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Monday, March 30, 2015


Hello dear friends!   Hope you all are enjoying your day, wherever you are!   On Friday, I awoke to this:
Arghhh!   But it isn't unusual for our area to have snow at the end of March, so it isn't to be unexpected.  It's just that I have so many southern blogging friends that tease me with pictures of apple blossoms and daffodils.  This is Spring in northern Michigan.  I have plenty of pictures from childhood of us girls dressed in our Easter outfits, standing in the snow.   But in spite of having six months of snow (it started snowing here in October), I still find it pretty. 
And I know come next winter, I will be anticipating it's return.  So I won't complain anymore. Winter is on its way out.  I can tell because the ice is beginning to break up on the lake.
BTW, that  blue is the true color of the ice.  There's been talk about the blue ice phenomenon. Scientist say it is caused by the frigid cold combined with the extreme wind.  Something about it quick freezing.   I don't know.   I don't remember "blue ice" when I was a kid.  But then maybe I just wasn't paying attention back then.

My grandparents have been on my mind lately.  They all had important lesson about thrift to be learned from them.

My Grandmother, Alice W. :  Find a way to make it special

I never met my maternal grandmother, Alice W., she died in childbirth when she was thirty-two, but my great aunts have told me several stories, so I do know some things about her.  The one thing I have heard from them all is that she loved to laugh and that she always managed to bring a carmel-frosted  date cake to any celebration even during the deepest depression when everyone was struggling to put food on the table.  By sacrificing a little bit here, putting more water in the soup, skipping a meal here or there,  serving smaller portions, she managed to eke out of her tiny food budget enough to make those cakes, knowing full well that would often be the only thing to mark a special occasion.  But more importantly, I  learned that you can't let life defeat you, even when life seems one burden after another, there is always something to rejoice in, even if it only that you are here to see another day. Celebrate!

My Grandmother Hazel A.:  Surround yourself with beauty

My grandmother, Hazel A, was an artist.  She was always sewing, painting, arranging flowers, or doing some other artistic endeavor.  When my grandparents built their stone house, she handpicked all of the stones for the facade.   When they gardened, she would plant every third row with zinnias. Even though it was the depression, she used her talents to make her home a pretty sanctuary.  One of the thing she did was to make quilts from scraps of fabric.   She made many beautiful ones, but the ones I remember best are her woolen scrap quilts.  I wrote recently that I bought a lot of woolen goods at the 85% and 95% sale at our local Thumb Industries Thrift Store in Bad Axe (somebody wanted to know where they had such sales), here's the quilt I made from them:
Here's a closer look:
 How to make a woolen scrap quilt:

1.  Prepare your fabric by cutting away all seams, interfacing, buttons, etc. from your scraps. Press the wool, using the highest setting on your iron and a pressing cloth.  Hint:  you'll get much more fabric from a skirt or pair of pants.

2.  Cut the fabric into squares.  I used a three inch square for mine, but my grandmother used a 4 1/2 inch square for hers.  I used the traditional template method of making my squares but you can use a rotary cutter and mat if that's your style.

3.  Using a 1/4 inch seam allowance sew your patches into strips.  Mine was 15 patches wide by 21 strips long, but you can make yours any size you please. Press the seams open.

4.  Sew the strips together, matching the seams to the desired length.  Press the seams open.

5.  Sandwich a layer of batting between your quilt top and backing with the right sides facing out.

6.  With  a double strand of yarn, tie the layers together centering the knot in the middle of the squares.  (None of which I did because I was making this quilt as a duvet cover for a down throw).

7.  Finish by sewing quilt binding around the edges.

There you have it, really an easy- peasy  basic sort of quilt.  A good beginner one.  Not the most lovely, but certainly a very fine utility type, to keep you warm during the winter.  This quilt cost me about $4 because I used a down throw I already had for the batting and an old gray linen shower curtain for the backing.

