Happy Mother’s Day

My First Mother's Day as a Mom - 1954
My First Mother’s Day as a Mom – 1954

Journal entry – May 9, 1954:  Nancy was two weeks old on Mother’s Day.  She celebrated by waking up  at 3:30 AM and staying awake until 6:00 AM.  I accompanied her.  (Note:  I remember that she was lying in bed beside me, eyes wide open and trying so hard to talk.)  Her Daddy bought a box of chocolates for her to give me and a card signed, “Daddy and Nancy”.

I followed that first celebration with three more children and many more happy Mother’s Days.

My four kids - 1970
My four kids – 1970

Happy Mother’s Day.

Christmas Shopping at the Five and Ten

Neisner's (1024x795)At Christmas time, my little sister and I loved to go to Neisner’s 5 and 10 (“the dime store”, we called it), a treasure trove of gifts for children, or adults for that matter, with small coins in their pockets.  We circled around and around the counters, picking up cards with beautiful jeweled earrings or flowered boxes of dusting powder or the ever popular Midnight in Paris perfume in small cobalt blue bottles.  These would be wonderful surprises for Mother, the Grandmas, the aunts – if we pooled our money.  There were small bottles of shaving lotion, glistening emerald green on the counters, which were standard fare for the men in the family.  For small cousins there were jack sets, paddle balls, tiny dolls – such an array!

Now, that 5 and 10 stores are a thing of the past, I remember all those dear people opening our dime store gifts, clumsily wrapped and labeled, and exclaiming with wonder – the same as my sister and I did as we entered the marvelous world of Neisner’s.


Thanksgiving, 1964

Throughout the years while I was raising my four kids (beginning in 1954), I kept a journal where I periodically made notes about holidays, school, vacations, etc.  As an occasion arises where I think one of my journal entries would be pertinent, I’m going to post it just as I wrote or typed it back in the day (except for an explanatory note or correction of a typo).  

The children will be known here by the nicknames their grandfather used when they were toddlers:  The oldest daughter will be Newsie (because she was as good as a newspaper for finding out the latest happenings), the oldest son is Bar (because he called Grandpa’s truck Bar and Grandpa called him Bar), the youngest son is Jackson, and the youngest daughter is Shanty (as in Shanty-Boat).

This journal entry was made 6 years before Shanty was born.  We were living in a 1922 house on Maple Drive in Oakley, a suburb of Cincinnati.  My mother and father lived at the other end of Maple Drive.


Bar, 8 years of age, and Newsie, age 10

Jackson, 4 years old

The afternoon sun is bright as it shines on the white birch in the backyard.  A gaudy red cardinal perches on the fence while his earth-brown mate pecks at the grass.  A great pile of leaves is heaped at the entrance to the hollow, waiting patiently for a push into the woods below.  The houses across the hollow are in clear view now that the leaves are gone and our forest of the summer has become an autumn canyon.

Dinner is over and the dishes washed and put away.  The turkey was golden brown and only lost its two wings in its transport from roasting pan to platter.  The potatoes were perfect, according to Newsie, and the rolls, light.  We all ate too much, as usual, while Penny (our dog) whined in the basement, eager to get her share of the feast.

When I look back on Thanksgiving, 1964, I’ll probably remember Newsie busily toasting bread and cutting it into cubes for the dressing; Jackson putting great slabs of turkey on a roll with radishes and making a sandwich; Bar, in his football helmet, either playing football in the street in front of the house or watching the game on television; Frank (husband) lounging on the floor in front of the television after consuming an enormous helping of everything on the dinner table; Grandpa coming through the back door into the kitchen carrying a bowl of half-beaten whipped cream for me to finish up after their mixer had broken; the parades in the morning on TV, the aroma of roast turkey filling the house, the frenzy of getting everything on the table at once, the feeling of gratitude for everything I have.

Lillian – Thanksgiving Day, 1964

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

A Linus Quilt for a Little Girl


For the past 6 years, I’ve been making 3 quilts a year for the Greater Cincinnati Linus Project.  This year, I made an additional quilt.  I had bought some panel fabric on Etsy showing girls and boys at work and play.  I cut it apart and used the boy panels for one quilt and now I’ve used the girl panels for this one.  For alternate blocks I found an interesting block on my Judy Martin Stars & Sets software.  Judy has a way of giving a relatively easy block a twist and making it special.  This block is called Waltzing Matilda and is also in her book, Ultimate Book of Quilt Block Patterns.  There is a tiny amount of partial seaming at the very beginning of the block and from that point, it’s an easy block to piece.  It’s a good introduction to partial seaming for beginners.

matildaThe software was used to make a 4″ version for the border and I used the outline shape to quilt in the center of each 12″ block.


I used red calico as sashing to bring the panels to the correct size and did some decorative stitching in the sashing and borders.  Fleece forms the backing/batting as recommended by the Linus Project.

