Treasured Memories of my Parents

Treasured Memories: A glimpse into the past of Nelson and Shirley Stearns

By their daughter, June Stearns Butka

The Stearns Family 1972 Photo by June Stearns Butka

In reflection of the new year approaching, I find it important to remember our loved ones. Those with us and those who have gone before. Today’s post is in loving memory of my parents. My father, Nelson William Stearns, died 12 Aug 1988 and my mother, Shirley Beatrice Pease-Stearns, 28 Apr 2001 are deceased. In Christian beliefs they are in heaven at the side of their Lord. In Native American beliefs they moved on to the spirit world. Others believe they are buried in the ground for eternity. I believe they are in my heart guiding me through the journey of life. I feel their  spirit, their energy and even occasionally smell their essence. My Dad always smelled of car grease and Mom like Lilly of the Valley’s.

Nelson and Shirley Stearns always spoke about the fact they would have had a “Bakers Dozen” of children if she didn’t miscarried four time trying for a boy to keep the family name going.

Nelson was an Auto Mechanic and by his own words “A Jack of all trade, a master of none.” Shirley was a Nurse’s Aide as well as helping Nelson with his service station in Pembroke, Merrimack, New Hampshire in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Nelson and Shirley were baptized 29 July 1984 by Rev. Stephen Brewer, St. Saviour Pond Limerick, Maine. That same year they both passed their GED Exam becoming High School Graduates.

He died of heart attack after a long battle with Colon Cancer and Alzheimer’s. Thankfully he was dealing with Alzheimer’s, which helped him not remember the pain. She died from complications of Lymphatic Cancer after a long fight, both medically and spiritually. She spent her final months cutting out quilts squares for each of her grandchildren to be given on their wedding day. She also crocheted granny squares and attached a Bible verse to each one to be given out to those who attend her funeral.  She dealt with her pain by working on her projects, planning her funeral arrangements and listening to her gospel music CD’s.  She taught her family how to be “heaven found” with grace and composure.

Shirley playing the Ukulele


Nelson and Shirley were avid country music fans. You could find them singing with Shirley playing the guitar; Nelson played the spoons. The girls and Nelson Neal would join in on the singing and dancing. On occasion Nelson and Shirley would go to the Circle Nine Ranch Epsom, New Hampshire for yodeling contest. Maybe they would travel a little further to the Merrimack, New Hampshire to sing and dance at The Lone Star Ranch. A family friend, Gene Maltais of Rock -A- Billy fame, would join in the sing along.


Shirley made quilts by hand with lots of love and care. She made them for her children when they were married and for her church to raffle off. Shirley carried that tradition on by teaching her daughters and her granddaughters. Julia, a granddaughter, helped Shirley to make a Wedding Ring quilt that was given to June and Michael on their tenth anniversary. That same quilt was then passed on to June’s sister Susan when she married Christopher. Shirley was “heaven found” by that time. Both Julia and June felt Susan should have a wedding ring quilt made by her mom, Shirley. Tears of love were shared that day.

Model T Cookie Jar


Nelson and Shirley had moved twenty one times between 1953-1969 and only four times from 1969 to 1988 when Nelson was “heaven found.” They had lived in five of the six New England states. Rhode Island did not become their home. Sometimes the moves were work related other times it was family related. Family and community support was a strong sense of duty and passion that Nelson and Shirley passed on to the next generation.

Popular School House-Aunt Carrie’s home


Another past time for Nelson and Shirley was playing Cards. Nelson and his family would camp at Carrie Lulu (Stearns) Perkins home in Sutton, Merrimack, New Hampshire, every summer. When fishing was done and night time had settled in, you could find them playing Canasta until the wee hours of the morning. Sometimes even the girls would join in. Those camping trips bring back the memories of baking in wood burning stoves, putting clothes through the ringer washer, chopping wood and outhouse duty. The only modern convenience Aunt Carrie had was electricity for lights only. You even had to pump from the well to get water for cooking. We would usually sneak to the brook for spring water to drink.

