Evelyn in the Evelyn Room
Evelyn in the "Evelyn Room,"
at Dale Chihuly glass studio, Seattle, Washington
Newspaper and Magazine Columns

Evelyn has written for a variety of magazines and newspapers over the past five decades.

Evelyn started writing a weekly newspaper column for the Shenandoah (Iowa) Evening Sentinel in 1949. The Sentinel eventually became the Valleys News Today and Evelyn continues to write for this newspaper. She has written her newspaper column every week, without fail, for over 60 years. Evelyn also wrote monthly columns for Kitchen-Klatter Magazine for almost 30 years.

Links to Evelyn's newspaper and magazine columns and archives:

Evelyn's current weekly newspaper columns

Evelyn's archived weekly newspaper columns
(1949 to 2010)

Evelyn's monthly Kitchen-Klatter Magazine columns
(samples from 1958)

Evelyn’s Faith Journey
Several weeks ago I wrote about the early years of my faith journey, from my earliest memories of church to my years in grade school.

Virginia’s Pork Chops
On my bookshelf is a copy of the October, 2010, Saveur magazine, a publication of gourmet cooking and fine dining. The photograph filling the cover is of Iowa pork chops prepared with a special glaze. “25 Greatest Meals Ever,” reads one headline. “Insanely Delicious Barbecue Pork Chops,” says another.

Memories of Church
With Easter just passed, I have been thinking about faith. My first memories of church were in Dexter, Iowa, where we lived when I was six years old. My father was the minister, so naturally, our family went to every church service.

Skiing Fun in Europe
My sons Craig and Bob just returned from skiing in Europe. I’ve asked Bob to write a column about their trip to share some adventures and perhaps even a recipe. Here it is.

Evelyn’s College Story
I was going through some boxes the other day when I ran across a paper I thought was long lost. It was my college diploma, and it brought back a flood of memories.

Thinking Positively
My friend Cissy Voyles says I am happy every day. It makes her wonder if I have a secret.

Goodbye, Walter Birkby
We just received word that our distant relative, Walter Birkby, has passed away. I only met him once, but I enjoyed his cheerful spirit and inquisitive nature. For someone so involved in life, it is curious that he was famous among certain scientists across America as “Dr. Death.”

Evelyn's Love of Music
After writing last week about pianists Adam Swanson and Marty Mincer, my mind has been on music. In fact, I have CDs from these two amazing pianists that I play often as I write. Their music keeps me energized, so that is the first of a number of reasons music is important to me--it helps me write.

Marty and Adam, What a Pair
It would be amazing enough if Southwest Iowa had produced one world champion ragtime pianist. In fact we can boast of two — Marty Mincer and Adam Swanson. Their talent is amazing, and they are known throughout the nation and overseas as well. I’m pleased to say I recently visited with both of them.

What an Unusual Winter
We have been having a most unusual winter, though I’m not sure why anybody is surprised to find cold weather in Iowa in February. Of the 95 winters I have known, some have been colder than others. Some have had lots of snow, while others had very little. If February is too mild and dry, I become concerned. So I am actually all right with the frigid, snowy winter we have been having.

The Art of Mending Clothes
Does anyone mend clothing anymore?

Remembering Agnes
When my family moved to Sidney in 1935, there was a popular radio character named Seth Parker. He was played by Phillip Lord who used his memories of his backwoods preacher grandfather to write radio programs full of fun, music, and an occasional sermon.

Everyone Has a Story
Everyone has a story. For many years I have encouraged people to write down some of their stories. It is a wonderful way to reflect on what has been important in life, and to share with friends and family.

Counting My Blessings
As I count my blessings at the end of the year, I put my friendship with Charity Nebbe near the top of the list. She is a broadcaster for Iowa Public Radio with a highly acclaimed program called “Talk of Iowa” that airs every weekday at 10:00 a.m. She also hosts “Iowa Ingredients” on Iowa Public Television, Fridays at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday mornings at 11:30 a.m.

Christmas Greetings from the Bob Birkby Family
This is the time of year when Christmas letters are filling our mailboxes. So here, along with my Family Christmas photo for the year, is my Christmas letter to you.

The Fun of Cookie Baking
I have always loved to make cookies this time of year. When my children were little, they would help me make simple sugar cookies. After I rolled out the dough, they would use cookie cutters to make them in shapes of Christmas trees and Santa Claus, sleds, bells, and bows.

Evelyn's Feather Tree
In church last week, the youth director asked the children what holiday we had just celebrated. They got Thanksgiving immediately.

Happy 96th Birthday, Robert
Last week we had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration, though it did not match the calendar. With people coming to visit and with other enjoyable activities, we fit everything in when we could and ended up with big helpings of holiday enjoyment.

Celebrating the Potato
You've probably heard of Octoberfest, the annual celebration of food and beer that started in Germany in the early 1800s. But have you ever heard of Octuberfest? It's the personal celebration of the potato created by one of our sons' Jeff's friends' Steve Loken.

A Very Happy 68th Anniversary to Evelyn and Robert
What does a couple do when they reach their 68th wedding anniversary?

Glad Manti Has Been Preserved
The area known as Manti has been much in the news lately with talk of the various ways the space has been utilized through the years.

A Nice Visit With Jack Birkby
Robert's brother Jack blew into town recently on his way to Kansas City for the first of the World Series games.

A Good Time for a Picnic
October is winding down, and memories of a wonderful autumn with some of the most spectacular weather I can ever remember this time of year. It is also a month full of historic milestones and Halloween, one of my favorite holidays.

Cooking with White Sauce
Recently a neighbor asked me to help her learn to make gravy. "I just made it once in my life, and it was awful," she told me. "It was so thick you could cut it with a knife, and I didn't like the taste. Since then I just buy my gravy in a can."

Reunions Are Important
Reunions come in all sizes, colors, backgrounds and places. For the people attending they can be some of the most important gatherings of their lives. All I had to do was miss one to realize how important they can be.

Thankful for Each of the Seasons, Even Winter
There I was minding my own business doing what I usually do each day when suddenly autumn arrived.

Old Graveyards Have Become New Preserves
Last week I wrote about some of my favorite cemeteries. They range from the plots where my ancestors are buried in Scotland to Grandview Cemetery a few miles west of Sidney.

Special Country Dinners
Our son Jeff just sent me the book "Sunday Dinners, Food, Family and Faith from Our Favorite Pastors" by Diane Cowen. She writes all about the importance of a sit-down Sunday midday meal.

New Phones for the Birkbys
Robert and I have new telephones. Our old walk around telephones were just about worn out. When I would talk with our sons long distance, there would often be scratchy noises that I could make go away by banging the phone against the table. That seemed to clear the line, but I don't think it helped the conversations since I sometime forgot to warn my callers that I was about to give the telephone a good whang.

The New Mural at KMA
Several weeks ago I went past the KMA studios and was delighted to see a new mural on the brick wall. For a year there has been a fine mural celebrating the men of KMA. The new one pays tribute to some of the women who had strong roles in local broadcasting.

Evelyn's Love of Seafood
Last month when our family gathered for my birthday, Bob brought along Claudeen Lyle, who has lived her life in the Pacific Northwest. She, in turn, brought along some big, freshly-caught steelhead salmon for our first dinner together. We added Iowa sweet corn, tomatoes, homemade bread and pie, and I was in heaven.

Evelyn Celebrates her 95th
Last week my family and friends gathered to help me celebrate my 95th birthday. It was a day full of highlights.

