Family Stories: Memorial Day Memories…

Memorial Day is a time to reflect on those who gave all… for our freedom… and Let us never forget!

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Edgar “Leroy” McKinley (1924-1945)

While both sides of my family lines of Bryan & McKinley have served… as well as my husband, and his family line of Insalaco… there is only “one” soldier remembered at Memorial Day… a soldier who lost his life in WWII. My mother’s only brother and my uncle… gave his life at the young age of 19…. so we may live in Freedom.

Memorial Day Memories

The Veteran Poppy flower

From a young girl, I’ve always bought the poppy flowers sold by Veterans around this time of year. My father often came home with one attached through a buttonhole… and would give to me. I’ve never walked by any Veteran selling them, without buying a couple and Thanking Them for their service; sadly today, you don’t see them sold often. A few years ago, while visiting my mom, we saw a Poppy Festival and I discovered much info on how the poppy flower came to be sold. Read about the Poppy Lady, Moina Belle Michael …. over HERE. She lived and is buried in my mother’s hometown of Monroe, Georgia.

Leroy was born on May 19, 1924, in Siloam, Greene Co., Ga., to parents, Edgar T. & Ola (Askew) McKinley. Born in the same log cabin of where my mother, Helen Rebecca (McKinley) Bryan was also born.

Leroy served in Company B, 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 5th Infantry Division, serving in the Third Army. He was a replacement soldier, joining the 5th division after it was originally formed in Ft. Custer, Michigan. This 2nd Infantry Regiment was held in reserve after much brutal fighting of when the Sauer River was first crossed. He most likely crossed it, but not under fire as the 1st Infantry encountered.

In July of 1944 the 2nd Infantry Regiment, along with the 5th Infantry Division landed in Normandy, France… becoming part of General George Patton’s United States Third Army… capturing Rheims and seizing the city of Metz after a major battle at Fort Driant. I can only surmise that Leroy was there with his unit… as from letters written home, he mentioned being in France, as well as Luxembourg, and this would be the correct time frame.

The 2nd Infantry Regiment moved to the battle zone, in the area of Niederanven, Luxembourg when the Battle of the Bulge began. Niederanven is a small commune and town in Luxembourg, with a population of 1,476 in 2001… located north-east of Luxembourg City. I’m sure it was even smaller than this in 1945. The country of Luxembourg is bordered by Belgium to the west and north, Germany to the east, and France to the south. I do have a photo of Leroy in Belgium… which is probably one of his last photos taken before leaving for Luxembourg.

Last photo of Leroy in Belgium before leaving for Luxembourg. This photo was never among my mother’s photos… it was sent to me by a cousin who found it in her mothers photo album.

On a letter dated February 6th, Leroy wrote… “I am ok here at this time. Almost all the snow is gone in Luxembourg, but it is still very cold. Tonight I am heading out to see a movie. Tell my sister I am thinking of her. His letters always ended the same – Your Loving Son Always, Leroy.”

It was on that Monday night, February 19, 1945, the day of his death, that my grandmother penned a last letter to her only son… unbeknownst to her. This letter never reached him, but instead, returned… breaking her heart in receiving it back. In that letter, she had written…”We received letters dated Jan. 3rd, 12th, 13th, and 14th,, and also a V-mail from you on February 17th, dated January 24th.  I hate to hear that you haven’t received the fruitcake in the box I sent in November and the cigars I sent later in a tin box. Leroy, you said your wife wants you to come to Wisconsin to live, but I think it’s best to come home first when you get back to the States. I sure hope it won’t be long before you can come back because they might just talk you to do something you would be sorry of, and she might not sign the papers like she did last time. She said she was sorry she signed the papers. No, I haven’t heard anything from her, or either her sister.”

I can’t even imagine how hard it was Leroy’s commander, Lt. Mecklem, to write my grandparents a few months later – even harder for them to receive such a letter of condolence from their son’s unit commander. A few words from that letter: “There is very little that I can say about his death. He was killed by an enemy rifleman as we were cleaning out a woods – a few miles inside Germany. He died instantly and endured no suffering at all.” Sad to imagine how many letters he wrote during those long months of fighting.

It wasn’t long afterward, that the box containing the fruitcake was returned – and it must have been right before she was told of his death, my mother remembered her mother collapsing on the ground, saying “my son is dead.”

What was the turnaround of informing the parents or spouse of a loved one’s death? I’m sure it couldn’t have been in a timely fashion. I believe this telegram was delivered by the Army as my grandfather heard the news while in town on a Saturday afternoon. In being told that the Army was headed to his farm, he tried to have them held, so he could arrive first… but they were at his house before him… he found my grandmother standing in the yard crying – “my son is dead!

It was a long two years before my grandparents were able to bring their sons body home to say goodbye and bury. My mother wasn’t able to attend her only brother’s funeral as she was married, living in Memphis, Tenn., and very pregnant… due at any time with her first child.

Leroy received the Purple Heart medal posthumously, and rests in my trunk along with the flag that was presented to my grandmother. The medal was originally sent to his ex-wife because his divorce papers were not received from the Army in time, but she later sent it to my grandmother…. saying how she should have it.

Leroy’s death has always tugged at my heart – he was my mother’s only sibling and his death left her an only child. There was so much unknown about Leroy before I began my search, but it was in reading those letters saved, I was able to piece together his thoughts and whereabouts. My mother always felt like her brother wasn’t close to her, but in reading the way he spoke about her in his letters… always asking about her, and sending his love thousands of miles away from home… still thinking of her and wishing her well. This story of his life and service has deeply touched my heart as I say a final “Thank You” for your service Uncle Leroy …you will never be forgotten! As Leroy did not live to carry on the McKinley name, his great-great niece was given his surname… so there is now a “McKinley” to carry on for him.

