Monday, June 30, 2008

Some of the family quilts

We visited with some of the family quilts last week, and I took photos of some of them. Below is one pieced in red and white by Mary Ann Duffner Burger, my mother's paternal grandmother, given as a gift to her daughter-in-law Frances Burger as a top and eventually quilted by Frances. It's beautiful, fresh and bright.

Next is my father's baby quilt dating to the 1920s (he was born in 1927). He called it his Bunny Quilt. It's so cute and threadbare. Each appliqueed bunny has a pompom for a tail, except for a few that are missing. I'm sure someone would scream about choking hazards were one to put pompoms on a baby quilt these days. My dad loved his Bunny Quilt!

Next we have a stuff-as-you-go quilt made by Frances Burger and my mom. The fabrics are the real thing, the feedsack prints people love to reproduce these days.

Here is a wholecloth baby quilt my grandma (Frances) made for either my brother or my sister. She made two and one is marked as my sister's. Just cute fabric and sturdy machine quilting in the allover ocean waves design she used so often.

I have a couple more that I'll post another day.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Back Home Again

The confusing posts this week are the result of sporadic posting from my parents' house, combined with preloaded posts saved up from the weeks before. But we're all home in Iowa now, and Iowa looks very good. :o)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Another Stupid Laundry Tip

Here's one our grandmas all knew but may have forgotten to tell us (or maybe we just weren't listening): Plan to do your white wash on mowing day. When the lawn is mowed, lay your wet whites out on the fresh-cut grass and let the chlorophyll and sunshine brighten them up. You'll be amazed.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Finished by Friday: A Vintage Lawn Chair Gets a New Seat

Remember the 3 old lawn chairs I bought at the Syttende Mai sales? I just replaced the fabric on one of them. It's technically kind of a cheater's Finished by Friday, since only one chair is done so far, but hey.

Wal-Mart had this printed cotton duck. It looks quite like awning striped canvas except that it's just printed, not yarn dyed, so only one side looks good. I doubled the fabric so that the unprinted side never shows, and that did the trick.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Family Farm near Rosalia, Kansas

William Henry Burger and his wife Mary Ann Duffner Burger farmed outside of Rosalia, Kansas, eventually with their son Frank J. Burger (my mother's father). They got the idea of selling and moving to California, so they had the sale that this sale bill is from. My mom recalls that they got to California, didn't like it much, and came back home, but the stuff was already sold. (Probably Frank J. bought a bunch of it, as he kept farming.)

Some of the sale prices are written on the back. Scythes sold for 20 cents each, a cultivator for $14.00, a cow for $48 and a bay mare for $17.

I also had an interesting time looking through Grandpa Burger's ledgers from 1944 to 1958 - all the expenses of running a small farm and a busy family. He was meticulous in recording every last expense - three-cent stamps, ice cream in town for the family, a telephone call to El Dorado. Mom and I retraced through the ledger entries a time when she had several rotten teeth removed, then soon thereafter came down with rheumatic fever, and the hospital and doctor expenses associated with her treatment. Then there were vet bills, chick feed, shoe repairs, blade sharpening, haircuts, kerosene, and tickets to the school operetta. Fascinating stuff.

On May 6, 1948, Frank paid $10.86 for delivery of a refrigerator - their first, a gift from Grandma's sister Connie, shipped from out East somewhere.

Tucked in the ledger was the pedigree of a registered Hereford bull calved in 1948, and a list of the names of some of his cows - Irma, Daisy, Lady, Skippy, Judy, Daisy Bell, Ruby and Pearl - all but one of whom were born there on the farm. (Irma was purchased at about age 3.)

Don't Talk to Strangers

Lil Miss A stopped by The Way Station last Friday afternoon, in the middle of what passes for a rush of shoppers in New Albin. She was helping me bring in donations.

She told me that a big man on a motorcycle had said hi to her as she passed in and out the door. She said she said hi back to him, and then he said, "Don't you know you should never talk to strangers? Especially not strangers on motorcycles."

