Thursday, September 30, 2010

a little dress

This is one of those projects that sat in my head for a long time.  And while it didn’t turn out exactly as I had envisioned, I do kind of like it.  It’s an old pattern with a few changes, which is really a fancy way of saying I didn’t understand what the directions were saying about the continuous lap and the double fold bias that wasn’t to be folded. 


Darn all those home economics teachers that retired and left generations of us to translate sewing patterns like a foreign language.  


Vintage hankies are among my favorite linens to collect.  They are so delicate and pretty.   The one on the dress is a favorite as it was given to me by my oldest.  It makes my heart beat happy thumps to know she picked it up and thought “gee whiz my mom would like this.”  Thank you, H!

I hope your day is ticking along with things you find comfort in…see you later chums!


Saturday, September 25, 2010



  Part of me wishes I didn’t post that last post.


But part of me is glad I did.  Sigh.


Our garden is giving us a last harvest.


I am hoping for a bust in tomatoes.  There’s still time.


Peppers on the other hand…are growing like mad.  


Hope you have an enjoyable weekend…don’t work too hard!


Friday, September 24, 2010

blog discomfort

A few days ago I was alerted to a blog that was eerily similar to mine.  It bothered me a great deal…like the kind of great deal that involves tears and ends with a discouraged me saying no more.  I logged on in the morning with the intent to say is it worth it? and blah blah blah.  I’ve been acquainted with bloggers who become discouraged because of this.  It makes me sad to see their once personal and colorful blog become dull and distant.  I don’t want that to happen to mine. Instead I found myself writing about my past and posting it.

And then I woke up this morning saw a comment on my nostalgic childhood post from Lindsey in AL.   It says:

“Loved this! Was part of it posted somewhere else a few years ago? I could swear I've read the third paragraph before, seems like it was maybe a link from another blog or a guest post somewhere. Maybe it was even on an email list. Hmmm. Weird. This is not much like my childhood, but also totally like it.”

Perhaps I’m a little sensitive after what happened earlier this week but it is definitely strange to be at the other side of the copying accusation.  So first please let me say,

I would never use someone else’s words as my own.

Lindsey I know you have visited my blog on other occasions (I remember leaving you a comment about fat quarters vs remnants) and I have enjoyed yours several times, but please know even to hint that I would plagiarize someone upsets me very much.   Never would I even consider taking credit for someone else’s thoughtful and creative process.

Paragraph three (and all the others) in that post came straight from my own thoughts and memories of my childhood. I wrote it that afternoon in the quiet of my house while my son slept.

Nothing in that post is stolen or even fictitious for that matter…


me and most of my siblings with my grandparents.

Carl, look you are holding me…I dare you to try that now.

Many of my siblings read these words. 

As does my mother and aunt and uncle.



The views from our home in Connecticut.

Those growing up years were far from perfect but my brother and the land made them happier.


My brother Mike and my parents a few years ago. 

This is the only picture I have after 1975 with both my parents in it.


Mike’s duck Doris doing some plowing.  We brought her in the house when it was too cold. Because my mother is nice like that (unless she was in a fowl mood).


My sister Kathy and I love the ocean.  We are goofing on my brother’s motorbike the night before I moved away with my brand new husband.  When we left she chased our car down the road, it made me cry—the emotion not the acid wash shorts.


 Joe at home at the airport.


This is Joe all cleaned up.  He owned Pilgrim Airlines (someone emailed me this question).  They flew to the islands along the east coast from Groton/ New London.  I loved Joe, he’s gone now. He was good hearted even though he always called my husband an *&%hole…even sometimes during dinner.   Would you believe me if I said he meant well? Because really I think he did.


My brother holding a  bunch of nieces and nephews.  As a child he always said he didn’t want kids so we thought it was funny to pile our kids on him.

Each day of my life I am driven by my faith and my family.  It’s His gift to me to be a mother and everyday I pray for strength to raise my children into honest, caring adults that make a difference.

Writing on my blog helps me to find myself within a sea of others.  It’s a beautiful thing to share inspiration and lean on each other even though most of us haven’t met.  It makes a positive difference in my life.

I hope you don’t think of my reaction to your words as harsh.

As U2 sings,

“One Love, One Life…”

And I guess that’s pretty much how I feel.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind comments on yesterday’s post.  Did you see how many typos I made?  It’s kind of embarrassing!

Today I shall do a 180 from my nostalgic thoughts of my childhood and share my thoughts about Glee and how I can’t join a gym.  Doesn’t that make all kinds of sense?

I can’t join a gym because I don’t like other people’s sweat.  Also because it feels gross there with everyone exhaling so heavily, I end up watching people and rating them on my gross-o-meter instead of getting a hearty workout in.  So today, dear friends, I will share a wonderful way to exercise AND enjoy it.  (free of charge, you’re welcome.)

The whole point of this is to enjoy getting on your feet.

Glee as a show is actually kind of dumb.  The plot lines are obvious enough that you can fast forward huge chunks and still know what is going on.  But the singing and dancing motivates that hidden musical theater geek in me more than anything else.  Oh to be a dancer!

