Sunday, December 24, 2023

Bridle Path - Chapter 4 - The Christmas Surprise

 Merry Christmas Everyone!

Well, it's that time again, another diary entry from my packhorse librarian, Lexie.  The months slip by so quickly, especially this month with all of the Christmas preparations, entertaining, and parties. 

My friend Sharon made a Christmas Ribbons quilt pattern this year.  I love the large polka dot fabric and large stripe! Sharon will be enjoying her quilt on display for many years to come.

Now it is time to travel back to Christmas in Cobble Hill, Kentucky in 1935 to spend a few minutes reading about Lexie, my fictional packhorse librarian. The packhorse librarian program was started as part of the WPA program by Elenor Rosevelt. This is Lexie's fourth diary entry to her daughter Grace. Enjoy. To find chapters 1-3, in the search box on the blog, type in Packhorse librarian story.

Chapter #4 Month #4

December 1935

Dear Grace,

It is frigid and icy on these early December mornings when I get up around 4:30. I must wake you from a deep slumber and get you ready to stay with Grandma Millie. Before we leave the cabin, I try to bank the fire well enough to keep the chill off until we return. By the time we get home, there are just a few embers remaining, just enough to get a small fire going for warmth and light.

We cuddle up by the glow of the fire, and I read you a story from a picture book.  This is one of my favorite times of the day and it keeps me going just knowing I’m coming home to you after my rounds. I’m so thankful that Grandma Millie always has a pot of stew on the stove and a biscuit ready for me no matter what time I get to her cabin to pick you up. Even though I’m totally tuckered out, I devour the bowl of stew and biscuit that I’ve completely covered with elderberry jam.

Since your daddy passed, it is now up to me to haul the firewood to the cabin from the cords of wood your daddy so neatly stacked to get us through the winter. I look at the woodpile and know I’m going to have to spend a lot of time during good weather to replenish it.  The thought of sawing trees down and splitting the wood sounds exhausting, but it will need to be done on the days when I’m not working.  I never appreciated a single log of wood until now, and I thank your daddy every day for keeping us warm. It’s as though he’s giving us a comforting, warm hug and wrapping us in his love.

I’m so thankful for Daniel who works at Leonardo’s Mill.  He brings over a wagon full of mill ends for Grandma Millie and me. The mill ends are a perfect size to use as kindling and use in our wood burning stoves for cooking. You love to sit on the floor and stack up a pile of mill ends and squeal with delight when you knock them over. Your pile looks like the leaning tower of Pisa before it topples to the ground.

I put you to bed and devote a few minutes sitting by the fire, mesmerized by the flames licking the inside of the fireplace. This is my time to think about my day, the people I met, my path through the mountains, and the good the packhorse librarians are doing by bringing literacy and companionship to the people in the hollers.  I’m filled with gratitude for the opportunity to help my own family with the dollar a day that I’m earning, but the cost of my new job means less time for you, Grace.

There have been nights when I’m so hypnotized by the flames, that I fall asleep by the fire and wake up in the rocking chair with a stiff neck in the early morning hours and must start a new day. I thought that dawn was a dream, but then reality set in, and it was time to start my route all over again. This is the new route of my life for which I am very thankful.

My mama tells me the only way to work through my grief at the loss of your daddy is to help others in need.  I’m determined to blaze a trail through the mountains and through my grief at the same time.  So, I pack up my memories in the pillowcase filled with books and head out into the hollows to bring a spark of light to those in need.

Those McKevitt boys are at the forefront of my mind, and they tug at my heartstrings. I stopped by last week to pick up the Primers and Sears & Roebuck catalog I left with Mrs. McKevitt and the boys, Harley, and Donny.  There was an extra glimmer of excitement in their faces when they told me what they thought they were getting for Christmas… erector set.  They said their daddy told them they could make anything in the world they wanted with the gift they were going to receive. They were sure it was an erector set, and in my heart, I knew their dream would not be fulfilled.

After my visit to see the boys the week before and I heard about their desire to get an erector set, I headed over the see Mrs. Jerome Reginald Steiniger, the pearl-sucking prude, and asked if there was anyway, she could find the funds from the Ladies Aid Society to purchase an erector set for the boys.  A look of concern washed across her face and was quickly replaced with a frown. Her frown was swapped with a look of sympathy as she gently told me there was too much poverty and need in the area to spend money on something as frivolous as an erector set to make two little boys happy.

