Quilting, Farming, Variety

Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 Greetings

I want to wish each and every one of you, my readers, a very happy New Year. This has been a new adventure for me; thank you for your comments.

Each New Year's eve I think of one of the most foolish things I ever did and thank God he watched over us that night. In the 1950s there were fire towers stationed on the highest points of the mountains north of our community. The towers were approximately 100 feet tall with a little room at the top where a forest ranger sat and scanned the area for any signs of smoke from a forest fire. A group of six of us had met at my house for a while, and as midnight approached, we came up with the idea to climb one of the towers. Of course Mama said I couldn't go, but we gave her no heed and went anyway. As we slowly climbed, step by step in the pitch blackness, my shins bumped against every wooden step until we reached the top. The next day my legs were very sore but still I didn't tell Mama what we had done. However, one of the boys told his mother and she told my mother. I got quite a scolding and a lot of "what-ifs" for disobeying. It was foolish; "what if" one of us had missed a step in the darkness, or maybe even stepped on a broken rung. A couple of years ago I called the other girl with us that night and she hadn't forgotten it either. Teens!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Bent Twig


If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.

If a child lives with fear, he learns to be afraid.

If a child lives with pity, he learns to feel sorry for himself.

If a child lives with jealousy, he learns to hate.

If a child lives with encouragement, he learns to be confident.

If a child lives with praise, he learns to be appreciative.

If a child lives with love, he learns to love.

If a child lives with recognition, he learns to have a goal.

If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.

If a child lives with honesty, he learns what truth is.

If a child lives with friendliness, he learns that the world is a nice place in which to live.


(Quoted by Ann Landers)

Monday, December 27, 2010

New Start

It was 17* here this morning and this little fellow decided it was time to come into the world, regardless of the temperature, and soon the baby was finding its first meal. I didn't want to try getting closer and maybe break up their bonding time which is so important, especially on such a cold morning. This afternoon the temperature warmed up, the calf was all dry and doing well. It has thick, fuzzy hair; will it be a cold winter?

Yesterday afternoon I carried out the drying cedar and put away most of the Christmas things; I'm not one to leave them out until the new year. The tablecloths have been stripped from the tables and washed free of the crumbs of plenty; the napkins have been washed and ironed, ready to be slipped into their drawer until another year passes.

All our family was together for Christmas, minus the two oldest grandchildren. We chose not to have a traditional meal; instead we had soups, chilies, and salad. Great meal without much work for any one person. Lily brought a new game she got for Christmas, called Apples to Apples, and I think the grown-ups enjoyed it as much or more than the younger ones. Anyway, it sure got loud with all the happiness. This game could be very educational if the players would actually study the words.

Now it's time for a new start; I wanted to open my new jigsaw puzzle today but there was too much housework waiting. I don't make resolutions for the new year, but just take things as they come.




Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas, Friends

God bless you, love you, keep you...
at Christmastime and always.

Charlotte


Thursday, December 23, 2010

'Twas the Night Before Christmas ,,,

"The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there."
Well, here I am again, playing with my dolls! Their tree is my tree this year. We were so tied down with the chickens, up until the last couple of days, there wasn't much time to put up a big tree. So I cut this little cedar and made the dolls completely happy. I have a big artificial tree; who likes to put on all those stiff "limbs" and then fluff them out, only to have to take them all off and compress them into their box in a few days? I like the smell of real cedar and it always reminds me of the big tree at the church building when I was a kid.
While the children were all at school, some of the adults would gather to put up the tree and fix sacks of candy and fruit and nuts. On Christmas Eve there would be a program of singing, maybe a skit by the older boys and girls, and short poems by the little ones. We got a lot of those little poems from the Wee Wisdom and Jack and Jill magazines for children. I can remember singing "Up on the Housetop" one year, and when little Will got his 'whip that cracks', I slapped my hands together to make the snapping sound of a whip. After the entertainment, the gifts were passed around; we had drawn names earlier. Something like 25-50 cents was the limit we were to spend on the gifts. We removed the paper wrapping as carefully as possible, folded it and saved it to use the next Christmas, and we collected the icicles from off the tree to save for our own tree at home. Then as soon as everyone had had enough time to open his or her present, the sacks of candy were passed around, and oh! what a treat: a big red apple, an orange, English walnuts, and hard candy with swirled designs running all through the centers. And no one could ever forget the way the candy had sweated inside the cellophane bag, leaving sweet stickiness on the fruit and nuts. Then it was time to walk home in the cold, moonlit night, hang our stockings on the door knob, make a dash into the cold north room and snuggle down into the feather bed. I had one last question, "Does Santa bring switches to little girls?" Daddy had told us that he and his brothers got switches in their stockings.
So now I hold on to those memories and feel a little sad; what kind of memories will my grandchildren have? They have candy all through the year, fresh fruit, electronic toys, new clothes, fake trees, and bright lights. Maybe it is true, to appreciate something, you have to do without first. My dolls help me remember.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Current Project

