Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Tidbits

Christmas has come and gone for yet another year and the crazy chaos that filled the days leading up to the big event has been forgotten. Memories instead focus on those moments that brought a special sparkle to the season like decorating the tree with our favorite ornaments.
Making up batches of sweet treats to share with friends and family, but only after abundant taste testing has been performed of course!

Wearing a favorite Christmas ensemble.

Taking a trip to grandma's house. . . . .

. . . . .where every room is filled with Christmas joy!

Finding your name on Santa's list is always a good thing,

...but receiving an unexpected gift is particularly exciting!

Especially when it turns out to be a doll of your very own.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Out with the New Agenda!

This is me. The me that still had her milk teeth and had yet to create even one agenda. Both of which I wish were still true! Let me say that the excitement of losing one's baby teeth is definitely NOT repeated when one must part with a permanent tooth as an adult. For one thing, the tooth fairy does not visit you and leave shiny coins under your pillow! Instead you practically move into your dentist's office and contribute abundantly to his coffer. And as for those agendas. . . . . all the comfort and confidence I had acquired by following my carefully scripted plan for the months leading up to Christmas took a dramatic nosedive in direct proportion to my escalating dental dilemma. It seemed I had set myself up for failure and yet another hassle filled holiday season. How was I ever going to complete everything on all those lists I had made? The answer was actually quite simple, I wasn't. And so I tossed them out. . . . .
. . . . .it felt really good! Which lead me to go upstairs and begin throwing out a bunch of other clutter and in the process look what I found. It's the skirt from my picture, made for me by my grandmother many, many years ago. She used to get these little square fabric samples in the mail that she saved for me to play with when I was at her house. By the time I was five the collection was large enough for her to compile it into a patchwork skirt for me to wear on my birthday. I felt like a princess in it. It's been with me ever since, popping up from time to time in the various attics of homes I've lived in. With a "use it or lose it" frame of mind I decided to put some creative inspiration into this most recent discovery and. . . . .

. . . . .VOILA! A new sewing machine cover! My featherweight has been in dire need of a cover for ages, in fact, I'm positive the task to create one has been on more than one list or another of mine. And here, with nothing more than a simple ribbon tied up near the waist band the job is done.

If you want to see what else is done you'll have to peek around the corner into my bedroom. . . . .

. . . .where I've staked a claimed and created an extension of the sewing nook. I've decided to call this new area my "cozy corner." Not to say I've cheated dear hubby out of his fair share. He's got an equal portion of space on the other side for his treasures. I affectionately refer to his area as the "black hole" which should give some indication as to why you won't see a picture of it here.

And yes. . . . I did finally reclaim the bottom portion of the bookshelf and made a hefty donation to our library's book sale in the process.

Hubby's old computer cabinet has become the perfect spot to store a whole assortment of craft supplies. It's neat enough now, but great to know those doors can be closed to conceal any piles that do develop over time!

A doll's hutch discarded by my daughter was destined for the attic but, having cleared some piles from atop the file cabinet, I found a much happier role for it as storage for all the little Lilies in progress.

I had intended to carry my organizing frenzy over into other areas of the house in preparation of holiday decorating, but sans agenda I'm now free of such restraints. It doesn't mean I'm always happy about it. I do wish I'd gotten my dining room painted, I feel bad about the lack of attention I've given to stocking my Esty shop with Christmas items, and I hope you'll forgive me for not getting to the 3rd giveaway I had said I would hold this year. Painting has been limited to the Lilies, Etsy listings are for reserved custom orders only, and the only giving in the works involves Christmas presents. . . . .
. . . .with one exception. . . . .Lily Olive. She was made up in a batch of Lilies but not selected for purchase. Planning to put her in the shop for Christmas I added the finishing touches. In doing so, however, I found I couldn't bear to part with her and so I decided give her to myself!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Oh woe is me...

Friday, October 30, 2009

A New Agenda

One thing I've discovered by having my little Etsy shop is how many of you are so good at planning ahead! I began receiving a sprinkling of orders for items to give as Christmas gifts over the summer but as the fall settled in it became serious business for some! Knowing all my Christmas hiding spots were currently barren of secrets, I could feel a twinge of panic in the pit of my stomach not usually familiar to me until mid December. How many shopping days did I actually have left? Not enough I'm sure!