When I dropped you off with Grandma Millie, I could see that she had been busy making ornaments out of clothes pins for our Christmas Tree. There were two of the new clothes pin ornaments on the table. She carefully paints each face on the top of the clothespin, and paints black shoes on the bottom. She fashions little dresses and adds bows and bits of ribbon leftover from items she keeps in her wicker sewing basket. She sold some of the ornaments for a penny at the Christmas bazaar at the church. With her earnings, she bought a few oranges for Christmas and some lemons for pie.

I kissed you goodbye then headed over to the packhorse librarian room at the back of the library to fill my pillowcases with books and catalogs. I like to think I’m filling the pillowcases with knowledge.  I will be so pleased when I have enough money to purchase a set of saddlebags, because I’m afraid my pillowcases are going to deteriorate sooner rather than later. It also concerns me that my Starkey is getting poked by the corners of the books.

Some new items were available for me to choose from for the folks on my route. When I spied a Popular Mechanics magazine, I knew Harley and Donny would love it as they were so intent on learning how things work. Their poverty never put a damper on their thirst for learning.

I found out that I have a new stop along my route, Mr. and Mrs. Stoltz and their son Georgie. Everyone in Cobble Hill (us locals call it Cob Hill because cobble sounds too much like gobble) have always called Georgie ‘Little Georgie Stoltz’ even though he is now forty-two. Little Georgie thinks there is an Indian behind every tree and carries around a toy bow with a suction cup arrow. The family lives fairly close to town, so they are the first stop on my route today. 

Apparently, Georgie’s birth was a tough one, and Old Doc Wood needed to use forceps to assist in the delivery of a very reluctant and large baby.  Little Georgie was never right in the head, but he was very dear to his parents and everyone in town. The townspeople would pretend to be injured and feign terrific pain when Little Georgie shot a suction cup arrow at them. Little Georgie would collapse into gales of laughter which was a welcome sound around town. When he was talking to you, he was always pointing out the Indians behind the trees. We all played along with it and Little Georgie would dart off in search of the elusive Indians.

I found a copy of Robinson Crusoe while I was loading up my pillowcase and wondered if Little Georgie would enjoy it if I read a chapter or two aloud. I am not sure he could sit still long enough, but I think his parents would like to have the distraction of their minds being carried off to a different world filled with adventure.

Starkey, my dog Blue, and I headed off along the fence line up to those on my route. The first part of the route is easy traveling, but fairly soon the fence line ends, and the game trails begin, and up, up, up we travel. I enjoyed listening to the birds sing, an avian chorus as my mama calls it. The squirrels dart about storing nuts in anticipation of the harsh Winter. How do they remember where they store them?

Today is the Winter Solstice, which changes the rhythm of life in the mountains. Livestock was slaughtered so they did not have to be fed during the hard months of Winter. The meager gardens will stop producing and fresh vegetables will not be on the table. Only canned vegetables will be available for those who were able to put some away in root cellars.

Soon I arrived at Little Georgie Stoltz’s cabin. The rock foundation supporting the front porch is in need of repair, as is the rest of the foundation.  Georgie met me on the front porch with bow and arrow in hand. I raised both of my hands in the air in complete surrender and asked him not to shoot as I didn’t want Starkey to get spooked. I felt that I only had time to read one chapter of Robinson Crusoe, which they all enjoyed. Little Georgie was able to keep still long enough before he ran off in search of Indians. I told them I’d be back the week after Christmas and I’d try to make time to read some more to them.

When I arrived at the McKevitt’s I was surprised that the boys didn’t meet me outside. When Mrs. McKevitt opened the door, I saw the boys over in the corner engaged in activity with their one hand-carved truck made by their father. Mrs. McKevitt shared with me the news that her husband had recovered from his injury at the mine and was able to return to work, which was a godsend.

The boys were rather sullen until I took out the Popular Mechanics magazine out of my pillowcase for them.  They quickly abandoned their truck and laid right down on their stomachs in front of the fireplace on the cold cabin floor so they could both look at the magazine at the same time. They were very curious about an article on plumbing and asked me to read it to them. I had to explain to them what plumbing was, and they were amazed that people actually had an indoor outhouse!  Harley asked me if there was a half-moon on the door to let in the light. I didn’t have to worry that the pages of the magazine would end up in their outhouse! 

