Thursday, February 25, 2010

You can teach an old "dog" new tricks...

I'll have more "old crap" to share...I just need to upload the pictures and blog. But, instead of doing that, I've been busy stitching, working on my little dragon...
Right now, I've got most of the boy's shirt done...and some of his skin and I'm currently finishing up the books he's sitting on. This project has been a little bit of a challenge for me.
  • It's done on 36 count linen, which is hard on my old eyes. Much harder than it used to be, and I'm not liking that.
  • This is my first time using variegated floss. The books are all done with variegated floss which requires me to adjust how I stitch it.
  • I'm not sure how I'm going to do Mr. Dragon's "mane". It's done with a punch needle embroidery, and I've never done that. Don't even own the tool. The directions say you can use regular x-stitch, but I think I'm going to try to figure out how to punch--even if I have to order the tools. It's just too cute having those "curls".
  • The teddy bear is done with whisper floss, which is a "furry" floss. I've never used it either, so I'm sure it will be a challenge too.
  • I'm stitching with silk floss for the first time ever too. It's not much different than stitching with cotton floss, but I like it. It has just a slight sheen that cotton floss doesn't have.

I still need to order my charms and the bead work for the fairy's wings and I should do that soon.

One thing this project has brought me is connection with other stitchers. I went online and searched for directions on using the variegated floss, and found a couple of wonderful discussion boards and lots of blogs by stitchers. Since I have one friend who stitches, this was a wonderful find! I've learned a

  • Frogging is the term for ripping out stitches. (rip it, rip it, rip it.) Heck, all this time, I've been just calling it "ripping out these #*^%$# stitches!"
  • English stitching--is when you stitch one x at a time. That's how I started, one x had the top stitch going / and the next would have it's top stitch going \. I did that for a few years until I learned that all the top slashes were supposed to go the same direction. (with variegated floss, you often do "English" stitching.)
  • I learned that many stitchers have more than one project going at a time and switch back and forth between them. I personally don't do that often because I get to compulsive and have to work on something until it's absolutely finished. (I will admit to doing one project that I worked on for 4 year; but that was years ago when I was in college.)
  • I've seen photos of lots of different techniques and fabrics that make me drool. And, while I thought I had a lot of floss...well, I've seen photos of some folk's stashes that make my little stash insignificant.

Kev might not be happy to know that I've found all these stitching friends...cause I've got a pretty big wish list going on projects, and fabric, and flosses. But, since I pay the bills, he'll never notice all these packages of supplies that "might" show up at our house, right?


Monday, February 22, 2010

Peter Pan

Approximately 10 years ago, Kev and I attended Miss Kat's first school program. She was in preschool in the "4-year-old" class. There was also a "3-year-old" class which performed first. You know how most preschool concerts are...lots and lots of cute little kids who might like to sing, but they get very shy when up on a stage in front of lots and lots of grown-ups. And, we all enjoy watching the kids never knowing what to expect. After all, Andy picked his nose during his first concert...

The 3 year-old kids performed first. And, most of them barely whispered their songs and there was a lot of fidgeting and chewing on fingers and bashfulness. Except for this one little boy...He stood towards the edge of the stage, this tiny little boy with big eyes and a head full of blond hair. He was wearing a bright yellow shirt. He alone on that stage wasn't shy. He was singing and wiggling to the music, you might not have heard any of the other kids sing, but you could hear this kid. He stole the show--without meaning too, he was just having a good time singing.

I didn't know who that little boy was at the time, but I did learn his name...Dual. We later became good friends with his family. They and Dual have brought a lot of joy into our lives. In fact, they've become family to us. Because of that, this past weekend, we drove to Hutch to watch Dual perform in the Hutchinson Family Theater production of Peter Pan. Dual was cast in the role of Michael, the youngest of the Darling Children. We were in awe of the professionalism of the production--all volunteer. 140 characters cast in this production. (Dual wasn't the only one from his family on stage, Miss Bailey was one of Tiger Lily's Indian dancers.) This was Dual's second time performing. Imagine, performing once, then being cast as one of the major characters in your second performance...

Dual did a fantastic job. He nailed his lines, his acting was very natural and his singing was spectacular. I couldn't have been more proud of my own kids. Watching him on stage, we all realized that this was where he belonged. And, although he's now a "mature" 13, he still has a lot of that 3 year old kid in him, stealing the show and enjoying himself on stage.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Makin Bacon

Not that kind of bacon. Sheesh.

