Saturday, November 19, 2011

My Grandma's Crazy Quilt

I was given a crazy quilt.  My mom had given it to my sister who stored it for years and years but no longer had room for it. I said I would take it. It made its way from California to Erie, PA. At first glance it looked great. But upon closer inspection it does have problems.  Some of the silks have deteriorated and the wool ties are coming off. My late mother was very protective of this quilt checking on it from time to time when my sister had it. But something none of us four sisters asked was whose quilt was it?  My mother had said it was Grandma's quilt. Us kid's grandmother or Mom's grandmother?  We don't know, we never asked. So this may be my great-grandma's quilt. The date would be more correct for that, I think. I have searched the internet over and over and looked at literally hundreds of crazy quilts and only 2 I have seen that had similar satin and silks without the fancy embroidery. They both were from the 1880s to 1890s. I'm still searching.

My grandmother lived on a soybean farm near Hector, Minnesota. She had 9 children (my mother the baby of the family) so I doubt she had time to make the fancy version of the crazy quilt with all the embroidery needle work. She was very thrifty, though. She worked from sun-up to sun-down and I never remember her talking to us kids or even sitting down relaxing. She had the weight of the world on her shoulders. I would sit quietly and watch. I would watch her make homemade dark bread, she did her laundry with a wringer washer and hung her clothes on a clothes line. The farm was stuck in the olden days with one toilet in the cold, damp, dark basement.I was afraid of it as a child. They had a pair of draft horses that still worked on the farm in the 1950s.They had lost their first house to a tornado.

**hold the presses!! I just found out today from my dad that the quilt was HIS grandmother's, my great-grandmother Sophia, not my grandmother on my mom's side. Because my mom loved the quilt and was protective of it we assumed it was from her side.

Sophia was from Wahkon, MN and ran  a restaurant, bakery and the Rex Hotel in Wahkon after 1910 and before1925. It is no longer there. My great-grandmother Sophia (Miller or Mueller*) Patterson (Patnode or Patenaude*) was born in Wisconsin (1867)  died (1959.) Her parents came over from Germany (then called Prussia.) Sophia's mother, named (Henrietta) Etty Miller (maiden name of Baustian, born Mecklenburg Germany-Prussia 1830 or 31) was a cook for Prussia's Kaiser Wilhelm 1( b1797-d1888), King of Prussia (reigned-1861-1888.)
*Immigrants in those days wanted to be Americanized and would change their names to the American version. Patnode was changed to Patterson and Mueller was changed to Miller.

They immigrated to America on a sailing ship approx Nov or Dec of 1866 and Sophia was born shortly after they arrived in Wisconsin. Sophia's father was John (Adolphus) Miller (Mueller) (-1826 Mecklenburgh Germany-Prussia.) married Etty approx 1851. Sophia had 2 brothers named Louis Miller (b 1860) and Christopher Miller(b 1862) -both born in Mecklenburgh Germany-Prussia. She had two older brothers that died on the trip over to America and were buried at sea and are not listed on the American census.Sophia also had a younger sister, Vena Miller (born Wisconsin 1869.)

Sophia learned to be a great cook (my dad said, "Boy could she cook!") from her mother (who was one of the cooks for the King of Prussia as noted above) and opened a bakery and ran the Hotel Rex with her husband, Otis Patterson (Pascode-French Canadian she married in Wisconsin.) Otis has a story of his own I'll add at the end of this post after the quilt photos. She also weaved her own fabric and made quilts and rugs as many did in those days. My grandmother and her son, my dad, lived with Sophia at the hotel for a while to help Sophia run the hotel and bakery. She spoke German a lot but also English (her husband, Otis, spoke French and English) and Sophia would tell the many stories to my dad about Germany that her mother had told her. I have vague early childhood memories  of Sophia. My few memories of her were when she was in her 90s when we visited my grandmother. She lived with my grandmother. And that's who made the quilt.

Post continues below photos.
#**ancestry was included for those who may be searching the (Mueller ) Miller or (Patnode-Patenaude) Patterson family lines.

