Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas to all of you and my very intent wishes for all of us to have a fantastic and wonderful New Year!

I have had my hands full this past month, but I have a special project all lined up to share with you that I think you will like.  Stay tuned for my next blog on how I made these French script candles....

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

When Does One Equal Three?

XO Gallery bracelet by Kelly Conedera
For some time now, I have been in awe of XO Gallery jewelry artist Kelly Conedera's drop-dead gorgeous creations.  I adore the uniqueness, boldness and freedom of her jewelry designs.  Her use of color and shapes and textures and mixed metals just amazes my beginner's brain.  Although I like my own jewelry babies very much, I am still growing and developing my own style.  I want my jewelry to be more expressive and make a statement.  No run of the mill stuff will ever do for me.  My dear hubby used to buy me fine jewelry for occasions and I was always properly grateful, but they sit on their boxes never seeing the light of day.  ...Or night for that matter.  I get my thrills wearing artsy, rustic, natural pieces that have a personal meaning for me.  Wrap an uncut diamond in a rusty, soldered bezel and hang it from a piece of driftwood and you may turn my head.  I leave those cut and polished gems for the rest of you jewelry lovers!

I have been studying what Kelly's "Jewelry With Soul" has in them that makes them so wonderful in my eyes.  It has always been the case for me that I learn best by observing, and my builder brain will run construction forward and backwards figuring out how to DIY something I want to make.

In this case, I am pushing myself with this project as I am not working within my own comfort zone, but attempting to do this in XO Gallery style.  It forces me to use color more boldly and look at the texture of beads and how they interact in a way I am not used to doing.  These are the techniques I am guiding myself with:
  •  Bold colors
  •  Bold clasps
  •  Dangles near clasp
  •  Mixing metals
  •  Large and small beads used texturally
  •  Seed beads in strands
  •  Large hole beads to hide wire end connections 

 This gave me a new learning challenge that was exhilarating and freeing.  The main beads are colors that I am not used to exploring:  yellow and black.  These yellow beads have been around for years, and I think they were part of a macrame purse that wore out decades ago.   I have thrown in some turquoise and red beads for accent.  Initially thinking of blackened silver metal, the decision was for antiqued and shiny brass instead.  This piece turned out to be a stunning one if I do say so myself.  It was often a struggle and a stretch as each element was tackled.  

 SO, give you the answer to the question, when one equals three could really be turned around to "when does three equal one?"  ...And the answer is a stack-able bracelet set!  It was supposed to be one bracelet yet as work proceeded it made sense to be three instead.  Here is my stack-able creation

*****...And, as an added bonus, I have a finger-saving tip for anyone out there fighting the "flying jump ring" battle.  As a beginner, I am still working with rudimentary tools.  Jump rings are cut with flush cutters and filed into shape so the ends meet.  It is a grueling job and hard on fingertips.  I discovered that if I use a tiny scrap of paper around the jump ring to protect it from gouges, I can use the front oval of the crimp pliers to hold the jump ring while I file away.  Not only does it save my fingers from bruising pain (that happens when you love chain) but it holds very securely and keeps those rings in place.  It even works wonderfully for fidgeting those jump rings into closed position.  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pumpkin Waffles in Clouds of Cream Cheese and Fruit

Oooooh this was soooo gooood!

While doing my thing on Pinterest this past Sunday morning, a search turned up this recipe for pumpkin roll pancakes on Holiday Cottage.  My current favorite dessert recipe for the holidays is a pumpkin roll and I was hooked.  I was intrigued by a brief glimpse of chef Anne Burell on the Today show doing up a recipe using pumpkin and ricotta cheese and I had been drooling ever since.  Thing about it is this:  I wanted to make a recipe for waffles instead of pancakes.  I much prefer the crispness and bite of a waffle over a mushy pancake.  Knowing changes would have to be made to the basic recipe, I found this link which was very helpful.

