My summer as a pioneer

I referenced a few months ago that my kids and I volunteered this summer at a local State Park, called This is the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City.
Part of the park consists of a historically re-created village called, Deseret Village, similar in concept to Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts or Williamsburg in Virginia, only this village is a recreated mid-19th-century western frontier pioneer setting. (Think Little House on the Prairie era.) The buildings consist of both re-created and original structures built by early Mormon settlers in Utah that have been moved to the site. 
We’ve visited the village in summers past and my kids have always loved it. Last year we visited our cousins volunteering there and this summer my children begged to do the same.
This volunteering including dressing up in period-style clothes and greeting visitors for 4 hours, once a week. I have to admit I wasn’t as enthusiastic about the idea (hello, who’s the one that needs to track down those pioneer clothes!) as they were, but figured I’d better run with it since A) volunteering somewhere worthwhile together is a good thing and B) there probably won’t be many more summers where my kids ask to leave ipods, and computers, and the likes behind and dress like a pioneer. 
Well, it turned out to be an awesome experience to do together. First and foremost (and kind of obvious) getting away from all those tech-y distractions. I feel like so often in the summer I’m saying, “Okay, turn off the screens and go play outside” ad nauseum. (To myself included.) Here, no screens and hence, no need to tell anyone to turn them off. Perfect.
One of the surprising things I loved about the experience is that it gave my kids a lot of autonomy. When my kids were little, I didn’t like the idea of them roaming far from home alone. While that is totally reasonable for little kids, as they’ve grown bigger – esp my boys – I want to encourage them to do that more – go exploring with out me. I think that’s something that’s missing from many of our over-protected kids’ lives – the freedom to roam. Sadly, since we don’t live in Mayberry, it’s hard to just turn them loose all day.
But while we were volunteering at Deseret Village I could do that! (It was even encouraged by the staff because the cute kids in their pioneer garb roaming through the village added the sweetest ambiance to the place.) It was so great to let my kids roam a fairly large area and do what they wanted to do – without me hovering over them. Above is the house we were ‘stationed’ at. I spent most of the time on that front porch and my kids would go visit the animals at the petting farm, or “pan for gold” in the mountain-man camp, or go buy sweets at the mercantile store. All by themselves. It was this great little taste of Mayberry. And it has made them more confident in their explorations without me. And it has helped me have the courage to let them do it. :)

I was so lucky that the house we were assigned to has a quilting project going on every summer. Each year the volunteers at the house hand-piece a quilt top using worn-out pioneer costumes from years past. It felt pretty make-it-do authentic. This year we started paper-piecing these 9-patch diamonds. I loved it.

We also started hand-quilting the hexagon quilt the volunteers had pieced the summer before. Sitting on that shady porch hand-quilting, visiting with my sister-in-law who I rarely see, but enjoy so much, with my kids out roaming and exploring in the fresh air. It was so great! And so therapeutic as I was dealing with all my thyroid nonsense. (Plus it was fun to see that little guy so earnestly want to learn to quilt!)

It was a good reminder of why a slower paced life is a good thing. Granted, we weren’t trying to survive by the sweat of our brow – our main task was to great guests, explain the history of the house where we were, etc. But that was fun too! One of my favorite visitors was a woman from Italy who is a fellow quilter. All of it was a good reminder as to why a slower-paced life, not to mention visiting with old and new friends in real life, is a great thing for our well-being.

And now a payoff for wading through all those words: Quilts! I have some good ones to share. Also housed at the park is a museum of the Utah Quilt Guild with a wonderful library of antique quilts.

Obviously some beautiful treasures. There was also a quilt made with appliqued squirrel pelts. (I’m not making that up.) I took a picture but refrained from posting. :) (Don’t worry – it’s not as bad as it sounds. Think just the fur part of the squirrel.)

 I LOVED this star quilt. I think this is the inspiration for my next paper-piecing project!

Coincidentally, to enhance my pioneer experience this summer, I also got to pull a handcart on a 20 mile, 3-day “trek” through some dusty wilderness, re-enacting the 19th-century Mormon pioneer migration across the plains with a bunch of the greatest teenagers I’d ever met. This experience was to give these kids the opportunity to get away from electronic distractions, do something that pushed them out of their comfort zone a little, and give them an appreciation for sacrifices made for them by fore-bearers. And wow, those kids rose to the occasion. 
The reason we went is that my husband and I were asked to be a “Ma and Pa” for a “family” or group of kids. Our oldest daughter participated as well. I’ll be honest – it as hard. And we were nasty, sweaty, dirty by the end. But it was a great experience. I came away with a deepened appreciation for those who made sacrifices for their faith – my faith – from which I benefit every day. 

