Here’s the pattern. It was published in the Kansas City Star on August 31, 1932.
What makes this pattern special? My grandma designed it…when she was 12. She sent it in to the Kansas City Star newspaper, who published it in their weekly quilt pattern series. Not knowing her age, they attributed it to her with ‘Mrs.’ before her name. That famous KC Star quilt series ran from 1928 to 1961. You can read more about it here. More information and a partial list of all of the KC Star patterns can be found here.
In 1986, the KC Star did a feature page on their quilt series, featuring The Purple Cross in their images.
Here is how the Purple Cross block can look in various quilt configurations. The diamond configuration was the first one I made. That is me and Grandma holding it.
Here’s a close-up of a kaleidoscope block.
Myrtle the dog stresses the importance of testing works in progress, and proper use of finished quilts.
This was the grandma who taught me to sew really well, on her dream machine, the Singer 401a Slant-O-Matic, that I now have care of, until it’s time to pass it on to the next generation.
The Purple Cross pattern is difficult. It starts out easy, when making the stars. But when you add the circle inserts it gets more complicated, and then the corners make it even more difficult. And then when sewing the blocks together I literally almost give up completely, feeling like I really don’t know how to sew at all! It would be slightly easier to construct if sashing strips are added between the blocks. As you can see from the examples above, I haven’t done that. I like the look of the blocks right next to each other.
So anyway, Happy Birthday to Grandma’s Purple Cross Quilt Pattern! Looking forward to making more of these quilts.
And now for some music!
The Slicethelife.com song draft continues, and is now on Round 5. The Run-Sew-Read.com round 5 selection will be this weekend. What will it be? I’m still deciding. A listing of the songs in the first four rounds can be viewed here.
August is the season of the annual butterfly invasion of my back yard.
I’m not responsible for it. The Chasteberry bush was in my yard when I moved here almost 2 decades ago. It grows big and wide (8-10 feet tall and wide), it’s not pretty, and smells terrible. It actually gives me a headache when I trim it, i.e., a mild allergic reaction. But I put up with it just so I can enjoy these scenes in August. It’s like a busy airport for monarchs and other butterflies and bees.
When I started hearing about monarch butterfly numbers diminishing a few years ago, I thought it was a story concocted to advance a political agenda. The monarchs had never let up on their visits to my yard, and it never occurred to me that things were different elsewhere. It’s the bush. It brings all sorts of butterflies and bees.
Each year late in the fall after there’s been a freeze, I cut the bush down to the ground, and reclaim that corner of my yard. Then every summer the bush grows back with a vengeance, and then in August the Monarchs return to frolic with each other, do touch-and-goes, and feast on the purple flowers.
The Chasteberry has potential medicinal properties. I can’t speak to those properties with any authority, but the aroma and it’s power to give me a headache makes me not doubt its potential. The National Institute of Health has a page on the Chasteberry. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/chasteberry
The Chasteberry has similarities in appearance to the more well known ‘Butterfly Bush’, aka, Buddleia. However, the Buddleia grows into a smaller, more compact bush, with a fuller purple flower than the Chasteberry. The Buddleia bush might be a more visually pleasing option for a front yard. Like the Chasteberry, the Buddleia also looks easy to grow, to the point of being a challenge to contain.
“These 15 images will make you forever see your [blah blah blah] differently.”
“You get one point for each experience you’ve had. Share your results.”
The list can be a round number like ’10’, or seemingly random, like ’23’. Anyway, I don’t have a cure; only the observation that the internet is an endless supply of lists for people who gravitate toward enumerating perfection and objectifying comparisons and rankings. A numbered list or checklist is a way to compare yourself to others, or test your level of perfection against a list compiled by someone who is likely not qualified. Example: “24 ways to raise perfect children”, *barf*.
Before the internet, it was magazines like Cosmo:
“Kitty: Good news, Red. I just took Cosmo’s ten ways to please your man in bed test, and I got nine out of ten! But I didn’t get number three because I’m a nurse and number three is icky.”
So anyway, stop it. I say caringly and forcefully.
If you are going to compare yourself, or if you are motivated by a set of goals, make sure the goals fit you. Number them if you must, but make them your own.
When you are reading articles on the internet and you start to click on an article that is based on a numbered list, consider the source. Consider the amount of time you’ll waste only to find that:
Of course you ‘failed’ to check off everything on the list.
