Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Warm bread and hearty soup.

Laura mentions making vegetable soup and fresh bread. It's cool in the evenings now, and the trees are just starting to turn, which means we also change our diet. I love the smell of a crockpot full of soup, and fresh baked bread. My mother always made wonderful soups, and I have a few up my sleeve that are long-time favorites.

My husband's mother didn't make soup . . . well, she opened canned soups . . . so, he had never accepted that a soup could be a meal. The first winter we were in our home (and we've been there 29 years now), there was a blizzard a couple days before Christmas. I had planned to do my grocery shopping for Christmas dinner the morning of Christmas eve. The roads were so bad, that even "townies" were being instructed to stay home by the police. So, I announced to my DH and sons that we would have Christmas dinner prepared from stocks in the freezer and canned goods. My husband voted for spaghetti, and my two sons wanted to have tacos. I said no to both. The menu actually included baked steak, green beans, fresh rolls, and was pretty tasty, even though it wasn't the turkey and trimmings that I envisioned.

The evening of Christmas Eve, the wind was howling, and snow was blowing, and I thought a pot of chili was so appealing. I browned some burger, and went to the pantry to get the rest of my ingredients. Big problem . . . no chili beans. So, I stood looking at the supplies, trying to figure out what I would make. With thoughts of my mother in my mind, I grabbed potatoes, carrots, a can of stewed tomatoes, some smoked sausage, oregano, water, and stirred all in with the browned beef. DH came into the kitchen, and looked in the pot. He asked, "what is that, and why aren't we having chili?"

I responded that this was heartier than mere chili, and that it is a "burgoo". Of course, he asked, "What's a burgoo?"

"A burgoo is a stew that has two kinds of meat . . . this has beef and smoked sausage."

He was skeptical, and asked, "how do we eat it." I said just like chili. He "harumphed" and went back to the living room. A short time later when I served the meal, he came to the table equipped with his pout. He put a small quantity of the burgoo in his bowl, and tasted it. Three bowls later, he was full!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Collections are fun.

I confess to being a collector. A fairly recent compulsion is antique needle books. Some have all their needles, but many have lost some. I used to have them tucked in drawers, but my DH found the fan-style photo display piece, and it is just perfect for the needlebooks. I have the balance of the collection stored in photo boxes. One of the boxes is new, containing, for example, the Mary Engelbreit series.

Two boxes are just about full of antique needle books. I have two or three from the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago. Several are from grocery store chains, and insurance companies; one from an exterminator, and a couple interesting ones from paint companies, shaped like paint cans. It's interesting to note the clothing and hairstyles on those featuring people which is helpful in dating them. Another indicator of age is the country of origin. For example, an old one with "Germany" is certainly pre-World War II.

In the photo, the oldest one is probably the small one on the lower left, probably dating from the 19-teens. Then, the horseshoe in the top row from the 1920's. The small white one on the lower row was a premium when one purchased a Kenmore sewing machine at Sears. The Sewing Susan at the lower right has appeared in several generations.

Fortunately, this isn't an expensive hobby . . . and it's small enough to transport easily. Not always a regular condition of my collections!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Tiny treasures, too!

The top of my lovely sewing cabinet has some interesting treasures, too. There is a unique spool holder of colored aluminum, probably from the time frame of the aluminum pitchers and glasses. This one is pink.

The cradle pincushion is one I made from a planter. I made a tube of cotton batting, about the size of a soup can; then stuffed it with polyester fiberfill, closing it in with circular "lids" of batting at top and bottom. Next I made a little quilt with a heart in the center. Once that was complete, I decided it needed an embroidered pillow with matching "sheets". It turned out so cute, I can hardly pass up interesting planters at flea markets. I have a couple prospects stashed on a shelf in the basement, including a "wheelbarrow" with roses vining over the edge, some baby blocks, and baby carriage.

There are two additional vintage pincushions. One features a little poodle sitting up on his haunches, holding a hoop in his mouth. The hoop supports a thimble. I saw one on E-bay, and the price put it way out of my ballpark. I was delighted to find this one in a little shop in Charlottesville, Virginia, at a price that was only about 7.5% of the E-bay cost. The other pincushion is a vintage Disney piece sporting a dainty little Tinkerbelle in the center, holding a tiny bell. That one relates to a funny family story, the reason that inspired my DH to purchase it at auction.

