Friday, May 31, 2013

Memories of Rapp Schoolhouse, a One-Room Kansas School Part I
Oil Painting of Rapp Schoolhouse, a One-Room School in Kansas

I received an amazing gift in the mail from my cousin Annmarie.  She sent me a 6" x 6" oil painting she painted of the one-room schoolhouse that both of our mothers (along with two other sisters) attended.  Rapp Schoolhouse is located in Osage County, Kansas near the Santa Fe Trail.  It is a Kansas State Historic Site and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Remarkably, Rapp School still has its original student desks, blackboard, library of books, piano, recitation bench, and teacher desk.  It is now an educational site where school children can come to spend a day.  Read more about it here.

In 1992, my mother wrote about her experiences at Rapp School:

"I began school in September 1933.  It was a one-room school in the country, built in 1929 and about two miles from our house.  It was quite a nice building for the times and is still standing in good condition.  It was red brick with a bell in a steeple.  There was room for over 50 pupils.  A few years before I started school, there had been at least that many pupils, but people were leaving farms, and I believe there were 22 pupils in eight grades when I was in the first grade.  There were three in my first grade.  We had a room for a little library in the back.  There was a big basement with windows all around, so it was a great place to play or roller skate around and around on cold days.  I also remember a very large sandbox on a table in the back where many of us could play at a time.

Rapp School when my mother was in 1st grade.  She is the last one on the right in the front row.
The last girl on the right in the second row is Dorothy Morehead Chisham
who was very instrumental in the formation of the Rapp School Preservation Association.  

My mother is second from the left in the back row. 
Annmarie's mother is second from the right in the front row. 
One of our aunts is the first one on the right in the middle row.
"You may think it would be very confusing to have eight grades in one room, but we all had to be very quiet and pay attention to our own work.  Each class would be called to the front by the teacher saying, 'First grade reading,' and we would go very quietly to the recitation bench in the front facing the teacher and read, spell, or whatever class we were reciting.  We often worked arithmetic problems on the blackboard, which ran the entire length of the room at the front.  If I had my work done, I often listened to the other classes so by the time I was in the upper grades, I knew most of it already!

"There were no school buses in those day, so my mother drove me there and came to get me every day.  My parents did not want me to walk as part of the road was a highway.  Neighbor boys did walk.  One of the boys rode a horse to school, which he put in a small shed on the school yard.  He brought hay for him to eat and carried water to him.  Another family drove a horse and buggy to and from school.  This was unusual at that time, however.  Most people had cars. 

School Girl's Puzzle Quilt Block

"My teacher's name was Ilene Engelson, and I was lucky to have her for six years.  She was an excellent and strict teacher, and when I went to high school in town, I found I had a better education than most of the 'town kids!'  We studied reading, penmanship, arithmetic, geography, and something new called social studies.  I don't remember studying any science, but we may have.  We played learning games like spelling baseball, a game in which you spelled a word 'pitched' to you by the teacher.  If you spelled it correctly, you advanced to first base, etc.  We all looked forward to 7th grade when we studied Evangeline by Longfellow and made a book of pictures cut out and pasted in to illustrate various passages."

To be continued . . . here

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Corset-Shaped Sewing Kit and Alice's Gooseberry Cobbler with Fresh Cream

In a previous blog post, I wrote about my sewing kit, also known as a "housewife."  Quilters' Book Club member Char sent a picture of her sewing kit that's in the shape of a corset.  Isn't it fun?  She included her hand in the picture so you can see the size of the kit.

In the book Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas, Alice writes to her sister Lizzie:  "I presided at the first meeting of the Soldiers Relief quilt group last Wednesday.  Mother Bullock let me use her pretty tobacco-leaf plates, which I never saw before.  They're for good, she says, and I guess I wasn't good enough.  I made a nice gooseberry cobbler, with fresh cream over the top.  Jennie Kate Stout asked for seconds." Alice's Tulips, page 17

Alice's Gooseberry Cobbler with Fresh Cream
1 quart gooseberries, washed, picked and sorted through
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon water

Cobbler Topping:
1 cup sugar
¼ cup butter
1 large egg
¾ cup milk
1-3/4 cup flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  To prepare the filling, place gooseberries in a 9” x 9” pan that has been sprayed with Pam.  Sprinkle sugar and water evenly over the berries.
3.  To prepare the cobbler topping, cream together the sugar and butter.  Add the egg, milk, flour, baking powder, and vanilla extract and mix to create a thick batter. 
4.  Spread batter over berries in the pan.
5.  Bake 1 hour.  Serve warm with fresh cream.   

