Puttin’ up & eatin’ food in days gone by

Our rainy days are over and we are experiencing a heat wave. I was ‘slaving over a hot stove’ the other morning, cooking some food to take out to my mom’s. What a baby I am. I had food in the oven at 7 and was done by 8: 30 or so, and of course later on when I came back home, while I don’t have whole house air, I would be able to run my window air conditioners. After my mom’s, I went out to Simmon’s Farm.

I have tomatoes and green beans and some very strange looking cucumbers growing here, but I picked up corn, peaches, lettuce ( mine’s bolted ) and a watermelon there. I picked up for my place and my son’s…they would pay me back.  Whenever I hit the farm, I check in to see if they would like anything. Luckily I was early enough to get the #2 peaches…slightly bruised and half the price. Fresh from the farm Pennsylvania peaches….or any local fresh peaches from your own state…there’s just nothing like it.  The same goes for corn, potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes, all of it! :)

Nowadays, some of us labor a little in our gardens, and some still do a lot. Some, though…can only frequent farmer’s markets or one or two local farms, and others haven’t tasted a real fresh local fruit for ages. Then there’s our tendency for light meals during the summer…salads and such. And while I can, and make jam, and pickles, I have the luxury of just doing a little bit of that…or being lazy and feeding all of the tomatoes to the grandkids and skipping it for a season. I thought it would be fun to compare…what puttin’ up and eatin’ food in days gone by was like for some folks.

From “Kitchenary” by Peggy H. Landis:

Living on a farm was like owning our own supermarket stocked with very fresh, entirely unprocessed foods. Instead of pushing our cart up and down the aisles, we pushed it around the seasons.”

Mother was captain of the summer garden, and the rest of us marched to her orders.”

Mother always did a good job of bringing the garden to the table. A typical supper menu might have been fried country ham, mashed potatoes or corn on the cob, fresh green beans, sliced cucumbers in a creamy dressing, thick red slices of ripe tomatoes, homemade bread, and sweet iced tea. Fresh sliced peaches from a nearby orchard often provided a simple but delicious dessert.

From “Up a Country Lane” by Evelyn Birkby:

Wooden steps led down to the hard earthen floor of our cave. Bricks lined the walls and low-domed roof. Several feet of dirt and sod covering the cellar kept the inside temperature cool in the summer and above freezing in winter. A clay tile pipe embedded in the center of the ceiling allowed fresh air from the outside to circulate down inside the windowless space. My spirits always rose as I carried jars of food down into the cave and lined them up on the wooden shelves along the wall.”

By the way, this book is not only a memoir but a cookbook. Here is the author using her pressure cooker to can green beans and other low acid vegetable

canning in 1950s kitchen

From “Mrs. Blackwell’s Heart-of-Texas Cookbook” by Louise B. Dillow & Deenie B. Carver, illustrations by John Henry Faulk:

Canning, to my mother, was a form of saving for a rainy day and was as profitable as the modern-day working mother’s trip to the bank on payday.”

” During the summertime, the noonday meal was a feast of garden vegetables, hot corn bread, or yeast rolls and butter, fruit cobbler, and iced tea. ”

large family at the table

“We had a spring and fall garden so there were fresh vegetables from April through December and canned and dried vegetables during the winter months.”  ” Mama canned green peas, green beans, beets, corn, tomatoes, and made chow-chow and kraut out of the cabbage. She pickled the cucumbers, and made jelly and preserves of every fruit that she could find. She dried the black-eyed peas and cream peas, the pinto beans and butter beans. With dried corn, she made hominy.”

