Monday, July 4, 2011

My Favorite Things [Answering a Challenge]

Leanne gave us a tour of her home last week and issued a challenge for her readers to do the same.
Bovey Belle posted her response here.

I haven't seen those of other readers, but have prepared a photographic gathering of my own favorite things.
Most of the photos were taken during the past few days especially for this post, for others I sorted through my photo archives.

The marriage certificate of my g-grandfather and his second wife, the lady I knew as Grandma Eliza.
They were married in 1892. I was just past my 5th birthday when she passed away.
I treasure items which have been handed down in my family.
I found the framed certificate leaning against a bedroom wall in my parents' home after my Mother had to go into a nursing care home.
The glass was shattered; I picked out the shards, wrapped the piece in an old blanket and took it with me to Wyoming where I had a frame shop install protective glass.
The certificate is currently resting on a chest of drawers which I stripped, sanded and
painted in this dark red.
Refinishing furniture is an activity which I have enjoyed in the past.

A friend in Vermont helped to administer the estate of a beloved elderly lady of our church.
Esther Jane had lived very frugally and never thought of selling the vintage items which had been lifelong furnishings of her home.
I was living in Wyoming when EJL passed away.  I sent funds, hoping that my friend could bid in this oil painting. It depicts a part of EJL's dooryard.
I was told by the framer that it wasn't proper to use a mat with an oil painting--but I wanted the rust-red border so I defied convention.

This painting was created for me by a friend who has since made a name for herself in the artistic community of Brandon, Vermont.
She worked from a photo of my beloved Katy-did Cat.

Several years ago I found an on-line source for reproduction maps of various towns in New England and upstate New York.
This is the town of Hague, NY where my mother's ancestors settled in the late 1700's. Several of my cousins still live there.  With their help I was able to verify the location of several family homes labeled on the 1876 original.  I also have a map of my own Vermont hometown [where my parents were born, lived and died] and one of the central Vermont hamlet J. thinks of as "home."
I placed tiny dots of red ink at each family homesite before having the maps framed.
They hang in the hallway of our home.

Family tradition has it that g-grandmother Eliza pieced these quilt blocks from salvaged segments of aprons, "house dresses" and shirts. Her hand stitching is neat and precise.
The quilt top languished in my mother's dresser drawer for years until I backed it with muslin and tied it as a surprise birthday gift for her.
She loved the quilt--and loved using it folded at the foot of her bed.  As often as one of the cats muddied it, the quilt went into the wash. The old materials softened and frayed. The pink-checked sashing gave way.
Mother washed it one last time and put the tattered treasure aside with the note, in her now shaky handwriting, that the quilt was to be saved for me.
I rescued the best of the blocks and hand quilted them to squares of an old white sheet. I added the setting triangles of washed muslin.  J.'s cousin Lorraine, an artist and needlewoman, suggested the type of framing.
My son and daughter each have a framed block; my girl cousins and several other descendents of our g-grandparents also have finished blocks.

A double panel of the quilt blocks. Reflections on the glass make for a less than sharp photo.

J.'s sister-in-law took these photos [and many more] when the family went on pack trips into the mountains..
I chose a number of them, scanned, cropped and printed them on photo paper, then framed them as my Christmas gift for J. in 2010.

This rocking chair belonged to my Grampa Mac.
I grew up next door to his farm and remember how many evenings he spent in this chair, twitching the radio dial from one station to another. After his death and that of my uncle, my mother gave me the rocker.
The woven splint areas were in bad shape and I used it for several years by folding a blanket into a pad.
J. learned that a friend could create a replacement for the damaged seat and back..  He had this done as my Christmas gift one year. The cushion is a favorite one which I made.

The making of this appliqued quilt happily occupied my evenings for most of a Wyoming winter.
A friend at the quilt shop where I worked taught me to do hand applique.
A new friend in Kentucky brought me the quilt rack.
It is topped with some old wooden spindles, ceramic cats from my collection and a reproduction lantern.

As a child I loved to bring home wildflowers, interesting rocks, bits of moss, bird nests.
My Grampa Mac placed an old table on his front porch where my ever-changing found items could be displayed.  I still bring in fallen bird nests. This one belonged to a pair of cardinals.
The bits of petrified wood were picked up on a Wyoming camping trip.