As a rule, I am trying to cut sugar out of the diet.  For years I have been trying to loose a few pounds, and they just haven't gone anywhere.   Recently I was VERY pleased to discover that not having my usual honey in tea or coffee or a sweet snack made all the difference.  Pounds began shedding as if by magic.  After dumping six, I have sort of plateaued, but I guess I might have to work at it to get more off.  Anyway, I did not want to use more sugar for a crispier crust, so I actually reduced that in the recipe.  After all, there is plenty of sweetness in the topping and you could always drizzle this with maple syrup if you have a sweet tooth.  Ricotta didn't make it into the batter, but I did use buttermilk.

Pumpkin Waffles in the Clouds
  1. 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  2. 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  3. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  4. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  5. 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  6. 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  7. 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  8. 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  9. 3/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  10. 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  11. about 1 cup buttermilk
  12. 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  13. 2 tablespoons  melted butter or safflower oil
  14. 1 egg, separated
  15. 1/2 cup pumpkin puree 
  1. Pancakes. Mix together flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Make sure to break up any clumps of brown sugar. In a separate bowl, whip the egg white into the soft peak stage.  And in yet another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, vanilla, oil, egg yolk and pumpkin. Combine wet ingredients with dry and gently combine until mixed. Now, gently fold in the egg white mixture.  Do not over-mix.  The batter will be quite thick, but still easily pourable.
  2. Heat your waffle iron to medium-high heat. When hot, use a nonstick spray to coat the grill. Drop 1/3 cup batter onto the grill and cook until the steaming stops and waffles are nicely browned and slightly crispy.
  3. Serve with a dollop of cream cheese topping and a sprinkle of chopped pecans and perhaps a drizzle of maple syrup.
  4. Makes about 6 waffles.

Sauteed Fruit
  1. 2 Green apples diced
  2. Handful of raisins
  3. Handful of dried apricots, chopped
  4. 2 Tbsp butter
  5. 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  6. 1-2 tsp of Cinnamon
Melt butter in frypan over low heat and add apples.  Saute a few minutes until apples begin to soften and then add raisins and apricots and cinnamon. Add sugar and enough water to cover the bottom of the pan and allow it to simmer over low heat and it develops a syrup.  Don't let it get too dry!  This can be used alone for topping waffles of pancakes as a healthier alternative to syrup.

 Cream Cheese Clouds
  1. 4 ounces cream cheese
  2. 2 Tbsp butter
  3. 2 tablespoons powdered sugar (or as needed for consistency)
  4. 2 Tbsp pumpkin puree
  5. 1/2 cup of cold sauteed fruit
 Prepare whipped cream by beating cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar until smooth and creamy.  Fold in the fruit. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Far Far Away

I was flying off into the distance (and yes that is a propeller!) this past week to a place I hold dear sitting deep in the mountains of Pennsylvania.  Family business called and so I went for the first time in over a decade to join with all my cousins.  I had never seen the new lodge that has replaced the family cabin that burned down.  It was a fast and furious weekend filled with the weight and pressures of many issues, one of which was wondering how adjustments from passing years would have changed us all.  Well, we all have gotten older, so that was a gentle impression all around. 

Old lady aches and pains paid me a visit and so I was not up to rambling to places I wanted to visit, but I did manage to take some small walks and do just a little foraging, and I took lots of photos to share.  As I walked the creek, I was hoping to find a small piece of driftwood.  For years I had one that I used as a shawl pin.  It slipped out on a trip to the grocery store about a year ago, and I do miss it.  Sorry to say I did not find one.

There are always flowers for filling vases, whether they be day lilies, Queen Anne's lace, bee-balm, daisies, forget-me-nots, yarrow, and many others.  I did not have time this visit to forage for wild herbs, but on other visits I always did.  The woods and fields are abundant with natural remedies, but they didn't help a young girl named Mary who died of rheumatic fever nearly one hundred years ago.  This sad "ghost" story never ceases to intrigue the generations and there is always someone who wants to see her grave.  Rest in peace Mary.

So many memories of so many good and nurturing times.  Some things are just so simple, like waking down the old road and feeling the powdered dust of the clay ooze between my toes.  Now however, the road is covered by a layer of small gravel and bare-footing there would be just a little too uncomfortable.  Such is life, enjoying what we have when it is within our reach and then letting go once it is gone.  Changes are inevitable and we must make adjustments continually.