Of course the thing you think is the best didn’t even make the list.
Of course you scored less points than your younger Facebook friend, because you haven’t been arrested or haven’t tried that one drug, or haven’t been to Gravahispanoslavanda.
It is truly a worthless, and counterproductive exercise. I vow to remind myself of that next time I see a list to click on. Sure, that list of pretty views is missing the one I think is best, but that’s because the list is a few photos someone spent 5 minutes harvesting from other people’s internet sites. Sure, ‘Karen’ made a list that got people talking or arguing, but ‘Karen’ may actually be a guy who really needs to put on some trousers and go mow the lawn.
Rant over. Sorry for the list.
This rant has been festering in my draft folder for a really long time. Then this week, Billy Bragg, a singer-songwriter (who actually does his own social media interacting) put out a new song about these internet phenomenons. His almost-Cockney accent made me have to listen hard for the lyrics, but it was worth the effort. Internet behavior makes for good lyrics. ‘Rabbit holes’ rhymes nicely with ‘rabid trolls’.
“…Ten mysterious photos that can’t be explained are draining away the best of my day, and fragments of songs that I never wrote are rotting in the pockets of my winter coat…” “Just a click away from all of the facts…” “Common sense, like art, is in the eye of the beholder.”
I ate the one in my hand, and it was ‘delicious’. The rest of the batch I picked are to be peeled, sliced and dehydrated.
My tree is four years old. The first three years I got a few apples. This year I got a bounty.
The dehydrating process is simple: Peel, core and slice the apples, rinse or soak the slices with a Fruit Fresh (citric acid) and water mixture, lay the slices on the dehydrator trays, and run the dehydrator for several hours.
The capacity of my little dehydrator is about 15 sliced apples, which means I’ll have to dehydrate my apple harvest in several batches.
Back on May 20, the branches were laden with these bunches of little apples. It was painfully hard to thin them out and let the weaker ones drop. I wanted to keep them all. But that’s part of the process. I’ve been rewarded with a nice haul of ripe apples, and more still on the tree to pick later on.
In a week or two, after I’ve finished dehydrating the first haul, I’ll pick the rest and dehydrate them, and close the chapter on the 2021 apple harvest.
About my apple tree: It has three varieties spliced into one tree. Because of that, I don’t need two apple trees in the yard to cross-pollinate each other. The one tree produces fruit all by itself. It was a budget purchase from the home improvement store, during their annual Spring 2-for-1 tree sale. It was small enough that I dug the hole for it myself with little effort. Four years later, it’s the size of a large bush; with apples as high as 7 feet from the ground. A manageable size.
Side note about apple peelers: If you’ve never tried one of the red hand-crank apple peelers, and are skeptical about whether they work, I can say that they do work and I don’t want to be without one. They make quick work of slicing a large bunch of apples. Mine is low-end, purchased for $10 from the now-defunct Kitchen Collection stores. (I still miss Kitchen Collection stores!) I’m satisfied with the job my bargain version does. I’m guessing higher end versions attach more securely to the counter, or are made of higher quality metal, maybe? Just guessing. I’ve never tried one other than my own. Here’s one on Amazon that looks much like it. https://amzn.to/2WJcYJE (affiliate link)
Image from Amazon
Using the peels and cores: The apple cores and peels are not going to waste. I’m making Apple Scrap Vinegar. All it takes is the peels and cores, about 2 tablespoons of sugar per dozen apples, and some water. Let it ferment in a jar and you’ll have a handy vinegar with a nice apple scent. I use mine in laundry and some bathroom and kitchen cleaning. Full instructions for Apple Scrap Vinegar are here on this superb blog. https://zerowastechef.com/2014/10/30/apple-scrap-vinegar/
Switching gears from apples to music,… how about a song draft? I’m one of 13 participants in a 10-round song draft. My first two selections are here.
This book and the audiobook are now available in the US! I highly recommend the audiobook. The author, Polly Samson, reads it aloud, and her husband provides the soundtrack. This is a particularly big deal when the husband is David Gilmour, the guitar player and vocalist for Pink Floyd, and Polly one of the Pink Floyd lyricists. The book is set on the Greek island of Hydra (pron. EEdra) in the early 1960s, when singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen was living there. The story centers on young adult ‘Erica’ who has escaped the family home of her youth at the Palace Court Bayswater in London. Her recently deceased mother was once a peer of the artists and poets Erica encounters that summer in Hydra. Several of the characters will have recognizable names from that decade. The book is a sublime story and listening experience.
