Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sampler Verses

How many verses have you copiously transcribed from samplers you have viewed to some day use in a special sampler design?  I go in spurts! Now with digital cameras, many times you can photograph them and have them on file to read later, but something is missing for me when I do that. I don't have them in my book, in my hard-to-read handwriting, to flip through the pages and enjoy at my leisure. They are on chip or a disc or some such electronic device that may or may not come out to be viewed again. I have to say I am old school - I still enjoy the real book, and the hand-written note. But many of you do know that I am very good at email, so I am slowly moving forward. 

We decided to explore verses from samplers about the Autumn season this week in the blog.  We will share a few we have saved or found and hope you will comment with your favorite Autumn verse as well to share with all of us.

I thought there would be more in my notes on this special season, but find that those on friendship, motherhood and creative views dominate my files.  And then there are those morbid verses on death that I do enjoy, the worms crawl in the worms crawl out!  I guess we could bring those into the mix and think ahead to Halloween and the Night of the Dead!  

To me they are so raw and so real as to the life that they lived at that time and the many deaths they had to relate to in times of disease and poor conditions... adjusting to the losses of family and friends and keeping their memories close. Ok, I will wait for Halloween and possibly share a few with you then.  

So I went to some literature sources to see if I could find a few others to round out my list beyond the few I found in my sampler resources.

From 1792 Bolton and Coe

With gilding fire an evening star 
streaks the autumnal skies 
shook from the sphere it darts away
And in an instant dies

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came -
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.
~George Cooper, "October's Party"


Friends are like Leaves that on the trees do grow, 
in summer prosp'rous state much love they show; 
but art thou in Adversity then they 
lik Leaves from trees in Autumn fall away

Catharine Quince 1812 Read'

Bright yellow, red and orange
The leaves come down in hosts
The trees are Indian Princess
But soon they'll turn to Ghosts...
William Albingham

Autumn by William Morris
Laden Autumn here I stand
Worn of heart, and weak of hand:
Nought but rest seems good to me,
Speak the word that sets me free. 


As one of those who does take photos of the samplers to save myself the laborious transcription, I do see why Becky feels it's better to have the paper and pen version - looking for my files on my computer can be difficult when they're written files -image files are something else again!  

I have a few poems I've saved, though, that are about this glorious season...

by John Updike

The stripped and shapely
Maple grieves
The ghosts of her
Departed leaves.
The ground is hard,
As hard as stone.
The year is old,
The birds are flown.

And yet the world,
In its distress,
Displays a certain

Nature XXVII, Autumn
by Emily Dickinson

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.

The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I'll put a trinket on.  

Nothing Gold Can Stay
by Robert Frost

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold,
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Five Little Pumpkins
author unknown

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate.
The first one said, "Oh my, it's getting late!"
The second one said, "There are witches in the air."
The third one said, "But we don't care."
The fourth one said, "Let's run, let's run!"
The fifth one said, "Isn't Halloween fun?"

Then Wooooo went the wind
And OUT went the lights.
And five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.

This last one seems like it would make a wonderful little Halloween stitched design...


Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Voyage

It had been a wonderful two weeks with James' mother, but Pandora knew that even more wonderful things awaited across the ocean!  In just a few short weeks, she would be standing in Boston with her husband!  How delicious that sounded in her mind - it was almost enough to quell some of the fears she had about the journey.  Almost. 

A sailing ship was the only way to get to America, and the voyage could be dangerous.  It was bound to be long, uncomfortable and cramped.  She would be cooped up in her cabin, which she would share with strangers... how many she didn't know.  There were no true "passenger" ships in those days - all passage was booked on ships built for moving cargo or meant as war ships, so she knew it could be very difficult.  Dora was feeling apprehensive about the voyage, but tried very hard to look at it as not only a great adventure, but a way to know what James' life was like.

Having boarded the ship and waved a tearful goodbye to James' mother, Dora turned away to see to the stowage of her belongings.  The ship, "The Diligence" was sailing first to Glasgow which was meant to be the true embarkation point, so for now, she was the only passenger.  James had begged a favor from a colleague, and gotten her passage from London, knowing that the ship had been in for some repairs before the long voyage across the sea.

