Monday, January 31, 2011


I couldn’t believe the mess I made in my kitchen yesterday. 

It started with a bird I was cooking for soup. It was a small bird, so I chose a small crock pot to slow roast it. I like to cook the bird first, drain off initial juices, and commence again with vegetables and clear broth. However, I was late getting started in the slow-cooker process.

I chose a small crock pot (Pot I) to cook the bird. As it was cooking, I realized time would be insufficient to cook the vegetables by slow means, so I decided to parboil carrots, onion, and celery on the stove (Pot II). When the bird was done, I de-boned it, washed Pot I and put the bird and the cooked vegetables into it, and started to pour in a quart of broth. What was I thinking? Pot I was much too small. So I reached for a larger Crock Pot (Pot III) and carefully poured my soup into it. Ah – I smiled in satisfaction. This was going to work well. I decided the mixture could use some lentils and barley, so I added them. But -- I realized after the fact -- it was already 4:30 and unlikely that the lentils and barley would cook before suppertime. I’d have to think about that.

I made dishwater and washed Pots I and II. 

Meanwhile, even though it was late, I decided to make the “Quick and Easy” dinner rolls using half whole wheat flour. This was experimental since I hadn’t done it before. (We’re trying to eat more fruits and vegetables, more fiber, and less sugar. It would help if we really wanted to.) The bread making was an experiment and it was late and I was beginning to think the day felt like a nightmare. But recklessly I heeded not my own good sense and plunged on. I could tell that Nellie, ever at my side, was drawing her own conclusions as to my sanity. I managed to pull it together with time for the rolls to rise once. The kitchen looked like a disaster area, but no matter – just some dishes to wash, a counter to clean, the floor to sweep – all of which I did.

Back to the soup: at 6:00, as I was pre-heating the oven to bake the rolls, I realized the soup was just not ready to eat, so I pulled out Pot II again and transferred the soup from Pot III to Pot II so that I could cook it on the stove. I noted a look of wonder in Nellie’s eyes. She was right – Pot II proved too small. Still, it seemed stupid to use the stockpot for this relatively small amount of soup. Then I happened to think of a little steamer pot I bought at a rummage sale. I pulled it out (Pot IV), carefully ladled my soup into it, and brought it to a boil on the stove. Thankfully, the lentils and barley cooked and the soup was delicious – sort of.

I washed Pot II and Pot III and my bread-making mess.

I was very careful not to let frustration get the better of me and throw things. Yes, I admit it – I’m a door-slammer / thrower when I’m frustrated. Although I was outwardly calm, Nellie knew of my state of mind. But when I went to pour my milk, I knocked a glass from the cupboard and it shattered on the counter. Once again I cleaned the counter and swept the floor.

In the end, the soup had too much pepper and the rolls were heavy. We ate it all anyway, saying things like, “I like it spicy” and “the rolls turned out fine.” Then we rewarded ourselves with dessert of rich German chocolate refrigerator cake – almost candy – that Mike received for his birthday. So much for more fiber / less sugar. KW

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Someone asked me if Ina ever mentioned sharing scraps for quilts. Yes, she makes such a reference in this letter to her sister, Mabel, in October 1935:
I’m planning on sending you some scraps, Mabel, and you can divide with Mona. I promised Edna some scraps of the dark and tan print dress I wore when there but don’t think I have any left big enough to do her any good. As I recall it we sent the last batch of scraps to Idy Jane and Edny, but now I can’t remember if that particular quilt is done or not. Wasn’t it a star made up of crazy work diamonds, or was it just the diamonds? Anyway, you used very small scraps and these will not be sorted as to size for we don’t know what you’ll use them for. This is to be passed on to Idy and Edny. And did you get the snowball quilt done?

I didn’t know what a “snowball quilt” (a certain traditional quilt pattern) was until last week – couldn’t even read the word in Ina’s scrawl. It’s wonderful how answers pop up the more we learn.
I can just hear the conversation over Ina’s dress while she visited her sisters, Ida and Mabel, in Drain, Oregon. Niece Edna says, “Aunt Ina, let me show you the quilt I’m making. I just need a certain dark piece in each diamond pattern to set off this green. Why, just look at it against your dress, Aunt Ina! That fabric is just perfect. Oh! I surely wish I had a piece this color.”