Report from RAGBRAI 2014
My sons Bob, Jeff, and Craig are home for a few days after pedaling across the state with RAGBRAI - the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. It was Craig's second year to ride, Jeff's third, and Bob's fourth. I asked them to share some highlights of their ride. Here's what they had to say.

Nothing Beats Fresh Sweet Corn
The first memory I have of eating sweet corn comes from times as a young girl when my parents would bring freshly picked ears in from their garden all de-husked and de-silked, and slip them into a kettle of boiling water. The corn was so delicious that I've always tried to cook corn as soon as possible after picking.

A Grand Dedication
Last Sunday morning, Robert and I attended the dedication of the new United Faith Church. The big assembly hall was full of church members and visitors from both near and far to join together to celebrate the opening of the building and think about its place in the future of the community. Several former ministers were in attendance. So was an envoy from the Methodist Bishop's office in Des Moines.

Eat Fresh
I was happy to get a telephone call a couple of days ago from our son, Bob, who had just returned to Seattle from his latest trip to Russia. This time he went to the Sikhote-Alin National Reserve, a huge wilderness area north of Vladivostok that is the refuge of Siberian tigers. He was there to help park officials develop a network of hiking trails where the reserve meets the sea.

Whatever Happened to Cursive?
Whatever has happened to cursive writing? That neat, sweeping, curving, form of making letters both attractive and legible seems to have disappeared. If you have seen any old letters or manuscripts you know how beautiful and artistic some cursive writing is.

Thanks Bev For Your Dedication
I have always loved libraries. Since I was old enough to read, books have taken me to places far away and introduced me to ideas and people from all over the world. Libraries in the towns where I've lived have been treasures for my mind.

Dulcie Jean and 4 Pennies
Robert and I enjoy attending the Sidney High School awards program every year, especially since we've been able to provide the Four Penny Scholarship to a deserving student. It's a grant in remembrance of our daughter, Dulcie Jean Birkby.

Happy Memories With Bees
Honey bees have been a part of the Birkby family for a very long time. The interest in bees goes back to the time when our sons were still living here.

Thanks From Iowa Students
The other day I received a card from a class at the University of Iowa. The students' handwritten notes all over the card filled my day with sunshine.

New Museum's Open House
It's the week before Memorial Day, and my back porch is full of horses. There are wagons out there too, and even a carriage with a fringe on the top. I need to get them cleaned and ready for the big open house of the new Fremont County History Center and Iowa's Championship Rodeo Museum over Memorial Day weekend, and I think I'm just going to make it.

Thanks, Pam, For the Service
Pam Nenneman has been taking care of my hair for more than 20 years. I'm one of many friends and clients who are celebrating her long involvement with the business community of Sidney. Now that she is retiring, I'm not sure any of us will ever look this good again.

Adventures Near Home
The week of Easter, our son Bob visited us from Seattle. I enjoyed every minute of his time here, especially the day we ran away from home.

The Joy of Guestbooks
I have three guest books on my office bookshelf, and I treasure them all. The first one dates back to 1963 when we built our house at the edge of Sidney. We were excited to have a home of our own, and we wanted everyone who visited to sign the book as a record that they had come to see us.

Goodbye Long-Time Friend
Last week I said good-bye to a long-time friend, the old First United Methodist Church north of the Sidney square.

Thanks Ver for the Stories
When I heard that my good friend Veronica Keasling has set a retirement date for her monthly newspaper, The Imogene Hub, I was saddened. I've always enjoyed her take on life in Imogene, Iowa, and the colorful way she writes.

Many Past Fires in Sidney
The recent fire that destroyed the century-year-old Younkers building in Des Moines took a big piece of my childhood with it. My family lived in small towns near that city during most of my growing up days, and Younkers was our major shopping center.

Evelyn has March Madness
I become a basketball fan this time of year. Robert says I am more involved in the current basketball NCAA March Madness tournament than he is, and I am inclined to agree. I am the ultimate hometown supporter, cheering for local teams first and then those far away that I know something about.

Nothing Like a Good Book
I love books. That has been a good thing throughout most of my life, though sometimes it gets me in trouble. My little office in the northwest corner of our home has shelves full of books I have collected over the years. There are books stacked on my desk, on the piano, on the piano bench, and even a few on the floor. There were so many books that I could sometimes barely get to my computer to get my work done.

My Friend, Clarence
In 1938 when I was 19 years old and a brand-new teacher in Carlisle, Iowa, I became friends with a number of the young people in that city. One of them was Clarence Clark.

Goodbye Old Elevator
Last week we drove through Farragut and I learned that the two tall grain elevators near downtown are soon to be no more. I'm sadden to see such a change in the familiar skyline of a town I always think about with great fondness.

Did Oscar Disappoint?
Did you watch the Oscars on television last Sunday evening? I always look forward to seeing the actors and actresses in their formal attire coming down the red carpet. I don't recognize many of them, though I have a few favorites. Lots of the faces are familiar to me because I read about them in People magazine at the beauty parlor where I get my hair done.

Jeff's Latest Visit
I was delighted to broadcast last week from the newly remodeled KMA studios. There is still a lot of work to do to complete the spacious interior, but all the essential elements of a first-rate radio station are in place. The heart of the new studio is the glass-enclosed, soundproofed broadcasting booth, providing a clear view of the broadcasters and all the state-of-the-art audio equipment.

The Joy of Cooking
I've always enjoyed teaching others to cook. It began when I was raising three sons. I felt that they should learn how to do tasks around the house including cooking so that they would be self-sufficient when they got older.

The Art of Writing
Nothing makes me happier than being with young people and talking about writing. I meet sometimes with a writing class at Sidney high school. The students are always interested in how I get my work done. Last time they asked me to talk about where I do my writing.

Big Changes at KMA
If you've walked or driven past the KMA offices in Shenandoah lately, you've probably noticed the large window of the radio station's new studio. It's a big change from the studio it is replacing, and the most recent in a long series of broadcast studios KMA has used.

1936 Was a Very Cold Winter in Iowa
The cold spell that ushered in the new year chilled our region to the bone. It kept people indoors, slowed travel, and closed businesses. It was not, though, the worst winter Iowa has ever had. That was the winter of 1936, and I remember it very well.

Remembering the Everly Brothers
In my early years of broadcasting at KMA, I enjoyed the staff musicians who filled the airwaves with live performances from the Mayfair Auditorium. Then one day in the 1950's, as I walked down the hallway, Margaret Everly came out of KMA's main office. She was crying. Soon I learned that KMA was letting its musicians go.

Remembering the Day Bobby Birkby was Born
On one of the first days of 1950, I wrote this in my newspaper column:

Evelyn's Resolutions for this Upcoming New Year
It is the first day of January, 2014. Time for New Year's resolutions.

Sending Holiday Greetings to our Newspaper Friends
Merry Christmas, everyone! It is Christmas Day, and I'm delighted to share our family's annual holiday greeting with all our newspaper friends.

The Enjoyment of Reading Holiday Cards
This week brings about one of my favorite times of the year, for the mail is full of Christmas greetings from friends and relatives from near and far. My favorites are those with a letter enclosed telling me of all that is going on in their lives. I especially love the pictures showing how a family has grown. I even like the letters that go on and on.

Some of the Best Gifts are Handmade
Is the tradition of making handmade gifts for Christmas still alive and well? When our children were little, we tried to find them many ideas for homemade decorations, gifts and wrappings. One hope was that by making items for others, the children would see that part of the season was about sharing.