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© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Connecticut War Memorials

Connecticut War Memorials

World War II Veterans Memorial Monument… restored in 1990 by the Historic Wooster Square Association

I yearly contribute to the Honor Roll Project of  Heather Wilkinson Rojo – the purpose is to photograph and transcribe Veteran names for family research. Heather’s Blog can be found at http://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/.

Acampora. Albert
Aldieri. Sisto
Amarone. Benny
Arminio. John
Celio. Victor
Celone. Samuel
Corato. Peter
Damato. Anthony
DeCusati. Joseph
Diadamo. Rose
DePino. James

D’onofrio. Louis
Fisco. Frank
Iovene. Michael
Laucella. Victor D.
Lenzi. Joseph
Maresca. Domnic
Marzullo. Anthony A.
Migliaro. Salvatore E.
Raiano. Anthony
Ruotolo. James V.
Zimbardi. Pasquale

I have gone to Wooster Square Park for many events… and somehow this memorial that sits on the corner of Chapel and Wooster Place escaped my camera. Even in my early searches for all the war memorials in New Haven, this one never showed… but somehow it managed to catch my attention on Sunday when we rode by; my husband circled the block for me to photograph and preserve these veteran’s names.

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For more Connecticut War Memorials click… Connecticut – War Memorials

© 2021 Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

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Craft Junkie: Finishing up my WIP’s

Anyone who crafts… knits… and has a hoard stash of supplies… knows that you’ll have several WIP’s (work in progress) laying around. How many times have you searched for certain yarn… or a knitting needle called for in the knitting pattern in-hand… and where are those items? Of course you know… they’re attached to a WIP hidden somewhere in a bag or basket… or if you’re lucky… in a project bag… where at least you can transfer your stitches to a holder for safe keeping!

I made myself a promise after returning from Florida, that I would work really really hard in digging out my unfinished items… finish them… and return my knitting needles back to my knitting bag for future projects. And for the most part, except for starting one new knitting project, I am keeping to my word. So let’s take a peek at what I have completed!

I had finished two of these ribbon/lace curly scarfs… but in searching through a basket, out came a plastic bag and there was one unfinished. It really wasn’t what I wanted to tackle first, but… I quickly refreshed my mind on the directions and sat diligently all Sunday afternoon to finish. At first I didn’t think I’d ever finish, but before I knew it… I felt it was long enough and I still have leftover yarn. While not enough for another scarf… it will be quite useful when I delve into working on my junk journals. I have made a few small junk journals for the girls, but still haven’t tackled the ones I want for myself. I have gathered and saved so much “junk” for mine… so what am I waiting for! If you’d like to make a ruffled ribbon scarf click Here for video. So Easy!

And then I found the unfinished Mermaid Tails… lucky for me, I only had to finish the two purple ones. I loved the pattern the designer chose… once I managed to figure it out… but that’s what YouTube is for. I linked back to the designer (above) that I bought from…I lucked out years ago when I bought mine, as it came with the pattern for Barbie, an 18-inch doll, and young girls!

A few years ago I knitted all the granddaughters the Barbie Mermaid Tails and I knitted larger ones for the girls here for cold winter mornings. These tails will be for their 18-inch dolls, and most likely will lay on their beds along with the Scottie dogs. The blue one I made a little larger for “Big Baby” and that one goes to Nina for the big Madam Alexander baby doll of mine that I gave her. She fell in love with it one day, and I decided it should be hers to love and save! It’s almost life-like and it is a big baby doll… hence the name she gave it! I can’t wait to see “Big Baby” all snuggled inside!

Here’s a close-up look at the scallop pattern on the Mermaid Tail. Do you write all over your pattern when knitting like this? I usually make such a mess, but I try and write notes also… notes for another future knit. You do have to pay attention in using magic loop on this pattern, especially in remembering to carry the loop around the side… and there were a couple times I forgot… but no one noticed. I could have easily sewed the stitch in afterward, but honestly it wasn’t that noticeable to anyone, but me!

The very top one was given to me… it hooked me into making these quilted Christmas balls. Last Christmas I pinned pins into styrofoam balls every day until my fingers were sore!

I have a few left that need to be finished in completing this basket… hmm will I begin with new ones nearer Christmas this year? But I will finish these soon! Believe me, I went through thousands of pins last year in making all these… plus the ones I gave away!

I usually don’t attempt to knit animals… as I detest making parts and attaching… but I saw several women in my Facebook craft group show off their Magnus the mouse… and I thought him so ugly, but cute. I was hooked! Magnus is a creation of Arne and Carlos, so head over if you’d like to knit a Magnus. I usually never make myself anything, but this one is mine… and I need to think of a name for him. And you know they’ll be another… as he’s going to need a girlfriend!

Once upon a time… I started 12 socks on a 60-inch cable, but I have since ripped them off as I really wasn’t happy with a couple of the yarns and didn’t want to invest that much time… and not be happy with them in the end. Since then, I’ve decided to do 4 “at a time” socks… but I need to get back to them. Ever since I saw a few knitters online knit the 12 “at a time” socks… I really wanted to accomplish that… but I’ll get back to it another time. First things first… finish my WIP’s.

Only one more mitten to complete these two sets… and then knit one more pair for the girls in Florida on the few cold days they get. Mittens with fingers aren’t really needed there, but figured the open mittens would work.

A fellow knitting blogger knitted a few pairs of these awesome slippers… and graciously gifted me the pattern from Ravelry…. so awesome of her! I’ve knitted one pair so far and will gift them to someone. Stop over at Cosmicknitter’s blog and check out her awesome knitting.

It feels good to have completed many of my “works in progress”… plus I freed up my missing knitting needles… adding them back to my knitting bag.

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For more Craft Junkie posts, click HERE.

© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Weekly Chats: May 12, 2021

Well I survived my April A to Z blog challenge of blogging everyday except for Sundays… off for good behavior. It was a fun and emotional blog in writing and showcasing my mom through photos and memories. I lost my mom on Nov. 30, 2020… not from Covid, but through the horrible disease of Dementia. Mama was 90, and for the most part, except the last year or so, lived a pretty good life… so unfair that we have to be go out of this world in pain… whether emotional or actual pain. Life can get pretty unfair to us at the end… and I’m not looking forward to getting any older… too many things run through my head daily.

March and April were very busy months for me as we traveled to my mother’s house… to clean out for the closing in late March. This is the second time I’ve gone through cleaning out a parents home… helped hubby with his parents house, which had pretty much been a family home to me also. Mama had lived in this last home over forty plus years… so even though I actually never grew up there, it was my last connection to a home with her. It was where I spent every summer visiting with my children… and later visiting with my husband. We never seemed to vacation anywhere other than going to visit mama. I was born in Georgia… and I loved going home to my roots every summer. Going home to see mama, eat my so-loved Southern foods, drink sweet tea and beg hubby to always stop at every stand, by the side of the road, for boiled peanuts.

The first two weeks spent in Georgia was cleaning and closing out mama’s house… and even though we had somewhat cleaned parts of it on our last couple trips last year, this was the final cleaning. It was hard thinking and realizing that once I walked out the door on the day of the closing… that I’d never be able to walk back in. I tried to put it out of my mind most days, as it only made me tear up. I was really nervous walking in the lawyer’s office for the closing, but I put it out of my mind… as the last thing I wanted was to tear up in there. I did good… no tears. Sometimes I feel like it really hasn’t hit me yet… that all those visits to my mother’s house are really over. Last year we drove down four times (960 miles) to check on her… no more trips to Georgia now… who knows! I was born in Georgia, but I’ve lived in Connecticut fifty years now this year… way more years, but it’d never feel right to not visit Georgia again .

After the house closing, we packed and headed to Florida to visit my son, daughter in law, and granddaughters… the car was so packed that I had to even leave “stuff” with a friend for pickup on the return home. Some people have no problem in throwing out someone else’s stuff… but I was very emotional in what things I wanted or had to part with. All in all… some came home with me for now… and I’m sure at a later date I can maybe part with it, but for now, it’s mine. Mama had lots of treasures… worthless or not… she loved her things.

Some people have said to me, “I bet you feel better now, that you don’t have her house lingering over your head.” I really hate when that’s said to me… as I don’t feel better. In one way I might not feel so stressed in knowing that I don’t have to clean out her house, but on the other hand, I don’t have a family home to go back to anymore.

Heading to sunny Florida… I love when I first begin seeing the palm trees! Just seeing this photo puts me in the mood to pack for a road trip to Florida!

We celebrated Easter with my son’s family… and the English Piecing Paper “patch” dogs were finally finished for the granddaughters Easter baskets… and they were a big hit! The weather was awesome there… and by the time we got back home, we went from 80 plus days to lows of 30. We had left CT. on a cold 28 degree day in early March, and by the time we stopped for the night in Virginia, it was an awesome 70 degrees… and by the time we arrived in Georgia, it was a hot and humid 90… what a big difference! After being in sunny warm Florida for over two weeks, it definitely was shock coming back home to cold weather again!

Easter in Florida… what could be better than eating outside! Girls decorated an awesome Easter bunny cake while my son cooked on the grill!

I was even treated to Sunday morning breakfast! So spoiled I was!

My Florida granddaughters, Ana, Ella and Nina with their Easter baskets and the Scottie patchwork dogs I sewed.. which was finished nightly in the hotels and in Georgia. To learn how to make them, head over HERE.

I celebrated my birthday before leaving Florida, and my daughter in law did an awesome job in decorating… it was so nice enjoying my day with them… the granddaughters drew cards and even made me my very own jar of memories.

GiGi’s memory jar filled with their memories of me… the best gift ever! I spend many crafting days with the girls… and will post separately on our craft days!

Teary-eyed photo for me… knowing it was my last day with them… but they all looked good! I’m just a too-emotional girl!

My morning view outside our room… and on our last morning a Sand Crane stopped to say goodbye. Often in the morning, I’d find various birds around like the mama duck and her ducklings that swam away faster than I could run for my camera! I loved looking out every morning… awesome clouds in Florida.

On road beside our hotel was lined with flags and palm trees… so pretty!

Before leaving Florida, I received an email that mama’s gravestone was delivered and placed in the McKinley family plot in Siloam. We stopped to see it in person on our way home… made me sad to think about it. Living so far away from her is going to almost make me feel like that she’s still really there, and I’m just not visiting. I guess I’ll have to keep myself busy and make new plans for us instead of driving to Georgia so often.

I always have to stop at the Florida welcome gift centers… you know the ones that advertise a 6 foot alligator… but they don’t tell you that it’s stuffed… but they do have the cutest baby alligators in a tank. While I took a video, this little guy was lunging at hubbys finger… guess it was lunch time! I did spot two “live” alligators in canals near our hotel… I’m always looking when we drive by any water.

Per mama’s request, I scattered her ashes at the gravesite of her parents, daughter Monica, and her brother Leroy… and also near the farm where she grew up… of where mama always said she was the happiest. Her cat Boo’s ashes were scattered along with hers… as they were inseparable and needed to be together… for forever. Before we left her house, I also left some ashes throughout her gardens… wouldn’t have been right, to not have left leave ashes in her gardens… as they were her love… when she often spent morning to evening… I often wondered where she got her strength from.

Visited my mother’s grave and left two white roses from us… even though I had seen the gravestone in my email… seeing it in person as a final goodbye is never easy.

Heading home so packed! Hubby laughed as he said, “I’m driving home like a trucker… only using side mirrors.” I could never have driven that way, but we made it home safely! We are always packed, but never like this!