Our chickens went out today; what a relief to have the whole day without walking through chicken houses! When the chickens are big it takes some time to go through them and so I get back to the house too late to do much before lunch. My quilting project has been worked on in spurts for the last two weeks. This is my current project, Railroad Crossing:

The arcs and flying geese units are paper pieced. I don't do paper piecing for the speed but for accuracy; I'd never get good points otherwise. Before removing the paper, I do a machine basting stitch along the seam line to follow. Just another step to help make good points. I have set the arcs and quarter circles together on the machine, sometimes using as many as fourteen pins to hold them in place. Instructions for the top said to applique the top of the arcs to the main part of the block (the green plaid); however, those sharp points didn't want to turn under, so instead, I used pins again and sewed them together on the machine. The finished top measurements were too small for a bed quilt, so since I have enough green prints I'm making an extra row. The rows, above, will be set together with flying geese units, and there will be two borders. At first I was afraid the colors were a little too dull, but when it's spread out they look really soft and pleasing, perfect for my little white iron bed.

Maybe I will have time to finish the top after Christmas and before we get more chickens.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fifty Years

On December 21, 1960, we began our life together. When I look at this picture I think, "Who are these people?' We've changed in appearance of course; I have white hair and Noel has less hair and we weigh more. And when I think of it being fifty years I say, "Golden wedding anniversary? That's for old people!" We've worked side by side on the farm most of these years, raised three wonderful daughters, and have six wonderful grandchildren. We didn't want a big celebration, with photos in the local paper, open house, etc., so tonight we're having a pizza party with our family and look at pictures on slides of the kids when they were little. We feel blessed to have good health and work to keep us busy.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Snowmen


I don't have a lot of pretty Christmas decorations sitting around in my house. I've really enjoyed seeing some that have been posted on these blogs. To begin with, if I had my choice of anything to put out, I wouldn't know where to put them. I've tried making things but I'm not much of an artist. These little guys are made from gourds; I do think the smaller one is cute. Their caps are made from the ribbed tops of socks and the scarves are just pieces of homespun fabric, snipped at the ends and tied around their necks. I have also made snowmen from flour/salt dough, but again, my sculpting isn't that great. The two larger snowmen are bought, wooden ones. I don't know that these are exactly meant for Christmas, for we hardly ever have a white Christmas, but they always come out at that time of year, and stay out a while longer, as does my Carole Towne houses and shops. So, with such a few things of my own, I'll look at your place for enjoyment.
This is a nice place to see gourd art: www.slatelady.com/gourd-crafts.html for whimsical pieces and there are lots of other sites for more decorative pieces; just "google " for them. I would like to grow some gourds next summer just to see what I could do with them.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Puzzles and Books



We attend a small church, usually thirty people make it a large group, and I like it that way; good, old fashioned hymns, and no power point screen hanging down in front of us. The majority of us range in age from mid-forties to mid-eighties, with only one little boy. Really this is sad that young people are not as active in church as in days gone by.


I guess you could say I have taken one woman, widowed and living alone, under my wing. I have known of her all my life but still, never really knew her. She is eighty six years old, still able to drive her car and work some in her yard. One Sunday she mentioned that she was working a jigsaw puzzle; of course that got my attention for that's a favorite thing I like to do when I have the time. We have several pretty puzzles, so I asked her if she would like for me to bring her a different one and she said, "Yes, if you want to." Well, that led to taking a new puzzle every week; she had plenty of time to spend on them. This summer she had a blood clot in her leg and when that was resolved, she felt she was spending too much time sitting down and told me she shouldn't be working on the puzzles for a while. Then later she felt like working them again, until I took one that was really difficult and she brought it back to me. But I wasn't willing to let her sit idle. "Do you like to read?" I asked, and she said, "Yes", so I took her Laura Ingalls Wilder's first book, Little House in the Big Woods; she read it in one week, brought it back, and I handed her the next one, Little House on the Prairie.


