Thursday, September 30, 2010

mama's own...

Ya know, every now and then, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do....
Fall is falling all around and as sure as the seasonal shift, a girl's desire for a new bag occurs.  Remember the Daffodilly Bag back in April  Well, the same focused intensity for a new autumnal purse hit me recently.  On vacation, Crazier Don informed me that I needed a great statement of a purse, one that says, I Make Purses.  One that people will notice and comment on.  So in the time that I have returned from Vacationland, my Autumnal Designed Bag has been overtaking my brain.  When I walk the dogs, when I lie in bed in my menopausal insomnia, whilst I cut vegetables, I think of what is the best way to cut my favorite upholstery fabric that is left over from Faithful Friends purse from last fall.  I have doled it out carefully since it came from an tiny upholstery shop up in Indy and not exactly re orderable.  It's small amount was untidily tucked into a corner of the endless rolls of upholstery/drapery fabric.  But my hands found it.  It is soft yet sturdy.  Woven carefully and brilliant as a Joseph's Coat bush in late fall.  It says ME.  That's precisely why I made Faithful Friend's bag from it last year; we are kinda intertwined, picking up where the other left off, so it was only fitting that I used my favorite material.

For this bag, I utilized those interesting giant curtain grommets (isn't that a fun word, 'grommets'??)(Probably why I like Wallace and Gromit so much! :D  I tucked it up a bit to cinch it around the opening so things do not escape.  I added a zippered pocket (something I do for others but not for myself) and even attached an old Baby Girl earring from her bohemian days (that was before she was a Pregnant Bohemian; different but the same!) for a zipper pull.  I added a pen/pencil pocket because I despise searching for a pen in my purse.  I usually have many floating around in my purses so not to be able to find one, is very irritating.  Not so any more!  All my new designed bags have pen/pencil pockets!  A mama's collection speciality of sorts.  My lining fabric is a cotton paisley from four years ago from Walmart of all places.  Our local Walmart removed their fabric section recently.  Granted, not too much to choose from but every now and then, I could find a nice upholstery piece.  So I haven't spoken to Walmart from some time now anyway, especially when this spring's floral assortment was so lame.  And their aisles are smaller.  The list is building of just my own beefs never mind the global things.

But I digress.

To summarize:  The purse is huge, noteworthy, soft, sectioned and I think what Crazier Don had in mind when he wanted me to create a Statement Bag.

Happy mama.

Now is time for a favorite activity of most women:
Changing To A New Purse!
Seriously, isn't that the most fun?  Taking the time to go through the old, discarding gum wrappers, placing receipts in their right place, finding those rascally pens and organizing the stray papers, is really very cathartic, almost euphoric but that is just me....Or not?

Off to reload the new purse with all it's handy pockets and soft externities......
Watch for it.....!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Population Explosions...!

It appears that my future in Diaper Bag Making could be secure.
It appears that pretty much everyone I know is pregnant or newly mothered.
And it is a pretty exciting time for me.
As you know, Baby Girl is due in December.  Her diaper bag creation is on my mind and cutting board as we speak.
Rabbit Rita's daughter is expecting.
The 2 G's mama is due in April and she is due for a new bag by then.
E/A's good buddy, Chicago Sewist Mama, delivered her new little daughter last month.
PDK has a toddler Will and nearly five month old Oliver who needs a mamas collection bag as well.

Handmade Beginnings: 24 Sewing Projects to Welcome BabyIn the photo above is my slant on Anna Maria Horner's take on her Here We Go Bag featured in the most wonderful Handmade Beginnings: 24 Sewing Projects to Welcome Baby book.
And this one goes to Editor Friend, who, this past Saturday morning, while the rest of us were ready to enjoy the Persimmon Festival that she worked hard on all year as Festival Chairwoman, was busy delivering her fourth son into this world.  Welcome Emery, you little Persimmon you!

So here's to all the New Babies, Born and Yet To Be Born!
Really enjoy this seemingly endless supply of New Little Lives around me!
Thank You Jesus!

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Every now and then, an opportunity presents itself to open your heart and your life.
Often, there is great risk in that and in my years, sometimes it can end disastrously.  But I am usually never disappointed in the process.  It is a learning curve, a self revelation and when it goes well, an opportunity to expand your borders.

