Friday, June 29, 2012

Farmer's Wife Friday: Searching for the Happiest Life in the World

The farmer's wife this week is from Franklin County, Iowa.

However, for this week and next week, the last two weeks (!) of Farmer's Wife Friday, I am dispensing with a synopsis of the letters. Carla always does such an excellent job of that.

Rather, there will be two guest bloggers. Last year when this series started, I mentioned to each of them that it would be a treat to have their insight for this series. And then the end of the series was here before any of us realized it!

The guest this week is my husband, Mark. Mark spent his first sixteen years living on a farm. He was the middle of five children. His mother worked hard on that farm. So my questions to him were: How do you think your mother would have answered the question posed by the Farmer's Wife periodical? Did she enjoy being a farmer's wife? Would she have wanted farm life for any of her children? So in his own words, here is his answer.

This being the second to the last post for the Farmer's Wife project, I decided to write this post. I firmly believe if it were not for Carla and Cindy holding each other accountable, this project would have never been completed. I am truly impressed and proud of them for this accomplishment.

This journey of letters by the farmers' wives has been really interesting for me. I have read many of the letters and it made me wonder what my Mom would have written.

I was born and raised on a farm in Minnesota for the first 16 years of my life. I was the middle child of five. My sister was the oldest (not really a sister--more like a second mom) then an older brother and two younger brothers. We lost the farm through bankruptcy when I was 16 (sophomore in high school) and moved to Butterfield, Minnesota, population 619. For our family, this really created an interesting situation:  the older two only lived on the farm and then were out on their own and never lived in town; the younger two were in grade school so never really experienced the total effect of the  farm. I was fortunate enough to experience both.

#60 Noon & Light:
Now about my Mom. My Mom was one of the toughest and hardest-working ladies I ever knew: five kids, a husband, cooking three meals a day (breakfast, dinner & supper), lunch for the workers in the morning and a "little lunch" (Minnesotan) in the afternoon.  Every meal was made from scratch: bread, buns, zwieback, bars, cookies, all vegetables fresh from the garden in summer and canned fruits and vegetables for us to eat in winter. Every summer she canned corn, green beans, applesauce, beets, carrots, pickles, in addition to the peaches, pears and apricots we purchased. I can only guess, but her goal was 100 quarts for each of the homegrown staples. All our meat was raised and butchered on the farm, with my uncles and aunts sharing the work with each other. This Included beef, pork, and chickens. Mom did it all with no water heater--only a large built- in cast iron pot (50 gallon) with a wood fire box underneath to heat the water. In addition, she heated water every Monday the same way to do the wash and hang it outside to dry. In the winter I learned what "freeze dried" meant!

#103 Whirlwind
A real treat for us once or twice a year was for Mom to buy a loaf of Wonder Bread. I couldn't believe how white and soft it was, and to this day my favorite sandwich is with plain old white bread. It was the same with Oreo cookies. We got so tired of home cooking that any time there was store-bought food we were in seventh heaven.

Not only did she work hard, she was tough. When my youngest brother was a year old, I was 7. Mom was helping harvest the corn. She was unloading a trailer of ear corn into the elevator hopper. The wagon front was raised so the corn would slide down but it got stuck in the top corner. She climbed in to loosen it but her weight tipped the trailer over, breaking her ankle and trapping her under the trailer until someone came looking for an empty trailer. All I remember  was that she went to the doctor and was soon back home telling all us kids how to do things.

#2 Autumn Tints
When I was 9 or 10, she began to have vertigo attacks that would last for days. She would spend time in the local hospital and later weeks at a time at the University of Minnesota as they tried to figure it out. They never did figure it out and she spent most of her life on very strong epileptic medicine. While she was in the hospital, the church people and friends pitched in with food and help. The minute she was home, it stopped. While hard for her,  this is where I learned to bake and cook. Mom was weak and would sit in the chair and tell me what to make and how to do it. 