I told them I would be back right after Christmas to see them, which brought smiles to all of their faces.  I think baby Stanley even smiled.

Our Christmas Eve dinner was wonderful. We were so grateful when Old Doc Wood stopped by and gave us a rabbit and a few potatoes the day before. His patients often paid him with food, and he had more than he could use. Grandma Millie supplemented the fried rabbitt with cooked turnips and carrots from the root cellar. We also had a delightful and heavenly lemon meringue pie. What a treat and feast!

After dinner there was a knock at our door. We both assumed it was a neighbor stopping by to swap howdies and wish us a Merry Christmas. Much to my surprise, I saw Mrs. Jerome Reginald Steiniger’s ample bosom staring at me in the face. She handed me a round container of Tinker Toys and told me this was a more appropriate gift for boys their age, and I best get over to the McKevitt boys first thing in the morning. I never had such happy tears spring so quickly from my eyes. I wanted to hug her, but her bosom and the container of Tinker Toys got in the way, and I didn’t think she would accept a hug. This Christmas Eve is when I stopped calling Mrs. Jerome Reginal Steiniger the pearl sucking prude.

I dressed quickly first thing Christmas morning and rode over to the McKevitt’s with the Tinker Toys safely packed in my pillowcase, The Tinker Toys were wrapped in brown paper with a sprig of greenery on the top. I also had two oranges for the family.

The boys were on the floor of the cabin playing. They came running over to me and told me they didn’t get an erector set for Christmas, but instead they got a box of chalk.  They told me they could make anything with a box of chalk just like their daddy told them! They were drawing all over the cabin floor and complained to little baby Stanley when he crawled across their pictures.

As the miners went down into the mine, using a piece of chalk they put an ‘X’ by their name indicating they were in the mine. At the end of the day, they erased the ‘X’.  Mr. McKevitt asked the paymaster if he could have the small bits of chalk leftover at the end of the day. By the end of the week, the paymaster gave Mr. McKevitt a handful of small bits and pieces of chalk.

I did not want to diminish the importance of the gift from their parents, so I took them aside and told them what I had for the boys. Mr. McKevitt said the boys could use the chalk to draw roads on the floor for the cars they could make with the Tinker Toys.

The look of amazement on their faces was priceless when I opened the pillowcase and gave the boys their present. I told them Santa had delivered the present to the wrong cabin. I was just the delivery person without a sleigh and reindeer…..but I did have Starkey to lead the way. The oranges weren’t a huge hit with the boys, but they were for their parents.

I rode away from their cabin with a full heart and thinking 1936 is going to be filled with promise.

Merry Christmas everyone!




Saturday, December 23, 2023

Merry day before Christmas Eve

 Hello Everyone,

I know all of us are so busy this time of year as the BIG day will be here soon.  The presents are wrapped, the cards are mailed and now it's time to sit back and enjoy the season.

I forgot to put my Homemade Holiday table runner out on the Hoosier until the other day!  Maybe I have too many ornaments and table runners and forget what I have.

I started baking today.  If I start too early, we eat everything before Christmas!  I'm sharing my Orange Coffee Cake recipe with you.  We can't eat this before Christmas morning because someone may notice a missing piece or two.  I love sitting by the tree Christmas morning well before the house awakens.  I have a cup of coffee in hand and a piece of this coffee cake.....yum!

This is what it looks like just before it goes in the oven.

Orange Coffee Cake

¾ cup sugar                                                                            

½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1 tablespoon grated orange rind

2 (11 ounce) cans refrigerated buttermilk biscuits

1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese

½ cup melted butter

1 cup sifted powdered sugar

2 tablespoons orange juice

©      Combine sugar, nuts and orange rind in a small bowl.  Separate each biscuit; place a cream cheese square in center of one half, and top with remaining half, pinching sides together.

©      Dip in butter, and dredge in sugar mixture.  Stand each biscuit on edge in a lightly greased 12-cup Bundt pan.  Drizzle with remaining butter, and sprinkle with remaining sugar mixture.

©      Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until golden brown.  Immediately invert on a plate.

©      Combine powdered sugar and orange juice and spoon over warm coffee cake.



Thursday, December 14, 2023

Heritage in Hearthstone

 Hello Everyone,

I, like you, have been busy getting ready for the holidays, so I haven't been posting very often. I did run across this file on my computer where I re-colored my Heritage pattern using my Hearthstone fabric line.  I love the introduction of a bit of the plaid.