Such is the joy of finding a New Daughter.
Pretend Daughter Kris and Her Hubby and the Two Pretend Grandboys came to visit this past weekend. PDK is a friend of Eldest/Admin via a Bradley Class almost two years ago.  E/A was new in town and opened herself to the new opportunities of friendship to this quiet, funny, wise, mama-to-be. Their personalities were completely complementary yet what started conversation, were the bags that E/A was carrying.  Bags that I made for E/A and bags that PDK would know, that if her mama was still on this earth, she would be receiving from her.  The more they chatted, they could see that their lives ran a bit parallel and their interests perpendicular.  The more E/A talked about her mama and PDK hers, it seemed perhaps slightly, wildly impossible that they were twins, separated at birth.  Tiny little details were eerily similar and we knew that we had to meet.

It's been close to a  year since we met and our relationship has taken on a life of it's own.  E/A smiles knowingly, that it would happen.  She knew that we would 'get' each other, and in her daughterly graciousness, has 'permitted' to share her mama with PDK.

This past weekend, PDK and most of her little family came to visit.  Without E/A.  Just two new friends, separated by a generation and joined by interests and fate.  Two people geographically separated by miles but connected closely by God's Sovereign Hand.  When I am with her, I feel closely related to her mom and feel privileged to bring her love, by God's grace, into her present.

Our relationship is special, warm and connected and there is no reason that we should even know each other except for the love that God has for us.

This weekend was golden.  We enjoyed getting to know each other better.  We loved enjoying our similarities and our wonky sense of humor.  And sharing our families with each other.

It is a rare, crazy kind of thing, but it works.
Expanding your borders.....Give it a try...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

School Time

While the Festival rages on nightly on Main Street, school continues. As one that has labored in booths and tents on the Main Street venue, I know that many school children are down at the carnival till way after 10pm.  I've seen little princesses in their gowns, trouping through the streets, following their parents as they chat with their friends.  I've seen little people running through the festivities after it officially closes down for the night.  And living on one of Mitchell's busier streets, I've heard kids whining as they get in their cars, from way too long of a day.
I did wonder when we first moved here, how in the world the teachers handled the overly tired, overly sugared  students the whole week.  And up until a few years ago, the teachers would have to administer the infamous, statewide ISTEP tests on the same week!  Whew!
So as I went off to school today to tutor a fourth grader and as I ventured out yesterday to do a craft with the first graders, I girded myself.
Pleasantly surprised, I saw no craziness.  I saw calm classrooms with moderated teachers.  I saw schools used to the 64 years of Persimmon Festivals.  I saw the professionalism of the teaching profession first hand.
It is a joy to work with these educators.  Having been a die-hard homeschooling mama, praise like that does not come easily.  But I have been won over by the Mitchell School System.  The freedom to home school is still very important to me, but the cohesiveness of a well run system is vital to our children.  And as a parent, I appreciate it when it is done well.  Thank you, Mitchell Teachers!

(By the way, speaking of homeschooling, have you used Elmer Brook's, Do it with Dominoes, for your early math curriculum?  Excellent for confirming those important number facts with lovely bone like tiles, so good for the visual, audio and kinesthetic learner!  My little girl in fourth grade is clicking really well with this technique! Highly recommended by old moms!)

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Look

One of my children's friends told his mom once, 'When Deb gets mad, her eyes turn red.'  Granted, he was usually the reason that my eyes turned the smoldery red when he visited.  He was known to continually step on one's last nerve.  But it wasn't that unusual in those days for my eyes to turn red and my scowl a given.  I had a temper and I used it.  I was known to throw things and slam doors.  I could growl commands and wield a mean paddle.

I was not a nice, sweet neighborhood mom.  I served kool aid, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, provided band aids and was known to rescue a neighborhood bully once or twice, but I really was never sweet to my children's friends.  I did all those things with little comment or smiles.  I did it lovingly but not affectionately.  I had my favorites, but for the most part, my kid's friends knew me as the commandant, the police, the enforcer, the law.  Dare you cross me or one of my children, watch out.  I could be fierce.
I believe that there is no room in parenting for being your child's Buddy.  I don't think that we are called to chum around with our children's friends.  I think a Healthy Fear of one of the Neighborhood Moms is probably the best way to keep control and respect.  The kids knew that I would help them in a fix, but I would not 'hang out' with them.  They knew the boundaries just by a mere look.  Ask my adult children today what 'The Look' was and they still may shiver.  I meant business and did not threat idly.  My grandmother used to say, 'Promise them candy; give them candy.  Promise them a spanking; give them a spanking.'  I would not have won any popularity contests amongst my children's friends.  Then.

