Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might...........Ecclesiastes 9:10

My little hands have been busy sewing, knitting and crocheting and I want to show you some of the results of my labor. It's been a "labor of love" making things for people I love and it delights me to bless them in this way.

One of my many nieces is getting married in August. She's (as they say) getting married on a shoestring. She's a graduate student doing medical research in Vancouver, BC. Her fiancee is also a grad student. They will return to their studies after they're wed.

Because I'm a collector of vintage lace and love re-purposing it into something that's very "today", I wanted to make her wedding related gifts. I made a wedding garter and a little wristlet, both from vintage lace.

I made the garter from a strip of hand crocheted lace. These pieces of lace were once use to embellish bed linens, and other household linens. The Victorians even embellished undergarments with hand made lace. Many times these strips were made by little girls who were learning the skill of crochet in order to fill up their "hope chests" for their own "way in the future" weddings.

The most interesting thing about this lace is: it did not wear out. The sheets or pillowcases, towels or petticoats that the lace embellished, wore out. But the frugal Victorian housewife separated the lace from the worn out piece. They then saved the lace to embellish something else. Oftentimes, this is where I step in and discover it at a household sale, estate sale, garage sale, op shop or somewhere else.

The wristlet evolved from a rectangular doily that was used to line a bread dish. It has the word "BREAD" crocheted right in the middle of the piece. I folded it into an envelope purse shape, lined it with silk and added a crushed ribbon wrist strap - so the bride's hands would be free to hug people.

I think it's so cool to have heirlooms as part of a wedding day. You know how the old saying goes : "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, a sixpence in your shoe...."

Taken from THE KNOT wedding website
 Something old represents continuity; something new offers optimism for the future; something borrowed symbolizes borrowed happiness; something blue stands for purity, love, and fidelity; and a sixpence in your shoe is a wish for good fortune and prosperity............................


Another project that I've been working on is making little trinkets to go into what is called a "swag bag" - a special gift bag for the first 100 visitors to visit my friend, Angel's. upcoming craft show. I am making tiny Christmas wreathes to pin onto your lapel, or to use as a giftwrap embellishment or even a tree trimmer. The swag bag will be chock full of the cutest ever little tchotchkes.

If you can get to Chambersburg, PA on November 2nd and do your Christmas shopping at this show, yours will be the best gifts ever.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Little Local News

One of the things I love most about Summertime is I'm outdoors all the time and sudden discoveries are all around me.
Today, I just want to show you some recent discoveries I found right "under my nose".

My brother came from Pennsylvania for a visit last week and he wanted to see the newest edition of Wegman's (our local grocery store). The company built a brand new store within the city limits, replacing one that was outdated, outmoded, passe' - all that. This company is renowned for "state of the art" stores. They are the Anthropology of grocery stores. Though this new branch is quite small compared to their other branches, it has enough interesting things to draw me back again and again.

All of the Wegman's stores have what they call a "Cafe'". In this space, shoppers may sit down and relax with their computers, newspapers, tablets, etc. along with a meal that they have purchased from the food court section of the store. This section has "ready to eat" Oriental, Indian, Spanish, Italian, Southwest, Kosher, etc. - hot and ready to eat. They have coffee and other tempting drinks, they have a French Pastisserie, salads, fruit and yogurt cups - and on and on.

What I love about the new store is that their Cafe' also went on and on. There were tables along a long windowed edge of the building. Therefore every table was a window seat. They had a room that looked like a family room in a home with a large TV on the wall over a roaring fireplace. Guess what was on TV? The Food Network !!

They had a long narrow hallway type of room lined with tables and walls lined with huge blowups of vintage photos of historic Rochester. I am in love with this.

Here's the corner of Winton Road and East Avenue 150 years ago

And here is what it looks like today. This is the very spot this new branch is located.