We had to miss church last Sunday, but I had another in the series for her. Now I'm wondering, did she have anything to keep her busy this week while the weather is so cold? I guess I'm just putting myself in her place, for it's not that many years until I'm her age and may need someone to bring entertainment to me.

Monday, December 13, 2010

When Did She Grow Up?

These are my youngest granddaughters, Brandie and Lily, fourteen and twelve. A few nights ago my daughter sent this photo to me and I had to ask, "Who is the girl with Lily?" When she told me it was Brandie I was totally shocked! for I hadn't seen her in over a year, and my, what a change from the little girl I remembered. She looks so grown up! Lily lives close to us, so I haven't seen that change in her just yet, but two more years and she will be so grown up too.
Brandie used to stay with me on days whenever her mother had teachers' meetings, etc., and it was fairly easy to find things to entertain her. She liked to play with dolls, and I kept old dresses, hats, and shoes for her to dress up in. I stretched a "clothesline" between two chairs and she pinned doll dresses on it for a pretend laundry. From old magazines and catalogs she cut pictures and glued them inside a cardboard box to make a room for paper dolls. Some days she tried her hand at embroidery; on others she stitched squares of fabric on the sewing machine.
So, I keep asking myself, when did she grow up? I think seeing her so changed has made me feel older than anything else has in the past; however, I'm happy for her, and Lily, you'll be next.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Change of Plans

Isn't it frustrating when you have something planned and then it all gets changed? My mornings are filled right now with the chicken work (they're five weeks old) so I don't make morning plans, just get lunch out of the way. I had unspoken plans to start a little red and white Christmas quilt today after lunch. I'm no different from other quilters; I've devoted all my sewing time to piecing a railroad crossing top and just needed a break from it, you know, different colors and pattern. So in preparation of starting something new, I straightened the sewing room and then fixed lunch. And while we ate, the plans were changed; "we need to work calves this afternoon before it rains and gets cold," he said. Of course it was very true, and after pouting about it a little while, I got ready to go.

There were 28 calves in this herd to work so it wouldn't have taken very long, IF they had walked down the alley calmly and taken their shots without such a fuss. I declare, you would think we raise rodeo livestock! Surely our guardian angels were working overtime this afternoon. We have changed the herd bull from Salers to black Angus so hopefully next spring things will go better.

With the next few days anticipated to be cold, maybe I can go back to my quilting plans.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's Already Been Done

After posting photos of the Wal Mart contest blocks, it was suggested that I use the idea to make an entire quilt. Well, it's already been done:

I used the free paper piecing pattern created by Caryl Bryer Fallert (www.bryerpatch.com/pattern/pattern.htm) when I made the contest block. I loved working with the small flying geese in a circle pattern, so decided to use it in a baby quilt. I chose to hand applique dutch dolls and farmer boys inside the circles, then I did reverse applique to put the circles onto the blocks, and finished it off with a flying geese border. The scrappy geese gave the quilt a lot of color. I entered the quilt in our county fair last fall and it came home with this ribbon; no explanation for its purpose, but a note on the back of the quilt said, "Judges loved this quilt", so I was honored. This is a perfect pattern for using up tiny scraps!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Buttons

Old buttons are interesting, aren't they? Those on cards carry a little history with them and the loose ones make you wonder what kind of garment they came from and who wore them. These old buttons are on cards which are nothing short of little works of art in themselves. On the cards are descriptioins such as, Genuine Pearl, Miss America, Starlight Pearls, Lady Washington Pearls, Mermaid Pearls, Lansing Pearls, Go-it Pearls, and Luckyday, (ocean pearl, the talk of the town). The third card down in the center row holds regulation military buttons for replacement. They are listed as follows: three shirt buttons, two jacket buttons, four underwear buttons, two fly buttons, and two trouser buttons. What kind of underwear was fastened with buttons? lol The big dark circle is a coat button I guess; it's three inches in diameter!


More buttons on their cards. Can you see the price on the full card of Lansing buttons? 10 cents!!
Lots of loose buttons. These are cute to use on quilting projects, but one would have to be careful they didn't fall into the hands of little folk.
How would you use the buttons?