“Well, Edny,” Ina starts slowly, “I am tired of this dress – sick of wearing it, in fact. I’m going to make it down for Ruth when I get home, so I’ll send you the scraps for your quilt when I’m finished.”
“Oh, Aunt Ina, would you?!” comes Edna’s reply.
So, Ina evidently re-made the dress and is forwarding the scraps, but in the end, there were no sizeable pieces. Perhaps the quilt went back on a shelf to wait again for a good scrap of cloth to come along.

[The photo above was take on the farm in November 1942. Left to right: Ida Jane Patchen (Ina's sister); Edna Patchen (Ida's daughter); my grandmother Ina Dobson; Ina's daughter Pearl Sanders; Pearl's son Stanley Sanders; and my grandfather Julian Dobson.] KW

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


A while back I spoke of my interest in Mary Brooks Picken, my current study in obscure historical figures. When I heard that Mrs. Picken had written the Singer Sewing Book, 1949, I had to have a copy. And not one of those subsequent revisions either. It had to be 1949 because that's the year it was first published and the year I was born. I wanted the book to have the look and feel of 1949. I found a copy available and affordable through Amazon sellers and the book was in my hands last Friday. It did not disappoint. [The photograph is a scan from the book.]

"Why did you order that Singer sewing book?" asked Mike. I knew what he was thinking – that I had purchased a Singer manual when I sew with a Bernina. I explained that it is not a machine manual but a manual of sewing techniques – and written by Mary Brooks Picken.

On the dedication page, Mrs. Picken writes: "This book is dedicated to women and girls – and especially to teachers of sewing everywhere – who enjoy the feel of fabric, the beauty of textures, the precision of stitches, the smoothness of seams, and who delight always in appropriate fabrics carefully cut and made up for a happy purpose."

Yes, it is about the fabric and what we create from it. And to that end, many of us frequent fabric shops and purchase samplings of what we like, which we subsequently hoard in what is called a stash. We hoard toward the day when we have the time or the right blending of colors or the right pattern. Personal stashes have been known to grow beyond management.

I didn't much understand the present-day stashing of fabric until recently. Heretofore, stashing to me meant leftover remnants from finished projects. The concept of buying fabric with no particular project in mind or saving fabric toward the day when you would use it was outside the parameters of my training. The "aha moment" came when I discovered the wonderful, magical, online world of quilt fabric manufacturers. Heretofore, I actually believed fabric was about individual bolts, mostly at Jo-Ann's. I knew that stores would seasonally clear the fabrics, but I didn't realize that the system involved the discontinuance of whole lines of fabric. Since this enlightenment, I've been obsessively searching textile manufacturers' sites, seeking the latest word on fabric lines. Why, the thought that the beautiful fabric showing snow-laden trees might possibly disappear this spring just makes me run to the nearest online retailer to get my yard before its gone forever!

And free patterns! I have downloaded free patterns from the fabric manufacturing sites. Personally, I think it behooves textile manufacturers to provide free patterns as a marketing ploy. Yes, I truly believe they should woo me by showing me what I can do with a certain line of fabrics, how the finished product might look when these fabrics are blended, and then offer me the free pattern to further feed my obsession and encourage me to buy the fabric. Once understood, the system glides along pretty well.

But – there's something else. In the process of this discovery, I lost my fear. I discovered that I have definite likes and dislikes both in fabrics and quilt patterns. In fact, most of what's out there doesn't appeal to me at all. I find that so freeing! I learned that I can appreciate beauty without owning (sometimes), and that I don't have to undertake a project that's beyond me in order to create a product that delights and satisfies. And -- I don't have to be an expert to pursue my interest.

Wouldn't it be fun to see something Mrs. Picken actually made? I know she was initially a sewist, and undoubtedly she had a firm grasp on sewing techniques, but I wonder if her career to promote sewing and fashion allowed her the time to create in her own sewing room – or if she even had a personal sewing room.