Several days later, in fine weather, Dora watched as several other passengers were brought aboard - but there were fewer than she had expected.  Perhaps it would not be as cramped as she had feared.  Only a partial passenger list survives from this voyage - listed are the captain, Charles Robison along with Robert Stevenson, merchant, Andrew Turner, merchant and William Burton, merchant.  Why Dora is not listed, nor any of the other women or children, is not known.

As Dora watched with amazement, she saw that one young lady was far along in her pregnancy and ought, really, to have been in her confinement now.  "This should be a very interesting voyage, indeed." thought Dora...

As they sailed out of Glasgow, Dora's heart was light and she went up on deck to see the harbor recede from view.  The fresh air was invigorating, and she headed back below decks to see if she could help some of the newcomers settle in.  She was especially interested to make the acquaintance of those who would be settling in Boston, as she would be.

Several days later, the weather turned stormy.  It was now forbidden to venture up on deck - the sailors had all they could handle to keep the ship on an even keel.  "Lydies and gents underfoot" was the last thing they needed, as the captain informed them...

Seasickness was now the chief concern of those below decks - everyone had brought such provisions as they thought they'd need for dining on board ship, but nobody felt like eating.  The smells, and now the cold and dampness which pervaded all the living quarters was overwhelming.  Dora, usually very amiable, now kept to herself.  She tried to read, but couldn't manage it with all the movement of the ship - this was going to be a very long voyage if the weather didn't calm the seas...

Finally, after several days of sea-tossed discomfort, the waters were calmer.  The wind kept up and they were making very good time, according to the captain.  Passengers were once again allowed on deck for exercise and fresh air, and there was a general feeling of gaiety as they felt the worst had passed them now.

One of the children - a boy of about seven - fell ill with a fever.  Unable to consult with a medical expert, his mother nursed him as best she could, keeping cool cloths on his forehead and feeding him weak beef tea when he could manage something.  It was to no avail, however, and he died after just three days of illness.  His mother was bereft once she realized that no proper burial would be allowed, and that his body would be delivered to the sea.  No headstone would be erected, and not much ceremony observed.   

Just as this disaster was coming to a climax, the other young lady from that company traveling together began to feel the first pains of her labor...  Dora was pressed into service as the men and boys were pushed out of the area.  Almost two full days later, a new soul had joined the group - a very angry young lady from the sounds of things!  She and her mother thrived, and everyone gave a sigh of relief as they realized that there would be no further burials at sea for their group...

The rest of the trip, while arduous, was uneventful.  On the 41st. day of the journey, land was spotted!  What joy and revelry were experienced.  Land - just think - by this time tomorrow, she would see James!

Dora carefully packed her belongings in anticipation of going ashore.  Her trunks were ready long before needed, and she had to go back in several times to get some items she'd already packed.  But soon- soon, she would see James!  She was ecstatic!

The next morning, as The Diligence drew into Boston Harbor, Dora saw that the sun was shining and her heart was very full as she alighted from the ship.  She seemed to feel the earth rolling under her as the sea had done on board ship, and as she looked around her at the bustling scene, she was amazed.  She hadn't really known what to expect, yet she realized now that she had been expecting this new land to be just the same as her home when she left it.  This was a very different place - perhaps not so established and sophisticated, but full of energy and movement.  People rushed about, busy with their errands, or their jobs.  As people rushed by, she looked for James - where was he?

Note from Julie:  While Pandora is a fictional lady, The Diligence is not.  She sailed from Glasgow to Boston, arriving on Tuesday, November15, 1763.  Her captain was Charles Robison and the merchants listed above were the only other people noted on the passenger list.

Information about sea voyages at the approximate time of Dora's passage was researched, so while much of what happened in this story is typical - it is all from our imaginings...  We hope you like Dora's story - as we continue on, we will follow her as she tries to make her way in this new and strange land.  James will not be meeting her - see the side bar to read about Dora's arrival (The beginning), but we know she will find a home here in America.

I've added a small chart of a sailing ship for your collection - under freebies on the side bar.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


The autumn always makes me nostalgic, but it's also a time of renewal and fresh energy!  The light has a different quality to it - there's a freshness in the air...  Crisp fall evenings crunching with leaves underfoot remind me that a new school year has begun, many new classes and events are being scheduled, and our guilds, which have been left behind for the summer are meeting once again...  A new round of programs and entertainments is beginning, and I never want to miss a minute!

