This is the first day of the rest of my life and I'm marking one item off my "bucket list." I love telling stories, yarns, etc. and for the past 25 years have written weekly articles for the DeKalb Newspapers and now I get to try blogging. It has been said of me that I write about old days and old ways, along with modern tales of our adventures here on The Windy Knoll, our home place. Drop in just any time to see what's going on. Now let me say up front I'm no Julia Childs or Paula Dean - not even a distant relative - but I will be writing about cooking now and then. As best I can remember the only thing considered fast food in this house is a cake mix. I cook from scratch like the old timers used to do. I'll be posting old and new articles and in most cases the published date will be to the right of the title. That way you can read along (with a few pictures) and see what the aging process has done.

Needlework Projects 1995

Tedious – according to two dictionaries I have means wearisome and/or boring.  I don’t necessarily agree.  Some of the needlework I do is ‘close’ work requiring patience and it’s challenging, to say the least, but certainly not boring.

One day this week, it fell my lot to do two jobs that were very tedious and very tiring.  A friend wrote a note on a card with tatting attached and my immediate thought was “Oh, I can do some of these for gifts.”   Well, it was fun doing the tatting, even though tedious.  To begin with I painted (and I can’t paint) foliage stems and leaves on blank writing notes.

Notecard-with-tatting

Notecard-with-tatting

Then to the matter of gluing the tiny tatted ringlets in place so that they look like blossoms – first the ringlets were dipped in Elmer’s Glue (one by one), removed with a toothpick and then placed in proper position on the notecard.  On the sample the blossoms are painted; however, I really like my tatted blooms (ah!) and have opted to leave them just as they are.

To add insult to injury, another friend sent a sample using the tatting in a little different way and I wanted to try it, too.  Am I ever gullible!  With this method, three ringlets with long threads (stems) were tied together with another piece of thread to make a bow.  Tedious!!!!  I have finished enough for two givings and I quit.

That same day I decided to complete a job started by a very crafty lady.  Mairlyn had constructed three Santas from an old quilt I had given her.  They were to be gifts given by me and I wanted to make the bags, attach them to the backs of the Santas and then stuff the bags with miniature toys – or whatever.  At least that’s what I thought I wanted to do!  Tedious is not the proper term for this task -

it would have to be something stronger.  I had never even held a hot glue gun in my hand to say nothing about using one.  With the tiny items gathered together and the gun plugged in to heat, I lined up the Santas to do what I expected to be a minor procedure – wrong!

Santa-Claus-001Just to find a few scraps of Christmas greenery turned out to be a major  job (any other time I would see bits of greenery as I looked for something else).  Pulling down a big box that I knew contained greenery, I discovered a batch of ornaments made several years ago which needed hangers (another job for the glue gun).

As I pushed a tiny car into a bag, two other items hopped out and went all the way to the floor.  Now I had to hold the bag, keep what was in it from falling out and retrieve the fallen items.  How did I get into this?

By the time I finished, my fingers were burned (as well as stuck together) my shoulders hurt, my neck hurt – even my elbows hurt, but I had three cute Santas, hangers applied to ornaments and a few note cards for giving.  But never again!!

Next year I hope I remember to shop at the junk store and just stay with crocheting, knitting, tatting, smocking or whatever I can do with a needle and enjoy country living.

Posted in Country Life – Then and Now

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Visits Hightower Trail

Perhaps you have heard of the fund raising event, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  This event is to raise money for ALS.  Many have done it.. TV celebrities, sports heroes and coaches, movie stars.. you name it.. they have done it.  What is it you might ask?  Well, it is really pretty simple.  Collect money so that someone can watch you get a bucket of ice water dumped on your head.  IMG_1367[1]

The challenge came to my school on Friday!  I think all the schools in Conyers were having a challenge.  There was  even a bet from our superintendent that he would participate at the school which collected the most.  My school won with over $1,000.  But he was not able to be there on Friday, so we will see him getting dumped on Monday.

IMG_1371[1]Friday was an awfully hot day.  The ice melted as quickly as it was dumped into the buckets.  Mrs. Bates was such a sport!  Also a teacher from each grade level was dumped prior to Mrs. Bates.  The kids loved it and we raised good money for a worthy charity.

Supporting worthy causes is definitely in my country living!