When I was 20 and in college, she developed breast cancer and had a radical mastectomy at the University of Minnesota. She was sent home to get things in order and was given 6 weeks to 6 months to live. They gave her very strong radiation treatment for a month before sending her home.

 #40 Friendship Block
At age 80, she passed out and they did a MRI and found a benign brain tumor the size of a grapefruit around her brain stem. She had surgery and they only removed half of the tumor and part of her frontal lobe to relieve pressure. Again, she was given 6 months to live. She lived another 8 years.

With her never-give up attitude, her incredibly strong faith and being just plain tough, she died 36 years after being diagnosed with breast cancer, and did not die from cancer!

The hardest time for her and me
 was dealing with the farm bankruptcy. My Dad had a non-farming job and was not home much so my Mom and I prepared the farm for a bankruptcy auction. That was easy compared to dealing with bill collectors who had no rules or laws to follow and were ruthless. When they came to the farm, my Mom always called me to be by her side, as they would call my Mom names and accuse her of lying when she said she didn't know anything about the bills. Later on we found out my Dad, the only one who could get the mail, hid the bills and my Mom was not lying to the collectors--she really didn't know about the bills. My experiences with my Mom and the lessons I learned from her have had a profound effect on my life and have shaped the way I have done things.
All the time this was going on my Mom told me I should be a teacher and never farm, or marry a farmer's daughter where I would have to work the farm. I did go to college and was a teacher and coach for five years in Kansas. Those were the years she was the proudest of me. When I told her I was done teaching and moving to California with no job, a wife who was seven months pregnant, with no house and only a few thousand dollars in our pocket, she was so mad at me she really didn't talk to me for several months. A few years later I was able to become a part owner in a new cabinet business and I started to call her every Friday morning and to teach her the business of sales, margins and deals I was working on. I started to realize how smart she really was--she had just never had a chance. Every call ended with her saying “be honorable and never lose your integrity”--words I have tried to follow.
I can tell you that without my farmer's wife Mom I would not be where I am today. She taught me hard work, trustworthiness, to do what you say and say what you do, and to be honorable. She was financially poor all of her life but ultra rich in teaching me the values of life.

Luv ya, Mom, and I miss our Friday morning chats
Thanks, Mark. Your farmer's wife mother raised a fine man who has become an awesome husband (though a bit ornery at times....), father and grandfather.

Don't forget to stop by at Carla's place to see her thoughts on this week's farmer's wife, along with some really cute blocks.

Next week, the final block will be revealed. And we will hear from a present-day farmer's wife. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Really Random, 6/28/12: New Stuff

A new variety: "bagel" peaches. Yummy!
Something new to read:
A new class I'm taking online:

Some new file folders:

A new place place where we got pedicures today, with cool "hexie" towel storage:

A new collage of faces I love:
And that never gets old.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

WIP Wednesday

The Fabulous Felicity is hosting WIP Wednesday this week. Felicity is one of my favorite blogging buddies. Seriously--check out that fabulous mini quilt of my blog header there on the sidebar, done by none other than Felicity herself! I nearly fainted when I opened that package!

So what do I have this week? Nothing but a bevy of  projects in various stages, at least two of which need to be completely done by this time next week!

This will be winging its way to Minnesota next week. Nearly done. One of the few quilts I have done from start to finish all by myself. Which is kind of weird considering I have been quilting for nearly twenty years. All that remains is  hand sewing the binding to the back. I wish I were proficient at machine quilting. I'm not. I hope my friend understands and likes the quilt anyway...let's just call the straight-line quilting "organic." That should do it. I'm from California. Everything is organic out here...
This is still in the "I'm just a set of blocks..." phase. And yet, a week from today, it needs to be completely ready for the big Project Gingham reveal. 
This was sent off for the QuiltCon block challenge. I wonder if I will get disqualified because I do not belong to a Modern Quilt Guild.