Just like this new "old" stove which has its place next to a modern electric one and the microwave heating my cup of tea, above it, transitions ought to be subtle.  I loved the real old stove we had there and used it whenever I visited.  There is absolutely nothing like "cabin toast" made from homemade bread and toasted over the dieing coals, spread with real butter and homemade jellies.  Add to that crispy fried scrapple, sunny-side up eggs, sausage and bacon, and sometimes flapjacks if Uncle Jim was cooking.  In the Fall, night temps went down to the forties, and I would wake at four something in the morning and rush downstairs to start a fire in the stove.  Getting back up at seven, the cabin was warm and cozy with the stove hot to cook on.  Oh, those really were the good old days!

Friday, August 23, 2013

BedSack Frock

Yay!  I am making progress on the BedSack painter's style frock that I started a few weeks ago.  I was in a holding pattern for a while due to decisions regarding design.  I was really trying to keep in the neutral color range and colors just kept intruding into my plans.  Here are some photos and a few things I have done so far....

This is the frock with sewing done except for buttonholes.  You can see a little discoloration but this will not be an issue after I do some over-dying.

In this second photo, I show a close-up of the tall skinny pocket I added just for my reading glasses.  I have patched in some fragments of lace trim and leftover quilt scraps to make it a little more fun.


If you iron the shiny side of freezer paper to the back side of the fabric it will adhere and stabilize  so that you can paint of draw or write verse as I have done.  This happens to be a poetic sort of thought I had years back as I gazed out over a small mountain meadow as dusk was settling over the valley.  I thought I had enough room but got too expressive toward the end of the last of it and so it is not so perfect..

"Like bubbles in a glass of champagne, fireflies arose from the tall grasses of the meadow and twinkled away into the dusky twilight."

To complete the thought, I added machine and hand embroidered grass, and some rhinestone sparkles to simulate fireflies.  Here is the hoop I used for both the machine and hand work.  It is essential to keep the fabric taut so the stitches will not pucker the fabric.  There will be more updates as I move along with this garment, but I do not expect to be in a hurry with it.  I think it will be a work in progress for a long time to come.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Just a quick update for those of you readers who may by some remote reason be interested, here is an evolution of what the Bloom knitting is doing...

These semi-circles will be for the hem edge and I think that I will be using strips sewn together for the body.  So, I will knit these upward in straight rows until I get to the length I want, and then they will be pieced together.  I am planning the body to be all green, but one never knows until it happens!

I just came from the fabric store a little while ago.  A touch of cool weather reminded me that my loved too much quilted silk jacket is going threadbare in oh so many places.  I picked up some fabric to trim over those bare spots and keep that jacket going for maybe another 11 years.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Out of the Fog

What can I say about blocks to creativity that has not already been said?  I have been in a funk for a few months now.  ...Too many cares, too many others to see to.  That is often the way of it for caregivers.  ...Issues of change, ...getting older, ...not enough rest or "ME" time.  Well, slowly I have been pushing up and out of the fog of oblivion and grabbing back some of myself, and what better way than to make something fun to wear?  I love clothing and adornments.  It's not so much about how many clothes I can squish into my closet and drawers, because I certainly have plenty, but it is about a love of color and texture and how I express myself.  I guess you could say that I am like a chameleon (except that I am certainly better looking), feeling it's necessary to change with my moods ad surroundings.  Anyone that knows me well can see at a glance how I am feeling at the moment just through a look at what I am wearing.  Years ago, when my first marriage ended, I spent colorless months in browns and gray and black.  Ugh!  Now I am much more fond of whimsy and bright colors.

Jane Thornley's Bloom

Getting back to knitting!  Last week I started a new shrug (I think).  ...Never quite sure of what something will turn into!  The pattern I am using is Jane Thornley's Bloom.  Jane's last few patterns have all been based on those wonderful free-range semi-circles that seem to shout out happiness and whimsy to me.  I do better with shrugs than wraps however, so shrug it will be.  I am feeling very limey and have almost nothing to wear in lime and greens.  That's a good excuse to make something don't you agree?


