Sunday, January 31, 2016


Friday morning, Mike completed the shelving project in the storage shed and pronounced it ready for occupation. I set to work moving from garage to shed to house to shed. Friday afternoon Mike looked into the shed and declared that I would need more shelving. I hate to look a gift horse in the mouth, but at this point I’m not ready to say what I need.

Concern for certain goods stored in the shed has been voiced. However, I say the conditions are not far different from those in the farmhouse or in our town loft – cold and damp in the winter, hot in the summer – and things seem to survive. Nevertheless, dolls and my beloved vintage ephemera will stay in the house. The purpose of the shed is not so much for long-term storage (though that will surely happen) but to make useful things accessible. So far the concept is working well, but then, I’ve only begun.

I would say my little sewing studio has heaved a sigh of relief, but alas! if that were only true! It’s still a mess even though I’ve carried notebooks and bins to the shed. Now I have to reorganize the cupboards and shelves and reassign things that have been on the floor to new homes, and that takes both mental and physical effort. Sometimes I just have to close the door and walk away. Sometimes a solution comes to mind when I’m not in the room.

Here we sit on the edge of February, and I have to say that despite my best intentions, I didn’t finish projects as I had hoped in January. I didn’t sew, but I did finish a crocheted “teddy bear” tote for Emerson, who received a second “Build-a-Bear” for Christmas, and I’ve organized an unfinished afghan so that I can proceed with it. I also upgraded aged dolls and have more to do. But of course, the storage shed is a major accomplishment.

Bess relaxes in her favorite place
I said we had plans for the year, and one major plan has already come to naught. We had proposed to Bess that she should have pups this spring. They would have been born in March, which meant we wouldn’t be able to spend time on the farm until after mid-May. However, for whatever reason, Bess wasn’t interested in the suitor Mike chose for her, so that was that. Meanwhile, Mike decided he has misgivings about her suitor, too. Will we propose this to Bess again? Not sure.

A golden sunrise against a dark sky
By the way, here in our valley, the crocus and some daffodils have pushed up through the ground. Surely spring is on the way. KW

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


“What seems to be the problem here,” queried Mike as he stepped into my very cluttered sewing studio on a day before Christmas. “Oh, I see,”  he said with a laugh as he checked inside the cupboards.

I have been totally unable to overcome the clutter since last summer. “Put away three things a day,” I'd tell myself, but the cupboard was full. My sewing supplies together with stashes of this and that have grown to such an extent that the little room is overwhelmed -- and so am I. And I want more!
“Maybe you need a storage shed,” suggested Mike, and I readily agreed.

Were it left to me, I probably would have pondered the decision two more years, but Mike gets things done. We shopped several local storage shed manufacturers and chose the one we liked best – Clearwater Barns out of Grangeville. Our plan was to buy the smallest one, but looking over the brochure, son Clint pointed out that we would lose a lot of storage in the drop of the roof and suggested the next size up – 8’x12’. 
So, Mike called Clearwater Barns on Monday (Jan. 25), and because a unit in stock met our size and color requirements, delivery was scheduled for today (Jan. 27). Monday afternoon, Mike bought 2.2 ton of gravel, which he then spread over the “shoulder” of our driveway, especially where the shed would sit.

In my dream world, a cute little shed to be my work area / retreat would be lovely, but in the end I opted for just storage. Basically, the retreat, my little studio, is already in place with a comfortable couch, heat in the winter, and air conditioning in the summer, and it’s a reasonably clean place for dolls, books, and other treasures. The shed will take care of overflow from the house in general as well as from the sewing room. Mike teases me about the sewing stuff, but I think he’ll be pleased with the de-cluttering that takes place throughout the house. (I have a plan . . .)
Next up: Shelving. The owner of Clearwater Barns suggested using shelf tracks with brackets. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, and Mike thinks a rainy day is just the best kind of indoor work day. He'll have it ready in a jiffy. (Well, almost.) KW

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


American Girl Dolls Molly & Maryellen

Back in the day – the day of the ‘50s when I was a child – Healthknit was an underwear manufacturer. They also made pajamas for children, much like the footed Carter’s pajamas of today. (I think we still have Carter’s, but I’m not sure about Healthknit.)

I suppose I was about 8 when I saw a magazine ad for Healthknit which included an order form to purchase pajamas for a 16-inch doll. The amount was nominal, and Mother helped me order two pairs of pajamas for my two baby dolls, which I paid for with my allowance.

