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Classic suit has changed to keep up with times

In 1963, I bought an expensive, stylish suit, imported from Italy. Because of its fine fabric and classic design, I have enjoyed wearing it on special occasions since that time.

However, the skirt became too tight around the waist. So I removed the waistband, added some material to it, adjusted four darts and sewed the waistband back on the skirt.

When the skirt needed to be longer, I let down the hem and stitched lace around it. Then I turned up the lace to form a new hem. To change its look over the years, I have worn different blouses and shoes with 'Old Faithful.'

Des Moines, Iowa

Pink dress was a real learning experience

In the late 1950s, when I was in high school, all of the girls took home economics. Sewing was a big part of the class. Our first year was spent making potholders, aprons and other simple projects.

By our second year, we were ready to take on more complex sewing. Our teacher that year decided we should make dresses to model in a spring fashion show. It sounded exciting, but our teacher had some unusual ideas.

She told us to buy our patterns two sizes larger than normal to allow for 'ease of movement.' Needless to say, all of our dresses were huge, and they needed lots of altering.

The teacher also had us name our creations for the fashion show. I named mine 'Pink Panic,' which aptly described how I felt about it. Amazingly, I was chosen the winner in the show, but I never wore the dress again.

I still enjoy sewing, and almost 50 years later, I'm grateful for the experience I gained from the class.

Tonganoxie, Kan.

Sewing is a creative outlet

During World War II, there was a fabric shortage. I went through high school wearing white feed sack blouses with colored feed sack skirts.

Later, I made a lot of feed sack shirts for my three sons. I could make a shirt for them while they napped. The good parts of their grandfather's trousers were used to make toddler pants when the boys were little.

When favorite shirts wore out, I cut the backs into squares and hemmed them for handkerchiefs. Backs of bigger shirts became waist aprons for me. Faded gathered skirts became everyday pillowcases for our beds. The four corners of worn towels became washrags. Nothing was wasted.

In retirement, I've made a lot of baby blankets and many nap blankets for nursery school students, as well as lap blankets for patients in health-care facilities. I wore out my sewing machine and got another one at an estate sale almost like it.

I can't sing or make music, I'm not artistic, and I can't draw great pictures, but my sewing is creative, and I enjoy it.

Monticello, Ind.

Patchwork nightgown was a joy to make and give

For the past 10 years I've been sewing a long, flannel nightgown for my daughter-in-law for Christmas. She loves them, and it solves the question of a gift for her each Christmas.

Last year, a close friend of mine saw the nightgown and loved it. She wanted one, too. I said, 'OK, let's go buy the flannel.' After I got back home, I realized that we'd been so busy with other things that we forgot to buy the flannel.

My mind kicked into high gear. First, I got out my box of 10 year's worth of scraps and odds and ends of flannel. I spread the lot of them on my bed. There was a profusion of flowers of all kinds, in every color of the rainbow and then some, with the exception of blue, because my daughter-in-law does not care for blue.

There was one piece with suns and moons all over it. Another had ivy climbing all over a trellis, and there was even one with kitty cats on it. It was an eclectic collection, if I ever saw one. An idea started to form.

Two of the larger pieces would make a back panel, if sewn together. Another large piece would make a half of a front panel, but another one would have to be pieced together with another piece to make the other half of the front panel. Five different materials made up the body of the gown. Six different small pieces sewn together made the front and back of the yoke, and both sleeves were differ­ent. One print had red roses on a yellow background, and the other had purple lilacs on a pink background.

I used small, colorful pieces to make a pocket, trim the cuffs, and add to the bottom where it was too short. The finished product was a spectrum of brilliant hues. It was a patchwork nightgown!

When my daughter-in-law saw it, she went bonkers. I had quite a time getting it away from her to give to my friend. Only after I made her a promise to make one like it for her, did she agree to relinquish it. When my friend saw it, she was speechless. I could have sold a dozen of them just like it. It was a joy to make, and a joy to give.

Alhambra, Calif.

Love at first sight?

Stories of how couples came together are fascinating. Whether they were childhood sweethearts or they met by chance, most couples have an interesting story to tell.

Did you and your spouse meet in an unusual way? Was it love at first sight, or were you just friends at first? Tell us how you and your spouse became acquainted.

Send your letters to Kate Marchbanks, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265.

Turkey and side dishes complete your Thanksgiving feast

Every year at the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line (1-800-BUTTERBALL), home economists and nutritionists answer thousands of questions, yet invariably the same concerns crop up.

'Many of our callers want to prepare a large Thanksgiving 'the way Mom did,' but ask how they can make the meal easier,' says Mary Clingman, director of the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line. 'Our best advice is to plan what needs to be accomplished, buy what you can early and prepare what you can ahead of time.'

To help first-time cooks and seasoned pros alike create memorable holiday meals, the home economists and experts at the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line will be available starting Nov. 1. Advice, tips and delicious recipes are also available at www.Butterball.com. Here are a few recipes to complete your holiday feast.

Thanksgiving dinner wouldn't be complete without turkey, the main attraction.

-Butterball Turkey
TRADITIONAL FEAST: Thanksgiving dinner just wouldn't be complete without the main attraction, Glazed Turkey.

