Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving Holiday

I traveled to South Carolina to spend Thanksgiving with my son, daughter in law, granddaughter, grandson and his wife. I paid my first visit to their new, one story house, met my new little granddog (a Cavalier King Charles terrier) and thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the southland.

One of the highlights of my time in the south was a visit to the Biltmore Estate in Ashville, NC. Built by George Vanderbilt and officially opened on Christmas Eve 1895. In 1898, he brought his bride, Edith, to the Biltmore. In 1900, their only child, Cornelia, was born there.

Today, the estate remains in the family. A grandson, William A.V. Cecil owns the home and his son, A.V. Cecil, Jr. serves as the CEO. The enterprise employs 1800 people.

The house was lavishly decorated for Christmas, with lots of huge, trimmed Christmas trees, luxurious, trailing pine mantle piece garlands. Sadly, no cameras were permitted in the mansion. Therefore, all my pictures will be of the outside of the home.

During the depression, in response to requests to increase tourism in the area and raise funds to preserve the estate, the Cecils opened the house to the public in 1930.

During the time the first generations lived in the home, the estate was completely self sustaining. Farming, viticulture, hunting, and fishing were all part of daily life at the Biltmore. The house, itself, was run by 30-35 servants. In the servants domain, you'd find vegetable pantries, walk-in refrigerators, pastry, rotisserie, and main kitchens, kitchen pantry, laundry and drying rooms.

For the pleasure of the guests and the home's residents, there was 70,000 gallon heated, tiled pool, a bowling alley, gymnasium, dressing rooms. There were 43 bathrooms when (in 1895) most homes did not have one indoor bathroom.

George Vanderbilt kept his valet busy laying out clothing for his various activities. Different attire was required for each activity and may have necessitated 4-6 changes of clothes a day. (Sounds like my granddaughters). A specific outfit was required for horseback riding, another for tea, and yet another for formal dinner.

The outdoor areas - gardens, bowling green, parks, trails, ponds, etc. were designed by famous garden architect, Frederick Law Olmsted who also designed Central Park in NYC, the U.S, capitol grounds and Highland Park in Rochester, NY. He was a personal friend of George Vanderbilt and spend much time at Biltmore. John Singer Sargent visited Biltmore to paint portraits of the Vanderbilt mentors, among them Frederick Law Olmsted. His portrait hangs in the salon at the Biltmore.

Automobiling was an outdoor activity that the Vanderbilt's and their guests were fond of. It required it's own attire including a linen motoring duster, touring cap, gloves, and goggles. Most of the Biltmore guests probably traveled to NC on the railroads that an earlier Vanderbilt built (Cornelius).

There is so much more to see on a visit to the Biltmore. If you have an opportunity to visit NC, this is a "must see".

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I ♥ Handmade Marketplace - Part 2

Still reeling from the I ♥ Handmade Marketplace. I have been to many, many craft shows and have never seen one like this one. It was just a 6 hour show, from 8am until 2 pm on a Saturday in November. By the time we were ready to wrap up, 900 people had visited the show. This is thanks to Angel's amazing ingenuity in planning this show. It was totally bathed in prayer from beginning to end, including all the vendors gathering in a prayer circle minutes before the show began.

Angel plastered the entire Chambersburg area with flyers, had lawn signs (like the election signs) all over town, had several  radio spots the day before the show, had alerted the press, had professional pictures done, had a facebook I ♥ Handmade Marketplace event page with daily buzz about the show, including pictures of what shoppers would see there and the many door prizes that would be awarded.  One of her friends even made a YouTube video for the event.

She distributed beautiful shopping totes to the first 100 shoppers. There was continuous coffee for both shoppers and vendors.

This is my stall. You can see the shelf unit and the clothes tree that I rescued at estate sales.

I am probably forgetting some details. To see more pictures, visit the castteam chat thread. Angel has posted the link on page 264.

One of my personal highlights was meeting several castteam "sisters", and having a nice leisurely dinner with them.

Left to right:  Becky, Angel, Sheila and me in the room called "the library" at Chambersburg's Orchard Restaurant.