Vintage kitchen collectables parade along the top of kitchen cupboards.
Some, such as the wooden bowl, came from my g-grandparents' house.  Others have been purchased at flea markets and antique shops.

More kitchen and farm utensils.  I like stoneware jugs.
The old torch came from Grampa Mac's shed.
I bought the large round tin as it reminded me of one which reposed in his kitchen cupboard.

I am a tea drinker and have a collection of teapots in various sizes and shapes.
The center beauty was made for me by a dear Wyoming friend.
She and her Mom collaborated to give me the two flanking Fiesta ware pots.

It is thanks to the same two generous women that I have my Fiesta dishes.
Louise spent much of her working life at the Homer Laughlin factory.
When she retired she had lifetime privileges to buy Fiesta at factory prices.
I would tell her what I could spend and she surprised me with an assortment of the colorful pieces.

It is no secret that I adore cats.
Over the years friends and family have given me cat-related gifts.
Here are some of my cat mugs.

I have a collection of jugs and pitchers.
The one in the center was a thank-you gift from a dear friend.
I fed her family cats while she and her husband were in Quebec.
The handsome jug was purchased there.
On the right is the tall "chocolate pot" with an Oriental scene.  It belonged to my grandmother.
I have wondered if it was a wedding gift to her and Grampa Mac--or maybe something she brought from her family home.

More cat mugs, a bone china rose mug [found in a charity shop] and an overflow of Fiesta mugs.

I have always used scented soaps and lotions.
At one time I enjoyed some rather sophisticated perfumes, but have returned to my first simpler loves such as lavender and rose.

I began making quilts in 1980.
My skills were honed by my job in a Wyoming quilt shop and membership in a quilt group which thrived on
"show and tell."
 Log Cabin Star created in Robyn Pandolph's Folk Art Christmas fabrics.

This quilt, like so many I have made, was given to someone special.

Sampler quilt made as a wedding gift.
I enjoyed the challenge of fitting all the elements together.

This one was made in beautiful batik fabrics and machine quilted by a woman with wonderful design skills.
It was displayed and sold at the quilt shop.

A scrappy 9-patch quilt made for a benefit "silent auction."

Music has always been an important part of my life.
An evening of song shared with good friends in our Wyoming home.
You will spot J. and me at the left of the photo.
I can belt out a solid harmony to gospel, bluegrass or country tunes!

Genealogy is one of my passions.
While family lore interested me from childhood, it is only in the past decade that I have been serious about collecting data and assembling it to share.
One of the first photos taken with my first digital camera: the tiny graveyard in Bolton, NY where many of my maternal kin were laid to rest.

J. with his dear Pebbles horse in her Wyoming pasture.
Animals are a special part of our lives.

Teasel, aka "Momma's Darling"
asleep on an Autumn Leaves quilt in our Wyoming bedroom.

Sweet Eggnog kitty on a quilt which now lives with my sister.

When haven't I been sewing something?
I learned to do dressmaking and tailoring quite skillfully before I grew tired of fussing and fitting and turned  to piecing quilts.
Here is a quilt in progress--the last one made in our Wyoming home before the sewing machine was packed up for the move to Kentucky.

Two more cherished vintage items: my Dad's shaving brush and Grampa Mac's shaving mug.
He used a straight razor with a yellowed ivory handle.

I learned to make bread when I was 18. I love to bake, especially bread and pastry,

These photos have gone up in rather random order as I sorted through my archives.
I have a number of Grampa Mac's diaries. His entries are brief--notes on the weather, farm work, rare trips to town, and in later years, always the mention when my sisters and I trotted next door
to spend time with him.

Canning and preserving food is an extension of my dedication to gardening.
I'm glad to be living again where we can grow and put up good food.

A view of my Vermont garden taken in the mid-90's.
I seem to remember I had levered that huge rock in the background to that spot and was awaiting the help of a strong male to heave it out of the garden!

The lower veg garden. 2011

The new planting of herbs at the side of the house.

Gardening is not merely something I DO--its a large part of WHO I AM!

I don't think I've forgotten any of the felines who have lived with me since earliest childhood.
Cats: dear, funny, intelligent, interesting, exasperating.

Teasel investigates some of my stash of quilt fabric.

