Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Craft Lady Strikes Again!

I'm at the grocery store last month when a little girl in a cart speaks to me as I pass by. 'I know you!  You're the Craft Lady in my class!'  I acknowledge her cheerfully and tell her that I am in the store, actually, to get supplies for the Thanksgiving Craft that we would be doing the next day.  She asks, so what will we be making?  I inform her that we will be making little Thanksgiving Baskets that will be filled with our thankfulnesses.  She seems pleased and I continue on to the discount meat section of the meat case.  The next morning, I enter the first grade class to a louder than normal voice than is allowed in first grade, 'There she is! The Craft Lady! And with a bit of an air of superiority, she says quite confidently, 'And I know what we will be making today!  Thanksgiving Baskets!  I know because I saw her at Jay C's last night!'  Thankfully, she did not mention that she saw me rummaging through the discounted meat section.

This month, the craft was Christmas Stockings that will be covertly filled with little treats from now till Christmas Break.  Lovely Wife and Pretend Granddaughter Sara helped Saturday with the cutting out of 40 little sockie shapes.  Hubby painstakingly cut three holes in each one.  And I volunteered more of my vintage sequins and goo gaws for the effort.

I am always well pleased with the artistic interpretation of each little creation.  This month was a hoot as this year's class warms up to this weekly visitor to the class.  Monthly, we do crafts, but once a week I go in to help their very apt teacher with the weighty paperwork of copy making.  Each weekly glimmer into the goings on in this very busy room adds to my admiration of the profession of teaching.  Magic is worked in the lives of these little people and if I can sneak in with my Craft Box chock full of sequins, buttons and yarn, then I am a happy crafter.  Nothing like installing the love of gluing and felt into impressionable pre artists and crafters.

I had stockings completely covered.  I picked the well glued sequins from many a little fingers.  I loved the courage of the minimalist.  I enjoyed the little girl in love with my vintage buttons.  One little toothless wonder asked me no fewer than ten times if we could use glitter.  She assured me that she NEVER made a mess with glitter.  I told her that glitter had a life of it's own and was known to remain in a room long after children had graduated.  She would pause a bit then approach with a new tactic.  Admittedly, I almost caved only to be relieved when the same little persistent girl's little red stocking was the only one dripping in glue and falling embellishments. One could only wonder what she could have done with three vials of glitter that she caressed in her hands.

I presewed most of the stocking but left about six inches on the perforated side open so that the kids could 'stitch' it closed with a bell laden piece of yarn.  I let them know that this was the first step in sewing; putting two pieces of felt together without benefit of staples, glue or tape.  They were impressed with themselves.....

And I was too.
Get messy with your favorite child today....

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Most Extraordinary Thanksgiving

When one gives birth to four children (not at the same time, silly!), one figures that once those small babies grow up, holidays could be tricky, attendance-wise.  Fortunate for me,  mothering four of my little progeny did enable me to become something I never was before - flexible!
I determined that I would roll with the plan that would work out best for children even when it works out that Hubby and I are by ourselves- like last Christmas. (Top Secret: It was a wonderful time.  But we acted like we missed everyone.  Well, we did, but we were quite comfy in front of the fireplace with our books and music....:D)
This Thanksgiving Eldest/Admin had their turn at the other parents.  Eldest Son and Lovely Wife have family in our town so they were taken care of.  Youngest Son jumped in the car with us and we high tailed it northerly in some sleety kind of rain to join Baby Girl and Her Hubby for a Thanksgiving that ranks up there with Very Memorable.
BG and Her Hubby live in the married housing on Purdue University's Lovely Campus.  Economically, fabulous for them, but square footage-wise, a bit on the short side.

When we first decided to join the Very Soon To Be Parents for The Day, there were the pesky worries about space for turkeys in an apartment size stove.  Concerns about sitting space and counter space.  So being so very flexible, I searched for just the right petite turkey recipe with the modicum of oven usage. BG came up with stove top recipes whilst I commandeered the oven.  It worked out swell.