The Crust is the Key to Any Successful Pie
Pies have long played important roles in our lives. It is a food that celebrates holidays, holds a birthday candle for those who prefer pie to cake, that goes into the dinner pails of workers and off to school in lunch boxes.

Ever Thankful at Each Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is here! As our family gathers to celebrate, I have been thinking about Thanksgiving gatherings of years gone by.

Celebrating Robert's 95th birthday Soon
Ninety-five years ago this Nov. 24, a small white house in Sidney just two blocks east of the Fremont County courthouse was bustling with activity. Lawrence Birkby and his wife Lucretia Carter Birkby were preparing for the birth of their first child, and they were in deep trouble.

The Joy of Collecting Postage Stamps
Whenever I get a letter with an interesting stamp on the envelope, I carefully cut the stamp free and put it in a drawer in my desk. Sometimes I think that some family members will start their collections again and they can have all of these. The real reason I keep them, though, is that I have always enjoyed postage.

Having a Warm Spot for the Hot Springs
Years ago when our son Jeff graduated from Montana State University with his master's degree, a job opened in state government for a geothermal specialist. Although he had studied botany, Jeff got the job and was soon learning about the hot springs of Montana and ways they could be put to use for heating homes, greenhouses, and spa resorts.

Father, Son Voted as Homecoming King
With bands, pep rallies, football games, and royalty, homecoming season is here. High schools and colleges across the country use this celebration to welcome alumni back for visits and to highlight all that is good about their institutions of learning.

Hearing Loss Versus Selective Hearing
I was 4 or 5-years-old when I first encountered a hearing aid. Katherine Edmondson was at the time the oldest person I knew. She lived with her son, Charley Edmondson, my dad's cousin. I remember her as being tiny, wrapped in a shawl, and spending most of her time in a rocking chair.

Memories of the Old Methodist Church Bell
Several Sundays ago I saw an old friend that has been part of the Sidney community since 1866, but out of sight more than 110 years.

A Trip Down Memory Lane in Waukee
Last week I wrote about my pleasure in being invited by the Reverend Julius Trimble, resident Iowa bishop of the United Methodist Church, to speak at a gathering of retired ministers and spouses in Des Moines. My son, Bob, had flown in from his home in Seattle with our family friend Jennie Douglas, and we had a tremendous time at the event hosted at the New Hope United Methodist Church.

A Wonderful Time Last Week in Des Moines
Last week I had the great honor to be invited by Iowa's Methodist Bishop Julius Trimble to speak to the Retired Iowa Methodist Ministers' Conference. He sent his assistant Reverend Bill Poland to Sidney to give me a ride, and my adventure began with a wonderful drive to Des Moines.

Sometimes Column Ideas Are Difficult
Even after writing a weekly column for 64 years, the idea of what to write about for the coming week is sometimes hard to come by. When that happened in the old days, I would sit down at my Royal Standard typewriter, put in a piece of paper, and then stare at the blank page.

A Short History of the Delmonico Hotel and Pres. Truman's Visit to Shenandoah
Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with the Rotary Club of Shenandoah for their noon luncheon. Kate Thompson, their president and my publisher at the Valley News, had invited me to speak to the group, and I happily accepted the opportunity to talk about my six decades of writing columns for the Shenandoah newspaper.

Names Common in the 1930s Aren't Anymore
Recently I was looking at the 1936 Sidney High School yearbook, the year that I graduated. As I read about my classmates, I was struck by how most of their names have fallen out of fashion.

The Secrets of Being Able to Age in Place
When my mother was 80 years old, she became tired of caring for her small house and yard in Shenandoah. She found Wesley Acres, a Methodist retirement home in Des Moines, that fit her needs exactly, and lived there for another comfortable, happy 10 years.

Another Wonderful Birthday Celebration
I've had some interesting birthdays. My 94th was on the last day of July, and it was full of my favorite kind of adventure.

Dixie Quicks is Fantastic Eatery in Council Bluffs
My dear friend Charity Nebbe hosts "Iowa Ingredient," a food program that airs on Iowa Public Television. Every Saturday, at 11:30 a.m., she features a food item from Iowa. After exploring how a vegetable, cheese, cut of meat, nut, or other ingredient is produced somewhere in our state, Charity follows it to a restaurant where the chef uses it in a recipe.

Time to Celebrate
The end of July and beginning of August are turning into a time for me to celebrate.

Ready for RAGBRAI
Our three sons Bob, Jeff, and Craig are on their bicycles this week taking part in RAGBRAI, the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. They are riding with Shenandoah's Team Groucho, a group of friends who are making RAGBRAI a highlight of their summers.

Remembering Earl Heckman
As our patriotic observance of July 4th approaches, I have been thinking back to someone who made a special sacrifice for his country. His name was Earl Heckman. I met him in 1942 when World War II was sweeping across the globe. Many young men I knew enlisted in the armed forces. Others were drafted into the military and served with great distinction. Earl enlisted as a conscientious objector, making his contribution to his nation in a very different way.

What You Learn From Obituaries
Every morning after I get my cup of hot coffee, I open my computer and check the funeral notices on the KMA radio website. "Robert!" I call to my husband as he finishes the oatmeal breakfast he has every day on our cheerful screened-in porch. "We didn't make the KMA funeral notices! It's going to be a good day." With that little inside joke, we start our morning.

Baking a Cherry Pie
"Can She Bake a Cherry Pie?" is the title of a book my son Jeff recently sent me. The author is Mary Drake McFeely, a Massachusetts scholar who explores the changing roles of women in the home and workplace in the 20th century, especially as that defined by their time in the kitchen.

Coping With Growing Old
Even after all these years, I am still learning to cope with growing old. I have a hunch this is going to be a task for the rest of my life. Robert and I are now well into our 90s, and we are discovering that with the joys come changes that are not always easy.

Trees and Memories
I love to look out the window and see neighborhood children climbing the trees in our yard. I open the door and hear their laughter, and it reminds me of how important trees have always been for our family.

Graduation memories
Last Saturday we attended the annual all-class reunion at the Sidney High School. It was a lovely gathering of friends brought together because all of us had attended the school, or were related to someone who did.

Siberian Stories
(Note from Evelyn: Our son Bob has traveled to Siberia four times in the last four years. For this week's column, I asked him to share some stories about his most recent trip. Here is what he wrote.)

The Story Behind Dulcie's Scholarship
Today Robert and I go to the Sidney High School gym to announce this year's recipient of the award we give each year to a graduate in memory of our daughter, Dulcie Jean. It is our way of helping a young person follow the dream of going to college.

The Jokes Behind Family Nicknames
Chuck Morris of KMA radio called last week to tell me he was writing a news article about former Sidney resident Gregory Leech and his current work as president of the Beatrice Bakery in Beatrice, Nebraska. I was delighted to tell Chuck that Greg was a lifelong friend of our family and a grade school and high school classmate of our son Craig.

Recent Discoveries Made in Malvern
Our son, Jeff, came to visit us last week on his way home to Montana after business meetings in Chicago. It was a chance for him to help out with some tasks around the house and to help us get our springtime finances in order. Best of all were several car trips that Jeff took us on around the region—to choose some flowers and bedding plants for spring planting, to Farragut for a fine lunch at the Admiral Inn, and to Shenandoah for Emmy's great Sunday fried chicken buffet at the Elks Club.