Edited Wed. Since writing this post, I did some research on button dolls and found several good sites with pictures and tutorials. With all the trouble I've had trying to make clothespin dolls, I don't think this will be anything I'll do, but they are cute to look at.
www.thefrugallife.com/button_dolls.html for instructions on making a button doll
For pictures of button dolls, go to Google and click on Images of Button Dolls, then on the picture for stitch4stitch.blogspot.com for another good tutorial on how to make a button doll.
Good luck; if you try it let me know.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Contest Blocks

For a few years, Wal Mart held a quilt block contest; I suppose it was a sales gimmick to try to get women to buy fabric. There was a theme for each year, all but one of which I have forgotten. This block was my entry in 2004:
In 2005 I do remember the theme as being, "My favorite thing", and so mine was a circle of friends, faith, hope and love:
By the time I entered this block in 2006, the same background fabric had become common for the blocks as well as a circular pattern, and all were hand appliqued. I figured they could be put together into a wall hanging. As luck would have it, my block won the contest that year and I won a $25 gift card for my efforts.
The fourth block I made up for 2007, but the contest ended. Now I have four blocks, same backgrounds, and three circles; what do I do with them? Wall hanging, or slip them in with the friendship quilt blocks?





Sunday, December 5, 2010

Using My Imagination

Each spring, when the grass in the hay field has been cut and baled, these little trails, leading from the slough to Piney Creek, become visible. They criss cross and meander, worn away by the stepping of little animal feet: armadillo, skunk, opossum, beaver, deer. That's when my imagination takes over and a story begins to form in my head. Those small animals become real, working and playing to have a life similar to ours.
It would be a long day's journey for them to go all the way across the field and into the big woods on the other side. What would they find there, and what dangers would they face on the way?
This part of the slough becomes the river and isn't that hole beneath the tree a perfect place for a river rat's home? And what if he's joined by a mole, disgruntled from spending the winter underground and now trying to do his spring housecleaning; wouldn't it be just ever so nice for the rat to take him on a day's outing in a boat? Rat would introduce Mole to all the other animals who live along the river and in the field.

They're joined in their outing by a friend, and while the friend is out of his burrow, a snake slips in and takes up residence. Won't he be surprised when he gets home! Yes, that could be the beginning of a great story. But wait a minute!! That story has already been written!!

Kenneth Grahame wrote The Wind in the Willows from stories he had told his four year old son. The tales were told over a four year period before the book was published in 1908. I have read that the characters were based on some political figures of his time; however, I see nothing political about it, just good imagination.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Taking Advantage of Warm Weather

We've had some beautiful days for this to be December, so it was time to take advantage of the warm temperatures and work some calves. Last year we lost several during the cold spells and so we're trying to get a jump on the vaccination program to help the cattle go into winter in better health. I like working with cattle; they're a lot like people in the respect that each one has its own personality. Some cows are always the first ones to meet us when we take hay to them, while others hang back and wait patiently. A good threatening stick is almost necessary to have when taking the net off the hay bales. One cow has her own threat: big pointed horns, and she's always nudging on the hay bale before we can get the truck into neutral and set the brake.

Our cattle are scattered here and there, as are most all cattle in our community. Our acreage doesn't all join so we have to take hay to five places every day. Most of these old farms were covered in cotton in the thirties, and when the boll weevil put a stop to that crop, men terraced the hills and put out peach orchards. Around the beginning of the sixties, those orchards began disappearing and poultry houses were being built on places where nothing could be grown. Now the poultry industry is the lifeline of this county and the old farms benefit from the litter spread on them for fertilizer.

Good catching pens make it so much easier to get the cattle caught for sorting and working.

Inside the barn we have an alley set up to run the calves through and then they are caught in the head gate. I help sort and then catch them, keep records, and have the ear tags ready. Some calves walk calmly down the alley and others make a dash for the opening, stop suddenly when they seem to realize what's going on, and then try to bolt through. I have to stand ready to pull that lever quickly in order to catch them, and occasionally one gets through, but really, I'm pretty good at it. Even the vet bragged on me one time. lol






Friday, December 3, 2010

Quilts for Granddaughters

Besides the two grandsons, I have four granddaughters who also got a quilt that same year. There are no pictures of the quilts I made for the two oldest girls, but one was an appliqued lady with her bonnet and the other was made by a pattern from the book, Folk Art Quilts, by Sandy Bonsib. It was primiarly made from homespun fabrics.