Two borders are now attached to my "vintage holiday" quilt. The appearance will change again with the next border addition, which will be more challenging to construct. The blocks were cut from a handkerchief panel and the little green "ornament" blocks were from the same fabric line. The sashing and the border prints are of fabric from my personal stash. KW

Sunday, January 23, 2011


I used to think this day was so far off it would never come. The "Old Codger" turned 70 today. He took the dog out for a hunt and returned to wash the pick-up and the car. While he was gone I gave him a special birthday treat by vacuuming – usually his job.  I also washed and mended the dog's pillow, fixed quail for the crock-pot, and made his favorite pie, "Mystery Pecan." I made a half recipe of the pie filling and baked it in a little pie dish inherited from my mother. I figured anything with cream cheese, sugar, pecans, and vanilla can't fail so much that it won't be edible. Plans to have friends join us for supper were postponed due to illness. We'll probably re-schedule for "Super Sunday."

"The house looks nice since you vacuumed," said Mike. "I think you're better at it than I am." Yes, I am.

Thanks for the cards and calls. KW

Nellie's eyes say it all: "I had the pillow just the way I liked it, Kathy."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Over at the Last Resort, Chris speaks of being "one-dimensional." At this time, her interest in sewing room projects apparently precludes other interests. My mother called it having a "one-tracked mind." When she was absorbed in sewing, for instance, she resented any activity that took her away from her sewing and admitted as much. I also suffer from this syndrome – perhaps it's a human failing. And I know that if I do become distracted, I might not take up this project again – and that's a lurking buffalo. Wherever I get stopped then becomes a stopping point and I don't easily get back to the project.

Anything can be a buffalo for me. Maybe I need to learn a new technique. Maybe I need to correct a mistake. Maybe the project just isn't coming together the way I imagined. Even fear of finishing a project I'm enjoying will get me stopped. Mother called it a hurdle. When I was young and working under her watchful eye, she would say, "I'll get you over the hurdle." Then she would correct the mistake or work through the hard part and set me up to continue, but I didn't like that. It seemed dishonest to say I had done the work when Mother had helped. She didn't see it that way. She felt that my ability to cope with difficulties would come with age and experience and it was important that I should know the fulfillment of completing a project and moving on to the next.

So far I have completed the center section of my "vintage holiday" quilt, but now I must leave it for a day or two to pursue some other interests, and I do hope I'll be able to get back to it and take it on to completion. I have enjoyed the work. KW

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Our neighbor at Gilbert called the other day. He said he had driven into our place that afternoon with just a little trouble at the last steep pitch. He assured me that we could drive in if we wanted to. I appreciated his call, but we have already fully winterized and don't need to go. "We might not get more snow, but we'll have more winter weather," he predicted. "'Course," he went on, "as my dad used to say, a fellow who'll predict the weather is a fool."

Someone asked if Ina ever wrote about the weather. Indeed she did and also Bertha and other family members. Mankind has watched the weather forever and I'll leave it to someone else to wax profound about that. I hardly consider myself an expert. But I can tell you about a few winters at the Gilbert farm where dry land farming is still practiced. "Thank the good man for the snow and rain, the farmer's best friend," wrote my Aunt Lynn (Myrtle Dobson).

"Well, we all have our troubles, don't we?" – wrote Bertha to her sisters in Drain, Oregon, on November 26, 1933. "Here you are dreading the winter, too. Let's go to California. The flowers bloom all winter and they have so much good fruit. I heartily wish the Dicksons and Patchens had gone to California instead of to Idaho. I like California next to Illinois," she adds, as though she knows much about either, I'm thinking.

On December 17, 1933, Bertha wrote again to the Drain sisters: "Today we are having sort of a blizzard from the southeast; wind blew all night. We have had lots of rain, too, and the ground all bare. June said Ina had a rose blooming on the lawn when he was down last. She sent Ruth a bouquet of chrysanthemums for her birthday [Nov. 10]. They were just budded but came out in full bloom. I still have them and they are so pretty."

Before Bertha mailed that letter she added a postscript: "Thermometer 40 above this a.m. and June says if it storms it will be rain. The ground is showing in spots. Have let the chickens out nearly every day and can probably let them out this P.M. The mail man still runs his car."

