Happy Birthday Sweet Arlene

Today is my Nanny’s birthday. Now we never would’ve made a fuss over her on this day. She probably spent the majority of birthdays celebrating others rather than herself. I remember the last birthday I spent with her. I’m not even sure in the hectic rush of that day that I gave her a card even. I remember a lot of lasts with her. I miss her more than words can even begin to say. She was one of my best friends and role models. I strive to be like her. She would love that I used Pinterest for ideas for my home and that I’ve started a blog hoping to inspire others to create. She would probably be in my kitchen half of the week helping me with my projects. In fact, I think she was probably the first person to see some of my crafts when I first started Pinteresting. I’m sure by now she would’ve been using Pinterest for everything too. I take that back… that woman didn’t need Pinterest. She was original and had ideas that you couldn’t find in any pin anywhere.


My Nanny didn’t grow up in the best environment. She grew up dirt poor in the mountains of West Virginia. She had a hard life as the oldest daughter. She cared for her siblings and eventually her parents. The stories she would tell are priceless. At one point I remember sitting out in the carport listening to Nanny and Papa, her husband and my grandfather, compare recipes for moonshine. This was crazy because neither of them are drinkers, but their fathers both went to jail at one time for running shine. I grew up at her house, lost myself, found myself, all under her loving eyes. She never judged me. Always prayed for me. She was there even in my middle school years when I hated even her. She drove me nuts sometimes. But she was my hero.


Our lives are very similar in that we found ourselves as single moms with very young children. My mom was only 2 or 3 years old when her parents got divorced. My girls were a little younger when I split from their father. I felt ashamed that I got pregnant and wasn’t married. I later found out after I was pregnant that Nanny was also pregnant before she was married and tried to make it work unsuccessfully with my mom’s biological father. Nanny never gave up, and eventually married a man that raised a daughter that wasn’t his own and loved my Nanny for the rest of her life. In those days when I thought I was going to lose it. When I thought I couldn’t handle anymore. When my child pooped in the bathtub 3 times in a row. I thought of Nanny. I knew I could do it because she did it. I held on to the hope and looked to my hero. She kept me going when I couldn’t go anymore.


A lot of the things that my mom and sisters and I do are very “Arlene.” My dad used to poke fun of mom when she did something like Nanny would do saying “Alright Arlene.” Now we welcome any comparison we get to Arlene. I would live my life striving to be “Arlene.” Not only did she overcome personal strife in her own life, but she gave of herself more than any other person I know. She cooked for the homeless weekly. She fed families and the elderly. She volunteered even when she was sick. I remember the last time I went to church with Nanny. She had met a lady in the hospital who had cancer that was worse than her own at the time. My aunt donated a quilt that she made, and Nanny and my girls and the rest of the little children prayed over the blanket during the children’s service. The quilt never made it to the friend, because Nanny died shortly after that day. Instead my aunt passed the quilt on to me. It is now the Nanny blanket. I cover up with it daily. It a piece of her with me. And her chicken pie recipe was out of this world. She loved cooking. My last conversation with her was about pies on Thanksgiving. She died two days later. I’ve mulled over that moment time and time again thinking I would change it, but Nanny wouldn’t have had it any other way. She would’ve wanted our last conversation to be about a recipe. It may sound crazy, but every time I see her recipes, I hold them to my face and take a deep breath smelling the warmth of her kitchen, the sweet potato pies in the oven, the green beans bubbling in a pot, the smell of Dawn from washing our hands, the sweet smell of Nanny. It’s all still there.


In memory of my sweet Nanny on her birthday, I’ve decided to link up ten pins my Nanny would’ve loved from my various pin boards. Here they are, Nanny’s Pins:

1) Give Thanks Board:

Pin: Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Website: Ciao! Newport News

2) Meals for the Family Board:

Pin: Chicken Pot Pie Turnovers

Website: I Thee Cook

3) Good Morning Board:

Pin: Breakfast Casserole

Website: Taste and Tell

4) Decadent Delights Board:

Pin: Chocolate Reeses Cookies

Website: Inside Bru Crew Life

5) Sewmazing Board:

Pin: DIY Bowl Covers

Website: The Farm Chicks

6) Lookin Good Board:

Pin: Soothing Foot Balm

Website: Blooming in Bedlam

7) B&L&R Projects Board:

Pin: DIY No-Sew Barbie Clothes

Website: Stella 123

8) How Does Your Garden Grow Board:

Pin: Magic Corn Trick

Website: Holm Family Cookbook

9) Kitchen Board:

Pin: Kitchen Drawers

Website: The Pioneer Woman

10) Gifts Board:

Pin: 31 Ways to Wrap Gifts

Website: Older and Wisor

Happy Birthday Nanny. I love and miss you. In every craft I make, house I decorate, and recipe I cook, I think of you.


9 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Sweet Arlene

  1. I cried buckets while I read your tribute to aunt Arlene. I miss her dearly. And you guys are not the only ones to hear “Ok Arlene.” She was such a wonderful person and our whole family is lacking now that she is gone. Especially with the holidays coming. We all still use her recipies, but no matter what we cook, “It’s good, but it’s not Arlene’s!”


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