Thursday, April 30, 2009

Marion, Mint, & Lime

The days are getting warmer, and a slushy cold drink sounded delicious this afternoon. The mint is growing in the garden, so I plucked a liberal supply and brought them into the kitchen with me. Frozen marionberries mixed equally with limeade were placed in the blender. A packet of stevia to sweeten (to taste) and a handful of fresh mint leaves were added. After blending until everything was slushy and smooth, this smoothie was put in glasses, garnished with mint, and served for a refreshing pick-up on the day. Yum! It was delish!

Bucky the Flying Cat

Greetings from Bucky! He's a cat who's come into his own. Independent, yet very loving, he has taken to the outdoors with pleasure. He roams the acres, hunting as only a cat does. Sometimes little treasures are brought through the dog door, much to my dismay (and a feather mess). He can be found soaking up the sunshine in a sunny spot or wandering along a hedge line on a trail that he and Calli have formed in the lawn around the parameter of the yard. Recently he has discovered that the rooftop is a wonderful place to observe from up high. You can hear the pitter -patter of his feet sometimes as he wanders there. At other times he is sprawled on the warm tiles, enjoying the sunshine and a lazy nap. He's closer to the tree tops up on the roof. It's the perfect place to watch the birds! Of course then there are the times he wants down and cannot seem to remember how he got there. While washing dishes at the sink I will see his head peek down from the eves as he looks at me through the kitchen window. It's been decided that no one helps him down. Otherwise he won't help himself. Tree branches and the route up can also make a wonderful route down. But sometimes he gets too lazy to try that plan and takes the easy way: a flying leap! He finds the lowest point on the sloped porch roof and jumps off! None the worse for wear, he continues his adventures or comes into the house with a cheerful meow. Bucky is now the flying cat!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dividend of Happiness

"Your dividend of happiness may derive from the simple things unnoticed by most people."

Alexandra Stoddard

*The simple, faded salt and pepper shakers were calling my name from the thrift store. The $2.00 was well-spent for the joy they bring. Vintage fade melds with teapot new to create a vignette of blue serenity.

Made Familiar

"New things are made familiar, and familiar things are made new."

Samuel Johnson

*The mottled blue/green teapot was purchased for me in Japan by Renee, the boys piano teacher. I love it! It is handmade and has a screen container inside for decanting tea. Renee was in Japan for piano educator training.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Kind of Harmony

"Beauty is a kind of harmony and concord of all the parts to form a whole. . .a certain relation and order, as symmetry, the highest and most perfect law of nature, demands."


*This teapot was made in Russia and has a special iridescent glaze on it. It was given to me by Rylan a few years ago. He ordered it and made a mistake on his order --- so received two teapots! But, they were not identical (one is pink with flowers) so both now have places of honor and each reminds me of his thoughtfulness.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Rest and Respite

When spring slips into summer and your life shifts into action mode, consider taking time to REST --- seeking escape in nature, in the simplicity of your garden with a cuppa tea can bring reprieve. There, be embraced in God's love and find respite for your soul.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Recycling Fun!

A recycled photo and a recycled project. Karleen made this adorable bag from a pair of old jeans. Handles of colorful strips of fabric are woven together and tied on the belt tabs. Once stuffed with tissue paper (for bulk) it made a the perfect container for spring flowers and gifts. Isn't it fun to create something new from old? What ideas do you have for crafting pretty things from recycled goods?


'All twinkling with the dewdrop's sheen
The briar-rose falls in streamers green.'

Photo: Elm Street A.

Mac & Cheese GF~Veg

Comfort food; creamy, starchy, rich, delicious! It's part of the American tradition and good eating. Starchy macaroni and cheddar cheese are two foods that are not traditionally on the "good for you" list of foods. But alternatives are available. Wheat-free, gluten-free, and dairy free alternatives work together to create just that: creamy, starchy, rich, delicious AND healthy comfort food! The formula is simple:

1 package of Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta

1 recipe melty cheese

Gluten- free bread, cracker, or biscuit crumbs

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain and sprinkle with olive oil. Place back into kettle. Pour 1 recipe (or double for a creamier dish) melty cheese and mix well. Place into small baking dishes. Sprinkle with crumbled gluten-free crumbs. Bake at 350 degree oven for 40 - 45 minutes until well-baked and a crunchy crust forms. Delicious served with some fresh salsa. Yummy!

