Monday, July 27, 2009

Summer Days Then and Now... and the Secret Garden

One of my favorite childhood stories was a book called The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. My mother bought it for me on one of the first shopping trips we had together. When I saw this pattern in an Australian Patchwork and Quilting magazine, I knew that it was the perfect pattern for my sister in law Margaret, who is a university professor in the field of children's literature. I fussy cut all the flowers so that they were centred. It is a flowery garden that is quite soft looking and I was very happy the way the quilt turned out. The photos which were scanned into my computer are unfortunately a bit blurry (yes I have my own computer back Yeah !!!!) I made this quilt about 5 years ago to celebrate a special birthday. Margaret also owns the Trip around the World quilt that I posted about recently.

Since I wrote last time,the days have been mostly pleasant. We went to visit my parents over the weekend in Red Deer. It was lovely to spend time with my folks and see some of my other family members.

My aunt was there visiting, as well, so we got to reminiscing about memories of my grandmother's home. My mother and her siblings grew up on a farm in a small house that was built by the early settlers of the province(in the early 1900's). The house had been expanded from two rooms to 4 rooms. My early childhood memories are ones of a big farm kitchen with a pump and water basin to wash your hands. It had a old wood stove and there was an oil heater in the living room. There were many chilly trips to the outhouse and hurrying to get dressed, because the floors were cool early in the day even on a summer morning. The house had a few renovations before they built a second home on the property.
When they built the new house in the early 70's, my gran really thought she was on easy street with all the indoor amenities that we often take for granted- electric stove, washer and dryer and hot showers available at any time. Me, I was thrilled not have to go to the outhouse when we visited the farm.
My mother said that power was added to the old house in the early 50's around the time that the house went from two rooms to four rooms.( that was before my time :>)

One thing that I remember about summer days at the farm (I spent large parts of my summers at the farm with my grandparents)was the rhythm of it. I have vignettes of early breakfasts of hot cereal, soft boiled eggs and toast, followed by doing dishes and trips to the garden. My gran spent a lot her time tending things whether it was the farm animals, the garden, or us children. She worked hard putting up preserves, canning and freezing vegetables for the winter months. Her delicious meals consisted of meat, potatoes, garden vegetables and farm cream and berries picked from the wild patches that surrounded the farm.
One staple berry was saskatoons - somewhat like a blueberry but with a slightly different flavor.
It wasn't all work- we sang, we took meals to my grandfather,played card games(including Authors) and danced to the songs on the radio. One of our favorite things to do was to play in the treehouse with old Avon bottles that we got from my grandfather's dump. We mixed mixtures from old spice cans-(at one point, my grandfather had sold Watkins spices). They did make wonderful mud pies that had the most interesting aromas even though my brother wasn't interested in eating our concoctions.

We have a large sky photo of the farm that hangs in our living room. The buildings are surrounded by the lush green foothills. My grandparents lived on a piece of property that was adjacent to the original homestead settled in 1907. After my grandmother passed away in the fall of 2003, the property was sold. While I can no longer visit the farm, viewing the photo transports me back to the wonderful summers of my childhood.

While at my parents, my dad dropped me off at two of the local quilt stores that Pam and I visited last summer. Yes Pam, I did find some more sale items to add to my stash- a glorious big print sunflower piece was the " piece d'resistance". Better yet, I found a 60 degree ruler and a ruler gripper that I had been trying to find for awhile now. The notions were all 25 % off too so that made it even better. The other shop I found a nice piece of minkee that will make a beautiful baby wrap so I very happy with my shopping finds.

Bruce had gone to a astronomy gathering that was held out near Caroline not far from where my grandparent's farm was situated. He and the group were observing the night skies for meteor showers.Soon it will be the biggest meteor shower of the year- the Perseids with the peak falling on August 12, but this year the viewing could be hampered by the full moon.

When Bruce returned on Saturday evening, we took my parents out to one of their favorite Chinese restuarants for their anniversary dinner. The food was delicious - especially the soft vanilla ice cream.
Soft vanilla ice cream cones were also a favorite childhood treat- There was a Dairy Mart that was two doors from my second childhood home. They used to cost 10 cents for a regular cone.and 25 cents for a large one.(I was a child a long time ago, I guess VBG)
In Bruce's family they made ice cream in an old fashioned hand turning cedar maker- you start with a vanilla custard base, cream and lots of turning of the enclosed cylinder that was packed in the ice and salt. Yummy!

We have had a hot spell here in Alberta- in the low 30's for most of the past week. It has rained occasionally in the middle of the night but trying to get the house cooler has been a challenge. It also has slowed me down quilting- just too hot to sew comfortably.

However,I have all of my stars made for my quilt and my pieces cut for the quilt retreat on the weekend. After I post this I will go and start putting the stars together as I want to spray baste the star quilt this weekend too.

Bruce's sister is here from the West coast so we plan to have brunch on Sunday before she returns home. She has been taking an Orff Music course and has found it enjoyable and challenging. It is always fun to learn new techniques to hone one's skills.

On a sad note, I will go and attend a colleague's elderly mother's funeral on Thursday. She passed away suddenly on Saturday of a stroke. It is never easy to lose your loved ones- especially your parents. My heart goes out to my friend L. and her family at this difficult time.

A lovely giveaway prize arrived in my mailbox today from Rachaele of the Park Avenue Sweat Shop. She send me a lovely package of Moda charm squares, some pretty spools of thread and the cutest square buttons. Thanks so much for the wonderful giveaway gift- I am looking forward to coming up with a project to use those pretty squares. Do go and visit Rachaele's blog and see all the interesting things that she is making.

My blog friend Michele has a giveaway going on for the newest one of Freddy and Gwen's books. It is a wonderful book that will inspire you and bright your day with its rich color. There are other blogs hosting giveaways- Quilters are really generous people...

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DIY Bag LoverDIY Bag lover
I saw this link on another blog this morning and just had to add it to this long blog.. What a great set of free patterns.

And so the summer marches on- I have a few things done- some books read, some quilting done and a bit of cleaning fit in here and there. Part of me says I should be doing more things so that I go back to work with a well cleaned house and lots of projects completed and part of me is content to go where ever the road takes me.... We will see what August brings..

Warmest regards,
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