This is a block for Tiffany in the Stash Trad bee. I love it so much that I had a hard time putting it in the mail. If you are in a bee with me and ask for an "explosion of color," this is what you might get.Actually, I have the swirly fabric in a lot of colors, and now that I've made this block, I'm envisioning a whole quilt with a different color swirly fabric in the center of each block, surrounded by Kaffe fabric...but trying not to get distracted (oh, look! something shiny....let me drop what I'm doing to go check it out...) because there are so many other things on my list to do.
And if someone could explain to me why I jumped on the chance to co-host the Fusion Blanket Crochet-Along...(there is a giveaway going on here, here and here)
...only to discover I completely forgot how to crochet!!
So I will leave you with a completed project. It took three different sessions to complete this pillow--fabric choices, the benefits of a design wall, explaining how a sewing machine works (even a 4-year-old boy is fascinated with the needle up-and-down and the automatic thread cutter!), then sewing in small segments to work with short attention spans (blocks in pairs, rows together, and finally the pillow top), but totally worth every.single.minute.
He sat on my lap for the sewing, and most of the time I guided his hands, until he was ready to try a little on his own with very close supervision.
The front
The back
The obligatory feet--he took this picture himself--how did he know that this is a requirement??

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Name Game: Clover & Violet/Fusion Blanket Crochet-along/Giveaway!

 It's true--when it rains, it pours. Well, unless you live in the central valley of California, where it hardly ever rains. But today we have two special things going on, and a giveaway!

First, the Name Game. Jennie is here today from Clover & Violet. Jennie and her mother, Clara, are a mother-daughter team who design, quilt and sew. In fact, their tag line is:  Along with many great tutorials, there is Embroidery 101, with tons of useful information.

How did you choose the name for your blog?  
Our blog name, Clover & Violet, is actually our legal business name as well, Clover & Violet, LLC.  Choosing a name was a challenge because we wanted it to be versatile.  Our initial intention was to start a baby and children's shop, but we wanted a name that would be able to change and grow with our shop, and a good thing because who would have guessed that we would be pattern designers instead!  We knew we wanted a Westie in our logo (as we once had a Westie and they're so cute!), so we went with that idea and then thought of some cute names.
Were there other names you considered, and can you share any of them with us?

 We went through a few baby-ish names before we decided to stay neutral.  Our next main choice was "Violet & Co."  However {and here's a little legal knowledge for you}, if you use the word "Co.",  "Company", "Corp.", or "Corporation" in your business name, you also have to become a corporate entity, and we knew we wanted to form an LLC, so that ruled out that option. So we decided to add a little something else and settled on Clover & Violet {it just seemed natural that Clover should go first!}.
Now that you are recognized by Clover & Violet, are you happy with it, or do you wish you could change it to something else?
 A fabulous Garden Steps Stitch & Quilt-Along(details here)
I am happy with it!  There is a small part of me that wants to change it up sometimes, but not to anything specific or for any real reason, just because I get like that {I usually opt to change our blog design instead!}.  It is fun to have a unique name and to be able to be known by it...and it's nice to know that even if our blog/shop change directions, our name will still work!
 And a great block made with selvages--this is definitely going on my to-do list!
Thanks so much, Jennie! I hope everyone will pop on over to say hi, and spend some time looking around. There is much to be seen at your place!

And next up, it's the Fusion Blanket Crochet Along. Corey found this really great idea that involves crocheting around fabric squares. It was originally done by Heidi of Sewing Daisies, and you can see her luscious blanket, complete with a tutorial. Corey's first block is so cute:

She thought a crochet-along would be a fun way to share a portable project, perfect for doing in the summer, and we could help and encourage each other along the way. I hopped on board, and then talked to my best friend, Deborah, who does a lot of crocheting. And voila! The three of us bring to you the Fusion Blanket Crochet Along! Today we each have a fun giveaway to help you get started. Corey also has the list of supplies, the blog button and a link to our Flickr group.

If you haven't crocheted before, this will be a great way to give it a try. I'm pretty rusty myself, so I'm giving away The Happy Hooker-- because the name always makes me laugh and there's a lot of great information for the beginning crocheter--a size G crochet hook and some crochet cotton.