Pickles and Preserves Page

in the field illustration

From Reminisce : Around the Table : this memory is from Floyd Hedge, Mountain Home, Arkansas:

My step-grandfather grew tobacco and had a big garden and several fruit trees. It was my job to pick the fruit and vegetables, and then Mom and Grandma slaved over a hot stove all summer to can them and make jams and jellies for the coming winter. “

“I always finished off my meal with peanut butter mixed with either a half-pint of blackberry jam, peach preserves or sorghum molasses.

page 104 full larder

( the above photo is from the Reminisce book. I borrowed this book from the library but there is a website that you can visit to purchase books, magazines, etc. It is listed in the book and can be found HERE  )

From “Country Kitchens Remembered“, by Marilyn Kluger: “ We didn’t know the riches we had in our cellar at the end of those summers. They seem as priceless as the golden peaches of Samarkand when I think of them today.” 



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Hummingbird Moth Visitor and more…

Who is behind these flowers, pines and bushes in the front of my yard?

who is behind these flowers

I did a post on a baby bunny not too long ago ( HERE ) and he has adopted this area since his last visit.

This is just one small area on one side of my front porch.

one small area

Here is the bunny living underneath and behind …

bunny by hibiscus bloom

I had gone out to water the flowers in that little wooden wheelbarrow and he had been sitting right next to it enjoying some morning sunshine. He ran behind the pine tree and flowers and I caught a picture of him back there while I sat on the porch steps.

Since then I’ve seen him venture out a bit into the sunshine to eat some grass, but he hops back into the shade and safety when a car passes or I get too close. He’s such a tiny little thing; I can’t get over how early they are off on their own.

baby bunny by fence collage

The flowers in the little wooden wheelbarrow are nasturtiums and it’s the first year that I’ve planted them. I am glad that they are coming up in the ground as well because out of all of the zinnias that I planted I only see a few coming up….what a difference from years past. I assume that I either got bad seeds or the torrential downpours rotted them or something…who knows :(

The bees love the nasturtiums, though. Along with bees constantly enjoying the dahlia blooms and the sunflowers, they are all over these nasturtiums.


bumblebee 2

The bees like the transplanted wild phlox as well but I am quite excited to show you this next visitor. I was out on the porch and something flew by….like a hummingbird but smaller…was it a baby hummer? I took a quick look and then ran for the camera…was it one of those hummingbird moths? YES! :)

So there I was with bees to the right of me ( Nasturtiums ) and bees to the left of me ( Sunflowers ) and bees in front of me ( Phlox ) hoping that none of them were going to get upset and pay attention to me while I clicked as fast as I could….many photos were blurry because this little treasure moved pretty quickly around the phlox, but I did manage to get a few decent ones.

I had never seen one before nor heard of them until one visited a blogger a year or so ago and she posted about it ( though I don’t remember which blog at this point. )  If you are unfamiliar with them they don’t flutter around like a moth or butterfly…they behave, or this one did, exactly as if it was a little hummingbird. What a treat to be outside at just the right moment for my first live encounter with one.

hummingbird moth collage

hummingbird moth

hummingbird moth 3

hummingbird moth 2

There is magic to be found in Nature on a daily basis…and I thank the Creator and Designer of it…things such as hummingbird moths and cute bunnies and the way a cat purrs just cannot be happenstance :)

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Which Goddess: Archetypes in our Daily Lives

Jean Shinoda Bolen’s book “Goddesses in Everywoman” is not a religious book about worshipping a Goddess but rather it is a book exploring psychological archetypes in women, based on the Greek goddesses.

The purpose of this series is to examine the archetypes that some of these Greek goddesses might represent in our psychological makeup.

But first,  why so many goddesses in the Greek pantheon? Historically, long ago there was only one. All quotes are from the book.

“Marija Gimbutas, a professor of European archeology  at the University of California at Los Angelos describes ” Old Europe”, Europe’s first civilization. Dating back at least 5000 years ( perhaps even 25000 years ) before the rise of male religions, Old Europe was a matrifocal, sedentary, peaceful, art-loving, earth-and-sea-bound culture that worshipped the Great Goddess. Evidence from burial sites show that Old Europe was an unstratified, egalitarian society that was destroyed by an infiltration of seminomadic, horse-riding, Indo-European peoples from the distant north and east. These invaders were patrifocal, mobile, warlike, ideologically sky-oriented and indifferent to art.”

