Quilting, Farming, Variety

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Baby Quilts As Gifts

Next to doll quilts, I think baby quilts are my favorites to make. They're quicker to complete than large quilts and so one reaps the benefits of her work sooner. I rarely sell any quilts I make; can one really ever get paid enough for all the work that goes into making a quilt? The pleasure of making them becomes my reward. So, now and then I will give a baby quilt as a gift to a special someone.
This quilt went to my daughter's sister-in-law; she had said she wanted one of "Mama Charlotte's" quilts. I barely knew her but was flattered to know she respected my work enough to want a quilt. She was using butterflies as the theme for her nursery, so hand appliqued butterflies, flowers, vines, and bumble bees went into the solid spaces. She never contacted me to say a simple "thank you".
I became good friends with the young lady who cleaned my teeth; she was always so interested in the fact that I made quilts. She left the office before her baby was born and so one day I took this quilt and left it for her. Shortly thereafter a wonderful little note came with a thank you card. She sent me pictures of the new baby girl, and since then I receive cards from her at Christmas with pictures of the first baby and a second baby girl. Now and then she sends an email message. As for the quilt, the animals, fence, sun and clouds were hand appliqued with blanket stitches. The distant mountain was made from fabric which was printed with farm scenes.

I gave this quilt to the young lady at the dermatologists office who removed a cyst from my shin. She was so caring and skilled and I was so very thankful it wasn't melanoma! I had known her family for several years so felt confident she would appreciate a hand made quilt. When I gave the package to her I asked her to wait until I was gone to open it. (I'm very shy about my work, but notice it has a blue ribbon on it?) A few weeks later she sent me a thank you card.

Thank you cards aren't necessary; that isn't the reason I give the quilts as gifts. But, I suppose it shows my age; a word of thanks used to mean something. Maybe we get too many things now.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Getting in Firewood

Cold weather has finally come and it's time to bring in firewood. We heat our house with a wood burning furnace. Every year there are trees that die and fall or either are blown over by the wind so Noel never has to cut down live trees. However, we had some dozer work done this fall and rather than pile the trees to burn in a brush pile, he gathered the best ones into stacks for us to heat with. We bring the logs to the pasture near the house, then he can saw them up
into lengths suitable for the furnace. It can take a really big chunk of wood, but not this big,

so it has to be split. Now this is one of the best pieces of equipment on the farm, the BobCat; it has all sorts of attachments from post hole digger, to post driver, spear for loading hay, bucket for loading dirt, a grapple for loading brush, and this log splitter. While watching it at work I thought of how much hard labor it saves, comparing now to the way people used to have to cut and split wood. Just think how long it would take for two men to saw a tree like the one in the above picture, even if the tree was already lying on the ground. And how many swings of a sledge hammer onto an iron wedge would it take to split a chunk of wood that large.

While he is splitting the wood, I load into the back of this little handy RTV, (see, he's the brain and I'm the brawn), we haul it to the house and unload it under the porch at the furnace room. Let me tell you, this is not a job for warm weather! Getting in firewood gives you three chances to get the warmth out of the wood: 1)while loading it; 2)while unloading it; 3)when it's burned. Are you staying warm?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Feed Sack Blocks

I love feed sack fabric! Maybe it's because I remember going to the little country store, and after buying the things on the list of groceries which we needed, Mama, my sister, and I would go into the feed room, searching for a sack of feed that was in a bag with the same designs as sacks we had at home. The sacks were more or less a square yard in size, so naturally it took more than two or three to make a dress. In the feed room there was that wonderful, sweet smell of the cow feed. The sacks were in colorful, flowered, or maybe whimsical designs. Feed for pigs, "shorts" as it was called, came in plain white bags and these were used for quilt linings or dish drying towels. They could be dyed for a colored lining. After the feed was used, the sacks were washed on the rub board, starched, dried on the clothesline, brought in and sprinkled down, and then ironed with a heavy "sad" iron. (I wonder why it was called "sad"; because so many times the iron was too hot and scorched the fabric?)

This is a quarter of a block made from feed sack fabric; still a very bright color despite being probably 70-80 years old. Being a very difficult pattern must have had something to do with the fact that it isn't very well put together; too many "Y" seams! It seems to me the individual pieces weren't cut true to the pattern.
Although the points on the edges of this block aren't in the picture, you can see what a finished block looked like; I imagine it's about nine to ten inches, more or less square.