When the menfolk started moving furniture around for space to eat, BG's Hubby and Youngest Son discovered a very large leaf to their fairly new table, hidden conveniently and efficiently underneath.  When I say 'new table' I mean that it is new to them.  The story of how E/A and BG absconded with the find on the street of inner city Cincinnati and jammed into a smallish Honda, is quite good; the kind that makes a Thrifting Mama proud.  When we inserted the leaf, our counter space opened up and we were in business.
BG's Nine Month Pregnant Body settled in for a good rest and we listened to her as she delegated assignments from her perch on the couch.  We were all in the same room/rooms (Kitchen, dining room, living room are all the same) so we did all things as one unit which made things cozy, fun and lovely.  The Former Non Flexible Deb would have found this whole set up completely unsatisfactory, but the new, improved very flexible Deb, found it crazy fun and couldn't have asked for a better set up.  We set the tables with a vintage tablecloth, odds and ends of BG's Thrifty Finds and the ever flexible mama, even allowed Thanksgiving to continue without candlesticks or even candles!  It was my job to bring them, according to BG's very thorough list, but alas, candles did not  make my list.  And we had a most amazingly delicious meal despite a lack of candlelight.  The constant drizzle (and pounding down) of rain set an even cozier feel to the teeny apartment.   BG's Hubby, not one to sit too still for too long, decided early in the day, that he was going to build a bookshelf.  Having known this young man for nearly ten years, I didn't even blink.  He just knew, having known me for ten years, that he could not interrupt the cooking or the eating while carrying out his plan.  So while I chopped, sauteed, trussed and blanched, BG's Hubby was out in the rain, by the apartment's storage shelter, hand sawing large planks of wood that he had scavenged out of house that was being torn down.  He brought the shelves in after the meal was finished, the dishes done and the pie not yet sliced into.  The excitement of the feat brought on a complete rearrangement of the little space from the Main Room, sprinkling over into a hallway organizational coup that BG and I accomplished.
We sliced into the Squash Pie nearly at the end of our Thanksgiving Home Makeover and proclaimed the day one of the most interesting and productive Thanksgivings ever.

Recently, I watched a television program where this woman completely remodeled her home, a mansion of sorts, and throughout the whole show, she kept referring to the fact that it was necessary (this major overhaul on a home that looked just dandy to me!) because she was having family in for Thanksgiving.  I do so want to write her a note and tell  her how much fun and just a bit cheaper than her foray into justifying major indulgence, that we had and how I wish she could have been as flexible as I am.  I could have saved her a bunch of dough and the looks on her sons peevish faces could very well have been a bit happier.

Do not limit your hospitality by being 'prepared'; sometimes the finest times are those times where you are blissfully at the mercy of situations......
Enjoy your company this holiday season......                                                                                                                          

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Young Daddy's Gifts

The Time is ticking away....
Baby Girl's due date is looming large and so is my Baby Girl...
All signs of imminent birth are beginning and Grammy is gearing up.
Even though I had other pressing things in the sewing room, anything for BG/BG's seemed to take precedent due to the time constraint. From the very beginning of the pregnancy, BG's Hubby has been insistent that he wants to be the very involved, very connected papa.  When BG started going through my Handmade Beginnings: 24 Sewing Projects to Welcome Baby, her Hubby was close by selecting  t appropriate accessories.  He particularly wanted a Mei tai baby carrier that reflected him and not someone else's idea of a Man Mei Tai.  Grammy Deb convinced him that he would be able to tote his newborn babe around comfortably with a signature statement.  We selected Sew Liberated Patterns-Messenger Bagthis one.
And to make it, I used some pretty nice heavy weight cotton in a blue not quite denim but not too light of a shade either. The lining, which was very important since Grammy's little sweetie will be surrounded by it, was a compilation of Hubby's old flannel shirt scraps, worn soft by years in the factory.

Young Daddy Young really needed a bag that would suit his mobile lifestyle.  Something that he could be productive with as well as being nurturing.  He sat down and wrote all the Bag Needs that he had.  I sat down and looked through Anna Maria's book and altered her Dad Bag pattern to suit my more demanding son in law.

The Daddy Bag is made of two colors of suede and is lined with the softest vinyl Crazy Don could share with me.  The pockets are lined with scraps of Unca Joco's trousers that suited the softness and durability requirement.  I used webbing from a part of an old belt to trim out the zipper and the side pockets.