But then comes the day when you can let down your guard. The day comes when it all pays off and you can, at last, be your kid's friends.  You can have conversations and laugh a lot about days gone by.  You can hug them and accept them and do for them. I have several of each of my kid's childhood friends that I still keep in contact.  They have to wonder why I am so different, but most of them have children of their own so I'm sure it gets clearer as their kids age, just what Ol' Mrs. Cory was up to.

I wanted them to know respect.
I wanted them to know boundaries.
I wanted them to know that while their presence was welcome, their misbehaviour was not.
I wanted them to fear the consequences of their actions.  And Know That I Would Carry Out Threats.

While this was not a fun, easy thing to do, it did have it's advantages when my whole house was taken over by mass quantities of children's friends.  One look, sometimes, my mere entrance into the room, would cause silence and politeness.  Overnights were a snap and multiple birthday parties were no prob.

I think today, we are too eager to be liked  by our children and their buds.
We are fearful that they won't like us.
Not to worry.  With the proper amount of loving attention, even when it's not cheerful and doting, a child can read beyond the surface to the intent.  Sometimes, the Nicest Mom can be hell on wheels in other ways towards children.  At least my little visitors always knew where they stood with me.

Do yourself a favor.  Let your kids friends be friends with them, not you.  At least until they're older.  Then you might have to have a secretary to keep track of all the 'Offended Children' that you made in the past....
Trust Me....

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Let the Festival Begin!

Almost without fail, the dropping of the persimmons indicate to our tiny town of Mitchell, that the festival will soon begin.  Nature signals the beginning of activity around here, but nothing beats the bright orange and neon green Yard Sale signs posted all over town, to get me in the mood for the commotion, the noise and smells that wakes up our sleepy little town.  This morning, on my Dog Walk, Miss Dixie was a bit more than peeved by the amount of 'people' in her domain.  The early Saturday morning, usually still and contained, was a riot in activity that overwhelmed my solitary little friend.  Since my grandog, Scout's, social skills are a bit....lacking, I had to make mental notes as to the Yard Sale stops once the pups were delivered back home.  I am used to the smattering of sales on a given weekend, but to have the buffet of choices this weekend, I was positively frothy.  And Good Sales They Were.  Youngest Son accompanied me as we enjoyed the pleasure of picking and choosing.  Garage Sale hosts were friendly and in the Festival Spirit.  Stopping to chat and share what other sales were offering, made for an enjoyable jaunt for my kindred son and I.  He bought some vintage tools and a picture frame.  I found a Cecil Golding oil painting, huge and goldenly yellow. More Fake Veggies for my little friends.  Why am I such a sucker for fake fruits/vegetables?  Cannot pass them by.YS found a working Underwood Typewriter in a case.  1.50.  I could see images of Jack Kerouac/Stephen King spinning in his visual brain as he paid for it.  I found Vivien two little chairs, sturdy and good.
And what about these amazing aprons?  I believe that someone made them for a church bazaar about 40 years ago, squirreled them away in a cedar chest and then developed dementia.  They have never been washed or used.  And the toaster. Heavy, durable but does it work?  With that styling, who cares?
Then there is the table.  Perfect size for an extraneous table that is ever so convenient to have around.  It doesn't have an owner yet.  I'll throw it to the kids and see who survives.  YS might want to put Jack the Typewriter on it.  A box of cookie cutters.  I make terrible rolled cookies but I love cookie cutters.  Maybe Eldest/Admin should have these for snow days with Miss Vivie.  The heavy, homemade box with decoupaged   flowers adorning it, is chock full of elderly recipes.
This is the abbreviated list of goodies obtained on this, the first day of the week long festival that we Mitchellites call 
The 64th Annual Persimmon Festival!
Let the fun begin!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

From Flour to Flower

I know you will need a recipe this weekend that is quick, nourishing and a little bit different.  I put this together after catching the tail end of a PBS cooking show then added to it with an Internet recipe with my own spin on it.  Go ahead; add your own shake on it as well!  Here are the bare bones:

Fall Busy Calzones:

2 1/2 cups flour
1 pkg. yeast
1 cup hot water
1 tsp salt
1tsp sugar
2 tbs olive oil

Dissolve yeast in hot water then add the rest of the ingredients.  Mix well and knead till smooth.  Add more flour if too sticky.  Divide dough into thirds.  Roll into three balls then roll into a round(ish) shape.  Spread with sauce.

My Pizza Sauce:  1 can tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup red wine
1 tbs salt
2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp Italian herbs (oregano, basil, rosemary, parsley)
2 tsp sugar
Mix together in the can to keep from washing one more dish.


