t tell me about those rare birds running marathons at 90 or Betty Giboney holding down a full-time Courier-Times reporter’s job at 78 by day and keeping up with her ballet exercises by night. I’m talking about those regular earthlings among us whose hearing, knees and hips offer a challenge or three.
Down side: I know that my hearing isn’t what it was. Up side: my lip reading has improved because Brian has been telling me that my hearing is failing for so long that I don’t have to hear the words, only watch his mouth move. Curiously, I have no problem hearing my knees creak.
But there’s more good news! I’d always heard that older people don’t need as much sleep and that they get up by choice at ridiculously early hours. Well, it’s true. It started happening to me pretty suddenly. I don’t mind rising at 5:45 a.m. I’m up at least a couple times in the night as it is and sometimes then I find myself thinking, Good. I’ve only got another hour before it’s a respectable time to stay awake.
I enjoy that early hour alone to sip black coffee and quietly welcome the day. I also find that I now need the extra time to make myself presentable because I clearly deteriorate in the night. Getting up early means I don’t have to rush. I’m tired of rushing. I like a slower pace, and if you can’t have a slower pace at 5:45 a.m., when can you?
That’s supposed to be a rhetorical question, but the answer might be 7:30 p.m. when I’m sometimes ready for bed. And hey, that’s just science; everything has an equal and opposite reaction.
What I also notice is how quickly time not only rushes by, but seems to evaporate before my eyes. I will think of a story I wrote two years ago only to find that I actually penned it six years ago. Or say we visited my brother and sister-in-law in Liberty a month ago. Then I find out that no, it was actually two months ago.
I don’t know how it is that we find ourselves in 2019. Time travel? If the world doesn't stop revolving so fast, I'm going to need a seatbelt installed in my easy chair.
My church-women’s life group is called the Midlife Moms, or MLMs for short. What a difference a dozen years make. At age 48, we were legit at midlife. After all, if we lived to be 96, which of course we all intended to do, as though we had any say in the matter, we were midlifers with years to spare. Even at 52, we could each name someone we knew who made it to 104. So sure, we could claim midlife.
But at 60? That means we’d have to live to 120 to truly be at midlife right now! OK, we’re officially pushing it.
What I also know about 60, though, is that traditional time tables have shifted. For years I compiled mental lists of my best stories in case I needed the clips for future job opportunities. Brian checked out the job boards to keep an eye on what administrative positions were open. Just in case, you know.
Or we’d talk about how “someday we’d like to visit there,” regarding a vacation spot.
What I know now is that we’re no longer interested in future career moves to something bigger and better. Brian is retired and doesn't want to run anything. And if we’re going to visit a certain vacation spot, build a dream house, or even buy a new sofa, it's time.
Yes, it’s time to fill that bucket list with ideas for what's next. And to use the good bubble bath.
The time is now to keep writing regular devotions about God’s input in my ordinary life, something that I enjoyed and felt challenged by last year. The time is also now to do my best to get and stay as healthy as is within my ability – knowing that health of every kind is priceless.
And maybe, we should think about renaming our ladies life group. A friend in Ohio mentioned that in her church, women of a certain age have a group called WOW. I would like to be a WOW. What woman wouldn’t?
In her church, the group stands for Wise Older Women. Yes, that’s it! I would like to be a WOW! And I would like to start NOW.
Donna Cronk is Neighbors editor of The Courier-Times and edits the quarterly her magazine for women. This column originally appeared in the Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019 issue.
"Where are the scissors?"
There's no excuse for why I can never seem to find a pair when I need them but it's always the case with office supplies in our house. The problem is that we have multiple depositories throughout our home for various kinds of tape, paper, writing utensils -- and scissors.
I did a quick scissors inventory and found myself surprised at the quantity--if not quality. Yet I know that if I kept looking, the number would double. There's a pair in a library table that, as my mother used to say, "Wouldn't cut hot butter." There's a pair in our vanity that despite terrible care and a layer of rust, is so sharp and efficient, they could probably double in brain surgeries.
The sewing basket contains a pair of pinking shears. I don't know when the last time was that I needed them, but pinking shears were precious to my mother, who sewed often. While Mom had few demands on her belongings, her instructions on the pinking shears were firm: They are only to be used on fabric.
One surprise is how many pairs of the boys' elementary-school scissors we have around the house. One is even engraved with "Ben Cronk." I'm impressed that some once-upon-a-time elementary school teacher was so organized and foresighted as to take the time to do the inscription. Who could toss an engraved pair of her boy's little-kid scissors? Not me.
The ones with the big, gray handles are kitchen shears which have come in quite handy and by some miracle, I've managed to keep them well-confined to the utensils drawer.
The rusty ones with the well-used black handle? They still work well, along with the metal ones. The red and orange blades are probably the most functional of the lot for the general functions of slicing and dicing through paper. I do that a lot.
So now that the blog is up, I'll spread out this army of knives throughout the house, placing them in "handy" spots. And then, when I need a pair ... I'll search.
What duplicate tools do you keep around your house that you still can't find when needed? Or, what organizational tips can you share with the rest of us who aspire to the ultimately organized home, but to date, fall short?