As I mentioned above, I'll add a little story about Otis Patterson. When he lived in Marshfield,Wisconsin before moving to Minnesota, he was a hoop barrel maker. He also wrestled. We had heard the story about him wrestling some champion growing up but I never knew who it was he wrestled. I finally found the information. He wrestled Friedrick Beell in Freddy's first professional wrestling debut in 1896. Otis lost but Friedrick Beell went on to become the champion lightweight, middleweight and heavyweight wrestler. He later became a police officer and was killed in the line of duty. This information was obtained off this website:
So that was my great-grandpa's claim to fame. Another claim to fame was my cousin. A great-grandson of Otis Patterson, Jerry was one of  7 instructors that started Top Gun during the Vietnam war. His full name was Jerry Sawatzky. He died in 1999. His story is included in the book "Scream of Eagles" (not The Screaming Eagles, and not The Scream of Eagles, just Scream of Eagles) by Robert K Wilcox, a book about the special forces and Top Gun.I have read some excerpts from the book and it was really exciting. I'm ordering the book so I can get the whole story!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Yogurt Success

I'm on my um-teenth batch of homemade yogurt.  It turns out every time. Getting that yogurt maker was a great investment. I do strain my yogurt to get the as much whey out as I can because it contains lactose which I'm intolerant or sensitive to. I found that if I take a few tablespoons of my thick, strained yogurt and mix it with some dry, aged Parmesan cheese, a few bacon bits and a little aged cheddar it tastes delicious on a baked potato.  There is so much you can do with the homemade yogurt! Dressing for the salad, add nutra sweet for a desert, I can even make ice cream out of it. I haven't tried that yet but will give hints that I want an ice cream/frozen yogurt maker for Christmas.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Homemade Yogurt

I can't eat yogurt from the store. It has pectin (a plant-based thickener...and laxative) in it as well as artificial sweeteners that I get bloat from like sorbitol or sucralose (Splenda) or other sugar alcohols.* Plus, modern yogurt isn't cultured nearly as long as the old days. They make it more mild and add pectin to keep the whey from separating and make it artificially thicker. I want the whey gone out of my yogurt as the whey has most of the lactose in it and I'm pretty sure it bothers me. I love yogurt and used to make my own back when I had milk goats way back when. That yogurt never bothered me. It had nothing in it but milk and yogurt starter.
* I did find Foge brand yogurt that is just milk and yogurt culture but it was too expensive for me to buy regularly.

So I bought a yogurt maker. I ordered it from and I've had it almost 4 days now. I've made and eaten batch after batch of yogurt using 2% milk and then I bought some instant nonfat dry milk and made some from that. You almost can't tell the difference between the 2% and the instant. I make mine to incubate about 10 hours. I tried one 14 hours and it was very tart, edible but needed more nutrasweet than the other batches. Any less and I'm worried the lactose hasn't been broken down.

I strained it in cheese cloth (not the kind you get at Lowes but the kind you can find at Bed,Bath and Beyond in a small package by the kitchen timers) for a couple of hours and it becomes Greek yogurt. Nice and thick and most of the lactose is gone out of it when the whey was strained off. I beat it with a fork just before I eat it to fluff it up a bit. It has a cream cheese texture and taste after I add some nutrasweet. Just like having a cheese cake dessert. And the best part is I have no reaction at all to eating this homemade yogurt. No bloat, no stomach pain, unlike the store-bought yogurt.

There are lots of websites out there that teach you how to make your own yogurt even without a yogurt maker. They'll have great photos, etc. Google it or search YouTube.  But all you need is:

  1. Milk, (quart, half gallon or whatever) heated to 180 degrees, then cooled to 110 degrees (temps are important. Too hot and you kill the yogurt culture.)
  2. You have to have yogurt starter.  Buy a small plain yogurt from the store that has live, active culture. Add a couple of tablespoons to the 110 degree milk and mix well.
  3. Pour milk into container(s.)
  4. Wrap jars or containers of the warm mixture in towels to keep them warm. 
  5. Put them in an ice chest and fill any empty spaces with jugs of hot water and put the lid on to keep the heat in. Let it set in a draft-free room for 6 to 8 hours. You don't want the temp to be over 110 degrees or under 90 degrees when incubating. Don't disturb it when incubating as movement can keep it from setting properly. Just relax, it's turning into yogurt.
  6. When done you can gently place yogurt into a colander lined with  cheese cloth or coffee filters to drain the whey off. If you like the whey, just refrigerate your jars and enjoy with fruit or honey.
  7. Before adding anything, take a couple of tablespoons out and freeze it for your starter of your next batch so you don't have to buy any more yogurt to use as the starter.
  8. If it didn't set or turn into yogurt, the mixture was probably kept too hot or too cool and/or the starter culture wasn't live and active.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Vacation at Mt. Rainier-Crater Lake-California

It's a long video. It was a long vacation, ha!  We drove and drove and drove.  It was great going west to see my family.  I sure miss them living out here in PA. We stayed at Mt. Rainier 9 days and had gorgeous weather most of the time.  We stayed at the Snowberry Cottage in Ashford, WA that was tucked away in the trees just outside the gate of Mt. Rainier National Park. This cottage was perfect for us. If you want to visit Mt. Rainier I highly recommend this cottage. Here is a link:
It's too bad my camera was set to macro when I took photos of the cottage in the video below and most didn't turn out but the website link above has photos of the cottage.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Drive-in Movie

It's been forever since I've been to a drive-in movie theater.  My husband and I went to the one several years ago that used to be where Tom Ridge Center is now near Presque Isle.  We went when we found out it was closing and wanted to have one last memory there.  The last movie we saw there was The Perfect Storm.