No matter what our heritage, there are people in our past who made sacrifices for us to have the comforts, freedoms, and opportunities that we have. It was an enriching thing for me, and my kids, to learn a more about and appreciate that heritage a little more. And to take some time to realize how enjoyable life is at a slower pace. So, whether we do it again or not (though I suspect we might), I’m so glad I learned to appreciate just turning off the gadgets, slowing down, and hanging out with the people I love most.

Vintage Pyrex and fabric inspiration

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Pyrex post. So I figured it was time for an update.

Over the past months I’ve picked up a couple of little pieces here and there. I’m getting choosy about what I pick up now. I’ve got enough that I like and actually use but every once in a while I see a color or pattern that I’ve been keeping and eye out for. Like this cute little green Spring Blossom mixing bowl.

Another find: the smallest yellow mixing bowl. I love this size. I have a bowl this size in the wheat pattern and I use it almost every morning to mix eggs. Now I can switch back and for between the two. Talk about shaking up that routine and livening up my day. Doesn’t get much more exciting than that, right? 
This is my first wee”fridgie” box with a lid. It’s so cute. It doesn’t have a designated purpose yet (like I would actually put it in my fridge where some careless child person could possibly drop it), but I’m looking for just the right thing. Suggestions welcome. Did I mention that it’s just so cute?

This little vintage pitcher is not made by pyrex, but it’s the same tomato red as the fridgie above. It does not have any marking or maker on the bottom, so I have no idea of it’s history. But it’s also on the very cute side.

And this one is my new favorite. I’ve been on the lookout for a pink Gooseberry piece and was so excited to find this one. It’s the smallest casserole. minus the lid, but I love it. Pink pyrex is so pretty.
Finally, while we’re on the subject, have you seen the pyrex prints in Melody Miller’s new Ruby Star Sparkle collections? This print perfectly captures those classic pyrex shapes tne designs. I could not pass them up! Ruby Star Sparkle is available from Fabricworm, Dry Goods Design, and Sew Mama Sew

Another great print from Ruby Star Sparkle are these awesome retro phones. I can’t wait to fussy-cut and play with these phones. Seeing olive green and turquoise together will always remind me of my Grandma’s house. She still has a bathroom with wall paper in those colors that has been there longer than I’ve been alive. I guarantee you it is now the height of retro-chic! I totally need to scan it and turn it into fabric.

A sneak peak of one more fabric collection inspired by retro kitchenware of the 1950’s and 1960’s, Color Me Retro by Jeni Baker. I’ve been so excited to see them in person and they don’t disappoint.  I’m playing with them in preparation for my next Fat Quarter Gang project/tutorial.
I’m trying to figure out what it is that makes me love vintage pyrex pieces. I mean, there’s always the bandwagon aspect – they’re popular for a reason. I love their shapes and their colors and the fact that they’re so functional and I actually use them. (Can you tell I’m trying desperately to prove that I don’t belong on Hoarders?)
If you’re interested in learning more about Pyrex and patterns, visit the blog Pyrex Love. I just like perusing it for the heck of it sometimes.

Pioneer Quilts

You’ve probably figured out by now that I’m a sucker for old quilts. I pretty much love everything about them – the fabrics, the designs, the artistry, and the work that went into them.  I think it’s that scrappy,  ‘make it do’ aspect that I love the most.  Creating something beautiful from the limited resources that were available is what inspires me most.
Anyway, I photographed a few that I came across over the summer months and realized that I’d never shared them and decided why not do so today. These first two photos were from the Beehive House in downtown Salt Lake City.

The other quilts come from This Is The Place State Park – kind of a Sturbridge Village type of place, recreating the early settlement of Salt Lake City. My kids love going there and we try to get there at least once each summer.

I like going because the Utah State Quilt Guild has a museum there with lots of antique quilts.  I didn’t get to look at everything this time, but I got to snap pictures of a few. (I was the lone adult with 6 kids in tow and stopping to look at old quilts was not high on their priority list.)
I think I would love a red bench like this in my kitchen too.

Also a train ride was involved. Something for everyone = successful outing.

Vintage Goodies

It’s been a while since I’ve shared some vintage treasures, so I decided that, since I have a few worth sharing, today would be a great day to do so.

This awesome pile is a gift from my friend, Leigh of LeedleDeedleQuilts.  She rescued this pile of old, pre-cut apple-core pieces and thought I would like them. (She thought correctly, I might add. She knows me well!)
I’ve never made an apple-core quilt, but these babies are screaming to be put together. We can’t let all that cutting, nor those killer fabrics go to waste, can we? Anyone out there who has made an apple core quilt have any great tips to share?

Leigh also rescued this vintage spider-web mini-quilt.  It’s small but it’s all put together and some hand quilting has been done.  I’m going to finish the quilting, bind it and hang it on the wall in my sewing room. I love it!