Sewing too!  I have had a "too much thought" period and I had to burst out of that too.  Too much mentalizing over a project can kill it deader than a doornail.  The project in question is the tunic top with the embroidered fabric.  Anyone who has done serious sewing knows that there is often a fear of cutting into a precious piece of fabric, and this has had its grip on me since I conceived the idea.  I have to keep reminding myself that if I don't go through with this project, the fabric will be back in storage and who knows what will happen to it?  Anyway, to get up my scrapping/patching courage, I have begun on a less invested piece of work.  I had an old bed-sack of still good muslin, and for some time I have bee wanting a painterly kind of frock.  Going through old patterns, I found just the thing for a Lagenlook style frock.  I am sure that I will be making all versions before I am done with this pattern!  I have combined the bottom middle one with the top right.  Mine will be center front opening but with closed ruffles in the skirt.  ...Or maybe it will open all the way.  We will see.  All the pieces are cut, and I plan to add applied design that will have a theme of some kind.  I am currently in the mood to keep the colors in the close natural hue of the muslin, but that can change.  Really, nothing says "paint on me!" like an empty canvas!

Next time be prepared for a mantel surprise!


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Oh My Achy Back!

Well, it has been a long while since I spent much time crawling around on the floor, but I have been
doing plenty of that lately.  Back to the bathroom that I began to paint after we had to put in a new shower and added a new floor too.  It was a gorgeous remodel all thanks to a shower pan leak, and I was gung-ho to get a whole new bathroom.  However, I ran into painting problems right away.  It was too humid (even with air-conditioning) and was not drying properly and the process upset me so that I gave up once the walls were finally done and behaving themselves.  It has taken me 2 years to get back to it.  Funny how that happened:  I was cleaning the bathroom, and those funky cabinets stared at me reminding me that they were still waiting their makeover, when the doorbell rang.  There stood a young man trying to sell me gutters, and asked if there were any other repairs he could do.  I smiled sweetly and said "no," knowing all the while that I had PLENTY of repair chores needing attention!  When I returned to the bathroom cleaning, I suddenly and impulsively grabbed a screwdriver and my drill and promptly removed the doors from the cabinet.  Now there was no going back, I had committed!

My plan was to add black gel stain and just significantly darken the boringly average fruit-wood stain that had had over 30 years of wear and spruce it up.  Well, more paint problems!  ...The curse of the un-drying paint struck again!  So after gagging on fumes for a few days waiting for it to dry, I wiped it all off and started over.  This time I painted with oil base black paint that gloriously dried to the touch in just one hour.  I was in DIY heaven!  After the second coat was good and dry, I sanded off the high parts for a distressed look and then coated with polyurethane.  Yesterday, I took a deep breath and tackled installing the new hardware.  Before, one of the knobs had been uneven and so  I was determined to use handles and avoid the previous holes which I had filled.  The results of my labor are so worth the aches and pains and inconvenience of the past week.  I love my new cabinet!  Next bathroom project?  ...Framing the mirror!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Why Am I Going So Slow When Life Goes So Fast?

 I have been in a slow mode for several weeks now.  It's not my style pr preferred pace, but about two months ago life got more complicated and so I have been meeting those time eating demands with "have to-do's" rather than the things I would rather be doing.  I even got behind on the Mantel-a-Month challenge I had posed for myself.  Oh well, I kind of liked the birds and birdhouse.  Still, I couldn't shake that guilty feeling and so I did update the mantel for July.  I kept the birds and added an old cage.  There is a mason jar inside for water and the real flowers were simply inserted through the top of the cage.