The invaders had the ability to conquer the earlier people who worshipped the Great Goddess. She was known by many names such as Astarte, Ishtar, Isis, etc…” a feminine life force deeply connected to nature and fertility, responsible for creating life and destroying life. The snake, the dove, the tree, and the moon were her sacred symbols.”


Source : British Museum / Limestone statue of a woman

Middle Assyrian, about 1070-1056 BC
From Nineveh, northern Iraq ; Found in the remains of the Temple of Ishtar

“There were successive waves of invaders that began the gradual dethronement of the Great Goddess.  “The goddesses were not completely suppressed but were incorporated into the religion of the invaders.”

‘Mythologist Jane Harrison notes that the Great Mother goddess became fragmented into many lesser goddesses, each receiving attributes that once belonged to her: Hera got the ritual of the sacred marriage, Demeter her mysteries, Aphrodite her doves, Athena her snakes, and Artemis her function as “Lady of the Wild Things” ( wildlife ) .

“According to Merlin Stone, author of When God Was a Woman, the disenthronement of the Great Goddess, begun by the Indo-European invaders, was finally accomplished by the Hebrew, Christian, and Moslem religions that arose later. The female goddesses faded into the background…”

The book’s premise is that “the goddess still exists as archetypes in the collective unconscious. The Greek goddesses are images of women that have lived in the human imagination for over three thousand years. The goddesses are patterns or representations of what women are like…”

“Each one has both positive and potentially negative traits. Their myths show what is important to them and express in metaphor what a woman who resembles them might do. ”

Winged Goddess of Victory

Samothrace Victory, musée du Louvre, Paris: The Winged Goddess of Victory

Continued next week.

Sharing at : Savvy Southern Style / Common Ground / French Country Cottage

Stitching This Week

I finished up sewing the binding to the back of the baby quilt and here it is along with a picture of the pieced backing :

finished baby quilt collage

The first Rose applique block was finished last week but I’d not shown a photo as yet.  Then I had thought that I was completely done with the center portion of quilting on the Crosses and Losses quilt and was ready to start on the edge sections ( example: the purple and green area ) but I found a portion on the blue area that still needed quilting prior to working on the edge.  ( sigh )

quilting collage mid month

So I’ll be finishing this section up on the weekend and moving on to the edges after that. After the baby quilt, I’ve really done no sewing this week at all…just full of other things…

quilting blue area

I’ll be joining other Slow Stitchers over at Kathy’s Quilts on Sunday morning, but in the afternoon, this little light-of-my-life has a big birthday party.

He’s turning six.

We had a shopping spree &  a smaller family get together earlier in the week …and I posted about that here, but this will be the cake and candles and a bazillion kids running around kind.

I’ve been a bit nostalgic this week, reviewing baby videos on Facebook.  I have 248 videos there and probably thousands of photographs of this little child alone, lol…His dad was home for his birth but had to return to Iraq and that’s how it started. The baby mama wasn’t taking or showing many pictures and my camera was old…I went and purchased a Nikon at Best Buy at an interest-free 18 month deal and then just documented every minute of this child’s life when he was here for his daddy to see until he got home.   So I’ve been looking at old videos and pictures and laughing…when he first learned to spit, when he first did this or that… :)

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Birthday boy

My little grandson turned six on July 23rd. His mama would have him for that day…my son had him on the 22nd.

My youngest son and I took him shopping in the afternoon for shoes and clothes. We went to an outlet mall…I got him a pair of Jordan shoes at the Nike store and a shirt that he picked out in the children’s Gap store. These shoes were allowed to be worn home, then they were to be put away for the first day of  school.  Any other time it’s just normal clothes but starting school plus a birthday…we splurged a bit.

