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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Treadle Sewing Machine and Tennessee Sorghum

One of the last blooms of the summer on my pink hydrangea.  I'd been putting coffee grounds on my hydrangeas so the blooms would be blue or purple, but I've stopped doing that since I noticed the one I put the most on didn't bloom at all this season.  Oops, live and learn they say.  Better pink than none then.

 In my last post I mentioned I'd been looking for a treadle sewing machine, and find her I did at an antique store near us.


 They are getting hard to find so I was glad to get one in pretty good condition.

She's a very basic 1926 Model 66, but I'm a basic sort of seamstress so I think we'll get along well.   

In this photo she is still very dirty and without a few necessary parts like a belt and spool pin, but she's clean now and new parts have been installed.  I really wanted to have a machine that doesn't require electricity.  This one fits the bill beautifully.  I'm still learning to treadle efficiently, but I'm really enjoying the learning.

Have you ever seen one of these? They smelled like a perfume when we first found them then slightly of an orange scent after a day or two. I'd read about them in books, but I had no idea what they were until we were out driving one day and found them in the roadway.  They are the fruit of a small tree that was popular with Native Americans and also early settlers, the Osage Orange.  Native Americans used the wood of the tree for their bows because it would bend just right.  Early settlers planted them profusely as hedges for cattle as they have long thorns that discouraged wayward cattle from leaving their homesteads.

This is our turnip greens bed and much fuller and nearly large enough to pick now.  Love them greens.  One of our favorite meals consists of turnip greens and country ham on biscuits.  Can't wait.

Yesterday Goodman and I took a 2-hour road trip to Muddy Pond, Tenn.   I wanted to get a jar of fresh sorghum, and a family there makes it the old-fashioned way which is fun to watch.  I took pictures with my cell phone, but they are not good.  I'm posting this youtube video from Tennessee Crossroads so you can get a good tour of our destination.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Another Singer Domestically Speaking, Of Course

Moss Rose
Goodman and I were browsing our favorite local antique store yesterday, actually looking over a treadle cabinet that I was considering for my hand-crank 1915 machine,  when another browser walked up and began talking about the old portable Singer his mother and grandmother had used years ago.  We listened and found out he had inherited it, and that it was stored in the CRAWL SPACE of his house.  Argh, a damp, dusty, buggy crawl space in no place to store a sewing machine, but on with the story.  He said he had no family members that sewed, but he wanted it to go to someone who'd use it and appreciate it and then offered it to us for only $35.  He knew its worth full-well, but his emotional attachment to the machine and wanting it to be used seemed to be his guide for selling it to us.  We finished browsing the store and met him later at his house to pick it up.  I didn't get a chance to try it out first - he didn't know us from Adam's house cat so he brought it out to the driveway, we paid him and left with it.
Here's a look at how the case looked before cleaning:

At first the wheel wouldn't turn at all (usually a sign that the motor is frozen some way or other) so Goodman sprayed a silicone lubricant into the grease openings on the motor casing and let it set until the motor was saturated.  It took a few hours of waiting, but the motor turns and is working smoothly now.  This is an after cleaning photo... it was covered in grime when we got it. 
Grease holes are the silver upright cylinders on either end of the motor casing.
While Goodman was busy with the motor I looked the machine up on the Singer site and found that it is a 1928 Model 99-13 portable.  It's really too heavy to be carrying around at about 30 pounds, but that's how they billed it back then.  It was a 3/4 sized version of their Model 66.  Here are some ad plates that the Singer Company used to advertise this machine back in the early 1920s.  (Click the pics to see them better.)


  Someone at the Singer Company must have been a birder.   Love. that.



Here's our new girl all cleaned up but not quite ready to sew.  The tension needs adjusting, but that should be done soon. 

 The finish is in pretty good shape except for a 1-inch spot on a corner of the base that is a bit rusty, thanks to that "crawl space", no doubt.  Not a big worry though.

Several attachments, 6 bobbins and the original manual were in the cubbyhole in the base.  Love the gold trim on old Singers.
The main reason I really, really love old Singer sewing machines...  They will last forever if you keep them oiled.  Recently my second-hand, but still pricey Pfaff 2170 sewing & embroidery machine bit. the. dust.  I'd had it only 4 years.  It will cost $800 dollars to fix it.  I don't think we'll be paying that to fix it as there's no guarantee how long it would work then, either.  Obviously buying it was a costly mistake.  And it's not even cute enough to use as a doorstop whereas the old Singer machines are.  I have two other vintage Singer machines if you'd like to take a look at them:
A 1915 Hand-Crank Portable Model 15 and a 1953 Model 301a .

In my search to identify some attachments I found this clever gif depicting the interlocking twist that keeps us sewists in stitches. Brilliant.
Source

What's for dinner - a copycat version of Red Lobster's clam chowder and cheese toast.  Lip-smackin' good, it was.  Wishing y'all a wonderful week.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Passionflower For A Good Night's Sleep

Have you tried passionflower tea for relieving stress?  Studies have shown that a tea made from the leaves of the passionflower vine (passiflora) promotes relaxation for a good night's rest.  Studies have also shown that using passionflower as a supplement improved symptoms of menopause such as sleeplessness, depression, anger and headache.  It's a nervine so do not take it if you're already taking a prescription sleep aid.  Also, pregnant or nursing mothers should not use it. There are a number of different species, but the lavender one below is the correct one to use, not the blue variety.  The vines have tendrils and will climb if there are other plants around to give it support. If not, they grow along the ground. 

The leaves have three lobes and are the part you want to pick for the tea.  I use a teaspoon of dried, crushed leaves per cup of water. Use two teaspoons per cup if using fresh leaves.  Bring the water to a boil then pour over and steep the leaves for 15-20 minutes.  I think the tea is more palatable when cooled slightly with a spoon of honey stirred in.  Goodman and I have both tried the tea recently, and it has helped us relax and sleep through the night.

The fruit is an edible antioxidant.  I well remember eating them as a child.  Pick them as the color begins to lighten and let them ripen to a yellowish color.  As always with any wild plant be sure you have identified it correctly and consult your physician with any concerns you may have.  

In the garden:  Here's a little trick for producing tomato plants very quickly.  Take cuttings from the plants you already have and root them in water for a week or two.  

You'll be surprised how fast the roots grow.  

 After rooting in water place the cutting in soil in a small pot for another two weeks.

 By this time the roots are well developed and ready to plant in the garden.  This is a great, inexpensive way to keep harvesting tomatoes until frost.  Also, mix a tablespoon of epsom salt into the soil at the roots to help the plants develop a healthy structure and guard against blossom-end rot.

A goldfinch takes a moment to ponder what a nice summer we're having.         

Have a great week, Y'all!
Burgundy Stella d'oro lilies after a recent rain