When our eldest son, Kyle, was about 2 1/2 years old, we went to see Peter Pan at the movies. He loved it, and thereafter, he would announce, "I'll be Peter Pan . . . you be 'Windy'". Dad would ask who he could be, and for the first few weeks, before he settled into the more permanent character of Captain Hook, Kyle would respond, "You be Tinkerbell." Of course, we had to call each other these names until Kyle decided the game was over.

All those memories came flooding back as history repeated itself, when our granddaughter (Kyle's daughter) at about the same age began portraying many of the Disney characters . . . . my personal favorite sounded as though she said, "Fee-fee footy". That translated to Sleeping Beauty. She also did a performance of Belle from Beauty and the Beast in the scene where Belle is crying softly missing her father. DGD would lie on the floor with a wan expression on her face for a minute or two, then sit up and say, "I need a tissue." She completed her scene by dabbing at her eyes with the tissue. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.

Now, DGD is a 9-year old, with two younger brothers. The youngest turned 3 in August, and he's all boy. DGD had a sleep-over with friends for her 9th birthday. When my DIL went to take cake to the neighbor, DGS started chasing the screaming girls through the house, waving a box of powdered laundry detergent, which scattered everywhere. When my son told me about it, I laughed very hard and then confessed to having trouble hiding my amusement in the presence of the kids. He said their method is to look at the floor intensely, but if that doesn't work, they get up and leave the room very quickly.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Birthday surprises!

I've got a big birthday coming up. Launching into the next decade of my life. Since I turned 59 last year, I've thought of nothing but the fact that I will be 60 on my next birthday. I was so preoccupied with that thought, I just let the year blow right by me!

So, over the past weekend, we went to our usual entertainment . . . an auction. One of our favorite auctioneers, Larry Scherer, had listed an oak sewing cabinet. I loved it the minute I saw it, but saw many people examine it, so I didn't presume that I would be the one bringing it home. I was standing on the opposite side of the auction building when it was brought up for sale. I was waiting for a box that was half full with 1940's and 1950's Workbasket magazines, while the other half of the box was vintage embroidery patterns from about the same era.

When a bidding war starts on an unusual item, auction crowd noises change. Chatter drops, and people begin to turning to look at what is being sold, and who the bidders are. In pretty short order, the only sounds are the auctioneer calling out the current bid, and the staff yelling, "YUP!" when that bid is accepted. I turned with the rest of the crowd to watch, and started looking for my DH. Finally, I saw him, standing with his hands in his pockets, kind of looking down at the floor and smiling . . . nodding his head. My legs turned to jelly when I heard the bid, and I started for that side of the building. Before I could reach him, the auctioneer called "Sold" and the crowd around DH was clapping him on the back. One of my friends, squealing and jumping up and down, grabbed me, before I could reach him, and hugged the breath out of me. When I got over to him, he just smiled, and said, "You only turn 60 once . . . Happy Birthday!"

A few minutes later, they sold the items that had been inside the sewing cabinet and placed in flat boxes. One box was full of thread, but it also had a silver tatting shuttle. They were sold by choice, meaning one placed a bid, and the highest bidder got to select the boxes they wanted. Another friend of ours wanted a couple little things from those boxes, so we didn't bid against each other, and selected 5 flats. As we were cooing and giggling over those items, they sold the remaining three flats for one price. I hadn't paid much attention, but the clerk, Eddie, made a bid for me. He's done that once or twice before, with the excuse that he knew I wanted them! In those cases, they were not getting any other bids, and his excuse this time was that everything came out of the sewing cabinet, so I should have it all! Needless to say, I have more change in the bottom of my purse than the bid that Eddie submitted for me! So, I trust his good judgment. In the additional boxes were tons of buttons and several vintage needle books.