Looking forward to I ♥ Handmade Marketplace II

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I ♥ Handmade Marketplace - Part 1

In just a matter of hours, I'll be heading south to participate in BamCrafty Momma's (Angel's) first ever craft show. She is such a "natural" at strategy, publicizing, arranging, spinning so many plates, that I think she should add this to her repertoire.

Since I'll be participating, I've been doing a little planning myself. First thing I thought about was designing my booth. It needs to look like a little store or shop. It has to be attractive in order to be charming to shoppers.

I prayed and asked the Lord for a couple showcase pieces that I would like. I asked for a shelf unit and a "hat rack" sort of affair. I wanted both these items to be collapsible since I am traveling several hundred miles by car - with a friend - our personal luggage - tons of product and Bianca (my mannequin), etc. I needed these items to fit snuggly into the trunk of my little car.

So, off I went "estate saling". At house #1, after snooping all throughout the first and second floor of the house, I descended to the basement. The first thing I saw when I hit the floor was a strange looking stick on a tripod - about 5' tall. At the top it had two swinging sticks coming out of each side. Silvery in color and covered in cobwebs. I knew it was the Lord's answer to my prayer, though I had never seen anything like it.

I went over to it. The two sticks on top snapped into place on either side of the shaft. They were for holding clothes hangers. The tripod did, indeed, fold up. The shaft telescoped together so that it came apart and could be used in a shorter version. It had no price tag on it. I brought it upstairs and asked the price. $1.00. Sorry I don't have a picture of it but you'll see it in next week's post.

Onto house #2. Again, scoped out the entire house before my final discovery of a screened porch behind the garage. From that vantage point, I saw a three shelf, metal item holding a potted plant. I went out into the yard to look at it. Sure enough, each shelf folded up, the sides folded in and the whole thing now looked like a fire screen. It had a $15 price tag on it but today was day 2 of the sale and everything was half price !!

I spray painted both of these treasures with back spray paint. They are now happily ensconced in my car trunk.

Still waiting to be packed are the tons of product plus smaller showcase items.

Finally, my friend and I plus our personal luggage, handbags, snacks and drinks will be off to join Angel and other precious castteam sisters for this adventure.

Part 2 coming next week......................

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Chicken Tortellini Alfredo

I attended a party recently where this was on the buffet. I loved it and asked for the recipe. It is so simple, I'm sure it will be on your favorites list too. It can be served to lots of people, as at this party. Or you can make it for just one or two people, which is what I normally do.

You'll need:

Jarred Classico Roasted Poblano Alfredo Sauce
Frozen or fresh cheese tortellini
1/2 of a cooked chicken breast, shredded
grated Romano cheese

Measurements: You know how it is with pasta and sauce - a little of this and a little of that. When I make it for myself, I boil 4 oz. of tortellini in one pan. In another pan, on very low heat, I heat up about 6 oz. of the sauce.

When I am ready to assemble, I add the shredded chicken to the sauce to heat up for a minute. Then I add the drained, cooked tortellini to the sauce mixture. Pour it into a bowl and drizzle with the grated Romano cheese.

Add a small side salad and there you have dinner.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

God Stories

I normally post on my blog on Tuesdays but today I had acute inspiration collapse so I asked the Lord to download a bit of creativity. When I checked my email, there was a letter from Dave and Michelle !!!!! It was a news update from them. They attend my church but are currently serving as missionaries in Kigoma, Tanzania, Africa.

A little background: Dave and Michelle are young marrieds. Dave is a music teacher and worship leader. Michelle is a nurse.

