Tag Archives: Sisters

Here Comes Fall…

By Mary

Yes, I know, the average person looks forward to fall. Especially if it’s unfolding in a flurry of color like it does here in the midwest.

However, my feelings about autumn can pretty much be summed up to that of the attitude I carried with me a week or so ago when I bought yet another pair of sweatpants. At the cash register I concluded with a glum grimace that I will probably be shrouded in sweats and a bulky hoodie until, oh, about say April.

While many look forward to the autumnal parade of colors that sweep in after Labor Day weekend, I personally delight in the fresh goodness of late summer colors.

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Despite my confessed autumn pessimism, fall is here:

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and it’s pretty darn gorgeous (as is my sister Clare!)

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And tasty. Nothing can beat the taste of fresh apples or homemade applesauce.

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And last of all, it’s a pretty comfortable clothes season- especially when you are committed to sweats and hoodies…

Sooner Sister

By Mary

Nearly one year ago I flew to Oklahoma to spend a few days with Nicole before she officially joined the Slattery family and relocated from her Oklahoma roots to the soil of the mid-west, here in central Wisconsin.

After an April wedding, and a May honeymoon in Texas, Nicole settled both herself and her worldly possessions into the apartment that she shares with Robert in Saint Joseph’s Ridge.

St. Joseph Ridge is an unincorporated town running along Hwy 33 with a population of about 500 people. Oklahoma City may be a larger city than little St Joe’s; with it’s population being around 600,000. Even if you were to take a head count that included all the dairy cows surrounding the nearby pastoral area, St. Joe’s still would be a far cry from the census count of Oklahoma’s densely packed city and metro area.

Over the past year, Nicole has done a fantastic job of adjusting to the cold northern winter, to the dark earth, and to the lifestyle and ways of our clan. After the full four seasons cycle, she’s been inundated.

Despite the inundation, there are drawbacks to living in such a rural area. Making friends can be quite a challenge. Back home my Sister-In-Law was accustomed to being surrounded by a group of classy suburban southern friends who she could watch TLC and buy snow cones with. Here we don’t even sell snow cones, and she has to watch sports with Robert instead of TLC.

Nicole did more than bring her material things to Wisconsin though. She also brought with her a wonderful sense of humor and a Sooner heart that is full of love, and open to both humor and adventure. Growing up in the Bible Belt, I bet she never imagined living a life in the Midwest as the wife of a carpenter. I know she always imagined having lots and lots of babies, but really, I dare to say she probably would have thought about having experience like the urine jug saga. I doubt she ever thought that pregnancy pictures such as these would be taken after the traditional post Easter Vigil powwow at Leo and Leona’s.

Initially I must state, this little impromptu photo shoot was designed to highlight the heels she was wearing (she knew it would make Kate proud). However, I got a little carried away and decided that my water chugging Sister needed to show off how fantastically photogenic she is. What better place is there to take pregnancy pictures than behind the bar?

Of course one picture is not enough: especially when the bartender wanted in on the shoot.

Even with her pioneer sooner spirit, Nicole got a bit overwhelmed by the last invisible shoe shot. Maybe it was just baby related acid reflex, I dunno….

After last weeks pow-wow I owe that sister-in-law something special. She’s made life here more complete, and I hope that I have made her life here a bit more full too. If only I liked TLC and was able to buy snow cones…..

For Clare

by Colleen

Clare is completely unique.  As the youngest of nine, one is bound to turn out wonderfully quirky and independent, and Clare is no exception .  Even though we are the closest in age out of all the sisters with only four years between us, Clare and I are very different; and I love that.

Clare possesses a sense of humor and a penchant for dry sarcasm that I only wish I could have.  She can make any situation hilarious with her whip-like come backs and little barbs of sarcastic joy.  But at other times, she can be the sweetest of little sisters.

Clare is not only possesses Irish gift of gab, she also is an amazing photographer.