Two weeks ago, we and some friends of of ours butchered and processed 5 pigs. At that time, we made sausage, polish sausage, brats, and packaged pork chops and rib and ground pork. We brought home the side meat and the ham to cure and smoke.

Bacon is made by taking the side meat and rubbing it with salt and brown sugar. Then, it's put somewhere cool--between the temperatures of 35 and 45 degrees--to cure. The salt and sugar are absorbed into the meat and some of the liquid drains off. After curing for 2 weeks, we smoked it for a couple of hours.
This is what you get... In this photo, you see the side meat from 2 pigs. Probably 40 lbs of "bacon".
After it's smoked, we put it in the freezer for it to firm up making it easier for us to slice. In the above picture, you can see a slab that we'd cut a few slices from. Doesn't that look good?

Here's a shot of Kev slicing the bacon. Isn't he cute? I think so :)

Yum...lots and lots of bacon...
From this point, we wrapped it up in freezer paper and some we vacuum sealed. We wound up with 35 packages of bacon. I can assure you that the bacon tastes wonderful...but you'll just have to take my word for it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Hoosier

This is probably my most prized possession. It belonged to my Grandma Woodruff. She used it at the farm, but when she used it, it was painted a minty/turquoise green. Kev and I brought it home and stripped it down to the wood. When we started stripping it, we discovered red and white enamel under the green. I'm guessing that originally, it was probably red and white.

Technically, it's called a Hoosier Cabinet. Everyone in the family just called it the Kitchen Cabinet. It was showing it's age, it had broken glass, the bread board was missing, the bottom drawer was cardboard, the tambour door were cracked and broken and the hinge to the top cabinet had been replaced with one that worked, but wasn't quite right. Still, it was in good enough shape that we knew we could repair and restore it. And, we did.

You will notice that there isn't a flour bin. Which makes me think that this is probably an early Hoosier, because every other Hoosier I've seen has a flour bin. I found the sugar jar, but there simply isn't a spot for a flour bin.

One unique feature of this Hoosier is the etched glass. One of the panels was broken, so Kev and I made a pattern and etched a new glass. Kev also made the tambour doors--because the old ones were shot. He did a pretty good job, but they still don't work very well.

Another unique feature of this cabinet is how the top attaches to the base. Most have a tin hinge, but this one has a block of wood and a long pin that goes from the top piece to the bottom.

Kev and I put new legs on the Hoosier last year. The original legs were gone, and Grandad had jerry-rigged a new base--a solid base make of a 2 x 4. When we went to put leg on, I ordered the only ones I could find made for Hoosier cabinet, however...they didn't fit. The original legs must have had a pin that went up into corner reinforcements and attached that way. So, we jerry-rigged our new legs to fit.

We spent a lot of time restoring the Hoosier, and we both take a lot of pride in this cabinet. I've got it decorated with old canning jars and other kitchen stuff. Inside, I keep Kevin's Grandma's china and other pretty dishes.

Like I said, it's one of my most prized possessions, not only for the work we put into it, but also because I can remember this cabinet being in Grandma' kitchen, and I remember her using it--every day. Just another tie to the past.

kitchen decorations

Welcome to another edition of "Shelly's pictures of old crap".

Exciting isn't it.

But, in all honesty, I like old crap, always have. Actually, I should say that I like best old crap when it has a family connection. But any old crap will do...
This is an old lamp that I rescued from Grandma and Grandpa's house. It's a reading lamp instead of just a regular old oil lamp. It has a round wick and a metal flame diffuser. I guess it was supposed to be better for reading than just a regular old lamp. To be hones though, I can't tell that it puts out any more light than a regular oil lamp. And, yes, I've used this lamp. We used it on Christmas Eve when the electricity went out. This lamp sat for 30 years on a window sill in Grandma's laundry room--which we called "The Back Porch". (It was called that because once upon a time, it was the Back Porch. It had been enclosed long before G&G moved there, but it kept that name. Tradition, don' cha' know.)

Anyway, this sad little lamp sat there for years and years collecting dust. I was just going to toss it but when I looked at the bottom of the lamp, I discovered it was labeled with a name....

Mrs. Newby.