Spread around, keeping an inch open on the circumference.  Fold circle in half and press the seam together, using a floured fork or your fingers.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, until brown and bubbly.  Use leftover sauce to spread on top.
Quick, ingredients in your cupboard/fridge, right?
Fun and yummy!  Enjoy!

I bet your hydrangeas are drying on the stem right now.  Right?  They've turned a delightful color and NOW they are ready to cut and dry!  You don't want to waste those lovely blooms of summer, remember?  The blues and pinks and greens?  The fall side of hydrangeas are just as wonderful, just tissue papery and ready for dried arrangements.

Cut the flowers with long stems.
Remove all the  leaves.
Cluster and tie clumps together.
Hang upside down in a darkish spot.  Like a garage.
Next month, you will have some grand blossoms for your Thanksgiving Decor!

Now you can cross two things off your To Do List this Weekend!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Seriously Pretending

Last week, I ran into Thirdsie Grant and his mama at a Yard Sale.  TG had a pair of cowboy boots that came up to his knees and he was eager for me to know that he had these boots as if they weren't obvious on his small frame.  Watching him proudly parade in them zoomed me back to a very clear memory of Eldest Son and fortunate for me, I have a photo to document the very day.

All four of my children were deadly serious about Dress Up/Pretend Play.  People used to worry that my children would be stunted creatively because they didn't attend Traditional School.  I would gladly tell them that if my children were any more creative, I wouldn't recognize them.  ES particularly took his pretend play seriously.  When he was dressed as Batman, Superman, Clark Kent, Michael Knight, Joker, Riddler, HeMan, Prince Adam, GI Joe and even a Civil War soldier as pictured here, he WAS that person.  We had to address him by that name and you could see him get into character as he donned the costume.  He was particular about how close to the 'real thing' that he could come.  Fortunately, I could sew and appease his very specific demands.  Capes, shirts, emblems all became my purpose in life according to ES.  Sort of a costuming agent.  We had neighbors that used to eat their lunch in their living room so that they could watch the assorted characters that ran in and out of our home.  A Dinner Show of sorts.

Eldest/Admin was more into pretty.  I would design Halloween Costumes according to her dream.  Loving You Barbie, assorted brides, princesses and even Cleopatra one year.  The photo above came about from a generous gift from a sewist friend that had a bolt of the most beautiful rose colored moire taffeta that she didn't need for her business and immediately thought of my Pretty Dress Consumed Daughter.  Over six yards of free fabric went into her Civil War gown.  I can still picture her elegantly parading through the Civil War Reenactment grounds, acknowledging the compliments and voting tickets for her costume.  We had not even entered the contest but it was clear that in her category, she could have won, according to the number of votes that we had to refuse!  It was a lovely day and a lovely memory of history coming alive as our children were in their element.

Back to the Cowboy Boots.....
ES was VERY eager to don his costume and get to the Reenactment for his pretend to become reality for an afternoon.  So very eager that he cut some corners by forgetting his socks.  It didn't take too long to watch our confident soldier begin to limp around the grounds with something akin to frostbite.  I sat him down and as I pulled off his boots, I could see a series of blisters roaring on his little feet. After the usual motherly chastisement, we set out to find a remedy.  The Village of East Davenport that was near to Lindsay Park where the reenactment took place, at that time hosted mostly specialty shops without a child clothing store amongst them.  No sockies to be found, we approached the subject of going barefoot for the finish of the afternoon, which we knew would be vehemently voted down by our very determined Civil War Soldier. Were we suggesting that he would have to go out of character and look less than 'official'?  Fortunately, we did not have too much left to see when the blisters came close to ruining his day.  As a good soldier would have it, he resolutely walked carefully for the duration of our visit, even posing for this photo in pain.

And all these years later, all it took was a little friend clomping in his first cowboy boots, to bring me to that tiny memory in the vast years quadrupled by all the stories of all four of my children.

Here's hoping that all your days of memorable events with your children, stay with you always....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Thirdsie Gathering

Thirdsie Grant got to visit today.  His fourth birthday was earlier this month and it was just time for him to come to my house solo.  Without the sibs and without mom.  I go back aways with his little family, having been one of Miss Lily's babysitters back in her baby days, way eight years ago. has been a privilege and a pleasure to spend random, child-chosen times with these delightful children.  As you know, most children make my heart melt and when they are the ones that choose you, well, that  makes them extra special to me....
On Grant's premiere visit, he knew that he had to do what his siblings have done before him :TEA PARTY!