Posted in Country Life – Then and Now

A Slow Day

It has been a very slow day today, Saturday, at the Windy Knoll.  Early this morning Daddy and I made a dog food run to Walmart in Boaz and stopped by the Crossville First Methodist Church to pick up our Boston butts, cooked and ready to eat!  When we got home Mike stopped by and asked Dad to help him get his truck back home.  It was in the repair shop and Mike needed a ride.  Off they went.  I went to get my hair done at Regina’s and while I was gone some beautiful cookbooks were delivered from the 75th anniversary of the Geraldine First Baptist Church, where Mother was a charter member…the last to pass.

Since I got home at about 12:30 – NOTHING.. Not a…

telephoneThe telephone has not rung, and no one has darkened the door.

Daddy has for the largest part, gotten along very well on his on.  He can cook, but often goes to the senior center to eat lunch and then, as was the habit when Mother was alive, just nibble for supper.  He can do laundry.  He had learned as a child, but in recent years, as Mother became less able to carry and walk at the same time, did it more and more.  He vacuums, sweeps, and can do it all.

Loneliness…that is my fear.  lonely man 2Where are the church friends?  Where are the people who think about him?  For those of you who know him, you know my daddy is a people person.  He loves to talk, joke and generally carry on!

Perhaps I think too highly of my fellow man.  Perhaps I am too critical.  I wish someone would take the job of calling Daddy everyday or getting up a phone tree to phone or visit everyday.

Yes, it has been a slow, and would have been a lonely day, but I have Daddy and he has me here today.. but what of Monday and Tuesday and…..

lonely man 1Is loneliness to be a part of my father’s brand of country living?

Posted in Country Life – Then and Now

About Washing Quilts

NOTE: I have added two photos of quilts my grandmother made for me in the early 90′s that did not appear in the original blog.

A quilt my grandmother made.

A quilt my grandmother made.

As I stuffed this old quilt down in the washer, I couldn’t help but think of how it used to be to wash a quilt.  I know how to try to clean them without the washer, but  . . .    The quilt now spinning in the washer is an oft-used quilt from our bed and I wanted it freshened up before winter arrived.

A quilt my grandmother made.

A quilt my grandmother made.

Old quilts were filled with cotton — batts, way back, did not exist and cotton was stretched or carded straight from the field (with seeds removed) — as a filler.  There were no washers — in fact, there was no electricity.  At our house the quilt was soaked for a bit in a tub full of water and then put over in the black wash pot.  The pot had a roaring fire around it and the water boiled and the quilt was moved around with a long and stout stick called the “battlin’ stick.”  When it was time to get the quilt to the rinse water, it took two people to lift it and get it in the first rinse tub.  We move the hot quilt around and turned it over and over in an effort to get the soapy water from the pot out.  Now it’s moved over to the second rinse tub.  After moving it around for a bit it was time to wring the water out.  Doing all this was a big chore and my mother always tried to arrange for washing quilts to take place when my daddy was around to help.  Next the quilt went to the clothes line and because of the weight maybe an extra propping stick would be required.  Propping sticks were used to raise the wire up to keep the quilt from dragging the ground.  Of course, a sunny day was chosen as the best time to wash a quilt and oft times during the day the quilt would be turned over to help with drying.

Nothing smells as good as the bedding dried outside on the clothes line.  It’s just another memory of that style of country living.

Stenciled Basket Quilt

Stenciled Basket Quilt

Posted in Country Life – Then and Now

A Trip to Marietta-Early Morning

On Monday I took Daddy to Kennestone Hospital to be with Donna during Brad’s surgery.  We prepared on kennestoneSunday evening by laying out the clothing to be put on early the next morning.  I must say that Mother had school Daddy well in how to dress.

“I think jeans are not appropriate,” said Daddy.  ”I need something with a cuff.”  Are cuffed trousers still stylish?  Who know?  Certainly not me.  So he decided to wear a pair of casual trousers.  I reminded him that he would need a sweater or jacket due to the coolness in the hospital.  So now the hut for something that would match.  Which shirt?  Another search.  Finally all the garments were gathered and we settled in for a very early beginning to sleep.

I think Daddy went right to sleep at 7:00.  But not so for me.  I finally settled in about 9:00.  Three o’clock in the morning came early, but I woke, took the morning vitamins, dressed and woke Daddy.  We were out of there by 3:00 and on the road.  We had made sure that Mother’s new SUV was gassed up on Sunday.  Let me say that I don’t like nighttime driving.  I just don’t see as well anymore.

trafficWe stopped in Rome for a Hardee’s biscuit, and we finally reached Marietta.  Traffic in NW Atlanta was awful as usual at 6:30 in the morning.  We finally arrived at Kennestone and proceeded to hunt for the parking deck (there were several) and then for the Green tower.  I was born at Kennestone in 1954 and traveled by that hospital all through my childhood and teen years, but this huge, rambling building bore no resemblance to what I knew.  We parked in the blue tower, a mistake.  We must have walked  miles to locate the Green Tower and the surgery waiting area.

