One Hundred Years To Make A Quilt

One hundred years ago my grandmother Irene started embroidering linens and doilies for her home. She made tablecloths with matching napkins, pillowcases, dresser scarves, hand towels and handkerchiefs.

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She also began collecting special pieces that were decorated by others she knew. Some of the linens were probably to be used in a quilt or bedspread and some were treasured gifts from treasured people in her life. All were spectacular and beautiful.

Sixty years ago my mother Peggy inherited the wonderful collection of embroidered linens from my grandmother. She used a few of them in the house we lived in.

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Over the years, she added a few pieces to the group. I remember a tablecloth with napkins for a card table and a liner for a bread basket. I know she made more but that’s all I remember.

Both my grandmother and mother were great sewers and made most of their clothes. My mother made many of my clothes as well as my two children’s when they were little. What they didn’t do very much was embroider, so everything they did embellish is just that much more precious.

The embroidery has become more than just a pretty attraction. It has become a symbol. It represents continuity – a connection over the years, the decades. It is a thread that binds my grandmother to mother to me. All the hours they spent are there. All the starts, mistakes, restarts and finishes are there. All the plans blossoming into beautifully decorated linens are there. There for all to see, appreciate and learn from.

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Forty-three years ago I became the recipient of the grand collection, which by then had become fairly extensive. After a few years of my own collecting, I began to try to plan a good use for the expanding treasure trove of embellished pieces of linen and cotton.

Last year I designed a quilt using as many of the antique and vintage pieces as I could. The center is the middle of a tablecloth surrounded by four hand towels and corners of two dresser scarves.

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Around that are the borders of a tablecloth. The mosaic panels are made up of all sorts of linens and doilies overlapping all around the quilt.

Doily Quilt5 It is a glorious mixture of all the types f embroidery, crochet, tatting and crossstitch.

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The final border is made up of handkerchiefs of every color and design.

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While sewing every seam, I thought about mother and grandmother, their love of sewing and their contribution to the quilt. Their enthusiasm and love of the art were with me every step of the way. What a lovely way to share with the generations.

One hundred years of hand work, collecting and loving special pieces of cloth, three generations of women and one quilt to show all the care. What a grand result!

I couldn’t have done it without you two!

 

A Wedding In The Neighborhood

It all started last Wednesday. The sweet couple, Mr. and Miss, from across the street started working on their yard. They trimmed the trees; shaped the bushes; fertilized, mowed and watered the lawn; swept the sidewalks; and finally pressure-sprayed the fence. The are both teachers and so have summer days available for yard work. But this was all day in the Texas heat!

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Then on Thursday, everyone in the neighborhood received a lovely decorated, typed letter from Mr and Miss explaining that they were having a wedding at their house on Saturday. They hoped the music and noise would not disturb anyone and also hoped we were as happy for them as they were.

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Friday brought more cleaning outside and inside the house across the street. Windows were washed, carpets steam cleaned, rugs aired. Mr and Miss were in and out numerous times with bags of goodies going in and bags of trash going out. All was aflutter with action and purpose.

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Looking up and down the street, I saw several of the neighbors out sprucing up their yards and tidying things up. Was it for the wedding? I thought so. I’m sure we were all trying to make the neighborhood look as presentable as possible for the impending nuptials.

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That evening we saw signs going up on the block. The one on the corner read, “Wedding This Way” with an arrow and the one at the house gladly announcing “Wedding Here!” All seemed ready.

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Saturday morning, all was quiet at the house. I’m sure much was going on inside but from across the street, it looked very calm.

Next door however, a garage sale was occurring. Cars and trucks were busily driving up and down the street, dropping off the eager shoppers. Was this going to interfere with the wedding? Would there be enough room for all the guests to park? Was this going to be a major clash of events? Neighbors were worried.

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But just as the garage sale closed down, guests began to arrive for the ceremony next door. All problems were averted. All manner of people happily entered the house – adults, elderly, children, even a couple of babies.

The block was filled with cars and trucks. Not one more vehicle could have been parked on the street. Something was definitely happening!

As the sun began to set, all the lights in and on the house were lit. Then the lights in the trees of the backyard were turned on. It was quite a spectacle. Everyone was indoors witnessing the exchanging of vows and rings. I imagined it to be a lovely ceremony with friends and family closely gathered around the bride and groom. Nothing but love and good wishes being expressed. Hugs all around.

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As darkness set in, the Mariachi Band arrived and all the celebrating moved to the backyard. When Gramps and I took our regular evening walk, we were serenaded with music, laughter, singing and hoorahs around the entire block. It was a lovely summer evening with a slight breeze. We walked in silence and just listened to the happy, magical sounds coming from the backyard across the street.

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The whole neighborhood experienced it with joy and gratitude. We’d never had a wedding on the block before. We somehow all felt a bit involved in the great joy, bonding, care and outcome of the event. We wanted it all to go well for Mr and Miss and ultimately be what  they dreamed it would be.