I thought - this is such good news - I want everybody to know about it. Here is the Kigoma Update:

Hi guys! How are you? We are grateful for all of you and hope you are
> doing well. We are in Mwanza for a few days with Tim and Gerald,
> because of PEFA meetings, but also for a chance to buy things we dont
> have in Kigoma (so far jello, maple syrup and balloons). There are
> really big storky- cranes here, about 4 ft tall. They are called
> "Grandpa Health" because they eat up all the garbage on the streets.
> God has been doing miracles often lately. My shoulder was out-
> you know vertigo-iy. At women's Bible study, we prayed and it was
> made whole. Praise God.
> We invited a couple teen guys from the Kellys kids program to
> join us in our village program since there was no school on Friday.
> One of those guys (Alex) preached, and 106 kids came to Christ. Some
> of these kids are from Muslim families. We do ask for wisdom about
> the program though. Many kids cary a baby on their back. That's fine
> and dandy until he starts crying- and with 200 kids, one or two are
> bound to be crying always. There is such an echo in the church that a
> baby's cry is the only thing that can be heard. We have asked for
> talkers and cryers to calm down outside, maybe I need to ask them to
> be 20 or 30 feet from the church so we can hear well.
> There is a sweet lady at the church whom I have been impressed
> with. Her name is Helena. She gets it. At most churches, if there
> are dirty kids outside of the church on the steps, the leasders shoo
> them away. However Helena invited them in. This is counter cultural,
> but maybe the culture of Simbo village is changing.
> Helena came to me with some serious health troubles that had
> plagued her for about 6 years (it appeared to be partial kidney
> failure). We prayed but no change. Dave and I prayed and decided
> that I should take her to the hospital and trust God to pay the costs
> for treating a chronic condition. At the hospital, the outpatient Dr.
> recognized me as missionary who is trying to get permission to work
> there. Therefore, he re-opened the closed down department, he saw her
> and treated her ffor free of charge!!! He said that we are servants
> of God, so we should help each other out! Helena and I were so happy
> that we jumped up and down thanking God and the Dr. for free and good
> medical care!
> While I am waiting for permission to nurse, I am teaching 7th
> grade English. This is such a need because from 8th grade on, all
> teaching is in English. Many students fail the exams because they do
> not understand the language of the test. We are starting with the
> basics, and it is fun!
> David is teaching a choir. some songs are translated from English to
> Swahili (including "Dancing Generation"). Others he composed in
> Swahili in the African style.
> Thank you for your love, support, and prayers. How can we pray for
> you? Michelle and Dave

To play a part in this ministry: Designate for - Dave and Michelle Heed -

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Inspiration Incorporated

I subscribe to a quartery magazine called WHERE WOMEN CREATE. I absolutely devour this magazine. I'm always sad when I've finished waaaaaay before the next one appears on my doorstep. I kinda go into WWC withdrawl, that is until the new one is on my kitchen table.

It's a pricey mag to be sure. But I have successfully suggested to my children a subscription for me as a Christmas gift. They never know what to get me. Problem solved.

Throughout the magazine, there are enchanting announcements for shows, conventions, camps, workshops, meetings, retreats, etc. plus visits to the most astonishing women in their own creative environment. But, alas, never one happening in my neck of the woods, though. They take place in romantic locales like California, Atlanta, Houston, NYC, Saratoga Springs, Colorado, etc. As you can see, not one occurring in western NY on the shores of Lake Ontario.

But, what to my wondering eyes should ad for an upcoming event planned at a venue a very short drive from me. Inspiration Incorporated (an event celebrating inspired women who incorporate creativity and business) would take place on a Spetember Sunday in the little village of Honeoye Falls, NY in a 150 year old mill, once powered by those same water falls. A charming building of three floors, with a restaurant - The Rabbit Room - (where this event took place) on the first floor, boutiques, (one of which is Talulah's Fancy, whose proprietor - Tamara Shopinski - was the planner extraordinaire responsible for Inspiration Incorporated) and art studios on the second floor. I did not explore floor three.

As I walked into the building, I was greeted by a warm, welcoming hostess who pointed me to my assigned table, which had already started to fill up. I chose to sit on the side of the table that would afford me the best view of the speakers. All of my table-mates were busily creating their name tags in the most creative way they could. Everyone was intently sewing, clipping, pinning, while chatting all the while. What an ice breaker!!! Even if you were shy and reserved, people were going to be looking at your name tag and commenting, offering suggestions, passing you supplies, asking question of you, etc. The supplies were stored in 6 count cupcake tins, which were transformed into baskets by adding a wire handle and raggedy cloth bows. One of the cupcake spaces held a decorated canning jar filled with fresh flowers. In all the remaining 5 spaces were embellishments for your name tag (buttons, safety pins, needle and thread, bits of lace and string, small cards with sayings on them, even fresh rose petals. These charming little baskets of invention were the table centerpiecs. Three on each table. I counted 9 tables, each with 10 guests. There was a delightful female buzz in the room.

