Monday, December 26, 2011

The Promise Quilt

This is the gift that my late mother and I gave my grandson Adam for his first Christmas. Since Adam was only 1 month old on Christmas, his mother Rachel read the story I wrote about the promised quilt gift. The story follows.

The Promise Quilt
Making and Keeping Promises
December 25, 2011

Dear Adam,
This gift is from your great-grandmother; Nana Skilling (Joyce Davies Skilling) and me, your grandmother; Nana Laura (Laura Conklin Nielsen Holbrook). Before your great-grandma passed away, she had started several quilts. She loved to be busy, making quilts, baking, cooking and gardening. She loved her family very much and her many cats. She had a British accent, because she was born and raised in England, that people thought was beautiful, they’d say, “I love the way you talk.”
I remember seeing your Nana Skilling start this quilt. She said something like, “I will have a great grandson some day, this quilt will be for him. I want to have it ready for him when he arrives.” She liked the pattern on the fabric, she choose it carefully. She cut the fabric to the desired size, and the quilt batting for the inside, she choose brown and tan yarn to match for the ties. She started to tie the quilt and got about ½ way through before she couldn’t work on it any more because she got too sick.
This little quilt is part of a promise I made to her. When her time had come to pass on to the other side and leave her body that was very sick, she was worried about this little quilt she had started but didn’t have time on this earth to finish. She really wanted to finish it! I promised her, “Don’t worry, I will finish your quilts for you, it’s ok to go.” Nana Skilling died knowing her quilts would get finished.
This is the first quilt I finished for Nana Skilling, who passed away three years ago on November 24, 2008. She would have given this quilt to you and a big hug and kiss if she was here. She would have loved you, just as much as I do! Which is a lot! I think she is smiling down from heaven on you and is very happy that you will be warm and cozy in your new Christmas quilt made with love and kept promises.

Merry Christmas Adam, on your first Christmas! With Love,

Nana Laura and Nana Skilling

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Electronic Cards vs. Paper Christmas Cards

Do you have a preference between e-cards and the old fashioned Christmas cards?

These are some of the Christmas cards that are circling my fireplace on a fishing wire. They are part of my holiday traditions.
I've received a lot of Christmas greetings, in electronic form and the old fashioned Christmas cards and letters in the mail.

My cousin Eileen sent me an electronic greeting. It brought a smile to my face.

I used Care 2 website to send cards also. I've learned from this and other "FREE" sites that you have to be careful to "un-check" all boxes that are pre-checked for you requesting their newsletter, political petitions and other constant emails. Other than that, it's free and easy and fun and of course "green" if you don't count the energy to use your computer :-)

Saving time, money and resources is something that one thinks about more and more, and with good reasons.

Do e-cards take the place of the old fashion Christmas cards?

I'm still sending some Christmas cards, I LOVE them. I love sending them and receiving them. I'm also sending some electronic greetings.

If you like receiving e-cards or Christmas cards let me know.

I like receiving any kind of Christmas greeting, keep me on your list!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Can I buy Christmas Lights Made in the U.S.A.? The answer may surprise you.

I have been searching for Christmas lights made in the U.S.A. After researching the subject, there's good information on this and other websites:

In a nutshell, here's what I found out: Christmas lights were invented in the U.S.A. in the 1920's, and were manufactured in the U.S.A. for decades, however, they can be made much cheaper in China. Over-all the American people want inexpensive items and because of choosing the cheaper lights more times than not, eventually the U.S.A. light manufacturing companies went out of business... ALL OF THEM! I would love to find out that this is not so, please let me know if you have other information. You can buy the plastic clips for hanging your lights that are made in the U.S.A. (Oh boy!).
Legislation like NAFTA opened U.S.A. doors to more imports, which has had a huge effect on U.S. business. U.S.A. government regulations, taxes, environmental laws etc. have taken their toll too.
As far as I can find, every U.S.A. manufacturer of Christmas lights have closed.
There seems to be some U.S.A. companies that buy Christmas light components from China and do some assembly, and label them "Made in U.S.A.".
Everyone can name a number of companies that have gone out business, or will.
I wonder what industry will be next?
On a LIGHTER note, the photo in this post is of the sign that John's Uncle Delbert (his dad's brother) made in the 1950's. John remembers it from his childhood. It's now a part of our holiday tradition, we bring it out of the shop every year and position it in a place of honor in our yard, just like Uncle Delbert used to do.

