Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Memories of Childhood

Aren't there just certain things that are "stand-out" memories from childhood? They are just so sweet that you long to experience them again, even if it's just for a little while. Some people remember a doll, some - a vacation, others - a visit to Grammie's, some fondly remember playing with a childhood friend or playing a certain game.

I have a couple memories that seem to torment me because they are elusive, I can't quite grasp them again. One is a doll. I'll tell you about that another time. So far, it does not have a happy ending. The other is a book. This one is well within my reach. I can almost taste it.

When I was in the 4th grade, my teacher, Sister Raphaella, read us a chapter a day from a story book. I loved that story so much, I would race back to her classroom for the story reading time. My little girlfriends and I would rhapsodize about it on our long walk home from school. It seemed so romantic - the stuff dreams are made of.

Several years ago I began, in earnest to search for this book. I knew the title but not the author. Because I'm such an estate sale and flea market junkie, I thought for sure I would run across it. I would see a wall of old books, not in any particular order (like at the library). The wall became daunting after a few minutes of reading dusty old titles, my neck bent over sideways to see the book spines. I'd give up after five or ten minutes.

I even tried, unsuccessfully, to contact the headquarters of this particular order of nuns that Sister Raphaella was a member of, thinking, perhaps they might have a copy of the book in their libraries.

So every time I go to an estate sale where there's books, I search. When I go to flea markets, same. Antique Malls, the same. Just recently on a "girlz day out" my friend and I went to a Christmas Bazaar, then to lunch and capped off a wonderful day at an Antique Mall. I began to search again. I told my friend the story. She also searched. Then she said to me........."have you checked Amazon?" I had not. It never occurred to me to try to find an old book on Amazon.

Of course, as soon as I got home I checked Amazon......................THEY HAD IT !!!!!!!! (sorry SueR-I hope it's not too early for those !!!!!)

Have a look.....

There's a glitch. There's 4 copies and the price starts at over $300.00 !!!!!!!

Here comes the happy ending.............I googled "borrow Uncle Frank's Mary" and several libraries appeared on my screen which owned a copy of the book. One of them was the Library of Congress. I emailed them. I was told they do not lend to ordinary citizens but only to other libraries.

I went to my local library, submitted a requisition, which will first go to the main library here and they will requisition it from whichever library has it available, starting with the closest (Library of Congress).

My librarian said I will have it in my hand within 3 weeks. I am so excited. I get to be 9 years old again ♥ ♥ ♥

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Recycled Christmas Cards

There are so many uses for those wonderful Christmas greetings you receive each year. It would be a good habit to just get a BIG box and save them because you never know what kind of an idea you'll imagine in the future.

In the past I have made gift tags with them and the best book marks ever. But yesterday, while doing my work-out walk in the mall, I passed by a furniture store window and something I saw in the window of a furniture store sparked this idea.

I am an inveterate estate saler and I buy things that tickle my fancy. I've had this ancient rusty old iron receipt piercer forever and never really thought of any good use for it. But now it is the base and tree trunk of a little Christmas Card tree.

I sat at my kitchen table with my stash of Christmas Cards from years past and cut out six pointed Stars of David. Then I jabbed them onto the receipt holder, curling the points a bit with the scissors, piling them up, making smaller and smaller stars.....until.............voila!!! a little Christmas Tree made from stars cut from old Christmas cards.

It needed a star on top. I rummaged through my jewels and found the perfect rhinestone star earring.

Here's a close up shot of some of the card stars.

At the moment I am thinking of some ways you could adapt this idea to fit the type of reusable goodies you have around the house. How about using a tiny clay pot for the base, sliding a knitting needle in the hole in the bottom. Then stacking your Christmas Card stars on the needle to fashion your very own tree. How about drilling a hole in an old children's alphabet block, perhaps glueing a pencil into hole and building your tree on that base? Let your imagination soar..............

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Learning to Knit and Crochet

This Fall I led a 6 week workshop at my church on learning to knit and crochet. There were a small number of "students" so there was lots of individual attention. The new knitters actually made a garment! That was quite an accomplishment. In one of the photos, you'll see a "hot off the press" pair of fingerless gloves crocheted and modeled by one of our "students". Another "student", learning to knit is knitting fingerless gloves. Another made a warm scarflette for her beloved pooch to keep him warm on his winter walks.

On our final class night, we each made a stitch counter. A stitch counter is a handy little gadget. This one can be attached right onto your knitting bag so you'll always know where it is.

For all you knitters out there who use post-it notes to keep track of which row you're on or how many stitches you've done - or worse yet - some of you mess up your beautiful pattern books with lots of tiny scribbles to track stitches and/or rows. This little stitch counter will solve all those messy situations.