With this block you see that it made no difference if one ran out of fabric to cut all pieces the same; just add another print

These are twelve little squares from feed sacks. I have a small box full of these and other prints; I think they were meant to be made into four patch or nine patch blocks. Aren't they just precious? I had a blouse made from the third one down on the left and I think I had a skirt made from the one to its right. I don't know what is the best way to use them; keep them as they are, or try to match them up with white sacks and make a wall hanging? No matter what monetary value they might have, they mean more to me than any amount of money. The next person possessing them can decide I guess.
The last four squares have a little story behind them: my sister chose the sacks for a dress, but later didn't know if she really liked them, until we found the same pattern and color on fabric in the Sears, Roebuck catalog when we got home. Then it was alright.
Do you remember feed sack dresses or quilts?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Serve It Up Hot!

So, have you had your fill of turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, all the traditional Thanksgiving fare? I didn't crave the leftovers too much today, and with the cold temperatures this morning, I decided to go back to everyday food, and serve up some hot chili. Can you imagine a cuter way to serve chili than in a Campbell Soup tureen?
This collection started as a Christmas gift a few years ago (I know, you're tired of my collections!). Someone told me I should collect them, and I was off and looking. This time I was smart about what to collect and stayed with only one specific item instead of taking anything and everything related to Campbell Soup. Some of the tureens came with at least two mugs and a ladle, with the mugs being just the right size for a medium serving, leaving one the option of having a second helping without breaking the calorie budget.

I have enough sets for each of my grandchildren to get one when he or she starts life away from Mama's kitchen (if they want one); one granddaughter, in law school, has already taken hers. Another has chosen the one she wants and her name is on the bottom of the tureen.

The set on the left, above, smells like potpourri (probably from a shop where it was on display), despite a good washing, and it may not ever be suitable for holding soup.

As I have said before, I love the feel of stoneware, and these little soup pots make a sweet, colorful addition to a country home.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Oh, God...

Oh, God, when I have food, help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work, help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a warm home, help me to remember the homeless;
When I am without pain, help me to remember those who suffer;
And remembering, help me to destroy my complacency and bestir my compassion.
Make me concerned enough to help, by word and deed, those who cry out
for what we take for granted.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Vintage Tablecloths/Another Collection

What can make a table prettier than a vintage tablecloth; such lovely, bright colors to grace the table whether your plate is sitting on it or whether it's just there to be admired in passing. These linens have become one of my favorite collections. I don't remember Mama ever having one until she bought a kit which included the finished cloth with embroidery thread to work the design in cross stitch. We never had one with the colorful flowers and fruits.

About half of my collection came from eBay. As of this afternoon, there are 6696 results found for vintage tablecloths, so as you can see they are still very plentiful. The cloth on the upper left was one of the first I purchased at a flea market. Mama's embroidered cloth is in the lower right hand corner. The others were given to me by a cousin from my Aunt Marie's kitchen. The yellow one on the bottom of the stack has a design which seems to have been painted. The Christmas cloth will go on my table in a few days. I have one so big it fits the table when all three leaves are put in and it gets used for the Christmas dinner.

Most of these are in good condition; only a few are a little faded. For the most part they aren't stained either, considering there wouldn't have been stain removers such as we have now, when these were used. I love to use the cloths; they launder well and iron easily with a little spray starch and steam.

This is one of the few collections I have that I would like to add to in time.

Have a good day, Charlotte

Monday, November 22, 2010

Wearable Art

In yesterday's post I told you what an excellent seamstress my mother-in-law (aka Grandma Daisy) was. She began sewing when she was a girl, and continued, on to age 81, making clothing for her five children and later, the fifteen grandchildren.

My girls were in high school and junior high when she made these pantsuits for them. The blue ones were made out of denim and the tan was some sort of polished twill (?). The embroidery was all done by hand; what machine could match that? Imagine the time it must have taken. They all seem to be a southwestern design. Wouldn't the little tan one be wonderful hanging in a home with southwestern decor?

I'm keeping them tucked away, hoping some day the girls will take them and treasure them as some of the more special things Grandma Daisy made for them.