In the book, Alice used black walnut hulls to dye some homespun.  If you'd like to experiment with some natural dyes on muslin or even Easter eggs, follow these easy directions.

I'd like you to imagine that the Quilters' Book Club is all together in a living room, drinking tea and having Alice's Gooseberry Cobbler with Fresh Cream as we discuss Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas.  We're going around the circle, each sharing something about the book.  It's your turn.  What would you say?  Please answer in the comment section below.  There are no right or wrong answers.  We'd just love to hear your thoughts on the book. 

By commenting, you are entering your name for my giveaway of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini.  The winner will be announced on June 1.  For June, we'll be reading The Lover's Knot by Clare O'Donohue, first in A Someday Quilts Mystery Series. 

You might also enjoy reading my previous blog post here.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mother Bullock's Gift to Alice in Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas

Pieced Tulips Quilt Block

In Quilters' Book Club, we are discussing Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas.  In the beginning, Alice is "vain, immature, quite a flirt, and not an entirely good judge of character. As the War continues, Alice must face a number of challenges and re-examine her relationship with Mother Bullock. It is their growing respect for each other, which neither is willing or perhaps able to express, that forms the core of the story."  Jonathan Wilhelm

Close to death, Mother Bullock gives Alice a special gift.  Alice writes her sister, "I walked as far as Mother Bullock's garden, where there are half a dozen yellow tulips in bloom now.  And as I knelt down to smell them, I thought what a fine woman she was to plant flowers she knew she would not live long enough to see bloom.  Right then I knew what quilt I would make, and it was the most obvious thing - a tulip quilt, with the name Mother Bullock gave the flowers: Alice's Tulips."  Alice's Tulips, page 229 

If you'd like to make a tulip quilt block to represent this book, click on the names below to see several tulip quilt patterns:

Double Tulip Variation Quilt Block

Pieced Tulips Quilt Block

Tulip Lady Fingers Quilt Block

Tulip Nine Patch Quilt Block

Pretend they're yellow to be true Alice's Tulips!

What do you think the tulips mean to Alice?  What do you think they mean to Mother Bullock?   Is Alice's Tulips a good name for this book, or would you have chosen a different title?  Inquiring minds what to know!  Please respond in the comment section below.  If you are reading this via email, click the blog title to be able to comment and read comments from others. 

By commenting, you are also entering your name in the giveaway for Jennifer Chiaverini's latest book, Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker.  The winner will be announced June 1.  As a heads up, our book for June is The Lover's Knot by Clare O'Donohue, the first of A Someday Quilts Mystery Series. 

You might also enjoy reading my previous blog post here.   

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Letter Writing in Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas

Envelope Motif Quilt Block
One of the big reoccurring events in the book Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas is the letter writing that Alice does.  She writes letters to her sister Lizzie back home in Illinois and to her husband Charlie, fighting in the Civil War.  If you'd like to create a quilt block to represent letter writing, consider these quilt blocks.  Clicking on the title will lead you to the pattern.

Easy Envelope Quilt (This Alex Anderson video is worth checking out even if you don't make the block.)

