A Tattered Quilt

A most fabulous event occurred yesterday in my family – a new granddaughter was born! She is perfect and healthy and blessed to have such wonderful parents, though she is as yet unnamed. Piper is her two-year-old sister, so Brad and Beth have been calling the baby P2 up till now. They said they have to look at her a while before they decide on the name. Fair enough.

My own name, to all my grandbabies, is “Oma” (not Grandma or Grammie or any other sweet name for grandmother). I love being Oma.

Brad Beth Piper and P2.jpg

I got it in my head some time ago to make a quilt for this little baby. I finished it and mailed it off yesterday, pleased with how it came out but at the same time kind of nervous. I chose the fabrics. I chose the colors. I know Beth is partial to purple and liked a simple green receiving blanket I had made for Piper. I found a friendly, happy daisy print that’s got purple, green and yellow and decided to build the rest of the quilt around that one.

But colors are funny. Think of the variety you see when you go to buy paint – how many different reds, greens, blues, etc. Colors can be warm and inviting or cold and off-putting. They can make you feel comfortable or give you the creeps. They can calm you down or make you want to want to run in the other direction. So how do you choose? Will they like what I have chosen?

Comfort came unexpectedly from my neighbor Tracy. “I have a quilt my grandmother made for me and I used it until it started falling apart,” she said. “I hope they love yours just as much.”

That’s when I flashed back to two quilts I made many years ago and gave to friends who had had babies. The images that came in my head were of meeting up randomly with both of these moms and their babies after some time had gone by, maybe a year, maybe two. Both quilts that I had so carefully sewn together were right there with each child and both were in tatters – I mean ragged edges and stuffing coming out. Can’t get rid of it, both moms told me in different ways. “She loves this quilt! This is the one she wants.”

A little bit like The Velveteen Rabbit learns from the Skin Horse, right?* I know I’ve referred to this story before, but it’s pertinent again.

velveteenrabbit-page-001.jpg

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become REAL.”

“Does it hurt?”

“Sometimes.” For he was always truthful. “When you are real, you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up, or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or who have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

I don’t know if any of them – Brad or Beth or Piper (who has a dolly-size quilt to match) or especially the new baby – will like the colors and the pattern I’ve chosen. Hopefully they will not want to put it in a drawer under a bunch of other stuff! But Tracy’s words about the quilt her grandmother made gave me an image of the quilt I just made, only with its colors faded and its edges worn and its fibers super soft from use and time. By then the colors and the pattern are no longer important. What will matter, what I hope will override any other impression this quilt gives, is the love that went into it, the deep, inexpressible love in my heart. Nothing will make me happier than if it serves as the vehicle of that love, if it speaks to it and of it, and is someday worn, thin, tattered, Real.

Think what you will of the colors. These are the fabrics I chose.

fabrics.jpg

This is the pattern I chose.**

pattern2 (2).jpg

First you make a plan to evenly distribute the three yellows, three purples and three greens, using the daisy print to tie them together. This was my plan. I messed it up by the third block, but was able to recover.

pattern (2).jpg

Then you cut out all the squares with a rolling blade.

squares cut.jpg

You have to pay close attention during the first block or two. Before trimming, it looks like this, which throws you a bit.

beginning of square.jpg

Same block after trimming (ah, that’s better):

finished square2.jpg

Then you make the other eight blocks and move them all around until you are happy with the balance and distribution of color. It’s never perfect. Lots of the corners are not perfectly joined. I did the best I could with the balance of colors.

nine finished squares.jpg

Then you add cross-pieces to hold it all together. I used the same purple (flannel) as the four triangular corners of each block. I hope Beth still likes purple!

squares with binding.jpg

Then you add a middle layer of batting and a backing and you bind it all together. I found a soft green flannel for the backing. From the back it looks like this. Nothing fancy. I am no expert. But it will serve.

back of P2 quilt2.jpg

I had enough leftover pieces to make a small dolly-size quilt and I thought Piper might like it.

finished Piper quilt.jpg

Can you imagine it years from now, faded and tattered? Stained maybe? Much used? Much enjoyed? I hope so!

 

*The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams and illustrated by David Jorgensen, Alfred A Knopf Publishers, New York, 1985

** from 501 Quilt Blocks, Better Homes and Gardens, Meredith Corporation, Des Moines, Iowa, 1994

Corn for Fun and Corn for Pudding

These days, getting thread to go through the eye of the needle involves remembering where I put my glasses, which sounds easier than it is, especially when a deadline looms. My granddaughter Ellie, this darling girl, has a birthday very soon, and I needed to get her present in the mail.

Ellie (2).jpeg

She has been playing picnic lately, and if you were three and playing picnic, you would want some food. So Oma (that’s me) is making some food to add to her picnic, and I hope she likes it. Even under a deadline though, I got maybe a little carried away.

I started with a book, a sweet classic that some of you might remember: Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present*. In it, a little girl is trying to come up with a present for her mother. Mr. Rabbit, an unlikely helper, guides her through with fun suggestions, based on color, of what the little girl can and cannot give her mother. For example:

“What else does she like?” said Mr. Rabbit.

“Well, she likes yellow,” said the little girl.

“Yellow,” said Mr. Rabbit. “You can’t give her yellow.”

“Something yellow, maybe,” said the little girl.

“Oh, something yellow,” said Mr. Rabbit.

“What is yellow?” said the little girl.

