Monday, June 30, 2014

Doilies Done Up and a Surprise!

I took photos of the doilies I "did up" after my little soiree last week. There are quite a few here. I made them for my own use, but decided to show them to you after at least one follower asked that I do so.

You may get bored with one picture after the other of items that are no longer in favor, but follow me to the end, as I think you'll be surprised with what a person of the male gender is capable of!

Leading off with this one because it's so colorful. Purchased it at an antique mall.

Crochet, made by mother

Crocheted dresser scarf, as they were called back when.

I think these were popular in the 1950s; cotton or linen center with heavy crochet edging. I have tons of this kind.

Crochet; pineapple pattern.

A long cotton scarf with crochet edging. These were used on buffets or tables.

Embroidered dresser scarf, part of a set that includes two smaller ones. 

Another set of dresser scarfs. I left these on the ironing board a few days and the ends curled; they will flatten out when stored away.

Crocheted scarf. Due to its shape, I think they were used on the arms of chairs with a larger one for the back of the chair.

Crocheted centerpiece. It's blue, but for some reason doesn't show up as that in the photo.

These dresser scarfs made with the variegated crochet cotton were popular in the 1950s. Mother made tons of these and I have more than a few!

One of my favorites; crocheted centerpiece made by my grandmother.

Pillowcase with elaborate crochet edging, made by one of my aunts.

Same pattern as the red one above, but done in all white. The bottom portion of the photo is in shadow; it is all the same in color/tone.

More of the dresser scarfs with a combination of cotton/crochet.

The following is not part of the doily series but wanted to show you what my father-in-law does. He pieces quilts and quilts them by hand. He entered this one in a quilt show and won third place. He sent it to my husband as a thank you for fixing his computer. Log cabin pattern, two pillow shams to match. (Note the crochet edging on the bed sheets; done by my mother, of course!)

My husband does not "take after" his father, My father-in-law is an expert quilt maker and cake/bread baker He apprenticed as a tailor in his homeland of Germany, and had a career in that field after he came to the U.S. in the early 1950s.  The wall hanging above the bed? I made that.

And here's an example of my mother-in-law's handwork. Applique embroidery.  

Another applique embroidery tea table scarf with a Christmas theme made by my mother-in-law. The back of her handwork is as pretty as the front side. Once she looked at the backside of a needlepoint piece I was working on and said, "messy." True, but I'm not the perfectionist in my handwork as was she. 

Close up of the above scarf. It's beautiful and I treasure it.
And finally, one of my favorites - a crochet centerpiece by my grandmother.

Thank you for visiting my blog, and for your comments.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Fruits of Summer

It's peach time, so yesterday I bought a basket full of locally-grown beauties. In my opinion, there's nothing better than a beautiful and luscious peach at its prime. It's best when it's juice runs down your chin as you bite into it.

This basket of 18 peaches was $12. I have no idea if that's comparable to what peaches sell for in your area.
These are not quite ready to eat, as they are still firm. They are perfect to the eye; not a blemish or mark to be seen (but I do wonder what chemicals were used to achieve this result!). The man selling the peaches told me they could more quickly be ripened by placing them in the sun for a couple of hours. I will try that today for the ones to be eaten today; I'll place a few in a brown bag on the counter for tomorrow's eating and store the rest in the refrigerator, where they'll slowly ripen over the next few days.

Another summer favorite is cantaloupe. They also were available as a whole fruit but I decided to buy it pre-cut, as I don't need much. I'm the only one in the house who's a cantaloupe fan.

Mangos are one of my new-found favorites. They are usually reasonably priced at about $1 each. We used to never see mangos for sale in our stores, but due to the increasing Hispanic population in our area, they are everywhere now. Mangos are quite popular on the Hispanic menu, I think.

It's a bit tricky removing the large pit from mangos. I believe there's a gadget that does the job, but I just cut off as much as I can and gnaw off the remainder! Makes me feel like a kid again!

Speaking of the fruits of summer, I am happy to report that for the first time my four blueberry bushes are yielding more than just a sporadic berry or two.

No, there won't be tons of berries, but quite enough to flavor my morning yogurt, eat out-of-hand during the day, and perhaps make a pie. No blueberry jam making for me, however.

