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2024 Plans and More | Our Prairie Nest
2024 Plans and More

We are well into 2024 and it has already been a little bit of an adventure! My son got his driver’s license which activated Worried Mom Mode. But he seems to be doing just fine, driving himself to and from work, and wherever else he pleases. We had an awful cold snap and treacherous snow early in January. Now we’re experiencing much warmer late winter weather.

Of course, the big news at the start of the year was the recall election in Plattsmouth. Many people worked hard to fight against an extremist school board member and won! The voters showed that they wouldn’t stand for censorship and prejudice. This means all of us are now watching our school board races very closely. In Plattsmouth, it appears that there are only two Christofascists on the ballot, and they are Ralph Riedel and Erin Anthony. They both supported Terri Cunningham-Swanson’s book banning endeavor. Erin’s husband, Robert Anthony, is also a trash human being who runs a hate group.

A site called Nebraska Meadowlark did a detailed piece on the entire matter, including the crazy language these people use, like “It’s not a ban; we’re ‘curating’ books.” Obviously, that’s complete BS. Christofascists and Moms for Liberty are shoving their personal beliefs on everyone else, and let’s not get into the fact that Moms for Liberty isn’t about actual liberty or freedom or rights; they just believe in controlling everyone else, like typical small-minded conservatives.

Generally, I don’t care what these crazies believe or don’t believe. I don’t care that they’re homophobic and racist, and if they are teaching their children creation myths instead of science. Whatever. I’m all about live and let live. They can live their small, scared, hate-filled lives as long as they keep it to themselves. That’s not my problem.

But when they start banning books, discriminating against people of color and LGBTQIA people, pretending racism doesn’t exist, trying to control women’s bodies, or doing anything else that pushes their irrational fears and conspiracy theories on everyone else, they make it my problem.

Election night was equal parts terrifying and exhilarating. We won and I took several positives away from the experience. First of all, there are so many wonderful, smart, caring people here and I’m so glad to have met or deepened my acquaintance with them. Second, if not for a small echo chamber of hateful extremists, I would probably have never read many of the books they were trying to ban from the school libraries. The books I chose to read were fantastic! I had already read a number of the ones on her “no-no list,” because my favorite series was on there. I also read The Hate U Give, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Triangles, and they were all poignant stories about the experiences of racism, growing up, and dealing with struggles and challenges in life.

It goes to show that just because you don’t like something, that doesn’t mean you have a right to deprive everyone else of it. The same goes for all of us. I’m so proud to be part of the group of incredible people who stood up to this nonsense.

Another wonderful thing that came out of the experience was my decision to start participating in both my school’s PTO and a grassroots organization that stands by public schools, teachers, and students. This continued devotion of my time and energy to positive endeavors is another way I get to step up and do good things for my community.


What else has been going on? Well, I fully finished two cross-stitches: “Suffrage Act” by Little House Needleworks and “More Than Yesterday” by Stitchrovia. Currently, I’m working to complete “Summer Quaker” by Lila’s Studio. After that, I have 4 other projects to finish. I think I’ll focus on “Mother’s Arms” by Mirabilia, because I’ve had it sitting since about 2015. I didn’t put it in time out or anything like that. Life was just incredibly busy for me at that time and cross-stitching wasn’t much of a focus for me. It’s essentially a full coverage piece, so I think it will be good to complete it because I have an enormous one from Heaven & Earth Designs that I would like to start later this year. I also have the Modern Folk Embroidery 2024 SAL – “No Time Like the Present” – in progress and intend to finish it before the end of the year.

Besides those WIPs, I have about 16 other patterns that I’d like to do eventually. The full coverage is going to be a years-long investment of time and energy. There are smaller ones on my list that I may work on, but I don’t like having too many WIPs. Whether it’s my writing or stitching, being able to start something new is an incentive to finish a project.


I decided not to read as many books this year. Instead, I’m focused on only reading books in series that I’m currently enjoying or books that have been on my list for a while. I read House of Flame & Shadow, the third and possibly last of the Crescent City books. For now, anyway. Sarah J. Maas said her next book will bring us back to the ACOTAR universe, so I’m excited about that! Iron Flame is still sitting on my dresser, waiting to be read. Oops. I had preordered it and started reading the day it arrived, and that’s when one library hold after another became available to me. Now I’m ready to pick up Iron Flame again and get into it, but part of me wants to maybe wait until closer to the end of the year, depending on the release date for the next book in the series.


My genealogy goals are a variety of specific to vague. There are two writing goals: complete my family history book (exactly what it sounds like, some memories and thoughts for my children and potential grandchildren) (link grandchildren video) and refine an article I wrote about an ancestor to resubmit to a periodical for publication.

There are a few projects on my genealogist to-do list and I started delving into one recently. I’m trying to determine the maiden name of my ancestor, Elizabeth (unk) (Parks) Johnston. All I have on her is approximate information – about when she was born, a span of years during which she may have died, when she may have married her first husband based on the birth years of her children, etc. This is a whole other post, so I’ll get into it eventually.

All in all, 2024 seems to be a year of simplifying. I don’t want to do too much. Last year was a whirlwind and I want to take it down several notches, relax, enjoy my hobbies and my family and friends. Things feel different this year and many of my priorities are shifting.