As the last picture shows, she also has an amazing connection with little children, most specially our nieces and nephews.  Clare has been able to take care of children since she was a child herself.  It’s so beautiful to watch her as she plays with Claire, Adeline, Thaddeus, and Antonia.  They adore her and beg her to stay and “play more, play more!” every time; and with a loving smile, she will.

Clare also has followed in the family tradition (well really, only Kate and I have done it) of acting.  Although she is only a freshman in high school, she has already qualified for the state level acting competition coming up in April.  I had the chance to see her perform over break and was blown away.  Clare is not Clare when she’s up there; she truly is another person, and to see her change into her character before my very eyes was astounding.

Did I also mention that she’s beautiful?

This lovely (not so) little lady also happens to have a birthday today.  For the first time in 15 years I won’t be there to wish her a happy birthday and to remind her of how very special she is.  ‘Clare Bear’, I love you, and I miss you.  The day you came into this world was a blessing to our whole family.  Happy 15th birthday!

Rags and Riches

by Kate

A few days ago we returned from a whirlwind week in California. After months of low grey skies looming over this grey East Coast city, a week of bright sun on the West Coast was incredibly rejuvenating. We plucked ripe oranges from citrus groves, ran through avocado groves, explored San Diego, the ports of L.A., and sleepy Santa Barbara, and drove the coastline all the way to San Francisco. I look forward to sharing the pictures and stories we gathered along the way, but first I want to share the story of another epic journey.

On the day before we left for California, a battered tan van dragging the remnants of a muffler and proudly emblazoned with the Devils Hole Ranch logo pulled up in front of our humble Pittsburgh abode….

and my sister Mary and sort-of-sister-in-law Emily (see here for the inside scoop on this) emerged.

Granted, they were looking a great deal less glamorous than this shot would imply. After hard labor revitalizing historic mansions together and a grueling drive from New York state to Pittsburgh, they were ready to collapse on my couch and have some hot tea, followed by Southern Comfort. Please note that even in an exhausted state, Emily was able to borrow a stylish hat from my toddler to accessorize her outfit.

Emily and Mary were headed to the Wisconsin homeland. Spring is calling Mary home- in fact, I believe she even has her eye on a new set of lambs. As for Emily, she was headed to harvest a crop of sequins and bows. That is, she was on her way to help the rest of her spectacular female relations clean out her Grandmother’s closets. This sounds like a pedestrian pursuit, but no. Oh no. First of all, I want to state that Emily’s grandmother wore a strapless ballgown constructed out of peacock feathers to a wedding a few years ago. She is well over 80. It was spectacular. A glimpse into her closets and home is available by way of this wonderful blog post. Please go read Jenna’s blog! She is Emily’s cousin, and a wonderful writer and cook and great inspiration. So! Emily was en route to clean out her grandmother’s closet, mostly so her Grandmother can purchase an entirely updated wardrobe at Rummage. (Read that link too, it is worth it I swear, oh dear this is a convoluted post but worth it in the end, I hope. ) In order for Emily to help clear out her Grandmother’s closet(s) she had to clear her own in preparation for the tsunami of clothing she was about to inherit, so Emily and Mary entered my home laden with garbage bags full of evening gowns, heels, and hats.

But wait, you say, I spy sober male apparel upon that heap! You are quite correct. I recently happened to inherit a great deal of high quality extra large coats, jackets, and flannel shirts. I’d been trying to find a way to deliver them to my broad shouldered farmer father and carpenter brothers, and this was the perfect opportunity. Mary and Emily agreed to load them into the van, with the condition that I needed to immediately try on every flounced, sequined, and sparkling item they had brought me, find the most ridiculous item possible, and greet my husband while wearing it in their presence.

This sounded like a great deal to me. As I said, it has been a long dark winter. Sequins and gold silk shoes went a long way to cheer me up. Casey was less impressed- but I am pretty sure the look of confusion and mild horror on his face was exactly what Mary and Emily were hoping for.