Admiring My Friend, Phyllis, Even More
I have been staying up way too late at night reading the most interesting book that has come my way in a long time. It is "Memories & Stories" by my good Sidney friend Phyllis Greedy.

Time to do a Little Spring Cleaning
It's time for spring cleaning. At least that's what my instincts are telling me. Time to clear out the closets, sort the papers in the file boxes, wash the windows, and deal with the clutter in the garage. Everywhere I look, something needs to be done.

Evelyn's Top 9 All-Time Favorite Delicious Dishes
On my desk is a copy of the October, 2010, issue of Saveurmagazine. The issue is devoted to "The 25 Greatest Meals Ever." Pictured on the cover in luscious color is a platter of my friend Virginia Miller's Elegant Pork Chops.

There's Nothing Quite Like Tea Rooms
I'm hooked on tea rooms. I love the atmosphere of such places, from the settings of quaint little spaces tucked into a historic building, to the top floor balcony areas of large department stores. This love of such eating locations goes back to my childhood when our family lived in centralIowain the 1920s. On very special occasions we would go to the Younker's Tea Room inDes Moines.

There is Nothing Like Homemade Butter
"With enough butter, anything is good." I've always loved that Julia Child quote. I thought about it the other day when I saw a butter churn in the Fremont County Historical Museum and was reminded of the delicious homemade butter I enjoyed as a child.

Pleased to be a Part of Trace Fundraiser
On March 3, I joined Bill Danforth and lots of other friends at the Wabash Wine Company for a live KMA show honoring the Wabash Trace. It was great fun to be a part of the event and to be involved with a live radio program intended to raise money for the trail.

Saddened by the Passing of Agnes
I was saddened to learn that Agnes Bonnes had passed away. Her 98 years were very full, especially with her dedication to music. That is where our boys came to know her well.

Bateman's Belted Galloway Cattle
When Robert and I travel from Sidney to Shenandoah, I always enjoy the rolling hills between the West Nishnabotna River and the turnoff to Farragut. It reminds me of the countryside of southwest Scotland where my ancestors lived before coming to America. Like that Scottish land, the fields just north of Highway 2 have a herd of cattle, each black or dark brown with a wide white band around its body. My sons call them Oreo Cookie Cows.

There's a Thrift Store in Sidney
The Shepherd's Frock Thrift Store opened last week in Sidney. I had a great time exploring it and visiting with Judy Braunschweig, the woman who envisioned it, planned it, and brought it into existence.

The Boy Scouts Are One of a Kind
February is a delightful time to celebrate all kinds of special days, weeks and the month itself – presidents' birthdays, Valentine's Day, Race Relation's Sunday, Brotherhood/Sisterhood Week, Black History Month, and Boy Scout Week.

A Notebook Full of Topics to Write About
When I encounter someone I have never met, I enjoy getting acquainted. Boarding a flight to visit our family in Seattle, I sat down next to a little old lady and said hello. She returned my greeting, then leaned close to whisper something to me. "Whenever I ride on an airplane," she said, "I always throw up."

Thoughts of Past Family Picnics Warm my Heart
As I look out the window at our snow-covered front yard on this cold winter morning, I've been thinking about summer picnics. Those thoughts warm me with visions of milder weather to come. Besides, picnics have been an important part of our family through the years. When our three boys were young, Robert would sometimes come home from a long, tiring day at the office and say, "Let's get together a picnic and go where it is quiet and gey away from it all."

The Cool History of Sidney's Penn Drug
When out of town people come to visit Robert and me, we enjoy taking them downtown for lunch at Penn Drug. They almost always find the experience as memorable as anything else that happens during their time in Sidney.

Do You Know How to Dress a Chicken?
Several weeks ago when our son Bob was visiting from Seattle, I bought a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store. The warm, fully-cooked chicken was sealed inside a plastic container and was ready to eat as soon as I put it on the table. It made a tasty meal and we had leftovers to eat the next day.

The Importance of Old Friendships
Last week our son, Bob, came to visit us. While he was here, we celebrated his birthday with a dinner that included his long-time friends Bill and Laura Danforth, Bob and Ellen Longman, and Kelly Carey.

Ringing in a New Year, Birkby Style
January is a quiet month, or at least it should be if we follow the pattern of the soil. It is the time when the earth rests from its labors, still and fallow under its coat of white, preparing for the growing season to come. I am hoping to take a page from the earth's play book and plan a quiet month as well, though as I look back over the year's first week, I know that might be a challenge.

Things I Hope to Accomplish in 2013
January is one of my favorite months. It is certainly calmer than December, and I plan to treasure every calm day. It is also an opportunity to think about the year just passed, and look forward to the months to come.

Christmas Can Be Celebrated Anytime in Any Location
It's Christmas, and as I sit here enjoying the white coating of snow outside, I've been thinking about all the ways we celebrate this time of year.

Remembering My Good Friend, Andy Andersen
Andy Andersen passed away a short time ago. He was a good friend of mine and of many in Shenandoah.

Spending Thanksgiving Together as a Community
The town of Sidney had a real treat on Thanksgiving Day with a community dinner at the Sidney elementary school. This is the second year our family has chosen that setting as the centerpiece of our holiday feast, and we were not disappointed.

War Comes to Page and Fremont County Again
War came again last week to southwest Iowa. A conflict half a world away brought the deepest sorrow, with the death of Brandon Buttry, killed in Afghanistan.

A Great Thanksgiving With Family and Friends
Birkby family members from around the country gathered last week to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, a 94th birthday, and the joy of being together. We started slowly with just Robert and me, but as the days progressed, we kept adding leaves to the dining room table to make it long enough to make room for the latest arrivals.

66 Years Together and Still in Love
November tiptoed into existence with all the hoopla connected with the election.

You Are Never Too Old to Vote
November roared into Iowa with all the hoopla connected with the election. I was receiving many calls each day from political operatives urging me to go vote, pollsters wanting to know how I would vote, and recorded messages came from candidates for Congress and the Presidency.

A Century of Church Memories
The last Sunday in October Robert and I sat in the beautiful sanctuary of the Shenandoah United Methodist Church surrounded by many long-time friends and a whole wagonload of memories. When Robert and I were first married and living in Shenandoah, we were members of the church. My mother lived nearby and made this her home church for more than a decade.

The Importance of Helping Others
A number of years ago Robert and I accepted Chuck and Carla Offenburger's offer to come along with them on a Treasures of Northeast Iowa, a chartered bus tour of that corner of the state. Our son Jeff joined us as we climbed aboard and set off for adventure.

Homemaking Will Never Go Away
When I was a high school freshman, I took a class in home economics. I do not remember if it was a required course or elective, but I probably would have taken it either way.

Making The Most of Every Hour We Have
Every morning when I get up I take my cup of coffee into my study, turn on my computer, and read the online funeral announcements from KMA radio to see if anyone I know has been mentioned.

Looking at My Hands in a New Way, Thanks To Jessica
Jessica Lowthorp is one of the young friends I treasure. We have worked together in several projects and it is always enjoyable to have her in my life. She is a Girl Scout and a member of the 4-H Club Silver Skylarks. Through 4-H she became involved with Camera Corps. This is right up Jessica's alley for she has long had an interest in photography thanks to her father.

Fall is The Perfect Time of Year in Southwest Iowa
his is a perfect time of year in Southwest Iowa. Leaves on the trees are turning gold, yellow, and crimson, and our part of the state is becoming a visual feast. Waubonsie State Park has been listed by the Des Moines Register as one of the ten best places in the state to view the autumn colors.