A Note to my Brother and Sister

Grandma saved everything we ever sent her. Every picture, every letter, every postcard. It's all here. She treasured them.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More family pictures

These are my dear dad, Marvin Root, and first my brother at 7 weeks (he looks so cute propped in the corner of the couch there - also please note the groovy midcentury furniture) and then me in my blue coat and hood that I loved. If you think he has sort of a 1960s rocket scientist thing going on there, with the glasses, haircut and those socks, surprise - that's pretty much what he was.

We are making great progress here at my folks' house. I can't quantify how much we have accomplished except to say that the pile of empty boxes is enormous, and it doesn't count all those we have broken down and baled for recycling. I'm going to guess that we have emptied probably 40 boxes and thrown, given away or sorted everything that they contained. We're working toward clear labeling of what is left, so that they know exactly where everything is. It's exhausting but so rewarding.

I'm particularly just enjoying being around my parents for some enforced togetherness. I just keep thinking God for this time with them. Also my husband, for letting me take a week to do this.

Giving Sister a Bath

While going through old photos with my mother this morning, we found this gem: That's me, my brother and our grandma giving my little sister a bath on the dining table in my grandma's dining room in Rosalia, Kansas, in 1968.

Lil Miss A's Pee Wee Softball Games

Here are some random softball pictures (taken by Barry, not me, that's why they are so good).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Another find while cleaning: A sweet pink-flowered vintage cotton sheet.

I believe I bought this thinking it would make a good quilt backing, before I learned that sheets aren't usually a great choice for that. I have put it back into service as a bedsheet. It's so pretty! It wrinkles, but if it flaps on the line for awhile, it's not too bad.

Monday, June 23, 2008

What to Do with the Orphan Scraps

What do you do with the extra strips, the extra squares, the extra half-square triangles after a project?

My method has long been to compulsively hoard them "just in case." Of what, you ask? I never know. I can, of course, recount horror stories of beautiful quilts with ink spilled on them, or new puppies teething on them. But honestly, it doesn't happen often enough in real life to warrant all the little bundles of fabric I have in storage.

Judy Laquidara mentioned last week on her blog, Patchwork Times, her system of making squares of her leftovers and sorting them into the "appropriate plastic boxes." PERK! went my ears. I love the idea of sorting things! Into boxes! Quickly, Judy, tell me how this works, I wrote.

She responded,

... they're assorted by size. Every time I have a 2-1/2" strip, and I don't use every inch of it, I whack it into 2-1/2" squares and they go into the 2-1/2" squares box. I have boxes for 2", 2-1/2", 3", 3-1/2", all the way up to 5". If I have anything bigger than that, I cut it down to whatever allows me to get the most squares, like a 6" strip, I would cut into 3" squares or 2" and 4" squares.

I also have a box for half square triangles because I sometimes end up with extras of those. I love having those already made when I'm making a scrappy quilt. Honestly, sometimes when I'm wanting to sew but just don't feel like or don't have the time to drag out a project, I'll just sit and make scrappy half square triangles and save them for future use. Gives me a sense of accomplishment, lets me sew and doesn't involve too much thinking.

I also save all my leftover binding strips. They go into a big drawer. When I'm making a really scrappy quilt, I'll sometimes pull out those binding pieces, sew them all together and I have binding!

Good luck getting yours under control.

Here's a picture of her plastic boxes filled with gorgeous bits and pieces:

What a great idea. :)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Salvation Army, here we come

This is really ringing true for me this week. I'm at my parents' house with Little Miss A, and we are helping them sort through 50-plus years' worth of accumulation with the thought that someday, possibly, maybe, they might kinda sorta want to think about considering moving. Perhaps.

Anyway, my mom says I AM the Special Forces. I'm praying that I will be a good motivator but not pushy.

Stupid Laundry Tip

Streamline sock sorting. Simplify!

1. Hang wet socks in pairs by their toes. The clothespin straddles the clothesline and nips the toes of the socks in its end.