Well, one day, out of the blue, I got to thinking about those doll pajamas. I wondered if I could find them and if they would fit the American Girls. So I climbed into the closet, opened a box of doll clothes, and sure enough – there they were. They stretch nicely over the healthy bodies of those mid-century American Girl models, Molly and Maryellen.

Someone at the Healthknit factory must have had some fun making these doll pajamas. Perhaps an employee, maybe a grandmother, noticed that scraps of fabric and bits of the footing stuff were going to waste. “We could make doll pajamas with the scraps and market them with the kids’ pajamas,” she might have said in the Monday morning staff meeting. Perhaps she waited months for the go-ahead while she stashed remnants and scraps in the cupboard. Permission was granted but the project probably wasn’t really lucrative and was discontinued after the initial Christmas season. This is just history trivia according to Kathy, but wouldn’t it be fun to know how it really happened?  KW

[Photo -- My American Girl dolls, Molly and Maryellen, representing the 1940s and the 1950s, wear vintage Healthknit pajamas.]

Friday, January 22, 2016


With my parents, May 1967

Back in 1967, my first year at the University of Idaho – yes, it’s really been that long ago – my roommate came back after a weekend at home with two cans full of what she called Whoopie Pies. One was chocolate with a white marshmallow filling. The other was a nutmeg-flavored buttermilk cookie with fluffy filling, which I thought was “to die for.” My roommate generously wrote out the recipes and I made sure my mother had a set, too.

I was taken aback when Mother said she didn’t think those recipes were worth keeping. We would never use them, she said. Now, Mother had a drawerful of recipes that she was never going to use, so that she would actually toss those recipes spoke volumes. And it wasn’t just that she didn’t want the recipes, but she was calling on me to agree with her. Fortunately, I had my own cards, but it was a problem for me that Mother had judged them unworthy of being kept.
Kathy, 1967

I made Whoopie Pies once after I was married, I think, and my new husband was likewise unimpressed. “These aren’t cookies,” he said. Well, I guess they aren’t, but somehow they don’t quite qualify as dessert either. And they don’t keep forever. So, I never made them again and I must have tossed the recipe cards because I can’t find them.

Still, I feel exonerated by those experts at Cook’s Country who included Whoopie Pies in America’s Best Lost Recipes. Whoopie Pies are good! I didn’t post the recipe, but if you’re interested, many variations appear online. Just “google” it. KW

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


My Grandma Ina surrounded by five of her six children, c. 1953

The recipe for “Wacky Cake” is featured in both America’s Best Lost Recipes and The Time Reader’s Book of Recipes. It also appears in my recipe box as “Crazy Cake” in the handwriting of my friend Chris. Ingredients vary only slightly from recipe to recipe.

The editors of America’s Best Lost Recipes explain that during both world wars, women devised a variety of “make-do” cakes to compensate for the shortage of butter, sugar, milk, and eggs. This one-pan cake involves stirring the dry ingredients and then making three holes – two small and one large. Melted vegetable shortening is poured into the large hole and vanilla and vinegar into the smaller ones. Pour water over, stir quickly, and pop into the oven.

How does this recipe work? “Without eggs, this cake depends on the last-minute reaction of vinegar and baking soda to lift the thick batter. The three holes ensure that the dry ingredients (including the baking soda) remain dry until the last possible second. The lift provided by the baking soda and vinegar reaction is fleeting,” so it’s important to put it into the oven quickly.
Me -- prior to my baking days

Wacky Cake
1 ½ c flour
¾ c sugar
4 T cocoa powder
½ t salt
¾ t soda
5 T oil
1 t vanilla
1 T white vinegar
1 c water
Whisk the dry ingredients in a greased 8-inch square pan. Make one large and two small craters in the dry ingredients. Pour oil into the large crater and vanilla and vinegar into each of the smaller. Pour the water into the pan and mix until just a few streaks of flour remain. Immediately put the pan in the oven and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

I baked this cake the other night, and Mike deemed it as good as any chocolate cake I’ve ever made. (And yes, that means it was pretty darn good!) KW

[I didn't take a picture of the cake. Instead, as we celebrate recipes of the last century, the picture here is of my dad's family. Mother Ina Dobson is surrounded by five of her six children: Myrtle, Earle, Vance, Ethel Robinson, and Shirley Shockley. Perhaps they were inspired to take the picture because the eldest, Pearl, died a year or two before.]