Envelope Motif Quilt Block

Postage Stamp Quilt Block

Stamp Basket Quilt Block

Postage Stamp Quilt Block -
 I cut each little square 2" so it was 1-1/2" finished, making a 9" block.
Another Envelope Motif Quilt Block
Since the letters are from Alice, we see only her side of the story.  Do you think Alice correctly assesses Mother Bullock's feelings for her?  Would you like to have read some letters written by Mother Bullock?  Inquiring minds want to know!  Please reply in the comment section below.  (If you are reading via email, click the blog title to be able to comment and read the comments of others.
By commenting, you are also entering your name in a giveaway for Jennifer Chiaverini's latest book, Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker.  Winner will be announced June 1.
For June, the Quilter's Book Club will be reading and discussing a mystery set in New York - The Lover's Knot by Clare O'Donohue.  It's the first in the Someday Quilts Mystery Series.  Remember that you can always check the Schedule section at the top part of my blog to see upcoming book selections.  I always have them listed several months in advance.   
You might also enjoy reading my previous blog post here.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Civil War Soldier Charlie in Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas

My Great-Grandfather James Lynch - Civil War Soldier for the Union

This month in Quilters' Book Club, we are reading and discussing Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas.  One of the first events in the book is Charlie Bullock "going for a soldier" to fight for the North in the Civil War.  If you'd like to make a quilt block to represent this event, I found several block patterns free on-line:
Army Star Quilt Block

Strength in Union Quilt Block

Union Square Quilt Block

Union Squares Quilt Block

Yankee Charm Quilt Block

In the book, Alice writes her sister Lizzie:  "Harve Stout is one of Charlie's five messmates, all of them from Iowa, and Harve's the best there is for making boiled pudding out of hardtack.  He breaks up the hard crackers and mixes them with water or sometimes a little whiskey, and bacon grease, pours the mess into a sock, and boils it.  I write, 'Is the sock clean?'

"'Shoot no,' Charlie writes back.  'How do you think it gets the flavor?'"

I did some internet research on hardtack.  "Hardtack was a biscuit made of flour with other simple ingredients, and issued to Union soldiers throughout the war.  Hardtack crackers made up a large portion of a soldier's daily ration.  Large factories in the North baked hundreds of hardtack crackers every day, packed them in wooden crates and shipped them out by wagon or rail.  Usually, the hardtack did not get to the soldiers until months after it had been made.  By that time, they were very hard, so hard that soldiers called them 'tooth dullers' and 'sheet iron crackers.'  Sometimes they were infested with small bugs the soldiers called weevils, so they referred to the hardtack as 'worm castles' because of the many holes bored through the crackers by these pests. Soldiers were usually allowed six to eight crackers for a three-day ration.  There were a number of ways to eat them - plain or prepared with other ration items. Soldiers would crumble them into coffee or soften them in water and fry the hardtack with some bacon grease."
Union Hardtack Recipe
2 cups of flour
1/2 to 3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon of Crisco or vegetable fat
6 pinches of salt

1.  Mix the ingredients together into a stiff batter.  Knead several times and spread the dough out flat to a thickness of ½” on an ungreased cookie sheet.
2.  Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.
3.  Remove from oven, cut dough into 3-inch squares, and punch four rows of holes, four holes per row into the dough.
4.  Turn dough over, return to the oven and bake another 30 minutes.
5.  Turn oven off and leave the door closed. Leave the hardtack in the oven until cool. Remove and enjoy!

My great-grandfather James Lynch fought for the North in the Civil War.  He was 68 when my grandmother was born.  As a teenager, she interviewed him and wrote:

"On August 12, 1862, James enlisted and joined Company G of the Illinois Volunteer 74th Infantry on the side of the North in the Civil War.  His commander was General Thomas, whom he liked.  Some of the battles he fought in were:  Cableorchard (the first one), Peachtree Creek, Murfreesboro, Chattanooga, Chickamauga, Francisville, Liberty Gap, and Perryville.  He was never wounded, but a bullet hit his canteen and he lost all of his drinking water.  He and his comrades were hungry many times.  They were sent out to forage from the farms around them.  Once he and another soldier tried to rob a bee tree, with many stings and little honey.  After the war, he was discharged at Nashville, Tennessee on June 10, 1865."

Do you have any Civil War stories passed down through your family?  Inquiring minds want to know!  Please reply in the comment section.  (Remember to first click on the blog title if you're reading via email.)

By commenting, you are also entering your name in a giveaway for Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini.  Winner will be announced June 1.