2. When socks are dry, turn one open end back around both socks to hold them together.

3. Take the now paired up socks off the clothesline and put them away.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saturday's Apron (a nod to Cate's Vintage Style)

I hope Catherine doesn't mind that I am barging in on her Saturday's Apron idea.

This is one of those she calls a Housework Apron - just a nice all-around carryall, egg collector and dust wiper. This one is machine sewn but homemade. And look at those crazy shopping poodles! I just couldn't resist.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Finished by Friday: A Sharpening Pincushion

I have needed a pincushion for some time. I had the bright idea that I could fill it with silica sand and make it actually a pincushion that sharpens pins and needles while it holds them, so I used the design I found here, lining the fabric with dense, thin quilt batt and filling the cushion with fine silica sand. My thought was the batting would keep the silica sand from sifting through the weave of the cotton fabric and getting everywhere.

As usual, my brilliant plan was not so brilliant. The batt is doing a great job of keeping the silica sand in - about as good a job as it does at keeping sharp pointy things OUT. I mean, like pins. It's so hard to push a pin in to the thing!

Oh well.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

In and out for a few days

I'm not sure how much I'll be checking in for the next week or so; I'll be in and out. First thing is delivering Miss B and her friend Miss K to the Minneapolis airport to catch their flight to Matamoros, Mexico, for a week of work with some churches down there. They'll be running a Spanish-language Vacation Bible School for about 150 kids, and working on rebuilding a small church that stands on the edge of the city dump and serves the population that lives by dump picking. It's Miss B's third trip there, and Miss K's first. I am praying it is a life-changing experience for them both and that they accomplish a lot in their time there.

Anyway I have scheduled a post for every day, even a couple of Friday Finishes! I'll check in to see what you all have accomplished when I can.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Rioting and Looting in the Iowa Floods

A Sitemeter check revealed that someone found my blog by searching "iowa looting." Intrigued, I followed the link to see what came up. It turned out to be mostly discussion of how there wasn't any looting, or very little, and why that might be. (I did see a news report of a couple of teens that were arrested for looting empty apartments. Glad they were caught.)

One message board * posted this informational poster on the subject:

Rioting is scheduled following the covered dish dinner on the church grounds.

Casual attire is recommended for the Rioting Event.
Rioting Event Participants are encouraged to register
no later than noon, and to pick up their
free packet on Rioting Safety from the
Local Chamber of Commerce.
It includes a 4 oz sample of sunscreen and
"I Rioted the Iowa Flood" bumper sticker.

First Aid stations will be located every 50 ft within the
Rioting Event area, manned by local Explorer Scouts.

Help make the Iowa Flood Riots a memorable event.

For those Iowans unfamiliar with Rioting Events,
suggested activities include:

  • Noisemaking
  • Waving Things in the Air
  • Throwing Things
  • The Stringing of Toilet Paper from Trees
  • Spray-Painting of Slogans
  • Chanting of Slogans

Suggested slogans:

  • God Bless America!
  • We Support Our Troops!
  • Thank You, National Guard!
Remember, a successful riot is a spontaneous riot,
so do come prepared for this event

-- The Iowa Interfaith Council on Safe Rioting
a non-taxpayer funded community volunteer group

* The views expressed on that message board are those of the posters, and this quote implies no blanket endorsement of everything said there. I am not a member of the NRA, for example.

Lil' Dot

I never blogged about Peanut's baby, and here she is nearly a week old! Peanut was setting eggs, you may remember. She had 5 of them, but only one hatched. One extremely spoiled, doted-upon baby chick. We named her Lil Dot because a) she looks like a baby barred cochin except for one single reddish-brown dot on her head that tells us she truly is her auburn-feathered mother's chick, and b) she is named after our friend Dottie, who was a commercial chicken farmer's wife for years and loves Barred Rocks.

Lil Dot seems tinier than her half sisters/brothers, who are being raised by Eowyn, were, but I may just be remembering wrong. They are big, clumsy, half-feathered, dorky looking chicks now, not much "cute" left, but Dot makes up for it in the cuteness department.