I really like it in this colorway and now I just need the time to make it!  Let me know if you would like the fabric requirements.

The house is all decorated and the presents are wrapped except for a few stragglers.  We've been going to Christmas parties and now it's time for us to host one tonight for some friends and neighbors.  If I don't get too preoccupied, I will post pictures of our dinner menu. If the recipes turn out, I'll post them too. The dessert I'm making is a Frozen Baileys Mochaccino, Mr. Joe's favorite.   He will be in the kitchen slicing and dicing with me today and he will be making a loaf of his sourdough bread. He's perfected his sourdough baking after several attempts which resembled hockey pucks. Now his loaves are company worthy.

Mr. Joe had quite the surprise which elevated his heart rate to a dangerous level.  He walked out the sliding glass door and came face to face with a bear on our deck railing.  He immediately backed up into the house while the bear leisurely walked down the steps to the lower patio.  I grabbed my phone and took these pictures.  Mazey, our bear early warning system, totally spaced out on this encroachment into her territory.  She never uttered a peep.

It appears that the mama has left the cubs on their own.  How does she leave them without them following her?  The cubs have been spotted around the neighborhood on their own and they've been getting into cars.  We are guilty of leaving our car doors open while unloading groceries and hauling them into the cabin.  We are going to have to be much more careful.

There's a lot on my plate for the coming year.  It's all good, it's all exciting, it's all very intimidating.  2024 is going to kick off with a big bang!



Friday, December 8, 2023

Month #4 Bridle Path Tutorial

 Hello Everyone,

I've been doing a bit of fighting with Google Docs and I think I finally made this document accessible on that platform, so you can easily print out this tutorial.  Click HERE to access the tutorial.

First of all, on Page 10 of your pattern, change the size of the plaid Piece B to 7-1/2" x 7-1/2".  The 6-1/4" x 6-1/4" will work, but you will not be able to line up your plaids as well.

Now, begin cutting your parts and pieces out for the interior of the blocks on page 11.  The pieces are shown below.  Using an Omnigrid or Fons and Porter 1/4" ruler, mark the stitching line on each of the lighter fabrics. You will be making HST with these pieces.

Stitch directly on the line, or just inside the line toward the center if your components tend to run too small.

You will now have (4) HST which look like this.  Press toward the dark fabric. No need to trim just yet.

Place a light/black HST on top of a blue/black HST.  The seams will butt up to each other.

I like to use a 1/4" and mark on each side of the ruler using a fine point Frixion pen.  Stitch directly on the lines.

Twirl the seams to reduce bulk.

Trim the required measurement at the top of page 32.  

The back of the block will look like this after you stitch the rows together.

I'm finding that I'm pressing more and more of my seams OPEN to reduce the bulk.  

The unfinished block measurement is on page 32.

Now I'm going to talk about cutting and adding the plaid triangles around the block.

The 6-1/4" x 6-1/4" will work as stated on Page 10 of your directions.  But your block will look more like the picture below.  Some quilters don't care if the plaids aren't matching, and that's fine.

If you want your plaids to match, cut a plaid square 7-1/2" x 7-1/2".  Follow my directions below, and the block will like more like this picture.

Working with a 7-1/2" x 7-1/2" plaid square, align the 45 degree line on your ruler to a line in the middle of the fabric square.

Now you are going to have to do some trimming around the square to get it to the 6-1/4" x 6-1/4".  Your ruler will be a little wonky on top of the square because the plaid wasn't printed at an exact 45 degree angle.  This is why I cut each of my squares one at a time.

Trim the square to 6-14/" x 6-1/4".  

Cut in like this and place them around the complete block as shown on page 11 of your pattern.

Stitch two opposite sides on, press toward the plaid.  Then sew on the other two sides.

Trim to the measurement on page 11 of your pattern.

For the red, follow the directions on page 10 of your pattern.  Cut the red square diagonally only ONCE.

I'm sure you will find that these blocks are a lot easier than the star blocks.  Be creative with the colors you use in the inside of the block.  If you don't like a combination that I suggested, then create your own.

If you ever have any questions, I'm just an email away.


Thursday, November 30, 2023

Bridle Path - Chapter 3 - Reflections

 Hello Everyone,

Here is chapter three in my Packhorse Librarian story, which is late getting posted.  Life has a way of getting in the way with trips to Quilt Market, my Sew'n Wild Oaks retreat, and Thanksgiving. It's been a very busy six weeks.