Reflections by June Stearns Butka



2015 New England Geneablogger Bash

Manchester By The Sea


This beautiful cove greeted my niece Abby Junkins and myself as we near or day’s destination. The 2015 Geneablogger Bash hosted by Elizabeth Pyle Handler and Steven Handier.

Heather Rojo Wilkinson’ Blog Nutfield Genealogy 12 Sept 2015, provides a group photo of those in attendance:

Russ Worthington- Family Tree Maker User, Erica Voolich- Erica’s Adventure in Genealogy, Barbara Matthews- The Demanding Genealogist, Elizabeth Pyle Handler- From Kentucky to Maine, Pam Carter- My Maine Ancestry, Diane MacLean Boumenot- One Rhode Island Family, Pam Seavey Schaffner- Digging Down East, June Stearns Butka- New England Roots

Also in attendance was Elizabeth’s husband, Steven Handler and my niece Abby Junkin’s (my ride and photographer of the day.) We missed those who were unable to attend.

We participated in a pot luck meal of New Jersey Cooler Corn,Rhode Island Pastries, , Maine Red Snapper Hot Dogs, Homemade Boston Baked Beans, just to mention a few dishes of the day.

Boston Baked Beans


Conversations about blogging, books, possible cousin connections and plans for future endeavors were happily creating memories for future blogs, while watching the active harbor of kayaks, sail boats, motor boats and listening for the train that stops a short distance away in West Manchester.

Thank you all for the great past and present memories shared.

A stately greeting
A stately greeting








Thinking Day 22 Feb 2015 Remembering when…

Swift Water Canoe Team  1994
Swift Water Canoe Team 1994

The theme for World Thinking Day 2015 is

 “Girls worldwide say “we can create peace through partnerships.”

End Poverty Badge
End Poverty Badge

World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts

Teaching girls new skills, how to adjust to life’s adversities and working together with others, comes in all forms of Team Building.

When you think of Girl Scouting you automaticall think of Girls Scout Troops, selling cookies and summer camp.

That is just a small part of how the Girls Scouts and Girl Guides learn.

Girl Scout Counselors from Around the World
Girl Scout Counselors from Around the World
Girlguiding Patch
Girlguiding Patch


I had the opporunity to becaome a Girls Scout leader when my daughter wanted to join as a Daisy. I continued with her as a leader until she became a Junior Girl Scout. (I know it was time to let her fly on her own, to learn from others, to find her own way in life.)  I remained as an adult Girls Scout supporting them through education, training of future leaders camping skills and CPR, camp nurse, chase team for the Canoe Team and hosting Girl Scout counselors from around the world.

I was fortunate enough to have an amazing group of young ladies stay with me over the years. My children learn about the cultures of Yugoslavia (Bosnia), Hungry, Wales, England, Denmark and Czechoslvakia.

Team building is a strong theme of the Canoe Team, along with safety, good sportsmanship and having fun while learning.  The girls practiced locally for the General Clinton Canoe Regatta in Brainbridge New York that is held on Memorial Day weekend.

There was one year I was especailly  remember. It was the years the Girls came in third place. They had previously come in first place. This year stands out in my mind because the two girls that paddle the final lap of the race chose to give up first place they were in to aid an overturned canoe team in trouble. They learned the importance of Safety, team building and that winning isn’t everything.

When the awards were handed out, the announces even mentioned the fact that the girls were in first place but choose to give it up to help others. Everyone started appaulding and yelling out “well done.”

Jane and Bill had done their job well in teaching the young ladies the important things in life.

Girls Scouts from Derry, New Hampshire 1986-1989
Girls Scouts from Derry, New Hampshire 1986-1989


The photos are from my experience as a Girls Scout. I wish I could remember who photographed our Girl Scout Troop #14 in 1989, to give them proper credit.

I hope this triggers you to remember your time as a Girl Scout or Girl Guide:

Your first troop meeting,

Learning the Girls Scout Promise-

The Girl Scout Laws

The camping Songs,

The first time you sleep in a tent,

The summer Girl Camps you went to,

And most of all-

The FUN and FRIENDSHIPS you made over the years.