Yesterday we let Peanut decide if she was ready to introduce Lil Dot to the flock, and after thinking it over, she decided she was. The Colonel helped, running interference between Lil Dot and her bigger siblings and breaking up potential battles between the ladies before they could get started. Cinderella is the odd hen out now, since she is the only one who has not gone broody and raised babies, and she gets beaten up by both hens if she so much as takes a step toward any of the chicks. Poor thing.

Last night I was in the kitchen, noisily washing dishes while at least two neighbors were running their lawn mowers, and yet over all that racket I still heard Lil Dot's anguished cries as she ran around the chicken pen looking for her mom, who had forgotten about her and gone to bed! I had to go gather her up and put her in the chicken house, where Peanut gave her a look like, "Oh, there you are," and tucked her underneath her feathers.

We optimistically give all the babies girls' names because we can only keep them if they are hens, so we are hoping for the best. The two older chicks are Tilly and Junie B., though I can't tell which is which.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Shameless Plug: Sweet Gal Decals

I don't mention my website much on this blog, but more and more, I am seeing people telling the blogverse about their websites and it not being taken amiss. So here I go: I have had this business for about 5 years now, making reproduction waterslide decals with the permission of the largest decal company in US history. They are not cheap, as the process is rather costly, but they sure are fun.

Check me out at Sweet Gal Decals, won't you please?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Fray-Check = Clear Nail Polish?

I was using Fray-Check on some blinds I had made when the fumes started getting to me, and my mind began to wander and wonder: Fray-Check looks like clear nail polish, it smells like clear nail polish, and it goes on like clear nail polish would if it came in a squirt bottle instead of with a teeny little brush.

So is it the same thing?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Racer X Update

Racer X escaped this morning while we were at church. We were very upset about this until I started walking the neighborhood to see if anyone had noticed a tame pigeon and found out that everybody has rescued this pigeon at one time or another. The pigeon club must have been bombarded with emails about him, trying to get him home (though nobody has gotten an answer yet). He has at least 3 temporary homes where he gets fed and watered and has a place to spend the night in safety. Brie and her family have adopted him, too - and they call him Bambi.

In short, this pigeon is not going to fly on home by himself. Why should he, when he can live like a king here in New Albin!?

Update: He's perched happily on a line right now, surveying his domain. Silly (cute) bird.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Surprise Guest: A Tired Racing Pigeon

Wednesday evening, we noticed this guy on the power line over our yard. I don't normally pay attention to pigeons, but something about him caught my eye, and I remember I said, "Hi pigeon," or something similarly brilliant - and he flew down off the line and landed on our car. One of the kids, who were in the car already, opened the car door and scared him off, but Barry noticed that he was banded and wondered if he were a pet or something, maybe blown off course in the storms. We were on our way to Lil Miss A's softball game at the time, but we tried to find him again when we returned, and could not.

Barry and Master K were working in the garage this evening when all of a sudden, in walked this pigeon! They picked him up and stuck him in a spare cage and offered him grain and a drink while they checked his bands. He's a racing pigeon. I tried to look him up at, but either his tag doesn't have a club code or I am just reading it wrong. I put a message out on the 911pigeon list at Yahoo, and hopefully someone will do a better job at tag reading than I did.

For the record, in case anybody can help, his tag says ARPU (American Racing Pigeon Union) and then AU 2007 (meaning he was banded and probably hatched in 2007), and then his other leg has a plastic tag with BR7 on it. There is no club coded BR7, but maybe that's something else.

In the meantime, he's fairly happy in his cage, getting spoiled by the kids and by Barry, who seems immensely pleased at having been chosen as Pigeon Rescuer by an important pigeon like this one.

The bird is really beautiful. Pretty, pretty colors in his feathers. He's very tame. When I was trying to read his bands he hopped right up onto my hand to make it easier.

Update: Oh no. He has a name. Barry named him Racer X. First he wanted to name him Speed, but then he thought Racer X would be better since we don't really know who he is.