Fragrance and Beauty

I woke up this morning to discover sunshine streaming in the window. Peeking outside, I observed the sun's rays creating streaks of light and shadows on the lawn. It was so beautiful, I couldn't resist finding my camera and going outside to take pictures of all the flowering trees in the morning light.

Flowering trees are so beautiful! We've made a real effort to add them to our yardscape. The lilacs are starting to bloom (starts from grandma's house years ago). Brent's flowering crabapple tree is one he's adopted as his own and of which he tends year around with extra care. The snowball tree was a gift from Karleen from a time when she was thinning out her own garden. It's abundant this year, the green buds just waiting to burst into balls of white! Dogwood, redbud, lilac, thundercloud plum, ornamental cherry, and flowering crabapple --- all delight the senses with fragrance and beauty as they welcome spring!

*This morning's sunshine also reminded me that it is time to wash windows! The dull skies of winter are gone. Let the sun shine in!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Gathering the Pieces

"Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted." John 6:12

I'm reading a little book that was my mothers, especially enjoying the segments that she felt so meaningful she highlighted them. This morning's reading was about pieces; how life is like a quilt where new is created by rearranging the pieces of the old. It goes on to include this paragraph that says so much:

"It is quilting theology. God takes the pieces of our lives and stitches them back together, working His will for the good of those who love Him. With His handiwork, life isn't limited to one square. It is a pattern of squares where beauty depends on variety and no single square tells the whole story. They must be seen together --- like a quilt." [Quilted with Love by Goodwin]

That paragraph says it all, doesn't it. And while on the subject of how God takes the pieces back together to create wholeness, would you please pray for a friend today? She and her family are going through the broken effects of an accident and I know your prayers would be cherished. Please pray for healing and wholeness, just like a quilt.

Be blessed today!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cattle on a Thousand Hills

Encouraging words from Psalms ~

. . .for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it. . .call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.

Psalm 50:10 - 13, 15 NIV

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Farm Chicks

Under the guise of going grocery shopping and buying seed packets for our gardens, Karleen and I went to the supermarket. It was a neighborly thing to do.

But tucked in our cart was a book recently purchased. It was the "Farm Chicks in the Kitchen" cookbook! Along with all the regular supermarket advertising in the newspaper and fliers was word that the "Farm Chicks" were coming to town and would be having a book signing event.

As a reader who enjoys "Country Living" magazine (a place they have been featured many times) and as a friend of Paula from Elm Street (she loves the "Farm Chicks"), it seemed that meeting the "Farm Chicks" would be something that would spice up the day, the week, the month, the year!

And it did! Karleen and I were there early and the lines were short. Teri and Serena were friendly, cheerful, and informative. It was fun to chat and learn from them. They are true country gals --- with a genuine down-home friendliness.

Their books were displayed nearby, ready for eager buyers. The pages within are filled with great country recipes and wonderful kitchen and craft ideas. The book begins with the life story of both Teri and Serena; human-interest blurbs about their growing up years which set the stage for their "Farm Chickness" in later years.

I especially enjoy the story of how they met. One time Teri was preparing dinner when Sister Kathleen called about a new woman to their church. She needed a sponsor. Would Teri be willing to mentor her? She was, and the rest is history. A beautiful friendship developed between Teri and Serena --- and a multitude of creative ventures and ideas resulted from that simple phone call.

Soon they were not only cooking and preserving together, but going off on junking adventures in search of antiques and memorabilia to satisfy their home decorating urge. Eventually they had 'too much stuff' and had their first yard sale in a neighbor's yard. From there the fun continued and continues still with "The Farm Chicks Antique Show" that is held each year.

My cookbook is now duly autographed by both Serena and Teri. I'm enjoying reading the recipes and preparing to try some of them in my own kitchen. Intermingled with recipes and kitchen tips are great stories of their lives and the lives of those they meet as they venture to new places in search for antiques and more. Sprinkled throughout the pages I've also found terrific ideas that will satisfy any one's creative urge! Instructions for vintage aprons made from old sheets, and a scone cozy that is perfect for afternoon tea, ideas for shelf trims, and directions to make food covers --- and much, much more --- are treasures tucked here and there between sections of recipes and lore.

