Ode to Leila and Her Butter Patties

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My mother was raised on a farm in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, near the town of Aylesford. She attended Acadia University in nearby Wolfville, where she met my Dad. They got married in 1949 and proceeded to have four children as they made their way west and settled in Ontario. Mom is now 89 years old and, following the death of our father, Ron, earlier this year, she is about to sell their home and move into a seniors’ residence.

Her name is Leila Kathleen. Her sister is Iona, their mother was Etta, and she had aunts named Marjorie and Mabel. She came out of a farm culture, where people made do, lived simply, and held to strong values. She painted watercolours and taught piano, and was a wonderful mother, sweet and full of Maritime friendliness. She may not understand computers and cellphones, but as a giving, loving, genuine rock-solid human being, she surpasses most people in what really matters.

Ron and Leila Crosby

Ron and Leila Crosby (summer 2014)

As my mother clears out her home in preparation for moving, she is giving away a lot of her things. There are her many watercolours and photographs, furniture and books, old woollen blankets, lamps and tools, even an antique, hand-cranked eggbeater. There is also beautiful old china, much of which, I’m thrilled to say, is coming to me: exquisite little butter patties used back in the day when each person at the table had their own pat of butter; demi-tasses; cups and saucers and, of course, pretty plates, including the one on this blog’s masthead. They have been handed down from my great-great grandmother to my grandmother to my mother, and now to me, and I will cherish them until it’s time to pass them on again.

Antique flow blue plate

Antique flow blue plate

Butter patties

Butter patties

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Many of Mom’s dishes are “flow blue,” a term used to describe ceramics decorated with blue underglaze designs that “bleed” or “flow” into the white body of the piece when the glaze is fired in the kiln. The patterns appear smudged or blurred rather than sharp and clear. This method of decorating ceramics originated in the Staffordshire district of England in the late 1820s.

You might have guessed by now that there is no recipe in today’s blog post, just this ode to Leila and and her butter patties and a celebration of a time when people sipped tea from cups that looked like flowers, and served sandwiches and cakes on individual works of art.

14 thoughts on “Ode to Leila and Her Butter Patties

  1. Adrien Duey

    What a warm and wonderful way of telling a story, and documenting someone so close & dear.
    …”what really matters” is the recipe this time around.
    As always, thanks!


  2. Lisa

    So lovely Louise! And I just love her china…each piece is so beautiful and they definitely remind me of Leila and her paintings. I’m sure as you use them you’ll have memories from times they’ve been used in the past. Keep these coming along with the recipes…fabulous photos to look at.

  3. Amanda

    What a lovely tribute to your mother and her role as guardian of the family’s beautiful china.
    I haven’t seen her for so long and she looks positively youthful and full of fun in the great photo of her and Ron. I have never heard of butter patties so learned something new. I am glad the china is coming to you since you clearly have a great appreciation for beautiful dishes and will take great care of them. Your photos tell their own story.

    1. Louise Crosby Post author

      I want to say thanks to you all for your kind comments. It’s a good time in my life, and in my mother’s, to be writing this.

  4. Doritt crosby

    Well-written! A lovely ode to a very special lady who treasures her dishes and their history almost as much as she does her family. We are blessed to have her as our mom.

  5. Leslie

    Louise, I was just looking through your site and I was so touched by your article about your mother and your china… you know how I love the finer things in life but I loved seeing a photo of your parents ! I feel like I know your mother but when I saw the photo I realized that of course I don’t — I have never met her ! What a lovely tribute.
    Love, Leslie

    1. Louise Crosby Post author

      Why thank you, Leslie. So glad you liked that post. Since our families both have cottages at Lac Sam, we will have to organize a get-together that includes my Mom, so you can meet her. Maybe this summer.

  6. Primavera

    Louise it is so lovely to see you using this china that has such deep family connections. It is really gorgeous. I would assume they would be hand painted in 1820. Can a I request a post with a hint of your mother’s water colour work somewhere in the picture?


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