You might also enjoy reading my previous blog post here.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Bumbleberry Crisp and Applesauce Cake Recipes for Bramble Farm Apples

  Starwood Quilter's Bumbleberry Crisp
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 cups of fruit (rhubarb, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, peeled apples)cut into 1-inch cubes

Crisp: 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup flour
¾ cup oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup melted butter

1.  In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch.  Mix well and add water and vanilla.  Cook together until nicely thickened and bubbly.  Pour the sauce over the fruit and mix well.
2.  In mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, oats, and cinnamon.  Drizzle melted butter over combination with fork until crumbly.
3.  Turn fruit into a 9 x 13-inch pan that has been sprayed with Pam.  Spread crisp mixture over fruit.  Bake for 45 to 55 minutes until topping is brown and crunchy and fruit mixture is bubbling through.

Serve hot with whipped cream or ice cream.     

Member Julie from Japan writes:  “This recipe is written in my mother's handwriting, saying it comes from ‘Gram.’  It is simple and basic and the cake I always request for my birthday if anyone asks. (My uncle had an apple orchard and the worst of the wind-falls went to applesauce).

Julie's Mother's Applesauce Cake    serves 5   9 x 2"   sent Nov. 1987
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon each cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, sifted with
1-3/4 cup flour
1 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon soda, dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water

Bake in moderate oven (350) about 40 - 50 minutes depending upon thickness.  No topping necessary.

Birthday Cake Quilt Block

In the book Alice's Tulips, Alice writes her sister Lizzie: "I boiled up a kettle of black walnut hulls the other day to make a dye, then colored a length of homespun, and will make a dress for Mother Bullock."  Have you ever used a natural dye to color anything?  (Easter eggs is one possibility!)  Inquiring minds want to know!  Respond in the comment section below.  If you're reading via email, click on the blog title to be able to comment and read others' comments. 
You might also enjoy reading my previous blog post here 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Recipes for Alice and her Bramble Farm Apples - in Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas

Practical Orchard Quilt Block
During the month of May, Quilters' Book Club members are reading and discussing Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas.  Alice Bullock, Mother Bullock, Annie, and Joybell keep busy harvesting apples from Bramble Farm apple trees.  They dry apples and make applesauce, apple butter, and cider and still have apples left.  Quilters' Book Club members offer suggestions for recipes to use all those delicious apples:
Member Char says here’s a Crock-Pot dish that serves 4-6 – great for cooler summer cooking!  (Wouldn't Alice have loved a slow cooker?) 

Char’s Smoked Sausage with Cabbage and Apples

1-1/2 pounds smoked sausage, 2" lengths
3 cooking apples, cut in eighths
1/2 head of red cabbage, shredded
1 medium onion, sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar (I use a little less)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup apple juice

1.  Layer sausage, apples, cabbage and onion in slow cooker in the order listed.
2.  Sprinkle with brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Pour the apple juice over all. Do not stir.
3.  Cover and cook LOW 6-8 hrs or HIGH 3-4 hours.

May double recipe for 5 qt. or larger slow cooker.
Broken Sugar Bowl Quilt Block
Member Lisa from Georgia has this to say about her Grandma Miller’s recipe for Fried Apple Pies:

“I was surprised to read that they did not make Fried Apple Pies, which was a very popular recipe in the south for those that had apple trees.

“I used to love going to Grandma Miller's house..step grandma.  We would pick the apples from her apple trees and she, her two twin daughters, and my mom would cook those apples up into applesauce, apple pie filling, and also dry some. 

“We kids begged for the fried apple pies every time we went there. 

“The recipe is really easy and yet I do not have Grandma Miller’s recipe.  She died when I was 16 and too young to know any better than to ask for a recipe.  I do own a quilt she made back in the 30's though.  I was too young and dumb to ask about quilting back then, too, from her.

“But anywhoooo..she always made pie dough for the fried pies until those canned biscuits came out.  Oh, those women of those times loved when those canned biscuits came out.  They could make their fried pies a lot easier.  That's what Grandma Miller did, and we no longer begged for her pies after the first batch with canned biscuits.  No comparison to actual pie dough." 