The surgery went better than anyone could have thought and Brad was installed in his room.  Daddy saw him and was satisfied that all was well.  We struck off for Alabama.  If anyone had told me that we would have been back in Alabama by a little after 2:00 P.M. I would have called them a liar!  But home we were.  I quickly loaded for a return trip to Georgia, east metro this time and I made tracks for Conyers.

I was so thankful that I had arranged to be off on Tuesday (today) because this morning I could hardly get out of bed and the time that I awoke would have made being on time impossible!  I have rested most of the day, doing very little that was productive, but feel rested and ready for the kiddies tomorrow!

Helping family is definitely in my style of country living.

Posted in Country Life – Then and Now

Tatting for the Tree

NOTE: You may think this blog is way to early, but think again, 5 more days until September 1. Christmas will be here before you know it. Time to get to TATTING!

The-Crumly-TreeIf you are a follower then you already know that I have a broken foot and am wearing a boot.  Ugh!!!  For an old lady this is a chore.  And so it’s time to get my Christmas tree up (past time); however, we’ve made the decision not to put it up this year and I’m heartbroken.  Two or three friends have offered to put it for me but whatever we take down has to be put back and they said nothing about putting it back. LoL  I love the ornaments — some we’ve had for years and years — and it’s always fun to get them and remember where each came from.

One year our friend was working for Chic-Filet and I did a large quantity of cross-stitched chickens and put them in tiny frames (ornament) for him to give as gifts.  On the back of the one I have I made a note so I would always remember.  Two others that are super special are two John’s cousin sent from Germany — one is an old lady with knitting needles at work and the other is Grandpa with his pipe (very fitting I would say).

tatted-snowflakes-225x300

Tatted Snowflakes

Perhaps the ones that are most special are the handmade ones — lots of tatted snowflakes and a few balls covered with tatting.  There are lots of crochet covered balls, as well as crocheted snowflakes.  I had a good friend who tatted with me — we got together often to have show and tell and exchange patterns, but now she’s tatting in Heaven and I miss her so much.  It’s hard for me to get interested in making additional ornaments, but they do make nice gifts.  This year I have made nothing, but I must whip myself in time and do something.

Christmas-ornaments-knitted-225x300

Ornaments with Knitted covers

After the snowflakes are tatted —–  I have a board, like fabric is rolled on in the stores, and I put a piece of waxed paper on that then pin the flakes on — being careful to put a pin in each picot or point.  After that I stiffen them.  I used to wet them first; however, I’ve found it easier to stretch them dry and then apply stiffener.  Stiffener can be purchased, but I use half Elmers Glue and half water and dab it on — have to be careful going around the many pins to get all the flake wet.  I can pin several on a board and they dry over night or in some cases, I can prop them in the sunshine on the sun porch and they will dry quicker than over night.

Ornaments with Tatting

Ornaments with Tatting

On second thought, maybe I’ll get the miniature tree out — it only holds tiny snowflakes and wouldn’t be so hard to put or or take down.  I’ll try to use a picture of last year’s large tree for you to see.  This, too, is country living.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Country Life – Then and Now

Donna’s Husband, Brad

Just heard from Beth about her brother-in-law Brad.

Brad is out of surgery and doing great. He will be in ICU today but the doctors said all is well and it only took about an hour for the surgery. A LOT  less time than expected.

The family wishes to THANK YOU for your prayers and your continued prayers.

BRAD & DONNA-001

Posted in Country Life – Then and Now

Brad – Donna’s Husband

Mother hated to discuss her illnesses and aches and pains in the blog.  I am trying to honor her way with this, but there are times when “rules are made to be broken must apply.

Please be in prayer for my sister Donna’s husband as he has major surgery tomorrow.  I will not say more, but I will post how he is doing sometime after he exits the recovery room.

Thanks faithful readers!