Note: Wouldn't this be an enchanting craft for a little girl's birthday party. All those dressed up little princesses would be thoroughly engrossed in making their name tags to be a charming as can be, instead of tearing through your house, pulling each other's pigtails.

All during act 1, a beverage station and an appetizer table were available.

Presently a lovely lunch was served, provided by The Rabbit Room and then the speakers. Lyn Alinger spoke first. She is the owner of Craft Company #6 in Rochester, NY. The shop is in an old fire house, the brass pole the firemen slid down from second floor on, is still evident. There is even a replica of the horse, which pulled the old fire wagon, standing out in front of the building looking like he's just waiting for that old alarm to ring. This store sells only hand crafted items by various artists. Lyn told the story of how it came about that she and her husband came to be the proprietors of this business.

And the main speaker was Jo Packham, creator and editor and chief of WHERE WOMEN CREATE. She gave a biographical look at how she came to be the editor of WWC. She has a delightful sense of humor and I know you all wold appreciate her stories about the amount of time she puts in on her craft and the resulting $$$$$ per hour she currently enjoys. She says she is up to $1.00 an hour and would like to be advanced to $2.00 an hour very soon. ha ha hah Proof that creativity is a constant, it is up and running all the time, you probably never will receive a comensurate monetary return. It is just something you have to do because that's who you are. You would create even if you never received anything in return. But your home would be decorated with all your projects and so would the homes of all your friends and relatives. And there would probably be a trunk and the end of your bed with carefully wrapped creativity waiting for someone who needed a gift.

I am so happy I had the privilege to be part of Inspiration Incorporated. It's tucked away with my treasured memories.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


I am a rabid reader of Victorian novels, the Victorian Era, Victorian architecture, Jane Austen, Mr. Darcy, Louisa May Alcott, Howard's End, Cape May, NJ (in fact) all things Victoriana.

I was so inspired by the presentation given at the Brighton Library on the costumes worn to afternoon tea, that I attended last week, that I did blog about it. One thing that I'll be eternally grateful for is finally discovering what a "reticule" is. I had come across this word countless times in my readings and was mystified and finally saw one up close and personal.

Here is the dictionary definition:
reticule [ˈrɛtɪˌkjuːl]
1. (Clothing & Fashion) (in the 18th and 19th centuries) a woman's small bag or purse, usually in the form of a pouch with a drawstring and made of net, beading, brocade, etc.

reticule - An older term for a small handbag, it alludes to the fact that they were originally made of netted fabric—Latin rete, "net," became reticulum, "netted bag."

ThesaurusLegend: Synonyms Related Words Antonyms
Noun 1. reticule - a woman's drawstring handbag; usually made of net or beading or brocade; used in 18th and 19th centuries
handbag, purse, bag, pocketbook - a container used for carrying money and small personal items or accessories (especially by women); "she reached into her bag and found a comb"

Here is a photo of the one which was in the costume presentation...............

The Victorian woman did not need the satchel-like purse like most of us carry around. She had no car, therefore, no car keys, no cell phone, no credit cards, no pictures of kids or grandkids, no packages of kleenex, etc. All she needed when she left her house, was a hankie, her smelling salts (in case she fainted from her compressed lungs due to her corset), a comb, spare change in case she wanted to tip the carriage driver. All that would, indeed, fit into a reticule.

In my dreamy Victorian state of mind, I made one for my sammysgrammy etsy shop. I will tag it for the wedding market. No other woman on earth needs to carry so little to a big event as the bride. Just her smelling salts and hankie.

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dressing for Tea: 1890-1920

If only I loved history in high school as much as I do now, we would have saved ourselves a lot of trouble.