Music is a vital force in my life, and I am thankful for the gift of music which is a legacy
of my Mother's family.

Have I mentioned books?
My books have not all been unpacked at once in one house for nearly a decade.
At present most of them are in horrible tipples here and there.
Here are a few of them in a slightly tidier mode in the Wyoming house.

I hope some of you have persevered through this lengthy tour of my favorite things.
I hope others will take up Leanne's challenge to portray how our homes tell something of our personal stories.


  1. How lovely to have so many things that have belonged to past generations of your family. And all those beautiful quilts, I especially like the Log Cabin Star one.

  2. What a fantastic tour ...some things I remember from old posts but seeing them around your home, with all your other memories was a wonderful experience. I spotted an Auto Harp ...haven't seen one of those since hubby worked in a music shop in London nearly forty years that brought back memories for me.
    Re that book ...yes it is the same one.xx

  3. I did enjoy the tour, thankyou! It must have taken ages to get all those photos and post them all :-D
    I particularly enjoyed the quilts.

  4. Wow, what a delightful post. I really enjoyed getting to know you a little better through pictures and the telling about some of your favorite things.


  5. Rowan: My mother sold many of the items in the old farmhouse after her brother's death. I hated to see them go, but I cherish the bits I rescued--and I do realize that the bigger pieces would have been too much to move during our nomadic decade in Wyoming.
    Angie: I'm always pleased to learn that someone is enjoying a book I have read. The autoharp, a restored vintage model, was purchased several years ago as I have always wanted a portable instrument. I haven't become skillful with it but can always go in a corner to strum the chords and sing.
    Kath: It did indeed take some time to sort older photos--way too many of them on my PC. I may have gone overboard on the quilt pix, but there they were, all in one folder.
    FL: The history and stories that go with the family treasures are what make rather ordinary items very special for me.

  6. Thank you for the tour our homes say so much about us. I'm envious of your ability to quilt, I get so impatient when I sew. Loved your cat cups and teapots. Gardening what a joy it is, how lucky you are to have so much land to use. Your canning is impressive too, I make jam but no canning I'm afraid of botulism.
    Books and music should be a part of everyone's life. I noticed your autoharp, haven't played one since I retired.

  7. Hello,I just love all your wonderful quilts they look fantastic.Thank you for visiting my blog,look forward to hearing from you again.Lots of love Jill xx

  8. Everything I knew about you - and MORE! I wuld love to come visit and see those things for myself, but, sigh, I will have to visit through photos instead : ) What a lovely post.

    Thanks to LEANNE for prompting us!

  9. I loved this tour, especially the parts down "memory lane" with EJL. We loved to go and spend the night at her house. What a sweet lady she was.


  10. Sharon- I absolutely loved reading this post and looking (intently!) at your photos! thank you for taking part in my challenge!!

    this is such a lovely warm post, full of 'family' and sentiment and nostalgia. Its lovely to see such 'family' feeling abiding down the years and across generations. Loved all the quilts of course, you are very skillful!

    I too have a LOT of cat mugs lol.

    I do have one question though...

    Where's Willis? !!!!!!!

    Leanne x

  11. Janet: Our homes do indeed tell much about us. While I take good care of my little treasures, a home visit in person would reveal that I am rather untidy!

    Jill: How nice of you to stop by and leave a comment. I hope you'll find time to visit again.

    Jennie: I think that you and I could spend happy hours pottering in each others gardens, or pawing through books, visiting museums--lots of similar interests. So many miles between us, but what a joy provided by blogs and emails and surprise packages!

    Shanon: I have EJL's diaries of many years--lots of insight into her life. She made comments in the diaries that she was too polite to utter aloud!
    Remember the evening when she made raised donuts for us?

    Leanne: This challenge was delightful and came just at a time when I'm sorting and rearranging some of my treasured bits--so I was inspired to get on with it for the photos. Nostalgia, yes--and the wander through memories and old photos is always bitter-sweet.
    Willis is in the cat collage--on the left, leering from a branch!
    Thank you again for starting us on these house tours.

  12. Oh, Sharon, what a wonderful post! I feel like I've had a delightful visit with you and thoroughly enjoyed my tour of some of your favorite things! I wish I could belt out a harmony too!