My youngest got him an outfit, another pair of shoes, and some extra shorts.   Here they are while we were taking a break for pretzels and ice cream… if you look at the lower right hand corner I had Brent pose in the Nike store…

shopping collage

Home to change and pose for pictures in The Outfit, a traditional once a year birthday splurge of my youngest son’s :

nate and brent

brent and nate serious monsters collage

Then we were off to a dinner where the food was good but the entertainment was even better… my iphone 3 doesn’t have the best picture quality but here’s a little collage anyway. This was at Fusion Japanese Steakhouse where the children ( and adults ) were entertained at the hibachi grill.  I think that the children laughed throughout  most of their meal at the antics of the chef :)

at fusion

Prior to the dinner arriving, Brent had facetime via phone outside the restaurant where the reception was better with my oldest son, who lives in St. Louis now. My son works for Boeing and Brent was quite impressed with a plane hanging from a ceiling in the room where the call took place.

There will be a party on Sunday with extended family & friends :)

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Baby Bunny, Veggies and Clouds : Three on Thursday

1)   A nice little harvest from the garden the other day…while some of the tomato plants won’t produce for awhile yet the Early Girl ones are doing nicely and I pick green beans every two days or so :

green beans and tomatoes from the garden

This is coming in handy in that I am filling little containers with meals and sides to take out to my mom every few days and labeling a container as “GARDEN green beans”  or “Salad with HOME GROWN tomatoes ” sounds more appetizing :)

She has physical therapy people, occupational therapy people and a nurse visiting 2x each week. My sis is just a few minutes away and is running back and forth more than me….but my job is to have some ready made food there that sis can pop in a microwave. She hates to cook and I don’t. She loves to clean and I don’t. It works. There will be one of those chairs-going-up-stairs installed within two weeks or so…and we’ll see how it goes. My grandparents home, next to my parents, was built as a one level ready for retirement home. My mom should have, when they passed, sold her place …two levels, high on a hill, etc. and moved into theirs when she inheirited it. I had suggested that and it did not go over well at the time. Enough said :)

2 )  Pretty clouds moved through the other day…

clouds collage july 21

3) On Tuesday I backed my car out of its parking spot and was dismayed to see that a baby bunny had been sitting underneath the car! I always take a bit of time to rev the engine just in case a squirrel is under there…and they go running but there the tiny little bunny sat through it all.

When I walked back from dropping the car off at the local garage for its inspection, the bunny was still hanging around so I went for the camera, albeit very slowly so as not to startle him. ( then again if revving the car didn’t….., right? : )

baby bunny in front yard

My grass was due to be cut in a day or so but it was not really very high yet…he was just so tiny! I wished that I could just scoop him up and pet and cuddle him. Such an adorable little thing…

baby bunny 2

But wait…it gets even cuter. A sunflower bloom had fallen to the ground overnight, from wind or what, I do not know.

bunny and sunflower

In the early a.m. I’d fed the squirrels a few peanuts and one returned. He wondered who or what this cute little intruder was ?

squirrel and bunny collage

In the end the squirrel did not bother the baby bunny and the bunny decided to stick with the clover versus the sunflower.

bunny will stick with the clover

I hope that he comes back to visit…he’s so darn cute. But now I am going to have to look under my car every time I want to drive it due to worry that he will be under there again!

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Vintage clothing and accessories

Generally when I work at Vintage Secrets I take photos and then here & there I upload them to their Facebook page.

It dawned on me that I’ve not shown any on the blog for quite awhile.  For this post I thought to just show a few vintage clothing and accessories, and then I’ll show some other things down the line.

There are several rooms that have vintage clothing. One vendor specializes in steampunk but has some clothing from an estate sale. Another rather new vendor just rented out a room to focus on clothing & accessories.