Remember this is a journal that my fictional packhorse librarian is writing to her daughter.  Month #1 is posted HERE.  Month #2 is posted HERE.

Chapter #3 Month #3

November 1935

Dear Grace,

Twenty miles a day in a saddle gives a woman a long time to think. I’m heading back to Cob Hill as it was my first day delivering books, literacy, and dreams packed in my pillowcases to families and individuals living out in the hollers of Cob Hill. My first day on the job was successful yet taxing.

As I was getting ready to leave the cabin very early this morning, I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror.  I looked a bit distraught since I had been rushing around the cabin getting myself and you, ready to leave for the day and stay with your Grandma Millie.  I stopped in my tracks when I saw myself in the mirror and I wondered just how many times your daddy looked at himself in this same mirror while using the shaving mug I gave him for our first Christmas together.  I just wish that mirror kept a record of reflections.  Maybe if I could look deep enough and hard enough in the mirror, I could see your daddy’s handsome face hiding somewhere in the depths of reflection. 

He would have been so proud of me as I’m trying to become independent and help us survive during these hard economic times.  I wouldn’t say that we are thriving as I haven’t received my first paycheck for $28.00 yet.  The check will arrive in December, just in time for Christmas.

The book drive at the annual Fall Festival was very successful thanks to the organizer, Mrs. Jerome Reginald Steiniger, president of the Ladies Aid Society and the pearl-sucking prude.  Many books, several old Sears & Roebuck catalogues and magazines were donated for all age groups.  I’ve been told by other packhorse librarians that the catalogs are very popular. To me, the catalogues seem very cruel to hand out as the items for sale are well beyond the monetary reach of most of the people in Cob Hill, including me.

I’ve also been told to be careful who I hand out the catalogues to.  Some of the folks like to tear out the pages and use them for chinking every nook and cranny in their cabins.  Maybe that was the origin of the phrase, ‘if walls could talk’.  The cabin walls would be talking up a storm in some of the cabins.  Unfortunately, over time, the mice shred the catalog pages for their nests.  We have the most educated mice in our county as they feast on words.

I headed over to the packhorse librarian room at the back of the library right after I dropped you off with grandma. I started selecting some items I would like to distribute, but I also had to keep in mind the names on my route which ranged in age from 2 to 92.  I only have two pillowcases to carry the items and soon as I get enough money, I plan on buying a used set of saddlebags for Starkey which will make our travels so much easier.

My first stop was at Nellie Welch’s cabin.  Nellie is a widow and has been living alone for the past few years.  Nellie has snowy white hair parted in the middle then wound around into a bun on the top of her head.  The bun is held in place by a tortoise shell comb, which I found out is one of her most prized possessions given to her by her husband.  I was so surprised when I saw Nellie all dressed up in her Sunday finest.  Nellie is 92 and she said she expected to leave this world any day now and she wanted to be all dressed and ready for her laying out. 

Nellie’s husband was an accountant for one of the largest mines in the area.  His accounting may have been a bit creative which allows Nellie to live in relative comfort after his passing.  They came to Cob Hill from Lexington where Nellie was a seamstress and made clothing for men. She told me she always wanted children but that was not meant to be as she had miscarriage after miscarriage. I felt that her body had healed but the trauma of a lost child was still visible in her deep-set eyes.  It was evident that age and misery had settled on her shoulders like a worn-out coat.

When I walked inside her cabin, I was overcome by the excessive heat.  She had shades on every window which were yellow with age and cast an earie yellow pall in her home.  As I sat on her horsehair couch, I watched the dust motes travel slowly before my eyes in a dance that only the dust knows each choreographed step. I’m sure the shades were drawn to keep her comfortable and safe inside her little cocoon of memories.  A Seth Thomas clock was in the corner with an excessively loud tick.  I imagined the clock was ticking away the seconds of her life like a metronome, while she waited for her end to come.  While she spoke, her lips kept perfect time with the ticking clock along with the clicking of her ill-fitting dentures.  She worked her tongue around her lips in part to keep the dentures in place, and as a habit while she spoke. She wore a large, elegant broach at her neck which I could only catch an occasional glimpse of when she moved her neck and her double chin wagged out of the way.  