52 Ancestors, Week 20: Textile
52 Ancestors, Week 20: Textile

Although this week’s topic for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is textile, I’m going to talk about something that technically isn’t a textile, but does require fabric to make. 

When I was a teenager, my Nana (mother’s mother) taught me how to cross-stitch. While I don’t have any family examples of textiles, quilts, or cross-stitches, I have plenty of my work. This is the oldest piece by me, probably done almost 30 years ago when I was 18:

More recent cross-stitched pieces I’ve done have been for my friends, partners, and self to enjoy:

This is one of my favorite hobbies. I feel like the best time of year to sit down and cross-stitch is in the winter. There is something cozy about curling up on the sofa with some handiwork and watching a movie or binge-watching a TV series while I stitch all these tiny Xs.

It may not be the most interesting post or about my ancestors, but I wouldn’t have this skill if not for my Nana teaching me. I taught both my son and daughter to cross-stitch, and even though it doesn’t seem to have held their interest, I’m glad I at least introduced them to it.

52 Ancestors Week 19: Food and Drink | Our Prairie Nest
52 Ancestors, Week 19: Food & Drink

Food and drink aren’t something I’ve heard much about when it comes to my ancestors. However, I have plenty of memories of food thanks to my father and paternal grandparents.

My dad wasn’t much of a cook. I don’t know if he just didn’t know how to cook or found it easier to keep everything simple as a single dad raising two children on his own. Maybe it was a little of both, because Dad made basic things like baked chicken, ground beef, hamburgers, hotdogs, or pork chops, always with rice and corn or green beans on the side. Sometimes he made spaghetti or got us pizza from our favorite place, Papa Gino’s in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. When we got a crock pot, Dad was excited for the different recipes he could make, but he invariably always made pork chops or chili.

We went to my grandparents’ house on Sundays, holidays, and birthdays for lunch/dinner, and they tended to cook simple food, as well. Most of the time, we had pot roast with potatoes and a vegetable on the side. Sometimes, we had American chop suey, which I hated as child. Absolutely hated! I also refused to eat pasta with tomato sauce on it, because I hate tomatoes. To this day, I still see tomatoes as the enemy (to me, they taste like stale bread and old beer had a baby). But I somehow got over my dislike of tomato sauce and now American chop suey is a comfort food that reminds me of my grandparents.

They also made our birthday cakes. I don’t know if they made them from scratch or a box of Betty Crocker mix. I think probably the latter, because the taste of the mixes is one I’ve always preferred. I know, it sounds weird, but cake made from scratch is never as sweet and I just don’t like it nearly as much as cake that comes from a mix. In the summer, my grandparents would also make chicken salad and potato salad for holidays like Memorial Day and Independence Day. I miss those salads, though I didn’t really care for grapes being in the chicken salad. Sometimes, I’ll buy potato salad from the deli. I admit I’m too lazy to make it myself!

The food I associate with Thanksgiving is completely connected to what my grandparents served year after year. As far as I’m concerned, Thanksgiving dinner should consist of turkey, butternut squash, mashed potatoes, green beans (not as a casserole), and cornbread. I don’t like cranberry sauce, but I can’t imagine a Thanksgiving without serving that or cranberry nut bread. You won’t see me eat cornbread at any other time of year. For me, cornbread is very Thanksgiving-specific. I also refuse to serve macaroni and cheese for the holiday. It just doesn’t “go with” the meal that I grew up eating, but if someone else serves it, I will certainly eat it. 😉

As you can see, certain foods have really strong associations for me, thanks to my grandparents.

52 Ancestors Week 18 - Social | Our Prairie Nest
52 Ancestors, Week 18: Social

Amy Johnson Crow had me stuck with this week’s topic for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, because social events didn’t really come up in my family. Sure, we had some holiday and summer get-togethers and the occasional reunion. But I have very few stories about my ancestors going out and being sociable outside family.

One story I do have is that my great-great grandmother Ernesta used to attend dances in her hometown of Moneglia, Italy. She and a family friend, Francesco Gola, both went to these dances. Ernesta and Francesco also both emigrated to Middleborough, Massachusetts with their spouses and had families there. I wish I knew more about these dances and the kind of social life my great-great grandmother had in Moneglia as a young adult.

The most social thing I could think of about my family was the fact that my 4th great-grandfather, John Winsor, ran the Cracker Tavern in Duxbury, Massachusetts.

Cracker Tavern Duxbury Massachusetts

The Cracker Tavern counted well-known figures such as Henry Thoreau and Daniel Webster among its patrons. The Reminiscence of Pauline Winsor Wilkinson says, “Some of the boys who had gone into business in Boston and came down occasionally for a dance or a two-weeks vacation dubbed the Tavern with the name of “The Cracker,” because at every meal they had on the table the large soft crackers that were always used in clam or fish chowder.”

My 4th great-grandfather must have been a sociable person himself, to run such a business. He is even mentioned in an essay Thoreau wrote about a mackrelling excursion to Clark’s Island with him in his book Cape Cod, Thomas Y. Crowell & Co. Publishers, New York, 1908. Pages 77-78. You can read the entry at Project Gutenberg. I imagine it doesn’t get more social than being a tavernkeeper!