The quilt measures 40-1/2″x50″.  I hope some little girl in the hospital enjoys the bright colors and cute pictures in this quilt.


A Storybook Linus Quilt

full0709The third quilt I made this year for donation to the Linus Project is one that was made with a large panel showing rows of storybook characters.



The top border incorporated a “Whirlwind” block from the Electric Quilt 6 software alternating with 9-patch blocks.


The bottom border was all 9-patch blocks.

The backing/batting was light blue fleece and machine quilting was minimal, using free motion stitching around the rows of storybook figures and in-the-ditch stitching on the borders.  The inner border had decorative stitching going down the center.


The finished quilt measured 38″ x 57″.

The Linus Project distributes donated quilts and blankets to seriously ill children in local hospitals.

A Linus Quilt for a Little Boy

fullqEach year, I try to make 3 quilts to donate to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky branch of Project Linus which provides quilts and blankets for hospitalized children.  For my second donation this year, I used some fabric panels that I found on Etsy.  The beautiful, colorful images are of children at work and play.  I picked out 5 panels that featured boys and used fabric incorporating white stars on a red background for the sashing.

For the alternate blocks, I used a block called “Perky Split Nine Patch” from my Electric Quilt 6 software.

closeupFor the top and bottom borders, I used a technique for putting together small diamonds that I had seen on the Fons & Porter TV show.

I used fleece for the backing/batting, as recommended by Project Linus, and machine quilting was in-the-ditch and outline stitching.

The finished quilt measures 37×49 inches.

I hope some little boy will enjoy this quilt.

A Young Artist-Crafter

syd-dressMy five-year-old granddaughter (known here as Dolphin) is a budding artist-crafter.  As soon as she was able to hold a pencil or crayon in her hand, she started creating artwork.  She loves the idea of recycling and finding uses for odd items in a craft.  Everything is fair game – wrappers from the straws at McDonald’s as well as the paper napkins, bits of fabric, beads, pretty stones, cereal boxes, etc., etc.  Her mother and I both keep an area well stocked with all kinds of paper, tape, crayons, markers – all Dolphin needs is an inspiration to get her started and she gets inspired multiple times an hour.  She’s come up with some really interesting projects and I can’t wait to see what she’ll do as she gets older and more experienced.

For my Easter gift, she used a kit rather than one of her own creations, but carefully put together a unicorn with a tiny flower.  I told her I would  mount it and frame it so I could set it up and admire it.  She specified a blue frame and I printed out a background with a moon.  Her only complaint was that she thought red flowers on the frame would have looked nice and I imagine there will be some on it as soon as she has a chance to work on them.


Last-Day-of-School Dresses

When I was going to school in the 1930s and 40s, the last day of school was in mid-June.  I always associate the day in Cincinnati with very hot weather, tiger lilies blooming, and my mother making me a “last-day-of-school dress”.   In the first grade (above), the dress was yellow silk with accordion pleated skirt and brown bows.  It was a beautiful dress and all the little girls in my class gathered around me to touch and admire the silky smoothness – before World War II when silk was a common commodity in dress-up clothes.

In 1942, Mother made a more grown-up dress of a beautiful light blue fabric.  She often made a dress of the same fabric for my little sister and we’re shown here with my cousin, Dixie, just after her First Communion.


In the sixth grade, my sister and I had dresses of a lovely blue voile.  We had just moved from downtown Cincinnati to the East End area where there were small well-kept houses with Victory Gardens.

I graduated from the 8th grade in 1945 and Mother made a beautiful white outfit with a flared skirt and eyelet top.  It was the fashion in our school that year to wear white socks with white sandals.


In 1946, I was finishing up my freshman year at Withrow High School, a prestigious school at that time where my classmates were way higher economically than I was.  As you can see, I was very unhappy with my dress that year.  This was very unusual for me – I normally wore anything Mother lay out for me with no complaints, but this dress was of a matronly rayon-type fabric and all the girls in my upscale school were wearing sleeveless pastel shirtwaist dresses to class.  I knew I was going to look completely out of style in my grandma-goes-to-church dress.  In spite of my scowl, I wore the dress to pick up my report card and found that the stylish girls were all in shorts and casual clothes, ready to take off for swimming pools and tennis courts, and paid no attention to me at all.


Mother always talked about her favorite last-day-of-school dress which she described as being so beautiful.  After she passed away, I found this picture of her and understood better why she made me such a matronly, out-of-style dress.  It looked a lot like her favorite.

I felt bad that I had disappointed Mother by not liking the dress, but apparently I made an impression  because she never made another one like that for me.  For my senior class day at Withrow, she made my sister and me these beautiful light blue dotted Swiss dresses which we both loved.

I don’t believe the tradition of last-day-of-school dresses was active in my era (except for my mother) and it certainly wasn’t alive for my daughters or now for my granddaughters and great-granddaughter.  Pity.