I recently attended a presentation at a local library entitled: DRESSING FOR TEA: 1890 - 1920 - The Clothing and Customs. This program was presented by the Costume Resource Center at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site in Buffalo, NY.

Short history lesson: President McKinley was assassinated in Buffalo, NY on September 14, 1901. Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt was vice president. He came to Buffalo to be sworn into office, hence The Buffalo Museum. This event took place in the Ansley Wilcox House, which today houses the museum.

The costume resource center is part of the museum. The presenters brought with them what a well to do woman would wear to tea in that 30 year span. In that time frame many events took place that had great historical import. Queen Victoria died, King Edward took the British throne, the Boar War was taking place in Africa where British colonialism was contested and independence was the prize, British women won the right to vote and WW I was taking place on European soil. These events greatly affected life in the U.S.

The 1890's woman wore what would be considered today a huge amount of clothing. The presenters had a mannequin dressed for the occasion. She wore the cinnamon colored dress, a fedora hat, pale colored kid leather gloves, shoes, stockings, and carried a matching purse. This is what the audience saw. But underneath, she had many more layers.

The presenters undressed her, layer by layer. They explained what each piece was and it's purpose. The dress was silk. At this time in history, you either had a silk dress, a cotton one or a wool one. A dressmaker would have made the dress for you. The dress was partly machine sewn and partly hand sewn. (the sewing machine had been invented in 1850). You could not just go to a store a purchase one. The dressmaker would have made your purse as well. The cinnamon dress was two pieces, the skirt and the top were separate and matching. Very detailed, leg o' mutton sleeves, tucks, matching lace at the neck. That removed, we saw the white cotton, lace trimmed petticoat. Each and every one of these garments closed with buttons. No zippers, no velcro. She wore a white, button front, lace trimmed, fitted camisole tucked into her petticoat. Under that she had on a corset, drawers and stockings.

The stockings were cotton or silk at this time. Later, in wartime, silk could not be had. The garment called "drawers" was so named because one would draw them up over one leg, then draw them up over the other - thus "drawers". They ONLY covered legs. They were woven white cotton and lace trimmed, of course. note: the only knitted garment was hosiery. When I say, the drawers only covered legs, I am saying there was no crotch or behind in this garment. It was all open. They looked much like an apron with legs. note: with all this clothing on, a visit to the bathroom could possibly be a very tense situation - having "drawers" that facilitated this event, I'm sure was very much appreciated.

The corset laced up in the back. The front had hooks and eyes. It was a very rigid garment, meant to give an hour glass figure. The rigidity was provided by whalebone or metal stays. This garment was not laundered often because of its construction. Many women wore a very thin garment under it to keep it reasonably clean. Garters were attached to the bottom edges of the corset to hold up the stockings.

Then the lovely miss put on her shoes, her gloves, her hat and carried her purse. Now she was ready to go to tea.

She would have been invited to this tea by hand written invitation.

The tradition of afternoon tea came about in the 1840's because lunch was skimpy. People were hungry again in the late afternoon. Not dinnertime yet, they needed a cup of tea with bread and butter. Therefore, tea time.

One of the items in her purse would have been smelling salts. Wearing those corsets prevented one from ever taking a deep breath. Much fainting was the result. The corset also, over time, changed the contours of a woman's torso. Her rib cage and her pelvis were squeezed together. This too, caused unhealthy respiration, as well as many miscarriages and deformed births.

When this part of the presentation concluded, the presenters then dressed another mannequin from the inside out. She has the white dress on. You will note her crocheted purse. It is called a "reticule". Any purse with a drawstring was called a reticule. You may also notice her hat. The crown of the 1890's hats were very large to accommodate big hair. The women saved all the hair in her comb and hair brush in a small container. When she had a goodly amount, she would wrap that hair in a net. Then used it to give her hairstyle extra height for pompadours and Gibson girl up do's. Hence, hats with large crowns.