Lisa’s Grandma Miller’s Fried Apple Pies

1.  So, the recipe is to make a real pie dough. 
2.  Cook up your apples as you would for a pie filling.  Or, you can use canned pie filling, which does work well in these. 
3.  Then roll out the dough into as big of rounds as you prefer. 
4.  Fill with the apple pie filling and crimp the edges. 
5.  Then fry in some shortening on both sides in a skillet until the dough turns golden.

We have a restaurant here in Atlanta, Georgia that has been around for a long time called The Varsity.  It's across the street from Georgia Tech.  They have fried apple and peach pies...just like Grandma Miller used to make.  We would get them there when we were not at her house.  We lived about 1 1/2 hours from her.  We still get our fried pies from The Varsity if we don't make them ourselves around these here parts.  LOL!
How, amid all the hardship and constant work, do the women of Bramble Farm manage to bear up and even be cheerful?  What helps you cope with hardships and maintain a cheerful attitude?  Inquiring minds want to know!  Answer in the comments section below.  If you are reading this via email, remember to click the blog title to comment and read the comments of others.
By commenting, you are also entering a giveaway for Jennifer Chiaverini's book, Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker.  The winner will be announced June 1. 

You might also enjoy reading my previous blog post here.

May House Quilt Block

This 12" May House quilt block is part of my Calendar of Houses Bee Quilt.  A friend and I organized this on-line bee a couple of years ago after being members of two previous on-line bees.
There were twelve of us in the bee - from the United States as well as England and New Zealand.  Every month, each of us made a block for a member and a different member made a block for us.  The house design was to represent that month.  The butterflies and the tulip background fabric represent the month of May to me - even if May brings snow to us here in Colorado at times!  The quilt hangs in my classroom and makes my room cheerful and cozy - perfect for reading.  


Through all the frozen winter
My nose has grown most lonely
For lovely, lovely, colored smells
That come in springtime only.

The purple smell of lilacs,
The yellow smell that blows
Across the air of meadows
Where bright forsythia grows.

The tall pink smell of peach trees,
The low white smell of clover,
And everywhere the great green smell
Of grass the whole world over.

             Kathryn Worth

The Year's at the Spring

The year's at the spring
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hillside's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in his heaven -
All's right with the world!

              Robert Browning

You might also enjoy reading my previous blog post here

Thursday, May 23, 2013

My House Quilt - Tree House

This is a block from my House Block Bee Quilt - a cheery quilt that hangs in my classroom.

I participated in the on-line House Block Bee with eleven other quilters. We were each assigned a month by our queen bee. Before the first of my assigned month, I mailed out fabrics to the others to be used to make a house block for me. I purchased the blue fabric for the sky and the green fabric for the grass. I sent each person a couple of owls and a couple of children to be included in their block. Then I looked through my stash and included scraps to be used for houses, trees, etc. Each quilter could also add their own fabric, if they wished.

Now, there are risks to being in an on-line bee.  I should have received eleven blocks and only received nine.  (Another block arrived very late, after I had already finished the quilt.)  Despite the fact that I had to make three of the blocks, I'm still very happy that I participated in this bee.  It's very interesting to note that my students could easily pick out the blocks that I had made!

Tree House
A tree house, a free house,
A secret you and me house,
A high up in the leafy branches
Cozy as can be house.
A street house, a neat house,
Be sure and wipe your feet house
Is not my kind of house at all -
Let's go live in a tree house.
     Shel Silverstein
Foreign Lands
Up into the cherry tree
Who should climb but little me?
I held the trunk with both my hands
And looked abroad on foreign lands.
I saw the next-door garden lie,
Adorned with flowers, before my eye,
And many pleasant places more
That I had never seen before.
I saw the dimpling river pass
And be the sky's blue looking-glass;
The dusty roads go up and down
With people tramping into town.
If I could find a higher tree
Farther and farther I should see,
To where the grown-up river slips
Into the sea among the ships,
To where the roads on either hand
Lead onward into fairy land,
Where all the children dine at five,
And all the playthings come alive.
      Robert Louis Stevenson
 You might also enjoy reading my previous blog post here. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Goober Peas and Other Songs of the Civil War

