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Years ago, with two little girls and myself to keep clothed on a teacher's salary, it was out of necessity I tried my hand at sewing. My husband's aunt, Iva, allowed me to use her mother's old family heirloom sewing machine. It was an old treddle machine that used a spool of thread for the bobbin and a foot power to get it to sew.

Considering my skills and the machine, I didn't do too bad of a job. My mother, who was an excellent seamstress, lived way down in the Bootheel of Missouri, so she was not able to help me very much. In stepped my friend, Lelia Harden, who lived just across town.

Whenever I had needed help, I just called her, and she came right over to my house to either fix the problem or show me how to take care of it myself. My girls were young enough — the fact that the outfits were new and colorful was sufficient.

In the year 1965, my mother won an off-brand electric sewing machine. The catch to the deal stipulated the winner had to buy a cabinet for the machine. Not needing the machine for herself, mother called asking if I wanted it. Of course I did! I just didn't have the cash necessary to purchase the cabinet.

So mother loaned me the money, and I was thrilled beyond words. I used that machine for a number of years. Since it didn't have any attachments for button holes or fancy stitching, I still relied on my friend, Lelia, to do these for me.

One day, I saw in a newspaper Singer sewing machines were on sale. I talked Lelia into going with me, just to have a look at the machines. She was an expert seamstress, and since she had recently purchased the same machine, I felt I needed her advice as well as her ability to bargain with the dealer on my behalf.

Well, things progressed smoothly. I got a good trade-in on my old machine plus 10 yards of free material of my choice, as well as a fair price on the new machine. I was so proud of myself. Lelia didn't even get in on the discussion at all. She sorta stood back a bit and watched in amazement as I bartered with the sales person.

As we loaded the car with the material and the new, more modern, up-to-date sewing machine, Lelia looked at me and stated, "I don't know why you thought you needed me. You did a pretty good job on your own."

I continued to sew for my daughters and myself until they finished high school. I even made a good-looking suit for my son. Then, at some point, I sorta lost interest in sewing. There were other things I preferred doing. With time, what skill I had achieved soon was lost, and I just quit making material all together.

Those of you who do a lot of sewing usually have foods already prepared that can be stuck into the oven or cooking in the slow cooker. There is no time for tending to a meal if you want to sew. Below is a good recipe you can try — easy, not expensive. Try this one sometime.

SLOW COOKER CHICKEN

Wash and clean, under cold running water, a fryer, about 2-21/2 pounds.

Take out the package containing the neck, liver and gizzard. (Do what you want with those.)

Place the whole chicken (breast side up) in the slow cooker. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add 1/2 cup of water to the slow cooker. Cover and turn on high, cooking for about 41/2-5 hours, until chicken is tender and legs pull apart easily. Take from slow cooker and serve immediately. Leftovers (if any) may be used for chicken sandwiches or noodles for soup.

TIP: I take those pieces from the inside of the chicken, put in a pan, cover with water and simmer until any meat scraps can be removed. Add one or two bouillon cubes, and you have liquid to make good broth for another time.

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