Upon returning home in mid April, I finished my other two Scottie dogs for the Connecticut granddaughters… can you believe I made 5! I swore after the 5th, that I’d never sew another, but my daughter-in-law looked so forlorn when she didn’t get one, that I began another one and sent it off to her. I have one more in the works for me… cut out of my coveted Nancy Drew fabric. I’ve never hoarded fabric before… but it’s so pretty, that I honestly hate to cut it… although I did make myself a couple of masks.

McKinley and Grace in Connecticut… and were excited to receive their Scottie dogs as a late Easter gift from GiGi.

How lucky am I… being treated to two birthdays… as long as I don’t have to add two years… I’m ok with that! My daughter and son-in-law took us out for dinner and the girls picked out a special cake! A wonderful evening was had by all… and yes Melissa, “we need to do this more often.”

Hubby and I enjoyed seeing the girls after being away for almost 6 weeks. But I’m rested now… and ready for another road trip!

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For more Weekly Chats… head over HERE.

© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Savin Rock: Published on Laff in the Dark

Click Laff in the Dark website for article, photos and more history on Fun Houses around the country… some in operation and some long gone as Savin Rock is. (Savin Rock artwork logo published with permission from George LaCross, with credit to art designer Bill Luca)

I was asked last year to write an article for publication on the long-gone Savin Rock amusement park… and excited to announce that it went live on May 9th, 2021. It was an honor to have been asked to write the story of the two funhouses… The Death Valley Funny House (1937) and Peter Franke’s Fun House (1945-46)… where both sat alongside the shoreline in West Haven, Connecticut until 1968.

As I sat working on this article the other day, I mentioned to my granddaughter, McKinley, that there once was a amusement park alongside the beach… her eyes widened before asking, “is it still there, can we go.” She was ready to find Pop and pile in the car. Sad, that the next generation will never experience… and find so hard to even imagine… as to what was once there. I tried explaining about Beach Street and how it once continued alongside the beach… where there are now only condos, and a beach boardwalk that circles behind Bradley Rock until reaching Bradley Point. I think this summer I’ll dig out my Savin Rock photo books and take her to the beach and show her in person where things were once located… so this generation will know and remember of what was was alongside the beach…. a beach where she and her sister Grace enjoy playing.

My original story can be accessed HERE.

More Savin Rock stories and photos can be found here at https://everyonehasafamilystorytotell.wordpress.com/category/savin-rock/

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© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Craft Junkie: EPP Scottie Dogs

Easter “EPP” Scottie dogs

If you’ve never heard of EPP… don’t feel bad, as I had to google it myself when I first heard it mentioned. EPP stands for English Paper Piecing and it’s used in hand sewing with paper templates, cut into the exact size square of your project… no seam allowance needed. The one thing that I’ll stress in cutting paper templates… is to be very precise, or your squares will not be exact… meaning your squares and seams will be off. After cutting mine, I tapped them down and felt the squared edges in my hand; you can feel they are even that way… and also good to eye-ball them as they are stacked up neat. I learned about this little Scottie dog from You-Tuber, Kate Jackson, whom I watch on The Last Homely House. She’s amazing in all the crafts she makes… and if you’re like me… you’ll want to make every one of them!

I never seem to make “one” of anything… and in having five granddaughters… that seems to always be my number!

You start sewing with paper squares and fabric… covering the squares precisely is what gives you a straight precise edge. Can you guess what my next dog will be covered as? It’s one of my all time favorites and I can’t wait to see it all sewn. I never seem to make myself anything… so this one is all mine!

I began by cutting paper squares… starting with the exact size Kate made for her granddaughter… 1 3/4 inch paper square. You can pretty much use any paper, but I found magazines with shiny pages worked the best… and we all have them; mine was actually one given out free at my local supermarket. I used my small paper cutter to cut… lining up two or three pages at a time to make long strips… and then cutting into the squares needed. My size I used is not exactly what you might want to use… and there is no right or wrong in whatever size you choose to make.

All 5 granddaughters and daughter-in-law received their own Scottie dog for Easter… although daughter-in-law received hers after I returned home. Molly, the granddog, is giving me the stink-eye here… do I dare sew her one?

Supplies Needed: paper, (thin glossy magazines work best), needle and thread, pins, scissors, large buttons or felt, ribbon or scarf for neck bow, and stuffing. For small children you might want to make safer eyes using felt, instead of buttons. I’ve seen embroidered felt eyes… so be creative. My eyes were about 1 1/2 to 2 inches… as you want them to be seen and most regular buttons were too small. On my granddaughters I attached a felt heart of which I embroidered a sentiment to them. Like I’ve said, there’s not set rules… make it your own!

Each of the dogs for the granddaughters I made special by embroidering a heart on them and attaching a label I use for things I make them. It’s all about making something your own!

For my first ones, I used 27 squares for each side (total 54 for both sides) plus 30 for the gusset, but for my daughter-in-law, I added another 3 squares vertical in the center (vertical) to make his body slightly wider… making each side of 30 squares (60 total), plus32 for gusset. If you have a love of Dachshunds, you could even make this dog wider to resemble them. I know in the future I’ll probably make a larger one… as there’s no set rules… other than making sure you have the sides sewn correctly so the fabric front and back match when sewing. The dogs measure about 10 by 14 inches… give or take. I thought it was a perfect size to lay on their beds, as they are too old to play with them.

When I began folding the fabric over the paper squares, I chose to use different colored threads so it would be easier to see and remove at the end. I happen to have had a large collection of embroidery threads, so I used them (one thread) in basting the fabric neatly and even over the paper templates. Knot your thread when you begin, but just cut a short tail off after you’ve basted the large stitches around. You don’t need many stitches to accomplish the basting… just fold the fabric neatly… that’s the clue. Always strive to keep your squares neat with the fabric folded around especially folding at the corner edges.