Armed with pen, paper, and a hot cup of tea I tackled the remaining pages of our 2009 calendar and created a holiday game plan. Lists were created, prioritized, edited, and compiled to create an agenda of sorts. In the end I decided it would be best to begin with a bit of organizing and simplifying, especially in regard to all the custom orders that needed my attention (especially considering I added a few more to the list for my own gift giving plans!)

I soon reclaimed the top portion of a bookshelf in our bedroom onto which an assortment of small baskets and boxes could be stored. All of the tiny pieces used in my pincushions, Lilies, and quilts can easily be cut in multiples now and stored safely away until it's their turn to be put into use. It's ever so easy now to grab a basket and head out to the sewing nook knowing everything I need is right on hand. I've even begun tossing in the coordinating thread, floss, beads, and trim as well. I'm feeling so on top of things. . . . .

. . . . . as long as I look up that is! If you recall, I did say I reclaimed the TOP portion of the bookshelf! This is what lies below. Believe it or not I do love books, I just don't treat them as well as I should.

Fearing I will be in dire need of encouragement as I tackle the next steps, I posted up one of the sweet little postcards I got at the antiquarian book fair last summer. Who knew at the time it would be so appropriate to my future agenda? And so inspirational! The process of clearing out is becoming almost a daily activity. I've been purging and tossing right and left. Drop offs at the consignment shop, donations to the library, and if all else fails, deposits in the recycle bin have not come without their rewards. More space, less dust, and. . . . .

. . . . .these treasures! I first saw these adorable wooden coasters over at Wyldhare's Hollow. She found her set on a "goodie hunting" excursion earlier this month. I feel in love with them and let her know in a comment on her post. Sweet as always, she said she would keep her eyes open for another set for me. I can't begin to tell you my amazement over the fact that she not only found another set but sent it off to me as a belated birthday surprise! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I especially love the fact that they have the little evergreen trees on them since this whole re-organization process developed out of my Christmas Agenda!

Not to be excluded. . . . . an additional surprise was tucked in for Lily Red as well! This tiny wooden basket is now one of her very favorite possessions. Being ever so sturdy and with a nice flat bottom I'm told it's uses tally in the hundreds.

It seems Lily Red's newest acquaintance, Red Riding Hood (#2) is quite an expert on baskets and many such conversations were had on the topic while hair braiding and other finishing touches were attended to.

Red Riding Hood even gave a demonstration on picking the finest flowers for making an arrangement to put in one's basket. Lucy had the special task of cutting a lining cloth for tucking around the blossoms. Both girls were quite impressed with their new friend, so much so in fact. . . . .

. . . . . that they were inspired to pay tribute to her frightful tale on Halloween. A bit of sewing was required but easily accomplished in their skillful hands. It was the generous loan of a key element, however, that added the perfect touch to their costume ensemble.

Happy Trick or Treat
Lily Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Winter Weather - a Taste of What's to Come!

The second nor'easter of the season paid a visit to our neighborhood yesterday. Several hours of snowflakes whipping every which way outside our windows was more exciting than anything to be found on the telly! By the early evening hours, however, all the white fluff was replaced with a bone chilling rain.

Luckily I was armed with my new dutch oven and a special recipe for french onion soup that had only just arrived by post. Believe it or not it was made by me, entirely from scratch and tasted as good as it looks! Bon Appetit!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Birthday Buffet

I don't know about you, but the stores around here have been gearing up for the Halloween season since the last weeks of August. Ever since his first glimpse of the orange and black display at Jo-Ann's, Jackson has been counting down the days until we can pick pumpkins and get the costumes ready. With the exception of stocking up on Halloween Oreos (which are generally sold out by September leaving you with a glass pumpkin cookie jar that is either empty or filled with the Christmas Oreos that have begun creeping onto the shelves) the wee lad has had to be very patient waiting for the ghoulish preparations to begin.

This week, with the arrival of the first of October, I figured it was time to start. First things first,however, I knew a bit of pre-decorating house "clearing" was in order. . . . . which leads me here to my pile of birthday gifts on display in the living room. Now considering more than two weeks have passed since my special day it was definitely time to relocate my goodies but not before I did a bit of show and tell.