Being a Thirdsie myself, I know the drill.  I knew he would be animated.  I knew he would be curious.  I knew he would be entertaining, but I did I really expect the incredible personality?  He bubbled words like a brook.  He expressed joy and discernment and loving kindness.  When Miss Dixie kept crashing our Tea Party, I kept telling her, did you get an invitation?  Do you really think that we will share our tea with you and get dog lips all over our tea things?  Yuck.  And Thirdsie Grant went along with me.  To a point.  His gentle heart soon wearied of discluding the eager Jack Russell.  He soon switched sides and asked me politely, 'Couldn't we have our Tea Party outside so Dixie could join us? It would be okay if she made a mess outside, right?'  I knew it.  We Thirdsies have soft, ol' hearts and hate to see someone(something) left out.  We compromised by letting Miss Dixie Tea Party Crasher have a chew stick to keep her mouth occupied.  

TG was very intrigued by my fake fruit as most of my Child Visitors are.  He was impressed by my pretend apples so I sliced him some real ones for our Tea Time.  He then informed me, that he does not like apples.  I then asked him if there was another fruit he liked that I could replace it with.  Knowing full well that he follows his siblings with the heavy handed sugar spoon, I did not want his mama thinking that I poisoned him on two many treats.  He then asked what fruits were.  I proceeded to list all that I had and some I didn't just to get my point across.  He then contemplates all the choices and comes up with this question, 'Are chips a fruit?'

Ah, Fellow Thirdsie, if only they were.......

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Steak 'n Shake Memories

While returning from vacation, we stopped in Frankfort KY for lunch at Steak 'n Shake only after Crazier Don sped past the exit for Panera.  I waited while everyone took a potty break by looking around the restaurant to find something that made it different from the other SnS's I have been in.
I came across this photo on the wall near our booth.  It was one of those drifting, writers moments that turned off the scenario around me as I entered the world in the photo.  I always appreciate in The Voyage of the Dawn treader, in the Chronicles of Narnia series, when the children enter Narnia via a painting on the wall instead of the wardrobe.  I can so see myself doing that, indeed, I do enter other worlds when I involve myself in an image.
Here is where I ended up in the Steak and Shake photograph.

Fiona's Oven Failed

Fiona's day started quietly enough for a person that just recently acquired a new home, put their child in a new school  and sent her husband off to a new job.  Fiona's emotions were rattly and near her skin as she turned back into her home after waving her son off on his first bus ride to his new school.  How could he be six years old and how could he be ready to ascend the steps of a bus on his very own?  And how could he even be brave enough to tell her to wait by the door and not take him down the driveway?  How could her husband be so brave to walk to the train station to head to his new job in the city?  How indeed, was she going to get through this new day in disarrangement of everything familiar?

There was much to do in this new house.  Lots of short term solutions and some long term plans for remodeling but today it was her task to unpack their worldly possessions into a a semblance of Home Sweet Home.  The silence of newness overwhelmed her but after a moment indulging herself in a jag of crying for all the change in her life, she resolutely started on the first box.

As the day wore on and she made herself familiar with the radio stations to learn about her new community, a warm feeling of determination came over her.  She would do well in this new place.  She would make friends and not weep for what she left.  She would make her home a haven and a place where newcomers to her life would be comfortable.  It would be slow but it would be steady and she would make her family proud and secure by her contentment.

The shadows of afternoon and the drone of the radio's soap operas warned her of the time and of her need of supper preparation to implement Phase One New Confidence Plan.  Fiona turned off the radio after Young Doctor Malone was finished and the ads for the new restaurant in town were completed.  The radio entertained her all day as the upbeat sounds of Elvis and Ricky Nelson caused her to dance around her partially unpacked boxes.  Even the sadder sounds of  'Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley', made her oddly perky.

The quick stop at the store yesterday provided enough for her meal that night.  She had placed the ground beef in the refrigerator for the meat loaf dinner that she planned for their first official meal in their new home.  Fiona's mother's recipe for meat loaf pleased her husband and son and brought pleasant thoughts of her own home life in her parents house.  As she blended and mixed, she smiled, feeling a rush of excitement contemplating this new chapter of their lives.

Fiona became so involved in her work upstairs, that it was over an hour before she realized that the savory aroma of meatloaf had not yet reached the top of the stairs.  New to her appliances and air flow throughout the house, she wasn't overly concerned, but continued in the productive  rhythm of unpacking progress.