Their book is on my 'most highly recommended' list --- and they are on my 'even higher recommended' list as ladies of farm charm, well deserving of the name "Farm Chicks".

You may visit Teri's and Serena's website and blog easily by clicking on my "Friends of Gracious Hospitality" blog roll. They have been on my blog roll for awhile --- thanks to Paula from Elm Street and her enthusiastic recommendation of their creative expertise.

To Teri and Serena, it was great to meet you! Happy trails to you as you continue teaching others to live well, laugh often, and cook much!

Photos copyright@LaTeaDah2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Tea Chest

A picnic is not complete without a cup of favorite tea or tisane for dessert. Finding ways to transport porcelain and iron tea tools safely can be difficult. I was so pleased when Aunt Cella gave me a wonderful tin 'chest' from Germany. It was made to contain Lebkuchen, and was filled to the brim when she received it from a friend who ships it to her from Germany (a delightful, yearly tradition). Each yearly chest is decorated with a different European castle and the one she gave me is of the Nuremberg Castle. Although this might be better called a 'tea caddy' (a tea chest usually contains only tea), the hinged lid, shape, and size of this container remind me of a chest, so it is my "tea chest". It is large enough to contain teacups and saucers, a teapot, a thermos, and more. Sturdy and practical, it safely carries tea items to picnics and other places for teatime enjoyment. I enjoy it so much, not only for it's practicality, but for the family history it represents. Aunt Cella has visited this castle many times --- and many others too. She is an aunt who LOVES castles and has explored many to her heart's content.

Springtime Picnic Rice Salad

Simple and refreshing foods make springtime picnics a delight. Especially since standby sandwiches are more difficult with a gluten-free family member. This is a recipe that evolves in my kitchen each spring. I enjoy using whatever fresh produce I have on hand. There's alot of flexibility with this crispy and chewy recipe. It's simple and light. I hope you enjoy it as much as our family does.

Springtime Picnic Rice Salad

2 cups Basmati brown rice, cooked
2 cups Basmati white rice, cooked
1 English cucumber, diced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 can burgundy olives, chopped
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds, ground
1/3 cup almonds, ground
1/3 cup sunflower seeds, ground
2 carrots, shredded
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste
Onion powder, to taste

Mix all ingredients together gently. Chill. Serve by spooning over garden greens or Romaine. Garnish with Veganaise, scallions, and sesame crackers. Enjoy!

*Black olives will work if you can't find burgundy olives. Red and green peppers, chopped, make a nice addition to this recipe as well. Use what you have on hand and omit what you don't like. This recipe is also delicious made with 100% Basmati brown rice.

Double-click if you'd like, for a larger view.

Adventures in Nature

At the end of a busy and sometimes stressful week, it's nice to go into nature and enjoy all the beautiful things God has created. With warm sunshine and a full gas tank, we went on such an adventure. On country roads, through farm fields and sagebrush, we meandered leisurely through the countryside. How refreshing it was to be on highways where we were the only vehicle for miles around. Quaint and quiet towns were scattered along the way, just begging to be explored. Beautiful farm houses on dryland wheat ranches were nestled remotely in gullies and roadsides. Barns and buildings were well-kept with paint and rooftops that matched one another. After awhile sage-covered 'wasteland' surrounded us. Cattle dotted the countryside, even the rocky basalt hillsides along the way. Nothingness but nature. A bumpy, narrow, semi-gravel road suddenly opened up into a picnic and camping area --- all overlooking the next bluff with an amazing waterfall, cascading 198 feet into a basin below. With the winter snow-melt, it was roaring with excitement! Glacial floods formed waterfall along the Palouse River as it worked its way towards the famous Snake River. The falls plunge into a deep green pool at the base, and when sun strikes spray at the bottom of the falls, a beautiful rainbow results. Surrounding the falls are huge rock formations, dwarfed by the vastness of the plains surrounding them. Beside the falls, basalt spires create the imagine of turrets and a medieval castle for those who allow their imagination to soar. As the river continues from the basin, it cuts through a narrow gorge to the Snake River, through walls of columnar basalt that's layered with 100-foot-thick lava flows. Unimaginable beauty as only God can create!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Happiness, Joy, and Blessings

Enjoy a wonderful and relaxing week-end!
Many blessings to you!