Some things that are happening in my back yard - flowers growing, deer sunbathing


A sheep farm that is not far from my house. The sheep all skittered away from the fence when I approached. I didn't know they were shy - didn't want their picture taken - they had no sunglasses to hide behind so they gave their behinds to the camera.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Ride on the Erie Canal

I keep being more and more amazed at all we have to offer, in the way of tourism entertainment, to visitors to the Rochester area. Last week, with a housefull of  out of town visitors, we took a boat ride on the Erie Canal. This was a guided tour on a packet boat (the type that was used for commerce in the 1800's). The canal is very shallow. Packet boats were flat bottomed and were pulled along the waterway by mules who walked along the "tow path". These vessels had to pass under many low bridges. A famous folk song tells the story.

We arrived at the port of Pittsford for our 2 PM departure on the vessel The Sam Patch (that's another whole story). The main feature of our cruise was a visit to one of the canal's 57 locks.

Because the canal traverses landscapes of varying elevations, there had to be a method of coercing water to, very calmly climb mountains, travel down valleys, and cross  natural waterways. The solution was locks. 

Here are pictures of our vessel waiting inside of a lock for the water to fill so that we could travel the canal on a higher elevation. Coming back, the opposite happened. Our vessel was at a higher elevation. We entered the lock. The water level was dropped so we could travel back at this lower elevation.

I do hope I've explained this in an understandable way.

The Erie Canal was completed in 1825. It was all dug by hand, by immigrants. There were no civil engineers to design it or architects to lay out it's path, no cranes and mechanical earth movers to dig it. The walls of the canal were paved with small round stones called cobblestones. Many historic and beautiful New York state buildings (including homes) were built with the left over cobblestones. Today they are a treasure.

The canal traverses New York state from Albany to Buffalo. 363 miles!! The longest artificial waterway and greatest public works project in North America. The canal put New York state on the map. It opened up the interior to commerce, trade and settlement. Until that point in history, all major population centers were in the east coast states.

Our guests totally enjoyed this visit with history. Today the canal is part of the National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior. It is a treasure trove of adventure in so many ways. Today the old tow path that the mules pulled the packet boats along is now a bike path. This week (July 7-14) more than 500 riders of all ages and from all across the nation will participate in an 8 day, 400 mile bike tour from Buffalo to Albany.  

The towns or ports along the canal stage many local events along their shores. Many vacationers sail up in their watercraft and dock at the ports in these canalside towns, shop at their local boutiques and groceries. There are Philharmonic Orchestra Concerts, there's a rubber duckie race, local high school's crew teams practice on the canal, kayakers paddle. Many towns have boat launches where residents can park their cars and launch their boats. In winter, the water level is significantly lowered to protect the walls from ice damage. At that time, the canal becomes a huge ice skating rink. 

  And some people are lucky enough to have the canal in their backyard............

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Garden Tour

There are several garden tours in my area every summer. I got hooked on them when I was designing a garden for our home. I wanted to have a pond so I paid particular attention to garden ponds and asked loads and loads of questions of the garden owners – do you leave the fish in there all year long? Yes, but you must keep the bubbler going so the fish can get oxygen. The fish go dormant as do the plants. As the water warms up in the spring, both fish and plants begin to awake and begin the cycle again.

The hospitable gardeners who open their garden for visitors to trample through each summer are some of the most generous people on earth. They’ll pull up a bit of a perennial plant and give it to you to thrive in your garden. There are many plants in my garden that were started this way.

I went to two this summer. In my area these garden tours are annual events and are usually fund raisers for the organizations who sponsor them. The ones I attended this season were sponsored by the Historical Society and the other was sponsored by the Science Museum – both vital local organizations.

I happened to miss the one that is my favorite, because of a conflicting commitment. That one is called the Notable Garden Tour – notable, because there are musicians in every garden. This show is sponsored by the Greece Performing Arts Society. This organization believes that gardening is a performing art – and rightly so. Therefore, live music in every garden as well as an artist who is doing some plein aire water color or sketching with charcoals or some other type of easel art. They also provide snacks in each garden at this show. Snacks provided by our local mega grocery. You can see why this one is my favorite.