The items you'll need on hand to create the stitch counter are:
1 - a 1" loose leaf binder ring
2 - 20 pony beads (I like to use 10 of one color and 10 of a complimenting color.
3 - 2 30" lengths of thin ribbon (thin enough to pass through the beads)
4 - optional - a charm or button to cover the knot on the end.

Method: Double each piece of ribbon and attach each one to the 1" ring with a hitch knot. You will then have 4 15" tails of ribbon hanging from the ring. Two from each piece of ribbon. Thread one color of beads to one of your sets of tails and thread the other color to the other 2 tails.

Thread each bead with a square knot (lay the bead down on the table with the opening on the sides - separate the 2 tails of one of your lengths of ribbon - put the tail on the right through the right side of the bead opening - put the left tail through the left side of the bead hole - pull tails all the way through. One bead is attached. Do the same with each bead of one color til all 10 are threaded down the length of ribbon. Always putting the ribbon length that is on the right, into the right side bead opening and the ribbon on the left into the left bead opening.

When all 10 beads are attached, do the other color the same way. When all 20 beads are strung onto the 2 lengths of doubled ribbon, leave a couple inches for slack so you can move the beads up and down the ribbon for counting purposes. You will tie a an overhand knot here but first thread on your charm or button if you're using one, then knot the 4 ends together under the charm. I leave a little of the tails, like a tassel. Cut off any excess. (see sample in the picture above)

And, voila !!! a handy little stitch counter. Happy knitting.

Our knitting class proved to be a lovely time getting to know each other and learning a new skill too.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Snowballs in the Window Boxes

This week, I want to do a small tutorial about how to make "snow balls" for your window boxes. I have been wanting to make them for such a long time but I never wanted to spend all the cash it was going to cost to fill four window boxes with snowballs. But, recently, I got a "deal".

We have a shop in the town where I live that sells the leftovers of people's craft projects. Folks actually donate their leftovers (zippers, buttons, fabric, ribbon, elastic, beads, yarn, needles, hooks, patterns, styrofoam, and everything else you can possibly imagine) to this little shop. The name is - Craft Bits 'n Pieces. The shop is actually a fund raising organization which supports services for seniors in our town. Things like transportation to doctor's appointments via Elderbus and Options for Independence Programs.

So I was able to get 24 styrofoam balls for a very small investment.

This is my supplies list for 24 snowballs

1 - 2 32 oz.tubs of all purpose spackling paste.
2 - as many 12" wood skewers as you have balls
3 - glitter
4 - a plastic butter knife
5 - some styro packing material (to dry the snow balls in)

This is kind of a messy job. I did this down my basement.

Method: Open one of the containers of spackle. Dip the sharp end of a skewer into the spackling paste, then plunge the spackled end all the way into the styrofoam ball.

Holding the ball in one hand, ice the ball with the spackling paste. At some point, you'll need to hold the ball by the skewer in order to ice the bottom. Sprinkle with glitter. Set it into your styrofoam packing material to dry. I left mine to dry for a couple days.

Do this with all your styrofoam balls. After they've dried, set them amidst piney greenery in your window boxes. This is how they'll look.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving ~ Cranberry Orange Relish

I just love Thanksgiving. It makes me so happy that this is a joyous holiday in this nation. It's all about family, thankfullness, gratitude, sharing a meal, reconciliations, embracing the lonely, even remembering those who traveled to our shores in 1620 so they would be free to worship the Lord in spirit and truth.

I believe people are truly thankful for the freedoms and prosperity we enjoy, though most do not realize that these blessings don't come out of thin air. Someone provides each one. When someone gives you a gift, you look them right in the eye and express your gratitude. When you are grateful, you are grateful TO someone. Someone is responsible for the giving of these gifts.

James 1:17 The Message: "Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light."

Psalm 107:31 The Message "So thank God for His marvelous love, for His miracle mercy to the children He loves."


My favorite part of our traditional Thanksgiving meal is this lovely relish. It's a heritage recipe now because my children - living in three different states - make it for their Thanksgiving celebrations with their families. And I hope, one day, that my grandchildren will make it for their families.

For this recipe, you'll need 2 small packages of orange Jello or 1 large, 3 1/4 cups of water, I can of whole cranberry sauce, 1 can of mandarin oranges (drained), 3/4 cup of halved seedless red grapes, 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts.