Lavender Spring

Spring is finally popping up all over. Fruit trees are budding and the forsythia is a bright and cheerful yellow! The lavender farm is coming to life as well, although slowly. It will be the first of June before purple blossoms grace the gray-green of the foliage upon which they grow. The gentle green of grass and trees, along with flowers tucked along the garden paths, create a quaint and serene place for walking and relaxing. . .even without the full fragrance of lavender bud. A river flows by swiftly nearby, creating tranquil sounds naturally, without the use of a white-noise machine! A perfect place to sit and dream on a sunny day. A little bit of heaven on earth. Happy Spring!

Double click for larger view of photo.

Brimming Sunshine

"The whole earth was brimming sunshine that morning. She tripped along, the clear sky pouring liquid blue into her soul."

Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tea Party

The Tea Party

I had a little tea party
This afternoon at three.
'Twas very small-
Three guest in all-
Just I, myself and me.

Myself ate all the sandwiches,
While I drank up the tea;
'Twas alos I woh ate the pie
And passed the cake to me.

Author Unknown

Photos: Elm Street Antiques

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Schoolhouse, Clouds, & Dreams

The skies in spring are beautiful and interesting to observe. There is so much contrast with color, light, and clouds. On a recent leisurely drive on a rural highway, we passed by the farm my friend, Toni. The farm itself is picturesque with all the buildings painted brown and a windmills that twirls in the wind. But my favorite thing on Toni's farm is this old, deserted schoolhouse. Set against the drama of a changing sky, it seemed to sparkle in the twilight. Set in a wheat field green with new shoots, its painted white walls and framed windows speak of countless children who learned within its walls. Imagine a rural schoolteacher in a flowing skirt and long hair pinned into a tidy bun. Apples, rulers, slates and chalk, baseballs, jump ropes, and lunch boxes lined up in a row --- I can visualize them all if I close my eyes and dream awhile. Toni and husband have moved to town, but their children and grandchildren carry on the family occupation. Although she no longer lives next door, I know that Toni still treasures this little schoolhouse and the dreams it contained in by-gone years.

Do you remember your grammar school years? Peanut butter sandwiches and little cartons of milk? An apple, sometimes mushy in the winter months? And how your grade school always had the homey smell of ink, chalk, paper, and peanut butter?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring Flowers

It is said that April showers bring May flowers. In that case, I am counting on a glorious May! Cool and drizzly weather has been giving much moisture to plants and shrubs this spring. The first of the spring flowers are appearing in my garden. Although the first daffodils are nearly done, the first tulips bloomed earlier this week. Tiny blue "forget-me-knots" are peeking out from their hiding places. The lilac trees are setting out buds and will soon burst into full colors of purple and lavender. Clipping a blossom here and there to use for table decor or arrangement is fun and so much nicer than a silk flowers used for decoration.

What flowers do you have growing in your garden? Do you clip them and bring them inside to enjoy? How do you display them?

I love the comments left for this post. Thank you for sharing how you enjoy spring flowers. I appreciate the great ideas from everyone!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Spring Luncheon

Everyone has their own favorite recipe, and today I will share one of mine. It's for a light and fresh salad with the very boring name of "Eggless Egg Salad". I'd rename it, but the title describes it well. We had it for lunch today, served with crisp romaine, scored cucumber circles, hot biscuits, and almonds. It's great served as salad, and equally delicious in a sandwich --- especially if sourdough is involved! Delish!

Eggless Egg Salad

1 block extra-firm tofu, crumbled
2 Tbsp. Bill's Best Chicknish'
1/2 cup chopped olives
Veganaise, to moisten and hold ingredients together

Mix together until moistened. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary (tofu absorbs flavors, so add more Chicknish' if you'd like).

