Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Most people are familiar with this historical event — the Great Depression — which began in 1929 with the stock market crash, and lasted 10 years. Those years probably seemed excruciatingly long to those going through it and suffering its effects.

If you’ve ever read the book, The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, you’ve gotten a good look at what life was like for so many during that time. If you have never read it, I highly recommend it.

I’m sure you’ve also heard the phrase, “Depression-era mentality”, used to refer to the habit folks have of hanging on to things “just in case” they might need them after having lived through that time.

While I never heard my grandmother, Hazel’s mother, talk about the depression much, and she was NOT a hoarder at all, she did keep some things with that mentality, yet she was also very organized.

I believe that living where they lived, they were not as affected by the depression as other folks may have been. They already lived in a fairly poor area, so they were already accustomed to being frugal and doing without.

Hazel and her brother, Donald, were both born during the Great Depression. I can’t imagine how scary it would have been to be trying to raise a family when times were in such turmoil. If you’ve ever seen the movie, Seabiscuit, at the very beginning, Toby Maguire’s character is just dropped off at the stables by his parents because they couldn’t take care of all their children, and they knew he could work there, even at his young age. I can’t imagine just leaving one of my children somewhere like that, even if I knew it might mean a better life for him. Thankfully, that never happened in our family!

Here’s a couple of related links about Hazel’s early years:

It All Begins

The Family Grows

I’m also reasonably sure that Mildred and Vern never let on to their children that times were hard, so they probably never knew how bad things were, and thought they had a pretty good life — plus they were so young they might not have remembered much about it. And in so many ways, they did have a good life — a much better life than a lot of other people had in that same time period. Truly blessed.

And immediately at the end of The Great Depression, World War II began . . .

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American Beauty

On this day in 1951, Hazels mentions that she’s reading the book, “American Beauty.”

My first thought was that it was a book that the movie starring Kevin Spacey was based on, but when I researched that, I found that the movie was actually written as a screenplay and is not based on a book.

So I had to dig a little deeper, and found that the “American Beauty” Hazel is talking about is a novel written in 1931 by Edna Ferber. I bought a Kindle version from Amazon and read it. And I liked it!

It’s not very long, and it’s got an overall sad feel, and really, all I can tell you is that it’s about a house, a wonderful house in Connecticut that I’d love to take a tour of if it were real.

I’m not a fan of new writing — I prefer the classics and the older stuff, so this was right up my alley. If you’re looking for a quick read, this one won’t set you back too much. I’ve read lots better and more riveting things, but I’m still not disappointed with this one. I may have to check out some of Edna Ferber’s other novels.

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A Simple Life

They’re on the way!!! Woohoo!

“A Simple Life: Quilts Inspired by the ’50s” is available now!


To get your signed copy, you can purchase it here in my Etsy shop, or contact me if you prefer a different method, and we’ll work something out.

I also urge you to check with your local quilt shop, as I hope a lot of shops will be carrying it — buying from your LQS helps support them, and saves you shipping costs.

Here’s a couple more sneak peeks of some of the projects you’ll find in the book.

This quilt is called Happily Ever After:


And my favorite quilt in the entire book — I love this quilt so much — is called Fancy Farm Girl:


There are nine projects total included in the book. I hope you’ll love them all as much as I do!

If you order now, I’ll be shipping books on Monday, May 2nd, and Friday, May 6th. After that, I should have them in stock for immediate shipment at the time you place your order.

If you prefer to purchase from me in person, check HERE for a schedule of where I’ll be doing book signings, and visit me there!

If your group or organization would like a trunk show on “The Life of Hazel Ilene”, just give me a holler and we’ll work out the details.

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In Honor of Hazel’s Birthday

I have a very special announcement to make today.

Hazel would have been 79 years old today, and at the time she wrote all these diary entries, I am sure she never imagined that they would someday be in print for all the world to see and read.

I often wonder if she would be excited and proud, or embarrassed?

I, for one, am thrilled that she made her diary an interesting read, full of information on styles, fads, local and world events, school happenings, places, people, and the trivia of rural life in the early 1950s. It’s been an amazing glimpse into what everyday life was really like back then.

I started this project with the intention of offering quilting patterns inspired by the diary — here on the blog as free quilt-alongs, as an accompanying line of patterns (coming soon), and whatever else I can dream up that comes along — so I hope you’ll stick around. There’s a lot more still to come!

The quilt designs inspired by the diary are numerous, and seem to come to me faster than I can get them turned into patterns and quilt-along projects. As you probably already know, if you’ve been here before, one of those designs is this year’s Kansas City Star Block-of-the-Month quilt. (Month 9 comes out in tomorrow’s paper!)

Earlier this year, Kansas City Star sold their book division to C&T Publishing. C&T is planning to keep the Kansas City Star line of quilting books alive and well, and I’m happy to announce that one of those quilting books is going to be some of the quilt projects that I’ve designed based on the diary!