Go Visit Cate and see Saturday's Apron

I learned about Cate's Vintage Pleasures when Catherine visited my blog this week and noticed my aprons. She is an apron fanatic, and proud of it, and splashes gorgeous aprons all over her blog.

She posts a special apron every Saturday, hence Saturday's Apron. Go take a look. No breaking the 10th commandment, now...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Finished by Friday: Front Porch Sewing Room

I'm declaring this project finished, even though I'm actually only nearly done. I'm waiting on a couple of things I have to pick up at Wal-Mart -- some storage boxes and a power bar.

Allow me to present --

-- our front porch sewing area! Looking at these pictures, it still looks cluttered, but honestly, I know where everything is. Just ask me. I'll find it for you.

We have two sewing stations set up on my Grandma Root's old kitchen table, with my Pfaff and Miss B's Kenmore side by side.

Beside that, in the corner, is the World's Best Napping Cot --

-- and underneath that, neatly organized and labeled boxes of fabrics.

Over here on the front wall are the old bookshelves from the school auction a year ago this spring. The books are back in boxes so that I can put sewing stuff there.

Top shelf: My button jars, out of their dark lonely storage box to where they can sparkle and entice.
Bottom shelf: The Shelf of Shame, full of unfinished projects. At least they are now out in public where they can mock me until I finish them one by one. They were easy to ignore when I couldn't see them.

Here are those bread boxes I told you about last week, filled with fat quarters and other small pieces of quilting fabrics. Accessible, yet if I close the doors they don't get dusty.

Threads and notions in that little cabinet on the bottom, more fabric in the crate and suitcase. I love old suitcases but they really aren't great for storing fabric simply because you can't see what is inside, so you go buy more of what you already have. Or maybe that's just me.

Finally, I'm starting to put fabric in that Hoosier type cabinet there against the wall. The curtained part on the bottom would be ideal for fabric except

someone else had other plans for it. I gave up and just put an old scrap of soft velour there and it's now a cat storage area.

One thing that I have learned from obsessive reading of Unclutterer and Debt Proof Living is that clutter and too many possessions steal your time. You spend so much time moving them around, searching through them, trying to keep them organized, and so much money in providing the space for them, or worse yet, buying more when you can't find what you already have. This project has driven that lesson home quite nicely. It took a lot of hours to set up this place where Miss B and I could finally use the stuff I had accumulated. I found a lot of duplicates, which means that I re-bought when I didn't know what I had. And I ended up throwing out a lot of things and donating even more to The Way Station. So I really didn't need it, wasn't using it, and I wasted part of my life and my family's in refusing to get rid of it till now.


Lesson learned, I hope. Though it is ongoing.

While I have you here, what do you think I should do with this fabric? It was a gift from my secret weapon, my neighbor who still does hand quilting. She had hung onto it for a long time and never found a use for it, so she passed it on to me. It's a wonderful printed cotton, very soft. There are actually two pieces of about this size. All I can think of is backing to a quilt or pillows. I don't need any more pillows, and I don't make many pink quilts - too frou-frou for my tastes. Any suggestions?

Other Finished by Friday projects out there:
Nicole at Sister's Choice did TWO tops this week

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Still Here

And feeling more and more blessed the more we watch the news. We have power, we have clean water, we can get to our jobs and we know where our children are. Not all Midwesterners can say the same. I'm praying!

Oh, and one more thing: I am officially a Bad Daughter. For some reason I got mixed up on my weekends and didn't mail Father's Day gifts in time! My dad's might still make it if I get it out tomorrow but it's not for certain. My father-in-law's has no chance whatsoever in getting to him. Well, unless I overnight it. I'll have to check how that could be done. Trouble is, it's something HEAVY. And I was going to send some books along for my mother-in-law who is at home recovering from major surgery and could use some distraction.

Grrr. Bad daughter. Bad, bad, bad!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Doctor, of course - and Rose.

And the Tardis.

Drawn by Lil Miss A, who likes to ask about every spaceship in a sci-fi movie, "Is it bigger on the inside?"