Now back to the grandparents:

My Grandfather William A.:  The Most Important Lesson, Charity

One of my earliest memories was of attending my grandfather William A.'s funeral.  The church was packed to overflowing and there were people standing out on the steps and the lawn, paying their last tribute to him.  For years after, people would come up to me and tell me stories about his charity.  I often heard them say that he had the biggest heart in all of Montmerency County.  Although the Depression hit him just as hard as the next person, he had the advantage of owning a farm that became a refuge for family and friends.  He just planted a bigger garden, raised an extra hog or two, hunted a little harder and kept those people fed.  Oh!  And did I mention that he did all this while on crutches, having been crippled by shrapnel in World War I?  So whenever I want to give up, I think of my grandpa, and how hard-working he was and the legacy of love he left behind.


Began my Spring cleaning, so stains are on my mind.  Here's how to make your own oxy-type stain remover from items you probably have on hand.

Homemade Oxy-Cleaner

2 tbsp baking soda
1 tbsp.  dish soap
3-4 tbsp. peroxide

Combine and scrub into the stains using an old toothbrush.  Wash clothes as usual.


Shelled the heartnuts that we foraged last Autumn,
We ended up with about 4 1/2 pounds, which we vacuum sealed and froze.
 I went to the thrift store to look for more canning jars.  Unfortunately they were charging 99 cents for them so I didn't buy any (new ones cost about the same) but while there, my husband found two pairs of Wrangler jeans in his size new with the tags still on for $4 each. Plus I found a cute vintage Ralph Lauren skirt.

As the temperatures warm up into the upper 20s, we've been heating our home with wood.

Unraveled a sweater that I bought from the thrift sale for 17 cents for yarn to knit a pair of mittens for a present.

Our credit union gives you a refund on your credit card at the end of the year.  With the credit I bought 10 pounds of non-GMO cornmeal and hemp hearts (which I have read are even better for you than chia seeds)

Although being sick is never a saving, we paid cash at the doctor's office and received  a 5% discount off the bill.  (Our dentist offers the same discount)

Re-upped our Magic Jack subscription. At 5 years for $99 that slightly less than $20 a year for phone service. 

So that's it for this week.  I hope that you all will have a blessed and peaceful Easter!



  1. As always...wisdom abounds here :0) mari

    1. Thank you, dear Mari, for your kind encouragement. I pray that you are improving and that your day is going well.


  2. Hi Jane! I like your red arbor. I remember when it was a different color. That blue ice is neat!
    Aren't memories dear! Especially of grandmothers/grandfathers! I love to hear how women wisely scrimped and saved in order to give their families extra luxuries like your Grandma's cake.

    Yes snow is actually pretty! I grew up in NW Pennsylvania and remember how I wondered if we were ever going to see the grass. Somehow the snow knew to stop right around Easter (and not before!). The good side, is that our summers weren't as miserable hot /humid as they are here in Delaware.

    Your quilt is beautiful, and I bet warm! Andrea

    1. Hi Andrea! Our son who lives in North Carolina always likes to tease me with his temps. in the 70s in March, but I always tell him to remind me to rub in our nice 70 degree weather in August when he's complaining about the heat!

      Yep, the arbor used to be a pale teal color, but we decided to paint it that bright Chinese red color to give the landscape some color in winter. We think it makes it look somewhat like a pagoda, hence the Chinese lantern hanging from it.

      Have a nice Easter! Will be sharing it with your new granddaughter?


    2. Have a nice Easter too! Everyone will be here except my son from Louisiana. He will come a few weeks after. Yes that does look like a pagoda ....and it looks like mine...because of you I had my husband put one up! The only bad thing, is that mine is in the shade so I can't put any sunny flowers up it.

    3. Thank you! That's nice that your family will almost all be together. I'm hoping we can attend the sunrise service at out Moravian church, but that's about it for our celebration.

      We'll have to put our thinking caps on. There must be some flowering vine that grows in the shade!


    4. I actually found one plant last year at home depot...a flowering vine-like one. But it was so expensive ($18 each) I didn't buy it.

  3. Yes Jane, that looks just like my Grandma's wool throws. This was my mother's mother. There was always one over the back of every chair and sofa in the cooler and cold months. They were mostly muted colors, light and dark. She did not use a batting, but used a backing of corduroy or flannel, whatever was handy. Some of the pieces might be corduroy too. They were tied with yarn. I don't have one of my own, made by her, except for a doll quilt sized one, actually two, as my doll bed was bunk bed made by grandpa (for my sister and me). We still have all of that. But I've been to cousin's houses and over the backs of the sofa will be one of the wool quilts and it brings back such nice memories.