Today I added some extras ~ 1 Tbsp. of Baco Bits, 5 chopped green onions, 1 diced pickle. Top with fresh green peas and paprika.

Easter Greetings

Easter Greetings
to YOU and YOURS

May God's blessings be yours!
Христос Воскрес!

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Easter week-end and sprouting greenery on hillsides and in fields coincide each year. It was the perfect day for a walk along the river. Although breezy, the weather was pleasant and comfortable. An old railroad bed has been converted into a trail that goes for miles and miles. It was easy walking along the river shore. But before long we couldn't resist leaving the trail to find pathways to the windmill and down to river's edge. There we found a large colony of terns, gathered together in the shallow of the river. Some flew overhead, and others could be seen diligently swooping and circling for fish. Off-shore, two large osprey nests were being constructed by two pair of osprey, large raptors that feed on fish. They were busy building the nests on the tops of tall poles. Although they had to fight against the breeze, their strength was evident as they carried branches and twigs longer than themselves through the sky from a nearby grove of trees. We observed one struggle to get it set on the nest when it missed its mark and the stick fell to the ground. Instead of flying down to get it, the osprey didn't miss a beat and flew off to get another from the distant grove of trees. Spring must be here; many kinds of birds were active today along river's shore.

The picture on the left shows an osprey bringing twigs to its nest. The picture on the top right shows the terns, but they blend in so well with the water, they are difficult to discern. The sagebrush is turning a lovely silver-blue, showing signs of spring growth.

Click on the pictures for a closer look.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Charming Country Kitchen

Have you ever noticed how a kitchen reflects the personality and interests of the cook? I haven't spent much time reflecting upon what types of kitchen each type of cook might prefer, but it would be an interesting subject to explore. I've been posting pictures of Terri's house the past few weeks, and today's post is to show you how Terri's personality is expressed so beautifully in her kitchen. If you had a chance to meet Terri, you would know that this kitchen is quintessentially Terri! She chose a simple palette of white cabinets and walls to showcase the many beautiful details she enjoys. Vintage, antique, and new all meld together perfectly to create a dreamy and cozy space for meal preparation. Gadgets, canisters, her signature green color, lace, and rose prints all work together in creating a space that is a joy to work in. I can just picture her baking cookies, cinnamon rolls, or savory soups in this lovely kitchen! Thank you, Terri, for giving us a peek into a space that reflects your personality so well.

Photos: Paula@2009

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Rain and Sunshine

"April weather; rain and sunshine both together."

So true! My daffodils are in full bloom --- forming banks of yellow in garden beds. They are so cheerful and seem to be begging the sun to shine! Some days the sun wins and comes out to play, but mostly passing showers and puffy clouds blanket the skies.

Today's task: to pick some of those daffodils and bring them in to enjoy!

Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Simple Beauty

"We ascribe beauty
in that which is simple;
which has no superfluous parts;
which exactly answers its end."


Photo: Elm Street Antiques

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Stitcher's Heaven

Thank you, Toshiko ~ for sharing your pictures and information with us! I especially enjoy looking at all the little details in these photos, so am posting them one more time. By clicking on the picture, it will enlarge so readers can see more detail. Browsing these shops sounds like pure delight! In the community where I live, fabric stores are closing one by one. No longer can we purchase yardage at House of Fabrics, Fabricland, JC Penneys, or private specialty shops. They've gone, one by one. Joann's came to town, but is now closing one of two stores here. Walmart arrived with three stores and lots of fabric (chasing some others away), but has now closed their fabric departments except for a few limited products. It's no wonder that I think that "Town of Fabric" is stitchers heaven!