The book is called “A Simple Life: Quilts Inspired by the ’50s“, and it will first and foremost feature the “Hazel’s Diary” block-of-the-month quilt, with the instructions all in one handy place:


There will be more diary-related stories and pictures, plus 8 other quilting projects with a “mid-century modern meets traditional” flair. While I’m a little bit partial, I think all the projects turned out beautifully, and I think you’ll like them, too.

If you’ll keep your eyes on the blog, I’ll be giving some sneak peeks as we get closer to a book release date, which I believe is sometime in December! EEEeeee!!

In addition to the book, there is a lot of other stuff coming up here on the blog — you won’t want to miss it: more quilt-alongs, tutorials, recipes, that line of patterns I mentioned above, and several more things I’m keeping under wraps for a bit longer — so stick around!

Sixty-one years ago today, Hazel Ilene Hyde turned 18, and she’s getting married to the love of her life in exactly two weeks. Stay tuned . . .

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January 24, 1954

Sun. – Peg was here last nite & today. Dale came up this aft. & we looked at his yearbook. I’m so sleepy. I’ve read the best book – “We Shook the Family Tree.” Mom got a permanent today.

They probably got a few laughs out of Dale’s yearbook. He graduated from Macon High School in 1952, and alongside the pictures of all the seniors in the yearbook, there was a motto for each of them.

Dale’s motto was: “Like a circle ending never, my tongue runs on forever.” So funny, and yet so true! That man loves to talk! And has never yet run out of things to say, even at the age of 80!

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December 30, 1953

Read on my book most all day. Washed my hair, took a bath & watched T.V. & cut my toenails tonite. I’m dead tired. “Silver Chalice” was a lovely book & I finished it tonite.

I’m so laughing at the toenails part — how funny!

“The Silver Chalice” is a good book. I’m reading it, and I like it so far. It’s a novel written in 1952 by Thomas B. Costain.

Jane (Day) Wisdom, a schoolmate of Hazel’s, sent me the following note about the book:

“I read it too and watched the movie at least once. Can’t remember much about it. That was Mrs. Christy’s personal book and she let some of us read it. Wish she had bought more for us to read. I don’t remember a single new book in the library all the many years I was using it.”

I doubt the school had a lot of money to buy books for its small library. I think it’s wonderful that Mrs. Christy passed some of her personal books around.

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December 27, 1953

Stayed home from church & S.S. cause I was sick. Dale came up this afternoon & we stayed at home. I read on my book tonite “The Silver Chalice”. My eyes hurt. Daddy went to Mildred Wright’s funeral today.

That’s not much of a way to spend the break, being sick. But she probably needs the down time, and she’s finding time to just read a book.

Sad that there has to be a funeral around the holidays. It’s sad anytime, but it always seems even more sad when it’s around Christmas.

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Worked all day. Got my history. It took almost all morning. Ruby came out this aft. & I went to Doris’ & then to Grandma’s with her to get eggs. A few days ago a little boy (Bobby Greenlease) was kidnapped & killed.

The kidnapping of Bobby Greenlease is one of the most famous kidnappings in history. At the time, it led to the largest ransom payout in history — $600,000 — over half of which was never recovered.

Taken from his school on the morning of September 28, Bobby had been murdered by his kidnappers, Carl Austin Hall and Bonnie Brown Heady, almost immediately. He was 6 years old.

For a riveting and extremely detailed account of the entire ordeal, I highly recommend the book “Zero at the Bone: The Playboy, the Prostitute, and the Murder of Bobby Greenlease”, by John Heidenry.


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September 25, 1953

Dale came up tonite & we went to drive-in to see King Solomons Mines. Was really good. I was the first girl to make a basket at the goal in our new gym. Donna was down today. We practiced BB today in our shorts.

Oh, the defiance! Wearing their shorts to practice basketball.

And what an historic event — being the first girl to make a basket at the goal in the new gym — she should be famous!

KingSolomonsMinesI could not find “King Solomon’s Mines” to watch, but I do intend to read the book . . .

“King Solomon’s Mines” is a novel written in 1885 by H. Rider Haggard, about a group of adventurers searching for a missing man in unexplored regions of Africa. The movie was made in 1950, and stars Deborah Kerr and Stewart Granger.


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September 3, 1953

Went to school. I see Alec every day working on the gym. Mailed letter to Dale today. I read a book – Ethan Frome, today, & I love it. The best book I’ve ever read. I cried when I read it. I’m awful lucky to have Dale. Sue B. is writing to Ronnie Lenzini.

Alec is Dale’s uncle, and he’s a carpenter. The new gym is getting built — how exciting!

Ethan Frome, a novel published in 1911, was written by Edith Wharton. It was made into a movie in 1993, starring Liam Neeson. I have read the book, and it is very sad. Rather than making me cry, however, it made me somewhat angry. I haven’t gotten to watch the movie yet, but it’s definitely on my list. I highly recommend the book — it’s a short read, and you can even read it for free on Project Gutenberg’s site.

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