Friday, October 2, 2015

Practical And Artistic

I have told you before that my mother was the most intelligent woman I have ever known. But perhaps she was the most talented too.

Mom planted a garden every year. In it she grew all the vegetables we could eat. Sometimes we did not plant corn because it takes up so much room to get a decent yield and it does tend to suck the nutrients from the soil. We did not usually plant potatoes because again they took a lot of space to make it worth while.

Her garden always had a variety of flowers. And lots of zinnias. She liked zinnias because they come in such a wide variety of colors and sizes.

If we did not have fruit trees Mom and Daddy would buy bushels of fruit when the farmers brought them to town. Most fruits were not available unless they were in season back then.

When things grew and ripened we had salads, soups, and stews with all those fresh foods. Fresh vegetables with supper every day.

But there was way too much for us to eat while it was fresh. Mom canned a lot. A day might be devoted to canning tomatoes for instance. Then green beans. You get the idea.

The fresh fruit was also canned. We had jars of fruit all winter. But better than that she made jellies, jams, and fruit butters. All delicious on toast.

Cucumbers as well as several other things like watermelon rinds became homemade pickles. Homemade are the very best kind and Mom's were definitely the best of the best.

The flowers were pretty in the garden and other spots around the yard. But Mom turned them into beautiful arrangements to keep the inside of the house pretty too.

She made homemade cottage cheese when I was smaller. It was the only kind I would eat for years. She even rendered lard if we butchered a hog.

Most of our clothes were made by Mom. With so many children and so little money it was cheaper to buy material and make them.

Mom would hold a newspaper up to measure me for the size. Then she would decide on the style and cut out a pattern from the paper.

She made dresses and blouses and skirts and shirts. She tried making blue jeans for the boys one year but decided that store bought wore better so she bought the boys jeans for school.

My favorite winter coat of all time was the one Mom made from Daddy's Navy pea coat. It was stylish and the warmest coat I ever had.

When I was quite young Mom started to make Christmas ornaments. We had a lot of ornaments that we had purchased but she liked to make things.

She learned how to fold strips of paper to make an ornament. Then she would dip them in wax and they would hold their shapes forever. A little bit of food coloring in the wax gave us several different colors.

We used pine cones, glitter, and paint to make decorations. Mom always gave us projects to do too. I think she believed we were all as artistic as she was. I definitely was not but I had fun.

Mom would buy a large amount of those shiny silky Christmas balls. With beads and straight pins and maybe a little rick-rack she would make the prettiest ornaments.

My mother could draw too. She liked a still life the best.

She liked to paint as well and did some very nice pictures. She used both oils and watercolors.

The year she was experimenting with charcoals she drew pictures of our teachers for us to give them at Christmas.

Mom was also an author. She had several short stories published in women's magazines when I was a child. Her writing style was a little too "flowery" for my taste. Mom loved adverbs and adjectives which was the style from when she was younger. But her stories were good.

As you can see a lot of my mother's artistry was put to use for practical purposes. But she was still able to express herself and that was important to her. We were the beneficiaries of it all.


  1. Your mother was a talented and thrift lady and you rightfully have much to be proud of in sharing these snippets of how she used those talents, Emma.

    1. I was so lucky to be born to my parents. Besides all the things they could do they were good parents. We never doubted that they loved us and enjoyed our company.

  2. She seems to have drawen together all the talents available. My dad used to say of our abundant garden, "We eat what we can and what we can't we can." Very puzzling to a child.

    1. I can still picture all those jars of tomatoes lined up on the shelf. I used to get sick of eating them but I miss them now. I wish I had some. As you can tell I can't can.

  3. All the sweet mom stories.
    And all moms are great.

    1. You are so right. Speaking as a Mom myself I know that to feel the love of your children is the best feeling we have. I am certain your mother felt the same.

  4. Hi! While I was reading your text, many images about my own mother came to my mind, because she also liked to make us clothes, just like yours, and was a very handy person.

    1. That is the whole purpose of my blog. I want people to remember the happy things of the past and cherish them. I am so happy you thought of your mother.