 More vintage fabric goodness.
I always thought of Spider web quilts as fairly recent, so it was fun to see this one.  My guess is 1930’s from the fabrics, but could be later. Thanks again for these wonderful treasures, Leigh!

Finally, another happy find, this time while I was scouting some Halloween costumes.  I found this bowl at a thrift store and was imediately taken by the jade-like green color. It’s fantastic.  Looking at the bottom of the bowl I discovered it’s Pyrex!

It’s different than most pyrex I’ve seen as the interior of the bowl is not white – it’s clear. The bottom of the bowl is clear glass.  It’s got some wear and tear + the color makes me think it’s old, but I could be totally wrong – maybe it’s from Kmart 2 years ago. Anyone know anything about this piece?  Regardless, I’m totally smitten by the color. I don’t have anything like it and I’m happy just looking at it on my shelf. Which is really what matters when collecting ‘stuff’, right?

An Autumn Quilt Show

 A few weeks ago, a quilt group that my mom is a part of hosted their annual garden quilt show where they display the quilts they’ve made over the year, serve a delicious lunch, and in the process raise money for a local charity. These ladies are so prolific and the show is always fun to attend.

 This quilt was made by Judi Sears. One day I want to make even just one of these blocks. I love it!
This quilt was made by my own dear mum. She has been carrying around these Aunt Gracie flowers for a while now. She hand appliqued them with the black thread to give it an extra vintage look. She has a great 30’s stash and it was fun to watch her pull from it for this quilt.  (Not the greatest pictures on a bright sunny/shady day. We may need to re-shoot this one sometime.)

Here’s another quilt by my mom. She had so many blocks left over from this quilt, she made another. This one now happily resides on my sister’s red couch and looks smashing in the process.

After lunch there was a trunk show by this dear lady, who’s name I did not catch. (Clearly, I am not a very good journalist. But thanks to Shanda for the head’s up – her name is Maxine Oakeson!) Maxine brought some AMAZING vintage quilts.  After taking pictures of about 20 vintage quilts, guess who realized they’d forgot their camera card?  Fortunately I had an extra in the car and at least got pictures of these two.

This applique quilt was to. die. for.  Maxine bought this quilt as a kit on clearance from a department store in the 1960’s. It came with all the fabric and the pre-marked backing fabric that showed where everything was to be placed and even has quilting lines marked.  It’s a Queen size quilt. She does not enjoy applique (even though she totally rocks at it) and has steadily put it together over the years.  I loved how current the colors are even though they’re from 40 years ago. LOVED it.

This is another antique quilt that was on display. Such a sweet quilt and check out that amazing hand quilting!! I’ve never seen a quilt so heavily hand-quilted – which is probably why it has survived in such amazing condition.  This one is OLD. I’ll have to do some-more sleuthing to give it a date estimate.

In other news, if you’re a Utah local and want to come hang out and sew with other stitch-y friends, check out this little quilting retreat hosted by Pam of French Knots. I’m keeping my fingers crossed to get away for one of those days of sewing.

Also, the winner of the Sewing Summit Swag has been notified. Thanks to all those who entered for your sweet comments.

Antique quilts

Last month I shared the vintage Red Lattice quilt from my husband’s aunt’s home in Maine. Today I’ll share the two other antique quilts she let me photograph.  I love the simplicity of this red and white quilt. It’s probably early 20th Century.  I think this was made by my husband’s great-grandmother.

So basic and yet it makes such a nice graphic statement. Plus red and white is always so classic.   I think I want to make a reproduction of this one. I love everything about it.

Here is a close-up of the quilting. Part of the quilt is quilted with this circle/orange peel pattern (which I LOVE) and part is quilted with a simple straight-line, cross hatch pattern. Makes me wonder if there were multiple quilters and why the two drastically different patterns. To be honest, I didn’t even notice it until writing this post. Funny.

The final quilt is this amazing 19th Century Log Cabin quilt. It looked equally amazing from a distance as well as close-up. 

Check out these fabulous fabrics.  Lots of madder-red hues in there. I wonder how much the colors have changed since the quilt was assembled? Because of the log cabin pattern and the fabric colors, my guess is that this quilt was made between 1870-1890. (I’m not ready to start as a judge on Antiques Roadshow – nowhere near a professional – but this site helped solidify my guess.)

This quilt felt very well-constructed, but fragile. The quilt was very light weight – it didn’t feel like there was any batting. Not a lot of quilting either. It also had an interesting side with notches on two corners as if to go over pillows on a bed, so my guess is that it was made as a decorative bed-covering rather than for warmth or durability. 

I would be interested to know the history of this one.  It came through the family, but they were unsure of the details.  Another reminder to label your quilts. (Note to self: would you just start labeling your quilts!)  It was fabulous to see this beauty for myself. I had no idea of its existence so it was very fun to see and admire it up close. I love old quilts. They’re one of my favorite kinds of quilts.