It was also during this time that women wore bustles which were created with yet another undergarment. This one, all wires and tape. The dresses were all longer in the back in order to accommodate the bustle. The figure gained by this look was called "the powder pigeon". Women looked much like a walking pigeon wagging its behind.

As history played on, women became more and more emancipated and their clothing reflected this. By the 1920's, the flapper girl had cut her hair into a bob style. She wore very few undergarments, no corsets, shapeless dresses that had lots of swing to them.

Closed up undies began to appear in the 1920's. In the 20's, a bandeau could be had to wear under the teddie but it had no shaping. Stockings were held up by garters. A cloche was the hat style, pulled down over the bob hair do.

The Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site looks like a lovely destination for a girlz day out........

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Part II of Girlz Day Out

Part II of GIRLZ DAY OUT was a tour of the LeRoy (NY) Historical Society Museum.

Most towns have a historical museum. My own town does. I love to learn about the history of the early days and beginnings of towns, villages and cities across the U.S.

On our GIRLZ DAY OUT, after touring the Jell-o Museum, we visited the LeRoy Historical Museum which was on the same property as the Jell-o Museum, separated only by a garden.

Since my favorite thing in the whole world is discovering old, unused, discarded household items, rescuing them, repurposing them into something useful and beautiful and "current", I was in my glory in this house which was the museum. The high ceilings, the extravagant woodwork, the wavy glass of the windows, the broad porches, the nooks and crannies.......................ohhhhhhhhh (swooning)

There were two docents there who made sure we didn't miss a thing. The home had a center entrance with a huge reception area with seating, paintings of ancestors, hat and umbrella rack, library table. To the left was a room that housed the "land office", full of surveyer's tools, roll top desk, many glass enclosed bookshelves, maps of settlement divisions. And to the right of the entrance hall was a parlor, with music room behind that.

It was in the parlor that we discovered that this house once was part of a seminary for women. In one of the nooks between the parlor and the music room was a historical display from Ingham University. The first exclusively women's university established in the U.S. Founded in 1835 as the LeRoy Female Seminary, chartered by the N.Y. State Board of Regents in 1852 as Ingham Collegiate Institute. The thing that struck me as most sweetly sentimental was a tiny class ring. Not a big showy ring like today's class rings but a dainty gold filigreed, pearl centered ring. Many of the women who matriculated at Ingham went on to make their mark on history. One, Sarah Frances Whiting founded the physics department and established the astronomical observatory at Wellesley College.

There were two kitchens in the museum. One, a 1930's kitchen and the other, an 1830's kitchen. That hundred year span produced astronmical advances in kitchen technology. The housewives went from scrubbing laundry in a wash tub with her hands to an electric wringer washing machine. From making meals in the fireplace over a wood fire to preparing meals on a gas powered stove. From having no refrigeration to an electric refrigerator, from candlelight to electric light, from personal visits and letters to a telephone.............

100 years before - 1830

All in all, GIRLZ DAY OUT was a totally precious day filled with beautiful memories.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Girlz Day Out