My dad (Vance) was expected home for Christmas in 1933, but in the end he didn't come. Here's what Ina had to say about that in a letter dated December 31, 1933:

"Yes, the weather has been terrible. And we are greatly disappointed, but we are trying to forget it; in fact, we hardly let ourselves plan too much, for I told Shirley it didn't seem you'd really come, and so many things could happen to prevent, yet toward the last we did believe in it. . . . We were afraid we'd have a black Christmas but Sunday it began snowing and Christmas morning we had nearly 6 inches and a lovely snow falling."

So, they had a lovely white Christmas, but then Ina adds in this New Year's Eve letter: "The snow is all gone off in a rain and dreadful reports from California over the radio last night – 12 inches of rain in 30 hours, lives lost, damage to houses, bridges, roads, etc. We never had such work before at this time of year."

The disappointment that Vance didn't make it home was perhaps felt more deeply since daughter Myrtle did make it home from Portland. Myrtle wrote to Vance as follows on December 29, 1933: "I got through in good time, the train was 5 hours late into Lewiston and we used all the tracks north and south bank, but still I got in in plenty of time to catch the stage to Orofino. Ed Ingram came for me and we had a hard time making it in from the highway. Six inches of snow on top of soft roads. There was a heavy mantle of snow over all the trees."

In a letter to Vance dated January. 14, 1934, Ina again wrote about the weather:

"No one here can recall such rain and floods at this time of year ever and we had such high winds for a week or more. June's old bean house blew down onto the grass separator damaging it a good deal. One big branch of my "Corot tree" was broken out. It was the big olivet cherry, if you remember. Dad cut the tall pine just back of the house. It had become dangerous, but there are still others back of it to shelter the house. He also cut the group of small pines just northwest of the hog house. Some were dead and now it gives us a beautiful view of trees and mountains to the north and east. We hated to cut them but are glad to be so we can see out and we have such lovely changing pictures."

And in that same letter packet (January 14), Shirley added: "This is such a strange winter. We had a skiff of snow Friday night, but today it is all gone and the ground quite soft though I believe not all the frost has gone out of it. It rained a bit yesterday up here and quite a little in town. People are surely sick of it, but it does help those who are too poor to have much heat, when it stays so warm. Seems colder tonight and is somewhat cloudy so it may snow.

To conclude, in a brief note dated February 8, 1934, Ina commented as follows: "Almost mail time and I'm very busy today canning meat and otherwise caring for it. Weather like spring – fields and hills are greening." And of course, as pleasant as warm February days are, lightening the morale, the danger is that a frost can still occur. KW

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Mabel and I are working at the quilt. I have yours most done, Ina – have sent to Chicago for some old style calico to fill out your blocks and set Mabel's together. Ida got me some green for Mabel's little flowerpot quilt when she was down the valley. She has that and her ? quilt all set together and is finishing her log cabin. It is going to be pretty. Ida wants her to quilt the one that Lulu gave her as she is such a nice quilter.

There won't be so much to do after the fruit is all taken care of and then I can rest and piece me a quilt as I have a nice lot of pieces and need another dark one for common wear. But I am not going to hurt myself if it don't get done at all. Lucy Dickson (Ina's mother) writing to her from Drain, Oregon, Feb. 13, 1904

Here we are – 107 years later – and my little great-grandmother's words connect her to quilters as though she were speaking today. Never mind that we can't quite tell who's making the log cabin quilt and who's the "nice quilter." We can still relate. We know the ever-popular quilt patterns (flower pot and log cabin). We understand her need for just the right fabric ("old style calico" and "some green" purchased in town). And we'd love to see her stash of dark pieces which she dreams of piecing into a quilt "for common wear." And isn't that just the way! Before we've finished the two projects we've got going, we're already thinking of what we'll do next. It looks as though Lucy thinks she'll be able to get to that quilt by next fall ("after the fruit is all taken care of"), but note that she lets herself off the hook. She acknowledges that she might never do it.