I did just finish a new necklace.  I was inspired by some artwork my sister did many years ago, a simply beautiful bouquet of pink poppies.  I came up with a short phrase that was meaningful to me:  "Like the flowers of the field, I am Wild, Free, and Beautiful."  I long for a life with more simplicity and nature has always been what I need to restore my spirit.  Sometimes a small bouquet of flowers gives me a lift in my day.  Wild and free allows me to be who I am with no permissions or apologies: and Beautiful is how I always want to feel the Inner Me is.  Knowing that what I hold inside myself, (without guilt, shame, fear) is positive and goodness, a sense of virtue, is very important to me.  I painted the phrase and added it to the back of the pendant.  I also machine embroidered it along the ribbon ties.  It becomes a wearable reminder and affirmation of purpose and my philosophy for living.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Slacking here...

Yes, I have to admit I have been a slacker lately.  June is nearly done and the mantel is still left-over from May.  Ah well, sometimes life gets in the way and takes many courses.  The hubby and I were suddenly blessed with a respite vacation by hospice.  They placed my mother in a local nursing home and off my Sweetie and I went heading for the hills.  We spent the next few days in the Asheville/Black Mountain area of North Carolina.  It was food for our souls as well as our bodies.   The DH caught me here at Cat Alley in the old part of Asheville.  We were a little early for the shops to open and were out to enjoy the beautiful weather.  I must have been smiling in anticipation of hitting the bead store in a few minutes. 
There is so much that is whimsical in Asheville, and it is a wonderful place for artisans and entrepreneurs of all sorts.  I have always felt it is like being plopped down in one of the small towns surrounding the San Francisco Bay Area of California.  The cat isn't real by the way, but forever frozen in metal to the lamp post.  He has a few pals hanging out over near the railing just out of sight.   There is even a gigantinormous iron for gigantinormous laundry.  It would take a King Arthur to snatch it up out of the pavement as the city fathers bolted it to the ground.  No doubt some daring person would have tried to carry it off if they hadn't.  Our local Jeep dealership lost a life sized cast metal moose a few months back.  Who knows, maybe one day it will end up in Asheville, visiting the cats of Cat Alley.

 We took a momnet to time out in a little city park frequented by street musicians and hot dog vendors.  Real New York style and so mouth watering good, smothered in onion relish and washed down with fresh squeezed and chilled lemonade.  The hot dog man told us he had come down from New York for a 9 to 5 job and after diligently working there for several months the boss offered him a 10 cent raise.  He declined and became his own boss and has been enjoying himself ever since. ,,,That's Asheville for ya!

And as always, there is never enough time to enjoy all the sights when we head for the hills.  That Mountain Dragon energy is alive and well in North Carolina.  I hope that our next visit is not so long off as this one had been.  Love you Asheville!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Yes it is May Already!

I have some catching up to do.  Time seems to be escaping me altogether these days.  As I watch my
mother living in slow-motion, I feel as if I have been slowed to her pace and that is so unlike me.  I struggle with wanting to move faster, live faster, experience more and do more, yet I am caught in her web of Alzheimer's dementia.  The house is getting messier and we overlook that.  I will not beat myself up for not being presentation perfect, and I keep my own sanity by being creative when I can.  I tick off the months with my mantle changing.  May has heralded the arrival of many cardinals, and I feel as if I was given a special gift to be able to see there bright red beauty of cheerful crisp songs each day.  I fashioned my pair (and yes I know that I made two males) out of cardboard and pasted some old quilting scraps on and outlined with a Sharpee.  The birdhouse if also cardboard.  It was in my new waffle iron box, and just the perfect size to make into the house.  I fashioned after birdhouses my father used to make.  They were little crooked houses with an off-kilter roof and had crooked chimneys.  Very charming and he loved making them.  I wish I had one now just to place on a shelf somewhere.  My fiber art Earth mother is by an incredible artist friend of mine, Louisa Brown, who used my scraps to made her.  I have a house full of her early painting work, and this is the only sculpture project I bought from her.