Friday, December 16, 2011

One of These is Not the Other

Which one of these products are different? I couldn't have told you a few months ago because I would not have noticed.

Before being aware that every time we purchase a produce, we vote on weather we will support our U.S.A. companies or foreign ones, I purchased products like this:
1. Attracted to the packaging
2. The fragrance
3. The price.

Now that I am aware of how important it is to "Do my part" in anyway I can to improve the U.S.A. economy and the jobs of my neighbors, I not only go through the old practice in selecting a product, I also look at:

4. WHERE it is made.

I am advocating that everyone check the products they buy and whenever possible, buy "Made in U.S.A." and especially locally made ones if they are available.
St. Ives is made in U.S.A
The Olive Oil Body Butter is made in U.S.A.
But the Asquith & Somerset is not! It's made overseas.
We can make a difference. It would revolutionize our economy and solve a miriade of problems that politicians are not able to fix. It's really up to us.
Each one of us, one by one, could improve the life and economy the U.S.A.
Small decisions times millions, will make a difference!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Got Egg Shells?

Got Egg Shells?
Never throw away eggs shells if you have roses or a garden. Dry them in a bag and then crush them, they make wonderful slow release calcium for your plants.
You can also blend them before they are dry or after they are dry in your blender with water, then spread them around the base of your roses or put them in your compost.
How do I crush the dried egg shells? I take them outside in the bag and stomp on it. It's fun!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Seed Saving

Just last week, I gathered Swiss Chard seeds (December!). Always be on the look out for seeds!

Every year I have a seed gathering and saving project. I plant heirloom seeds or plants and gather the seeds. (Hybrid seeds don't continue to produce the same fruit, and eventually will not produce any fruit. A good example is of how hybrids work is a hybrid tomato plant or seeds that sends up volunteer plants the next season, they are small, cherry like tomatoes.)
I air dry them on a paper towel or wax paper. A good place to dry is on a shelf or table top where they can be seen and they won't be forgotten.
When the seeds are nice and dry, I put them in a recycled container. It's best to put the seeds in a glass or plastic container instead of paper. In the past, I've had mice raid my paper containers and steal my seeds. Always date and label every container with the contents. Even though it might seem easy to remember what type of seed and the year they are saved, as time goes by, identification may be more challenging then imagined. Always label!
It's nice to have seeds on hand when planting season rolls around. Having seeds stored gives a feeling of preparedness. If extra seeds are saved, it's fun to be generous with them.
Some years I have a good harvest of seeds and take them to a seed exchange or share them with friends. A seed exchange is really fun, normally they don't cost anything, it's just people like me who have extra seeds and share them.
Seeds age and depending on how cool, air tight and dry they are stored, will determine how long they will be viable. As seeds age, they are less likely to sprout. Use seeds the next planting season if you can, but if you have left over seeds, there's no harm in saving them, if they are stored well, they may sprout the next year, and even the next. There are stories of seeds being found in the pyramids in Egypt that are 1,000 years old and they sprout!
When my mother passed away, she had quite a collection of seeds, many that she had gatherd and dried. I enjoyed going through her seeds. Seeds have a special meaning to me, they represent life.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Do What You Can Do During the Holidays and Enjoy!

What can you really do during the holidays ... and still enjoy them? Be honest. I usually start off with some grand idea of the holidays, it seems to be one of my personal traditions. The next part of this grandiose tradition is taking a few steps back and looking at my life realstically. Yes, I would like 4 Christmas trees, one in the pool room and 3 in the house, and yes, I've done that before and it looked wonderful and magical. Is that practical and what I want to spend my limited energy on this year, on December 12? Really???
Yesterday after church a nice lady, I would guess about my mother's age, if she was still alive, came quietly up to me. She didn't make a big tadoo about her gift, she handed me a recipe, hand written, with a few mistakes crossed out and corrected, her name signed after FROM THE STUTZ, (which appeared at the top of the page where all the letters got cut 1/2 off in the copying process, but one could still figure out what it said). On the back of the paper was handwritten: TAKEN FROM SPOKANE NEWSPAPER IN EARLY 1960'S AND ADDED & OMITTED SOME INGREDIENT TO SUIT MY TASTE. ENJOY!! Pat Shuler Stutz.
This lady is the same one that came up to me a few months ago when I was setting up my "beautiful" lesson visual aids and said, "Stop fussing, it looks fine."
Oh, the wisdom that some people have and humbly share!
I would have been tempted to make the Classic White Fuitcake for everyone I knew as my gift, instead of preparing a copy in a plastic sheet protector. Maybe Pat was also tempted by a similar grandiose idea, in years past but has learned what she can realistically do and enjoy. She did what she could and was a good example of
Do What You Can Do During The Holidays and Enjoy!