Covering the paper squares was very easy and went by pretty fast, and I had a couple gallon size bags before I even realized. They can be quite contagious to make, as I’ve since discovered after making my first 5. I first swore, that I’d never make another one… then I began missing the sewing! And after my daughter in law said to me, “I guess I’m not getting one“… I came home to see how many squares I still had and began making her one… which is currently enroute… unbeknownst to her! So yes Rose… “you are getting one“!

Notice the thimble on my finger… after sewing for awhile, my finger was showing quite the wear… it really helps in using a thimble, especially when pushing the needle through on the gussets. I eventually discovered a silicone thimble in the Dollar Tree and absolutely love it… I even went back and bought extras so I had plenty to leave around in my different sewing baskets. Notice that my fabric on the backside wasn’t always the same size folded over… and it doesn’t matter on the backside, so I didn’t fuss in using a pattern, just eyeballed my folded fabric to cut into squares… just don’t cut too short.

This is a hand sewing project… no machine needed unless it’s your choice. It will be sewn by tiny whipstitches around the very outside edge of the fabric squares, that you’ve covered with fabric. You will sew through some of the paper, but many times you’ll be able to grab the tiniest of the edge and might not grab any paper… but don’t worry about the papers as they will all be removed before you turn the dog inside out for stuffing. If you’ve never hand sewed before, or whipstitched anything closed, you might want to practice on some fabric before starting… or watch some videos.

As you sew (whipstitch) around, use single strong thread. On my first couple, I doubled the thread thinking it’d make it stronger, but in stuffing I think my stitches showed a tiny bit more than sewing with single thread. You do want to give a slight tug on your stitches as you sew, as they need to stay tight and close together… using up very little of the basted fabric squares.

I made one of these very patch square doggies many years ago when I sold at craft fairs, but it was much larger and machine sewn. Actually I had forgotten about it until I discovered some older photographs of my craft selling days , but as usual, I can’t find it now. (I will post when found) As it never sold, my kids quickly took possession and used it as their floor pillow for years.

When cutting your paper and fabric, I’ll stress that it’s only the “paper” that must be cut precise, the fabric size is very forgiving… as long as you allow at least 1/4 inch all around to fold over the edge of the paper square. I actually eye-balled my fabric by laying the square on my folded fabric and cut my squares by sight… some were larger than others, but after folded over the paper edge, it didn’t matter… just don’t cut yourself short with very little to fold over. The edges are folded over neatly and basted to stay in place. Some have said they have used a scrapbook roll on glue, but I prefered the basting. The basting went so fast, that before I knew it, I had a huge gallon size ziploc bag of squares… just waiting to be turned into Scottie dogs.

In following Kate’s size of 1 3/4 inch squares, I made 27 squares for the front and 27 for the back, with 30 squares sewed for the gusset; I sewed my gusset squares in one continuous length of 30 and set aside. You can see here how the basting stitches look… note I used large basting stitches so the squares are sewn quickly. It’s a easy sewing project on trips!

Depending on fabric chosen, decide on placement before sewing squares together (by hand) or use a random pull from your stash of squares. I tended to lay mine out by rows, as I wanted the ear, tail and face of certain squares, but like I’ve said before… there are no rules… sew it as you want. The one thing that you need to pay attention to after making your first side, is that the second side needs to face in the opposite direction, so your front-side fabrics face each other when sewing the gusset. If you follow the first one exactly in the same direction, you will end up with either two fronts or two backs… and I did just that! But as I was making 5 doggies, it didn’t matter… I then just made two in the opposite direction. You will quickly figure out how to lay your first side down so you can follow it, but really going in the opposite direction.

I first began by laying out my rows in vertical strips as how I was sewing… I found it easier to sew them vertical to each other in rows, then after, I sewed them those vertical rows together to attach. By laying out in a visual… it helps you decide if it’s laid out correctly to match the other side. The inside “fronts” should always be facing each other, in order for the gusset to be sewn around. If you are shaking your head, just head over HERE to watch Kate explain EPP and sewing the Scottie dog… always better to have a visual.

This is an example of how you “Don’t” want your two dogs to look like at the end… as you won’t be able to sew these two together… they will not match up to right sides together. This happened to me, but luckily I was making more than one, so it didn’t affect me, other than paying more attention when I sewed the next front or back.

This is how your front and back should look like, if sewn together correctly. With the right sides facing you, both heads should be facing in the opposite direction in order to be able to flip one over to sew the right sides together.

After you have both sides of your dog made, you are ready to sew the gusset… and you’re halfway finished… as long as both your dogs “are not” facing the same way… and I hope not! In order for both sides to match for sewing the gusset on, both dogs will face right side up toward each other with the gusset connecting them; the gusset gives the dog a little dimension. Not following me… then head over to the videos I posted above.

Here is one side with the gusset sewn around. Notice that on the first attachment of the gusset, you sew it completely all around… it’s only when you attach the second side, that you “leave open” a couple of squares for stuffing… later to whipstitch closed.

Before sewing the gusset, decide where you want to stuff from, some say the bottom, or the side… I chose the back side edge. I didn’t choose the bottom as I thought maybe I’d have a hard time stuffing the feet. By using the back side, and leaving at least 2 squares open, I could reach across to push my stuffing into all the ear, tail and feet. I wanted mine to be firm, but not bulging. If not enough stuffing, you might end up with a floppy head or neck, but it’s up to you.

Don’t be intimidated on sewing the gusset… just take one square at a time… and breathe… you can do it! What I will stress is… start with even matched squares, and maybe pin your squares , one at a time, together to help you stay on target. Yes, you’ll probably find a few squares that may be a bit off, but fabric is very forgiving and you should be able to wiggle it all in. If it’s off a wee bit… don’t fret as whomever you made it for, will still shower it with love!