When she first began filling the room a few things caught my eye  :

This pretty lace dress …

vintage dress lace

This beaded purse that reminded me of one that my aunt had and that all of us children were fascinated with…


vintage beaded purse

Another dress from her room:

orange vintage dress

A new dress in a different room that I just fell in love with,  because the minute that I saw it, I could picture June Cleaver from “Leave it to Beaver” entering a room wearing it!

vintage dress

And from that same room, a purse…

vintage purse

By the time that  I was scheduled to work another day, that beaded purse had been moved.

vintage dress with beaded purse

At least it was still there for me to play with :)

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Sharing at : Savvy Southern Style / Common Ground / French Country Cottage / Cozy Little House

Bee Petting & Blooms

With this strange rainy summer not everything is going as planned in regards to my flowers. The zinnias coming up are few and far between, most of the dahlias are still tightly budded, and the lantana is begging for the sun.  Here and there we have a sunny day and then I see a bit of progress; some sunflowers are unfolding…

sunflower collage unfolding

Others coming into more bloom..

blooms collage lavender in center

I am particularly thrilled with the phlox, because I dug it up last year from a roadside area and here it is blooming for me. I had waded in and picked numerous amounts of wild phlox to use in bouquets for my son’s wedding. I pulled one up by the roots to plant here, hoping that would work and it did. And because it is from the wild, and not some hybrid thing , it has a heady scent.


It’s no secret that bees and butterflies are in danger and becoming scarce so when I didn’t see any bees for awhile I got worried but they came out when the sun did. They were staying in during the rain which was fairly non-stop.

bee two tone

bee collage for post

bee oh dahlia focal bw

One of the grandgirls told me the other day that she had “petted a bee” while she was here.

I did warn her that they could sting and that some people were allergic to them but honestly when they are this involved with a flower I can understand why her bee let her pet him and didn’t mind. They don’t mind my camera just inches away…she’s got me tempted to try petting one myself!   Curious about that, I Googled bee petting, and there are others that do this and have lived to tell the tale.

Bee in Motion approaching salvia

Have you ever petted your bees?

This one does look fuzzy, soft and harmless, doesn’t he?

fuzzy pettable bee on sunflower

While it is easy to get a bee photo in the Rose of Sharon bushes when the blooms are wide open, such as the ones shown earlier of the pink bush, that is not the case when they are half open….there is a bee in this purple Rose of Sharon bloom, however:

purple rose of sharon buds bee inside one

They will crawl in and out of these as well as the trumpet vine blooms. They were also busy flying from one cucumber flower to another on this particular day.

bee cucumber trumpet vine etc collage

Bee on cucumber flower

Meanwhile I was asked to leave the vicinity so that this mama could deliver some dinner to her brood in the Rose of Sharon bush.

mama robin with worm

mama robin with worm 2

If you are not familiar with Mama Robin there’s a story called “Critter Warfare Around Here in regards to her relationship with my Blue Jay buddy. While she’s polite and ladylike with me, that is not the case when he comes around!

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Baby quilt binding & took my mom home

With the help of an ambulance service, we took my mom home this morning. I spent last evening and early morning working on some meals to get her through a few days…I didn’t think that she’d be up for much in the way of cooking yet. Just getting her into the house wore her out …But she’s home safe and sound, there’s some new equipment in the bathroom and my sister has a person coming out next week to take a look at the stairs for a lift. Many thanks to you for prayers, thoughts and asking how she’s been doing. I appreciate you all so very much! :)

Now as to slow stitching

I have a baby quilt put away for a baby girl. It is HERE, though many of you have seen it before It’s for a close friend of my middle son,  and they know that it will be a girl. The baby shower is in early September.

There is another baby due; this one belonging to my DIL’s family, in August. After several ultrasounds it is still a mystery as to what sex is arriving, as the baby has its legs crossed! I gave up at this point…still don’t know…so I decided to make a quick gender-neutral tied quilt. The binding is machine stitched on to the front and so that I do not put off hand-sewing it to the back I am declaring it to be a Slow Sunday Stitching project.  Given my propensity to put off sewing binding I mean THIS Sunday, not one in August after the baby is born :)