The merriment of the backyard with the good food, good beverages, good people, good cause, good entertainment went on til about midnight. Nothing rude or rowdy. Just lots of laughter, music and singing. People having good clean fun with families in attendance.

When it was done, it stopped and everyone left very graciously and politely. No problems there. All behaved themselves very well. They did leave with smiles on their faces, humming in their throats and bit of a jig in their step.

Sunday morning with the bright light of day found the house across the street very quiet. The sign out front, reading “Wedding Here!” still in place. The only reminder of the previous days’ activities.

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Monday morning the two, now Mr. and Mrs. were off to get ready for the opening of school. They seemed different but looked pretty much the same. Or did they seem the same but look different? I’m not sure, but something was definitely different.

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I hope something in their life has changed now that they are Mr. and Mrs. living in the house across the street. They know what it is. They wanted it. Now they have it. Becoming Mr. and Mrs. will do that for you.

And the neighborhood rejoiced!!!

Summer Sweet Pickles

Have I ever found the best recipe for sweet pickles!!!! And it all starts with dill pickles – yes, I said dill pickles. These are the most wonderful tasting pickles and easy? Oh my yes!

Sweet Pickle FixinsThe ingredients are simple and probably in your pantry already. Start with Kosher dill pickles, sugar, distilled white vinegar, water and pickling spice.

Drain a large 64 ounce jar of Kosher dill pickles and slice into 1/4″ pieces.

Pickle SlicesPlace in a bowl with 2 cups of sugar. Stir, cover and stand at room temperature for 6-8 hours or overnight.

Sugared PicklesIn a medium saucepan, mix together 2 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup of vinegar, 1/2 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of pickling spice wrapped in a square of cheesecloth. Bring to a boil.

Sweet Pickle PotPour over the pickles and allow to stand at room temperature for 6-8 hours or overnight.

Transfer pickles to sterile jars and store in refrigerator.

Sweet Pickle JarsYou absolutely will not be able to make enough of these to keep up with the demand – they are that good! Try them! You’ll see!

Becoming A Granny

I remember well the day my grandson Mac was born. It was ten and a half years ago and I was there to see the whole event.

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I remember the feeling of awe and wonder at such a perfect little human being born after so much work by him and his mother.

I remember the overwhelming love I had for him. I knew in one tiny moment I would give anything to make sure he grew up happy and healthy.

I remember the instant bond I felt between us. One person older and the other brand new. One person experienced and the other having no experience at all. One person having lived many years and the other seeing life completely fresh and new.

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I remember thinking – now I am a grandmother. A grandmother to this child. A first for both of us.

There were so many feelings of joy, happiness, completion, newness, all swirling around me. I was completely overcome and overwhelmed. I laughed and cried all at the same time.

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Becoming a grandparent is the completion of one cycle and the beginning of another. Two forks in the same road at the same time. No wonder it is such an emotional time!

Becoming a Granny for me was the start of a new job – a most important job. I think it is the best job I’ve ever had. Everything in my life has led me to this job, being a Granny. All my experiences have taught me what I need to know to be a good Granny.

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Being a Granny is also a privilege. Not everyone is given this particular lot in life and I don’t take it for granted. I’m thankful every day that I’m allowed to be a grandparent to seven wonderful kids.

I also think being a Granny is a reward for being in the right place at the right time. I have gotten grandchildren by many means – by adoption, by marriage and by blood. Gramps says if grandchildren were sold in stores, I would probably buy them too! I say, get them anyway they come to you! And be glad of it!

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Being a Granny is the best and hardest thing I have ever done, but I wouldn’t change one minute of it. Being a Granny is the most fun I have ever had. Being a Granny is . . . . . GREAT!

Making Memories

I have spent the last three days cutting out a full-circle felt black skirt, applying a white felt poodle with pompon fur, and finally gluing on a black button eye, a red bow and a red leash.  During that time, I also made a net petticoat with lace trim.  All this was done so my granddaughter Marie could have a grand time with her father at a Daddy-Daughter Dance at school.

At the same time, my son drove four hours to and four hours back to spend time with boys he loves dearly, sons of his ex-wife.  He watched them play soccer and baseball, then took them to dinner, followed by an evening of playing with Star Wars figures at the dining table.  Nothing out of the ordinary and yet extraordinary in its own way.

All of these things were done for one purpose only – to make memories.   Memories, in fact, are all we have left in time.  We remember the special things, the ordinary things, the planned, the spontaneous, the surprise and the scheduled.

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All good and wonderful times are possible memories – times and events we remember and reminisce about over the years.  The feelings return and sometimes even the sights, sounds, and aromas of the particular occurrence.  We can relive one event over and over in our memory.

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Having good memories is the best gift ever.  And how wonderful it is to grant that gift to another, especially a child!   Time spent making memories for others is never wasted.  It is well spent, precious time you will always be glad you had.  It, in itself, will become a fond recollection of doing something wonderful for someone you love.