I have them all taped on the DVR (you can rent them or watch them on youtube).  They are memorized in my gleeky mind by tempo and as I run on the elliptical I scan my way from video to video.  I keep the volume up really loud (great for kids with friends over) and weakly attempt to sing along as usually I’m pretty winded.


This is the one I start with, and if you are going to watch any pick this one.

Dream of all dreams, a piano in the library?  Please know I am not even a Lionel Richie fan but this duet is my favorite.  I have sang it very loud, in the car, in the shower, in the barn, while mowing the lawn. 

This is what works for me:  Glee + elliptical + yoga ball + geeky grin. The cat is optional.



Ohmygosh my nose looks enormous.

  It’s hard to get motivated to work out every day.  I am more of a competitive sports kind of person and would rather play tennis or soccer than run a few miles outside.  I get too  bored and start thinking how much I want to run home and drink water.  

What works for you? Do you wear one of those 1980’s unitard things with a side swept pony tail?




Wednesday, September 22, 2010

in a mood to write

Growing up I never met parents like mine.  When you meet them you can see right away how different in personality they are and you can’t help but wonder how they met and married.  But they did and over the course of twenty years they did it six times and had six kids—speaking in 7th grade terms of course.   At the core they are very similar, finding purpose with everything…wasting nothing.  We were a humble family, not to say poor, just humble.  We always had sturdy shoes and a heavy coat, and please note I didn’t say stylish sturdy shoes and a stylish heavy coat.    

Both of my parents are hard workers. They are both fairly serious and smart, like encyclopedias.  Ask either of them about history or literature or the why the check engine light is on in the car and they will give you an answer.  I didn’t inherit that, by the way. They laugh but are not silly.  This is irony at its best as  their children are silly and cannot be serious.   My mother is cute and little and she’s really quiet, she is an observer.  Only once have I seen her with all 15 of her grandchildren together half of whom were taller than she is and I think it might have been one of the happiest days in her life.    

Most of my childhood  I spent with my mother and my younger brother. I was always grateful for this as truthfully I was fearful of my strict father.  The older kids were growing, growing, gone, but home enough to eat at the table often.    We ate really healthy (thank you, mother!) and I can count on one hand the times we ate out.  Once my Uncle Jim came to visit and took us to McDonald’s. I ate a hamburger and my brother ordered a Big Mac and large coke- I was jealous for years.    During those years time went by slowly, I devoured books and played a thousand songs on the organ in living room.   We had a big old house with lots of hiding places.  You could never be bored as there was always stuff to find.  One summer I dug through a closet that I never  realized was there and found a box of  old craft magazines.  And that was my summer, me and those magazines.  The upstairs of our house had no heat, again not because we were poor but because that is the way the house was built 150 years before and that is the way it was.  Have you ever slept in New England in January in a room with no heat?  It’s freakin cold!  If you wanted a new bedspread then you got an old army blanket from the attic, that is just the way it was.

There was always a sewing machine on the dining room table, as well as half finished projects.  We always had graham crackers and unpasteurized milk.  There was always a job list that needed doing but we (my brother and I) were always off finding more interesting things to fill our time.  We pretty much got to do whatever we wanted, at home that is.  We hiked throughout the property year round and built forts and went sledding down the biggest hills you could imagine.   We knew when we trekked back to the house as darkness approached that my mother would be sitting in her spot in the kitchen window and she wouldn’t ask why we didn’t put the dishes away or if we did our homework. I realize now that her love and trust for us was deeper than yelling about chores.  Maybe it made her happy that we were doing the same things she did as a kid in Connecticut.  Or maybe she was happy to be in a quiet house blasting Neal Diamond and cutting potatoes for stew.

One day after I grew up I met my husband.  And then I met his parents.  Though they are very different they are also very much the same in their way of thinking.  One day we flew with his mother and stepfather to Nantucket.  If you met his stepfather Joe you might think he was broke and needed to use some steel wool on his fingernails.  But in reality he owned the plane he flew us in and to be honest he owned the airline.  In Nantucket Joe bought a pair of pants and a typewriter at the local thrift shop. Only he forgot the pants on the store counter.  He couldn’t stop thinking about those darn $2 pants and how they don’t make them anymore so the next day he flew back to get them.  In his airplane.  That probably burned 100 gallons of fuel to retrieve thrift store pants.  That is when I realized I really and truly loved Ken.  Not because of the flying and boating to fun places but because of Joe and his grease stained fingernails.  Growing up I was embarrassed by my upbringing.  I wanted flashy and a full stock of prepackaged snacks and a television with 50 channels.  It wasn’t until I met Ken that I realized I didn’t really want that.  I wanted sturdy shoes and a warm coat all along.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

the catch-all

Dear friends,

I will be cleaning my daughter’s closet today.


She has inherited an estate sale’s worth of stuff from her teenage sisters.  