Many find turning the gusset on the squares a bit intimidating, and I did also, but I found that by sewing almost to the end of a square on the turns, then turning the square and pinching it together to sew, it wasn’t that hard… then just start again sewing right at the beginning of the corner until you reach the next corner and turn. You will better understand that when you start sewing.

Hope I’ve encouraged you to sew your very own Scottie dog. I’d love to hear from you if you have sewn one and feel free to message with any questions. Have Fun Sewing!

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For more of my Craft posts, click HERE.

© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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2021: A to Z: Reflections

It’s been only a few days since the blogging challenge is over… and I’m already missing it. I don’t know about you, but I tend to always feel that way… and then I go into hiatus on posting for awhile.

2021… A to Z Reflections

April was quite hectic for me as we were traveling for over half the month… so at night in the hotel room, I’d be finalizing my posts for the next day. Now I’m already thinking of what to blog on next… and even as far as next year’s challenge. This year, I was very late on settling on my topic, but once I had it… I was off and running.

In as much as I tried popping in and out on the blogs participating… I quickly seemed to have gotten side tracked… and I hope to get back over to that list and check on the ones I missed. Several bloggers I’ve connected with in previous years challenges are always fun to reconnect with, but always fun to discovered new ones. It’s so hard to read many blogs in trying to finish and write your own, but I tried popping in on some along and will go back and read more at the end of April.

I’m giving a shout out to a few blogs that I strongly connected with… and I’ll be checking in on them during the year… and hoping to see them again next April. There were many I popped in on, but there’s always a few that you end up closely connecting to.

Janet Smiles was back for another A to Z… and on this adventure she has taken me touring all over San Francisco… it’s been a fun adventure and I’ve enjoyed seeing San Fran through her eyes.

Mollys Canopy What a fun topic of taking a deep dive into her early teens in Endwell, N.Y, during the early 1960s. It made me remember when I wrote about my teen years around about the same time frame. It’s always fun to write and remember those years… and always good to write them down for posterity.

Weekends in Maine definitely kept my interest in “Crafts for the Home” in her 2021 A to Z this April. I discovered many new crafts I will be trying out soon… and If you are a crafty person like I am, do check her out. I’ve already ordered myself Origami paper to make her peace doves! She ended her posts in creating a Zine to showcase her A to Z of crafts… how ingenious and clever that was… and I’m already thinking I need to learn how to.

CassMobFamilyHistory: She showcased her Family Food Fare and Favourites in Australia as she digs through her memories and recipes… in rediscovering her family’s foods of long ago. It’s interesting to see how she has compared the food habit changes over the decades. Interesting theme and food choices, and I learned about many foods I had never heard of.

Anne’s Irish Family History: Anne is back for her eighth A to Z challenge and continuing to write on her family history. In 2019 she wrote about places in the United Kingdom associated with her family history… continued in 2020 with history connections in London and for 2021, she wrote on sites associated with her Irish family history. As I have connections in the UK, it’s always interesting to read about the areas.

A big “Thank You” to everyone who stopped by my blog where I wrote about my mother… through the many photos I have of her through the years. It was fun and emotional… and I can’t wait to put it in book form to share with my children. If you’ve never printed your blog books… don’t miss out on saving your stories in book form.

To read my 2021 A to Z of Mama in Photos… click HERE!

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© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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2021: Z – Mama in Photos… Zee Last Photos of Mama

2021: Z – Mama in Photos…

Z… Zee Best for last

I’m back for my sixth year (2021)… can you believe it… of participating in the yearly April A to Z challenge… and I’ve had quite a time in deciding on my “theme.” I had a few running through my head, but after losing my mother last November, I thought I’d honor her through the many photographs I have… and tell the story of the photograph… as every photo has a story.

I’m fortunate that my mother had many photos of herself growing up… and I’m honoring her this year as the theme of my April A to Z… especially as was she was an April baby. Mama would have turned 91 this year… but she’s now back home celebrating this birthday with her parents and brother on the farm… where I believe she was always the happiest. The past few years my mother was fighting off dementia, while still managing to live alone until the last couple months of her life. I miss her every day… thinking of her daily and remembering all she did for me. She was the storyteller… She supplied me with my stories… and it’s because of her, that I write!

Z… Z Last Photos of Mama

I’m not sure whether I took this photo of mama or not, but I love it… she looked so happy here and it’s the face I’ll always remember of her. Mama never took a bad photo, no matter what type of funny face she made! There’s not a day that goes by that something doesn’t bring her to mind!

Mama just couldn’t resist telling Santa what a good girl she’s been! Must have been cold… she’s dressed in a long sleeved turtleneck… too bad I can’t see the shoes… flip flops I bet!

I found another photo of us having lunch at The Blue Willow restaurant with me in the photo, next to mama. Guess someone grabbed my camera and had me sit down. When it’s usually your camera… you don’t often show up in the photos as much.

Another great photo of mama from the late 70’s or early 80’s… the TV set almost tells the age of the photo. Did she didn’t sit there to show off the new TV… who knows, but I love photographs that show the things we owned in years past… the things in the backgrounds of photos is often what my eye picks out first. So many things in the backgrounds of her photos that I never found when we cleaned out… she enjoyed change and often discarded the older items as she brought new into the house… many things went out in the gardens. I’m not sure what she’s holding in her hand, but it seems to be a remote… could she really be showing off a new TV with a remote? Well, I’ll never know now.