The red necklace is done.  I finished it a few weeks ago, but consider it still unfinished because I want to make a few layers to wear together.  I delayed over decisions for a focal piece.  What finally won out was a design that my sister, Melanie Renn, did for a Valentine greeting card many years ago.  I scanned the card and scaled down the image to fit the matchbox, which is lined with a scrap of red calico and a snippet of paper doily.  The piece came alive at that point.
The strawberry tunic is still in the mental planning stages.  Sometimes having something you consider precious is a drawback to moving ahead with re-creating a new life for it.  The fabric is a quilt top that I began when I first learned I was expecting my first child.  I had grand ideas of creating an heirloom baby quilt and traced strawberry designs over nearly all of the yard and a half of fabric.  I was new to embroidery like this, and used ONE strand of floss to do complete cover of the berries and leaves.  It was a far from practical idea, and by the time I delivered, I had only finished two areas and part of another, and I decided that if I kept at it, it might or might not be done for a grandchild.  Since patience is not usually one of my virtues, and I like to complete projects in a timely way, the quilt top got packed away, and surfaced very infrequently over the years.  My son just celebrated his 44th birthday a few days ago, so this has been hibernating a very long time. I fell in love at first sight with this tunic I saw on Pinterest.  It looks as if the floral design was drawn on after the garment was made, and a dash of paint added.  It seems a perfect way to create the old baby quilt top into something I would consider beautiful and useful.  So, I am considering how I will be cutting into the fabric and making the best use of the embroidery.   My thoughts are to do a white tunic over a red petticoat.  ...Maybe throw in some green and embroidered lace trim.  A new challenge arose while I was shopping fabric a few days ago.  The white is not white any longer, it has yellowed a little with age.  Also, most fabrics are now being manufactured in China, and are "crap."  They are sleazy and feel terrible even when they are 100% cotton.  I do not trust the dyes and other chemicals they use at all.  Prices are high for this garbage, and I don't intend to use it!  I will do what I can with my huge stash of real cottons, linens, silks and wools from now on. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013


How appropriate that my good friend Emma sent that card that arrived Thursday afternoon!  It is a special warm fuzzy message that asked if I was having a bumpy week? ...and a reminder that she's always there for me.  This week has been "one of those."  It was going well Monday and Tuesday, But Tuesday morning we did the commissary shopping for the next few weeks.  I loaded the frig with meats and veggies, fruit, etc.  Well, I was off to a great start on Weds morning, finally getting back to being creative after a few months of abstinence, and forgot to have my cell near and my Sweetie was locked out because I had the screen door locked and didn't hear the phone.  So, he had gone back to work and stayed there for his munch break.  I found this out after I had put leg-quarters on the grill for our dinner.  My mistakes meant he was at the kung fu school from 7 AM to 7 PM.  I really thought I would be in the doghouse and hear no end of it later, but he was very forgiving.  Anyway, as I was on the phone with him finding all this out, the chicken caught fire and was nearly destroyed.  Later that afternoon, I broke my coffee pot as I put it into the dishwasher, and had to clean glass out of the dishwasher.  Then my Ott lamp broke (trying to get some light so I could see if I could repair the toilet that was not flushing as it should.)  By that evening (WEDS still) it seemed that the food was not as frozen as it should be.  I was not overly alarmed as it often takes a day when I really load the freezer.  On Thursday morning, I realized that the frig was stuck in defrost, and our food was in danger of spoiling, so I spent several hours trying to clean the grills and use a fan to cool the coils and to jump it out of defrost.  I was having some luck, but it wasn't holding, so I had to use a cooler with ice to help out.

Thursday afternoon, the "yard guy" came to clean up and mow, and when he was
using the weed-whacker, it threw a rock into the front glass door and shattered it.  At that point, I retrieved the mail, and on my way into the house through our side door, the screen door didn't want to close for some reason ...seemingly out of alignment..  At that moment, I opened the mail and read Emma's card.  What a moment it was!  I had to laugh and take a big inhale/exhale.  Friday, the battle with the frig continued, and I had to cancel clients to make an emergency run to a friends freezer with boxes of food.  As a last resort, I had to unplug it and let the thaw begin. ???????  So, ya think my week has been "bumpy?"

I would like to add that this morning the frig is back to normal.  Thank you God for small wonders!  I avoided an expensive repair bill, saved my food, and felt the love of a good friend who wanted me to know she had my back.

So, next week just has to be a whole lot better, and everything is better when I can be creative.  This time, the creation is a study on red.  It will go with a garment that is being created from a very old quilt top I started decades ago.  However, that is another blog, and I will take you all through that process soon.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

April Showers Us With What???