Remembering the First Time I Met Sentinel Publisher Willard Archie
Last Wednesday morning I walked into the Valley News at the invitation of the newspaper and the Shenandoah Chamber of Commerce to take part in a signing party for my new book "Always Put In A Recipe, and Other Tips for Living."

September Reminds Me of the Years I Taught School
It's September, and schools are back in session. I see children in the playground at the Sidney grade school, and am reminded of what an exciting time this is for students. I remember my own years of teaching as some of the happiest times I've ever had.

Making Mr. Archie Proud With My Writing
The author Dorothy Parker was once asked if she enjoyed writing. "No," she replied, "but I enjoy having written."

Key Moment Memories Tie Us Together
The news of astronaut Neil Armstrong's death immediately caused me to realize that I remembered exactly where I had been when I heard that he set foot on the moon.

Remembering the Silverware Summer of 1946
Recently I was cleaning my good silverware, and I began thinking about all the people that have used those forks, knives, and spoons. This is the silverware Robert and I had when we started our married life and that we still use when company arrives at our doorand we invite them to join us at our table.

Fun Trip Into the Past by Many Helping Hands
When we moved into our current house in 1963, we put some cardboard boxes full of items up in the attic for temporary storage. We had packed the boxes in the farmhouse two miles south of Sidney where we had been living. I had not had time go through the items carefully, so just identified the boxes as "work to do later."

Another Fun, Busy Summer Flying By
So much has happened in the past few weeks I feel it will take all of August to catch up.

Great Times at RAGBRAI
Our sons Jeff and Bob came home for RAGBRAI, the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. It was Bob's second year to take part in the event, and Jeff's first.

A Lovely Road Trip Full of Fun and Discovery
Last week our son, Jeff, drove in from Montana with his bicycle on the roof of his car. He's going to ride across Iowa with RAGBRAI, but had come early so that he could escort me on my own journey across the state to take part in the Iowa City Book Festival.

The Wagons are Coming Over the Mountain Again and I'm Hitching a Ride
In 1991, the University of Iowa published Neighboring On The Air, my book about the radio homemakers of Shenandoah's radio stations KFNF and KMA. Peter Webber of the Shenandoah Evening Sentinel, began a review of the book by saying, "The wagons keep coming over the mountain for Evelyn Birkby of Sidney. The wagons are usually filled with newspaper writers, authors and broadcast journalists all quite eager to tell the world about radio homemaking and the wonders of living in Southwest Iowa."

July 4 is an Easy Holiday to Celebrate
The Fourth of July is an easy holiday to celebrate. We don't have to buy gifts like we do at Christmas. We don't need to cook up a huge meal as we do for Thanksgiving. We don't feel we should attend special services like we do at Easter.

A Garage Sale is a Great Money Maker
Every family, committee, church, school, and club I know is always looking for ways to raise money. If there's anything better for that than a garage sale, it might be lots of garage sales at the same time, sprouting like dandelions all over a town.

The 3 R's of Last Week, Rain, Reading, Recipes
A week ago was an amazing week, beginning with a much needed rain after a long stretch of hot, dry weather. All day Sunday we watched the skies for signs of rain and, sure enough, about the time we cleared our supper dishes away, thunder and lightning announced its arrival.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

A Joy of Being a Grandparent is Bragging Rights
One of the joys that grandparents share is bragging about their grandchildren. It's been awhile since I reported on mine, so let me share a little about what has been happening with them as the school year comes to a close in their hometown of Edmonds, Wash.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Finding New Recipes Using Quinoa
A friend asked me how I decide what recipes to put into my columns. "I always look first to see what your recipe is," she said. "It helps me decide what to cook for the day."
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

How Steven Reddy Brings His Travels to Life
I carry a notebook when I travel so I can write down ideas that come to mind. I put in brief descriptions of what I'm seeing, names of people I meet, and some information about places I go. Later I can read through the pages and remember a trip very clearly.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

It's Graduation Time in the Midlands
It is graduation time in the Midlands and enthusiastic young men and women are preparing to go out into the world. Robert and I recently attended Awards Day at Sidney Community High School.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Evelyn's Latest Book to be Released This Fall
Last week I received a package that has had me dancing with joy from the moment I opened it. Inside was the final manuscript for my newest book. I have a few more days to finish my last proofreading, then I'll send it back to the publisher.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

A Great Time at the Ferrel House High Tea, Despite Not Having Any Scones
A true joy of a historical society is the opportunity to learn. That certainly happened last week with the high tea hosted by the Fremont County Historical Society at the Ferrel House, one of the gems of the organization's museums.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Owning a Television Has Never Been Important To Us
When our grandchildren have come to visit, they have always been surprised that Robert and I didn't have cable television. I would tell them that the local Omaha stations gave us plenty of news and network programs, and that we could pick up both the Nebraska and Iowa public television stations.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

It's Hard to Beat a Fresh Baked Pie
I'm convinced that Iowans bake the best pies in the world. Through the decades, making a couple of pies each week was a tradition for many women on farms and in small towns. Pigs were raised on many Iowa farms, and that made high quality lard easily available. As serious pie makers know, using lard makes the flakiest pie crusts of all.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

A Fantastic Evening With Chef Taylor
Last Thursday was a magical evening at the Gathering Place in Sidney as the big room filled with happy, expectant people who came to hear Executive Chef Matthew Taylor of the Lied Center in Nebraska City put on a cooking demonstration and serve them a gourmet dinner.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Fixing up Our Home Brings Back Memories
We have been learning a lot about how to fix up a home for elderly residents. The home is ours, and we are the residents. And yes, we are elderly.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

It'd be Easy to Fall for the "Grandparent Scam"
Let me begin by telling you this story has a happy ending, but what an amazing story it is!
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Gourmet Chef Taylor to Cook at The Gathering Place
Robert and I have enjoyed several fine meals recently at the Lied Lodge in Nebraska City. We met executive chef Matthew Taylor last November as we celebrated our 64th wedding anniversary.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Happy Beginning to a Mid-March Day
Today when I stepped out on the back porch to welcome the morning, the air was soft and warm and it felt as if spring is truly here. As the pink glow in the east turned to bright sunlight I heard birds singing. Two robins appeared and poked around the yard in hopes of finding worms. A fuzzy brown squirrel flicked its tail in my direction as it stopped by the bird bath to get a drink. It was a happy beginning to a day in the middle of March.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Nothing Quite Like a Detectible Cookie, or Two
My favorite cookie has always been the chocolate chip cookie, though there have been others that came close.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Thankful for Good Friends
A few days ago, while Robert and I were having breakfast, he suddenly realized he couldn't see out of his left eye. He'd had a cataract taken off his right eye last fall and could see fine with that eye. He is scheduled to have the cataract removed from the left eye later this month, but now it seemed he couldn't see out of it at all.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Everyone Should Have a Getaway Place All Their Own
The workmen who have been repairing our house after the damage of the Aug. 18 storm that swept through Southwest Iowa are nearly done. They began by fixing the roof and then the siding. They moved on to complete renovations in our basement. The last step there has been putting Robert's office back in order.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