Monday, April 06, 2009

To Japan with Love

A sweet friend lives across the ocean from me, one who has read my blog faithfully since it's inception. How blessed I have been to meet her in person - twice! We have shared afternoon tea, conversation, and the wonderful pipe-organ recital of her daughter, Bethany. Toshiko encourages me with her words and teaches me new things about life. How interesting it is to learn about other cultures and customs. Toshiko's home is in the country amongst rice paddies and other agriculture. Recently, though, she took a trip to Tokyo and took time to spend some time in what I call the garment district and she calls Nippori - town of fabric. What delight! I loved her descriptions of things seen in the pictures and will share some of them with you so you can enjoy a virtual armchair tour of Japan from wherever you are. Toshiko says:

"The fabric place is just awesome. There are many small shops. Not big at all. The shops are mostly old and have bare walls. BUT there are so many varieties of materials there. Materials I've never seen! And so inexpensive. I enjoyed visiting all these shops. Often times they sell cotton for a dollar for 1m (1yd is 92cm, 100cm is 1m). They are not the best quality in Japan but good enough for everyday thing. Some places sell more expensive materials from overseas."

"One shopkeeper told me they used to be wholesale shops. Individual customers couldn't buy any. They sold like half a roll or for a whole role. Now they made the place to be inexpensive, varieties of kinds, and some of the shops sell the same yardage as from Japanese pattern and sewing books."

Many fabric rolls were displayed right on the sidewalks. What was unusual about this is that the space they were stored might not be close to the shopkeepers store. The honor system is well and alive in Japan! According to Toshiko, some of the signs shown in the collage above said:

The yellow sign said "Please go to pay at the third shop from here.

The blue sign said "Please don't take these " and "Please don't take these to the next door shop, but take the to our shop - HAPPY. Please take them to HAPPY" (I thought they are saying not to take them home, but they meant not to take them to the next door neighbor).

The town of fabric consists of 92 associated shops with fruit, flower, and other shops interspersed. The assciated shops sell not only textiles in raw form, but shops for jeans, clothing, beads, hats, buttons, belts, and quilts. Awww, wouldn't it be fun to visit there?

Toshiko and I have been enjoying conversations about kimonos. They are held in high regard and are quite valuable. Our discussions have led to modern clothing designed and made with elements of the traditional kimono. In the collage above, you will note a Japanese Hoari jacket. It is an American version of the Japanese design. It was a photo from a local quilt show and had an attached note that said that the length of the sleeve is made according to the age of the individual (the younger you are, the shorter can be the sleeves). I am not sure why, but I like the concept! Toshiko's experience and expertise doesn't mesh with the Americanized version of the attached note, though. She says that all kimonos have sleeves of the same length.

Thank you, Toshiko, for sharing so generously with us!

Photos are by Toshiko@2009 and her son, Joel@2009.

Little Lambs

One of the sweetest things about spring are the little lambs! Within minutes of birth, their wobbly legs carry them along as they try to keep up with mama as she goes to graze on pasture grass. It's during lambing season that I most think of our former neighbor, Anna Mae. She loved her sheep and would faithfully tend to their needs, especially during lambing season. From late January until spring, her flashlight beam could be seen at night when she checked on her lambing mothers every few hours around the clock. Twins and triplets were especially fun to observe. Her influence inspired us to keep a bottle baby one year. Our bottle baby grew up to be Fluffy, a devoted and sometimes independent pet whom lived with us until her old age. She had twins most springs, but once had triplets. Those three little lambs were adorable and provided hours of playing fun for the boys (elementary age at the time). Life moves on; changes take place. Anna Mae has passed away, a victim of ovarian cancer (although she would never call herself a victim; she was victorious in Jesus). Her home has sold and now a new house is being built in the pasture next door. It's not nearly as interesting as the sheep. But little lambs still inhabit Earth --- but require us to walk just a little farther down the road for us to see and delight in them!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Tari's Silver Butter Dish

During the Victorian era, a plethora of objects became the rage when it came to meal service. Every function needed it's own tool. There were slotted spoons for serving tomatoes, salt cellars for each setting, and beautiful containers for butter. Yesterday we were invited guests to the home of friends and our hostess served Earth Balance spread for the Artisan Bread I took along as my contribution to the meal. Instead of keeping the spread in it's plastic container, Tari arranged it beautifully in this silver butter dish that was given to her by her mother. Isn't it lovely and unique? A family treasure passed down from mother to daughter. . .

