Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Grandpa Holton's creative talents

Grandma was picky (which I highly recommend everyone be when considering a life-long mate) and chose a wonderful man to be her husband!!!!  Talented, a fellow animal lover, hunter, hard worker, carpenter.  Both Grandma and Grandpa had a scanty formal education, as they were descendants of mainly Scottish immigrants.  Born in the 1800's they were mainly self taught after primary school.  Grandpa worked hard for the New York Central Railroad and did excellent carpentry work 'on the side' constructing cottages in the wooded areas of Upstate New York.   He also fashioned for me, his oldest grandchild, the most entrancing toy furniture.

Indulged child, I would say.  This is a photo I took of a photograph from the 1940's.  It was labeled Christmas and then the year it was taken.  See that darling little doll dresser with the tilting mirror - it was painted white and had little glass knobs on the drawers that actually pulled out for safe keeping of my doll clothes!  There is also a tiny china cabinet back there next to the dresser.  Those were handmade by Grandpa Holton.  If I remember correctly, the rocking horse was constructed either by Grandpa or my father, not sure who.  The shelves behind the horse were also made by Grandpa, I think.  They were painted the sweetest color of very light Robin's Egg blue.  Those shelves were where the toys were always placed when we finished playing.  No wonder my sisters and I spent so many happy hours playing 'house' with our furniture and baby dolls.  Grandpa also made a sturdy wooden table and little chairs to fit under the table - child size - so we could sit and have tea parties there.  The table and chairs were painted pastel colors.  I vaguely have a memory of when Grandpa and Grandma brought them to our home and proudly placed them in my bedroom (where this photo was taken so many years ago).  As I look at this photo again, I see that my chunky unshapely legs and thighs haven't changed much in 70-plus years!!!!  Goodness. I would say that I was one very fortunate little girl, wouldn't you?  Love abounded - pride in their workmanship, generous hearts.

This is the oh-so-soft, very fuzzy, much loved cat, Sandy, who resides (or should I say presides) in this house!  Sometimes I think if I blew him up about gazillion times, he would look EXACTLY like the King of the Jungle lions languishing at the zoo!!!!  This is one of those dreary, gray, chilly October mornings.  Of course, he has been curled up on this fleece blanket sleeping quietly the whole morning.  I have to force myself to get outdoors and continue doing some garden clean-up.  Will do that shortly, but there is so much left to do. 

One of my beloved sisters is coming on Friday .... I am ticking down the minutes.  Can hardly wait to see her again.  We plan to pick her up at the airport and whisk her out here to the country for a nice visit.  The above-mentioned unfinished yard work will be one of our projects together!!!  Hope we don't wear ourselves into a ragged heap!!!!
 The day I stopped at Knitting Daughter's home to pick apples, this was spread out on her kitchen table.  Appears she is again in the midst of writing a new knitting pattern and trying it out as she goes, amending the stitches needed for certain sizes, etc.  Her print-out is carefully being scrutinized, as the yarn is splayed out across the pattern sample!
Sitting patiently nearby is one of my 'Granddogs' Olive - who is just barely beyond her puppy hood and very sweet.  She is the family pet, following the loss of their most loved dogs last year.  Everyone in that home is grateful for Olive right now.
Well, I am grabbing a grubby but warm 'garden' coat, bundling up a bit, and going out to tackle some trimming and seed saving chores.

Friday, October 25, 2013

More Memories of Grandma Holton

Today I thought I'd share some memories of our "Little Grandma" that float around in my heart.  When I was about eight or nine or possibly ten years old, Grandma came to visit us in our house on the island before we moved to the Midwest, and she slept with me in my double bed.  For some reason, I don't ever remember her sleeping with me other than that one time!!!!  Cannot even imagine where else she would have slept during other visits - unless she visited us when Dad was traveling for his job.  Then she would have slept with Mom, I suppose.