Tonight we went to the Waterford drive-in just for the fun of it. I'm not really into X-men but X-men First Class was playing with the new Pirates of the Caribbean as the second feature.  It was a beautiful night to have the windows down (until the mosquitoes came out) and seeing the children throwing footballs in the front area under the huge screen until it got dark enough for the movie was fun.  I brought my pillow and a blanket and we leaned our car's seats back and munched ourselves full of popcorn and chocolate before the movie even started.  The first movie was over just past 11PM. We didn't stay for the the Pirates of the Caribbean because it would be past 1AM before it was over!  It didn't look like many cars were leaving, they were in it for the long haul.

I remember the days when you paid "per car" but this theater charged per person.  I guess "per car" days are over. But I've heard tales of people hiding in the trunk of cars on the way in so they wouldn't have to pay, so maybe they did charge per person back in the "olden days."

It was nice that we could bring our own snacks and soft drinks with us.  I'd like to do it again on a nice summer evening.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Hummer (short video)


My husband and I spent part of the afternoon at Scott Park again looking for birds.  We saw another Black and White Warbler, many American Redstarts and some Hooded Warblers.  We were bothered a little for the first time this year by mosquitoes.  Not bad but enough that we sprayed ourselves.

We returned to my in-laws house in the woods and had a wonderful outdoors meal prepared by my father-in-law (a wonderful chef!) and then waited for the birds to come to us.  They did.  A beautiful Pileated Woodpecker, Cardinal, Chick-a-dee, Phoebe, and even a Wild Turkey!  A Ruby-throated Hummingbird was perched on top of a dead stick on the very top of the tree over our table.  He finally came down to drink just feet from us.  A perfect end to a most perfect day.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Indigo Bunting, Black and White Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Wow, we had such a great birding day today.  I was surprised to still see the Black-throated Blue Warblers still around.  We saw one bouncing around the large woodpile at Fry's Landing along with many Yellow Warblers and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. We headed out to Scott Park and saw Magnolia Warblers on the Bay Trail again, hummingbirds, the usual flickers and woodpeckers and then we spotted a bunch of Indigo Buntings.  They were so pretty.  They were along the west edge of the ball fields where it meets the woods.  We also saw a Black and White Warbler in the trees by the BMX area. It was late afternoon when we left and the Wood Thrushes were going to town with their musical fluting. Can you believe they were thinking of logging Scott Park a while back?  Crazy!

I still have to work on the videos of the other birds (I didn't take my still camera and I could kick myself for it) but I got a little clip of the Bunting finished.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Birding Heaven (pics)

The past few weeks has been wonderful! We finally have some warmer weather and the birds arrived pretty much on schedule. First the ducks came and then the warblers, orioles and others.

I was so enthusiastic about seeing all the different warblers I fixed us a picnic and as soon as my husband got home from work today we headed to Presque Isle for our dinner. It was great eating outside to the sound of the birds.

Tonight as I was getting ready for bed I found a tick on me! I was so upset about it as I'm so scared of Lyme disease. Deer ticks are a real concern in our area. It kind of put a damper to my "birding" enthusiasm. There is a spray out there that you use on your clothes, shoes and hats that lasts 2 weeks even if you launder the clothes item so we'll have to do that. It kills the ticks if they walk across it, not repel them. Ticks can live up to 6 months in your car or house I read, and that is even without getting a meal. Maybe we could spray some on the car seats and rugs. Every few minutes I think I feel a tick on me now.

Here are photos that I was able to get of the warblers. They are very hard to photograph because they are so quick and don't stop for a second.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Yellow-throated Warbler

Our outing to the peninsula was well worth the time. We cut short the Pittsburgh Penguins game (they were losing bad)and headed out into the wonderful but short-lived sunshine. The loons were still on the bay as well as some Red Breasted Mergansers, Ruddy ducks, Buffleheads and Scaups.

We stopped off at the bird banding area not far from the office and only saw some woodpeckers. We then headed for Frys Landing and were surprised to see a butter butt and Golden-crowned Kinglets. Then we saw the Yellow Throated Warbler. This was a lifer for us. We've seen lots of different warblers in the past few years but not this one. I was pretty excited. I read that they are starting to move their range a little bit more north. The map shows them to go as far north as the Pittsburgh area. I don't have one of those great cameras with the big zoom lenses and focus but I was able to get a few pictures that you can at least tell what the bird is.