Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Feather Angels and Beaded Stilettos

Feather Angels and  Beaded Stilettos:

November is my paternal grandmother’s birthday month.  She has been gone for over 20 years, but she left an indelible imprint on the lives of all who came into contact with her.  She was generous with everyone, although she had meager means and did manual labor her whole life, working as a cook in a restaurant, a lineworker in a cannery, and in later life my father and his brothers built her and their father a small building that became a Home Bakery.  They got up at 2:00 every morning to begin the baking.  Grandpa baked the bread… huge loaves of white bread rose majestically in pans lined up under tea towels every day and he alternated wheat and rye bread every other day.  I can still picture him with the paper cap covering his head as he stood kneading the dough by hand on the long wooden table, often humming a tune as he worked.  Grandma made raised doughnuts and cinnamon rolls every day, light as air, and made “fried cake doughnuts” and cookies several times a week.  My mother took orders for pies and cakes and helped by making those.  Grandma Charlotte was my angel my whole life, probably one of the only people I ever felt loved me unconditionally.  She wept with me when I cried, rejoiced in my accomplishments, and taught me not only to cook, bake, crochet and sew, but also was a role model for how I lived my life.  When I began to date, she gave me advice:  boys will try to put their hands inside your blouse, but don’t let them!  She taught me to be frugal, and was very stern about turning the lights out whenever I left a room, and not using more than a couple of inches of water to bathe in, so as not to be wasteful.  My first teachings about God came from her lips, as I sat on the floor curled up against her knee, while she stroked my hair and told me the ageless stories.  She had eleven grandchildren, and every one of us felt we were her favorite!  Her hugs were warm and plentiful, and she always said, “I love you”.  She loved to have us line up and sing for her, and when she died, we all sang at her funeral, the last gift we could give her.  Grandma Charlotte and Grandpa Charlie taught us how to be grandparents, perhaps the greatest legacy they left for us. 

She made simple foods, like corn chowder from milk and creamed corn, macaroni covered in tomato juice with bacon on top then baked until the bacon was crisp, baked beans... and always pancakes, which Grandpa ate topped with a combination of salt pork grease and syrup.  Here’s her pancake recipe.

Grandma’s Easy Pancakes (everything is in twos!):
2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons baking powder
2 cups milk (if you use buttermilk or soured milk, add a teaspoon of baking soda)
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
Mix all ingredients so that the dry ingredients are just incorporated into the liquids; no need to overmix.  Bake on a hot griddle (medium heat) sprayed with cooking spray or spread with a little bacon grease until bubbles form and they begin to start to look dry around the edges, then flip and cook the other side.  Do not overcook them.  Left over batter can be refrigerated, or you can bake up all the pancakes and reheat them in a toaster oven or toaster.   My grandkids love when I make shapes, like Mickey Mouse and ducks… sometimes we need to use our imagination, as pancake batter doesn’t always present the easiest artistic medium to work with!

Every year, I make a Christmas ornament for each of my children and grandchildren.  It’s a tradition my mother started many years ago, and I’ve continued it with my family.  This year, I saw an angel made of butterfly charms with a body of feathers and pearl beads for the head.  Mine are a bit different from the tutorial I saw, but I got the feathers and charms from Amazon, and used E6000 epoxy, as she recommended.  My pearls are cultured pearls I got from Fire Mountain, but they are probably available through any craft stores in less expensive glass pearls. 

Here is a photo of my angels, and the address of the  Domestic Diva’s website where I got the idea.
The Domestic Diva has a wealth of free tutorials, so check her site out when you want some ideas!  She has one of the best sites I’ve visited, giving lists where she buys the needed supplies for projects.

The holidays are here, and I’ve been busy making gifts for friends and family.  One of the other beaded items I made was from an idea on Bonnie Hunter’s website, Quiltville. 

Mary used turkey lacers for her beaded stilettos, but I wanted something a little longer.  I found a set of double-pointed 6” sock needles at Walmart online for around $6, with 5 needles in each size from 000 to 001, twenty needles to a package.  I used mostly lamp-worked beads, but included some cloisonné, porcelain, and metal beads, also.  I glued them with the E6000 epoxy.  Here’s a photo of my completed stilettos.  The main thing I had to be aware of is to choose beads with holes large enough to fit on the knitting needles.

I have also been sewing some snack mats and matching napkins to give with mugs and assorted teas and drink mixes for the grandchildren, according to their ages and
preferences(tutorial on one of my prior blogs... you can use the search function to find it).  I didn't plan ahead to make mats to match the mugs I bought, but if you have time to do that, it would be really special.

Winter has surprised us here in Cincinnati much earlier than is the norm.  I woke yesterday to over 4" of snow on the table on my deck.  The first snowfall always looks beautiful, but I'm not ready for winter yet!  Here's the view from my deck.
The leaves hadn't even all fallen yet!  My youngest sister is flying in next week to spend Thanksgiving with me.  Since she and her husband do not have children, she shares my children and grandchildren, even though she is only five years older than my oldest son!  Everyone will be here for this holiday, which doesn’t happen very often.  I’m over the moon excited to have all the chicks back in the nest!  I have some ideas of projects to work on with the grandchildren... one might be making Advent Candy Banners, like my children had when they were small.   I hope your holiday season will bring you as much joy as I am feeling.  And may your angels awaken your own memories of the happy times you’ve shared with loved ones.


  1. What a touching story about your Grandmother.
    My Great-Grandmother was the Angle I was allowed to live with for nearly 25 years. From what you were writing, Angels seem to be very similar, not like us.
    Love the Angels you have made, they look heavenly.

  2. Love your blog. It is heartwarming to hear of all that you do with your family. I think your stilettos are a great gift item.

  3. Wonderful story about your grandparents, Alaena. Love your stilettos, too! I'll have to give that a go one of these days!

  4. PS Great Christmas ornament tradition, too!

  5. Thank you all for the lovely comments. Sandra... it's not too late to start the tradition with your own grandchildren. :-)