A Sunday Morning With the Presbyterians
We've enjoyed our visits to area churches so much in the last four weeks that Robert and I decided to have one more Sunday morning adventure. This time we chose to attend the First Presbyterian Church in Shenandoah.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Spending Sunday Morning at St. Mary's
The Sunday Robert and I decided to continue our visits to churches in southwest Iowa we planned on attending services at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Hamburg. Our plans did not include the huge snowstorm that blanketed much of Iowa Sunday morning causing many churches to cancel their services. St. Mary's did not.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Our Dependence on Household Appliances
Last week our microwave oven started making strange noises. It rattled and it hummed, and while it still cooked Robert's oatmeal in the morning and heated up milk for cocoa in the evening, it seemed to be complaining all the way.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Enjoying the Cowboy Church Experience
Robert and I have enjoyed our last few Sundays so much, with visits to the Farragut Methodist Church and Percival Community Church, that this week we decided to attend a service of the Cowboy Church. We were not disappointed at all.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Enjoying Church Service in Percival
Last week Robert and I attended the Farragut Methodist Church and then drove on to Shenandoah for Emmy's buffet at the Elk's Club. We enjoyed ourselves so much that this Sunday we decided to go to Percival for the church service there and to visit with many friends in that part of the county.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Farragut Methodist Church Holds Many Memories
Last Sunday the warm January weather we've been enjoying enticed me to do something I have wanted to do for a long time – attend a service at the Farragut Methodist Church.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Sidney No Stranger to Political Candidates
Here in Sidney, as with most of Iowa, we are recovering from the all the recent political attention brought to our state by the Republican candidates. It has been exciting, but I'm glad our first in the nation caucus is over.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Recipes Are Often Boobytraps
When I began writing my column for the Shenandoah Evening Sentinel back in 1949, publisher Willard Archie told me I should always put in a recipe. Through the years I've tried to gather the best recipes I could find to share with my readers. Often they were recipes that my neighbors and relatives had shared with me, or that readers mailed my way.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Scrapbook is Great Way to Preserve Cards
Today I got out the scrapbook in which I keep special Christmas cards and began to tuck in the letters and pictures I want to preserve from this special season of 2011.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Up a Country Lane: Treasures We've Kept Over the Years
I've heard that we spend the first fifty years of life collecting things and the next fifty getting rid of them. In our case, Robert and I have had 65 years together accumulating a basement full of stuff, but it's only taken a couple of weeks to see it all go away.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Christmas Greetings from the Birkby Family
Since 1954, I have included a Birkby family photo with my holiday column, and this year is no different. We had a wonderful time the day after Thanksgiving cutting our tree at the Horse Creek Christmas Tree farm west of Sidney. Terry Lewis, who owns the farm along with his wife Lona, was kind enough to handle the camera for us.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Fun Decorating for Christmas
"Do you want to help me decorate the doll house for Christmas?" I asked my seven-year-old granddaughter Amanda during her Thanksgiving visit in our home. "Oh yes. Let's do it now," she responded heading for my miniature house that is such fun to enjoy during the holidays.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Picking Out a Christmas Tree at Lewis Tree Farm
It has become a Birkby family tradition to cut our Christmas tree at the farm of Terry and Lona Lewis. This year our three sons, two grandchildren and our daughter-in-law went with Robert and me a few miles west of Sidney to Horse Creek Farm.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Opening the Family Time Capsule
Thanksgiving last week was especially delightful for the Birkby family. Our three sons, our daughter-in-law, and our grandchildren were all with us to celebrate the holiday and, on the same day, Robert's 93rd birthday.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

We Have Much to be Thankful for This Year
Do you have anyone in your family or among your friends who like to surprise you when they come to visit? Some folks think it is great fun to pop in unannounced and say, "Surprise! We just stopped by for several days."
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Enjoying Shenandoah in the Role of Tourists
Following the August storm that caused so much damage across Southwest Iowa, we've been having extensive repairs done to our home in Sidney. Several weeks ago the workmen told us we needed to be out of the house for two days, so we opted to spend the time in Shenandoah.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Treasures We've Kept Over the Years
''ve heard that we spend the first fifty years of life collecting things and the next fifty getting rid of them. In our case, Robert and I have had 65 years together accumulating a basement full of stuff, but it's only taken a couple of weeks to see it all go away.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Such an Amazing Hike up Mt. Everest
Editor's Note: Bob Birkby, Evelyn's son, has been on an adventure in the Himalayan Mountains for the past month. This is the second column he has written about the trip. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Hiking to the Base of Mount Everest
Editor's note: Evelyn's son Bob Birkby is trekking in Nepal this month with the guide service he works with—Berg Adventures based in Banff, Canada. Bob sent this message from the trail where he's hiking to the base of Mount Everest. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

The Message Behind Shenandoah's WCTU Fountain
In downtown Shenandoah where five streets converge by the Flatiron Building stands the WCTU water fountain dedicated "in memory of Mrs. H.S. Nuchols and also for God and Home and Every Land." . more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Removal of Cataracts is a Simple Operation
On one of the most beautiful days of this autumn, Robert accompanied me to Omaha where I had an appointment with Dr. Carol Drake, my ophthalmologist. She sees me every six months to check for glaucoma and other eye problems, and I thank her for keeping my vision as good as it can be for all these years. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Battle of Shiloh Included Men From Fremont, Page County
Fremont County was immersed last week in the Civil War as the Fremont County Historical Society recognized the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of the war and the important role played by soldiers from Iowa. The centerpiece of the event was The Fiery Trial: Iowa and the Civil War, a traveling exhibit of the State Historical Society of Iowa.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Enjoying the First Day of School
The first day of school has always been one of my favorite times of the year. I enjoyed going to school and having opportunities to learn, and now it's exciting for me to watch my grandchildren as they continue their educations in Edmonds, Washington. Nick is a high school sophomore this autumn, and Amanda is starting first grade. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

We Had a Blast at Hills and Heritage Days
It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday when Robert and I drove to Thurman, Iowa, for the annual Hills and Heritage Days celebration. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Evelyn at her desk
Evelyn at her desk in Sidney
Feeling Several Years Younger With My Pacemaker
People have been telling me that I seem to have more energy lately, and I would agree. "It's my new pacemaker," I tell them. "It has gotten my blood flowing again into places where it hasn't been for awhile." more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Barbers are a Thing of the Past
Last week I was cleaning out a closet and ran across a 1930s photograph of the Sidney barbershop run by Robert's grandfather William Carter.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Fifteen Trees at Birkby's Honey Hill Damaged by Storm
As I am writing this morning, it has been one week since the huge storm swept through Southwest Iowa. Robert and I had just finished a nice supper that evening on the sun porch when we heard on the television that bad weather was on the way.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Summer Jobs for Teens Have Changed
When our sons Jeff and Bob were here during rodeo week, we talked one evening about jobs they'd had during their summers when they still lived at home. That was a long time ago, in the 1960s, and a lot has changed since then. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

No Last Name Needed With Emmy
Some famous people are known by just their first names. There's Oprah, of course, and Elvis, Cher, and Madonna. Here in Southwest Iowa, if you say the name Emmy, everybody knows who you're talking about. Emmy is Emily Lewis-McDonald-Bengtson, famous as one of the best cooks in a region known for its great cooking. She is also one of my dearest friends, and I'm delighted to report that she has just published Cooking With Emmy, a new book of her favorite recipes.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