How could it be on this momentous day, that her husband and son arrived home at the same time?  Her husband had been concerned about Fiona adjusting to the  newness of the situation and grabbed the early train home, just in time to meet up with Bobby's school bus at the end of their drive.

Fiona was pleased to be able to meet 'her guys' at one time and share her new revelations about her new location and attitude with them.  She was eager to hear of their tales of their new days while she finished up the meal.  She was eager to try the new instant potatoes mix that the radio ads had touted.  She knew that she had a can of green beans in the bare cabinet and she knew with those things, she could make a nice meal for the three of them.

In the midst of Bobby's telling about how he selected his seat in his class according to his favorite color, Fiona recognized the coolness of the kitchen when it should be somewhat warm with the heat of the oven.  Cautiously, she opened the door of her new oven, as if peeking would make the imminent news any better.  Her husband and son waited for her response.  They knew that she had been a bit emotional with the move and all the changes and they just waited.

As Fiona removed the still raw loaf of ground beef from the very cold oven, the room remained still.  Quietly, very quietly, she placed the pan on her green Formica kitchen table, wiped her hands on her new apron, smoothed her blue plaid house dress and announced firmly, 'We are going to the new Steak and Shake for supper tonight!  My treat!'  The three of them laughed and cried at the same time, releasing the tension and stress that this new day brought all of them.

On the way to their destination, Fiona told her guys about listening to the ads on the radio all day about the grand opening of Steak and Shake in their community.  She had memorized the location from the constant repetition throughout the day as if she was practicing for the malfunction of her unknown appliance.

Entering the new restaurant, the hoopla of a Grand Opening welcomed them to their new town without them knowing it.  The congratulatory flowers, the signs, the cheerfulness of employees on their first week of business, put the three newcomers a celebratory mood and as the darkness of the early fall surrounded them, they giggled about the raw meat at home, the newness of every part of their days and shared in hushed tones, stories that they had experienced separately and now, united, in the friendliness of this other new place, they felt at home.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Homemade French Bread....Yum....

The Bounty of the Garden.....
Eldest/Admin called me this past week with news of an overflowing of tomatoes in her first attempt at gardening.  She was happily making Spaghetti Sauce and was excited about the outcome.  I love the freshness of homemade sauce and could almost smell it through the phone.  The sauteing garlic and onions and the mixture of fresh herbs, is perfume to a home made lovin' foodie. EA was raised on the sauce recipe that I acquired in 1977.  So she was happy, I was happy and gardening proved to be a good experience for all of us.
While EA was extolling the benefits of homemade sauce, I reminded her of the recipe for Homemade French Bread that is excellent for sopping up all the leftover sauce that your pasta missed.  A highly porous, soft on the inside, crusty on the outside, bread  The best.
This elderly recipe came out of this book wayyyy back in 1974.  I worked in this amazing shop at the time.  It featured gourmet items, Orrefors and Kosta Boda crystal, Marrimekko fabric, Copco cookware, Arabia and Royal Copenhagen dinnerware and Italia crystal.  A wonderful place for a newly married twenty one year old to work.  I was surrounded by 50 something ladies with good taste and plenty to teach me.  I earned practically nothing but furnished my house with wonderful, too expensive retail, but do-able with my discount, items that I still cherish today.  It was a fun time and this recipe is just a sample of the goodness that came out of the pre-Pier One shop called Premiere Plus located in Springfield, Illinois.

So if your garden has blessed you abundantly, if you love a good sauce, you need this recipe to go along with all your gardeny goodness.:


One Bowl, No-Knead French Bread  Breadcraft 

Dissolve 1 tbs yeast in 1 cup lukewarm water. Add this to 4 cups unbleached flour sifted with 1 tbs sugar and 2 tsps salt. Add just enough of a second cup of lukewarm water to stir up a soft, sticky dough.

Let rise in a warm place until double in bulk, about an hour and a half.  When dough is high, punch it down vigorously and divide into 2 loaves.

Pop into very well buttered Pyrex casseroles, about 3 inches deep and 6 inches in diameter.  Let rise again until double in size.  Place in a cold oven and set heat 350 degree and bake an hour.

Yield: 2 loaves

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Simple Sewing Saturdays: Volume Thirteen: The Essential Little Zippered Bag

I have studied making small zipper bags with other bloggers.  Seems we all make them a bit differently with the same unique application: A handy little bag for all those essentials, whether it be cosmetics, crayons, medical supplies, jewelry or dog treats, we all need the Little Zippered Bag in our lives. I shall endeavor to show you how I made mine. 
 1.  Select a zipper the width of the bag you want to make. I like to use different colors for some snap. Then select the the fabric amount for the length.  The width is determined by the zipper. Usually, 4or 5 inches makes a good little bag. You will need two pieces, front and bag of the desired size.