Mrs. Newby had been a friend of my Great Grandmother Miller and was also one of Grandma's friends. This had evidently been her lamp, and because of those ties...I kept it.

I got online, and looked up the model and searched for a new chimney and mantle. It's chimney is bigger than that of most oil lamps, so I had to special order it. I then discovered that I also needed a little flat metal disk to go on the "diffuser". I found it online too. Once I cleaned up the lamp and got the parts I needed, it worked just like new. (I'm guessing that it was moved out to the porch when Grandma and Grandpa couldn't find a new chimney or mantle.)

It's not at all valuable--except to me for those family ties. And, it's valuable for the light it can provide when we lose power, and it just looks good sitting on top of my kitchen cabinets!

On the wall behind the lamp is some old wooden mallet (or is it a pestle?) and an old jar opener. In front of this lamp sits an old copper Coleman lamp funnel. We found it out on the Hill in a pack rat's nest that was in the old coal shed/milk house. The bottle is an old ink bottle that I found out at the Farm.

This is an old waffle iron. Cast iron. (Forgive the dust. Sheesh, you'd think someone at my house would clean occasionally!) The Waffle iron lived in the cellar. It was pretty nasty, but seeing that it was cast iron, I wasn't about to just toss it. It's for a wood burning stove. The base sits on the stove top and the waffle iron is elevated about an 1.5 inches. It flips and rotates so you can cook both sides. (Looks like I need to re-season it, because the rust is showing right along with the dust.) I don't know if the waffle iron was Grandma's or if it was Aunt Flo's, but it's mine now...and that's all that matters, right?

This last shot (today) is of the the window that's above the sink. (Notice my curtains that I made myself without a pattern. Proof that sometimes, I do actually sew.) Anyway, I hung up more old crap up there. There's an old biscuit cutter that doubled as a donut cutter (except we accidentally threw away the "hole" cutter part.) There's an old meat tenderizer, that's actually rather dangerous looking--think tomahawk with serrated edges.) Behind the light is Grandma's French Fry cutter. Then a little tin zester and finally a tin funnel. All were Grandma's and all now live in my kitchen where we can see them and enjoy them every day.
Hope you enjoy looking at some of my old crap. Believe me, I've got lots more to share!

Friday, February 12, 2010

buttons and thread

Please excuse the dust.

These jars of buttons and thread were Grandma's. Most were found when we were cleaning out the drawers of the sewing machine cabinet laying loose and abandoned in the bottom of the drawers. Some were still on the cards; most were not. And we won't discuss how dusty and dirty most of them were. These two jars that the buttons are in were Grandma's too. One is a "Freezer jar" the other is just a jar that I thought was cool.

The tall jar is full of spools of thread--wooden spools only. Several spools were of variegated thread--something you don't see any more in a thread. (see the pink thread at the top of the jar? that's one of the variegated spools.) I have more spools of thread. This jar held most, but I've got more! Most are wooden spools, several are Styrofoam and some plastic.

Should I say that I found about 6 large spools of modern white thread and probably as many of black? Those, I've got segregated for any sewing I might do. (And members of my family are laughing hysterically at the thought of me sewing...have I ever told you the story of the shirt I offered to mend for Kev? Yeah, he out grew it before I ever sewed up the hole in it...that's how often I sew anymore.)

I do like my little collection of buttons and spools...just another example of how I use old crap to decorate with.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


This is my Great Grandmother's pancake pan. If you'll take note, it's a long piece of tin with three round pieces. Each round piece opens up, like the center one.

My Great Grandma Berends cooked many a pancake on this. She'd put batter into each individual section and when they were ready to flip, she'd flip each pancake onto the long, solid section to finish cooking. Then, she'd fill up the round section and start cooking 3 more pancakes in assembly line fashion.

I'm sure it was a labor saving device for her, after all she had 12 kids and a husband to cook for on a wood burning or coal burning stove. And, yet, I imagine that someone was always waiting for pancakes to finish cooking.

Grandpa had this, and it was one of his most prized possessions. Grandma never used it, because they retired it and let it earn its rest. Grandpa said that he saw many a pancake cooked on this. He also said he'd never seen another one like it.