All in all, there is nine pockets, enough for solar chargers and cords of all types and maybe even enough for a few didies, wipes and clothing changes.
Hubby had brought home a passel of straps procured from Who Knows Where, complete with shoulder padding and open clips.  On my last visit to the Amish Leather Shop, (pretty awesome place indeed) I picked up some wonderfully durable brass attachments that probably belong to a horse bridle.  They became the attachment to the strap.                        
                                                           There was something extraordinary about making these things for Young Daddy Young.  There was the creative challenge.  There was the technological challenge.  There was the material challenge.  But aside from these practical things, there was the awareness that I was making these things for a man that is the father of my youngest daughter's child.  A man that had been prayed for and over and about for as long as BG took breath.   Knowing his deep love for BG and his preborn daughter, this task took on a more transcendental feel.  A grand thing to say about something so mundane as a diaper bag and carrier, but truly, profound things are usually spotted in the usual.  I truly felt honored to be supplying for this new daddy, tools that can help him provide nurturing for his newborn.  I felt pleased to be able to send the obvious message through the doing of it, 'I support you in how you support my daughter and granddaughter'.  I want him to know that I am here for him to help in whatever way, from babysitting to help in interpreting my daughter's needs and moods.  
So it was with great excitement that I delivered it to him on Wednesday as we drove to their home to celebrate a very special Pre Birth Thanksgiving.  I was overjoyed to be there and I think he was pretty stoked as well....
.Don't you think??                                                                                                                  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Profoundly Small Things

  • I can turn my faucets and relatively clean water issues forth
  • I can open my door and walk out anytime I want
  • I have the privilege to walk into my kitchen and eat whatever I want
  • If nothing pleases me there, I have the privilege to go to a restaurant of my choice
  • I can launder my fairly decent clothes in my own washer and dryer
  • I own four cars
  • I have three toilets that flush
  • I own a crazy amount of bibles and Christian literature
  • I have a room just for my sewing machine
  • I can worship freely
  • I have school systems that have walls and desks, books and electronic equipment
  • Each of my children have their own computers
  • I have a room just for my computer
  • I own two homes
  • I can walk around my little town late at night and am not unreasonably concerned for my safety
  • My closet is pretty full
  • I have nearly two dozen pairs of shoes
  • I have never lived in a car
  • My legs work
  • My daughter will soon give birth in a hospital with her husband close by
  • I can still see the eye of a needle (with help)
  • My pancreas works
  • I can breathe pretty well
  • My vision is correctable with glasses
  • My hearing, though not great, still hears my granddaughter's giggle
  • I have cash in my pocket yet I have not worked since 1978
  • My adult children call their spouses Wonderful
  • I have a dog that keeps me company and keeps me walking twice daily
  • My pantry is full
  • I can buy gasoline without waiting in line
  • No one gives me a second glaring look when I use a check to pay for things
  • I have never heard the words, 'I'm sorry, Mrs Cory; your credit is no good'
  • My furnace is new
  • My roof does not leak (much)
  • I can converse with people globally, sitting in my library, in my jammies, on my computer
  • If I had none of these things, I have people that would love me anyway
Whatever am I to do with such an overweening abundance?

When will I ever quit complaining?

Thank  you, LORD. 
May I utilize my blessings for Your glory.
May I hear your promptings to share what I have to who you would have me bless...
And the courage and selflessness to do it....

Blessings on this Thanksgiving......

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Eldest/Admin is a genius in organization skills.
She taught me how to fold my pants for the shelf in my closet, thanks to her retail management skills.
When I started on the venture of mama's collection, she was the one that sat in my sewing room, brain ticking away, setting up the most functional practical set up for the novice entrepreneur.  E/A set out pointing and dictating and mandating procedure and called in her father and brother to move furniture.  And we obey.  And I so appreciate her.

Without her daily presence, however, I tend to slip into my old ways.
Slowly, slowly, disorganization slips in.  Slowly, slowly, bundles of fabric appear without a place to reside.  Slowly, slowly, Sewist Paraphernalia sneaks in during the night and takes over whatever horizontal space that is available.  Then one day, I find myself unable to find the floor.  I find myself tiptoeing to find a space of old fir floor so as not to disturb whatever the Sewing Room Fairies have left from the night before.  When I get to the point when I say, 'Hey!  Where did this come from?!  I don't remember seeing this before!', I know it is time to channel Eldest/Admin and get myself organized.

Personally, I find the creative disorganization quite stimulating.  I am a quasi tidy person prone to somewhat slothful cleaning habits.  In my younger days, I had scheduled cleaning days and scheduled cleaning routines.  Now, not so much.  Matter of maturing priorities, I suppose.  But I do have to get realistic every now and then and admit that I need an intervention.