There are many wonderful new things happening this fall in the sampler world...  We've not had much in the past few years, due to the economy, but now we can see that things are changing, slowly, and there are several sampler and needlework events scheduled for this fall...  You'll want to mark your calendars!

We will be headed soon, with some friends, to attend a few - The Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford, Connecticut will be hosting a one-day seminar during their sampler exhibit, on Saturday, October 30th.  The Exhibit is called Connecticut Needlework: Women, Art, and Family, 1740- 1840 and runs from October 5, 2010 - March 26, 2011.  The one-day conference is of the same name, and features speakers such as:  Susan P. Schoelwer, Curator, George Washington’s Mount Vernon (formerly, Director of Museum Collections at CHS); Linda Baumgarten, Curator of Textiles and Costumes at Colonial Williamsburg Foundation;  Glee Krueger, author and needlework scholar; Deirdre Windsor, Windsor Conservation, Dover, MA;  and Linda Eaton, Director of Collections and Senior Curator of Textiles at the Winterthur Museum .

Speaking of Linda Eaton at Winterthur, she has just announced a date to save for their exhibit featuring the Plimoth Jacket and other topics - October 21 and 22, 2011.  So next fall will be fun, too!

I have a couple of recipes to share with you.  The crisp fall weather always makes me think of rustic soups.  I've been making bread a lot this year, and any of these would be great with a loaf of freshly-baked bread and a salad, for a complete and satisfying meal.

Pumpkin Soup

6 cups fat free chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons salt 
4 cups pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (I usually substitute fat free half and half)
5 whole black peppercorns

Heat stock, salt, pumpkin, onion, thyme, garlic, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes uncovered.  Puree the soup in small batches (1 cup at a time) using a food processor or blender. Return to pan, and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for another 30 minutes, uncovered. Stir in heavy cream. Pour into soup bowls and garnish with fresh parsley.

Lightened Up Zuppa Toscana 

(This is one of my favorite soups - I've done my best to lighten it up for a less caloric but still satisfying soup.)

1 lb. spicy Italian sausage – crumbled (Jennie O Spicy Italian Turkey Sausage)
1/2t liquid smoke
2Tbsp. bacon bits (use real bacon bits)
1 qt. water
(2) 14.5 oz. cans fat free chicken broth
2 lg. russet potatoes - cubed
2 garlic cloves - crushed
1 med. onion - chopped
2 cups chopped kale OR Swiss chard
1 cup fat free half and half
salt and pepper - to taste
In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown sausage, breaking into small pieces as you cook it; drain thoroughly, set aside. 
Place water, broth, potatoes, garlic, and onion in a pot; simmer over medium heat until potatoes are tender.

Add sausage, bacon and liquid smoke to pot; simmer for 10 minutes. 
Add kale and cream to pot; season with salt and pepper; heat through.


School has begun, we talked of horn-books and alphabets and the start of school last week and this week we continue with our favorites of the fall season.  Usually we get a beautiful Indian Summer here in the Northwest. This year we seem to have had a very short summer, skipped that Indian Summer and are into a very wet fall. I am hoping for a change, but the forecasts look bleak.

When I think of Fall, I seem to go straight to food, wonderful spices and warm things! I have so many favorite recipes and many seem to be treats: Quick breads, muffins and cookies, hot cider, to name a few. Julie and I will be sharing a few of our favorite Fall recipes with you now and will continue to share others as we travel through the season to the holidays.

Fall is one of my favorite seasons, though as I get older I crave the sun more and more. But I love the crisp mornings with the sunny afternoons that many Fall days bring. As I walk down our lane on those crisp mornings I find beautiful lace hanging in the dew of the bushes with the sun starting to shimmer through. The patterns of these spider webs are amazing and to think how quickly they created them!

This summer I had a treat in seeing the beautiful spider silk woven piece at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.  To see this and to know that it is created from the silk of spiders is so amazing.  