With the first full shortest day of the year's arrival, Brian and I had a much-welcome low-key day enjoying some of life's simple pre-Christmas pleasures. We decided with winter's arrival, we should change out the sheets to flannel.
Of course Reggie had to check out the process. Brian washed the regular sheets and as he put them in the linen closet, said, "They're ready for spring." Spring? On the first day of winter, spring seems almost mythological in concept. Yet, time seems to speed up with each passing year, and it will be in shorter order than we imagine that Easter will be here.
I know this: the soft, warm sheets felt heavenly last night.
When I was a kid, I didn't care a bit for cranberries. They weren't something we had much, and I have no memory of Mom doing anything with the actual produce. Somewhere along the way, I discovered cranberries in a new way, and while they aren't something I think about apart from the holidays, that might be changing.
You might know that I've been on Weight Watchers in a serious way since Jan. 5. I love the current program, and it's working! I'm always looking for something new that works well with my program and this week, I got a hankering for cranberries.
So without a recipe, I decided to "lighten up" homemade cranberry sauce. What I came up with is zero points for the whole big bowl full. I bought a bag of raw cranberries and boiled them in a saucepan with one cup of water and several individual packets of sweetener.
It wasn't long before they were boiling and the berries popping. I turned off the heat and with the boil still going, quickly added one regular-sized box of sugar-free, instant cherry gelatin. I stirred and added a cup of cold water. I poured the mixture into a serving bowl and added some orange slices and chopped celery. Nuts would go well, but I avoided them for the calories involved.
Into the fridge it went and wow! I ate my fill.
Let's just say today I'm making it again. You're welcome.
I turned on some Christmas programs and finished wrapping gifts in the afternoon. Here they are, ready for Christmas day.
Some years I do paper themes or otherwise coordinate. This year's theme was that there wasn't one. I used this-and-that leftover wrapping paper from previous years, gift bags and bows recycled from previous use. And I still have paper left over for next year.
It was a good first day of winter. Hope yours was the same. Go Colts!
Donna Cronk photo // What does a camel have to do with presidential history? George Washington kept a camel on his Mount Vernon estate --presumably as a novelty. This camel is also something of a novelty, as well as a celebrity, and yes, lives at Mount Vernon. It's the Geico Insurance "Hump Day" camel! "Hey Mikey, Mikey, Mikey! What day is it?" I think the commercial is my favorite of all time. I have to laugh every time I see it or find it on YouTube.
This concludes my two-part column series on a historic Christmas tour I took with my husband, our close friends Tom and Char, and about 120 other Hoosiers, organized by Tom and Sue Saunders to Washington, D.C. and Virginia. This piece appeared in the Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018 New Castle Courier-Times and is reprinted as follows.
By Donna Cronk
As a modern motor coach dropped 120 Hoosiers off at the homes of three Founding Fathers' estates earlier this month, we were transported 242 years into the past.
First stop on our initial Virginia leg of the journey was to Montpelier, home of President James Madison and his wife, Dolley. We learned how the wealthy William and Annie DuPont family purchased the home in 1901 and had it until 1984 when the National Trust for Historic Preservation took it over.
It was the will of the DuPont family that the estate of the nation's fourth president be opened to the public. It was renovated and restored to 1820 decor and appearance after a 2003-08 redo.
Madison composed the first drafts of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights as well as oversaw the Louisiana Purchase.
When he and Dolley owned the estate, 100 enslaved people lived on the grounds. Slave quarters are located on the property and today, their roles are recognized in a public way as "Slavery-Madison's worst regret."
Other areas explored in a tour include Madison the man, The Constitution and Bill of Rights and America's First Lady Dolley Madison, who insisted that White House staff save the portrait of George Washington on the wall before the mansion was burned by the British in the War of 1812.
We were then able to see the painting in the East Room of the White House later in the week, below.
After lunch at Michie Tavern, an 1784 18th-century inn, which several of us agree was the best meal of many delicious ones on the trip, we headed to Monticello, home of President Thomas Jefferson.
We had the unique experience of seeing the mansion at night, beautifully decorated for Christmas. Monticello is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a national treasure that reveals much about the third U.S. President and his brilliance — as well as his complexities.
We were told that the second floor is rarely open to the public but we got to see its bedrooms and the large Dome Room which gives Monticello its iconic look from the outside.
Ironically, Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, died on the property on July 4, 1826. Also on that date, another Founding Father President, John Adams, also died.
There is also a tour, Slavery at Monticello, available to the public.
Father of our Country
At Mount Vernon, the estate of George and Martha Washington, we learned about the architecture and how the wooden home is sided to resemble stone.
Most of the rooms' furnishings are original, and the house has been restored to how it was when the Washingtons lived there. It may come as a surprise to see what may be considered the "back" of the house has a nice veranda furnished with chairs overlooking the Potomac River where fishing was a source of estate revenue.
The Washingtons are buried in above-ground vaults in an outbuilding on the property. The orientation film was excellent in the visitors' center, and talked about Washington's roles in American history as a general in the Revolution as well as being first President and Father of our country.I