Enjoy, Charlotte

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thrifted Pillows

No doubt, when Aunt Inez was growing up in the 20's, crocheting was a common skill for young women to learn. She left proof of that when she passed away. When the day came for us to sort through her lifetime of possessions we found many beautiful pieces of her work: doilies, an apron, pillowcases with crocheted insertions and edgings, and tablecloths. Years of living along had brought her to put these items away to yellow with age and to be damaged by mice. We found many examples of the little rodents' work, gnawing single and double stitches, fillets, and connecting chains, until the loops had given way and left big holes in the items, as seen in this picture of what was left of a tablecloth:

And then, some of the items fell into the hands of my mother-in-law who was an excellent seamstress. She took sections from the tablecloths, bleached, washed, and starched them so the beauty was restored. She carefully cut portions and hand stitched them to pillows she had made. Now I have two of those thrifted pillows on my iron bed. Love 'em. Such a wonderful way to keep memories of Aunt Inie. Enjoy -- Charlotte

Saturday, November 20, 2010

If Only I Could Take It Back

Around this time, fifty years ago, we were making wedding plans and women were giving us bridal showers. I recall that we got more towels and casserole dishes than anything else and of course they're gone. But one gift still sits in the china cabinet:

I don't really know what the proper name for it is or what it is to be used for; I call it a decanter and we always used it for pepper sauce. I'd fill it with hot peppers, add some vinegar, and put it back to let the goodness age until we had greens or beans to eat.

I still remember the woman who gave the decanter to us; she was the single mother of a girl about my age, and some older children. No doubt she puzzled over what to give as a gift when she received the invitation to our shower, and while searching through the house for something she considered suitable, she came across the glass piece. Maybe she had used it for some time, or maybe it had been set aside because of its beauty. But she had determined to part with it and sent it to the shower.

When the glass piece had been used by us for several years, it sat empty for a time; just long enough for the stopper to become stuck. Although trying as hard as I could, nothing would break the seal time had put on it. My husband, using his physics logic, suggested pouring warm water over it. Warm water didn't work either; maybe it needed to be warmer, so I brought a kettle of water to a boil. Holding the glass piece in the sink, I poured the hot water over the stopper and then there was a loud CRACK!! A part of the lip fell into the sink. Oh what had I done!! Oh if only I could take back those few seconds it took for the water to go from the kettle to the stopper!! Why wasn't I more patient with the warm water bath?

I know I must have wanted to cry, but had to realize that, like Humpty Dumpty, nothing could ever make the decanter whole again. Since then I have thought how much our lives can relate to this: how many times have we poured out hot, angry, scalding words at someone, right out of the blue, only to regret it and wish we could take it back? An apology may seem to fix things, but does the other person ever really forget, or does he send the memories to the recycling bin of his mind and retrieve them now and then?

The glass piece is still pretty; I display it on the china cabinet with an apology, but the side with the missing piece is always there, turned to the back, and now and then I retrieve the memory and think, "if only I could take it back!"


Thursday, November 18, 2010

We Need a House/ Collections, part 2

See, I told you I like dolls! This is my collection of wooden Polish dolls. I purchased these on eBay; one would never find dolls like these in our neck of the woods. But, it seems that every time I find something I want to buy, the prices start going up; for instance, tonight they are going at prices ranging from $5.99 to $79.99 for a wedding couple. My dolls are about seven inches tall and in good condition. Some people call them clothespin dolls, but they aren't made from clothespins (I'll show you my clothespin dolls later). If you would like to read about them, here is a website: www.lotzdollpages.com/leuro.html . Scroll down the page to Poland and there you will find "Turned jointed 'Joli' dolls". Notice the prices: in a 1964 ad they were sold for $10.00 per dozen!

My dolls currently live on two shelves of my sewing cabinet; however, they need a house! Then they wouldn't have to stand at attention all the time, but rather could go about doing daily chores. Now we don't want a big pink, plastic Barbie house filled with little, pink, plastic furniture. We're talking about a real wooden house with a window or two where we could hang curtains; maybe even divide it into at least three rooms. Then we'd have a place to put these beautiful pieces of handmade furniture: a washstand with real terry towels and a china cabinet.

Or, how about a living room for the piano and rolltop desk?

Then this important person can roll the top back and see his papers and ink bottle.

