Friday, August 19, 2016

Second Regency Dress is Finished!

Sewing is coming along nicely for my Regency "trousseau". Ha! Yesterday I finished my second dress and now I can't decide if I want to wear this one in the promenade or the red one I showed you last week. 

I went with a higher neckline and long sleeves with this one---a morning dress look. I love the option this pattern has for adding a waistband. Even though I don't have a tie running through, it just looks so nice and much less "nightgownish" than some of my previous dresses.

I also chose to do a tie back. Several references say this was the most common way to close up the dress in Jane's day.

I've done so many hand-stitched eyelets lately that they're really growing on me. Only 15 more days until I leave! I'm super excited! 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

DIY Vintage Heirloom Stool Makeover

I'd like to introduce you to a dear family heirloom: 
This is The Stool. 
In the early 1950s, in Burns, Oregon, my grandpa George Bradley made this stool for his new bride, Betty Kiggins Bradley. The top was plain wood colored and the legs were painted bright red and later, a rusty red color. When my mom left home (Gresham, Oregon---I think) in the early 1970s, Grandma Betty gave her this stool, as she had no furniture! 

Mom kept this with her when she married my dad. She painted it chocolate brown and did a little repair work: 

It has served all kinds of purposes since! I remember it as a plant stand in the living room and a night table in pretty much every family member's bedroom! When my husband and I were married in Baker City, Oregon in 1998, guess what I inherited?

The stool! This really is one of the most special things I own. How awesome to have such a portable little heirloom! For several years, I had plans on fixing it up, repainting it, just adding my own flavor to it. 

A few years ago,I decided I wanted to "get crafty" so I grabbed The Stool out of the shed and came up with a plan to get it looking presentable. (FYI---I really had no plan...I just kind of did whatever seemed right. Ha! I'm a very spontaneous "crafter").

I brought it in and set it on the kitchen floor, telling little Selah that I was planning to fix it up cute. She put her baby blanket on it and said she thought that was pretty cute. 

It was...but not quite what I had in mind! I wanted to try and take the paint off but, since I was only using the things I had around the house, I had to improvise. I used my Pampered Chef spatula to begin scraping off the top. 

That lasted about 5 minutes and I was sick of it so I decided just to paint over the 3 other layers of paint and hope that it would crackle neat! 

It did! By the way, I tried and tried to pry that nail out of there but it wouldn't budge. I kinda like leaving it there though as my mom put it there and it's kind of been a little joke over the years! I needed to find some way to cover it though! 

After a couple coats of paint, I decided to stop for the night and consider options for the next step. 

The next day, I remembered that I had several yards of some pretty fabric that my friend JoAnn gave me. I decided to make a cute cushion for the top. Using my then 8-year-old Michael's school ruler, I measured out a circle that I hoped would fit.

I'd never made a cushion before so I wasn't really sure what to do---when suddenly, I remembered a Christmas craft project that we did in the 5th grade! Mrs. Neyman taught us how to make mini-pillows and string them together for wreath ornaments. 

I stitched all the way around the circle.

Little Avalon helped, of course! 

Then I filled it loosely with pillow filling. Once I set the cushion on the stool, I realized that The Nail was still very obvious. So, I hot glued eyelet trim all around the top and then glued the pillow on. 

Not bad for a 21st century makeover! 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Uncle John's Fudge

Today my Mom, Christy, is guest posting with a childhood memory and favorite family fudge recipe. Thanks, Mom!

Before my mother passed away in 1987, she gave her special, deep, cast iron skillet to her brother, John who loved to make old fashioned fudge. Until the 80's it was not considered old fashioned to cook fudge on the stove. When microwave ovens came out, the chocolate chip microwaved fudge became the way to make it, as most people had both parents working by then and no one had time to stir and watch thermometers. I believe my mom said the beloved skillet belonged to her dad, my grandpa Kiggins, who died before I was born. I was glad mom gave the skillet to Uncle John because I have such wonderful, magical memories of him making fudge at midnight and watching Johnny Carson with me and Aunt Paulette while we waited for it to set.

Uncle John, my mom's brother, and his wife, Paulette, would go get me when school let out in the summer. They'd take me to their house, which was four hundred miles away, and spoil me for a couple of weeks. I was nine years old the last time I remember going. They had two little boys, Johnny and Michael, so they loved having a little girl in the house. Uncle John worked the graveyard shift at the coal mine so he would get off work at midnight. Me, being used to my nine o'clock bedtime at home, thought it was great when Aunt Polly put my little cousins to bed and kept me up waiting for Uncle John. Quite often, he would come in the door with a joke and a wink and get out his cast iron skillet. Everyone had one in those days. The anticipation was almost as good as the fudge.

Today I made good old fashioned fudge and poured it into my mom's 8" X 8" square "fudge pan." When I was a kid it was always referred to as the "fudge pan" and mom gave it to me when I left home in 1974. As I sit here and eat my fudge, pleased that it did not "sugar," I think back to the summer of 1966 and miss my Uncle John, Aunt Paulette, and Johnny and Michael. Those days are gone but as mom once told me, "Chrissy, no one can take away your memories!"
The skillet and the fudge pan will most likely be passed on to the new generation as time goes on. Too bad pots and pans can't tell stories. Or, can they?

Part of the JOY is in the presentation. I used this pretty plate that my daughter made me in 2006 to serve my fudge. It became even more special in 2011 when she named my granddaughter, Kynthia Joy!

Cocoa Fudge
3 c. sugar
2/3 c. baking cocoa
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Butter an 8"X8" square pan. In a large cast iron skillet, stir together sugar, cocoa, salt and milk.
Cook over medium heat until it comes to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil, WITHOUT stirring, to 234ยบ degrees, making sure the thermometer does not rest on bottom of skillet. This can take up to 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla. Beat with a wooden spoon until it thickens and looses some of its gloss. Pour into pan, cool, and cut into squares.

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