Bring 2 cups of the water to a boil. Meanwhile, put the whole cranberry sauce into a soup bowl and break it up with a fork so that it will incorporate well with the Jello. Put the Jello powder into a large pouring vessel. Add the broken up cranberry sauce right on top of the jello. When the 2 cups of water boil, pour onto the jello/cranberry mixture. Stir well. When the Jello powder is disolved, add the remaining 1 1/4 of cold water. Stir well. Note: your orange jello will appear red but still taste like orange. Refrigerate until it thickens and begins to gel.

Add the other fruits (drained oranges, grapes, and walnuts) to the Jello mixture at this time. Fold in so that the fruits are suspended in the Jello mixture.

At this point, transfer to one of your best glass serving bowls. Return to the refrigerator to complete gelling.

This is a refreshing, cool note to add to your Thanksgiving meal.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday and remember Who to thank for all your blessings...............

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I Found It!

When my granddaughters visit me, they like to play "dress-up". They ransack my closet and soon appear dressed to the nines, all made up, reeking of many layers of perfume and hairspray, teetering on high heels.................It's a sight to behold!

They root around in jewelry boxes and adorn themselves with earrings, necklaces, headbands, hats, gloves, purses. And the older they get, the more adept they've become in the "dress-up" game.

As you can imagine, when the game is over, many times all the accouterments do not get returned to the places Grammy had them. And after they go home, sometimes Grammy spends much time searching for a particular item.

Such was the case with this turquoise necklace. I searched high and low for it......for over two years. I looked everywhere. I'd had this experience, of lost items, before so I knew it would eventually turn up in the most unexpected place at a time I wasn't even looking for it.

There is absolutely no sense asking the little girls where they put such and such an item. They are digging into Grammys things with wild abandon, like women at a sale in Feilene's basement...........garments and accessories flying all over the place.

I was particularly fond of this necklace. It was an estate sale "find" of a single shoe clip. In the 30's and 40's, women embellished their black suede pumps with a fancy shoe clip to dress them up for an evening out on the town. Here, at this estate sale, I found the remaining one of a pair. I thought it was so beautiful, I just had to have it. I re-purposed it with a jewelry finding and suspended it on a string of tiny turquoise seed beads. I became my favorite "go to" piece of jewelry. I was so sad that I couldn't find it.

This summer, getting ready to go to my niece's wedding reception, I got all decked out in my finery. I wanted to carry a glitzy purse. Of course, I don't use sequined purses every day. In fact, I must not have used this particular purse for over two years!

What do you think was inside that purse???????? THE TURQUOISE NECKLACE! I was overjoyed. You'll probably see it on me, I wear it often and am thrilled to have it back.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Live Nativity

This is Sean. He's about 10 years old in this picture. He has the faculty of always keeping me in stitches by his hysterically funny observations about life. He is one of the main reasons why grandparenting is so much more fun than parenting.

It was at this time of year, when he was about 3 1/2 years old, that he and I had a date to see an outdoor presentation of what happened on Christmas night 2000 plus years ago.

For our neck of the woods, it was an unseasonably mild night. But, always the cautious parent, his mama dressed him up real warm. Warm coat, wooly hat and mittens, and leggings (ski pants). I suspected he might be a tad warm in this get-up since it was about 50 degrees outdoors. As we were driving to the spot where the presentation was to take place, I warned him that he might feel too warm and that he might see other children dressed in much fewer layers of clothing. I asked him if he wanted me to remove his leggings. "Oh no, Gramma", he replied. "I have to wear my leggings, otherwise I may get a leg infection".

It was quite difficult for me to contain my giggles. It took me a few minutes to figure out his rationale for the "leg infections" but somewhere his little ears must have heard that old adage that, to avoid ear infections you must wear a warm hat(ears covered). His reasoning - same must go for legs - cover 'em up or you may get a leg infection !!!

I have hid this little story in my heart for many years. Sean has filled my heart with with his observations and I treasure each one he has shared with me. I keep them in a little journal exclusively for that purpose - just stories told to me by my grandchildren.

I should have done the same with my children but I guess I was too busy raising them, living life, being young...........

My grandchildren journal is a special delight. I'll share some of its treasures with you from time to time.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Stickin' my foot in the blog pool

I've been putting this off for so long (blogging), I don't know how I got the courage to do this today. I've seen a lot of blogs. Some were pretty, restful, attractive, cool, awesome..........and some were not. I want mine to be the former. It's probably gonna take a lot of here goes.

The title of my blog comes from real life. I AM Sammy's gramma (also Megan's, JJ's, Christopher's, Sean's and Melissa's. The name of one of my etsy shops is sammysgrammy and the other is needleworx.

One day while I was visiting at Megan's house, her mom asked "where's Gramma?" and Megan answered, she's in here - needlin'(I was knitting). I just love her turn of phrase. They say the cutest things.