Home Made

hand painted table

Table I painted

My Grandmother grew up on a farm and raised her children on a farm as well.  They had a cow and some pigs, geese, ducks and chickens and a giant garden.  Canning, churning, cheesemaking, baking, sewing, soap making, tending the garden and the children…she did it all and nothing went to waste.    She made comforters and stuffed them with goose feathers.  Any stale bread or cake was ground into crumbs and added to the next batter.   Ashes and fat were used to make soap.

I’m told the house I live in now is a lot like where she raised her children.  By the time I knew her, she was widowed and  living  down south in reduced circumstances.  She had 4 small rooms and the littlest bit  of land.  No matter.  She made it her own and she had a garden.  Behind the house was a small tin shed she called her “utility room”.  There she kept her treasures, all cast offs and rummage sale finds.  There were yards and yards of material,  neatly arranged, color coded, on  floor to ceiling shelves that lined  2 of the walls.   Glass jars filled with buttons, thread, yarn, laces and trims, were on shelves along the third wall with pots of glue, sparkles and paint. In the middle of it all was an old wooden work table and next to that, her  foot pedaled, black Singer sewing machine.

From this place, she worked her magic, transforming  her little home into a clean, cozy nest.  She did it all with her own hands.  Everything always had a fresh lick of paint.  Starchy white curtains were drawn back so sunlight filled the rooms.  Chairs and couches, plumply reupholstered, were strewn with cheerful pillows in happy colors. Chenille bedspreads and patchwork quilts were on the beds and her braided rugs on the floors. Here and there, you’d see a bit of sparkle from some old jewelry, on a soapdish she’d  made or on a picture frame.  Pick up a dishtowel, and there was a smiling duck she’d embroidered.   There were always homemade jellies and a scratch cake in the pantry, and homemade bread in the breadbox.  Her house smelled like laundry brought in fresh from the line.

This is what I aspire to, though I have a long way to go.  I have my own little workspace where I sew, paint and repurpose things to make them beautiful to me.   I’m happiest there, in my garden and my kitchen, working on things to make my home fresh, cheerful and clean, where nothing goes to waste and  I can make things that I call beautiful.  Life is not easy, far from it.   Appalling things happen, personally,  globally.   I am learning to do what I can and let go of, or pray about , those things over which I am powerless.   In the meantime, this is where I am and what I do.

Painted rocker with my Granmother's quilt

Rocker I painted with my Grandmother’s quilt

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29 thoughts on “Home Made

  1. Cindy – I love reading your blog. You are so creative. And, I love the pics you post. I spoke to Amanda last week. I hope she told you how much I enjoy it!
    Sue Tenore

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  2. Cynthia,
    I really enjoyed this post. Did you notice how your grandmother’s bow tie quilt melts into your fabulous Alice in Wonderland chair? It’s like she gave you her creativity and you took it to another level. That is a photograph that speaks volumes. Your grandmother must have been very easy to love if her heart was as loving and kind as her cheerful home. I was just getting ready to go to bed when I sat down to read this. What a nice and descriptive story that I can think of as I’m falling asleep. You are a good writer. I could see her workshop, the inside of her house and smell her baking. I envisioned her small yard and sense her strength to handle whatever life handed her.
    Ginene
    P.S. Is that an old-fashioned door bell?

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    • Thanks Ginene! I can still see everything so clearly even though it’s been such a long time. That is a doorbell! My house was built in 1848. Not much left of the original fixtures but the floors are chestnut, I think. The steps outside are big cut stones of granite.

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      • I was just reading about Chestnut wood in America and how a blight took out the trees. It looked like you have some wide plank floors, too. You must be like me, I couldn’t live in a new house. To me, they don’t have any energy…that sounds a little out-there but you probably know what I mean.
        Ginene

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        • All the floors in the original part of the house are chestnut, even the attic. I do know exactly what you mean!! For years I wanted to buy an old building like you did and live upstairs from our business.

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  3. All so lovely and heart warming, Cindy. I can feel the love in your words and feel drawn in to feel a part of this way of life by how beautifully you depict what an amazing inspiration your grandmother was to you. How blessed you were to have her in your life. The fact that you are so lovingly following in her footsteps is setting an example for all those in your path. Showing that the way we live our lives has a definite influence on those around us. Everything you touch is a charming example of your grandmother’s influence without you even realizing, because she has made it so natural for you. You have so many amazing talents that I can hardly keep up with you 😉 And as the years go by, more and more you will see that inspiration showing up in your lovely girls as you inspire them to follow in your footsteps – such a beautiful circle of life…………..
    Gloria

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  4. Yes your blog does read like a novel, a very nice one. Co-incidence is that I aspire to the same type of home, of life, and it is so nice, so full of exciting moments as there is always something new to explore or work on each day, even with a small garden and little house. While my pots of Calendula oil and Hawthorn berry honey are brewing in the October sunshine, someone is doing a late fall grass cutting in the neighbourhood, it is late afternoon and soon it will be time to light the stove as the chill will start to set in. Another lovely day it was in this remote corner of Europe, glad to hear that corners like this are found all over the earth.

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    • I am glad too. You paint a lovely picture, both with your words and your photos. Your tree photo is the most beautiful photograph I have ever seen. That is a picture that says it all to me, doesn’t need words

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      • Thank you Cynthia, if you like I can email you the original for you to have, my photos are always for everyone’s enjoyment, and I am glad that you like it so much. I love trees too 🙂

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    • Thanks. I can still see everything so clearly and even remember how her utility room smelled. I remember a lot of the outfits she sewed for me when I was a little girl too. she sewed a lot of yours too.

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  5. Hi Cynthia,
    It’s true creativity is not sold in the market. Wow, really beautiful. I can’t help but imagine a natural home with such beauty. How I wish I could have one like that.
    Anyways, thank you for the visit!!!
    and Happy November!!!

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  6. Another lovely, lovely post, Cynthia. Thank you. My best wishes to you in your own endeavour to make good things. I wish I were more gifted at such things, but since I’m not, I try a few little things now and then.

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