3.   Press down a 1/2 inch on the cut edges.  Also, cut two little squares about 2 inches and press down one end about 1/2 inch. I used a complimentary print but you can have it match.

 4.  Sew the folded edged little squares onto the ends of the zipper.

5. Lay one edge of the folded fabric against the teeth of the zipper and with your zipper foot attachment, sew the zipper edge to the edge of the folded fabric on both sides with both pieces of the folded edged fabric
 6. Trim the two pieces of fabric to make the edges even, making the extended zipper the full width.. 

7. Sew a 1/2 inch seam on all three sides, the fourth side being the added on zipper. 

 8. Trim the two corners diagonally and trim the three seams.  Here, you could zig zag the seams for a neater finish since this bag is not lined. 

 9.  Turn to the right side and poke out the corners neatly. 

10.  Fill with your little essentials and pop into your purse!
Fun and Easy, huh?

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Comfort of Quilts

Soon after I moved to my current location, I was included in a group of ladies from my new church.  These ladies knew I was needy.  New location, family trying to acclimate and a very medically needy father that came along for the ride.  I didn't have much to offer this group other than letting them hear me vent during our weekly Bible Studies.  It was an odd dynamic for me; I was used to being the one that ministered to others.  This time, I was completely unable to reach out, having nothing left to offer.  So I let these lovely ladies minister to me.  They showered me with gifts on the first birthday away from my home base.  One of them, still remembers my birthday.  (Thank you, Sweet Sharon!)  I drank all this care in like a healing potion.  Another, Gentle Friend, went above and beyond the call.  She made it her mission to care for me while I cared for Dad.  She dutifully picked me up every Wednesday to just get me up and out the door.  Some days would find me sort of catatonic with my latest stress and she would quietly just drive me around, taking me to lunch or some store that, she said, 'would do me good to just look at different things.'  I still think of that statement when I minister to others today.  Just get in a different environment to switch perspective.  Very wise.

Today is a lazy kind of day.  Miss Dixie awakened us a little past midnight, warning us of some Stranger Danger between our house and the northerly neighbor.  The rustling of dry leaves and a heavy shuffle brought her to warning status to her masters.  Hubby and I were properly awakened and warned, but thankfully, no guns or knives or pointed objects were needed.  Methinks it was probably one of the legions of cats that think that we have a waiting list after the demise of Miss Kitty.  Don't really want to think about if it wasn't cats.  Anyway.  I was awakened and that was it till four AM.....By the time Hubby was off to work, I was more than ready to climb back into bed.  The new chill coming in my northern windows beckoned me to reach on my quilt rack for that extra cover to snuggle in for a supreme sleep.

I woke up to see the unfamiliar cover yet favorite quilt on me.  The sound of the gentle, rare, rainfall to our parched land, was music to my ears.  I laid there for awhile, listening to the rain and basking in the comfort of my special quilt. Ten years ago this birthday, Gentle Friend gifted me this fine quilt.  I love everything about it; the color, the arrangement of the squares, the vintage fabric, the quilting template used, everything.  I still remember the awe I felt when I opened this gift.  I know what it takes to create a quilt.  I know the time, energy, expense, the heart, that goes into each creation.  And for Gentle Friend to share this amazing gift with me, well, I was overwhelmed.  Still am.

So as I laid there in quiet retrospection and peaceful appreciation for her and all the times and ways that I have been comforted and cared for in my life, my heart was full.
And what should we do when a heart is full?
Spread it around.  Share it. Let others in on your peace and comforted spirit.

I'm off to my sewing room......