Gentleman's Fancy

"Music was a basic element in everyday life for the soldiers.  The sentimental songs, for the most part, were sung by civilians.  Soldiers usually preferred the rousing marching songs, humorous songs, protest songs, and parodies that sprang spontaneously from army life.  Both sides loved to sing Stephen Foster's songs." - from Civil War Songs with historical narration by Keith and Rusty McNeil

In Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas, Alice writes to her sister Lizzie about her husband Charlie marching off to war:  "The folks here gave our boys a first-rate send-off.  This is the biggest regiment raised in the vicinity, and the town did the boys proud.  Charlie and the other recruits marched off grand.  People drove in from farms and ran from the shops and stood in the road bareheaded, shouting hurrahs as the soldier boys marched smartly along.  The church bells rang, and a brass band led the parade, blasting out the 'Battle Cry of Freedom.'  Little children threw flowers, ladies waved their handkerchiefs, and gents who'd climbed on top of the bandstand in the square cried out, 'Union forever!'" - Alice's Tulips, pp. 2-3 

The song "The Battle Cry of Freedom" rivaled the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" in popularity in the North.  An American composer, George Frederick Root, wrote the song in 1862.  It was played at nearly every Union rally throughout the war.  If you'd like to hear the song, click hereGeorge Root also wrote a song that Mother Bullock would have loved called "Just Before the Battle, Mother."  You can hear it here.

The #1 song in the South was "Dixie's Land," written in 1859 by Dan Emmett.  You can see and hear a Civil War re-enactment version here.  Dan Emmett also wrote "The Blue Tail Fly" and "Old Dan Tucker."  The second most popular song in the South was "The Bonnie Blue Flag."  Listen to it here

On page 28 of Alice's Tulips, Alice writes to her sister Lizzie that Mother Bullock is "always talking about hard times coming, as the song says."  Stephen Foster wrote "Hard Times (Come Again No More), which was published in 1854 as a parlor song under the title Foster's Melodies No. 28.  You can listen to a beautiful version of it here

And finally, here are Burl Ives and Johnny Cash singing Goober Peas!

Do you have a favorite song from the Civil War era?  Inquiring minds want to know!  Answer in the comments section below.  If you are reading via email, click on the title of the blog post so you can comment and read the comments of others.

By commenting, you are also entering your name in a giveaway of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini.  The winner will be announced June 1.

You might also enjoy reading my previous blog post here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Eating Spider Cider Cake and Skinnydipping with Alice, Annie, and Joybell of Alice's Tulips

Whirlpool Quilt Block

Alice has asked the Quilters' Book Club over for some of Mother Bullock's Spider Cider Cake with an invitation to go skinny dipping in the creek afterward with her and Annie and Joybell!  (We hope Mr. Samuel Smead is not around to snoop!)

Here's Mother Bullock's recipe if you'd like to make your own cake at home:

Spider-Cider Cake
¼ pound (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ of a whole nutmeg grated (1 teaspoon ground nutmeg)
1 cup sweet cider (plus 1 tablespoon more if at high altitude)
2 cups flour (plus 2 tablespoons more if at high altitude)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Using an electric mixer, cream the butter with the sugar.  Add the eggs and beat until thoroughly combined.
3.  Add baking soda and nutmeg. 
4.  Add the cider and flour to the mixture, beating until just combined. 
5.  Pour into a greased 10-inch cast iron skillet or other ovenproof skillet.
6.  Bake 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. 

Although this cake does have cider in it, it does not contain spiders!  In times past, this cake was made in a spider – a cast-iron frying pan, originally made with long “spider legs” that held it above the coals on the hearth.

A cream cheese frosting is a nice, modern addition:
Combine 1 stick of butter or margarine, an 8-ounce package of cream cheese, and 2 teaspoons vanilla and cream well.  Gradually add 1 pound of powdered sugar, beating well.  Spread on cooled cake.  (This makes more than enough frosting!)  If mixture is too thick to spread, add a small amount of milk. 

