Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Inspiration Behind My New Header

This is my paternal grandmother, Irene Hooper Hutsell, taken on her birthday, October 4, 1921. She was 19 years old. I never recall my grandmother looking this young, obviously. I wouldn't show up until November of '61 and by then she was 59 years old. My father was several years younger than his two sisters, so that by the time I came around all of the other grandchildren were grown and married themselves. But at some time in her early twenties she came down with scarlet fever and lost all of her hair and when it came back it was silvery white. So in my memory she always looked older than she really was. I shared a little bit about her in this post, and while we didn't exactly see eye to eye in my late teen and early adult years, I have many fond memories of her from my childhood, and the older I get the more I feel I am becoming like her, in many ways.

The house (pictured here), that she and my grandfather lived in, and in which my father was raised, was old. So old that when she passed away I honestly thought that once they removed the furniture the walls would collapse. When my father was little it was a working farm, complete with a horse for tilling and cows for milking. But by the time I was born the area around them had developed into a neighborhood, and their "farm" consisted of a small flock of chickens, a couple of geese and a rather large vegetable garden.

My grandmother once told me that she used to walk right by this house on her way home from school when she was little, and that it was old, even then. And yet the memories I have of the time I spent here inspires me even today. I credit my grandmother with a large portion of my domestic tendencies, with the exception of growing plants. She had a green thumb like no other and kept meticulous and beautiful flower gardens, and while I can keep things alive (kind of), I did not inherit the gardening gene. But as for home keeping, those traits do seem to have passed on.

Even though she never had much, and the house was old, it had a charm and beauty about it that made you feel right at home. Within these wall was instilled in me, a love for all things cozy, and like me, my grandmother LOVED fall and winter best, and often remarked that we were both so lucky to have birthdays in the fall of the year. She was also a magnificent cook, and almost every time we visited she had a loaf of my favorite gingerbread with lemon sauce ready and waiting. She also crocheted and made tatted lace, and I feel fortunate that I have a small piece of lace that she made. I think tatting has fallen out of fashion, and I'm certain that as meticulous as it appears, I could never do it! I'm still trying to master knitting!

I chose the graphic in my new header because the minute I saw it, I was reminded of my grandmother's house and the lot their house sat on. For many years they had a neighbor on one side of the house, but on the other side was a large open field, and just beyond that was a school and football field and when we visited on Friday nights you could see the lights and hear the commentator over the loud speakers. I used to run and play in that field, and wander through the gardens. There was an old shed in the back where they kept garden equipment where I liked to play house. But inside the house holds many fond memories, as well,

My grandmother's couch, which she always kept draped with a chenille bedspread, probably to hide the fact that it was worn, was the most comfortable couch in the world, at least in my memories.  Now that I'm grown, I'm pretty certain that all the support beneath had about given way, because when you sat down you sank pretty low into the cushion, which as a child suited me just fine. I have loved, soft and cushy from childhood and I thought that old well worn couch was the best thing ever. I recall many winter nights making up a little spot to read, covered up in blankets. I would just sink into the warmth of the cushions and most likely many nights feel fast asleep while the adults played forty-two.

I also inherited my love of magazines from my grandmother, and McCalls was her favorite. She would save all of the old issues for me after she was done with them and I would always cut out the latest Betsy McCall paperdoll.  The picture to the left are the ones I remember best, from the 70's.

Another memory I have is a set of tin tumblers (I guess they were tin), they were kind of like these, and when you filled them with ice they made the coldest glass of ice water! They made my hands cold just holding them. I recall that one of them was yellow and I thought it was the cheeriest color, and I always asked for it. My bedroom as a child was yellow for many years, mixed with orange, and even for awhile with Raggedy Ann and Andy, which sounds like an odd combination but somehow it worked. In fact, I even found the very sheets I had, and I had a comforter and sham as well.  It was also decorated in Holly Hobbie for awhile, which I adored!

Anyway, I could go on, but perhaps I'll share more memories in another post.  But I did want to add that the floral you see in my new header (it was in my old one, too), reminds me of the wallpaper in my grandmother's front room,  It was the most beautiful golden yellow, or perhaps at one time it had been white and by the time I was old enough to remember it had aged, but I loved it!  It gave the room a lovely golden hue in the late evening, which is perhaps why the slant of light just before sunset and in early morning is my favorite.  I searched the internet to find something like it, and this is as close as I could come. It's not exactly like it, but very close.

And in closing, I wanted to share this recipe for gingerbread with lemon sauce.  Sadly, I don't have my grandmother's exact recipe, but this one tastes just like it!


1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
2 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup hot water

Lemon Sauce
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Dash salt
Dash nutmeg
1 cup half-and-half cream
2 large egg yolks, beaten
2 tablespoons butter
3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350°.

Beat shortening, sugar, molasses and eggs until well blended. Combine next five ingredients; add to molasses mixture alternately with hot water.

Pour into a greased 13x9-in. baking pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, for lemon sauce, combine first five ingredients in a small saucepan until smooth. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat.

Stir a small amount of hot filling into egg yolks; return all to pan, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Gently stir in butter, lemon juice and zest, increasing juice if needed to thin sauce. Serve with warm cake. Refrigerate leftover sauce.

We are out of town for a few days, camping, so I won't be replying to comments, 
but I do have several days worth of posts lined up, so be sure to check back!
I'll check back in this weekend!


Anonymous said...

Your post was very special today. I had, of course, noticed your new header, which I love, but had not said anything. I so love knowing the background of why you chose it and how meaningful it is for you. I enjoyed reading your memories of your grandmother.

You are just a few months older than I, so I have the same memories of the Holly Hobby, McCall's paper dolls and even the bedding you linked. (I didn't have that exact bedding, but have certainly seen it or similar.)

One of my daughters, Kate, loves gingerbread, so we'll have to give the recipe a try!

I woke up to pouring rain here; hopefully it's not that way where you're headed.

Fall/ winter is my favorite, too.

Kimberly Lottman said...

Hi Pam! They are predicting rain for much of the day, but we are not leaving until around 3 and boon docking (camping in our van n a Cracker Barrel parking lot), overnight tonight then headed to Grayson Highlands in the morning. The weather looks good for Wed/Thu right now, then rain again on Friday, but it's all part of the adventure.

My birthday is 11/11, when is yours? So neat that we share so many of the same memories. I definitely feel as though I've found a kindred spirit! My youngest daughter's name is even Kate! Kara Katelin, actually, but she has been and will always be my Kate.