Yesterday was the day.  I pulled everything out to get a look over, mentally cataloging all the new acquisitions that somehow slipped under my inventory radar.  It was kinda like my own personal Christmas, finding so many new finds.  I guess that's what happens when you're memory slows down; everything seems new.  I had a good book to listen to while I set out sorting, filing and finding places for some pretty swell fabrics and notions.  I did realize that when we remodel our basement space soon, a significant amount of space might have to be taken up with extra fabric stock.  Rolls of upholstery fabric and interlinings take up a bit o' space.  And if my goal is to grow, business-wise, it would behoove me to make some room for growth.  I had Hubby come in now in then for some grounding and advice and encouragement.  Miss Dixie gave me several looks that told me that her bed was getting a bit crowded and she needed some more space as well......

While I would have rather spent the day working on Baby Girl's Baby Girl's Christmas Stocking, Or BG's Hubby's Daddy Bag, or Special Order Bag from Church Friend, or 2G's mama's Christmas Order, I knew, I knew, not much could be done in the chaos I had created.  The thrill of accomplishment must have been cathartic for me because I slept like a log last night, exhausted from all the brain work that it takes to overhaul my mess.

I do believe that there is a moral to this story, but, alas, I am too pooped to learn it today...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tidying Up for the Holidays

Back in the day, before oak furniture was frowned upon, it was highly valued.  I'm talking way back in the mid '70s when the Antique Awakening took place.  Furniture formerly relegated to Grandma's attic, received their Glory Days.  Antique Stores were swamped with Newby Collectors eager to have the raging trend.

And I was one of them.  I lovingly caressed the legs of an old buffet discarded by Hubby's dad.  We had a huge table with carved legs and matching buffet that Hubby's father had found in a garage sale coup and took it to a furniture restorer while we awaited it to be dipped and stripped for our refinishing.  We waited a- l-o-n-g time since other Newby Collectors were dragging their estate sale finds there as well.  It got to the point that we would 'visit' our table and buffet, just to make sure it was still there.  While we waited, we collected bits and pieces of solid oak furniture, stripping some and (gulp) painting those things that were too far gone, finish wise.

In the mean time, by Grandfather passed away.
He had lived by himself for nearly 20 years after my Grandmother died.
A jolly, loving, practical joking kind a grampa, his housekeeping skills were a bit....um, lackadaisical.
He only had one eye and the remaining eye was a bit bad as well.  Needless to say, we would be hard pressed to guess if anything was moved from the time my immaculate grandmother died to his own demise.
Grandma and Grandpa had acquired some lovely pieces of furniture throughout their marriage but what was swell in the early twenties, was sadly dated in the early 70's, before the resurgence.
It was at his wake that I came upon this conversation between my uncle and my aunt, sitting in front of me.
"What in the hell are we going to do with all that damn furniture in dad's house? Who in their right mind would want that stuff?" (Their words, not mine.  Sorry)
I nearly bounded out of my chair to interrupt them.
Hubby and I had purchased a home the year before and we had the perfect dining room for this now, Very Desirable furniture.  Being on the Cutting Edge of Trends, I knew what the table (with six leaves) six chairs, large buffet with matching china cabinet with the original glass, was worth.  I knew it was more than I could afford.  But it was Grandpa's and my dad had played ping pong on it and hid his Easter Candy under it and all of our extended family suppers were shared on it.
I had to have it.
Estates being what they are, legally, the dining room set had to be sold, the price shared equally among my father, my uncle and aunt.
While Hubby scurried around to come up with the asking price, my benevolent relatives agreed to give us their share of the sale so that the three pieces could stay in the family.

So this amazingly strong, sturdy table has seated copious amounts of guests for over 35 years.  While no ping pong has been played like in the days of my drunken Irish uncles, there has been a fair share of painting projects, nails hammered into it, myriad hours of home school and countless patterns cut out upon it, including Eldest/Admin's wedding dress.

This summer, before the mama's collection First Annual Collection of Friends Retreat, I started scrutinizing things.  One of the glaring items on my To Do list for the retreat was to clean the dining table realllll good.  That little chore did not happen due to the humidity and oppressive heat.  You don't want  your table oily when company is bringing fabric to lie upon it.  The Ordeal of cleaning the table would wait till Holiday Cleaning .(She says as if she does this every year....)  With Hubby home this past month, we started working on the mile long Honey Do lists for Home Upkeep.  The cleaning of the table was right up there near the top.
During a long road trip this summer, I sat in the co pilot seat devouring all my magazines that had been sorely neglected.  It was then that I found this very successful recipe for wood cleaning. As you can see, it works just dandy.  And so that your dining table shall shine forth this Thanksgiving, I'm going to share it with you:

Wood Cleaner:
1/4 boiled linseed oil
1/2 cup turpentine
Mix in a closed jar.
Clean surface with warm water (very little) and wipe with a dry cloth.
Spread the mixture by dabbing with a #0000 steel wool pad.
Work with the grain.
Wipe off with a dry soft cotton rag.
Wait a few days (this is tricky) before adding a soft paste wax, carnuba, or bees wax to the table top.