“Well,” said Mr. Rabbit. “There are yellow taxicabs.”

“I’m sure she doesn’t want a taxicab,” said the little girl.

“The sun is yellow,” said Mr. Rabbit.

“But I can’t give her the sun,” said the little girl, “though I would if I could.”

“A canary bird is yellow,” said Mr. Rabbit.

“She likes birds in trees,” the little girl said.

“That’s right, you told me,” said Mr. Rabbit. “Well, butter is yellow. Does she like butter?”

“We have butter,” said the little girl.

“Bananas are yellow,” said Mr. Rabbit.

“Oh, good. That’s good,” said the little girl. “She likes bananas. I need something else though.”

And voila, they find bananas on a picnic blanket.

Mr. Rabbit (2).jpg

Now you see why there had to be bananas for Ellie’s birthday present. Felt bananas can be part of any fun picnic. Mr. Rabbit and the little girl also put red apples, green pears and blue grapes in her mother’s birthday basket, so there had to be those too. But let me tell you what happens when you get on the internet and look for a pattern for fake food. You see a lot of cute stuff! And the next thing you know, you are also making carrots and corn.

fake food with corn.jpg

I did buy the grapes, but the rest happened yesterday. The apples came out smaller than I wanted, and the bananas not as bendy/curved as they should be, but Ellie will figure it out. There are not that many steps to making felt food and it went pretty fast.

in process with fake food.jpg

Except for the corn. The corn is way more time-consuming that anything else but it is super cool so I had to do it. I know some of you are going to wonder how those kernels came to be.

One kernel, one stitch, at a time — that’s how. **

stitching corn.jpg

Ellie won’t have any idea that the corn took more time than the pears, but you might be able to imagine how much more time! It didn’t matter to me. The corn was too cool not to make. And one more ear is in the works and will be in the package before I mail it today.

Coincidentally, there was corn on my fridge that I had cut off the cobs the last time we had corn on the cob. We had had it on the grill, and you can see that some of the kernels got a little dark. I love it that way.

1.jpg

Corn Pudding is what you do with leftover corn! Simple and quick, totally yummy. I was in rather a hurry with making the fake food and all, so this was perfect. Start with the recipe.

corn pudding recipe (2).jpg

Naturally I am all about eggs right now. This is what I gathered yesterday from my hens, nine total.

eggs in basket 8.27.18.jpg

Some of them are still small, starter eggs, one came from a silkie and some are normal. Look at the difference in sizes. The big one here I collected a few days ago, thinking surely there must be a double yolk inside. The littlest one is from a silkie.

eggs big and small.jpg

I used all these but the silkie egg for my corn pudding, three instead of the four that the recipe calls for because I was right about the double yolk.

 

I keep my butter in a cabinet, not in the fridge, so at this time of year it’s plenty soft. Whisking the butter into the eggs will not work as well if your butter is hard. If yours is not soft from having been in the cabinet, soften it in the microwave.

eggs and butter.jpg

Use a whisk to beat this up. I mean beat. You have to break up the butter, and you can’t do that by stirring. You have to beat. I suppose you could use an electric beater. I prefer to do it by hand because 1. I feel more connected to the process if there is only a hand tool between me and the food. And 2. I think it’s better to use your body if you can (burn the calories, maintain some semblance of arm strength, etc). I don’t think we do ourselves any favors by letting machines do for us what we can do for ourselves – to a reasonable point, of course – but that is another conversation.

At first when you start beating in the butter, you will see some egg white un-mixed-in and some butter still in small pieces. It will look like this.

beating eggs and butter.jpg

Now use your wrist and beat it with a little umph until it looks like this.

beat up eggs and butter.jpg

Now add the flour, salt and baking powder.

add flour.jpg

And beat again.

(Perhaps you see the evidence that I had other things to do yesterday and was not paying too much attention – I never saw or felt that there was butter on the handle of my whisk!)

After you have beat in the flour etc., you will have a smooth, almost velvety batter. It’s quite lovely.

mixing flour in.jpg

Now add the milk.

adding milk 2.jpg

(I still didn’t see the butter on the handle!)

Mix that milk in. Notice I did not say beat it in. Mix the milk in carefully or you will have splashed milk all over your counter. After it is nicely mixed in, add the corn. The recipe calls for 2 cans or the frozen equivalent, neither of which I was using (fresh being far superior), so I judged that 2 cans would be about 3 cups. It worked out fine. Go with three cups.

corn in batter.jpg

Then pour this into a buttered dish, using a rubber spatula to get every bit out of the bowl. Before it went in the oven, mine looked like this.

batter in pan.jpg

After 40 minutes or so (so sorry! I did not time it exactly because I was distracted by stitching fake corn kernels onto a fake cob while waiting), it looked like this.

baked.jpg

That part around the edge where the batter met the butter and they made the darker, crispy part is oh so good! I took a corner piece. Along with the wonderful salad Samuel made, it was a fine meal.

closeup on plate.jpg

He, of course, took a larger portion, Oh, to be able to eat like that!

Samuel portion.jpg

If you want to, you could add other things to this pudding: chopped spinach, onions, pepperoni, ham, tomatoes (well drained) – your call. Play around, have fun. But maybe start with the original. And enjoy!

 

* Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present by Charlotte Zolotow with pictures by Maurice Sendak

** http://whilewearingheels.blogspot.com/2011/11/i-heart-fake-food-felt-corn-tutorial.html