And she has trouble putting things away neatly, mostly because usually what she wants to play with is in the darkest corner of her closet.  We ran out of hangers when she was 4 (she is 7 now) and clothes keep piling every which way.  It’s a big job that I am procrastinating (obviously).

She loves to collect things. Anything.


Smelly things like crab parts.  Though the beach is 1900 miles away.

Some of her collections smell good.


Like empty soap boxes.

I suppose I can’t really blame her for collecting stuff, I mean those soap boxes might be worth something someday.

When I tucked her in the other night she was wearing this eye mask…I don’t know where she got it but in the soft glow of her nightlight it scared me enough to whisper-scream.


I’ll blog again soon, I hope.  The clean up and recovery from this should take just a few days. 

Hey wait, it’s Tues Sept 21. Are you a Gleek? Me too! I’ll post why I am in love with Glee later.


Friday, September 17, 2010

lunch box snack


These are good!

Chewy Oatmeal Snack Bars

1/2 cup butter

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

2/3 cup maple syrup (use the real stuff if you can, even if you have to put a spigot in a maple tree… 40 gallons of sap make one gallon of syrup so plan accordingly)

2/3 cup crunchy peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups quick cooking oats (I use steel cut oats and pulse them a bit in the food chopper)

1 cup wheat germ

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 cup dried cherries or cranberries

Grease the bottom of a 13x 9 pan.

Melt butter in a 2 quart saucepan over med heat. Stir in brown sugar and maple syrup; heat to boiling. Boil 1 minute, stirring frequently; remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla until mixture is smooth.

Stir remaining ingredients into peanut butter mixture, mixing well. Press evenly in pan.  Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours, cut into bars.  Store covered in refrigerator.

004 006

I keep them wrapped in wax paper in the fridge as I’m willing to admit certain older kids in this house consider it work to have to wrap a granola bar.   They would rather go with their friends to the corner store at lunch and buy a cinnamon roll.  Remember those days? 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Please come in


Welcome to our dining room.  This is its busiest time of year when five out of seven people here at freckled hen incorporated have birthdays.  It’s nearly fall and a lovely time of year to entertain.  No more sweaty barbeques.  Bring the people in the house and eat at the table.   I like a crowded table with lots of noise and food. 

Lucky for us the dining room is a wee bit small and having a crowded table is no problem.  Actually our family fits comfortably and when we invite anyone over we have to spread tables and chairs elsewhere and it turns into quite a cacophony  with kids that have to overtalk each other and adults that have been sampling the spirits, if you know what I mean.


Our house was built in 1920.  It has an old western feel to it, it makes you want to speak with a drawl and wear chaps (nothing else at all-just the chaps).


This room is a happy room, it’s kind of a menagerie of items that kind of match and many good memories. There’s plenty of hand me downs from our relatives.


And reminders of days gone by.



I actually remember falling in love with toile.  It made me dizzy and I couldn’t think straight. 

It was like a mad love affair. 


Designers are probably done with toile and moved on to white pleather and glass.  I am destined to be one of those women who just can’t let go. 


Thanks for coming by!  I hope you are fixin to have a great weekend.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

on the sewing table

My mind has been spinning lately with ideas, sewing ideas.  I dream of making things all the time, but yet I hardly ever have enough time to sit and sew.  Enough time would be about 12 hour stretches of not having to drive someone somewhere or cook something.  I would sit and only get up to eat things like a whole jar of pickled herring and a get a can of Dr Pepper (the real sugar kind in the vintage looking can-have you seen those?).  And as far as the jarred fish/soda diet don’t knock it if you haven’t (buuuuurrrrp) tried it.

Anyway my sewing surfaces (various portions of flat surfaces located somewhat near my machine) are full of my jumbled ideas in various stages of production.  Like most of my life.


A baby girl dress from an old pattern with many revisions, considering they were so modest back then why did they make little girl dresses so short?


Bib stitching, we have had a lot of squadron babies lately.  This justifies me looking through my box of Aunt Martha’s transfers for 4.5 days.


Sept is usually pajama making time for me.  I like to make 3-4 pairs for the three younger kids.  But I’m getting kind of jammied out.  I made these really big so maybe they will fit next year, too?

I tried a fleece sleeper recently. It looks cozy and warm but it will still be a while before Henry wears it—today was still in the upper 90’s.  I’m tired of warm weather.  If Mother Nature could only throw us a cool day once in a while to remind me the heat isn’t so bad.  But no such luck, darn you Mother Nature!


My sewing list has taken on the nervous energy of a running race.  My husband has been coming home with rumblings of our next move.  The thought of moving quickly drains my creative energy, instead I become the queen of all things we need to be rid of before the moving van is here. This includes months of me dumping closets and drawers out yelling things at my kids that have to do with we don’t need it, you didn’t even know we had it and when’s the last time you played with it type stuff.  But for now until the boss walks in with orders in hand I pretend like we will live here  a long time and look at my fabric with dreamy eyes…



Before I go I need to apologize to Mother Nature.  I heard some thunder and went out to see how far away the dark clouds were and look what she gave me:


Thank you very much!