The air is fresh with Spring.  ...And pollen!  Once again the air is thick with a floating golden mist.  I ache to open doors and windows to the warmer air and fresh clean smells of Spring, but everything in the house will be coated with pollen and we will all be sneezing and rubbing our eyes and uncomfortable with clogged sinuses.  Oh well, I must be satisfied with early morning fresh air before the pollen surges.  I am sorry to say that I missed the March mantel.  I did start to decorate, but fell short when I discovered that I had no green paper to cut shamrocks from.  Part of my mantel challenge is to change each month and decorate with what I have on hand, so a bean pot stuffed with gold sequined fabric, that was meant to be that Leprechaun's pot of gold, sat dismally lonesome until April.  I got busy a few days ago with the mantel and made use of the profusion of azaleas that are filling the yard right now.  Stuffed into a few saved wine bottles, and interspersed with a few cheerful yard ornaments, it seems to me that nature's creatures are rejoicing that Spring is finally here.  Never mind that the weathermen are predicting snow-showers for tonight!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The New Look

Hey everybody!  I just wanted to let you all know that I have re-designed the template.  I am already missing the black background, but I was not able to respond to comments because I had used a template from a site "not Blogger."  I intend to play with it more and over time I will make sure all the posts are readable.  Anyway, now we get to talk!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Shabby Chic or Turning Vintage

Recently, one of my virtual friends described achieving a certain age as "turning vintage."  I love that phrase "turning vintage."  It has such wonderful connotations of getting better with age just as fine wine does.  Along with the aging process, those bottles may gather dust and labels may fade or scratch.  There is a bit of the shabby chic in that description too.  Isn't that a great way for us to describe things that fall out of place and get comfortably rearranged?  Just out of curiosity, I Googled "shabby chic" and found a decorating site with guidelines for styling Shabby.

  1. The first rule is to "go white."  Well, my hair is doing that quite well, and even skin tone begins to pale.  What can I say?  ...I stopped sun worshiping years ago, and I really detest hot steamy southern summers.  I'll choose the air-conditioner any day.
  2. Second is the extravagant use of slip covers to hide wear and tear.  So, as with furniture, so I have started to drape myself with various garments designed to hide muffin top bulges and body parts that have been drooping, as well as all that other stuff like veins and scars that seem to have accumulated out of no-where to paint my body canvas.
  3. The third criteria is tea-stained fabrics.  Ha!  Tea, coffee, spaghetti, grease spots, everything I eat seems to leave a mark down my front as though I am keeping a food journal.  Ummm, what did I eat earlier?  I don't even have to try to remember, I just look down at my belly and there it is!
  4. Next up is "over-stuffed" upholstery.  Hahahaha! " ...Comfortable, slip-covered, rumpled, ruffled, and rounded, ...Muffin top?  ..."  'Nuf said!
  5. Then they talk about distressed paint.  Anyone "vintage" that wears glasses and tries to apply make-up knows how hard it is to apply just the right amounts so as to look natural.  Oh the sad stories I can tell about the rouge-cheeked old ladies that looked like Boopy-Do dolls to me.
  6. What about "Architectural Details?"  Well, go old.  Yeah, what worked when we had lovely chests and firm fannies,slim bodies, and various parts we were taught to showcase, paired with growing incomes to supply all sorts of cute little outfits, has all changed.  The closet has been slowly clearing out of those cute little tops that show it all off, and the tight little jeans have been replaced with baggy.  Incomes slowed down and and so did we.  Contentment set in with our well-loved old shoes and comfy clothing.  Now we are becoming authentic!
  7. Old and imperfect.  Jeweled accessories are turning with patina, and styles have changed-over many times.  If a chain breaks then we hang a locket from a ribbon.  Rhinestones fall away, yet the beloved adornment still holds a memory and feelings for you.  We don't see them as other do, and nor should we.  We hold on to these and love them still.
  8. Gravitate to comfort.  Let things get rumpled and unsorted.  Don't worry about complete order and shine and perfectness.  It's not quite possible now anyway.  I love my former mother-in-law once telling me:  "It's something of a blessing that our eyes start to go as we get older.  ...We can't see all the dirt then."  I can't tell you the shock I go through every so often when I put on some strong readers and visit the bathroom and see dust everywhere, or the spatters in the kitchen.  It really does take Herculean efforts to keep a house perfect and tidy.  There is nothing wrong with a lived-in look around here!
  9. The site's author mentioned that metal makes it all look better.  So, draping myself with original metal-work has been my mission lately.  I love my crude wild jewelry.
  10.  Patchwork!  I have always had a reverence and love for patchworking.  Those crazy quilts of Victorian times amaze me with their charm.  Now I am becoming a walking patchwork design.   