It’s been a long time since I pre-ordered a book, but this one I pre-ordered on the day I found out it would soon be available in my country. I was not disappointed. It transports the reader and listener to 1960s Hydra, during this time in 2021, when the world has endured a year of no travel. It is a soothing escape. I’ve listened to it in the house via my Alexa speakers. But it would be ideal for listening on a chaise or swing in the back yard, or at the beach. or a campground. If you are seeking an escape, it’s right here. Bring your headphones.
There are many mentions in the book of the Palace Court Bayswater in London. That is where Erica the main character, grew up. I’m vividly transported there with every mention, because in 2013, I stayed at the Palace Court in Bayswater. If the walls could talk. It was home to several famous musicians back in the 1960s. It is now closed, but hopefully not being renovated and cleansed of its spirits. I looked back through my pictures of that trip and realized I didn’t take any pictures of my rented flat. It’s as if I knew I couldn’t capture the essence in an image. And it’s true, I couldn’t have.
David Gilmour and Romany Gilmour released this lovely song and video in conjunction with the book. It has a Pink Floyd feel, and a Leonard Cohen feel, set along the streets, walkways and waters edge of Hydra.
No matter how long I’ve kept a jar of yeast, it has never gone bad. Until now. Just two months ago, I wrote about DIY bread mixes; and wrote that ‘yeast keeps well past its sell-by date’. Turns out, that very yeast was going bad as I was writing the post. The bread made and pictured in that post turned out fine. But in the weeks that followed, one of those mixes turned out like the one pictured on the left below. I tried another loaf from the same set of mixes; got the same result. So I tried one more loaf, but added 1/2 teaspoon of yeast from a new jar, and got the result on the right.
The old yeast still has not reached the sell-by date on the jar, and has been stored continuously in the frig, but for some unknown reason it went bad anyway. These things happen, I guess. I stand by my advice to buy and keep a jar of yeast on hand. I’ve baked bread since I was a little girl, and this is the first time I’ve ever had yeast go bad.
The short loaves didn’t go to waste. They sliced and tasted fine, but a bit more dense than a regular loaf.
More desert island music
We are into the final three rounds of the Slice The Life 2020 Album Draft. Round 8 has just begun. For the latest ‘desert island album’ picks, click here.
For the latest Run-Sew-Read pick, click here, and enjoy the sample below.
The first four episodes are available now on Apple TV+. Future episodes are being released each Friday. The first episode was silly. From then on, each episode got better than the one before. I now don’t want the series to ever end.
This is the story of the coach who led last year’s (fictional) Wichita State Shockers football team through an undefeated season, and trip to the Rose Bowl; and then agreed to coach the Richmond, UK football (soccer) team. It’s London, Kansas, sports, and a bit of baking, all in one delightful package. In real life, there is no Wichita State football team. The university hasn’t had a football team since 1986, which makes this series even more awesome. They use the actual WSU mascot and logos.
The bottom section of the grain mill is the powerful motor, and the upper compartment holds the grain and the blade. The appliance is heavier than it looks. On the back of the appliance there’s a handy red handle to use in pouring the flour out.
Where to buy:
Wheat berries can be purchased by the pound here, at a local feed & seed store. I most recently paid 75 cents/pound. Wheat berries can also be purchased at some natural food stores, or ordered online. Here are a couple of options on Amazon:
I inquired with our local extension office about clean and safe preparation and use of wheat berries purchased from a feed & seed store. Their instructions were:
Use hard wheat; not the soft variety;
The wheat should be dry. Don’t wash it, because that will soften it, which will make it unsuitable for grinding.
Freeze the wheat berries for a couple of days, to kill the things that take up residence in growing wheat. (There’s a great discussion about those little ‘things’ here. In other words, don’t be grossed out about what’s in wheat; just follow the steps from the extension office.)
Sift the wheat berries with a wire mesh strainer, to remove dust and the things that got killed in the freezing process.
Eat only cooked or baked foods made with the wheat; nothing raw. (Translation: This is one of the reasons you’re not supposed to eat raw cookie dough. Sorry kids; this bums me out too.)