Anyway, it was quite a phenomenon for me to share a bed with Grandma.  Snuggled warm under the covers I was aware suddenly that Grandma was floating into my room IN HER NIGHTGOWN OF ALL THINGS!  It was white, long to her tiny feet, had puffy sleeves with lace on the edge and was gathered at her tiny wrists.  Not sure, but I think lace appeared on the neck and bodice too.  Most likely as I think about it now it was a lovely nightgown she had fashioned herself.  The light was dim, not wanting to wake 'sleeping me'- and I was peering curiously at this tiny lady through lids that were only open a tiny slit, keeping it secret I was wide awake!!!  She began taking down her hair, for goodness sake.  It was only through sheer willpower that I didn't gasp out loud as she unbound that long braid that appeared as she loosened her bun!  Then, low and behold, her hair began to cascade from the braid, wavy and flowing all the way down her back!  It was shiny brown.  What happened to my Grandma???  She miraculously became a petite beautiful little woman!!! 

She quietly slipped into bed beside me, and the soft breathing rhythms of sleep began.  I lay there transfixed in wonder.  Grandma Holton was a pretty woman, not just sweet "Little Grandma."  Wonder of all wonders.  I will never forget that!

She and Grandpa always had a dog, and the pooch when I was little was a reddish spaniel.  His name was Dusky because his coat reminded them of the sky at dusk.  He held a prominent position in their home.  I loved him too.  Mom used to tell me that they always had dogs, and most often they were hunting dogs, because Grandpa was quite the hunter in his time! (More about that in another post.)  Usually the dogs were a male and female pair of Setters.  If I recall correctly the favorite breed was English Setter, but I think at one time they may have owned Irish Setters also.

This is a scanned from a very old photo, so it is not too clear.  But here is Grandma (in the woods with her dress, pretty feminine looking shoes and hat!!!) and Grandpa with Dusky.  I will share more another time about how Grandpa built some cabins in the woods by himself.  I think he would sell one and then make another for their home.  Anyway, Grandma and Grandpa were total animal lovers, so it is only right that my sisters, my children, and I are devoted to our pets!!!! 

Duncan, the English Angora being rocked like a baby.  Does he look a little embarrassed at being held like an infant????  Got to get my out-of-town grandchildren here to cuddle him!  Grandson number three, an extremely creative young man, gave me a long list of suggested English names - and Duncan seemed to fit the little fella!!!  Love that fluffy, funny, fantastic Mr. Duncan.

Today it is COLD out there - actually below freezing - but sunny and bright. 

So thankful for the bright sunlight!  Praise God from Whom all blessings flow - love the sun!!!!!
Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Cinnamon tea and applesauce anyone?

Jack Frost did his early visit last night.  Here in the Central Indiana countryside, we awoke to a light dusting of his handiwork covering gardens and farmland.  Basil wilting, tomato plants drooping, yards covered in a sugar frosting sparkling gently in the rising sunlight.  The view left me feeling a bit melancholy with the demise of summer and the fading away of vegetables and flowers.

Time for warm sweaters, hearth side fires, brisk walks, hot cinnamon tea and warm gurgling applesauce.   This kind of day calls for a brisk walk in the autumn chill where I can view in awe the red and gold splashed trees, smell the sharp aromas, feel the brisk air, come back inside invigorated. 

Oh - looks like 'someone' is deciding to curl up in the sunny window seat and take a wee bit of a snooze!

A nap sounds nice, but there are things to do, Sandy kitty!  (He is also known as Sandrew - a name given him by Lovely Miss Witty.  She thought he was far too sophisticated of a male to be called Sandy all the time.  He does, after all, take after a mighty mountain lion, if you please!)

But first, some tea and honey.

A number of my friends and family members, are most fond of San Francisco Cinnamon/Orange Spice tea.  In a pinch, however, Cinnamon Stick tea by Bigelow with a good full teaspoon of fresh honey will do!  Beehive/Artist daughter has allowed me to have two honeybee hives in the backyard, which she is patiently educating me on caring for while she does the mountain share of work to keep them healthy and thriving.  One of the hives was started from a swarm that she was requested to rescue from a tree in front of a local business.  Tiny little thing that she is physically, she is one mighty woman in spirit!  She suited up, climbed a ladder into the tree, and removed the swarm while the men watched her (safely ensconced behind glass inside the business)!!!!  She placed the swarm in a hive here in my yard, thus giving us that golden honey in the jar pictured above.  So good.  Such bounty!
Meanwhile, let's have some homemade applesauce!