Combinations of everything I love and hold dear now are taking precedence in my home and on my person.  DO I care what you may think if you are to visit here?  Maybe a little, but not like I used to.  Now it is about what I like and makes me feel good.  I have always wanted to surround myself with things I have made and love or that have meaning for me.  So. now more than ever I slap colors on the walls and have an eye for what makes me happy rather than all those rules of design and proportion.   I pull arrangements together that no-one but I understand.  Vintage me understands this and glorifies in it.  Yes, what better time is there to really get to know myself and honor that?  It takes a lot of forgiveness and acceptance as well as patience and self-knowledge and what really matters.  Call me Crone, call me Vintage, or call me Becoming Enlightened.

* This blog was inspired by this site:  10 Elements for Shabby Chic Decorating

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Twelve Month Mantle

I have slipped up!  I though that I had already written about my mantle challenge, but I see that I had not even posted at all about it.  Ah how sad that it got away from me.  Well, no time like the present to catch you up on that.  It occurred to me as I was putting away the Christmas decorations how much I miss the color and sparkle of those decorations.  The house suddenly seems less magical and alive.  Because we spend so much time in the living room, and our view is directed toward the fireplace, the mantle is a prime focal for decor.  ...What?!!!  I never shared a photo of the Christmas mantle?  Well,. here it is...

This was standard for years, and this past year I decided that it would be nice to tweak it a little.  I had been saving a fallen branch (I am just compulsive that way) and decided it would be interesting to use it in some way.  I dabbed white paint over the branch, and used nails that usually hold pictures, to hang the branch with fine fishing line.  Then, I cut stars out of those pieces of cardboard that you find in various retail products.  I could have used cereal boxes, but this kitchen warrior does not buy that sort of processed food.  I used a punch to make a hole for hanging.  Then, I spray painted them silver and when they were dry dabbed them with some Gesso.  That was not necessary, but I wanted to get some texture and maybe relate them to the white branch.  ...Kinda like clouds and kinda shabby chic too. Next, I strung the stars to varying lengths of invisible nylon thread and wrapped them to the branch.  Wrapping the branch about three or four times held just fine, and when dismantled was easy to remove.

 My plan included adding a string of tiny lights, but they refused to light this year.  ...But never mind!

SO, when January came along and Christmas went back into boxes, I just couldn't bear to hide all the cheer away.  There was one box of decorations that had been ignored for many, many years.  It held old wooden shapes that my father had made from a craft project in some woman's magazine.  It was a table centerpiece with cookie cutter trees and children.  Somehow there was never room on the table for that.  Yet here they were, and perfect for the mantle as a January scene of starry forest night. 

I liked that so much that I decided to challenge myself to keep the branch all year, and change the decor to honor every month of the year.  Now, here we are into the last day of February, and I must share what happened this month before it's gone too.  

So what is in store for March?  Dunno yet, but I suspect it will have something to do with Leprechauns and shamrocks, pots of gold or maybe the first hints of spring and nature shaking off the winter.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Necklace Update!

I have finished the necklace and have been wearing it all day.  I love the lightweight feel of it, which is a complete surprise.  I thought it would weigh me down with the weight of the glass, solder, galvanized steel chain and beads.  Pleasantly, it is not even something that I am aware of. 

You can barely see Amanda's photo on the flip side.