Do not use this on questionable finishes or veneers or shellac.  When in doubt, try it on an unseen spot.
I have also seen 'recipes' with white vinegar included in the mix for extra cleaning power.
You decide.

Hosting Hint:  Always set your Thanksgiving Table the night before.  That gives you time to decorate without pressure while the pies are baking.  It also helps delegate out the chores from the busyness of the T-Day!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Purposeful Patterns!

 Mostly, when I make purses and totes, I design my own patterns.  That way, I can flourish, alter, and appease my own purse like needs.  I love the fact that there is no copyright worries.  I love the fact that I work out bugaboos and stretch my skills by design needs.

But then, every now and then, I need to do Obedient Sewing.  Taking the skills of those with more experience or sewing knowledge and utilizing it for just the right project.
Recently, I seemed to have stumbled into several opportunities to need actual patterns.
And I just love it!
Pictured is the random assortment of projects that I've been working on.
My project board is getting a bit crowded with Baby Girl's Baby Girl's arrival imminent and baby things to be finished.  First up: Baby Girl's Baby Quilt. sonowiknow.blogspot.com/2010/11/sewing-sidetracks.html. .  That got me into a quilting mode and high on my to do list, was to make a quilt for Pretend Granddaughter Sara.  In between big projects, I just L.O.V.E. working on this amazingly fun and creative Patchwork Style log cabin quilt pattern! It allows ample room for the more Rebel Sewist, letting you call the shots on the size of the pieces that you assemble.  Did you hear that?  NO measuring except for the size of the batting that you start with. Fab-u-lussss! The most timid of sewists will not be daunted by the simplicity of it all.  I have a feeling that many a quilt shall come forth from this pattern. (And the rest of the book is pretty dang awesome as well.)
 Then came Baby Girl's Hubby's request for His Own Mei Tei Baby Carrier!  (He also has an order for Anna Maria Horner's Daddy Bag, but I haven't started that yet!:D)  His request was for it to be manly yet little girl comfy.  A sturdy home decor fabric in a solid, will back the softest of flannel, provided by Pappa Pat's old factory used flannel shirts of long ago.  I just cannibalized his old shirts and had enough to use on the pattern. Actually, the green and blue pattern flannel, I remember wearing when preggers with Eldest/Admin!  This kind of info really tickles Baby Girl and endears her to the item.....
 Of course, it is time to think about keeping Miss Viv warm this winter.  It's fun to make her little coats since Cincinnati doesn't get wicked cold, but certainly enough to make this soft, soft fleece helpful on those cold trips to the Cincinnati Resource Center for her weekly classes.....Cannot wait to start this!
Last but not least, Crazy Dee's purse!  She saw this pattern made up in a tiny fabric shop on our vacation in Gatlinburg and insisted (demanded) that I make it for her.  I tried to tell  her that I could come up with a similar design, but she insisted (demanded) that I make one just like the one at the sewing shop.  The batik material for the bag was not sold in the shop (odd?) but after looking around my stash, I found this previously eBay purchased skirt that I could never figure out how to operate, to be perfect for the project......

So as I stock up on audio books and great tea, it's off to the sewing room!
By the looks of my To Do Board, I might be there a long, long time!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Time Out

 There comes a time when we need to stop, regroup, prioritize, refresh, organize our thoughts and goals and objectives.  Sometimes, that happens when we go on vacation.  Sometimes it's on a spiritual retreat.  Sometimes it's a physical ailment.  Or you can just fall apart  physically and literally cannot move another muscle.

This has recently happened to Hubby.
My main squeeze since 1970, life partner since 1972 and all round, Best Bud, Confidant and Sympathizer.  He completes my overwhelmingly Right Brain.  I depend on him to quilt.  I can put together fabrics and designs, but how in the world it gets geometrically together, I am adrift.
And vicey versa, I venture to say.
So when he is down, I am hindered.
When his body, already weakened from a variety of ailments in the last few years, came to a grinding halt,  I take notice.  The last three weeks it has been my job to nourish, nurture, encourage and heal his wounded spirit, beat up by physical exhaustion.