Happy Girl Scouting!

Girl Scout Promise and Law
Girl Scout Promise and Law

Girl Scouts of America Wikipedia

Photos by June Stearns Butka except where noted.

Symbols from Google search with links provided to originals

World Thinking Day World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts

Wikipedia “World Thinking Day”

Dennis the Menace: Coping with Family Stress

Coping with Family Stress
Dennis the Menace: Coping with Family Stress

I have been given permission by Mental Health America (formally known as, National Mental Health Association) to post the entire Booklet. Thank you Antionette. She was the lovely young lady who assisted me today in that permission.

I hope you find the an enjoyable way to reduce your Family Stress. This was originally published and put in National newspapers in 1981. I have kept my copy, that I now share with you.

I will be transcribing the basic text, not the cartoon text that goes with the photographs on each page. The comic strip and words work best as a unit.

Stress is not a Disease
Stress is not a Disease


Is not a disease. Stress is normal. Stress is a part of our lives… Where we live, where we work, and even where we play.

When children are involved, the tension is magnified. Parents can get very angry and sometimes everyone suffers.


Must recognize how stress affects our families and learn to cope with it. Because children see and react to their world differently, they often cause stress to their parents. The question is: How to handle family stress? Here are some suggestions…


A Reminder or Two
A Reminder or Two


We can’t keep stress out of our lives, but showing affection is a way to reduce stress. We can let our children know that we love them…OFTEN!


Youngsters learn by example. Our affection for each other can be a lesson-in-living for our children.


Stress Point:
Stress Point:


Our frustrations – in trying to get something done, for example, – can spill over and affect the way our children fell about themselves.

A Solution:
A Solution:


When children feel neglected, they may go to extremes to get our attention. If we can’t include them in what we’re doing, we can explain to them that we’ll get together with them when we’re free to do so.

Stress Point #2:
Stress Point #2:


When children are deeply involved in some activity, it may be literally impossible for them to pay attention to us.


A  Solution #2:
A Solution #2:


We need to pause and reflect when we get upset at our children – – BEFORE we act.


Stress Point #3:
Stress Point #3:


Probably more meals are ruined at the table than on the stove. Our nagging might be impolite as their sloppy eating.


A Solution #3
A Solution #3


Even mother puts her elbows on the table occasionally! It takes time for youngsters to become adults – in table manners as in everything else. And they probably  learn more from what we do than what we say.


Stress Point #4
Stress Point #4



Being a parent means a lot of sharing and not a lot of time alone. Dads can find their quiet times… For mothers it may not be so easy.


Solution #4
Solution #4


We can give each other a break. It’s important to have some time alone if we expect to be able to cope with stress.


Stress Point #5
Stress Point #5


Stress often flares up when children won’t cooperate… Take their own sweet time…Won’t do what they’re told…


Solution #5
Solution #5


…But sometimes children may surprise us by doing what we want in THEIR OWN WAY.

They can have good ideas, and even when the ideas aren’t so good, there’s no better cure for stress than a good laugh!


Stress Point #6
One tip:


We shouldn’t be surprised when our “adult” problems cause stress to our children.


We can share our problems with other parents who have been “though the mill.” We can reach out to a neighbor, pastor, doctor, or relative for support.


We can all make it together
We can all make it together



Dennis the Menace coping with family stress was prepared under contract No. HHS-105-80-C-066 with the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, Children’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, March 1981.

Mental Health America (National Mental Health Association)
Mental Health America (National Mental Health Association)


A message from the Mental Health America (formally known as National Mental Health Association)

This booklet is one part of a national effort to prevent child abuse and neglect. A conservative estimate is that one million children are abused or neglected by their parents or caregivers in this country every year. As many as 2,000 die as a result of maltreatment.

Most child abuse and neglect is not caused by inhuman, hatefuul intent on the part of parents. Rather, it is the result of a combination of factors, including both accumulation of stresses on families and unmet needs of parents for support in coping with their child-rearing responsibilities.