Luckily Nellie’s neighbors took pity on her and shared some of the vegetables they grew.  She also had a handyman who brought supplies to her from town which she paid for with her creative funds from an account her husband left her. She shared some of the purchased supplies with her neighbors. 

She was absolutely delighted when I asked her if she would like to borrow a Good Housekeeping magazine until my next visit to see her.  Maybe, as she looked at the pages in the magazine, she would see that housewives kept their shades open and let the world inside and would give her the courage to venture outside.

My conversation with Nellie travelled with me to my next stop, the McKevitt’s, a family of five whose life had hit a hard patch. The dad had been home healing from an injury he suffered at the mine.  Hopefully he could go back to work soon as the family was really struggling to put food on the table and clothes on the three growing boys, Harley, Donny, and Stanley.  Mrs. McKevitt was the glue that held the flock together.  Worry was etched in her brow, and deep lines in her face, but she greeted me with a hesitant smile.  The boys quickly took my horse Starkey over to the water trough, but they had no grain to offer her.

The boys looked like they could be extras in the Spanky and Our Gang movies although they weren’t as well fed or well dressed as the actors.  They were full of mischief and wore the scrapes on their knees and elbows as a badge of courage.  Stanley was too little to join in the exploits and antics of  Harley and Donny, which was a good thing.  Those boys were a handful!

Mrs. McKevitt tried and succeeded in teaching the rambunctious brood to read since she had a 5th grade education.  I had some easy primers tucked away in the pillowcase, and her face lit up when she saw them as they were books she had read with when she was in school.  She promised to take good care of them until I returned with other books for them. 

Harley and Donny were keen to look at the toys in the Sears and Roebuck catalog.  The way they were tugging at the catalog, I seriously wondered if there would be anything left of it when I returned.  They quickly settled down on the floor and started pouring over the catalog page by page.  Oh, how they giggled when they came to the pages of corsets and girdles.  When they came to the pages of erector sets, they begged their mama for one for Christmas.  A look of sadness crossed her face as she knew that request could never be granted.  Mr. McKevitt just rolled over in bed and stared at the wall as he knew the family wouldn’t be able to put anything under the Christmas tree this year. 

Harley and Donny were the kind of kids that would flourish with an erector set. It could be life-changing for them to use their active young minds and create anything they could dream about.  My heart was heavy as I left the boys on the floor still looking at the toy section in the catalog.  I decided I would ask Mrs. Jerome Reginald Steiniger if they had any funds to purchase an erector set for the boys.

I continued up into the back country delivering books and dreams.  I was exhausted by the time I headed for home.  My mind couldn’t stop thinking about the people and poor living conditions I’d seen during the day.  I know everyone was trying to make do with what they had, but the future looked so bleak for many of them.  I slowly road back to Grandma Millie’s house while the images of all that I’d witnessed and listened to during my first day rolled around in the catacombs of my mind. 

I stopped at a stream to give Starkey a rest and a drink of water and saw the reflection of my face for the second time today.  This reflection wouldn’t last as it would flow downstream and take the image of my travel-worn worried face with it.  No one would ever see it but me… was gone forever.

When I got back to town, I was greeted by Grandma Millie cleaning a turkey out on the back porch.  Walt, the owner of the local gun shop, dropped the turkey off for us.  I’m not sure how Walt was able to go out shooting after his tragic fall out of a tree when he was much younger. Visions of Harley and Donny following suit worried me.  Walt got along on his crutches while dragging his legs behind him.  He still loved to shoot and would maneuver himself out into the woods and sit by a tree for the day and wait for the game to come his way.  He was a turkey whisperer and always managed to keep himself fed with small game.  It was so sweet of him to think of us in our time of need.

Grandma Millie planned to make a pumpkin pie for us, and of course a pie for Walt.  That’s what people do here in Cob Hill.  We look after each other and try to share the burdens we all carry with us.  This is Grandma Millie’s excellent pumpkin pie recipe.

I never knew how she was able to keep the temperature of her wood burning stove to an even 475 degrees.  She had a sixth sense when it was time to add more kindling or open the door of the stove for the wood to get more air and burn hotter.  No matter what, the pie was always perfect. 

I’ll write more in my journal to you soon, Grace.  There is so little time with you now that I’m gone during the day in my new role as a Packhorse Librarian.  It is such important work that I must do.  It’s a though this is my calling to spread literacy and goodwill throughout my area.  Now I must go over to Mrs. Steiniger’s house and see if there are any funds to purchase an erector set for the McKevitt boys for Christmas.  I’m not hopeful, but I must try.



Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Unplugged and Reflecting

Hello Everyone,

I've unplugged from the outside world for the last few days and focused on enjoying my own home and decorating for Christmas right after the company left from Thanksgiving.  There are seven windows in our dining room, and at night it looks as though there are seven Christmas trees.


We had friends over for dinner last night which made me accelerate the decorating process.  The fire was going, and the Christmas music was playing which was a great way to start the Christmas season with some good friends.

I have boxes of cabin-themed ornaments which I didn't use this year.  I think I have enough ornaments to decorate those seven trees reflected in the windows.  This year I seemed to be very nostalgic and used ornaments I haven't placed on the tree in years past.

My mother made these little 'Santa's Slippers' probably forty years ago.

She also made these ornaments called Christmas Capsules.....again over forty years ago.

I remember placing this ornament on my grandmother's tree over 65 years ago.

My mother made these little ornaments out of old-fashioned clothes pins.  She hand painted the little faces on each and every clothespin.

My parents gave me this ornament the year our daughter was born.  Our daughter is now 44.

As I placed each ornament on the tree, my thoughts traveled back to helping my grandmother decorate her tiny, artificial tree.  She made the best molasses cookies which was always a wonderful and much anticipated treat for us.  

I know my mother and grandmother would be thrilled to know their ornaments are still in use so many decades later.  Traditions are what Christmas is all about.  Traditions and giving of yourself to others.  So, fix a nice meal and invite friends over. Make something special for that special someone.  Reflect back on past holidays and bring the spirit alive again in your heart. I'm remembering the aroma of the molasses cookies baking which transport me back to my grandmother's kitchen. Heavenly.


P.S. This is the last day of my 20% off sale in my Etsy shop.  Click HERE to visit my shop.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Three Days of Activity

Hello Everyone,

I closed out the year with a BANG last week with three days of lectures and workshops in the Sacramento area.

I had a lecture at the Golden Valley Quilt Guild on Thursday night.

The ladies laughed heartily at one of my quilting stories.

Friday, I had a break before my next event on Friday night, so Gail and I went shopping in beautiful downtown Folsom, CA.

It was a gorgeous Fall day reminiscent of our trips to the East Coast to do some 'leaf peeping' with our mom.

We did some major retail therapy and Gail ended up with our purchases on her lap.  When I do a lecture, I have five LARGE bags of quilts, about 20 in all.  I have totes of products and patterns.  My projector and overhead camera, screen, and rounder to hold the patterns.  Not to mention our suitcases.  Mr. Joe said we had no room for anything we purchased, but he forgot about Gail's lap.

Friday night we drove up to Lincoln, CA and I spoke at Sew Katie Jean quilt shop.

Shirley made their sample quilt for Bridle Path, and she did an incredible job!
This is a darling shop!  

I spoke about the inspiration behind Bridle Path and did a short tutorial.  Tammy, the owner of the shop, made a wonderful pot of tortellini soup and a large salad.  We ate well and had a fun evening.

Saturday, I taught a Calico Cottages workshop for the guild.  Here are a few of the cottages that were 'built' during the class.

We left the class around 2:30 as a major storm was rolling over the Sacramento Valley and into the mountains.  We drove through some intense downpours, wind, and ponding water on the roadways.  I was so glad I have a big, heavy car to navigate my way home.  We arrived home in the dark and I've never been so glad to see my driveway!

We met an incredible group of quilters last week.  I love meeting you, chatting with you, hugging you, and being around you.  I'm doing fewer lectures and classes as I'm so busy designing and quilting. I find that I miss getting out with quilters and hearing from you and seeing what you do.

Now, all of the prepping for Thanksgiving begins.  We are going to have a small gathering here at the cabin.  It just didn't work out to gather the entire family together.  Busy schedules, college kids, sharing grandkids with other grandparents and life in general got in the way of being together.  We will all be together at Christmas, and I'm looking forward to being with everyone.

As my gift to you, I'm having a sale on my Etsy site.  I usually only have 2 sales a year, and now is your chance to get in on the 20% discount in my shop.  Click HERE to take advantage of the sale.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.  I'm so thankful to have you reading my blog, meeting up with me at events, and sharing your projects with me.  You all bring a smile to my face, and happiness to my heart.