And the grapes! The vine had simply sat and done nothing for a few years, but this year it's full of fruit. They are still several weeks away from ripening.

These are some of my favorite fruits. I try to eat fruit each day, as we all know it's so good for us. I recently read that people who suffer from joint pain/arthritis should eat pineapple, which can "cure" the problem. Sounds too good to be true, actually. I need to further research that because if it's helpful, I'm going to add pineapple to my daily fruit eating ritual.

What are your favorites?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Starched Linens and Hope Chests

I had nine ladies – female cousins (on my daddy’s side) and my sister – for lunch and a reunion of sorts Saturday. It represented the first time we’ve all “just us” been together.

Outside in the gazebo. Of course, Kris was in the picture; he's never more than a step away from me!
It also was the first time I’ve set a formal table in a while, as at our house we usually keep it simple and eat in the kitchen.

However, when it’s just “girls,” it seems a good time to eat in the dining room, especially since I can seat more people there.

So out came the Irish Linen tablecloth, napkins and the silver. The centerpiece was an arrangement of beautiful white hydrangeas provided by my sister Edith. (Why didn’t I take a picture of the table??)

Of course, using table linens presents the problem of having to do them up afterwards. Wash, starch, sun dry and iron. Yesterday found me mixing up old-fashioned starch on the stove. (How long has it been since I’ve done that?) Dunking and wringing out by hand large tablecloths and finding a place for them to dry; no wonder my neck hurts today!

That done, the most difficult task was still before me – sprinkling down and ironing. I really don’t mind ironing flat objects, but it’s the size of a tablecloth that presents the challenge.

Beautiful pattern

Beautiful weave
I love linen fabric; there’s nothing like it, in my opinion. I used lavender water for sprinkling down and the smell was heavenly as the steam rose.

While I had the starch mixed, I thought I might as well locate the doilies and crochet pieces I've used over the years and never done up. There are quite a few, as you can see here:
Starched linens...

and more linens....
I have many drawers filled with similar handmade things -- embroidered and crocheted; counted-thread; cutwork; shadow stitch -- some terms not even familiar to the current generation. Most were made by mother, a few by me, some by grandmothers,aunts and mother-in-law. And a few I bought at thrift stores.

What will become of all our handmade things? It seems the younger generation has no appreciation for such. Go to any thrift store and you can find beautiful handmade doilies for a few dollars!

In years gone by, girls kept a Hope Chest, into which they placed beautiful things they hoped to use when they married and started keeping house. China, silver, crystal, linens. Girls don't keep hope chests any more.  We live in a Solo cup culture.

I received my Hope Chest as a gift from my parents when I was in high school. I use it now to store quilts handmade by mother. It's been relegated to a small room in the basement for years, but I recently decided it could serve as a sofa table (of sorts) in the living room.

Guess who AGAIN made his way into the picture?

Another view
One of my cousins brought this gift, a serving tray full of Golden Retrievers. Wasn't that nice?

Goldens Galore
Another gave me a book, and one brought a jar of strawberry jam she made.

Got to run now. More starched pieces need ironing!!

And by the way, I'm wondering now how to dispose of that pan of starch. It shouldn't be poured down the drain, as it can clog pipes. I suppose I'll take it out to the field and dump it.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sweet Smells of Summer

Beatrice Emma Parsons (1869-1955)
The Smell of Summer
Pencil and watercolour heightened with white
While some might label themselves visual – needing to see something to understand it – I consider myself an “olfactory” person, meaning my sense of smell is strong and has the power to create moods, transport me to another time and place and generate certain emotions.

I know that summer has really arrived when I smell it. For me it’s not barbeque grills, suntan lotion or even freshly mown grass.

It’s the scents of nature, the smell of the soil and the atmosphere.

Early morning smells are different from those of midafternoon, and different still from the evening scents.

I walk outdoors in the early morning and breathe in the damp, almost musty smell of the earth awakening from a restful sleep, the lingering scent of dew on foliage.

By midday the smell of the heat takes center stage, as dry, humid air has a scent all its own. Then, as night approaches, sweet scents of night blooming flowers – honeysuckle, flowering tobacco, evening primrose – woo the olfactory sense.

The sounds of summer also are special. Who can resist listening to the crickets, frogs and night-singing Mockingbird? But it’s the scents that best define the season for me.