Here’s the front…I’ll show the back and a better photo once it is finished. The DIL likes the modern fabrics and I think that perhaps when the baby arrives I could embroider name and date into one of the blank squares…which are actually a pale cream and not the greenish shade rendered by that day’s cloudy lighting.   I had a little help from the five year old twin grandgirls during the tying session…LOL it was a blast but a bit scary too :) 

baby quilt top finish

Meanwhile I have to prep more pieces for the house block that I showed last week, and the first Rose Applique is done so it is time to prep for another one. I also needed to prep more EPP pieces…

Upstairs on the end of the ironing board is a plastic storage container. On the top are items in various stages and I just do a little at a time.

upstairs prep

Inside the plastic container are some finished EPP pieces, and below them are a pile of the little Whimsy quilt blocks.

inside the tupperware EPP etc

And here a little, there a little, it all progresses slowly, quite unlike the weeds in my flower and vegetable beds,  which grow much faster :)

No photo of the finished applique block…I took the photos above the other day. Today, if I wanted a photo of the applique block, I’d have to iron it first.  A  heat wave started today and if I turned the iron on I might melt, lol…so some other time.

Aside from hand-sewing the baby quilt binding down, I really should just focus on finishing up the current quilt in the hoop project, and avoid any other handwork until I get it done. I am so over it at this point !

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Sharing at : Kathy’s Quilts / Sew Many Ways / A Quilting Reader’s Garden / Cozy Little House/ Freshly Pieced / Common Ground

Amazing weather & the best oatmeal cookie recipe I’ve ever made

Summers here in Western PA. are generally hot and muggy.  I don’t have whole house air. Turning the oven on in July and August is a no-no.  There are no more baked potatoes or anything else cooked or baked in the oven. Boil it, grill it, or crockpot it.

When I woke up on Thursday morning to 55 degrees, I did a baker’s happy dance.  And this was not the first time! Only a few weeks ago the same sort of morning greeted me and I seized the moment on both occasions and mixed up cookies, baked them and had it all done before 8 a.m. And later in the day I celebrated again by……you guessed it. Baking a potato in the oven for dinner. It’s been a strange summer, weatherwise! :)

As to the cookies, I made the standard Nestle Toll House with nuts the first time. The trick to that recipe is to add one-half cup more flour than the recipe. I learned this from a cousin ages ago. AND I purchased my chocolate chips at Aldi’s at about half the price of the local store. I also only use half a bag of chips…that’s enough.

The second round was Oatmeal with Chocolate Chip.

Awhile back, I’d noticed various bloggers praising King Arthur Flour. The local store’s price was crazy…around 7 or 8 dollars per bag! Giant Eagle sells it for 4.99. My DIL picked up some at Walmart for me at 3.48.    Once I baked with this flour I could tell the difference. It’s amazing.  I am quite certain that it was Doreen at House Honeys who initially  set me on to  the King Arthur path.

This is just a quick phone photo….and yes I ate one before breakfast :)   I usually keep about 1  1/2 dozen cookies, freezing them, and the rest go down the street to The Tribe of grandkids.

Oatmeal Choco Chip Cookies

If you have not baked with King Arthur flour and you can find it locally at a reasonable price, trust me. It’s wonderful. This recipe was taken from their website and it is moist and chewy the way that I like my oatmeal cookies. The only thing that I did differently was that I just threw two eggs in, versus their instructions for eggs and then I added about 1/4 cup extra flour.

It is the best oatmeal cookie recipe that I’ve ever made. It and the flour are a keeper.

The link to the recipe page is HERE  

Copied & Pasted as well for convenience :

  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or 3/4 teaspoon regular table salt
  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  1.  Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper, or lightly grease with non-stick vegetable oil spray.
  2.  Beat together the butter and sugars until smooth.
  3.  Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla one at a time, beating well after each.
  4.  Whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and add to the butter mixture in the bowl.
  5. Mix until everything is thoroughly incorporated. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and mix briefly.
  6.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Bake for 12-15 minutes.

 I immediately remove them to a plate and then transfer to tupperware and close the lid…I really like to retain the moist chewiness if I can.

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