Leah asked if Grandma Ina made quilts. Yes, she did. At least, she makes reference to piecing quilt tops. From the correspondence I've read, including the above, it seems as though pieced quilt tops were given as gifts, leaving the recipient responsible for quilting it or not. It seems to me that a quilt top is rather useless unless you finish it somehow, even if you tie it. But it begs the question: Are you really a quilter if you just piece tops?

I assume Ina had quilts on her beds, but only two were left in the house, and those were old ones used between the mattress and springs. They were both patchwork quilts made from pieces of wool, such as might have been cut from worn out men's coats or trousers. A little decoration was added by means of embroidery stitches and a few short pieces of lace and on one quilt, as a point of interest in all that drab fabric, just one small piece of beautiful red velvet. Both quilts were heavy and tied rather than quilted. Who knows? Perhaps one of those was Grandma Lucy's quilt "for common wear."

My mother told me that Ina had pieced a quilt for each of her grandchildren – except me. In real life I wasn't close to Grandma Ina, who was nearly 80 when I was born.

I am not a quilter. I have never finished a single quilt. But I seem to keep trying. Besides the "vintage holiday" quilt I'm currently making, I have another at the point of finishing and the pieces cut for a doll quilt. And even though I have yet to build the successful quilt, just like Grandma Lucy, I have the next project in mind. Frankly, I find the work a bit tedious and sometimes I wonder how it is that women (and some men) down through the ages have made beautiful – and some not so beautiful -- quilts. It demands accuracy and that seems daunting to me, but I ask myself – Am I not capable of being accurate, of cutting in a straight line, lining up edges, and sewing a straight quarter-inch seam? Some days the answer is no. Quilting presents many ways to fail, but I happen to know at least eight people who legitimately call themselves quilters, four of them members of an art quilt group making original quilts. One is a man. One is my childhood chum at the "last resort."

So what is it that inspires us to quilt? KW

[This photo card presents an odd grouping dated 1902. Clockwise from top left: Lucy Dickson (quoted above); Julian Dobson; Grace Mason (Julian's niece); and Ina Dickson Dobson.]

Monday, January 10, 2011


Last year our honorary Uncle Dan went off to the local garbage disposal site and while he was there, he checked out the book recycling bins. That's when he spied the old-time sewing publications that someone had disposed of. Now, Uncle Dan has an avid sewist at his house in the person of Aunt Chris, and he immediately recognized the worth of these vintage manuals. Gathering a sampling, he took them home, and she immediately sent him right back to the disposal site to get the rest of them. Alas! Too late. They were gone.

"What's the name on those publications?" we asked Aunt Chris. "The Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences," was her answer. And an internet search of that institute brought up the name of Mary Brooks Picken. "Through further research I learned of Mrs. Picken's work in the world of domestic arts, sewing, and fashion. I gathered that in her day Mrs. Picken had been an important player in providing education for women, and yet, I had never heard of her. But then, I asked myself, just how much do you know about the history of domestic arts, about those who established training for women in household arts. I had to admit I really know nothing about it. I determined to research further, perhaps find a book . . .

Before many months had passed, I noticed a synopsis of Amy Barickman's book, Vintage Notions, An Inspirational Guide to Needlework, Cooking, Sewing, Fashion, and Fun (2010). It was the title – Vintage Notions – that drew my attention, but in reading about the book, I discovered it was dedicated to bringing Mary Brooks Picken out of relative obscurity and introducing her to the modern world. I noted the title on my Christmas list and found a copy under my tree, courtesy of my daughter.

Ms. Barickman credits Mrs. Picken as the sole inspiration for Vintage Notions, calling her "a wildly talented, intelligent, creative, and courageous woman" and "an American heroine." On the title page Barickman notes: "The material [in Vintage Notions], both editorial and artwork, first appeared in various publications of The Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences, located in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Most of it appeared in periodical newsletters and magazines published under the names Fashion Service and Inspiration, between the years 1916 and 1934. Many of the essays reprinted here first appeared in the book Thimblefuls of Friendliness by Mary Brooks Picken, copyright 1924." I might add here that Picken also authored The Singer Sewing Book, 1949, which was apparently her most widely distributed book, but if you're like me, you think more of the content of such manuals than who actually wrote them.