Most child abuse and neglect can be prevented:

~If parents can reach out for the help they need to cope with the stresses in their lives.

~If professionals and agencies that provide services to families can be attentive to families who are having particular difficulties in the demanding task of raising their children.

~If communities can support preventative programs to help families in stress.

If you would like additional copies of this publication, you make contact the:


1021 Prince Street

Alexandria, VA. 22314-2971

(703) 684-7722





The Ragu Challenge 3-2-1 Cite: My Mother’s Quilt of Love

The Ragu Challenge 3-2-1 Cite:

My Mother’s Quilt of LOVE


Dear Myrtle posted a challenge on 2 April 2014. Please read and listen to the video about it in her Blog.

Dear Myrtle’s Ragu Challenge: 3-2-1 Cite!


I posted this photograph of my husband and myself for Throwback Thursday on my Face book page.  My immediate response after clicking to post it was this would make a good Ragu Challenge. I said to self why not go ahead and do it. It meets the requirement of the challenge 3 (documents of artifacts,) paragraphs can easily be written, it is about 1 event (Avon Breast Cancer 3 Day Walk,) and I have sources to cite. So come along for the emotional ride that this challenge unleashed.


1 Mike and June Butka 1999

Mike and June Butka

Bear Mountain, New Jersey

Start of Avon 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk

27 Aug 1999


My first step was to find the flyer from the event that I saved and the quilt that my mother made me for that event. An easy thing to do right. I knew I had a storage container for the quilt and another for my remembrances, of course they were not where I expected them. When I did find them, after a twenty minute search they had not been scanned yet; the quilt was in the storage box with other pieces of quilt material in the process of being made. Opening the storage box was where the emotions came into play. These were the last quilting pieces my mother was working on before she made her final journey home to heaven in 2001.


2 Breast Cancer Quit 1999

Handmade quilt by Shirley Beatrice Pease Stearns 1999

My Avon Quilt was much more than I remembered. It was not just the signatures of the walkers around a pink ribbon supporting Breast Cancer. It is what my friend stated, that explains my feeling perfectly;

“Till I remembered it wasn’t so much about the cancer

As it was about






Who chose to literally and figuratively


A big reminder you are not alone.”


I had messaged this friend with tears in my eyes telling them how much I was affected by seeing the quilt again; that this would not be an easy challenge to meet.

I remembered the words of Eleanor Roosevelt:

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence, by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

I had made that statement in my last blog post on about writing citations for Dear Myrtle’s Mastering Genealogical Proof Study 2 chapter 4 homework. What I didn’t realize until I pulled out the Avon Breast Cancer 3 Day flyer, was that it was on the back cover.


3 Avon 3 Day Flyer BC

Avon’ s Breast Cancer 3 Day Walk Flyer

August 27th-29th 1999

West Point to Manhattan

You do not know sometimes when an event or a person can affect your life with the smallest of things stated, made or heard. My mother made this quilt, I heard about Eleanor Roosevelt’s “face fear…” before  and my friends encouraging words will stay with my for a lifetime, even if I forgot the origin the sentiment will remind. I will not forget this time as I sit here putting my words and thoughts to paper and soon the web for all to see. I could go on about what the cost and how much was raised back in 1999, but that is not what this blog is about. It is about those who provided the love, support both emotionally and financially that is important.


So in this anniversary month of my mother’s death (28 April 2001) I give honor to all the love, support, courage and life lessons that she gave me by providing you with the photographs and transcriptions of the names from the memorable walk starting 27 Aug 1999 from Bear Mountain New Jersey along the Hudson River across the George Washington Bridge ending 29 Aug 1999in New York City’s Central Park. 3 Days, 60 miles, tent cities and over 1,800 people that walked alone with me in spirit or next to me.