The Real Attraction of RAGBRAI is Meeting People
Forty years ago I pedaled a Schwinn Varsity bicycle across Iowa on my way to Florida to see the last rocket blast off for the moon. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I encountered no other bicyclists along the Iowa back roads, and while I enjoyed myself, pedaling by myself past the cornfields sometimes became a bit lonely. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Rediscover the Art of Canning
A way to enjoy and celebrate summer in Iowa is through its food. Gardens are growing all kinds of vegetables. Berries and fruits are coming on in generous quantities. I'm convinced that there is something about Iowa soil that produces the best tasting produce anywhere.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

It's All About Family Milestones
Outside my study window hangs a basket of geraniums blooming brightly in the warm sunshine. Every year its array of blooms has brighten my days of work, but this year has had a plus.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Neighbors Helping Neighbors
The seriousness of the flooding on the flat land near the Missouri River came close to home Sunday when we visited with members of the Percival Community Church. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Bob Birkby Reports From Africa
When I'm traveling to far-off places, my mother encourages me to write a column about the current adventures. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Fond Memories of Judging Cookies
With county fairs coming up soon and the Iowa State Fair on the horizon, lots of cooks are perfecting recipes they will enter in food competitions. I've had the honor of being a judge a number of times, and it is always an exciting experience. But how does one decide which entree is the best? more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

My New Turbo-Jet Heart Has Me Feeling Good
When I wrote last week about Robert and my trip to the doctor for our annual physicals I did not tell you the rest of that story. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

There's No Getting Around Growing Old
Robert and I have just returned from having our yearly physical checkups at the doctor's office. Nothing makes me feel more like my chronological age than such a visit, although the doctor told Robert, who is almost 93 and me, almost 92, that we are in much better shape than most people our age. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Remembering Floods of the Past
The news on the television for the last week is warning people in southwest Iowa of a coming flood on the Missouri River that reportedly is going to be even larger than any experienced in the past. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

The Love of Music is Certainly a Dragoo Family Affair
When I received the photograph of our granddaughter Amanda at her piano recital in Edmonds, Washington, it brought back memories of all the music experiences our family has had through the years. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Thoughts of Major John Thornell near Memorial Day
There is simple gravestone in the Sidney cemetery that reads, 'Major John G Thornell, Commander of "Roma." May 5, 1886- Feb 21, 1922.' That's a very few words for one of Sidney's biggest stories, one that I've been revisiting almost 90 years later. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Trip to Washington Lasts Longer Than Expected
WELL! Life does have a way of sending surprises at unexpected moments.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Memories of May Baskets
On the last day of April during our recent visit to Edmonds, Washington, I asked our six-year-old granddaughter Amanda if she would like to make May baskets. She got a puzzled look on her face. "What are May baskets?" she asked. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Musical Fundraisers
Our recent trip to Seattle coincided with a spring performances at the schools of both our grandchildren. The first event was a fund raiser for the music department at Edmonds-Woodway High School where Nick is a freshman very involved with the jazz choir. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

A Lifetime Guarantee on a Gravestone
Last month when he was visiting from Montana, my son Jeff and I went to the Farragut cemetery to visit my sister Ruth's grave. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Never Too Old to Learn a New Recipe
I was in a store the other day buying ham hocks when a man came over to where I was standing by the meat counter and introduced himself as David Johnson. "Are you going to make bean soup with that?" he asked. I told him I was, and that I usually choose navy beans as a main ingredient. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

A Delightful Visit on Aging from a Young Lady
My interview with Kara Cruickshank, student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
I discovered the other day that, much to my surprise, I am too old to be an elderly person. The occasion was a very delightful visit with Kara Cruickshank. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Yippee...Spring has Finally Sprung
Spring is here. I know it is here because my calendar says so and also because Robert balanced eggs on the kitchen counter Sunday morning. He says he does that on the equinox because everything is in balance. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Joyous Memories of our Recent January Christmas
I wrote last week about our travels to Seattle in early January for our family's winter holiday celebration. In order for us all to be together, we saved Christmas until the first weekend of the new year. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Calling all Scouts!
This is Scout Week, the annual celebration of the founding of the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. Scouting has always been a big part of our family, and this week always rustles up a multitude of terrific memories for me. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Thinking of Edward Maynard
Whenever I see the Cross and Flame symbol of the United Methodist church I think of my long-time friend, Edwin H. Maynard. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Old Rag Bags of Years Gone By
Something came to my attention recently that I had not thought about in years. I saw an article that discussed the old rag bags of years gone by. At the conclusion it asked the question, "Do people still have rag bags in their homes?" more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Books are Worth Celebrating
Last week I had the great joy of attending the monthly meeting of Nebraska City's Through the Pages book club. They gather at The Book Clinic Bookstore, and I must say I've not been with a livelier, more intelligent and enthusiastic group of ladies in a long time. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

A Love for Bookstores
"Internet Spells The Death Of Bookstores," the newspaper headline proclaimed. Oh no, I groaned. Since my parents encouraged me to read as a child, I have searched out bookstores whenever I traveled. They are some of my favorite places in the world. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Celebrating Christmas in January
In the midst of the winter snowstorms, below zero temperatures, and north winds blowing across Iowa, I am sitting in my snug little study remembering the warmth of our family Christmas gathering just a short time ago. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Local Grocery Stores Are Hard to Find
After I wrote last week's column about the old-time grocery stores we had in this area years ago, I started thinking about how different our shopping habits are today, and how few of the locally owned stores remain in our small towns. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

The Best New Year's Present of All
I'm always pleased when I have good news to share, and I've been waiting a long time to share this story. Our son Craig has been dealing with a serious illness since last spring.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Our Seven Days of Thanksgiving
The Twelve Days of Christmas will be arriving soon. I love all the excitement and fellowship of that time, and look forward to it every year. For the moment, though, I'm still basking in the joy of this last week, our family's own Seven Days of Thanksgiving. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Holidays & Food Go Together
With Thanksgiving just ahead, I've been thinking about how certain dishes conjure up memories of wonderful events of the past, and of the people who were sitting around those festive tables. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Nick and Amanda – Ever Changing
I love to get updates on my grandchildren Nick and Amanda in Edmonds, Washington. Even though they are far away, I can follow their activities through phone calls, emails, and photographs sent over the internet. What an exciting autumn they are having! more »
~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Radio History Symposium at K State
The telephone call from Dr. Steve Smethers at Kansas State University's School of Journalism and Mass Communications was a surprise. He was asking me to come to the university and participate in the fifth annual Great Plains Radio History Symposium. more »
~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Times Have Changed Since the First Column
I'm sitting at my desk and looking out at a beautiful Sidney, Iowa, morning. This time of day has always been my most creative time when I love to be tucked into my cozy office with lots of work to do. My current writing space is a far cry from where this column began more than sixty years ago. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

25 Greatest Includes Shen Woman
This month's issue of Saveur, the magazine of fine food, is devoted to "25 Greatest Meals Ever." Well-known food writers were given the opportunity to highlight the best dinners they'd ever enjoyed. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Learning About My Dragoo Roots
Although I've done lots of research and writing about my father's family – the Corries – and our Birkby family tree, I've never known much about my mother's family, the Dragoos. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

The Story of Three Meals
I've always found that food is very much a part of travel, and that sharing meals is definitely a part of family visits. The last week of August, when Robert and I flew to Seattle to see our children and grandchildren, was no exception. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Sunflowers Didn't Survive Last Storm
Our favorite flowers this fall were the big golden sunflowers. These plants came up of their own accord right below the bird feeder, which led us to believe that the birds dropped some of the sunflower seeds from their meals this past spring. The sunflowers were especially colorful, and we enjoyed watching the brilliant yellow flower heads turn from east to west as they followed the sun across the sky. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