Mary Brooks Picken was born in 1886. I immediately relate Mrs. Picken to my own ancestral timeline because my maternal grandmother, Nina Mae Saunders Portfors, was also born in 1886. To excerpt from Barickman's introduction: "As was the custom, she [Mary] married young and began a traditional home life that would later directly influence her career path as the first American authority on home arts and founder of The Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The school, founded in 1916, was the heart and soul of Mrs. Picken's vision and combined correspondence courses with classroom instruction in dressmaking, millinery, cooking, fashion design, beauty, and homemaking. It attracted students from around the world as enrollment climbed to almost 300,000 women, making it the largest school in history devoted solely to the education of women." So, as the ideas Mrs. Picken promoted were used and accepted in society, her work undoubtedly influenced my mother's generation (born in 1909) and was perhaps reflected in my mother's skills and attitudes. We might say that this work is the foundation upon which today's experts continue to build, regardless of how much it has changed.

Ms. Barickman explains that she found Mary Brooks Picken through the publications of The Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences, and her research materials undoubtedly included the same titles that Uncle Dan found in the recycling bin. She says: "I conceived of this book, Vintage Notions, to rescue Mary Brooks Picken from obscurity and to reintroduce the inspirational essays, clever sewing patterns, cooking basics, and beautiful illustrations from the Institute's newsletters with a fresh and modern voice. The book is organized seasonally – each chapter represents a month of the year – because our lives are keenly connected to the change of seasons, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear."

Just to give you an inkling of the projects in this book, the January subjects include soup-making basics and how to make an apron from a man's shirt.

KW's Project Report: I spent four hours cutting strips for the "Vintage Holiday" quilt. I found a new use for a 5-pound weight. Yes, I made several measuring mistakes. I only bled once. KW  

Friday, January 7, 2011


I couldn't think of a dessert for our New Year's Eve supper. I needed something special but not too labor-intensive. "Remember that cake you used to make," Mike asked; "it had a ribbon of red all through it." Well, I couldn't think of any cake like that and I was slightly ticked about it. I figured he was thinking about someone else's cake. But half an hour after that discussion, it suddenly came to me -- "the Ruby Slipper." It was my cake after all!

I found the recipe for "The Ruby Slipper" in a magazine ad for Jello in the 1970s -- the era when bundt cakes were popular. I had realized that baking varieties of traditional holiday goodies just wasn't going to work for me, at least not while the children were little. Still, I wanted something that looked festive -- something I could stir up and bake quickly. "The Ruby Slipper" was the answer.

So, on New Year's Eve 2010, "the Ruby Slipper" once again came to my aid. Fortunately I had all the ingredients on hand -- a yellow cake mix, a box of raspberry Jell-O, and some sour cream.

"The Ruby Slipper"
1 package yellow cake mix or pudding included cake mix
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
1 package (3 oz.) Jell-O Brand Raspberry Flavor Gelatin
Combine cake mix, sour cream, water, and eggs in large bowl. Blend, then beat at medium speed 2 minutes until creamy.

Spoon 1/3 of batter into well-greased and floured 10-inch fluted tube pan. (I really like my silicon bundt pan for this cake.) Sprinkle with 1/2 the gelatin. (It's important that the gelatin not touch the side of the pan.)

Spoon 1/3 of batter carefully over the first gelatin layer and sprinkle remaining gelatin over batter.

Lastly, spread remaining batter over gelatin to cover.

Bake at 350 for 45 to 50 minutes, until cake springs back when lightly pressed. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool on rack. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar, if desired.

I found many recipes for "the Ruby Slipper" online, mostly the same. One cook uses 3/4 cup water instead of 1/4 cup, and she might have something there. The batter is really thick and a little hard to spread. KW

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


We had a great Christmas, and it helps to pass the winter. People can do things like this if they want to. No use to let everything go because of hard times. Ina, Christmas 1932

The "things like this" Ina mentions are simple gifts and the sharing of food with friends and family. I love Ina's concept that Christmas should be a celebration that helps us pass the dark winter months. As the days grow shorter we prepare for the holidays. After the event passes and we wait while short days become longer and warmer, we should have inspiration to carry us through to spring -- the memory of a happy celebration, kindnesses shared, gifts that keep on giving -- like books, games, projects, and planning for spring planting, travel, etc.

