C is for...

Cats, of course! I love all kinds of embroidery but I always seem to be drawn to ones with cats and kittens. Yes, they're kind of sweet, but cats are very playful so lend themselves to all sorts of situations. Playing with yarn, jumping rope, fishing in goldfish bowls—you get the picture. Here are some things from my collection:

Embroidered quilt block

row your teacup
Vintage stamped-for-embroidery tea towel

Redwork quilt block

portrait of a cat
Embroidered linen guest towel

jump for joy
Embroidered pillowcase

oh, boy
Another tea towel; made into a pillow I called "Let's Hear it for the Boy"

Mom, we're trying to sleep here...
Wait a minute—we're not vintage!

I had to sneak in a picture of my girls. See why I love cats so much?


family history

In four years of blogging, I don't think I've ever talked about one of my favorite hobbies—family history or genealogy. That may be because it's an on-again, off-again thing with me. I work very hard on it for a couple of years, reach a dead-end, and put it away again for a while.

I recently got involved again when my husband's cousin contacted me about their parents' trees. I reactivated my account at Ancestry.com and, just like that, I got pulled back in.

I thought I'd write about this subject now that it's census time. I hope you're all returning yours promptly. After hearing about the many objections to the census I was expecting a lot of really intrusive questions but it literally took me three minutes to fill out. Compared to some of the past censuses where they wanted to know how much land you owned, how much money you had, where your parents were born, etc., they asked very little this time around.

In case you don't know, census records are released to the public 70 years after the information is collected (the waiting period is to protect the information on living persons) so they can be invaluable for genealogy purposes. Right now the most recent one you can research is 1930 and 1940 is due to be released in April 2010. A huge deal if you've traced your family to 1930 and want to move forward.

I can't tell you how much information I've gathered from past censuses. I know that my cousins have Native-American blood because my mother's brother married a woman whose grandmother was Cherokee. I know that my husband's maternal grandfather was a butcher in Kentwood, Louisiana in 1920. I know that my grandmother's family in Alabama had children named Daisy and Beulah. I've found birth dates, immigration dates, occupations, children I didn't know about, whether people lived on farms and owned or rented their houses. I've found widowed grandparents that moved in with children after their spouses died. All useful clues.

My Moir ancestors came here from Scotland in 1841, Bittenbenders from Germany in 1733, Kelly's, O'Malleys, and Harrisons from Ireland during the Potato Famine. My husband has Cottones from Sicily in the early 1900s and McCaffreys and Kellys from Ireland in the late 1800s. It's really fascinating.

I've been working on my tree since 1980-something so I've been able to find out a lot of information. If it's something you want to try, start simply with your parents (or grandparents if they're still alive). Find out names and dates of siblings and any information they can remember. You never know what information will be useful in the future.

And you might be interested in watching the new genealogy-themed show on NBC called Who Do You Think You Are? The first episode traced Sarah Jessica Parker's tree back to the gold rush and Salem witch trials; the second was Emmitt Smith's journey from Burnt Corn, Alabama back to Benin in Africa. That's not to say that you'll find someone famous or important in your tree, but you never know—it could happen!


a St. Patrick's Day recipe

So, are you all eating corned beef and cabbage tomorrow? With a very Irish last name like McCaffrey (and O'Malley and Kelly on my side of the family) you can guess that my answer is yes. I'm actually not that crazy about the taste of corned beef but it's once a year and I do love all the vegetables that go with the traditional boiled dinner. I like to cook the onions and cabbage together but prefer the carrots and potatoes done separately. It just tastes fresher that way.

But, however you cook yours, give this tangy mustard sauce a try. It tastes wonderful and is guaranteed to clear out your sinuses while it's cooking. Don't take a deep whiff without a tissue handy :)

Tangy Mustard Sauce
1-1⁄2 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1⁄3 cup light brown sugar
1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup prepared spicy brown mustard
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄8 teaspoon black pepper
3⁄4 cup cider vinegar

Melt butter in a small saucepan, then set aside to cool. In a small bowl with an electric mixer, beat egg with sugars and mustard, salt and pepper until combined. Beat in vinegar. Stir mixture into cooled butter, mixing well. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to boiling, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat, simmer for 3 minutes, then serve hot.


latest vintage finds

It was nearly 50 degrees here yesterday. We still have plenty of snow—no matter how warm it is there's so much of it to melt and it's going to take a while. Since it was so nice and I've been feeling really cooped up the past few weeks, I made a spontaneous trip to the local antique mall. And came home with a bag full of great stuff.

A pair of Mr. and Mrs. embroidered cat pillowcases

mr. + mrs. cat

Two funny little embroidered farmers, done mostly in cross stitch


Lots and lots of hankies to make sachets with, but two that I don't think I'll be cutting up. Both are in autumn colors and I just love the designs. So modern!


flower dots

Some buttons, rick rack, aprons, embroidered napkins, and two vintage purses round out the batch. It was nice to get out and shop and I'm looking forward to all the upcoming events and trips farther afield to my favorite antique malls and flea markets this spring.