The next morning the girls headed off, bearing a heavy load of high quality coats and leaving sequins in their wake. As for our family, away we flew to California. I left the hat and glittering backless dresses at home, and spent my time in baggy beat up jeans gathering memories. I promise to share them with you soon.

Till then,

Kate

One Sweet Year

By Mary

The upcoming month of March marks the first year anniversary of this blog. It hardly seems like an entire 12 months has gone by since it’s conception. The original idea for this blog came to me last February when I was challenging myself to broaden my creative horizons beyond spending hours putting metallic heart beading on a purse that I was creating from the airbag of my beloved Passat that my little brother James had recently crashed, and counting down the days til spring.

At this point I was turning the corner from thinking that all blogs were a waste of time to becoming quite the fan of the Pioneer Woman’s blog after discovering her site and finding it much to my liking. I thought “Wow, my sisters and I could totally do something similar.” I figured as the descendants of a highly skilled journalist, we are all decent writers. And like Ree, we are a little witty and distinctive. Obviously each of us has our own style of writing as well as our own interests and talents.When the blog initially took off, Kate was the only one with a working camera. Mine was broken and Clare’s needed a new charger. Buying myself a new camera and getting Clare’s back in working order was the solution to enhancing the visual expressions of our chronicles. It has been a good way to display Clare’s photography talents on a larger scale as well as to give visuals to the posts. Clare and Kate were even able to work together long distance on their famous Anthropologie post.

I am especially proud of Clare for changing what was then her 13 year old attitude, and jumping on the Slattery Sister blogging bandwagon. She is at a fragile point in life but chooses to simply be herself and let her voice be heard.She writes with great honesty and heart, and it is a pleasure to watch her grow as a writer.

It was a big year for Colleen, as she graduated high school and headed off to college. Having Colleen move to Texas was very difficult for me. Connecting with her thru the blog is an extra incentive to keep it going. Every time that she writes a post about her college experience, I smile.

Essentially all acknowledgement regarding the accomplishment of beginning and maintaining this blog go to Kate. Without her there would be no blog. I may have had the idea, but it was simply a vision. Kate has been the one who has held this project together. Her work of setting up the site, publicity efforts, writing often times melodramatic and always entertaining posts, and acting as the editor, have given this blog life. She is the one who sends out the constant (and often disregarded)  message “BLOG POSTS!” to all of us sisters. At times our editor goes to the length of calling us on the phone to specify “I NEED a post.”

Metaphorically speaking: when Kate takes a break from acting as captain…..

and I step up to take on her responsibilities….

….our ship is just doesn’t operate the same way. Without her choleric bossiness, there is no blog.

Lastly, there would be no blog without you loyal readers who have been gracious enough to read our tales. Thank you sincerely for subscribing to, reading and commenting on sweetridgesisters. Speaking for all the girls- we are honored that you enjoy reading our posts, and feel as if we have made new virtual friends whose faces we have often times never met before. Thank you, thank you!

We look forward to continued writing in the year to come. Many known and unknown surprises are sure to be written of within the coming year. Keep reading our posts to find out, and we shall keep writing them. That is, of course, as long as Colleen, Clare and I keep getting facebook messages that read: BLOG POSTS!

Most sincerely,

Your friend from Sweet Ridge Sisters,

~Mary

Sisters in The City (NYC Edition)

by Colleen

I’ve always dreamed of going to the East Coast.  Too snobby for the Midwest in high school, I thought it was the epitome of class in comparison.  Over Christmas break, I had the privilege of traveling to that famed area of the United States to test my dreams and theories.

After a short flight, a few metro rides, and a long bus ride, I finally arrived in Princeton, New Jersey at the home of my friend, Emma, filled to the brim with children.  She’s the oldest of nine-typical Catholic family, I suppose.  We spent a few glorious days, wandering around the town and drinking copious amounts of coffee.  I completely fell in love with Princeton.  The college campus was literally a manifestation of my dreams.  The stone buildings, peaceful and studded with towers and turrets, in late afternoon sun took my breath away.