The little Dutch dolls quilt was made for Brandie; machine appliqued, hand quilted, and the dresses were made from scraps left from her mother's little dresses.
Another Dutch doll, this time set together with attic windows sashing. Although each little girl is in the same pose, I used my imagination and added different things she seemed to be looking at, such as flowers, bees, a cat, etc., as shown in the three pictures below. Lily got this quilt.







I'm sorta noted for adding some whimsy to my quilts.



The basket quilt was made for a step granddaughter, Jessie. The flowers were machine appliqued, the baskets machine pieced, and then quilted by hand.


Now, to get one ready for each grandkid for a wedding gift, which, hopefully won't be any time soon! because I'm getting slower all the time.


Charlotte






Thursday, December 2, 2010

Quilts for Grandsons

A few years ago I made a quilt for each of my grandchildren; I believe they were all made the same year so I must have made better use of my time than I do now. This first one was for my older grandson. It is in the rail fence pattern and I appliqued baseballs here and there over the top. While quilting it I came across the last base ball which hadn't been appliqued, just fused onto the top. So, the whole quilt came out of the frames and the mistake made right. Pays to check carefully! Sorry, the picture is too pale to see much of the base balls.

When I made this quilt, the I Spy quilts were popular. Not only were they good for bed use, but for playing the game of I Spy as well, by cutting some of the hexagons from novelty prints. If you wanted to extend it into another game, have two hexagons from the same print and play a matching game.



This grandson wasn't very far along in school when I asked him to write words of animals and other objects on the top, and then I transfered and embroidered them onto the border. So, we have a record of his handwriting as well.

Do you quilt for a grandchild?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Old Quilts

There's just something about old quilts that we admire isn't there? Maybe it's the fabrics, the colors, or the fact that most were probably pieced and quilted entirely by hand, and most likely done by the light of a kerosene lamp. And if they were done by machine it would have been a treadle machine. There's the chance they were quilted by more than one woman. Quilting bees were a special social gathering for women of days gone by; something akin to our modern day quilting guilds.

I believe this lone star quilt is a real testimony to the talent of the woman who pieced and quilted it. It's amazing how well the points are matched! It is quilted in a large fan pattern. Upon close inspection the fabric seems to be from dyed feed sacks, both top and lining. This old quilt was found underneath a mattress, lying on top of metal springs, so it's a wonder that it only has a few rust spots on the lining. One other thing which seems to be common in the old quilts is the size; most were not really long enough to cover one's feet.

I love this quilt! It's a Trip Around the World pattern and doesn't seem to be made from sacks, but rather from smooth feeling fabrics. The colors are still fairly bright; just pale pastels to begin with. The lining suffers from a few rusty, torn places, which I feel could be mended. It is also larger than most old quilts; maybe that was the reason for the added border, to give it length. And, it's heavy! but I don't think it's put on top of another quilt, which was done sometimes; probably just the batting.

A very random, snowball pattern makes this quilt. The quarter circles, or snowballs, are string pieced. I imagine most of these fabrics are from feed sacks, although there may be a few broadcloth pieces. It appears to have been hand stitched.
Now this little quilt -- what can I say? The colors were very well thought out, the piecing is good, but somehow, it just doesn't seem finished; one corner is round, the opposite corner is pointed. I think it needed one more row of rings to make it symmetrical. But, no matter how that was, this quilt was very much used; loved to death, maybe? There are lots of frayed pieces; in the hands of certain people it might be recycled into stuffed bears, etc. I have taken parts of an old quilt and framed them, but I don't like to cut up these works of art.

We need to take quilts like these out of storage now and then to let the fold lines relax, as these lines become places where the fabrics may split. And that's true with our new quilts as well. I like to spread my new quilts out flat on the bed to let the fibers in the folds straighten, then when I put them away, I try to fold them in new ways. Ideally we'd have room to store them rolled up but no one has that much room.

Do your quilts need to go to the "beach" and relax?

Now, about yesterday's post: I didn't mean for it to turn into a sermon about thank you cards; however, it sorta seemed that way toward the end. As I said, it shows my age.