Glazed Turkey

1/4 cup barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee crystals
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons margarine
1 frozen turkey (14 lbs.), thawed
Nonstick cooking spray

Heat oven to 325°F.

Combine barbecue sauce, corn syrup, coffee and cumin in a glass measuring cup. Microwave on high for 1 minute, stirring once, or until coffee is dissolved. Add margarine; stir until melted. Set glaze aside to cool.

Remove neck and giblets from body and neck cavities of turkey; refrigerate for another use or discard. Drain juices from turkey; pat dry with paper towels. Turn wings back to hold neck skin against back of turkey. Place turkey, breast up, on a flat roasting rack in a shallow roasting pan. Spray turkey with cooking spray.

Bake turkey for 2 hours; brush turkey while baking with some of the glaze. Loosely cover breast and tops of drumsticks with aluminum foil to prevent overcooking of breast and to keep from browning too much.

Continue baking turkey for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until meat thermometer reaches 180°F when inserted in deepest part of thigh, brushing with additional glaze after 30 minutes. Let turkey stand for 15 minutes before carving. Yields 14 servings.

This rich-tasting side dish is perfect for a special meal.

-Butterball Turkey
SUPER SIDE DISH: Creamy Broccoli with Turkey Bacon is perfect for a special meal.

Creamy Broccoli with Turkey Bacon

6 cups fresh broccoli florets
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, cubed
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
4 strips turkey bacon, cooked, chopped
1/4 cup sunflower kernels, roasted and salted

Place broccoli, water and salt in a saucepan; cover. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer for 8 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Drain and keep warm.

Place cream cheese and milk in another saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Stir in mustard and bacon; cook for 1 minute.

Add broccoli; mix lightly. Spoon into a serving dish; sprinkle with sunflower kernels. Serve immediately. Yields 8 servings.

This savory side dish combines all the best flavors of autumn.

Sweet Potato, Cheddar and Cider Gratin

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 large onions, peeled and sliced thin
2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded smoked cheddar cheese, divided
Ground nutmeg, to taste
Salt and pepper, optional
1 1/2 cups apple cider

Heat oven to 375°F.

Brush 1 tablespoon oil over the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Set aside.

Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until quite soft, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

To make gratin, alternate layers of onion, sweet potatoes and 1 1/3 cups cheese. Sprinkle each layer lightly with nutmeg and salt and pepper, if desired. Pour cider over whole gratin.

Cover tightly and bake for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until potatoes are almost tender. Remove cover and bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle remaining cheese evenly over all; bake for 15 additional minutes, or until cheese has melted. Yields 10 servings.

Here's an updated version of traditional corn pudding.

Poblano Chile and Two Corn Pudding

Nonstick cooking spray
2 tablespoons margarine
2 medium poblano chilies, seeded, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 bag (16 oz.) frozen whole kernel corn
1 can (14.75 oz.) cream-style corn
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeño pepper
1 cup crushed white corn tortilla chips
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray an 11-by-7-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.

Melt margarine over medium heat in a large skillet. Add chilies and onion; cook and stir for 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add whole kernel corn; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cream-style corn.

Beat eggs and milk in a medium bowl. Pour over corn mixture in skillet; mixing until blended. Add cheese, tortilla chips and salt; mix lightly. Spoon into prepared baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Yields 10 servings.

Together with God

My mother is the sewer in our family. She is quite skillful at needlepoint and Swedish weaving. I, on the other hand, cannot see to thread a needle. My husband does it for me, and I must tell you, he is always amazed at my ability to sew on a button or hem his slacks.

I never confess that both are easy tasks, requiring little skill. Let him think I'm amazing. It's important to me that he does. I want him to be proud of what I do; it gives me confidence to try new things, maybe even more difficult challenges.

I'm amazed with him every time he threads the needle for me, amazed that he can see that small opening and slide the thread through. Who knows, someday I may even try to learn needlepoint - as long as he threads my needle.

Father, thank You for giving us loved ones, so that we can help each other through this life. May we always be amazed by our accomplishments, and may we always be challenged to continue to grow and try new things. Amen.

- D. Susan Rutz

A Letter From Kate

Dear Readers,

I'll admit it: I can't sew. Sure, I can sew on a button or make a few stitches for emergency repair, but I've never had the gift for sewing. I admire the people who can sew an entire outfit or create an intricate masterpiece, but I know I'll never be one of them. I just don't have the patience it takes.

My brief experience with the sewing arts came in my seventh-grade home economics class. The most fun I had that year was when my best friend and I took our cutting boards out to the sloping hallway to cut out our patterns. We found it was a really good place to do somersaults, and we spent most of an hour tumbling down the hallway, until our teacher found us and made us get back to work. The result of my efforts that year was a hideous pair of pajamas, which I never wore, of course.

My mother, however, is one of those people with a gift for sewing. She made most of my sister's and my dresses when we were little because she liked for us to wear matching outfits. When she couldn't find what she wanted in a store, she made our dresses herself, and they turned out to be a much better quality than the store-bought ones. She also made our Halloween costumes, and I always thought mine were among the finest at the school parades. In later years, Mom has made costumes for her grandchildren as well.

Mom doesn't sew as much as she used to, but when she does, she still puts love into every stitch.

Kate Marchbanks