Saturday, January 31, 2009

Vintage Canning Jars

I just love old canning jars. They have pretty patterns in the glass and wonderful shapes. Some of the jars I have are glass containers from various products of the past. They were products that were shown to their best advantage in clear glass...for instance honey. Many of the jars I like best I got from my insurance mans' grandmother, Addie Asmussen. She kept most everything, and I'm especially glad she re-used her glass containers for canning produce. I love refilling these jars with my own produce and admiring their different shapes. They are truly beautiful empty and filled. They also make great containers for fresh flowers.
Last fall my mother-in-law gave us a dozen quarts of apricots, canned from fresh picked ones from their tree. Among the jars was the one on the right. We not only enjoyed her labor, generosity, and lovely fruit but the jar as well. I have it sitting on my kitchen window ledge to catch the light.
Beauty in the small things....

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cecily's Baptism Dress

Cecily was baptized on January 4th. I don't think that what a baby is wearing is a vital part of his/her baptism, yet aesthetics do matter. It makes a difference when things look nice and symbolism is useful. My husband and I found some vintage christening gowns at an antique store when I was pregnant with our first daughter, Amelia. We are not Catholic, but we thought the idea of a special dress, just for the occasion that was symbolically white was a very nice idea. We picked one out and got a little hat to go with it. It's been worn for baptism twice now and we hope the Lord will see fit to bless us again and it will be a well-used dress.

The hat has such a sweet shape and some very pretty embroidery on it.

Detail on the hat.

This was my favorite picture of her in it.

She finally managed to get her thumb in her mouth at the end of her picture session.

Dress Up #3

Well, I just can't leave the dress up subject quite yet. I think I need to post one more...but that will be all, at least I think it will be! I thought it was only fair to post a couple of generations of boys dressing up too, and to that end I had to search deeper into my stash of photos. This post is mostly for my girls as these pictures are never-before-seen-by-them. They are also for his Mom and Dad and aunts to bring back good memories. Here is my insurance man in the 1950's having fun... Playing Indian Chief in Burns, Oregon at the age of 4...
I think my grandsons will be interested to see what a soldier looked like in the 50's...but by that big grin I think we can surmise he was having a lot of fun!

And last, a couple of tough insurance man and his brother at ages 7 and 10. Just the hats were enough to change ordinary days. Hope everyone enjoys these little excursions down memory lane...and tomorrow I'll get back to other things like cooking and stitching...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dressing Up #2

Our family likes to dress up....we really do! So, I decided that as I had so many cute pictures I would do a follow up post.
There are two kinds of dress-up...the first kind I showed on the first post...the kind where kids just find whatever is in the box or handy and make up their own creations. The second kind is wearing real costumes. I have posted a few of my grandkids below wearing costumes. And looking through these photos I realized that we have more homemade costumes than purchased ones...aren't those by far the best? Here is Kory, age 3 as a nurse. This costume was worn by all my girls and was originally inspired by Kory's great grandma Bethel who wore uniforms like this in her career as a nurse.
And Kory made a great indian princess too...the beads are my old Campfire Girls achievement beads. Different sizes and different colors they worked great.

Here are photos of two princesses....above is Kendall as Cinderella. This costume was by far my most challenging...the material was slippery! But it was worth every minute...and below is Amelia in her princess dress courtesy of Aunt Cathy.
And finally we can see that boys really like to dress up too. Here are my four grandsons...Saumuel the army man (homemade by me), Will the medieval knight (purchased), Ben the cowboy (purchased) and Calvin the indian chief (made by his mother). Julie has made the boys buckskins to go with their coon skin caps and various other items...and they have a wonderful box of costumes at home. I think a big difference is that boys don't call it 'dress-up'!

What fun we have had over the makes me smile just to think about all the good memories. Dress up or whatever you might call it is a good piece of childhood play.

A good thing

This is kind of random, but one of the good things I discovered lately is a convenience food. Now, I'm a fan of Breyer's ice cream. I guess I'm an ice cream snob, because it's the only kind I buy. The classic all-natural vanilla is the best, but I occasionally get crazy and buy flavored ice cream. (Alright, maybe a little more than occasionally). So, the latest amazing flavor is: (drum roll please) CHERRY VANILLA. I adore cherries. This ice cream has pieces of fresh cherries in it and I think I might have found perfection! I know, it's not chocolate. I'm pretty dedicated to all types of chocolate anything. BUT, it's right up there with decadent chocolate confections. I'm truly that impressed with it. Yes, I did share some with my children.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Single Crust Pie

When I went to make some sweet potato pies for company last week, I decided to try out a new recipe for the crust. I am pretty happy with the recipe that I usually use, but I have had some trouble rolling and shaping for single crust pies. I went to my new cookbook, The New Best Recipe, and got some tips and a new recipe to try. I was impressed with the results, which is why I thought I would take a picture and share it. I have to admit that it looked better before it was baked than it did after. My crimped edge did sort of flop over during baking. But I missed part of the instructions and didn't chill the crust after it was rolled. That probably would have made a difference.