What a Splendid Birthday Anniversary for KMA Radio
Well, that was fun! KMA had a birthday party to celebrate 85 years on the air, and we were all invited. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Celebrating 85 years of KMA
Shenandoah's KMA Radio will celebrate its 85th birthday on August 12th by serving free pancakes from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the parking lot next to the studio, just as the station did in the good old days. And what days they have been!
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Taking a Page from the Wonderful Town of Brownville
The first of the company to arrive last week was our son Jeff. He was on his way to Minneapolis for a meeting and rearranged his schedule so he could be here on Saturday for his Aunt Ruth's memorial service. It was great to have a representative from our sons for that event.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Paying our Final Respects to Ruth, my Sister and Friend
My sister Ruth died on July 4 in Mesa, Arizona, her home for the last almost years. Her family and friends held a memorial service for her there. Saturday, July, 24, there was a second memorial in her honor, this one at the Farragut Methodist Church.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Family Recipes are a Memento to Share
I am always amazed at the power of radio to share news. In the early days of Shenandoah's radio stations, Earl May and Henry Field sometimes cranked up the transmitters to see how far the signals of KMA and KFNF would go. They received messages back from as far away as Australia.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

In Loving Memory of My Sister and Friend – Ruth
I recently received word from my nephew Larry Bricker that his mother, my sister Ruth, has passed away.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

A Visit to My Alma Mater – Simpson
In 1938 I graduated from Simpson College. That was during the depth of the Great Depression and very difficult for my parents to see that I got to college, even for a two-year teacher certification program in which I was enrolled.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Always a Time of Challenging Weather
Last December, when we were complaining about the blizzards sweeping across Iowa and dropping the thermometer readings lower than we could imagine, summer seemed a very long way off. I was sure I would not be at all upset when warm weather arrived. And yet with all the heat, humidity, and rain we've been having as summer begins, I have found plenty to complain about. more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

A Nice Relaxing Flight Back to Eppley
Whenever I travel on an airplane, I think of those pioneers who took so long to travel overland from the Midwest to Washington, Oregon, and California.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Porcupine Balls and Nick's Graduation
Just a week ago, Robert and I arrived at the home of our son Craig and his family in Edmonds, Washington. We had made the journey from Iowa to attend the eighth grade graduation ceremony for our grandson Nick.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Bathtub or Shower? It's All in the Genes
I am a bath person. I like nothing better than to fill the tub up and stretch out full length and spend time soaking in hot, hot, water.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

An Enjoyable Visit to Brownville
Recently I had an invitation to speak at the Lyceum Café in Brownville, Nebraska. The trip there gave Robert and me a chance to see some of our favorite countryside, to reconnect with good friends, and to meet some new people with very interesting stories.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

From My Letter Basket
Several months ago I wrote a column about Japanese-American service man Dick Hayashi. Just before World War II began, I was spending some time in Minnesota and one evening went to a dance at a local YMCA.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

'Three Cups of Tea' Hits the Spot
"You should read 'Three Cups of Tea,'" Lynn Benson told me several months ago. "I'll keep it in mind," I told him, adding that I like it when people tell me about books they've enjoyed. At the time, though, I had other books to read, places to go, and subjects to research. The months slipped by.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Oh, Those Special Prom Memories
Prom time is here again and each spring brings back memories of my own experiences. In 1934-5 I lived with my family in Waukee, Iowa, then a small town about 10 miles west of Des Moines. I was a junior in high school. For our Junior Senior banquet my mother made me a lovely white organdy dress which we designed ourselves.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Springtime – Graduation, Parties and Weddings
I always look forward to springtime events in Iowa's communities. Graduation parties, bake sales, and even a wedding or two highlight the season. I especially enjoy our town's annual SPLASH week. The letters stand for Sidney Public Library Amazing Spring Happenings.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

One of My Favorite Moments in Hawaii
If you asked me for my favorite moment during our recent trip to Hawaii I would be hard pressed to pick one, but a really delightful and unexpected experience came late one afternoon when Robert and I went for a walk with our three sons.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Emotional Visit to Pearl Harbor
Of many highlights during our recent family trip to Hawaii, nothing stands out more than the day we spent at Pearl Harbor with our sons. Robert and I had never been there, and we both found that being in a place so important in our lives brought back many memories and emotions.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Up a Coconut Lane in Hawaii
Since I'm writing this from Hawaii, my sons think I should call my column "Up A Coconut Lane." And they may be right. I've been enjoying my stay on Maui with my family so much that may never want to leave.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

And Now the Rest of the Story...
We all know those Paul Harvey radio messages, The Rest of the Story. He tells about people in remarkable circumstances, then adds a surprising twist at the end.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Spring has Finally Arrived
Spring finally came tiptoeing around the corner. I know it is here because my calendar told me so: MARCH 20, 2010 FIRST DAY OF SPRING. I also know it is spring because Robert balanced eggs on the kitchen counter, a sure sign the equinox has arrived once again.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Catching up on the Birkby Family
Our sons Bob, Jeff, and Craig were with us in Des Moines last week for the Iowa Public Television Festival events. It was wonderful to have them there, and very fun to get first-hand updates on the rest of the family.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

An Exciting Day for the Birkbys
Last Thursday was a very exciting day for our family. Our three sons flew in from their homes in Seattle and Missoula, Montana, to be with Robert and me at the studios of Iowa Public Television for the premier airing of the documentary, "Iowa's Radio Homemakers: Up A Country Lane."
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

My Once a Decade Meeting with a Reporter and Friend
Jane Palmer came down from Omaha last week to renew our long-time friendship. Twenty years ago when Jane was food editor for the Omaha World-Herald, she wrote a review of my book "Neighboring on the Air."
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Iowa's Radio Homemakers
For the last year the talented professionals of Iowa Public Television have been putting together a documentary entitled "Iowa's Radio Homemakers: Up A Country Lane."
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Providing Answers for the Food Goddess
A long-time friend, Mary Jeanne Maynard, sent me a copy of the Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper. Mary directed my attention to a letter that was sent to one of their food columnist known as the Food Goddess.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Green Cans of Bag Balm
Anyone who has been around this part of the country very long has seen the distinctive square, green cans of Bag Balm.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Looking Back Through the History of The Valley News
As we welcome new publisher Barb Trimble to The Valley News Today, I've enjoyed looking back through the history of this venerable newspaper.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Ephemera are Glimpses from the Past
Ephemera was not ever part of my vocabulary. In fact, I needed to look it up in my dictionary to find out that it means "lasting a short time." It's used to describe items such as newspapers and magazines that are only intended to be used briefly.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Remembering my Dear Friend Erma and Her Rolls
"Where did you find your recipe for Hay Hand Rolls?" an acquaintance asked me recently. "I have connected that recipe to you ever since I first heard you give it on the radio, and I always wondered where it came from."
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

My First Nine Decades
In 1999 I wrote a series of columns about the first eight decades of my life. Now, as I turn the calendar to January of 2010, I am reminded it is time for me to take a few moments and look back on the decade we've just completed, my ninth.
more » ~ from "Valley News Today," Shenandoah, Iowa

Evelyn's archived weekly newspaper columns from 1949 through 2005 at the
University of Iowa Digital Library (keyword searchable)

A sample of Evelyn's monthly columns for Kitchen-Klatter Magazine from 1958.

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