We all knew it was coming.

But what I didn't now how much fun getting better could be.
We have had a blast.
Hubby and I have languished in our little nest called our bedroom, watching old movies and laughing ourselves silly over comedies that we watched in our early dating days.
We have eaten Squash Pie and drank hot tea on rainy days.
We have enjoyed working on meals together and actually eating together at the same time.
We have embarked on home improvement projects that I thought were relegated to the next owner.
We have traveled to doctor appointments in The Big City, only to have them lead us to meandering  country adventures.
We have taken long walks with our doggies night and day.
I have brought him up to speed  on the goings on in our community during those walks.
We have sat near our fireplace and sighed.
We have plotted and planned what retirement could possibly be like next year in light of our rested, silly, relaxing Time Out.
We have realized that our time together is vaguely reminiscent of our early years of marriage, nearly 38 years ago.
He is much better, thank you, and shall be returning to work soon.
But I will cherish these past three weeks as some of the better days of our marriage.
Funny how that happens, Right?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Long Term Investments

Hardly recognize this young lady anymore. In fact, when I started looking for my senior photo for this post, I was startled peering into the face of a much younger version of myself.  This young woman is a mere shadow of the fifty seven year old variety that I regularly avoid in my mirror.  This young woman was cocky and afraid.  She was crazy silly but carried some pretty serious secrets.  She had a bumpy but not terrible home life.  In her mind, she imagined what her ideal life would be like and the determination to make it happen coursed through her veins.  She dabbled in a variety of wanna be talents.  She hung out with gymnasts but was too afraid to do a back bend.  She loved music and lied about playing the piano to a lady she babysat for.  This young lady was a terrible student and really found very little to stand tall about.  Even when she earned second place for dance at Ursuline Academy's Annual Talent Show,  her mother quickly let her know that the dress that she accepted her little award in, was pitifully too short.  And I'm pretty sure she was right.

Yes, Jack of All Talents, but master of none was my claim to fame.
Until one day, in my junior year of high school, I arrived to my English/Literature class early.  Very odd for this school phobic child.  Perhaps my lunch companions were still in the bathroom.  Maybe my English Class Bud was absent.  Who knows?  But there I was, in English Class III, bustling around, straightening desks because of my inability to sit still and after all, they did need it, right?
Who should invade my solitary time in the empty classroom, but it's Ruler, The indomitable Sister Vivienne.  Scary, hard and sober, she could stop a bear from attacking.  She was on to me and all my shenanigans.  She could spot a class clown at fifty paces.  Yep.  She was scary to me.  Most of the old nuns, I could sweet talk, work my charm or allow them to be driven crazy by my silliness, but there was no messing with Ol' Sr. Vivienne.  She was a golden black woman from Jamaica.  I never thought about it then, but later I wondered what her story was.  How did she become an Ursuline Nun?  How did she get to America?  Being too full of my teenage self, I crossed my T's and dotted my I's in her room and thought little else other than just making it through the semester.

I loved English Class.  I loved the reading assignments.  I loved vocabulary.  REALLY loved it.  Abnormally loved it.  I even did those little quizzes in the Reader's Digest each month.  A Word Monger was I.  So when I completed the assignment, 'My Life Philosophy', I quickly drew a visual for it, plopped it in a folder and turned it when while others were just starting the assignment.

It was that day, when Sister Vivienne approached me.  She crossed her arms, placing her hands up those cavernous Nun Sleeves, looked down her nose over her glasses and stared me right in the eye and said, 'Miss Murphy, I have something to talk to you about'.  I went cold but resumed my chair straightening.  Serious Teachers are scary enough, but a even more serious then usual Sister Vivienne, well.  That was just too much.  I avoided her gaze bustling around and promised my self I would laugh my way out of trouble.  She informed me of a nationwide essay contest of high school students.  She informed me that she wanted to submit my essay on Life Philosophies to the contest.  She told me that I had talent.  She told me not to blow it.  She told me that she knew I liked to clown around my way out of trouble, but that she was deadly serious about this opportunity for me to go forward in writing.

I told her a flat out no.  No way.  No way would I enter any contest.  What would my friends say?  Would I be labled a kiss up?  No way would I do something so obviously school like?  People would talk.....She shook her head, walked to her desk and said that terrible thing, 'Do it for me.'  Ha!  Why would I do ANY thing for a teacher?  She only sealed the deal.  The class started to fill up for the period and the essay was never mentioned again.