The standard food handling rule applies: Wash your hands before and after handling the wheat berries.
THE GRINDING PROCESS
Measure the wheat berries, sift, and then pour the berries into the mill.
Grind for about 5 minutes. The grinding compartment and wheat get very hot, so I run the mill for one minute at a time; letting it cool for a few minutes between each minute of grinding.
Here is what the flour looks like after 1 minute of grinding and again after 5 minutes. The two pictures might not look all that different, but they feel different to the touch. After 1 minute, the texture is a little bit grainy, like a very fine sand. After 5 minutes it is a soft powder.
STORAGE AND SHELF LIFE
Wheat berries have a years-long shelf life. You can buy and store wheat berries in bulk, without fear of them going bad. I’ve stored them for years in a dark cabinet in an airtight container. I noticed no change in taste, smell or texture.
Is it necessary to use a mill to make flour? Probably yes. I’ve tried grinding wheat berries in an electric coffee grinder. It produced tiny granules the consistency of fine sand, but did not make flour. The granules didn’t go to waste though. They were a super tasty addition to my oatmeal.
I’ve tried grinding wheat with a food processor, and no, it simply didn’t work.
BAKING WITH WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR
Whole wheat flour creates a more dense, flatter, heavier product. If you don’t want that, use a combination of wheat flour and all-purpose white flour. My general ratios:
In cookies, I use a ratio of 1 part whole wheat to 3 parts all-purpose flour. (1/4 c. w/w : 3/4 c. a/p)
In breads, I use a ratio of 1 part whole wheat to 2 parts all-purpose flour. (1/3 c. w/w : 2/3 c. a/p)
In my recent post about DIY make-ahead bread machine mixes I used 1/3 whole wheat flour from my mill. See that darker colored flour in the bottom of the jars? That’s the w/w flour. That combination gives some of the benefits of whole wheat, but not the flat, heavy loaf. It retains the lighter, fluffier texture from the white all-purpose flour.
HOW ABOUT SOME MUSIC?
The Slice The Life 2020 Album Draft continues. For the latest ‘desert island album’ picks, click here.
These bread mixes use six basic ingredients and cost only pennies per loaf. Having a mix ready to go makes the bread-making process super efficient and low-effort. A one-loaf mix fits perfectly in an 8oz instant coffee jar.
The mix ingredients are: Flour, sugar, yeast, salt, margarine and powdered milk (not pictured).
I like to make up four to six mixes at a time.
Here are the finished mixes lined up in the back of my frig.
When the pandemic was declared, the store shelves were immediately emptied of bread; and yeast, flour and other baking staples. Thereafter, they were unavailable or in short supply. As a regular bread maker, I had a supply of yeast and flour on hand, plus some DIY bread mixes made up; and a couple of freshly-made loaves in the freezer. Never expecting a pandemic or grocery shortage, I’d considered that modest stockpile to merely be a convenience. But it ended up getting me through the the shortage.
In addition to the bread mixes, I try to keep an extra unopened 4 oz jar of yeast in the frig, and a spare bag (or 2) of flour in the freezer, plus however much is in my flour canister. Flour came back to the store shelves fairly quickly, but four months into the shortage, I was down to less than half a jar of yeast. This month, jars of yeast finally came back to the store shelves. Even if you don’t do a lot of baking, don’t be afraid to buy yeast by the jar, and don’t worry if you can’t use it up before the sell-by date. In my experience, it keeps well past its sell-by date.
Slicing made easy.
Do you dislike slicing a bread machine loaf as much as I do? The loaf shape is awful for slicing. To make the process happier: Cut the loaf into quarters, and then slice and use one quarter at a time. The other three quarters go in the freezer. When I need one from the freezer, it thaws in just a few minutes, or 30 seconds in the microwave.
My bread machine is this one, which has been discontinued, but there are still some models in the Amazon warehouse. I’ve never been picky about what features are on my bread machine. I’d probably be happy with any machine at any price.
Which ten music albums would you want with you when stranded on a desert island? Ten bloggers (me included), are participating in a 10-round desert island ‘album draft’. Round 2 is currently underway. All of the album draft bloggers except me are ‘proper’ music bloggers; and some are musicians as well.
The link below will take you to a listing of the draft picks so far. Check in now and from time to time over the next eight weeks, to see what albums have been drafted and why they were selected. Feel free to drop us a comment about the picks.