Mama holding a photograph of her and Allan… of whom she shared the last twenty-five years with, even though they actually never married. She always said that after her divorce… she would never marry again… so if and when she ever wanted to leave, she would be able to just pack her bags and leave… no court papers needed. (Note she wore the same white dress in the photograph as in the above photo… maybe that was the same day they went to take pictures together)

This was one of the last photos taken of mama before it started to go downhill and life for her alone wasn’t safe anymore… no matter how strongly she disagreed on that! The last few years of mama’s life, she stopped cutting her hair… and refused to allow anyone to take her to have it cut… always saying, “they’ll never cut it to suit me.” Mama had always cut her own hair, all her life… she had been a beautician and was very fussy about how she wanted her hair cut. She often sat in bed at night… snip, snip, snip… and never leave any hair in the bed!

I never liked seeing her with long hair, as she had always told me, “never let me grow my hair long like an old woman, never let me look like Granny Gurt“… whoever that was? But she refused all help on the hair cutting aspect, but when she pinned it up she looked fine, but hanging long… well, that was another un-pictured look. She looked tired in this photo… and she often said that she had reached the point of being too tired to live, as she could no longer live life… she really wanted to go home… go home to the farm where she always said she was the happiest she had ever been.

Mama often talked about how she never wanted to get old… it really seemed to scare her and I can understand that as I celebrate a birthday every year… I’d much rather un-celebrate a birthday and go back the other way.

My memories….

Writing my last post of Z was a little bittersweet for me… as it’s the end of my posting of looking back through mama’s life and remembering all the fun times we shared. Even though the last couple of years was very hard for me in seeing the change in her… I’m erasing those bad memories… and only remembering the good… as those times weren’t truly my mother. She told me that one day I would understand the changes, but it would be too late… and she was right.

If I could turn back the hands of times… I would have made more changes and better choices, but I can’t. I did the best I knew how at the time, whether right or wrong. Mama wasn’t the easiest of people to make suggestions too, and as she aged with dementia, it became even harder to make any suggestion to her. We butted heads on most of our last times together, but deep in my heart I knew she loved me and I tried my best to keep remembering that. The one thing I’m thankful for… she never forgot my face, or sound of my voice. Anytime I called her in the nursing home or hospital, she knew immediately who I was… no matter what kind of day she was having.

Those conversations in the nursing home were often strained as there was only one thing on her mind, and only one thing she wanted to discuss… she wanted to go home! She loved her home, where she’d last lived for over forty years… loved her clothes… loved her treasures… loved her gardens… loved her memories created there, but most of all, she loved her cat Boo! She worried more about who was caring for Boo, then she cared for herself!

Even though she was terribly unhappy there, sometimes I’d hear of things that happened that made me laugh… knowing there was still some fight and determination left in her at age 90… like the time I had a call from the physical therapist. I was called to tell me that they now knew that yes she could walk and bend better than they first had thought. When mama first was admitted during Covid, she was quarantined in a ward for two weeks… and that frustrated her so much…, as she didn’t like anyone to tell her where she could and couldn’t go. It wasn’t long before mama escaped that ward and suddenly appeared in the physical therapy room… and when asked how she got there. “Oh, I just bent down and unzipped that stupid plastic curtain you have at the end of the hall.” Where there’s a will… there was a way for her… and mama figured it out pretty quick. No matter how they tried to quarantine her, she’d always manage to escape out of that ward when they turned their backs!

Mama even “really” escaped on another day! I can just picture her sitting outside her room in a chair watching the outside doors open and close… and on one day, when that door didn’t actually close and lock… Mama made her great escape, but only managed to walk around in their backyard area before someone realized she was outside. She told them she was looking for the bus stop as she was going home. I’ve read that many say that they are looking for the bus in those type situations… even those that have never ridden a bus in their life.

Thanks for giving me all these wonderful photos Mama… and thanks for the memories!

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My previous years of A to Z Challenges:

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For more A to Z of Mama in Photos… click HERE!

© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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2021: Y – April A to Z: Mama in Photos… Yippee, More Photos and Memories of Mama

2021: Y – April A to Z: Mama in Photos…

I’m back for my sixth year (2021)… can you believe it… of participating in the yearly April A to Z challenge… and I’ve had quite a time in deciding on my “theme.” I had a few running through my head, but after losing my mother last November, I thought I’d honor her through the many photographs I have… and tell the story of the photograph… as every photo has a story.

I’m fortunate that my mother had many photos of herself growing up… and I’m honoring her this year as the theme of my April A to Z… especially as was she was an April baby. Mama would have turned 91 this year… but she’s now back home celebrating this birthday with her parents and brother on the farm… where I believe she was always the happiest. The past few years my mother was fighting off dementia, while still managing to live alone until the last couple months of her life. I miss her every day… thinking of her daily and remembering all she did for me. She was the storyteller… She supplied me with my stories… and it’s because of her, that I write!

Y… Yippee, More Photos and Memories of Mama

I have always had a camera… first the film camera… which made you develop them… hoping they were in focus and that you managed to get your shot. Remember lugging around a camera bag, juggling lens, film canisters, and panicking when you thought you’d lost your roll of film? Now we have digital photos that you seldom print, and store on a second server, or the cloud. I always laugh, when someone says, “Oh all my photos are in the cloud“… I’d rather have mine on paper! It saddens me to think that the future generations are going to lose many of their photos… and for the very reason of how long can we manage to keep up with all these digital photos. They don’t cost you anything to snap… so we snap way too many, and then feel overwhelmed! Personally, I think using the film camera was the best!

Yippee… what a doozy of a photo mama took here… what was she thinking? We had stopped to visit her BFF, Willie Mae, and I probably had wanted a photo of them together. Willie Mae was more like my aunt and whenever I went home, I always stopped to visit. (This was mama’s “flat hair” phase… just wash, fluff up, and go!)

Mama usually celebrated her birthday at Donna’s house (other daughter)… and Donna never forgot to make her a cake. Actually Donna isn’t a daughter, but we’ve always called her mama’s other daughter… and she’s always been there for mama when I couldn’t be. I’ve been very thankful for Donna’s help, especially over the past few years. (A rare photo of long sleeves on mama… she hated wearing long sleeves, but she loved turtle necks and owned many turtleneck short-sleeve tops.)