3 Quilt Center

The center of the quilt

There is much symbolism in this quilt; the center is in honor the reason I walked:

Breast cancer cure,

Who I walk for, my family:

Christopher Stevenson, my nephew; Michael J Butka, my son and Tyna M Butka, my daughter are in the photograph

My sister Eleanor Ann Stearns Carne and I are both Survivors (what a weak word for what one goes through, I am more than that, I am hope, energy, positive thinker with lots to give the world, not merely a survivor.)

And all those who have dealt with any illness-

Are who I walk for.


The Pink ribbon is encased in a cross, showing my mother’s belief in God and his power to heal.

I can’t say that my belief is a strong as hers, but I do believe in the power of prayer, positive thoughts and the energy from mother earth. I was once asked why I didn’t want to know what faith a person was when they offered my prayers, my response was “It doesn’t matter what I believe as much as that the prayers are being sent to me with love and encouragement, who am I to say no.” I’m still here so I continue to accept all beliefs and practices that my family and friends offer. Wouldn’t you?


The Rose squares have a special memory for my mother:

They symbolize the love from her husband and God. They carried a Rose of Sharon bush to each house they lived in and part of that bush was sitting outside the window of my home in 1999 continuing the tradition of love and support.


I will now transcribe the names to the best of my ability from each square of the quilt. I give many thanks to all who supported me during that walk and now.

Special Hugs to everyone named on the quilt and those who chose not to be listed on the quilt, but are still kept in my heart.


Script type signatures gave not only their emotional support but financial as well in helping me raise over $1,800 for Breast Cancer Research.


4 bottom cross square


Michelle Carter

Mary Ellen Cassidy (friend from Little League)

Karen Burgess

Christen Bowen

Susan Bean (from Derry Day Care Association, June Butka previous co-member )

Ted Carey (daughter’s Cross County Coach at Pinkerton Academy)

Kelly A Carignan

Rick Calvin

Loretta Butka (mother-in-law to June Stearns Butka)


5 bottom left square

Cinn-Doo 7-11 Inc.

“June-you’re an inspiration! It was a pleasure meeting you. Congratulations & Good Luck!” Lisa Morehouse

“I’, so proud of you and all your efforts! The world needs more people like you!” Hope Clement (your walker coach)

“Great Job! Your efforts will touch many lives. Keep up the god work!” Bob & Terry Silver

“Thank you for being an inspirations!” Laura Schaucher

Deannie Reinhardt (Teacher at Pinkerton Academy and follow exchange student host family)

Anthony Berni Jr

Jody A Reynolds (freind of June Butka’s brother, Nelson Neal Stearns)

Marilyn Roger

Mary Ryan

Stacy St Armand (fellow Girl Scout Mom)

Shirley Stearns (creator of the quilt mentioned in this article; Mother to June Butka)

Marjorie Stevenson ( Sister to June Butka)

“May the love in this quilt keep you warm for an eternity” – Pete M. Hale


6 bottom middle square

Vennu Sow “for Lisa”

Carol D Squires

Melissa Williams

Stephen P’s Yacht Club (Steve and Laurie Proulx were neighbors to June Butka)

Lee Fournier (June Butka husband’s co-worker and friend)

NSA (Northeast Security Association owner Craig Stevenson June Butka’s brother-in-law)

Jeanne Funke

Cheryl A Demaria (June Butka’s co-worker)

Lorraine Higgins


7 left cross square

Cecile T Wlodyka

Grace Grady (neighbor and Mike Butka’s co-worker’s wife)

Phil Meuse/Mense

Cheryl L Pearl

Donna  Leuth

Beverly Meuse/Mense

Darlene Wooster (June Butka’s neighbor)

Pam Sotiriais (June Butka’s co-worker)


8 left side signature

“Great Job! Debbie Johnson


9 middle left square

Cindi Lakes dist. 2411 (others are listed above) (Leader of the Avon District June Butka was a member of at that time)

10 middle right square

Grace Reily

June Butka (walker in 1999 and author of this blog post 2014)

Rosemary Sanborn (co-worker of Rockingham Visting Nurse Association where June Butka worked)