1 1/4 cups unbleached flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbls. sugar
3 Tbls. shortening, chilled (I didn't chill it)
4 Tbls. (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
4-5 Tbls. ice water

1. Process the flour,salt, and sugar in a food processor until combined. Add the shortening and process until combined. Add the shortening and process until the mixture has the texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture; cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse crumbs, with butter bits no larger than small peas, about ten 1-second pulses. Turn the mixture into a medium bowl. (I just used a pastry blender).

2. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of the ice water over the mixture. With a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix. Press down on the dough with the broad side of the spatula until the dough sticks together, adding up to 1 tablespoon more ice water if the dough will not come together. Flatten the dough into a 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 2 days before rolling.

3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator (if refrigerated more than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable). Roll as directed on floured work surface. Place the end of your rolling pin near the center of your disk and holding it there with your left hand in a stationary position, roll the dough 1/4 turn with your right hand (as if going from 2 o'clock to 5 o'clock). Turn the dough a quarter turn and roll again as before. Continue turning and rolling in this circular way until the disk is the desired size (about a 12 inch circle)(reflouring surface again if necessary). Transfer the dough to a 9 inch pie plate by rolling the dough around the rolling pin and unrolling it over the pan. Working around the circumference of the pie plate, ease the dough into the pan corners by gently lifting the edge of the dough with one hand while gently pressing it into the pan bottom with the other hand. Trim the dough edges to extend about 1/2 inch beyond the rim of the pan. Fold the overhang under itself; flute the dough or press the tines of a fork against the dough to flatten it against the rim of the pie plate. Refrigerate the dough-lined pie plate until firm, about 40 minutes, then freeze until very cold, about 20 minutes.
4. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the dough-lined pie plate from the freezer, press a doubled 12-inch piece of heavy-duty foil inside the pie shell, and fold the edges of the foil to shield the fluted edge; distribute 2 cups ceramic or metal pie weights (can improvise with pennies) over the foil. Bake, leaving the foil and weights in place until the dough looks dry and is light in color, 25 to 30 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and weights by gathering the corners of the foil and pulling up and out. For a partially baked crust, continue baking until light golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes; for a fully baked crust, continue baking until deep golden brown, about 12 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dressing Up

Don't all little girls love to dress up? I found photos of 3 generations of girls that did. (And a couple of boys too) The photos below are of my brother and I, along with some of our neighborhood gang. On a hot summer day in Seattle, we all decided to become pirates. Luckily our Moms agreed with us, and found us a few items to dress up with. We used sticks for swords and a couple of lucky ones had pop guns with holders. You really don't need much for a great time. I had to laugh when I spotted my shoes...because that pirate wore THONGS (not flip-flops!)

The photo above is my daughter JoAnn, age 3 with a neighbor girl after raiding my dress up box.

I always kept a wooden box, filled with cast off clothes, jewelry and costumes for the girls to play with. The photo at right is our three girls and another neighbor girl in Portland. Joy is a clown, Julie is Cinderella (before the ball) and JoAnn is the angel?
After moving to Bend we had a year of home school. This is Joy and Julie (with another neighbor girl) doing the chore of bringing in the laundry from the line with a little extra style. Don't you just love Julie's expression of disdain? What fun dressing up can be!

And this is the 3rd generation...granddaughters Kory (at left) and Kendall (below). Kory got such a kick out of thinking that all dressed up she looked like Grammy (me). However, I am not THAT gray, my glasses are not THAT big, and I am not in the habit of wearing little pink hats! But you get the idea....

Kendall loves the accessories...and really loves to doll up.
I think dressing up in adult 'lady' things is something all little girls love to do. I know Julie's daughter Millie loves to clack around the house in her mommie's shoes....But it's always the most fun with someone else to play dress up with. I was surprised to see a neighbor girl in each of my girls' pictures...with our having three girls, there was always someone to dress up with, and the neighbor girls always wanted to join in the fun. Fun memories....can't wait to see the 4th generation!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Cecily's Christmas dress from Grammy

We have a long-standing affection for clothing from Hanna Andersson. My mom sent Cecily her first Hanna dress for Christmas. It came with this adorable personalized card.Ta-dah! The lovely dress.

Here she is looking at the flowers on it.

:-) Oh, raptures!