    Do you do rug braiding at all? I have two of her wool braided rugs and a box of rolls of wool strips. I have made seats pads for chairs but that is as far as my rug braiding has gone. I do have what I hope becomes full size oval rug some day, but so far not.

    1. Hi Athanasia! I'm afraid we weren't too kind to my grandmother's wool quilts. I always wonder what she thought when she saw us wrapping the muddy dog in them or using them at the beach. I remember that they had a lot of army green in hers from old uniforms and army blankets.

      I tried once to braid a rug but couldn't get it to lie smoothly. Kept humping up in the middle. But I've been thinking that I'd like to give it a try again. Maybe some chair pads would be a good place to start.

    2. Jane, a chair seat would be good ideas as if they ripple they would not be as noticeable as chair seats are not usually perfectly flat.

    3. I think so too, Athanasia. I tend to bite off more than I can chew with these projects, then get overwhelmed by the immensity of the project. Ha! Even though I always advise my friends to start with a patchwork pillow before trying to make a king sized quilt. Never listen to my own advice.

  4. I am not sure why thrift stores are selling jars for so much, but maybe they are aimed more at the crafter community. Because in the stores here cases of Ball/Kerr are only 8-10 a case of 12 and that includes ring and lid per jar. I know they charge a lot more for the collectible color ones that they have reissued. I still have a few of those blue original ones, how old I am not really sure, but I never can with them, they hold stuff.

    So nice hearing about your grandparents and their different lives and how they all blend together in to new generations. My father's father is who I am least familiar with as he died when I was only about 7.

    1. Hi Atanasia! I don't know why either, it seems a bit silly because they are not anything special. I'm always on the lookout for unusual ones to keep canning interesting. Some of the older ones are very pretty. I still can with the old blue ones, I think they came from my grandparent's farm so they have to be at least 60 years old. Now that's when they made good quality things! My husband bought me some of the new lavender ones for Easter. He know the way to my heart!

      I think even if you don't know your grandparents very well, there is an undeniable connection to them. I rarely get to see my oldest granddaughter, she lives so far away, but my son says some of the things she does reminds him so much of me. It's rather strange.


  5. Jane; I'm delighted to see that you are posting again. I've popped over a few times to see if you were back, was nearly ready to delete your blog from my list.
    Frugality has always been a way of life for us. We eat very much the way you do, having a good pantry full of staples and the food put up from our garden. The things we still need to buy cost more than I would like.
    I love your thrifted cold weather outfit--absolutely classic!

    1. Hello Sharon! So nice to hear from you! I think many more are coming around to our simple frugal lifestyles. It's nice to know there are others out there!

  6. ⋰˚هჱܓ
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    1. Hello dear Inez! Good to hear from you again! And your wonderful illustrated comments!

  7. dear jane,
    the photos are soooooooooooooooo the red wooden arbor and the snow!!!
    i have nuts also in my freezer. the wrangler jeans was really a great found!!!!! thanks for the tips!!!
    love your woolen blanket....a great idea!!!
    i wish you a happy easter,too!!
    hugs and love,

  8. Dear Jane,

    Such wonderful ideas and stories! I love the story of your grandfather, and I pray that there will be some of this generation who learn how to be so self-sufficient and charitable. I have never heard of heart nuts before, but that's a clever way of shelling them! Your quilt looks like the many, many quilts that my mother has made over the years (and now I do the same). They last so much longer than anything you could find at the store!



  9. Hi Marqueta! I don't know if heart nuts are native or not. The tree is in my neighbor's yard and he said that he specifically planted it for an ornament tree. (We're doing him a "favor" bu picking up the nuts so he doesn't have to rake them!) It looks a lot like the tree of heaven trees. It's nuts are heart shaped, hence the name and the outer pod(?) looks like a black walnut (stains your hands like them too). They have a very nice flavor like a cross between a walnut and a butternut.

    It's good that you are carrying on the tradition of quilt making. Those old woolen quilts of my grandmother's lasted for at least 50 years of abuse. What now days would last that long?