“Avon loves you very much. Keep walking forward” Avon Legal Dept

“To: Mom Love your son” Jose Tors xxx (he wrote a tribute to his mother, the reason he walked)

The others are listed above


11 Right cross square1

“June you’re Beautiful! Thanks for what you have done!” Linda Taillon

“June- You DID It!” Sara Smith

Judy Ann Bailey (follow Girl Scout Mom)

Marjorie Bloden

“June, you are a “star” in our office because you are an inspiration!” Wendy Schelch “Walker Coach”

Lee Ann Buyck (from Derry Day Care Association, June Butka previous co-member)

Joann P Buskey

Heather Dunn

Debra Faria

Jamie L Ellis

Don Brown

“June- I knew you’d get here with a bright smile as always. Congratulations on all your hard work.”  Love M Riel


12 top right square

Mary Ellen Cassidy

Michelle Carter

Christine Doherty

Derry Animal Hospital (caregiver of June Butka’s dog and cats)

Lilian May Duncan (first cousin on June Butka’s father side)

Terri Hayward

Tina M Hanley

“Stay Healthy” Sister Sue mouse! (Unsure of spelling)

13 Top square of cross

Diane Leclerc

Heather Dunn

Rosemary Sanborn (June Butka’s co-worker)

Kelly Carignar

Cynthia Swierk

Jan LeBlanc

Pam Soturidis (June Butka’s co-worker)

Mary Palmer (director and co-worker of Rockingham Visting Nurse Association where June Butka worker)

Todd **

Donna Leuth

Marian L Merewether (June Butka’s friend through Avon)

Rich **

I made every attempt to identify everyone to the best of my ability after  fifteen years from the event, three TIA’s (mini Strokes), and just plain memory loss.  Most unnamed are walkers; if I didn’t list someone correctly, my apologies. Please notify me of any corrections needed by adding a comment to this post. Happy Walking for Health and support.


Peter Hale sums up the emotion of the quilt that my mother, Shirley Beatrice Pease Stearns (1935-2001) created for my first 3 Day Avon Beast Cancer in New York City 27-29 Aug 1999. It was also the inaugural walk for New York City, as well.

14 love and warmth quote



I hope I am following the proper citations as I have learned from:

Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 6. [Book available from the publisher at ]

“Dear Myrtle’s” Mastering Genealogical Proof 2 Study Group

June Butka is the daughter of Shirley Beatrice Pease Stearns, author this work, {Private Address} 2014

Shirley Stearns Quilt Collection, Stearns Collection: June Stearns Butka, {Private Address}, {holder of the collection}, 1999

Avon’s Breast Cancer 3 Day Flyer (Pallotta Team Works, New York, New York 1999) back cover

June Stearns Butka Photographic Collection, : June Stearns Butka, {Private Address}, {holder of the collection}, 1999

All rights reserved. Please do not reprint any portion of this blog post with prior permission.


For information on 2014 Avon Walks for Breast Cancer please click the link: 2014 dates and cities


I submit this post with honor and tears running down my cheeks to my mother, Shirley Beatrice Pease Stearns.




Stale Bread, Fading Sweet Peppers, and Chopped Onions makes what?

Stuffed Peppers and Squash

My local grocery store is only quarter mile down the road. I like to shop the clearance racks before planning my meals for the day or the week depending on what I find. I last blogged about the Vegetable Stew, Stuffed Mushrooms and Chili. Yesterday I found Sweet Green and Red Peppers for .99 cents. I purchased two packages providing me with four peppers. I sliced one package of the sweet peppers yesterday for dipping into my Tahini. I still have some slices left for the week.
Todays purchased included a whole chicken for $ 2.50, two pounds of Riblets for $2.00 (both in the freezer for another day,) two bags of Goose Valley Rice and Bean Fusion for 1.00 each and two pound “Fresh” Strawberries $1.99/package. My total purchase for these items was $7.49; include the sweet peppers from yesterday a grand total of $9.49.