Girlz Day Out is something that a couple friends and myself do every so often. Sometimes it's just a lunch date. Other times it's a long distance adventure. We don't have a set time to do this like once a month or every other month. Just whenever we're in the mood. This past Saturday was the day. We had planned a visit to a thrift shop in a YWCA in a town about 30 miles west of here. This shop is a fund raiser for the local domestic violence ministry. My friends and I all found items we couldn't live without. Of course it helped that the black and red plaid wool jacket I bought was $2.50 and the voile pink and black floral big shirt I liked was $3.00. My friends also bought jackets and blouses. It happened also to be a beautiful, sunshiny day. Our next stop was the Jello-o museum. Though this is relatively close to us (30 miles) but none of us had ever been there. The museum is a small unassuming building but the history of Jell-o is magnificent. We had a guided tour by a Jell-o expert who led us into the museum, bid us to sit down on a bench, like school children, while he regaled us with Jell-o history.
The product had a very difficult birth. The first couple owners could not make it a commercial success. The company was sold a couple times for very small amounts - like 35.00 one time and 450.00 another time. Finally it became the property of a gentleman with VISION. The year was 1899 and most American housewives had never heard of a jelled dessert. Also - just add water - was a totally new concept to them. Many did not have refrigeration but did have methods for cooling (like ice) and Ice Boxes, springhouses, etc. A MARKETING STRATEGY was initiated. The Jell-o executive hired and trained a sales crew, dressed them in business attire, provided transportaion for them to go on the road with samples. His directions to his salesmen: give the product away for free. Visit every home. At one, give a packet of Jell-o. At the next, give away a recipe book.
He paid sales calls to the grocers and encouraged them to stock Jell-O on their shelves. Then it went viral. And the rest is history. The museum had advertising campaigns to show us. Large original oil paintings which were reproduced in newspapers and magazines. By the time radio and television arrived on the scene, all the biggest celebrities got in on the Jell-O buzz. Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Kate Smith, Lucille Ball plugged Jell-O on their programs. Bill Cosby was Jell-O spokesman for thirty years.
The early packaging was designed by the the Kewpie Doll founder. Therefore, it was very Kewpie Doll-ish. See picture above. Jell-O has a long and industrious history with many, many products following the original jelled dessert. Next came Jell-O pudding, then both instant Jell-O and pudding, then sugarless, pudding pops, jigglers and, the latest - Jell-O shots (made like a jiggler but with vodka instead of water) (for adults only). We thoroughly enjoyed our jaunt to Jell-O Land but we were only at the half-way mark on our Girlz Day Out. The Town's Historical Museum was our next stop. That will be the subject of next weeks blog.

Monday, August 6, 2012

What Are Little Girls Made Of ?

Sugar and spice and everything nice. That's what little girls are made of. Nursery rhyme - Unknown author. This is a DIY tutorial for a cute little embellished photo of your favorite l'il moppet. First: take a photo of the child preferably with her arms outstretched. This is so that you can attach her long skirt around her torso and have her arms and hands exposed. Print the photo on card stock.
Then carefully cut out the picture like you would a paper doll. I ran this cut out paper doll through my embossing machine. But you can also cover both sides of the photo with clear contact. You'll need to cut around that as well.
I taped a 6" long popsicle stick to the doll back to keep it stable. Using the double stick red line industrial tape.
Prepare the base. I used a 2" wooden circle from the craft store. I glued an old fashioned clothespin upside down onto the middle of the circle with wood glue. Let it dry overnight. Paint the entire stand black. Let it dry well.
Prepare the skirt. I used a folded in half vintage hankie for the skirt. Just use your imagination for your skirt fabric. (tulle, ribbon, purchase pre-made ruffle from the craft store, etc.) I gathered my hankie. You may have to gather fabric. If you use wired ribbon, just pull the wire to gather. If you buy a snippet of pre-gathered eyelet lace from the fabric store, you're home free.
I attached the skirt to the doll by wrapping the red line tape above the waist (empire style)all around both front and back of doll. Then I pressed my skirt onto the tape. I left my skirt open in the front because my vintage hankie had handmade lace all around four sides of the hankie. With my skirt in place I wrapped a narrow ribbon around her waist to finish it off.
Now you're ready to place your paper doll into the stand. I put a bit of wood glue on the bottom of the stabilizing popsicle stick before I slid the doll into the stand because I wanted her to stand high enough to accommodate her long skirt.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Vintage Finds - Redesigned