These darling pieces of furniture were made by Daughter Two when she was a teen. My daddy made tables, etc. from walnut and oak and gave her little scraps of wood. Aren't they precious? I wish you could see the turnings on the legs of the piano. And they are just the right size for the wooden dolls. At one time she made a doll house out of an old TV cabinet, complete with a fireplace made from real rocks, papered walls and a stairway. I'd love to make a doll house. Saws scare me though; I guess I value my fingers more than I want a house. Maybe they can live on the shelf a while longer.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


How do you think toys made today compare with those 40 - 45 years ago? I know what I think: way down on the scale from one to ten. Plastic has overtaken the toy industry and very few toys now require some degree of imagination. Too many are electronic, giving the child little opportunity to be active in his or her playtime, maybe resulting in some of our problems with obesity in children. I can't imagine sitting for hours twiddling my thumbs on some little gadget.

It is my feeling that the best toys came out of the 1960's through the 1980's; maybe it's because those were the years when my girls were playing with toys. My generation had toys which were fair: dolls, metal trucks, bicycles, metal doll dishes, jigsaw puzzles, etc. My parents had less; they made toys from objects around them and made up games to play outside.

Now I hope you don't think of me as a hoarder when you see and read about the toys on this post. We kept most of the girls' toys for them, although none has shown a real interest in them since they're grown. But when their children were born, I was glad to bring things out of storage for them to play with. Someday, when the time comes to clear things out of this house, they'll know which toy belonged to whom and they can dispose of them as they please.

These two toys were given to Daughter One on her first birthday, making them forty seven years old. (Sorry for revealing your age.) The old red race car still rolls, although a little wobbly, after years of Indy 500 runs down the hall and back. The musical chime toy in the front, well, what can I say about it except it has been loved by babies and hated by adults. It makes a really loud chime! It's still able to chime when pulled although its wheels have pieces broken off and its handle was replaced with a string a long time ago.

I know the Army Jeep was given to Daughter Two and would be around forty six years old. It hardly has a scratch on it but I think it used to have a canopy. The truck was probably a shared toy since they were so close to the same age. It sits on top of a cabinet in my kitchen, loaded with antique wooden stacking blocks.

By the time Daughter Three came along, Fisher Price toys were available and I believe the barn was one of the first of their toys which she got for Christmas in the coming years. Some of the decorative decals have come off, but the cow still moos when the door is opened. The "little people" have faded smiles; in this picture the mom and farmer are from a later set. All the grandchildren called this woman, "Mama Charlotte" because she was the only one with white hair and I have white hair. The cow is almost as good as new, but the dog has lost his ears, and the horse, well, he can't hold his head up and he's lost all four feet! Poor horse!

This is an assortment of wooden toys: Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys (a bit worn so they don't fit as well as they used to), stacking rings, a pounding bench (another annoying noise maker), and the pull toy, mother duck and her babies.

This old hen is in marvelous condition for her age. Her decals are good, her pull string is still attached, and best of all, she still cackles when pulled. That noise doesn't annoy anyone. She's around forty seven years old.
And last, but certainly not least, is Mr. Bim. What can one say about Mr. Bim other than I believe he's reached the same social status as the Velveteen Rabbit; he's almost real. He's been dragged around for about forty years, had that banana stuffed inside his mouth no telling at the times, and used as a nap partner. I think everyone loved him with the exception of one granddaughter who was afraid of him.
So, that's a visit with the past. Two generations of little hands have played with these toys and I bet another generation would enjoy them too. Do you have saved toys?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

No New Thing

"The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing about which it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us." Ecclesiastes 1:9,10
Good evening, Charlotte

Monday, November 15, 2010

Collections, part one

I have heard if you have two of something, it's a pair, but three or more makes it a collection. There must be several collections in my house but only a few that make the list. In the next few posts I'd like to share with you some of my better collections, beginning with Homer Laughlin china. The Homer Laughlin China Company was started in Ohio in 1871; the location was probably chosen because of the clays which produced a type of pottery known as "yellow ware". The company is one of the largest in the world and still manufactures today with the popular "Fiesta" line. Many patterns were sold in the Sears and Wards catalogs. I can remember page after page of dinnerware sets in the catalogs, but of course had no knowledge of its origin. Mama was never able to purchase pretty dishes; however, in her advanced years, one of her sisters-in-law gave her a set of china. When I got interested in HLC and looked at the stamp on the back of those dishes, imagine my surprise to learn what she had.