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Hat Tradition

Were you born in the days when it was proper to always wear a hat when you went out? My mother had a few hats, but I don't remember her wearing them very often. It was becoming stylish, in her early 20's, to go without. But my Grandmother always wore a hat when she went out. Her name was Katherina and she was a proper lady. A farm wife, I only knew her as a widow who lived in a little house next door to my aunt and uncle. Grandma was ill and unable to walk, so a part of her 'wardrobe' was her overstuffed chair or wheelchair, at least as far as my child-eyes registered. But, when she felt well enough, she enjoyed going to church with the family. Her attire was so extremely old-fashioned to me, and therefore very interesting. Add to that fact her tendency to forget to speak in English to her little granddaughters who knew no German, and she made for a most wonderful Grandma! Her church attire was always thick stockings, a flowing dress of some sort (sometimes of rayon, other times of cotton), a sweater (always a sweater), and solid, black, 0ld-fashioned shoes (they reminded me of the shoes of the fine ladies of the 1800's --- I always wondered where my aunt even found them to purchase for Grandma). This ensemble was always completed with a hankie tucked into her sweater sleeve and a wonderful hat! I'm sure they weren't extravagant, but to my child-eyes, any hat worn to church was la-tea-dah! Velveteen, hat pins, netting, and a flower or two. Grandma's hat usually covered her black hair that was tucked into a bun and hairnet at the back of her neck. Grandma never changed --- the memories remain constant and sweet. Because of Grandma's influence, sister and I enjoyed the pretty Easter hats that our mother would buy for us each spring. Such memories --- and all because of a hat.

Photo: Elm Street Antiques

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Cherished Family Treasures

Each family has their treasures, and I've come to the conclusion that those most cherished are those items that provide interaction with the family who owns them. How many families do you know that place high value upon a piano, a sewing machine, or a rocking chair? These items provide hours of playing and listening pleasure, the ability to create, and time spent rocking a baby. Terri has graciously allowed me the privilege of telling you about their family treasure: a beloved piano. Her sister, Paula, has shared stories and details about this beautiful piece as well.

But first, let me set the stage by telling you about an interview I watched on Good Morning America yesterday. Cloris Leachman was being interviewed, and she ended the interview by sitting down at a piano and playing a medley of beautiful classical pieces. She has such humor, and it just spilled out of her.

As she started one lovely classical piece she said:

"I used to light the candles on the piano and play this song when I was eight --- and everyone else was doing the dishes."

I remember those days, although it never worked with my mom! I asked Paula if it worked for her. Her response was interesting in that she was born a twin. Her sister, Penny, and she would take turns doing dishes, and the other one would practice the piano. Then she said:

"Thank goodness, I'm second to youngest and didn't have to do dishes for seven kids. Terri got that honor, being the oldest!"

Their family piano has a rich and interesting history. The information on the manufacturers label reads "New Castle Indiana 1875 Jesse French". They believe their piano was made about 1923. Formerly owned by the pastor of Terri's and Paula's family, it was given to their parents in 1964 when the pastor and his wife moved and were unable to take it with them. Later, when their family moved to a new town, the piano went with them, carried on the back of a flat bed truck. It seems this was only the first of several flat bed truck rides the piano took, sometimes traveling to another state and over many miles. It was on this piano that many of the children and grandchildren in their family learned to play. Gifted with the ability to play be ear enhanced this quality. The place of honor in the family that was placed upon this cherished family heirloom is illustrated by the tender loving care it has been given. Terri and her husband restored the piano, having it tuned, the keys restored, and refinishing it to its original beauty. A house fire later required it be professionally restored. But it's beauty and charm still shine through.

Paula expressed the family sentiments and memories very well when she says:

"So it's about eighty-six years old and been in our family about forty-five years. I can remember as a child listening to Terri play for hours. She never took lessons for piano but took accordion lessons for about a year and a half, so she was self-taught. She was the one who taught me a few songs. From that I learned I could play by ear. The piano is beautiful and brings back many memories to me, especially of my Dad who is no longer with us. He would always say, 'play me a song Paula', and of course I would. I could even play a little Merle Haggard whom my Dad loved!"

Cherished family treasures; each family has their story to share. What is your most cherished family heirloom? Is it interactive in some way? I would love to hear about your treasure; stories of pianos, sewing machines, rocking chairs, china, and more.

Photos: copyrighted by Terri 2009