Vintage finds, redesigned. This is my catch phrase for my sammysgrammy etsy shop. This inclination has been a part of who I am for so long, I don't remember when it started. I just remember always remaking, repurposing, redesigning from my earliest childhood. As a 12 year old, I redesigned my grandmother's sewing machine cover to be a skirt for the vanity in my bedroom. Even the dressing table was a reuse of a maple desk. In my naivete, I thumbtacked the skirt to the table. It looked so "girlie" and that was exactly my intention. I was a very happy 12 year old about my room. I actually still am on the hunt for items I can repurpose. Quite some time ago, I came across a white chenille bedspread at an estate sale. I bought it. My intention was to make one of those maxi length swing coat/dusters from it but I could never bring myself cut into the fabric and desecrate it's beautiful purpose.
You may know about the kind of weather we've been having in the northeast of the U.S.A. this summer. Blistering temperatures and no rain. I desperately needed a lighter than air bedspread. I can't sleep without covers but this summer, I wanted those covers to be thin, light, cloudlike, a whisper. I thought of the stashed bedspread. It was exactly perfect. The backround for the chenille design was a very thin, sheetlike fabric. I laundered it and dried it on the clothesline in the backyard. It smelled beautiful - like the outdoors. Then brought it in and put it on my bed. Alas, it didn't fit and didn't look good. I have a queen size bed. When this bedspread was manufactured there was no such thing as a queen size bed. There were singles and doubles and baby cribs. That's it.
My vintage bedspread did not drop down on the sides long enough. And it was enormously long lengthwise. In circa 1940 the happy homemaker made her double bed by letting the bedspread edges all drop approximately the same length all around the bed. Therefore the sides and foot of the bed all looked uniform. The huge amount of fabric remaining at the head board was used to wrap around the pillows. Voila! the bed was made. In the 21st century, we dress beds totally different. We don't cover pillows with bedspread. We actually highlight pillows, covering them with shams, adding lots and lots of them to make the bed look a bit like the bed of the princess in "The Princess and the Pea" story book. Therefore I cut off the extra length of the bedspread. I will make a pillow sham from it one day. Next, I needed to add depth to the sides and bottom. After much design-think, I decided on tulle. I purchased double the length of the 3 sides I wanted to extend. I stretched out the entire 7 yards of tulle and folded the 54" width of it in half and pressed it with the iron. I then had 4 layers of tulle.
I used 2 packages of clear elastic to gather up the skirt, stretching the elastic and sewing with a zigzag stitch so that when I released the tension on the elastic, the tulle automatically gathered up. The final step was attaching this gigantic tutu to the sides and bottom edge of my vintage bedspread. Now it fit my bed in a manner that pleased my eye. It is perfect for these hot nights. I'm in love with it........

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bird Bath Tutorial

I went on a garden tour a couple weeks ago. This is an annual event for two of my friends and myself. It takes place in one of our suburban towns and is sponsored by the town's Arts Society. This particular town considers gardening to be an art (and I agree). The residents of this town who are involved in the arts are usually members of this Arts Society and volunteer their time, talents and gardens for this, their biggest fundraiser of the year. Therefore, all the gardens on the tour have a plein aire artist sitting at an easel and painting in the garden. Many of the gardens have live music in the garden supplied by members of the Arts Society. The atmosphere is fragrant with the sound of music, lovely snacks, beautiful paintings coming to life and exquisite gardens.
At one of the gardens on the tour, I noticed a lovely birdbath that the home's owner had made. I fell, immediately, head over heels, in love and determined that I would make one. I am so delighted with it and I think you will be too. Here's a picture of the one I made for my hosta garden.
It is all re-purposed, reused,clear glass. The main structural component is one of those thick glass tall vases that come from the local florist when you receive a bouquet. I like to use a colored, bulbous vase on top of the tall vase. Then on top of that, a glass serving dish. For a sturdy base, I have used an upended glass salad dish. The glue to use for this project is a glue for non-porous surfaces. I used Beacon 527 multi-use glue. The method I used was to: 1 - glue the tall vase and the colored bulbous vase together. Wait one day for the glue to be solidly set. 2- Turn the large serving plate upside down and place the top of the colored bulbous vase right in the middle of the bottom of the serving plate - gluing it together. Again, leave for a day for the glue to dry and set up properly. 3- With the large serving plate still in an upside down position and firmly attached to the two vases, glue the inverted salad plate (the base)to the bottom of the tall vase. 4 - Again, leave for a day to set up. 5 - Now you have a beautiful birdbath for your garden. Fill with water and enjoy. Most people have a stash of these florists vases left over from bouquets they've received. They just seem too valuable to throw away. Here is an awesome use for them. For the glass serving dishes, GoodWill, second hand stores, etc. are good sources. Perhaps you even have some of your own you'd like to recycle.