Leave a comment here and also check the other two giveaways. We'll be picking the winners next Monday, July 2. I'd love to know--have you crocheted before?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Farmer's Wife Friday: A Good and Useful Life

3-2-1. That's it! That's all that is left of Farmer's Wife Friday letters. I can hardly believe it! So  year ago I was off to a quilting retreat in Minnesota, and I made my very first Farmer's Wife blocks there. This year I will be at the quilting retreat again, and on July 6th, when I am in Minnesota, the very last letter will be reviewed here. Time flies!

The wife this week is from Sargent County, North Dakota. She gives a list of all the modern conveniences that are being installed on every farm. Do you take some of these things for granted? Things that wives in the 1920s were just beginning to experience: light, running water, furnaces, pressure cookers, fireless cookers? Can you even imagine cooking by first having to start a fire? I certainly can't.

I really liked the blocks this week:

#14, Butterfly at the Crossroads:
Up until now I have been mostly using Kaffe Fassett shot cottons. But a few months ago I started collecting shot cottons from Oakshott in Great Britain. Fabulous fabrics! I don't think it shows up very much on this photo, but to this point I didn't worry about the right or wrong side of the fabrics--they looked pretty much the same to me. However, I used Oakshott for the green in this block and there is a distinct difference. Not enough for me to redo the block, but definitely a difference in the way the fabric looks in some components of this block. That being said, I'm a huge fan of the Oakshott cottons. They are a little more pricey--but definitely worth it.

#108, Windmill:
I love the lookof this block--simple, yet complex at the same time I wonder what kind of secondary design would pop up if you made several of these blocks.
I'll be back next Friday with four blocks, and then the following week with the final block.

There is a new edition of the Name Game on Monday, a couple of fun giveaways, and a pattern review. I hope you will come back for all of them. And be sure to check out Lollyquiltz to see what fun fabrics Carla chose for this week's blocks.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

WIP Wednesday: F words

No, not that F word...

This past weekend was the 13th Annual Quilting in the Cabin , near Yosemite. From early afternoon on Thursday until after breakfast on Monday we were without cell phone reception or wifi. It was Fabulous.

We forgot to take any pictures of the three of us at the cabin, so we stood in the Fresno heat while Ruth's husband, Gordon, snapped this. (L-R: Dotty--it's her cabin at Yosemite, me, Ruth--who drove up from San Diego)
Don't let anyone ever tell you that gluten-free food cannot be tasty. Ruth made these crepes one morning for breakfast.

We take turns making breakfast and dinner, and then just snack midday. Friday morning was my turn to make breakfast. I headed upstairs at 7 a.m. (or so I thought...) to make my breakfast omelet, wondering why it seemed so dark outside. Looking for the lightswitch, the first thing I turned on was the garbage disposal. Oops. Made the omelet, got ready to put it in the oven for the next hour, and looked up at the clock above the oven. 5:40 a.m.???? Seriously? When I got back down to my room and checked my travel alarm, I realized it was still set for Kansas City time, so I got up at 5 a.m. instead of 7 a.m.!! Doh. Ruth heard footsteps overhead when I was up there in the kitchen and thought there was an intruder. But then wondered why he seemed to be cooking

We always hang completed projects on the railing of the spiral staircase.

It's nice to have a history with friends. Hours of laughter, sometimes sharing parts of our lives that no one else hears,
and sometimes just the hum of three sewing machines (with an occasional outburst of "Seriously? I'm 'air sewing' again?")

I did a lot of trimming:
And eventually ended up with this (complete reveal soon but you can see more of it hanging on the railing above):
Finished some fun blocks (and ran out of brown fabric or all of my "birds in the 'hood" would be done!)
It was hot and we only ended up taking a walk one night, at dusk:
What a wonderful weekend with wonderful friends. Already looking forward to next year.

I'm linking to WIP Wednesday here. Thanks for hosting us this week, Sukie!