She likes it, Gram! Well, I like it. She looked adorable in it yesterday.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Being a Family

Lately we had the privilege of having my in-laws at our home for a few days. It was not as long as we thought it would be...but it was still very good. A year ago my mother-in-law Bethel fell and required surgery. They live about 2 hours from us, and stayed with us for an extended time last January/February. Now it was time to remove the metal pins from her leg that were put in last surgery. This time surgery turned out to be very simple however, and she was finished in just a few hours and returned here to us with a bag full of metal to show. She didn't have too much pain...but was required to keep the leg elevated for a few days. My insurance man was a busy guy waiting on two women who are off their feet! Hopefully by this summer both of us will be up and hiking about with no pain. In the photo she is on the phone with one of her sisters, keeping the family up to date.
Dad helped out with setting the table and clearing dishes etc. In between times we had some theology discussions and read from a book by R C Sproul that my son-in-law Peter had sent for Dad. He took it home to read and that should provide some more lively discussion. We wish they could have stayed with us longer....but we did get to take them home and enjoyed a very nice car trip across the winter desert. (Nice weather)
Hopefully Mom, you are recovering nicely and will be walking around on your own next time we see you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wintery Blah

The keeping indoors and putting our nose to the grindstone in regards to school is catching up to me and I'm feeling a little blah. Life is very demanding yet one begins to feel lethargic in the long hours of isolated inside-ness. Mom called and cheered me up a bit today. It worked so well that I had my husband take a couple of pictures of me so I could post them and say, "Thank you, Mom!" I sure am blessed to have you.

I'm also blessed to have this sweet girl and will willingly take on more wintery blahs and a whole lot worse for the sake of such dear gifts from God.

The daily beauty of quietness

"The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium." N. Platt

The act of putting pen to paper (or in this case, fingers to keyboard) does make me pause and think and hopefully think a little more deeply. I was thinking about silence the other day. There is a vast difference between silence and quietness. You can have a quiet heart and soul while things rage around you. But silence requires just that. I was sitting the other day and thinking that although I greatly enjoy listening to music I appreciate my silence most of all. Then I stopped in my thinking to realize that it really wasn't silence at all. These are the things I could hear in the few minutes I really listened: a dog barking, the clock ticking and occasionally chiming, a candle sputtering, the wind blowing, the furnace starting, a faucet occasionally dripping and a car starting. I realized that my silence was filled with noises, comforting noises. So last night I listened in the night to see if I could hear silence. Nope! Still the wind blew, my husband was breathing lightly and the house had settling noises. If I were outside at night I know I would hear even more I came to the conclusion that as long as I am alive and breathing I will always hear some noise. The levels are just different depending on what noises are around and how many.

The Bible has several things to say about are just a few I was thinking about.

Psalms 62:1 "My soul waits in silence for God only..."

Revelation 8:1 "And when He broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour."

Ecclesiastes 3:7 "A time to be silent, and a time to speak."

Psalms 23:2 "He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul."

Proverbs 17:1 "Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it than a house full of feasting with strife."

I Thess. 4:11 " make your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business."

I Timothy 2:2 " order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness.."

I think there is no real and complete silence on earth...just the comfort of quietness. In the above passage in Revelation the silence in heaven before the 7th seal must be truly terrifying. I am thankful today for little comforting sounds in my quietness....for God's acceptance of my repentance.

In today's culture quietness is a hard commodity to find. But it is worth seeking after...and learning to pattern our lives along its lines. The beauty of quietness..

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Speaking of tea...

When mom came to visit me in October, we accidentally came across a teacup shelf at a used furniture store. I've been wanting something to put my teacups on for years, so we bought it. Well, I finally got it hung up and the teacups are displayed and I feel so satisfied! Each of these teacups was a gift from my best friend growing up, Amanda Boone (Calvert). We bought each other a teacup for our birthdays and Christmas so that we would each have our own collection. I love that they remind me of her. She lives with her husband and three children in Northeastern Oregon and
I am all the way over in West Virginia. Our contact is limited but we have wonderful memories of our friendship and the help we were to each other so many times in those years. Having my cups up reminds me of that time. I really am thankful that God supplied that kind of a friend for me. Decorations can be so much more than decorations!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Brambly Hedge

"Brambly Hedge is on the other side of the stream, across the field. If you can find it, and if you look very hard amongst the tangled roots and stems, you may even see a wisp of smoke from a small chimney, or through an open door a steep flight of stairs deep within the trunk of a tree. For this is the home of the mice of Brambly Hedge...."
I first came across the wonderful characters from Brambly Hedge and Jill Barklems' imagination while in England. I was visiting a Royal Doulton china store and looking for a teacup and saucer to take home with me. I fell in love with a series of cups and plates depicting the illustrations from these little books. I purchased my first cup and saucer there, but have since purchased 3 others, and received the teapot for a Christmas gift.
There are 8 books in all, 4 of which follow the seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter stories. The book and cup above show illustrations from Winter Story. The other 4 books are various stories about adventures these mice are involved in. My favorite is 'The Secret Staircase' as I do love a good mystery. The first book was written in 1980, and they have gone in and out of print since then. I was fortunate enough to collect all 8 books, and then to collect another set of 8 for Julie's children.