But it was never far from my heart.
In all my inadequacies, one thought always stayed in my mind, "Sister Vivienne told me my Junior Year of High School that I could write.  Despite my disdain for teachers, this statement I believed.  For years, it has buoyed me in the pursuit of developing the passion that I so thank God for.

Teachers.  Mostly a thankless job with such overwhelming responsibilities.  I view teachers now in near God like status.  I appreciate teachers on almost every level.

Thank a teacher today for what she is doing for you, your children, your family, our society...

Thank you, Sister Vivienne.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pieces of Lives

Last month, during a relaxing visit with Most Wonderful/Loving Friend, she gifted me with precious vintage items from her mother in law.  The amount of elderly fabrics positively overwhelmed me as I eagerly plowed through the two large shopping bags.  It might as well have been gold, I was that excited.  Then midway through the second bag, my hands lifted out this amazing piece:
 A 20x20 inch pillow cover, made long ago by creative hands and obviously stored away for that special time which clearly never arrived.  This nearly 50+ year old creation was intricately fashioned from an abundance of feed sacks, bits and pieces probably squirreled away by some prudent mama.  The little postage stamp bits of fabric, brilliantly sewn neatly and accurately, are of such variety, one marvels at how many sacks were collected.  The colors are still vivid and the design of the pillow is unique.
On the back is a piece of vintage fabric full of different images from different lands.  Odd color combination that I just love.  The ruffly corners amuse me.  I wonder if the sewist started out with thoughts of a quilt and quickly tired of the intricate effort?  I love to investigate the feed/flour sack pieces and think of long ago days when flour was selected depending on it's best cover for the next needed dress.

Then, today, I hosted my gathering of Fleur de Lis Club. As I have posted before, this group is in it's 127th year, and I've had the privilege of being it's president for three of them.  Our group is an eclectic bunch; currently we have three ninety year olds, several octogenarians, and some seventy and sixty somethings to balance it out and  then there is the young cub, me, at a spring chickeny fifty seven.  As usual, the tangents that these ladies can take us on provides incredible entertainment for a Monday afternoon.  One of our detours took us to talking about growing up in the depression and all that was demanded of their mothers.  The day to day hard work, the unceasing chores and the endless laundry.  The ladies then discussed that most of them had never owned store bought dresses till their teen years. Do you know what kind of work that involved in light of the other daily chores?  The thought of outfitting nine or more children for their every day needs?  No store bought patterns, no vast assortment of fabrics, just making frocks and shirts with whatever the current flour/feed sack wrapping was offering that week.  Listening to them share their stories of the hard work done without complaint, awed and amazed me.  And they ALWAYS encourage me without any of them addressing me directly.  Their lives are pieces of living positively despite tragedies and trials and always making the best of what they have.

Now, when I look at my special pillow cover, I will picture these ladies in  their younger years, looking fresh and innocent in their best frocks, created by their mama's hands with what she had, intent on making the best for her children.

This pillow is now a symbol for me, representing the best in those that have been honored with years and serve the rest of us well by their testimony of endurance and joy.

May I do the same....

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Squash Soup!

I love squash.  I love the color, the designs, the smell. Everything about it.  I believe a lot of it stems from the babyhood of Eldest/Admin.  The sweet, little  Picky Eater rejected all things green and only would open her wee mouth to orange veggies.  Carrots and Squash.  And being a dutiful young mama, I would cook and press and puree the vegetables and to this day, the aroma of cooked squash zooms me to the toothless grin of my happy little baby girl, getting her way and enjoying her squash.  She still loves it even though years ago, her pediatrician informed me that she had developed Carotene Overload from all her orange indulgences.  The cute little blond baby looked like she had a really nice tan, thanks to her squash love.  Too Funny.
 So as I meander through every available pumpkin patch scouting out the most unusual squashies, my mind wanders to develop an assorted use of the abundant gourd at this time of year.
 This year, I came up with a most pleasing soup, hereby dubbed Sunday Squash Soup.  It's perfect for making Saturday night while you're making supper, for a quick warm up when you get home from church on Sunday afternoon.  Make plenty (you do see how many I purchased at the Great American Pumpkin Patch in Arcola Illinois, right?  Yes, that is my wagon below, filled with some beauties!) and invite some friends!