The first dated entry of my collection was in October, 1997. The little notebook contained dates of purchase, the amount I paid for the item, the name of the pattern, the date on the item, and the store where I found it. Most of my purchases were made at flea markets. I didn't do yard sales; maybe there would have been more choices if I had. One woman who ran a local market had a reference book on the counter, so I wasn't going to get something for nothing from her. Christmas gifts in 1997 from the girls were pieces of china they had found for me.

The platter (below) was one of my first finds. It is in excellent condition. That's another thing: when I first started, anything with an HLC stamp on the back, was a temptation for me to buy regardless of condition. As a result I have some pieces that have nicks or chips and some have a lot of crazing (I call them age marks).

Below is a covered dish, or casserole, which is probably the oldest piece I have with a date of 1906. It's really in good condition considering its age. The plate is so neat with the "Colonial Kitchen" pattern. It's a little faded.

No collection is complete without a blue willow plate. The covered casserole dish has the "Apple Blossom" pattern and is like new. Both of these pieces are dated, 1945.

This covered dish sat on top of the refrigerator at Mama's for years, never used. It is in the "Autumn Gold" pattern; these were probably distributed as grocery store promotional items. The plate is known as a commemorative because it has a picture of a special place. This one happens to be a picture of the chapel at the University of the Ozarks where Noel and I were married almost 50 years ago.

The following picture is just so cute; I'd like to have a whole set like this. It's pattern is called "American Provincial", a Pennsylvania Dutch design. I guess is depicts our farm life pretty well.

And last, but not least, is the pattern, "Jean", which was given to Mama. Its pattern color is a very soft one. The guide book says these must have been sold in large quantities because they are easy to find.

I haven't bought any pieces of china in several years; there's just no place to set anything else. Some of my plates are behind glass in the china cabinet and the rest are down in the bottom shelves. Every now and then I take out a couple of plates for us to eat from. I like the idea of mismatched dishes; must have been how we ate when I was a child. I'd like to buy more (I love the feel of stoneware). I wish I had only collected platters or sugar bowls and creamers instead of snatching up any and everything. I hope you'll look in your cabinets, look on the bottom of any old plates you have, and see if there's an HLC hiding there. You might be surprised.


Saturday, November 13, 2010


Anyone who has followed my quilting activities knows how much I like to do redwork. Maybe it's the fact that I don't have to make decisions when it comes to selecting colors for the designs; just pull out the DMC floss, color number 817, and I'm in business. The August, 1998 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting magazine introduced me to redwork, the use of red thread to trace simple line drawings in an outline or stem stitch. The technique was popular from the 1880's through the 1930's and has recently been revived. Patterns were traced from magazines and newspapers, or preprinted squares, called penny squares because they could be purchased for a penny each, were available to stitchers.

The pattern for this quilt was included with the December, 2000, issue of the same magazine. The many, many stitches, both in the patchwork and the embroidery, paid off; it won a grand champion ribbon for me at the county fair.

This is a cute quilt for a toddler girl because it's more crib sized. The patchwork was paper pieced and the redwork blocks were taken from antique day-of-the-week tea towel transfers. The transfers were so fragile that I had to put them on the copy machine and use the copies for tracing them onto the blocks.

Here is a close-up picture of the work to be done on Saturday.

Little boy activities are the inspirations for these blocks. The nine patch blocks and the borders are made from plaid fabrics which go so well with the redwork. This idea for the quilt came from a picture in the December, 2000 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting.

A good chore for a farm boy: feeding chickens!

Two quilts were made by this pattern: a doll quilt and a baby quilt. I reduced the drawings on the copy machine to fit a four inch block and worked the math for the squares to make the doll quilt. Hint: always prewash those red fabrics!

The next two redwork patterns came from the Sunbonnet Sue website. They are month-of-the-year activities. The baby quilt was made of paper pieced log cabin blocks with the redwork blocks used in the center. (This is only the top, but it is finished now.)

The side borders on this doll quilt are not very visible but it was a very sweet little quilt. I sold this quilt to a grandmother who sent it to her granddaughter in Texas. I think they planned to use it as a wall hanging.
Redwork has been called a contagious pastime. Don't you want to try it this winter?