Funny thing here, I didn't have any gifts prepared for anyone at church yet. Pat is done with her gift giving and now can sit back and enjoy the holidays! (While I continue to work on my long list of things TO DO).
Thank you Pat! I really appreciate your amazing example and wisdom!
I'll get there some day!

Friday, December 9, 2011

"A Gift of Thyself"

This Christmas I am making most of the gifts I am giving. There are several reasons for this decision, among them are:

1. I am sharing my late mother's fabric & button collection with those I love. The Christmas book my mother made for me is so special and filled with decades of Christmas letters and stories, I thought some of my children would like to continue the tradition and have their own Christmas books. Those who aren't getting one this year, will get one in the future.
2. I am making & sharing Christmas binders to celebrate and preserve Christmas memories.
3. I'm using the resources I have been blessed with to make wreaths & swags.
4. The economy has given me a new perspective on what's important.

A verse from one of my favorite poems by Ralph Waldo Emerson, "A Gift of Thyself" says it well:
"...Therefore the poet brings his poem; the shepherd, his lamb; the farmer, corn; the miner, a gem; the sailor, coral and shells; the painter, his picture; the girl, a handkerchief of her own sewing..."

I have not done the math or study for a theory I am developing in my head, but it makes sense to me that if we purchased all or most of our products "Made in U.S.A." and especially made locally, we would do more for our economy than any legislation the government could pass. We would bring jobs home.I believe we could turn our economy around.

As I was making my homemade wreaths, I naturally did price comparisons in stores, particularly Costco where I saw very beautiful wreaths and swags made from materials that would last basically forever, and they were priced below what I could make them for, (using my fresh greens from the trees in my yard) then I looked closely on the box and saw "Made in China". This is my case in point.

We would have to do without and wait until we could afford some things, but it would be good for us. I hope more and more of us will be aware that we are voting in a sense to help or not help our economy each time we shop.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Journal Your Life

This is the first entry of my personal blog. I have other blogs,business and farm related but this one is going to be about my life. Life in the world of Laura Marie Conklin, Nielsen, Holbrook. It will be a place to share my life with family and friends, and if it's anything like a journal, will be good therapy and a good record of what is transpiring in my life. If my late mother, Joyce Davies Conklin Skilling had a blog, I would read and re-read it. If my great-great grandparents had one, I'd cherish it. Some day my children and grandchildren may feel the same.
There's so many good things to be said in favor of keeping a diary or journal. I began keeping a diary when I was in Kamala Elementary School, in Oxnard Calfornia in the 1950's. I'd write little notations of what went on in a day, then lock the little pink diary and keep the key hidden from anyone who might want to spy on my daily activities and private thoughts, mostly my older brother Dane.
I kept this diary until I was married and was visiting my home and sorting through all the things my mother had stored for me since I left home. She had notified me that she was done storing my belongings. Some how, in a moment of insanity, my pink diary got thrown out. I still miss it 35 years later!
I kept a journal of my trip to England when I was 15 years old and spent the summer with relatives, meeting my mother's side of the family for the first time, visiting her childhood home,school and neighborhoods and learning how she grew up and who she grew up with.
I've kept a regular, usually daily journal since I was a teenager. My journals preserves the memories of my youth, young adulthood, motherhood, marriage and divorce, 2nd marriage and my life as it goes on day by day.
This is going to be a good experience, it would be for anyone, keeping a journal is good for the soul, I'm expecting a blog to be the same. A journal promises to be one of your best friends. It's always there to listen, it never interrupts, it allows you time to learn and discover insights that are deep within and around you. I will continue to keep my personal journal at home, but this will be my blog to share.
I highly recommend keeping a journal to everyone and maybe as I explore life through this blog, I might come to recommend blogging too.