Smelling the Abelia bush in bloom takes me back to late summer afternoons on my grandmother’s porch. Honeysuckle evokes memories of rides down country lanes in late afternoon with the car windows down, wind on my face.

Freshly plowed plots remind me of daddy’s vegetable garden; I smell the earth and see him there, hoe in hand, carefully checking the progress of his tomatoes.

Summer has a special meaning for most people, defined by vacations, the beach, suntans, swimming, picnics and the like. But give me the scents of summer and my memory bank allows me to travel to places and people I shall never see again.

Sweet scents and sweet memories.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Have You Had Your Sassy Water Today?

A hot summer day -- like today -- wouldn't be complete without a pitcher of Sassy Water. I make it right after I finish my breakfast and coffee, and drink it throughout the day. So refreshing!

If you've never tried it, you should. Besides tasting good, it's chock full of beneficial nutrients. You can read more in two of my previous posts about Sassy Water, here and here.

If you're using cucumbers from the grocer (which are waxed), it's best to peel them, which I've done with today's pitcher. Later, when fresh cucumbers are available from farmers' markets, or in my case, from the little potager garden, don't peel them; there are many nutrients contained in the peel as well.

A recent addition I've made to my Sassy Water is fresh, sliced ginger, if I happen to have it. Ginger is well known for its many health benefits, including dulling the appetite; helping improve absorption and assimilation of essential nutrients in the body; clearing sinuses; helping with nauseous feelings; reducing flatulence; lessening mensuration cramps; helping joint pain; clearing throat and nose congestion; and many others benefits.

Plus, ginger adds a faint zip to the taste. I add 3-4 slices to a half-gallon pitcher.

Make Sassy Water in the morning and drink it throughout the day. Just keep adding fresh water and keep in the refrigerator. You can reuse the additions another day, but after two days, toss them and start all over again.

Pour it into one of your prettiest glasses, drag out a seldom used linen napkin and enjoy!

Monday, June 16, 2014

To All the Dogs I've Loved Before

This sign is displayed in the veterinarian's office, and I photographed it last week when I was there with one of the cats.

The sign got me to thinking about all the dogs I've owned and loved over the years, so I gathered a few photos to share today.

The first dog at our house that I remember was a Shepherd mix named Tony, but I don't have a picture of him. Before that, when I was a baby, my sister also had a dog named Polly. I think she was an Eskimo Spitz.
Daisy was the dog we had when I was a child. When she was several months old my sister decided her name should be Lady, so she was called both, poor girl! She was a very sweet Collie mix.

Pee-Wee was a Chihuahua I "inherited" from a family member who could no longer keep her. She was the first house dog I ever had. She was a sweet sweet little girl, terrified of storms and extremely loyal. (1960s)

I had a love affair with Cocker Spaniels, and Nugget was the first one I got. Unfortunately, at 7 months old she darted out the front door into the street under the wheels of a passing car. (early 1970s)

Another shot of Nugget being spoiled by her Mommy.

After losing Nugget, my second Cocker was Gamby --who had a beautiful black and shiny coat. This was the first and only time I took my dog to a photographer's studio. 

Molly was another sweetie (aren't they all??) (1980s).  

Molly and the first cat I owned, Fibber.

Tracker was the first Golden Retriever in my life ( 1990s). We got him at 8 weeks and he didn't know he was a dog. He had his own car. No, really, I mean it! He's shown here, ready for his twice daily ride.


Rex, another Golden, was a rescue dog. He had a somewhat difficult time adjusting to life at our house but eventually turned into a sweet and loving dog. He adored water; is shown here in his kiddie pool.

Rex's favorite thing in the whole world was to ride in the back of a pick-up truck. Whenever it was driven around the property he'd hop up and be content to stay as long as chores were under way.

And then Val came into our lives. Also a rescue, she is as near the perfect pet as I've ever had.

And most every time she goes outside, she brings a leaf offering.

And then Kris joined Valerie in our home. What a sweet and devoted pet; I cannot take one step without him on my heels.

Val and Kris.

Each dog I've owned is still in my heart, etched into my memory for all the pleasurable moments they provided.Which of the dogs you've owned do you love best? The one/ones you have right now of course!

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