THE SPIDER'S WEB is a symbol of industry, patience and flexibility. It is associated with Arachne, the famed weaver and spinner who challenged the goddess Minerva to a contest of prowess.  Minerva turned Arachne into a spider,and her silken web is a product of the beauty and talent of her spinning.

Apples and Pears are two of the fruits of fall that are so often depicted in our samplers.  The apple symbolizes temptation and the Latin word for apple, Malum, means evil. The apple is, of course, associated with Adam and Eve.

In the book Sampler Motifs and Symbolism by Patricia Andrle and Lesley Rudnicki, they tell that the apple in a serpent's mouth symbolizes Original Sin. An apple tree with seven apples symbolizes the seven deadly sins.

An apple as a gift is a declaration of love. An apple held by the Virgin with the Child Jesus symbolizes the triumph over evil.

We have all heard  the saying, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away". When did that saying begin? It is said to be first found as a Welsh folk proverb(1866):  'Eat an apple on going to bed,/ And you'll keep the doctor from earning his bread.'

The pear is thought by some to be the forbidden fruit of Eden, not the apple. It is often found on German samplers.  The ancient Chinese believed that the pear was a symbol of immortality. (Pear trees live for a long time.) In Chinese the word "li" means both "pear" and "separation," and for this reason, tradition says that to avoid a separation, friends and lovers should not divide pears between themselves.

If I listed all my favorite fall recipes here, we would have a complete book, so I chose two. The first is from my Grandma Shaff's   collection:

Cry Baby Cookies
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1 egg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup warm water
 2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup raisins ground
1/2 cup nuts 
5 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder

Cream shortening and sugar together and add the egg.  Beat until smooth. Add molasses alternately with warm water. Mix thoroughly. Add baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Sift flower and baking powder and salt together. Add this to the creamed mixture. Add nuts and raisins and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Frost with powdered sugar frosting.  The wonderful spices in these cookies are just right for fall.

All American Beef Stew
From a 1986 Woman's Day magazine, but I tweak it a bit.

3 lbs well trimmed beef round cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup seasoned flour (flour seasoned with fresh ground pepper and salt, this is used to coat the meat before browning)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large onions (I usually only use one and cut it into small pieces) (But Becky doesn't like onions, so you can use more if you do like them - Julie)
4 medium carrots cut into 1 inch lengths
1 1/4 pounds small red-skinned potatoes quartered
3 ribs celery cut into 1 inch lengths
I add some rutabaga,  turnips, parsnips or other seasonal vegetables that we enjoy and are readily available when I am creating this dish.
About 4 cups beef broth (usually I add more than this depending on how many other things I have added to the pot)
1 small can tomato paste
4+ tablespoons mustard
4+ tablespoons ketchup
Fresh ground pepper and salt to taste.

Coat meat with seasoned flour and brown in hot oil. Reduce heat to medium low.  Set browned meat aside. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon pan drippings. Add onions, carrots, potatoes, and celery to pot. Cook about 5 minutes stirring once or twice. Add broth, tomato paste, mustard and ketchup, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Bring to a boil. Return browned meat to the pan. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer 1 hour. Stirring once. Taste add additional broth and seasonings if needed. Cover and simmer another hour, stirring once or twice until meat is tender. Sometimes I simmer it longer depending on my day.  A few minutes before serving add frozen peas to the mixture and allow to heat until peas are heated. Of course this is even better the second day!

Hint: a few drops of lemon juice or red-wine vinegar added during the last 15 minutes of cooking perks up the flavor of the stew.

One of my favorite pear items is a bread made at a local bakery that has hazelnuts and figs in it as well. I wait for this seasonal bread that is so yummy toasted in the morning.

Another favorite sandwich is one that Julie and I discovered while having tea at a special spot in Snohomish Washington a few years ago. We miss Mrs. Pennycooks Tea House very much.  This open-faced sandwich is delicious, with layers of turkey, spinach, thin slices of apples (but pears work very well too) and topped with havarti cheese.   The sandwich is toasted and the lovely crunch of the apples and warm cheese is just delightful.

Now I wait for the first Honeycrisp apples to arrive at that market! If you haven't tried this variety of apple, do so. They are just like their name sweet and crisp, no need for caramel to enjoy these!


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