After the Princeton stay, Emma and I set off to New York City and met up with Mary.  I’m still amazed at life; the coincidence of Mary working in New York at that particular time that I visited?  Crazy.  I was SO happy to see her.  After the initial hugging and talking session, we were off!

Emma acted as tour guide because Mary and I are NOT city girls.  In fact, I had serious concerns about being able to get on a metro before I left home.   By the time we got to NYC, though, I was an old hand, and we felt very comfortable in Grand Central Station.

Of course we did a little shopping, as Mary was determined to find rainboots.  I cringe.  Rainboots are definitely not my idea of fashion, but they make Mary happy-very happy.

While she bought boots, I bought a scarf.  To each her own.  We proudly displayed our new wares.

Then we hit up the really big stores, like Saks 5th Avenue, a place that I literally had only ever read about.

Emma and I tried our best to cover our muddy boots as well went up, floor by floor, seeing dresses like the one above, and being scared to touch anything.  On our way to drop Mary off at her bus stop, we passed by another store…Anthropologie keeps trying to knock the Slattery family off, it would seem.  We’ve been using those blueish square cartons to harvest and sell raspberries for years.

I loved traipsing about the city and looking up and seeing things like this:

But, I must admit, I am not a city girl.  It was a great realization to me that I absolutely love where I’m from.  The hills and valleys which make up the landscape at home are far more beautiful to me then anything I saw in New York City.  That is not to say that I don’t see the beauty in cities-I do, but it’s just a different kind.  Cities are beautiful and awe-inspiring in that I am amazed at the skills of mankind to create them.  But there is no replacement for the beauty of the earth and its infinite multiplicity of geography.  That beauty comes straight from God.  How could a metal structure ever compete?

More adventures of the Slattery Sisters in the City here:

anthropologie, slatterie style

Sister in the City

Farmers in the City

Country Girl, Big Sisters, Big City Style

Dress Drama

By Mary

Having so many sisters is a splendid gift. It is a little difficult for me to enjoy the splendid gift of so much estrogen at times though, and Christmas always seems to create static within the female family domain.

This photo pretty much summarizes the way I feel about two things that come up every year.

Thing number one: Shopping with my sisters. Lord have mercy, those girls take FOREVER! I can’t handle stores and sisters, it’s just too much. To be fair, I shall note that they can’t handle me either because I always tend to drift off and get lost. In more recent times, I now do all shopping with my brothers. Shopping with them is a quick and humorous event, largely ineffective, but always enjoyable.

The next issue on my Grinch agenda is: Dresses for Christmas Eve mass.

Oh my gosh, each and every Christmas there is dress drama within the house. I tend to duck out of the commotion if I can. The most memorable dress drama happened the year Kate came home for Christmas freshly engaged and ever so proud. Leading up to the visit home with her husband to be, Kate had put considerable effort into buying the perfect outfit. Naturally all her luggage was lost in translation on the trip here. The meticulously selected trendy sweater dress she has specially brought for Christmas Eve mass…..

did  not make it via airport delivery until the following day. Somehow, Kate ended up wearing a startlingly horrid hot red dress from the 80’s that my mother wore for a dance when I was a preschooler. Kate stampeded her foot and sobbed , and I the Grinch, laughed, until I realized that she actually was able to pull the atrocious red number off somehow. In the long run, we made it to and through mass and back home to enjoy candy and eggnog with rum.

As a seasoned vet of the Christmas highs and lows around the Slattery family tree, I am well aware that it is not in my best interests to offer to go shopping with my sisters or provide (what I deem as helpful) fashion advice. After all, karma bites back. And you never know if one day it might be you wearing the red dress.

Merry Christmas to all you readers!

Sincerely,

The Grinch