Gail’s daughter, Virginia, shares a memory.
Make your own play kitchen
When my little sister was eight, Mom made a play kitchen for a big Christmas gift for her. The play kitchen appliances were made from large cardboard boxes. Just decorate them with paint that you have around and felt-tipped markers. There was a “stove” and a “refrigerator” plus shelves for storing the “food.”
The play food for the play kitchen started out as real food for the family. When Mom shopped for groceries, she bought small sizes of boxes and cans of regular food. She opened the cans from the bottom and washed out the interior. They looked like child-sized versions of real food sitting in the play kitchen cupboards. Nothing was wasted, as we ate the food. There were small cans of fruit juice and single-serving boxes of raisins.
I still remember how much fun my sister had playing with those cans and boxes and her cardboard appliances. The empty containers looked colorful and realistic on the shelves.
The house we lived in then had a large basement, so there was plenty of room for the kid-sized kitchen down there.
Melissa & Doug Grocery Cans Play Food – 10 Stackable CansView DetailsKidKraft Ultimate Corner Play Kitchen with Lights & SoundsView Details
The play kitchen and play foods above are available from Amazon. Of course, you can just make your own, like Mom did for Shannon.
Gail Lee Martin submitted this recipe when the local historical society wanted recipes from the 1920s and 1930s. It appeared in the book, Grandmother’s Legacy: A Collection of Butler County Recipes.
Homemade Lye Soap
5 lbs of grease
1 quart of water
1 can of lye
Save clean fat scraps from meat, lard, and hog scraps. Melt into the grease. Strain through a cloth and let cool. Add the lye gradually to one quart of water in a stone crock and mix until dissolved. Pour this mixture into the grease. Stir thoroughly until congealed. Pour this mixture into cardboard box molds to cool. Let stand a couple of days. Using a wire, cut the soap into usable size pieces.
Recipe Notes: On wash days, my mother would use her paring knife to shave slivers of this soap into her copper wash boiler where it slowly dissolved. Clothes came out very white in those days. It was also used as a poison ivy medicine. Melt and put warm all over the blisters.
To find lye, look for Sodium hydroxide. It is also called caustic soda. Store it safely, as it is quite toxic if ingested.
In 2010, Gail Lee Martin wrote this how-to article for the eHow site.
How to Use Old Bottles for Vases
Things You’ll Need:
- old bottles
- soap and water
- GooGone (optional)
I have a thing about glass, especially colored glass bottles. Some of this might come from my father and grandfather, who worked in the Tyro Glass Plant in the early 1900s.
But my own memories of colored glass bottles began in the early days in the oilfields in northern Greenwood County. Most of the bottles we had were ones we saved after using the contents or were found at the camp’s trash dump in a nearby gully. My mother would pick wild flowers for bouquets to put in the dinky rooms of the shot-gun house we lived in at the Phillip’s Petroleum Company’s oilfield camp.
Mother had a tall brown bottle that she used for sunflowers, daisies, and cattails. Mother and I collected all kinds of dried weeds that looked great in this type of vase.
Photo by Virginia Allain
I think it was possibly a beer bottle but to Mother, it was just a unique brown bottle. Because of its height, you need taller flowers or grasses to balance the look.
She had several blue colored bottles of different shapes and sizes. A small blue perfume bottle was used for wild rose buds or the tiny, pale lavender sheep-shower blooms. The taller blue, flat bottles were so pretty filled with wild asters.
Some of the blue colored ones had contained Milk-of-Magnesium at one time. The Vicks VapoRub came in a squat, blue jar with a wide mouth. I loved to float blossoms in them. My parents grew hollyhocks and just one blossom would spread out across the top, completely covering the bottle except for the shiny blue bottom.
Photo by Virginia Allain
For larger bouquets, Mother would get out one of her green canning jars that currently are so coveted by antique dealers. The opening in this type of container was much larger than most bottles. The long woody stems of the wild gooseberry with tiny yellow blossoms were spectacular in this tall green jar. When we set this bouquet on the library table in front of the south window, the Kansas sun shone through the glass adding sparkle to the arrangement.
Tips & Warnings
Soak the bottles to remove the labels. GooGone
helps get off the adhesive.
Wash the inside of the bottle.
The taller, slimmer bottles are easily knocked over, so put them where they won’t get bumped.
Gail’s collection of vintage green canning jars
Laundry was a big chore with eight people in the Martin family. The wringer washer and the washtubs for rinse water moved to the middle of the farmhouse kitchen on wash day. Baskets of wet, heavy clothing, as well as sheets, and towels were lugged out to the clothesline, hung up with the wooden clothespins, and later brought back inside.
On freezing days, it was difficult to gather the stiff, contorted clothing, shaped by the Kansas wind. We thawed them inside, but of course, they were still damp. Actually, the dampness made them just right for ironing.
Since wash day was such a process, Mom opted for a simple meal. Often it was a pot of navy bean soup. She soaked the beans overnight, rinsed them, then let them simmer all day long. For supper, freshly baked cornbread slathered with butter accompanied the hearty bean soup.
This all came to my mind today as I made a huge pot of bean soup using the ham bone left from New Year’s Day dinner. I use a package of 15 kinds of beans. Here’s my 15 bean soup recipe. I’m sure Mom would have loved it.
Virginia Allain’s 15-bean soup