I am nearly positive I found this recipe awhile back on author Sandra Dallas' website but can't find it there now.  Enjoy!

Alice writes to her sister, "We have the best crop of apples ever you saw.  We dried apples.  We stirred up apple butter.  We cooked applesauce, enough for the whole Union army. . . But we still had trees and trees of apples. . ."  Please share an apple recipe with Alice and Mother Bullock (and the rest of us, too).  Email your apple recipe to

By sending an apple recipe, you are also entering your name in a giveaway for Jennifer Chiaverini's latest book, Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker.  The winner will be announced on June 1.

You might also enjoy reading my previous blog post here.

Monday, May 20, 2013

May Redwork Birdie Stitches

I have missed having a small handwork project. Another quilter recommended Birdie Stitches Block of the Month by Little Miss Shabby available free online: When I saw it, I knew it was the perfect project for me. The designs are fun and whimsical. There are twelve small projects - one for each month - that are 8" square when finished. Instead of using several colors of embroidery thread, I chose to use just No. 8 perle cotton in red. All I need is a needle, scissors, a ball of perle cotton, and my monthly project. Everything fits in a little bag, and I can take it anywhere.

I printed the twelve monthly designs from the Little Miss Shabby website. Next, I ironed freezer paper to a 12" square of the Kona cotton in Snow. I taped a paper pattern to a window, then taped the cotton backed with freezer paper over the paper. I traced the design with a pencil.

I have done redwork on a single layer of fabric, and the knots show through from the back. I've tried backing the fabric with very lightweight iron-on interfacing, but the interfacing wrinkled. This time I used a double layer of the Kona cotton. I ironed the layers together and used an embroidery hoop. I didn't baste the two layers together, but it has not been a problem. I've been very pleased with the results so far.

I did make one change to the design. I added the name of the month to each block by finding a script font on my computer and enlarging it to 72.


I’m shouting
I’m singing
I’m swinging through trees
I’m winging sky-high
With the buzzing black bees.
I’m the sun
I’m the moon
I’m the dew on the rose.
I’m a rabbit
Whose habit
Is twitching his nose.
I’m lively
I’m lovely
I’m kicking my heels.
I’m crying “Come dance”
to the freshwater eels.
I’m racing through meadows
Without any coat
I’m a gamboling lamb
I’m a light leaping goat
I’m a bud
I’m a bloom
I’m a dove on the wing.
I’m running on rooftops
And welcoming spring!

      Karla Kuskin

Spring Is

Spring is when
        the morning sputters like
so fast you can hardly keep up with them,
spring is when
        your scrambled eggs
and turn into a million daffodils
trembling in the sunshine.

                            Bobbi Katz

You might also enjoy reading my previous blog post here. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Main Characters of Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas

Home Circle Quilt Block

This month in the Quilters' Book Club, we are reading and discussing Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas.  With Charlie Bullock off to fight for the North in the Civil War, his young wife Alice and his mother are left at home together on Bramble Farm near Slatyfork, Iowa.  I found some free quilt pattern blocks online that go with the main characters of Alice Keeler Bullock and Mother Bullock.     

Alice Keeler Bullock:
Contrary Wife Quilt Block
Housewife Quilt Block
Lover's Knot Quilt Block

Contrary Wife Quilt Block

Mother Bullock:
Mother's Dream Quilt Block
Mother's Own Quilt Block

Mother's Dream Quilt Block

Home Circle Quilt Block

While this book is about women who are left behind during war, it is also about the relationship of a young bride with her mother-in-law.  What advice would you give to brides and mothers-in-law about this relationship?  Inquiring minds want to know!  Please answer in the comment section below. 

Remember that if you're reading this post via email, you must click on the title of the post to get through to my blog to be able to comment and to read the comments of others.  By commenting, you are also entering your name in a giveaway for Jennifer Chiaverini's latest book, Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker.  Winner will be announced June 1. 

You might also enjoy reading my previous blog post here.