The cabinet itself is oak. It appears that several of the drawers were salvaged from an old sewing machine cabinet, but faced with oak. The top drawer has rounded slots for spools, and when we removed it from the cabinet, we found the back of it has a slight angle, an oval opening, and glass in that opening, so we are sure it was originally part of a spool cabinet. The four sewing machine cabinet drawers are in a row underneath the top drawer. Then there is a large deep drawer the width of three of the drawers above, and to the right of the large drawer are two small drawers, which also appear to have had the oak facing attached to salvaged drawers. The lower front has a gentle scalloped skirt, and the legs are about 8 inches tall. I moved some other things from in front of the living room windows to make it a focal point in the room. When I got home from work, DH had swept the drawers, and moved the cabinet into place, and lined the drawers with the spools of thread that had resided there in its previous home. I just keep looking at it . . . can't believe it's mine! DH does have a knack for big gifts on big birthdays. My Featherweight was my gift for the last decade marker I passed.

Dh has acquired a reputation for being knowledgeable about Featherweights because we have purchased so many. There's always someone looking for one, and we sort of think of ourselves as being foster parents for Featherweights. We only purchase very clean ones, oil and grease them up gently, and take them for service if they show signs of needing it. We've found homes for at least a dozen machines. Have two orphans in our possession now that we are seeking homes for!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

This little light!

Here's a picture of my DH with one of his creations, once again well-received at Camp. He always spends a lot of time fussing with the items he places in the old Mason jars, using an old knitting needle to prod and arrange the "treasures" he includes in the jar. He gets a big bang out of it.

I'm in that post-camp blah period, where I can't decide what to work on next. I'm thinking I will go back to my two hand quilting projects. One is a wall-quilt based on an Ocean Wave pattern called Peppermint Pinwheels. The other is a variation on a 9-patch that I made years ago. I've only got about two rows left to quilt, and the borders, but I just can't get moving on that one. I keep telling myself that I will be able to put something different in the frame once that one is removed. (I don't want to admit how many anniversaries that quilt has had of being in the frame.) It's single bed sized, if that is any excuse.

I've decided to add my picture to my blog. This snapshot is one that my 6-year old grandson, Drew, snapped of me one day . . . of course, it was a bad hair day, but I don't have too many good ones, so I'll overlook that. He's got a natural eye for composition, and does a very good job of centering his subject. He loves to take pictures. The digital camera is certainly good for that . . . no wasted film! Now if I can just get Blogger to cooperate . . . maybe my hair looks worse than I thought!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Home from Camp

We had a great time, as usual. Our theme was "snowbound", and the focus was making scrap quilts. We had a gallery in our classroom for inspiration that included finished quilts, quilt tops, and even some blocks. My sister-in-law, Jan, finished her Kissin' Cousins quilt top. She had all the blocks made when she arrived from Texas, so she assembled that, added the borders, and made four-patches to frame the whole thing. It is stunnning.

The "Garage Sale" area had a couple tables full of free scraps of all sizes. No one could resist "grazing" now and then. In another area, Jackie Conaway (half of the Whimsicals team) brought fat quarters from the Whimsicals fabric line that she was clearing from her stash. As you can imagine, those went pretty quickly.

Friday evening, we had "Make it - Take it" class. The offerings were a mini-sewing kit made from an Altoids candy tin, a pet-screen gadget bag, and fast four-patch coasters. All were well received and many were made.

Saturday morning was a discussion of cutting half-square and quarter-square triangles, and Garnet Roesel talked about "crumb piecing" on a foundation, and displayed her "crouton" quilt top . . . small squares reminiscent of a postage stamp quilt. Garnet explained that she didn't want to work in the usual "round the world" set of a postage stamp quilt, so she began by making two-inch four-patches, and built those into larger squares.

Saturday evening brought a challenge to the 44 participants to each make two 9-patches for a charity quilt. Ninety-seven blocks were turned in, with more promised. Since we were "snowbound", we had a pajama party, with cocoa and popcorn, and shared blizzard stories. Most everyone said they would welcome a blizzard, provided they were home and had food and heat, because they had fond memories of previous blizzards!

Before leaving on Sunday after lunch, we put next year's theme proposals to a vote. The offerings were: The Hen House, with Hen and Chicks as the theme block, Down on the Farm, with Corn and Beans as the theme block, Fowl Play, with Birds in the Air as the theme block, and Run for the Border, with border and finishing techniques as the focus. Run for the Border was the overwhelming choice.

With the work of this year's Retreat behind me, I'm recharged and anxious to work on my own projects. But, now my job is interfering with my chosen activity!