Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Block 7 of 'My Vintage Kitchen"...

We're preserving this month in the vintage kitchen!

My Nana made jam, marmalade and ginger beer, but she also made the most delicious mustard pickles each year. I can still remember the spicy aroma that filled our backyard as she stirred her huge simmering pot over an outdoor gas burner while Pop and I sat on a rug nearby with lemonade and scones and newspapers and comics, keeping her company. It took about 3 hours, and felt like a sunset picnic.

When Nana died in 1982 I took my three little babies and went home for a week to spend time with Pop and try as best I could to prepare his little flat for life as a single man. He had declined my request that he come live with me, instead wanting to spend his last years where he felt most 'at home' and surrounded by the familiar things and places he and Nana had shared. 
Whilst stocking Pop's kitchen and fridge with meals and groceries to carry him through the first month of his widowhood I drew back the red gingham curtain from across the front of Nana's door-less pantry and saw three perfectly prepared jars of mustard pickle, the last few from her final afternoon of autumn preserving many months before.

Heavy tears fell as two decades of 'fragranced' and wonderful memories played across my mind. 

Later in the week I was packing my suitcase to leave (I lived in another state) and found myself doing it very slowly, trying to slow my departure time in order to spend every moment I could in those familiar walls with the grandfather I loved and respected more than words could say.

 I'd squeezed in Nana's dressing gown, and Pop had given me some of her jewellery and a few lovely bowls. They didn't own much you see, but lived with only what was needed in their tiny walk through flat so these few treasures now packed in the suitcase were to be cherished.
But as I was closing the lid Pop stopped me and pushed two jars of Nana's mustard pickles into the folds of her dressing gown, before pushing down on the lid and closing the locks with a final click. No words were needed. 

Perhaps you have your own memories of preserving season?
Hold them close to your heart as you stitch this month.
Nana's pickles held me together for the next six months after she went home to Jesus, and afterwards it was the memories which became loving stitches, gathering together the fragments of a treasured life lived as her 'daughter'. 

Block 7 "Preserves" is ready for you to download HERE.

Here in the tropics our strawberry season is winter because it's too hot to grow them the rest of the year.
July offers an abundance of the sweet little things so I'm going to set time aside this week to make a few jars of strawberry & apple jam and I've a mind to stitch a few of these little "preserves" blocks as re-usable labels. I'll show you if I follow through on that plan, but first, as a tribute to Nana and my love of all things 30's I'm currently stitching a small hooped version of "Preserves" to hang in my kitchen...

 I found this tiny blue plastic hoop at Lincraft yesterday and it already has a little hanging loop as part of the outer frame. Perfect for what I want to create...

The background fabric is a leftover piece of Retro 30's Child Smile.
I think the pink and blue are a match made in heaven...

What is your favourite preserve?



  1. Jenny, son hermosos estos bordados me traen muy bonitos recuerdos porque mi abuela y mi madre bordaban igual!!! Gracias!!!!!

  2. What a cute block this month, Jenny. Thanks for sharing your special memories with us. xxx

  3. What precious memories you share with us Jenny. This story so touched my heart, thank you.

  4. What lovely memories....In our home, it's the tradition of yummy sweet pickles, crafted following my aunt's recipe. This was such a special post - thank you for the stitchery, too.

  5. Thank you Jenny for this precious block and for sharing your memories of your Nana and Grandpa. I still miss my Grandma and it has been a very long time but I still wish she could be right here guiding me along life's pathways. For me I really like Apricot jam. Stitching Bliss Dear...

  6. So sweet a message and a stitchery. Strawberry jam memories. And prickly pear fruit jelly and syrup, too. Paul and I worked in tandem for years making those together. We had it all down pat. How I miss him and his quick-sealing hands when I make jam now. Down the street is someone with prickly pear cactus. Each year when they fruit, I'm so tempted to go ask if I can use them ... but Paul was the one who burned off the spines and squished and boiled and strained the juice for me. I can't bear to do it by myself. Do you make mustard pickles? I don't think I ever heard of those.

  7. Again, reading what you write is an absolute delight, your writing is so evocative. Thank you for another wonderful design

  8. Gorgeous. I love the idea of the hoop for your kitchen, a lovely way to make a lasting memento of all those precious memories. I can't imagine it being too hot for strawberries! We are in the middle of a 'heatwave' and 30C seems hot enough :-)

  9. Thank you for the lovely pattern and for sharing your wonderful memories....

  10. A very sweet memory. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Jenny what a beautiful tribute to your Nana and Granpa....I love these stories you write of your special times together....Love and memories held together with your beautiful stitches...Hugs. Thank you for block 7

  12. You have such sweet, cherished memories of your Nana and Pop. Thank you for sharing them and stirring some of my own sweet memories :)



It's always nice to receive feedback on a blog post, so *thank you* for taking time to comment!
I will try to reply via email unless you are a 'no reply blogger' which means you'll have to check for my reply in the comments. Of course, life is a rather hazardous activity, isn't it? So if I don't respond to your comment that's the reason why - life simply stepped in...