A dozen apples peeled and cut into chunks, a dollop of fresh honey, a big fat cinnamon stick, some orange and a tablespoon of lemon juice - place in the big pot on the stove on low, and soon there is the low murmur of apples simmering.  The apples were picked from the drooping apple tree in Knitting Daughter's backyard.  Fresh, organic, delicious!  The aroma wafting through this house is pure wonder.  Wish I could bottle that sweet smell!

The bounties of autumn.  What a creative, artistic God we have.  All those shades of color - all the combinations.  Almost brings tears!  So lovely.

Enjoy this change in season.  Slow down a little.  Enjoy the simple things in life.  We are blessed indeed.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Quilting, Sewing, and Sharing Life

Ah, Monday nights.  We met again last night to sew, mend, quilt, talk, share thoughts, laugh, sip a warm cup of tea with a dollop of honey and share some sad moments ... good friends are priceless.  We were blessed to have one of 'Constantly Joyous' sisters with us from out-of-state.  Because of the government's funding issues, she was on furlough and had a few days to visit.  Not being one to sew, she was content to sip tea and do a sudoku puzzle or two while we 'solved the world's problems' together and shared tears over a lost pet.  A dear pup had to be 'put down' due to an incurable and fatal illness.  We are saddened.

Serious mending going on here!  Lovely Miss Witty is always on top of all the styles - as you can see from the beautiful fabric on the clothing she is mending.  What a girl!

Constantly Joyous carefully stitching the edges on a bazaar project!  Admire those autumn colors.  If you are in the Fishers, Indianapolis, Carmel, Noblesville area of Indiana, think about stopping at our bazaar The First Saturday in November.  Look for the signs on Allisonville Road across from Connor Prairie Farm!

One of our group (Wonderfully Kind) was missing from the group last night - thus an empty chair!  She was home ill with sinus infections aggravated by allergies - or is it allergies aggravated by a sinus infection?  Anyway, one sick little lady!  The country air in Indiana in the fall - a bad mix for those who suffer from allergies.  We missed her grace and kindness last night.

What is it about the sunlight around 6:30 in the fall evenings?  A special golden glow as it slowly descends into the western horizon - it just kind of gilds the tips of the hydrangeas as it softly leaves the sky.  So pretty.  Such blessings!

Have a great day.  Find joy in the simple things.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Quilts, Apples and Autumn Colors

Quilts, Apples and Autumn Colors

With night temperatures dipping down to the 40's and 50's, it's time for quilts and warm blankets to pull up around our shoulders, to snuggle down into, and to trap the warmth until morning.  A few pictures of a quilt that usually lies folded on top of my mother's cedar chest and I hand quilted a couple of years ago....a pink pillow for the guest bedroom bed that I did in a modified flower basket pattern and hand quilted .... and two more pillows I made for the quest bedroom (fondly named "The Girls' Room" by one of my granddaughters.)

This is one of the little pillows; it was made using an antique lace handkerchief.  Look at that precious delicate detail.  Don't you just love that? I couldn't resist using it to fashion a pretty pillow!

Here is the quilt that usually sits on the walnut cedar chest.  This one was a good way to use leftover pieces of fabrics and lots of pretty autumn colors.  

Here is the quilted pillow I made using a basket pattern.  I wanted the basket part to pop out, so I did LOTS of hand quilting all around it and only quilted little parts of the basket part.

These two photos above are a pillow made from another piece of antique linen, found in one of our hunts through a flea market.  I wanted to show you the really lovely handwork on the corner of it.

This is another one of my shots of pretty things I like - these perch on the top of a chest.  Look at those tiny little rose buds painted on the side - precious!  Again, it reminds me of "Little Grandma" because I think she would have loved it.  One of my sisters reminded me that "Little Grandma" also wore a hat and long gloves with her heels, dress, and jewelry that day she was taken to the Indianapolis 500 Race!  Can't you just imagine that fragile little lady daintily walking through the noisy crowds and stifling heat??  Bless her heart (one of Grandma Holton's favorite sayings)!!!!  I'm quite sure my sisters and I all use that phrase often too.