This circle of making memories goes on and on and never gets old.  It is fresh and fun and exciting each and every time.  So  if you are asking the question, “Is it worth my time and effort?”, the answer is definitely – YES!! It is always worth your time, effort, care and love to make some memories for someone else.

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Go – do it now!  Start spending the time and energy to make remembrances for yourself and those you love.  It’s important!

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And don’t forget to record each event.  Take pictures, get souvenirs, make a time capsule, record a journal or paint a picture.  Whatever is your tradition or family way.  Make it count!

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Be sure there is a picture or souvenir for everyone, because everyone will want to remember the event.  Everyone deserves to have the memory.

Walls Can Make A Home

A house is made of all the structural parts of a building – the floors, the roof, the doors, the windows and the walls. Walls are vital to holding a building up and separating the rooms according to their function. Walls can be of all sizes, tall or short. plain or fancy, connected or independent. They simply have to do their job to be called walls of a house.

Walls of a home are something else entirely. Granted, they have their function and hold up the ceilings, but they are so much more. Used properly, they can add life and beauty to each room and therefore to the family that lives in the rooms.

I believe in decorating walls with meaningful colors and art. Each wall should be its own little vignette of the love and history of the family. I’d love to show all you Sweeties how I have translated my feelings for family and heritage onto my walls.

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Welcome to my entryway. It is full of my favorite colors, blue and white and some of my favorite things.

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In my world there can’t be enough blue and white!!!!

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Many of these plates remind me of trips taken and vacations enjoyed.

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Next is the dining room with a wall of china which I have mostly inherited. 

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Isn’t it grand and imposing? All of these dishes are dear to me and precious for different reasons.

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Some of these pieces are almost 100 years old and could never be replaced.

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Another wall of the dining room is covered with a very old mirror from my aunt and pieces of needlework from several people in my family. It is unique, to say the least!

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The large crocheted collar was a special Christmas gift from my daughter when she was in collage.

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I also have a collection of thimbles in the dining room. (Can you tell I do not like bare walls?) Many of these have been given to me as gifts over the years by friends and family. And they are very easy to carry as souvenirs. 

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Some of my favorites are, of course, the blue and white ones.

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The living room has only this sweet little corner of a wall. It holds a piece of needlework done by a friend who has since died and a piece done by me. There is a poem given to me by my oldest friend (known her since 6th grade) and a saying I dearly love about family.

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This warms my heart!

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By the back door I have Welsh love spoons and cross stitch that changes with each month.

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I love old granite ware and have it in every corner of the kitchen and breakfast area. Some of these pieces are from my husband’s aunt.

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Even the laundry room is filled with old granite ware. Most of these pieces and the enamel sign came from my husband’s aunt.

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More of the laundry room.

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The guest bathroom is very vintage style, so the walls are covered with everything old I could find. Including rug beaters and slates.

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Some old graters and a wire basket for towel storage.

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In the master bedroom, next to the blue and white quilt is the wall of more thimbles and two white dresses with white threadwork.

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A closeup of the beautiful dress and the wonderful handwork. 

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Even the walls of my sewing room have been decorated. No wall should be bare in my world!

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The wreath is made of sewing notions from my grandmother. And my collection of laces are wound on old commercial spools.

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My thread is kept in an old type drawer. I love reusing old things in a new way.

So don’t let your walls be unused. Tell your story. Decorate the vertical spaces of your home. Use all the parts of your unique home to show your love of family, friends, hospitality. 

Sometimes Christmas Comes After Christmas

Sometimes Christmas doesn’t happen on Christmas Day.  Sometimes people are working. Sometimes family members can’t get together on a particular day.  Sometimes Christmas comes after Christmas.

That’s the way it was in our house this year.  Our Christmas came on December 27th. Two days after the official day, our family got together for a Christmas pancake brunch and gift exchange.

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Of course, all the decorations were still up, because this was our Christmas. The miniature Snowflake Village was in place with all the required snow and Victorian buildings. There is even a pond with skaters!

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The collection of Santas lined the short wall between the dining room and living room. My favorite is the small white felt Santa who holds his own among all the giants.

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The fireplace mantel is a tribute to my mother, who was a supreme baker, especially at Christmastime.  Anything having to do with candy and sweets can be found there.

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The card holder is a set of shutters I painted and stenciled specifically for its Christmas charm. I love it standing so tall next the fireplace.

We don’t have much room for a Christmas tree, but the tall narrow tree seems to fit pretty well.  We have many decorations collected over more than forty-five years.  It is very  nostalgic to handle each one while decorating the tree.  We are tinsel people and always have been.  I know it’s going out of fashion, but I love it.

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The table is all set and ready for everyone to arrive.  An hour or so later it was full of family, pancakes, eggs, bacon, biscuits and cinnamon rolls.  Everyone had their fill before emptying the tree of all its gifts.

Outside it was rainy, windy and cold.  Inside it was warm with a fire, bright with all the lights, happy with everyone talking and laughing.

Outside it was unpleasant.  Inside it was family.

Outside it was miserable.  Inside it was Christmas!