It now hangs on my kitchen wall as a decoration. It's in good shape, nothing broken, warped or bent. Every time I look at my pancake pan, I remember and honor Great Grandma Berends. I'm very proud and honored to have this piece of my heritage--a humble pancake pan.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

big families

Last night, while Kev was watching the KU basketball game, I watched the premier of 19 and counting. You know, the TLC show about the Dugger family with 19 kids. I like watching their show mainly to see how they cope. And, I admit, I'm fascinated in how such a large family operates. Maybe my fascination is because I know at least 3 families who don't believe in birth control; or, maybe my fascination is due to envy. I've always wanted more siblings and even more children.

I have a cousin with 10 children. They stopped finally when the Dr told them that another pregnancy would kill Mom.

One of my classmates was the oldest of 7.

One of my friends in college was one of 21 children. Her dad had two wives. One had 14 children, the other "only" 7. But, their story was almost a soap opera...

One of the families in Colby had 13 children.

One of my best friends is the youngest of 9.

Funny...but most of the big families I knew were Catholics. The Duggers aren't, but then again, I only know them via TV, so I really don't know them at all!

Grandpa B was one of 12. My Dad is the youngest of 7. And Mom and Dad had 2, Me and Steve. That's it.

Steve is 11 months younger than I am. We're the same age for 9 days. Which is ok, but I always wanted a baby sister. I didn't want a baby brother, because brothers were nothing but trouble. They were annoying and mean and selfish and jerks and they got to do things that I couldn't do because I was a girl...boys were a big bother, that's why I wanted a baby sister. I'd beg Mom to give me a baby sister, but she never would. I prayed to God, asking for a baby sister. But neither one ever gave me a baby sister. So, I decided that when I grew up, I'd have 4 kids. Two and Two. Nothing else would work, and, since I always get what I want...that's what I would have.

Then I met Kev--who only wanted two kids. He's the middle child of 5 kids. I don't know if that has anything to do with his adamant decision for just two kids or not, but I knew that if I wanted him, I'd have to compromise on the number of kids I had. And, I did want him...and we only had two kids. And, I'm ok with that decision. We've been blessed with two healthy kids who (for the most part) are good kids. But, if he'd said, "ok, let's have a couple more" I'd have been all over that!

But I'm still fascinated by how large families work and function. I still somewhat envy big families because no child is ever lonely or left alone. There's always someone to talk to, or play with, someone to fight with, and especially someone to get in trouble with! Kids from big families tend to have lots and lots of stories about things they did together as kids. Maybe that's what I want the most, someone who can say "remember that time when we..."

Steve and I just don't do much of that. Our only story is "Remember that time Shell, when you chased me down the hall with a knife?"

And to hear that story, you'll just have to stay tuned. I might share it...someday.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Kansas in Winter...or, more photo's from Miss Kat

I'm pretty sure these are some Kat took last night when she was supposed to be taking care of her rabbits. Her philosophy: Pictures first, Rabbits later.

But...if she's waited, the sun would have set and then we wouldn't have these shots...

Aren't drifts cool?

Miss Kat, 2010

See my beautiful cheerleader? That big smile, the confident manner in which she poses, the perfect hair...yep, she's my girl!

Can you believe that she hates this picture?

I know!

This photo was taken in December. Kat got her copies in early January and I just got to see them last night. Why? Because she doesn't think it's a good picture of her, so she didn't bring them home.

Yeah, I don't get it either.

I think she's a very pretty and photogenic person.

Totally unlike her mother!

Yes, miracles still happen.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Miss Kat's photos

When Miss Kat and I had to share a camera, I was always begging her to email me pictures to post on my blog. She always had the camera and the USB cord and never let me have it or the computer, so I resorted to begging.

Then she got her own camera and voluntarily emailed me these pictures.

"What are they of?" I asked. "The sunset." She replied.

"Any particular sunset? Anything special?"

"NO, I just thought they were pretty and I want you to put them on your blog."

I'm a good mother and always obey my here they are!

This one is from Friday--right after it quit snowing. We got about 5 inches of snow which is the first significant snow we've gotten all winter. It will be gone by Friday.

Yes, the wind blew, and this is a shot of a drift. I need to ask where exactly this drift is...

On Saturday, we woke up to fog and everything was covered with hoarfrost. Kat took several shots of the frost. But I'm just sharing a couple. Above is frost on our bell and below is frost on one of the bushes. Cool, isn't it!

That's all the pictures I have today. Maybe Miss Kat will share more in the future. I hope so!