Beth

Posted in Country Life – Then and Now

Potholders – who would have ever thought

IMG950807-001As I was taking some fresh brownies out of the oven for my dear hubby, I noticed the two potholders that I had chosen from a drawer full of them that I have accumulated over the years.  Billie Crumly was quite the quilter and she also sewed, but I am not sure she loved to sew but did it more of necessity than for any other reason.  She bought a singer sewing machine when I was yet a teenager and made every single formal gown that I wore anywhere.  I had quite a few as I was a member of the Rainbow Girls which is a teenage girls extension of the Eastern Star, of which Billie Crumly was a member.   Now I notice I have inherited that rambling thing that Mother would oft times slip in to.  Guess that would be yet another story.  IMG950804-001

One of the last times I was at Mother’s house she told me she wanted us to go downstairs and make some new potholders.  These pot holders were not the most beautiful ones, but I do have some favorites.  One with a heart and a little finge on it is probably my favorite and I have gotten it dirty sometime and have yet to put it in the wash, but I have stopped using it.  IMG950799-001

IMG950803-001

 

 

 

 

 

 

I notice that one of my more utilitarian potholder has been used so much the edge is frayed.  I know when mother made these she would keep a stack by her chair and good friends which would stop to visit would often leave with one the Billie Crumly potholders.  When I had gone through that particular ugly and long divorce I changed churches and one lady in the church seemed to take me under her wing of friendship and when I told Mother about it she handed me a potholder and said, “Please give this to her as a gift from me for caring for my daughter.”    Yes, you who were lucky enough to know her realize as I do that she had a very big heart and was always giving something of herself to others.

Those potholders were made from whatever serviceable fabric that she had on hand.  But it is the in-between layers that cannot be seen which really make the potholder a “goodie”.  She would save old blue jeans or work pants that the love-of-her-life would wear out.  I, having raised 3 step-children, would bring the old blue jeans which looked much like the ones teen pay over $100 today to purchase.  I can just hear her saying “For pity more.  What is the world coming to!”  Can’t you?  But the jeans legs were cut into squares and used as the innards of the potholder.  Then the outside visible pieces were a more pleasing fabric.  But these Billie Crumly potholders are one of the things that I scarfed when I was leaving the divorce home as they were gifts from MY mother.  Good thing I did or I wouldn’t have a one.IMG950806-001

Now you will notice in some of the pictures that she had used that Singer sewing machine to make decorative stitches across a couple of the potholders.  She always tried to make them nice.  Sometimes she did not feel like taking the extra time and would throw them together because they were needed.  Now her binding is one thing that I know she taught me to make but for the life of me, I cannot remember and will have to take some time trying to recollect my thought and bring it back to remembrance.  I know there is something there about an old man’s pants.  The binding starts with a square of fabric and it is folded across the catty corner so the bias is down the middle and it is cut on this bias fold.  Then the edges are placed together with the right sides together so what is sewn makes it look like and old man’s pants. (This is where I will have to work on it.)  After that point some of the other sides are sewn together so it forms a tube and when it is sewn it is offset just the width of the bias binding that one wants so it can be cut and have a continuous piece of binding.   Ok, I bet that is just as confusing to many as it can be but that is what I remember.  You quilters out there may be able to post a reply and give me some better directions.  I will watch for them, because I bet she taught you or you were taught by some wonderful person.

IMG950808-001After the old man’s pant routine, and cutting the binding, it was then folded in half so the pretty side was on the outside.  She would sew the raw edge of the binding and the raw edge of the potholder together all the way around.  Hooray, we are almost there.  Then she would fold that finished side of the binding over the raw edges and back up the other side and sew it in place.  I don’t believe there was any handwork which was performed at all on these potholders. IMG950800-001

Now you also know that Mother and Daddy loved to cook with the old iron skillets, because I have read her articles where she has talked about them.  Those iron skillet handles get way too hot and the pretty little store-bought potholders will burn like fire right through them and you have to have a big wad of potholders to keep from burning your hand.  But not the Billie Crumly potholders!  You will just be able to pick up that old iron skillet full of gravy and pour it right out into the bowl and not blink an eye with the thought of it burning your hand.  Only time I have ever had a problem is when I got the potholder wet for whatever reason and the water got  hot to my hand.  My fault entirely and not the potholder.

IMG950802-002Now you go out there and try making yourself some of these Billie Crumly potholders.  You will not be saddened to have them and maybe you can pass them on as gifts.  I just ask that you call them your Billie Crumly or even “Aunt Bill” potholders for her name sake.  This too is an interesting part of country living that we can pass on to other.IMG950805-001

 

Posted in Country Life – Then and Now

The First German Chocolate Cake

Guest Blogger:  Beth Littlejohn

I am honored to be allowed the privilege to write for my mother today and to share my first attempt at creating a German Chocolate Cake.