Now the major decision; what will I make with these items. I washed and slice the strawberries in half. Packaged them into one cup serving containers for my husband lunches. I looked into the refrigerator to see what I had for leftovers. I found, one cooked chicken sausage, one third cup chopped onions and a half loaf of stale bread.
My first thought was stuffed peppers using the two remaining peppers, one package of the rice and bean fusion and the leftover onions for my half. I added the chopped chicken sausage to the other half.
Add three cups of water the rice and bean mixture, three ginger Chai tea bags and a dash of ginger honey vinegar (or spices to taste) to a saucepot, bring to boil. Remove tea bags. Cover and turn heat down to simmer for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Chai Tea, Rice and Beans

Cut the tops off the peppers, set aside, remove pulp, and discard. Cut large peppers in half place each half in a ramekin. Cut the good part of the pepper from the tops and dice.

Sweet Bell Peppers

Add the diced sweet peppers and diced onions to 1 teaspoon of butter and one swirl around the fry pan with olive oil.

Saute Peppers and Onions

Sauté until al dente. Remove from heat. Dice cooked chicken sausage set aside.

Chopped Chicken Sausage

Drain rice and bean mixture; let set for 5 minute. Fluff mixture.

Rice and Bean Mixture

Add vegetables to rice and bean mixture. Fill two halves of the peppers with mixture.

Rice, Beans and Vegetables

Add chopped chicken sausage to the other half of the rice and beans. Fill the remaining two peppers. Set any leftovers aside, for now.

Rice, Beans, Vegetables and Chicken Sausage

Place the pepper filled ramekins into the pan you used to sauté the vegetables. I added a half cup of frozen squash I had on hand to roast with the stuffed peppers. Cover. Place in the preheated oven for 25 – 30 minutes. If serving immediately cook until fork tender. If going to be re-heated cook until the fork meets resistance. This will prevent over cooked stuffed peppers. Squash should be fork tender, as well.

Ready to Bake

Now to use the stale bread and remaining rice and bean mixture.

I had six slices of stale bread; two of which were the end pieces. Remove crust of four slices of bread, as shown in photograph. Set crust aside. Flatten each slice of bread. Place once teaspoonful of rice mixture in center of bread. Fold bread in half. Place them in the non-stick portion controlled brownie pan. If you don’t have a portioned control brownie pan use a cookie sheet.


Take the two end pieces and reserved crust; cube them into quarter to half inches pieces depending on what type of container you are cooking them in.

Bread cubed

In a separate mixing bowl combine two cups milk, (I use almond milk,) and four slightly beaten eggs. Add one teaspoon vanilla, fourth cup good old grade a maple syrup, and pumpkin pie spice (your spice of choice here). I like the pumpkin pie spice because it has mace, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg in the mix. Mix the ingredients until well blended. Set aside.

Bread pudding base

Add the cubed pieces of bread to the portioned control brownie pan. It can over fill a bit because with the milk mixture is added the bread absorbs it and shrinks down.  Carefully pour the milk mixture into each section, until the bread stops absorbing it. I sprinkle Craisins on top (you can use raisins.) If you have leftover milk mixture pour it into vegetable sprayed ramekins.  Sprinkle a little pumpkin pie spice on the top pf the bread pudding and custard mixture. Place the brownie pan and ramekins onto a cookie sheet that has a little water covering the bottom.

Ready to bake bread pudding

Today’s meals for $1.99, leftovers and pantry staples provides four servings of stuffed peppers; four servings stuffed sandwiches, eight servings bread puddings and three serving of custards. Squash for another meal or as side dish with Stuffed peppers.

Rice and bean stuffed sandwiches with Tahini and sliced Sweet Green Peppers


Stuffed sandwich



Bread pudding with Craisins yogurt purée and sliced strawberries.

Bread Pudding with Craisin puree



Stuffed Sweet pepper with side of roasted squash.

Stuffed Peppers with squash

The original recipes were my mother’s Shirley Beatrice Stearns, tweaked by me, June Stearns Butka. My tweaks are in parenthesis. I also use the portioned controlled pan for cooking. I reduce the time by about ten minutes and add more cooking time if needed.