A bouquet with lots of autumn reds and golds, muted browns, oranges.
As I hold all these beautiful things in my heart, observe the leaves slowly becoming gold and red, enjoy my home, the 'kids', the garden ...I am grateful for these gifts.  It occurred to me that it is so very important I guard my heart and not love the gifts more than the Giver of the gifts.  Do I love the flowers, the gift of my family, my health, love of friends, fresh garden produce .... do I love these more than God, who gives all good things?  Hmmmmm..... Lord, guard and cleanse my heart!  Let me grow to know You better every day, Lord, to love You more deeply, and to never put others things first!
These were the only three apples left in my home - so a trip was made to "Knitting Daughter's" yard where there is a lovely apple tree bending over with ripe apples.  Some limbs were bent almost to the ground, and apples were plunking to the earth around us!  Plop - plop .... a whole bag was picked and is ready for me to peel and chop into applesauce with cinnamon.  Oh, will the aromas be delectable tomorrow! 
Enjoy this autumn weather and have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Rejoicing and Gratitude

"This is the day the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it."  Don't you just love that?  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!

Cool nights requiring a blanket, fresh morning air, clear blue sky, warming afternoon sun - just a perfect fall day.  Perhaps my favorite time of year.  Before fall completely takes over, frost touches the gardens and flowers, thermometers plunge, I wanted to share with you some of the flowers still in bloom from the gardens.  In bloom but looking pretty exhausted and about finished, especially that purple cone flower - poor thing! I say we enjoy them when we can!!!

I also wanted to share some memories of Grandma Holton.  We called her our "Little Grandma" and our other grandmother was, of course, called our "Big Grandma."  She was by no means BIG, but anyone would look big next to Grandma Holton, who probably only weighed about eighty pounds, was so dainty and feminine, so fragile and diminutive - and utterly wonderful.  She always wore a dress or skirt, often with a lace collar, always with a necklace and earrings.  I am sure she never wore slacks.  And most of all I remember she always wore little dainty shoes with heels.  Some were what I call sling back shoes, some had an open toe - but always little feminine heels.  One year Mom and Dad took her to the Indianapolis 500 so she could see the BIG RACE.  Mom just loved to go to that race and wanted to share it with her mother when she was visiting us.  Grandma wore her dress and heels!!!!!  Imagine!  She was a trooper!

I will close with a photo of some of my favorite things found on my dresser.  They remind me of my oh-so-feminine and dainty "Little Grandma."

Enjoy these fresh fall days.  Savor the moments. 


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Birthday Celebration

Monday was spent preparing for a birthday dinner celebration for one of the quilters/crafters in our group.  We meet every Monday evening to sew and quilt, craft, iron, discuss issues, and solve the world's problems (if only someone else would listen, of course!)  The group began when we met in the basement of a small church for a Bible study a few years ago.  There was an instant connection and great bond of love formed, which was strengthened significantly with the discovery we enjoyed quilting.  Monday night sewing was born!  The group has expanded, blessing in ways beyond measure.

Anyway, for the blogging purposes I shall name them;  Miss Constantly Joyous is always finding good, loves and accepts everyone, and has a laugh that is infectious; Miss Wonderfully Kind consistently gives to others and discovers a myriad of ways to exhibit kindness, contributing endless hours to her church and to those in need around her; Lovely Miss Witty continues to amaze us with her witty way of seeing situations and her extraordinary creative style, beautiful, young and very caring; and Miss Exact Detail composes quilts with every single square or triangle or corner meeting EXACTLY perfectly with her amazing skill and detail-oriented mind.  A beautiful mix of talents, personalities and well, just delightful women.  I am abundantly blessed to be loved by and to love them in return.

We celebrated Miss Constantly Joyous' September birthday last night (a few weeks late).  Delicious dishes were prepared and lugged in the door to the kitchen.  Lovely Miss Witty stopped on her way to work Monday morning to drop off the chicken with instructions on temperature and time for it to be popped into the oven, along with some homemade bread to be warmed.  As always, she looked ravishing in a burnt orange silky jacket and vivid scarf in complementing colors stylishly draped around her neck, hair shining - and all so early in the morning.  Miss Wonderfully Kind brought a 'to die for' batch of cupcakes concocted with layers of cookie dough, candy, and brownie mix - oh my - way too good!  Miss Exact Detail brought a crock pot slowly warming a pumpkin pie pudding - topped with whipped cream it was a perfect combination with the cupcake.  My contribution was rice and garden salad.