Sunday Squash Soup!

2 baked squash (I used a butternut and an acorn)
Cut them in half and bake in a shallow dish with a modicum of water.  Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 1.5 hours.

Saute an onion, 2 cloves garlic and peel and chop several carrots, and several Yukon gold potatoes, till tender and lightly brown.

In a large bowl, microwave 4 cups of water with 4 chicken bouillon cubes.  Add this to the sauteed veggies. Peel the baked squash and add to this mixture.
Stir well and add 2 tsp parsley, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp ground pepper, 2 tsp raw sugar.

Cook till veggies are very soft then softly mash the squash.

Some crusty bread, a green salad and you are set!
Enjoy the Season of the Squash

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sewing 'Sidetracks'

A great deal of my time is spent in front of my computer screen.  Never was is it more obvious until that option was not available and I filled my time in Useful Activity called My Business.  Here on Not So Simple Saturdays, is a collection of my Useful Diversions whilst I awaited the return of Fiona, my computer,(I gave her my favorite name after learning of the apparently close relationship I have with her, enhanced by her departure!) I had the wonderful opportunity to get a good go on Baby Girl's Baby Girl's quilt.....The gentle stitch, stitch of assembling something that will encircle her for a long, long time, gives me a peace and comfort in the doing of it.  Stitches bring prayers for a safe delivery, a healthy arrival and a wonderful life....

And in between the quilting.....

Baby Girl and I hit upon several amazing vintage fabric opportunities during her recent visit .....

 Lots of driving (as a passenger, of course!) places gives me good crocheting time.....Even made a matchy one for her Baby Girl and The Illustrious Vivien....
 Baby Girl wanted to do an easier version of Anna Marie Horners baby wall decor as seen in our fav book....I donated some fabric, made the letters and BG did the rest....We had a blast on this project....
 Cannot travel with a quilt without a proper mama's collection Quilting Bag!  An inner pocket is a reinforced vintage hanky donated my Most Wonderful/Loving Friend and her generous nature...
 Three diaper bags have showned up from the aforementioned Anna Marie's useful, helpful book.  Above is BG's bag and the red one is Pretend Daughter Kris' bag to hold dinosaurs, diapers and changes of clothes for my two adorable Pretend Grandsons, Will and Ollie....
Found out that the more my mind is overwhelmed, the more complicated my life is, the more I must, must sew.....I have to be in my sewing room surrounded with Creative Potential to be able to neutralize my brain....
May you have an opportunity to clear your cobs with your favorite activity soon....

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Journey Without a Passport

Get up!  Get up!  Let go of that cart!  I don't care if you are at Valley Thrift in Cincinnati!  I don't care if it is 25% Off Mondays!!  You cannot miss our Journey to Computerless Land!! 

 You can jump on your horse for the journey.....
But only if Vivien can make the clop clop sounds that she does so well.....

You should probably borrow Mimi's shoes....The land could be perilous, frought with hidden dangers....
You could ride with your best wheels....Wearing a Cub hat will only show the world what you are  made of; durable, taking hard hits well, and let's just admit it; partially nuts.....

Packing a bag just might be helpful....
Bring tissues for crying, wallets for all the money that you will need....And a camera....

Our travels shall take us across mysterious landscapes, containing shadows and substance...
Strange sights will fill your minds as you try to figure things out: the whys the whats and the of courses......
Yet peaceful vistas will smooth your spirit as you seek answers and regain your composure.....
Soon, the cryptic messages left circling your brain will be dispelled by the view of  Baby Mountain....
Oh.  Did you think this trip was free??  Silly.  The journey is only good when it cost you...Value, you know....
Now, now!  Tut-Tut!! No attitude!  Did you expect to get through the journey without costs and difficulty??
But look all you get!  The amazing soaking of nature at it's best, including the beauty in large, yellow and orange (*shudder*) spiders....Ain't that how it is?
(Did you miss your jack o lantern??  I think I know where it went....).
Oh, and lunch is included with the trip.  Always lunch but never better than with Spider Man and the Best. Waitress. Ever.....
And then, before you know it, the journey leads us back to the hearth; family, home, puppy dogs and all that brings you peace......Computerless Land is a nice place to visit but is confusing, isolating and often frustrating to dwell in for long...Thank you for your patience as I traveled....I have missed you and look forward to telling more of my crafting creations while in Computerless Land....But for now I shall just smile, glad to be back......

Verse Of The Day 2

My Favorites