I hope a future descendant or two of mine find these recipes. Make them and adjust them to their taste with my best wishes and love.


Butka, June Lee Stearns, Reeds Ferry Historic District, Merrimack, New Hampshire. 11 Mar 2014

Save the Fat Are you Crazy?

As the New Year begins you see advertisements to lose the fat. I grew up hearing my mother, Shirley Beatrice Pease Stearns, and Great Aunt, Carrie Lula Stearns Perkins, telling me “Don’t waste the bacon grease!”

I know it is not the same kind of Fat, but it brought back memories of long, hot, summer nights, feeling like a big girl staying up late with the adult women listening to stories, playing cards (mainly Canasta), and a little family bonding with my mother, great aunt and cousin.

One of those stories was about why they saved the grease in a coffee can. There would always be a coffee can on the back of our stove for the bacon grease or any other grease that was used for cooking. We never wasted anything, so it wasn’t unfamiliar to save any old scraps: for stews, casseroles, fertilizer or to feed the animals. The fat was purified with sliced potatoes (“French Fries” were a common staple at our table) and reused for cooking.

Coffee Can in the fore ground
Coffee Can in the fore ground

Aunt Carrie told me many stories over the years during those summer nights. I asked if any of our family served in the World War II. This prompted many stories that summer. I wish I had thought to write those stories down, but we will just have to go with my faulty distance memory of them: about my grandfather (Nathan Augustus Stearns), her father, signing up for both WWI and WWII, his V-Day flower garden and what the women did for the war effort.

One such story was about how all the greased saved, that she did not use, was taken to the Butcher each week. She would earn money for each can she turned in.  So, the obvious question came up; “Why would the Butcher want the grease?” and pay money for it, no less?  She went on to tell me that is was a way to reuse the fat for the war effort. The butcher would turn it in to a rending plant. I was young I just thought okay, they purify the fat and send it back to the stores for it to be used again. Rationing was the big thing during the war; I had learned that in school.  She said they used the fat to make explosives. YES, EXPLOSIVES. Fat glycerin is part of nitroglycerin, who know?

I recently Googled “Plant a Victory Garden NH”, hoping to find information about my grandfathers’ victory garden. I came across the New Hampshire State Library site about Unifying a Nation.  It listed several war efforts that New Hampshire housewives and those who did not go to war did on the home front, including Save waste fat. Below is the conversion chart they had listed.

Housewives and butchers all over the country were mobilized to collect cooking fats for conversion to explosive ingredients.

One pound of waste fat equaled 1/10 of a pound of glycerine.
1/10 pound of glycerine equaled 1/5 of a pound of nitroglycerine.
1/5 of a pound of nitroglycerine equaled 1/3 pound of gunpowder.
1/5 of a pound of nitroglycerine equaled ½ pound of dynamite.

So SAVE THE FAT, Please; was an important part of our recent ancestor’s life, along with rationing coupons for sugar, butter, gas and many other stories to follow. Maybe my next story will be about how canning was used in the War Effort. Do you have any War Effort stories to tell? Do you have a Rosie the Riveter in the Family, an Army, Navy nurse, and Navy pilot or like me, just the home front family providing support by Saving the Fat? I would love to hear your family stories.

Story remembered by June Lee Stearns Butka on 9 Jan 2014 from a Summer in the 1960’s spent at her Aunt Carrie’s Lula Stearns Perkins home in Sutton, Merrimack, New Hampshire. This is just one of her memories from her youth. She is me the author of this blog. I plan on writing as many of those memories as I can  for future generations to read.

Links to check out for more information of World War II war efforts:

New Hampshire State Library:

Learn NC Multimedia:

Google Search: World War II Home Front Efforts

Photo: taken March 1975 by Shirley Stearns with a Polaroid instant camera at Carrie Perkins Sutton home during one of the family Sunday Drives. You can see the homemade preserves, Coffee can for the fat, and the fresh cream pitcher (yes from a cow, not the store) in the fore front of the photograph.