Move forward we must, and to help me do that, I always make resolutions for the new year. I suppose these aren't resolutions (goals) as much as a plan of action for my year. I enjoy the exercise of writing it out and the focus it provides, especially during the "dark" months. I believe that I'm better for this organizational effort. 

New Year's Day I rummaged around in the guest room where I keep my fabrics, yarns, and supplies. In the course of re-organizing my Christmas fabrics, I came up with a Christmas quilt panel, a 1930's style reproduction handkerchief print, that I had ordered on a whim a couple of years ago. It was on sale and I'm always curious about reproduction prints. That it was part of something larger didn't occur to me at the time.

"How do you use this thing," I wondered to myself. The panel was designed for Exclusively Quilters, and by searching their website I discovered it had been part of a line of ten or twelve coordinating fabrics called "Vintage Holiday." A pattern for a quilt using the panel and fabrics was offered free, so I downloaded it. I am such a novice when it comes to quilting, but I was getting the picture. This fabric line was produced in 2007 or so and was now likely discontinued and if I really wanted to make this quilt, I should begin at once to search for the fabrics as they will only become more scarce. In the end I might have to make substitutions. I gave myself permission to continue.

The first place I searched was my own stash. As luck would have it, I discovered I already had some of the coordinating fabrics received by chance with a fat quarter medley of 1930's reproduction fabrics. Of course, this discovery only served to feed my obsession. Finding remaining fabrics became an online quest.

And I was moderately successful. First I found a remnant, "Red Snowflake," and some yardage, "Green Candy Cane," which I ordered. But a rep from that shop called to say they couldn't find the Green Candy Cane even though it showed in inventory. She gave me the option to search the website and substitute another print, which I did. And through an eBay store I ordered four yards of "Cream Ornament" which will be sufficient for the backing. Searching even deeper online, I found and ordered half a yard of "Red Ornament." 

Meanwhile, I studied the instructions and made notes. I cleaned the kitchen counter for a cutting surface, located my rulers, and shopped locally for a fabric to substitute for the missing background. I washed and pressed all fabric on hand. I copied the templates onto card stock and carefully cut them out. I'm ready to begin. Will this be easy? Absolutely not. 

It's a little like the new year -- move forward, one step at a time -- but move. KW

Sunday, January 2, 2011


My first of the new year shall be to you, as Ina would say.

We left the Gilbert farmhouse Friday morning, December 31. Mike must have made at least six round trips to the vehicles parked half a mile away -- out of this natural geographic bowl, as it were, to the flat at the neighbor's place. In the end we all agreed it had been the right thing to move the vehicles. Mike demonstrated for Nick and Hallie the house-closing routine.

Once Mike had taken their suitcases to their car, Nick and Hallie agreed that half mile was not too far to walk. After hugs good-bye, Nick donned his backpack and Hallie picked up her purse and the lunch they had packed. Off they went on foot, walking away. We've had some teary farewells but this wasn't one of them. Still, it tugged at my heart to watch them walk away. Such a slow way for leave-taking.

Finally it was my turn to be hauled to the pick-up, along with the last load of stuff. And while Mike took the 4-wheeler back to the house, I took pictures of the winter all around. I took a lot of pictures because, after all, we seldom see the place in winter finery. And then I scraped snow and ice off the Dakota. When Mike returned on foot, we were off. The Gilbert Grade was snow floor and slick, and in fact, we assisted in pulling a little pick-up out of the ditch on the uphill side of the road. However, at the highway, the road was okay and was finally free of all signs of snow as we approached Lewiston.

A phone call from Hallie Friday evening confirmed that they were safely at home. They had ordered a pizza for supper and were warming their house. They looked forward to playing "Jeopardy," the wii game she got for Christmas.

We are grateful for a memorable and safe holiday. The photos here are a sample of those I took on December 31. KW