Mama celebrating one of the many holidays with Donna and her family. What a beautiful table Donna set… sure wish I had been there! If it was Thanksgiving, she always cooked mama’s favorite dressing and pink stuff. If you are reading this as a Southerner… you will know what dressing is… it’s our southern version to stuffing! Want to read my post on Southern Dressing… head over HERE.

Mama with her one and only grandson, Steve. We had stopped to visit one of mama’s cousins on this visit… look no flip flops! He never failed in making mama laugh and smile… and could never do any wrong in her eyes!

I have no actual photo of mama telling me how she learned to ride a bike at the farm, or a photo, but I do have the memory. Mama had no bicycle, but always wanted to learn how to ride. Boys had bikes… but, it didn’t seem acceptable for girls to ride bikes.

Paint a picture…. One afternoon, her brother’s friend came over on his bike… he and Leroy were going hunting. The bike was left in the yard… big mistake! After they left, Mama decided she would push the bike up the dirt road and coast down. By the time she landed back in the yard, she had ripped her dress, and scratched up her arms and legs… and certainly didn’t want to be discovered in that fashion. She placed the bike back where her brother’s friend left it, and scurried in the house to clean up and change. I can paint the picture in my mind… but sure wish there was a photo of her flying down the road trying to ride that bike!

I took this photo from the Ring camera I had on Mama’s front door… taken after mama had passed away. It gave me such an eerie feeling in seeing this black cat stroll by, as it looked so much like mama’s “Boo”… which had also passed. I felt like he’d come back looking for her! I’m sure those two are back together again… and maybe this time she will let him play in the gardens with her.

I walked through mama’s bedroom one evening… there she was sound asleep, snuggled with Boo … who was guarding her… and always content to allow her to hold onto him. Thank You Boo!

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My previous years of A to Z Challenges:

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For more A to Z of Mama in Photos… click HERE!

© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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2021: X – April A to Z: Mama in Photos… Xtra Bits and Pieces

2021: X – Mama in Photos…

I’m back for my sixth year (2021)… can you believe it… of participating in the yearly April A to Z challenge… and I’ve had quite a time in deciding on my “theme.” I had a few running through my head, but as I lost my mother last November, I thought I’d honor her through the many photographs I have of her… and tell the story of the photograph… as every photo has a story.

I’m fortunate that my mother had many photos of herself growing up… and I’m honoring her this year as the theme of my April A to Z… especially as was she was an April baby. Mama would have turned 91 this year… but she’s now back home celebrating this birthday with her parents and brother on the farm… where I believe she was always the happiest. The past few years my mother was fighting off dementia, while still managing to live alone until the last couple months of her life. I miss her every day… thinking of her daily and remembering all she did for me. She was the storyteller… She supplied me with my stories… and it’s because of her, that I write!

X… Xtra Bits and Pieces

I finally dug out another box of photos today… finding many that would certainly have fit on the other posts… but then what would I have for X, Y and Z if I had posted them!

I can just hear her voice as she gave me this look… “here you go with that camera again taking my picture when I’m not dressed and working in the garden… can’t you wait?”

Mama on her last bus trip to Memphis, Tennessee to ride one of the paddle gambling boats. She’d fuss about not going… and then fuss when she did go… she hated leaving home! Pictured with her two best friends… twins Carolyn and Marilyn. I’m told that the three of them could just look at each other and fall over laughing… as they’d all know what the other was thinking… guess Mama completed the triplet aspect.

The Memphis trip was a bust for her… saying how it was the worst, especially the part of walking down to the boat, as they had to walk down a steep hill… all seniors holding onto each other… and exiting the boat was even worse as they then had to help pull each other up the hill. Then afterward they rode on a sightseeing bus ride around town… where she fussed about the girl describing the sights and how they rode by so fast, that she couldn’t even see. I can just imagine her mouth on that ride fussing about how they rode by so fast… and that she couldn’t even see. She said she was never so happy to finally return home from that trip… and it was the last one she ever took with the senior center!

It was the other daughter, Donna, who took this photo… and mama gave her the same look of “stop taking my picture.” I’m sure Donna just laughed as she took it… mama had gone out in her nightgown to gather some tomatoes for Donna and her daughter Joni. Mama never cared if she was dressed or half dressed… saying, “if they want to look… then look”! I sure wish I had some of those green tomatoes… I would cook fried green tomatoes! Mama always planted a small garden for herself with tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and green beans… and always took extras to the senior center for her friends… and if you weren’t on her friend list… No tomatoes for you!

Mama saved projects for the grandson with the strong back… she hijacked him to use the hole diggers so she could add another mailbox in the backyard… to hold the gloves she never used. She had several old mailboxes around her gardens to hold tools and unused gloves!

Another couple of quirky friends she met somewhere in Memphis on the bus trip… glad she left them there. I know she would love to have sat them in her gardens to chat with while working. What conversation pieces they would have been!!!

On a walk around Athens, home of the Georgia BullDawg’s… these bulldogs were everywhere, and mama wanted to hop on them all, yelling “Yee Haw.

No matter where we stopped… mama made friends! She really wanted this little birdie to come home with her… not sure how Boo (cat) would have felt about that!

We stopped in Heavy’s BBQ in Sparta and she couldn’t resist to show me how she used to climb up in her father’s wagon. I kept telling her she was going to split her pants trying… but she insisted!

A couple of older pictures I found showing mama’s gardens… from back in the day. It was nice to see how it once bloomed. She had more stamina in her 70’s and 80’s that puzzled everyone! I bet she’s fussing with God now over his gardens… and not thinking twice to tell him what he’s doing wrong!

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My previous years of A to Z Challenges:

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For more A to Z of Mama in Photos… click HERE!

© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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