I asked my spouse, Mark, what kind of sweets he would like at Christmas this year.  To my surprise he requested a German chocolate cake!  We have been married for almost 20 years and he has never even hinted that he like this particular cake.  I know he is not a fan of my favorite, the Yummy Nummy, but I make it every year at this time and always will.  So, wanting to be the dutiful wife, I began to seek a recipe.  I googled it and found many — but which to select?  I asked my colleagues at the school where I teach; I got many promises of recipes, but none ever were sent.  I called Mother … She sent Red Velvet (maybe I said Red Velvet or that is what she heard).  Finally my sister, Donna, and my long-time friend, Cathy, both said that they used the recipe located on the inside of the Baker’s Sweet German Chocolate box.  This is the one I used.

I am diligent about collecting all the ingredients before hand and having all the tools at arms length.  This task being completed, I pulled out the mixer and decided to wash the clean bowl to clear any lingering dust that might have gathered since I last baked (it has been a while).  Clean and collected, I began.  Fortunately, my microwave has a setting for melting butter and chocolate and the first instructions on the box say to melt the butter and chocolate together.  Easy!  Add sugar, then eggs, and vanilla.  Always mixing well in between.  Next I added the 1/2 cup flour, soda and salt.  Mixing well.  Finally, I alternated the remaining quantity of flour and the buttermilk. German chocolate cake and frosting ingredients

I had prepared my three cake pans in advance with cooking oil spray and a dusting of flour.  The pans are non-stick, but I always treat my pans with a shower of oil and flour.  Pouring in the mixture, I pondered whether or not the layers would be even and if they would rise evenly or create the mound in the middle.  Into the oven went the pans, and I set the timer set for 25 minutes.  The wonderful aroma which flowed from the oven was heavenly.  I don’t care for this cake but it did smell delicious!  As I have been taught, if the oven is hot — do all the oven related cooking and save the electricity it takes to preheat.  This day I also baked a Yummy Nummy, a Grandmother Day’s Pound Cake, and a ham.  I cleaned up the cake batter and prepared to mix the second cake.

The layers were done on the standard bake setting in the 25 minutes.  Yes, there was a mound in the middle of each one.  Why?  I wish I knew!  Anyway, I always have a mound in my layers.  The taste is the same as those cakes with the beautiful, even layers, but the result is not a pretty on the cake plate.  Layers cooling

After cooling in the pans for ten minutes, and on cooling rakes for several hours, I tackled the icing.  Again, the recipe is located on the Baker’s site.  The recipe below says to cook the concoction for 12 minutes at medium heat or until thick and golden brown.  At three minutes I began to worry about both!  My arm was about to fall off at 11 minutes, but golden brown was not the color of my mixture.  I added five additional minutes to my timer and kept stirring.  Four minutes into this additional time the color finally began to change.  When the mixture had popped hot ingredients onto my hand for the third time I deemed it finished.  Mark said he did not want icing on the sides,  Thank you!  But the cake would have been prettier if I frosted the sides.

Yes, I will make this cake again.  I hope he likes it!  It was not a difficult cake to make and after all, seeing friends and loved ones enjoying food at the table are all a part of country living!  The finished cake

Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate Cake

1 pkg. (4 oz.) Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate
¾ cup butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 cups flour, divided
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
Melt butter and chocolate in microwave.  After the butter is melted, stir until the chocolate is completely melted.  Add to sugar.  Mix well.  Add 1 egg at a time, mixing well between each egg.  Add ½ cup flour, soda, and salt.  Mix well.  Add the remaining flour, alternating with buttermilk.  End with flour.  Mix well between each addition.

Bake at 350o for 25-30 minutes.
Makes 3 layers.

Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting

4 egg yolks                                 1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
¾ cup butter                             1 pkg. (7 oz.) Baker’s Angel Flake Coconut
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla                       1-1/2 cup chopped pecans
1-1/2 cup sugar

Beat egg yolks, milk and vanilla in large saucepan with whisk until blended.  Add sugar and butter; cook on medium heat 12 minutes or until thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.

Add coconut and pecans; mix well.  Cool to desired spreading consistency.

Posted in Country Life – Then and Now
Billie & John Crumly 1945 Part of what Tom Brokaw called "The Greatest Generation"