Below is a photo (not very good) attempt of showing you the table (which I dragged from the kitchen into the living room in front of the fireplace) set for dinner with the fire glowing in the background.  Miss Wonderfully Kind not only helped get the fire going, but also arrived early enough to run out beforehand to get fire starters when we were meeting obstacles in the fire lighting department!!!!  As a former Girl Scout, I just never mastered the fire starting bit!  But we did enjoy the simmering, popping, murmuring background with the soft light and warmth of the fire.  Sharing our lives, laughing together, savoring good food and local wine or herbal tea, feeling the warmth of the nearby fire, basking in love .... what an evening.

Oh, and here is a photo of some of the produce picked from the garden to make the salad for Miss Constantly Joyous' party.  Isn't God good?  Such bounty!

When I awoke Monday after the lovely Sunday rain, low and behold these toad stool type growths had risen in the mulch of the garden.  Overnight!  What interesting beings!  I could almost imagine little people resting beneath them in the shade, tiny little girls dressed in cute little dresses and Mary Jane shoes, with little ribbons in their hair ... and little tiny boy people with brown hair parted on the side, and little blue britches ... well, anyway, they were quite beautiful toad stools.  I wanted you to see the detail on the edges - the utterly stunning symmetry - one almost looked like a cheese cake in the garden!!!!  How can anyone NOT believe in God when there are toad stools of this beauty overnight????

Lastly, here are two more photos;  One of the Zinnias picked for the party, now standing straight and tall on the kitchen island to enjoy for the day!  And one of a quilt finished last year - all in pastels, hand stitched.  In my mind (old-fashioned, yes) a quilt should be hand quilted.  It takes me tons longer to finish a quilt than it does my friends, who make GORGEOUS quilted items which they have machine stitched by a machine called a long arm machine.  They are lovely, eye-catching, even breath taking; but to old-fashioned me, a quilt is something carefully, slowly, hand quilted.  They probably finish five or ten quilts to my one.  Oh well, I will be sharing photos of those in the future.

Tomorrow I will share photos and thoughts of the garden before Jack Frost decides it is time to appear!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Introductory Blog

God blessed us with four wonderful children - each gifted and talented in their own individual way.  A knitting designer, spinner, weaver; a talented artist, beekeeper, caretaker of animals including chickens; a creative photographer, cook and patient teacher to me on the camera; and a chef with wonderful recipes and tips for all of us on tricks of the trade - blessings all four of them.  I've wanted to start a blog for some time, and with their encouragement and great coaching, I'm going to share some thoughts and photos, ideas and creations, and hopefully get to know you too!

In explanation of the five photos above:
Duncan is the big white fluffy Angora rabbit who shares his fur with my daughter who spins the fluff into yarn for knitting into warm creations.  I give him a daily brushing, carefully keeping his fur in a bag for delivery to 'the spinner' of the family! 

Sandy is the sweet, soft cat who came to me a hungry stray eight years ago.  Thin, matted, full of burrs, starving, he has now become my companion and buddy!  He arrived at a desolate and grief-filled time in my life, just when he was needed most!

The lace and necklace are a few of my favorite things - I was practicing with my new camera.  One of my daughters is very patiently teaching me how to take photos - as you can see, I am a complete novice.

Finally, after a long dry spell, with grass withering to brown straw, and gardens gasping for water, it rained.  The occasion warranted an attempt of a photo of the raindrops on the screen, showing the slick wet deck and rain soaked yard.  Wonderful to hear the soft music of rain on the roof and window panes!

Lastly a still life of favorite sewing objects and reminders of other times.  Mom's darning tool...she would slowly mend Dad's socks in the evenings when I was a very little girl.  I'm not sure anyone even does that anymore!  Wooden spools of thread and silver thimbles. 

Hopefully this blog will show some of the sewing and quilting that is done here .... bounty from the garden, little bits and pieces of life as the days evolve.  My hope is we will all learn to slow down a bit, savor the moments more often, find peace and love and joy in the daily tasks, worthy work for our hands, thoughts for our minds, food for our souls.