A few years ago Target reintroduced some old and new Brambly Hedge products. About a year ago Julie found this card matching game (showing Wilfred and Primrose) at a used clothing sale and bought it for me. It had never been opened, and was a real treat.
These characters become so real and are so delightful I thoroughly enjoy them through each re-reading. There is something so winsome about the animating of small animals, and it captures my heart. As with Beatrix Potter, Jill Barklem is English and has a way of writing charming stories along with endearing illustrations. A+ in my book!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Blessings of Neighbors

I love the street we live on. It's a cul-de-sac, and most of us have lived here a long while. A wonderful older couple, Jim & Jackie, lived across the street and one day Jackie brought me this metronome. Someone in her family had left it to her, and she neither had a piano or played an instrument. She knew that I was teaching piano to a neighbor boy Gabe and thought maybe I could use it. We both (Gabe and I) were exited to try it out, and had lots of fun and instruction with it. It was just one of the many thoughtful things she did, and I borrowed history books to read about the Civil War from Jim. They had to sell their house about two years ago due to declining health,
but I still miss them. The metronome is a wonderful way for me to remember our friendship.
In our neighborhood we have an occasional open house at Christmas time or sometimes a barbeque in the summer. We are all ready to help out a neighbor or attend a wedding or graduation celebration. It is a wonderful neighborhood for kids to grow up in or for taking long walks. I have been blessed to live here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

January Quiet

This has always been a favorite picture of mine, and I like to keep it up during January. It reminds me to slow down, enjoy the peace and quiet in winter, and take time out from all the work and play of spring and summer. Although our January weather is not looking like's 58 degrees right now with gloriously blue skies...the ideas remain the same.
This January I have to stay quiet because I am not supposed to be on my feet. But it's amazing how busy I can be, even sitting down. I need to keep reminding myself to not worry about undone tasks, not to stress over getting something done (like a blog written) but to concentrate on contemplation and just walking hand in hand with Jesus. It is very complicated to slow down in our world of hustle, and I'm finding it's an art that I need to learn all over again. I remember the freedom of it as a child but have lost it along the way. Worry and anxiety play their parts in this process too. I hope to learn it again and keep it in my life when I return to full activity. That is my prayer for this quiet time, this time of lying down in green pastures beside the still waters.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The gift of music

This is my great aunt Jennie Minnie Erskine. When this photo was taken she lived in Iowa and played and taught piano there.
This is her piano that her parents purchased new for her in 1889. It was called a cabinet organ then. She brought it with her when her family came to Oregon by train. The piano sat in a farmhouse at Rock Hill for a short while until Minnie got married and moved to Seattle. Her mother sent the piano to her, again by train and she enjoyed it for many years there. My mother her niece moved in with Minnie as a child, and although Minnie taught piano my mother never learned to play. Both her Uncle George and Aunt Minnie played the piano very well, and at different times both taught. After my mother married and had me, her first child, Aunt Minnie developed arthritis in her fingers and hands. When I was about 4 years old, the piano came to live at our house in Seattle.

I learned to play, mostly by the hard work of my mother. What a wonderful legacy that has been for me. It has truly been one of the joys of my life to sit and play wonderful music. After my marriage I moved to Oregon, and shortly thereafter the piano made the trip once again back to Oregon where it has remained. My husband and I have moved it 21 times or so around Oregon but it has stayed in this location in my living room now for about 15 years. If you know how heavy an upright piano is, you know the the rigors of the moves this piano has been through!
A few years ago we had the piano refinished in Portland. All those years the family thought it was mahogany because it was very dark with a reddish tint. But wonderful had been stained to look like mahogany (because that was the popular look in 1889) but turned out to be circassian English walnut prized for the wood pattern.

This photo of the wood grain shows the beauty, but is a little too the actual wood is more brown-toned. The piano is in wonderful condition, and has a beautiful case with lovely adornment. All the keys are original ivory and not one is broken or yellowed as is often the case with older uprights. We did replace the sounding board when it was refinished as it had cracked due to the low humidity of Central Oregon. We now 'water' the piano as it has a humidifier inside.

I framed Aunt Minnie's handwritten certificate of completion of her studies on the Cabinet Organ in Iowa and keep it on top of her piano. I also have a letter dated 1901 from Aunt Minnie's mother to her talking about bringing the piano to Oregon from Iowa. It's great to have that legacy and continuity through several generations...and I am so thankful for it. Aunt Minnie and Uncle George also left me several shelves of wonderful turn of the century music...both classical and then popular sheet music. I'll have to photograph some of the wonderful covers and post them another time. My fondest memory however is of Aunt Minnie teaching me to play my very first hymn...her favorite 'O Happy Day'. It's the heritage of church music that I truly cherish.