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Garbage Pie

I could have used a jacket on my walk this morning.
After scorching this summer, even a normal temp seems chilly.  Mind you, you will not hear me complain, merely comment. So naturally, as the flowers die off, and the morning glories bloom abundantly in the cooler mornings, a girl's thoughts turn toward.....
Yes!  Today was Pie Day! I have had on my list for over a month now:
'Make Pie for the Sanitation/Street Department Workers'
I can bet that not one of you has ever had a list with that particular notation on it.
I appreciate my Garbage Men.
As a collector, redecorator, remodeler, gardener, I can manage to quickly fill a garbage can or two...or three..You get the idea...
I can have limbs the size of full grown trees and twelve bags of garden rubbish and rotted timbers from a house project, and they will cart it off.  Quickly.  I had a whole room of '50's tile squares AND the underlayment sitting obediently at the curb and they took that without a blink.  Hubby will tell me time and time again, 'They will never take that!'...I laugh confidently and say, 'You don't know MY guys!'  Then I time how long it will take before a previously hidden garbage truck or city pick up, zooms onto my street, prepared to take care of the Crazy Old Lady on 8th street.  For awhile, I thought that it was community pride by not letting my trash sully the streetscape.  Now I think that they just like me.
I always wave to them on the street.  The guys hanging off the side of the truck, always let loose of a hand to wave back.  They smile as both my dogs have fits over the noise of the truck.  We exchange glances as we (and maybe the mail carrier, even though these days, he has wimped out to delivering mail in his little truck) are the only ones on the street if it's snowing, 10 degrees, or raining like cats and dogs.  They gotta look at me as the COLo8thS but also the Nutty Dog Lady.  They at least get paid for being out in hostile weather; I on the other hand, am just nuts.
I did have one teeny bitty fear.
Remember?  I make lousy pies.  I overwork dough, I am too rough in the rolling out and I've never been happy with my pie crust recipe.  Hubby can work it like a pro, but sadly, I fail.
That was until The Retreat!
Pretend Daughter Kris showed us how to make a pie.  I love her recipe and her handy tips.  But better than that, I loved that she left enough dough in my freezer for me to make my garbage men a pie.  I remembered how she rolled the supple dough out and I tried my hardest to replicate her gentle touch.  And it worked.  Not the prettiest pie ever made, but certainly not my usual sub par standard.

So off I went to the Sanitation/Street Department garage to deliver me homemade pie to 'my buds' the Garbage Men.

Another thing checked off my list......

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Michele's Bag

Funny how things work out.  Years ago, while I was caring for my dad in his home, I sought distractions to help with the heaviness that comes with 24 hour care giving.  Baby Girl was in junior high and even though by care giving time line left me with very little time to be an 'Active School Mom', one of the things I enjoyed doing was designing and making purses for her friends.  I made these purses by hand, not having room for my sewing machine amidst dad's sick room equipment.  Working with the materials and occupying my hands was therapeutic to my jangled, sleep deprived nerves.  Since that time, I have wondered what happened to those early bags.  One day, I found one of them at the second  hand store, noting the date that I stitched in the bag for a birthday.  One fell apart in shreds after countless repairs for a stubborn young girl unwilling to let go of it.  She was one of my first customers when my new bags started to be produced.  I believe the current count for her is four.  Then there is the Facebook Connection.  Baby Girl had a long ago junior high bud contact her and ask about my bags.  She told BG that she still had the long ago bag and that her little girl plays with it now.  Her birthday was approaching and she kindly contacted me with a birthday wish to purchase a new and much improved mama's collection handbag.Eldest/Admin had recommended that I develop a purse survey to aid in the creation of a custom made bag.  So Junior High Friend was sent one, returned it filled out and the result is what is pictured here.  And this is a Premiere Edition as well!  A matching cosmetic bag was requested to go along with the purse so after researching and remembering Chicago Friend's lesson at the retreat this past July, I endeavored to design one myself. (See Sewing Simple Saturdays this week for more on that!)   Also, whilst on my Smoky Mountain Vacay, I had the opportunity to pick Crazier Don's busy brain regarding my business.  CD has had his own business for many, many years and since he was on vacation and actually sitting still (well, somewhat), he was more than willing to give this Business Newbie some input.  One of the swell ideas he was to give me after I shared with him my mission in creating bags and totes, was to include, deep down in the seam of my purses, some relatable bible verse that will be read, almost stumbled upon at some later date.  Brilliant!  I remembered a winter coat I had years ago that I had worn for quite awhile before I noticed one freezing winter day, a little tag deep inside that simply said, 'May you stay warm in your heart today'.  I loved that little note and now I want to share that bit of encouragement with my customers.  I asked CD which out of allllllllll the verses in the whole bible I should use and he stated simply, (duh), 'Pray about each one for each client'.  Done.  I prayed over the fabric before I made the first cut and asked the Master Designer to reveal the verse that this customer needed.  And He did.  But I can't tell you.  It's a secret.  But I can tell you that I loved making the labels for other young mama's bags/purses/totes/diaper bags.  I loved thinking of them finding the tag and reading them with a feeling of encouragement as they care for their little ones and themselves.
Fuel your Spirit today. 

Verse Of The Day 2

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