A manicure coupon, a much loved CD, and some very friendly popsicle bookmarks from the kids. . . . .

and everything I need to become a French Chef from the hubby. Now you should know right up front that I cook about as well as he speaks french (did you notice his pink sticky notes?) Therefore, the chances of me going in the whole Julie and Julia direction are next to zero although I bet I could fit about ten cans of Campbell's French Onion Soup in that dutch oven and serve the whole family from one giant crock!

Almost every year, as a special birthday treat, I go to a doll show up in New Hampshire. This time while my mom searched for some tiny dolls to put in her Christmas dollhouse, Dale scoured every table for a doll that looked just like her, and I kept watch for any little wooden treasures to be had. As it turned out only the birthday girl had any luck on that day. A Raikes Hitty along with a companion book stuffed with an assortment of paper ephemera was found neglected amongst all the more glamorous Betsy McCalls and Madame Alexanders. Mass produced she may be, but how could I pass her up, especially with mom as a co-conspirator in the purchase.
As for the rest of the little wooden wonders pictured. . . . they were rescued from an "as is" junk box for a quarter a piece! One man's trash truly is another's treasure, and at a dollar for the lot my wallet still felt rich too.

And finally, from mom and dad. . . . .a whole stash of Hitty treats! My Gail Wilson kit as well as an extra wardrobe pattern had been stashed away since our visit to the Sunapee Fair. The braided rug and quit hoop were a completed surprise, however. They too started as Gail Wilson kits but my mom was sweet enough to complete them for me. Those along with a few little consignment finds added in have me thinking it won't be long before Hitty's going to need a house!

But first. . . it looks as if I've got my work cut out for me!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Summer Ends...

School began for the youngsters in our neck of the woods the first week of September but it won't be until the clock strikes twelve this evening that I will finally concede to the fact that summer is over. With autumn only hours away I suppose I should prepare for it by removing our Summer Fun List from its prominent position on the refrigerator door. As usual, we seem to have accomplished barely half of our good intentions. While there might have been a bit of belly aching over the fact that we never did get to go to Martha's Vineyard this year (#20), I never once heard a complaint over the lack of time spent cleaning out the basement (#31)!

The morning glories have proven to be the saving grace of #37's desire to enjoy the garden. What with all the rain bestowed upon us things were a bit meager, except of course for the slugs. The few tomatoes and peas were long ago eaten, the basil went moldy, and the fairy roses bloomed but once the whole season. The morning glories, however, began to greet me every morning in July and continue to due so to this day.

Our annual strawberry and blueberry picking adventures were also hindered by the wet weather. Week after week we waited for the perfect day to head out, but unfortunately most of the fruit rotted in place. While disappointed, to say the least, I was not about to let the holidays come round without a batch of freezer jam tucked away for our traditional thumbprint cookies.

And so, yes, my strawberries this year were picked not from the vine put from the grocery shelf.
It's bad enough I don't know how to make up "proper" jam in tiny little jars that can be decorated with calico and ribbons, but to know the berries themselves had such a dismal origin definitely adds insult to injury. It's somewhat romantic to think of the wee ones biting into their Christmas jam cookies and being magically carried back to a warm summer day out in the strawberry fields with their family. Unfortunately I think that only happens in fairy tales for I was informed, by quite reliable sources I might add, that they don't give a hoot where the jam, or the cookies for that matter, come from as long as they get their fair share!
The family puzzle (#17) was eventually completely, although mostly by my hand alone. Note to self, "I Spy puzzles featuring storybook characters are not a hit with teenagers. Must find one of the periodic table or perhaps a floor plan of the mall. "

A bonus activity during the month of August was the "Block Party Swap" I participated in. If you haven't been over to visit Elizabeth at Creative Breathing be sure to pop in someday soon. There is always something wonderful in the works over there to be oohed and aahed at. The swap was in celebration of her 301st post and involved decorating a 5x5 inch card stock block in your creative style. In return one would be created especially for you by Elizabeth. I just love the little girl in the bonnet she selected for me. The red gingham bow tie is just perfect!

It seems as if old book stores are becoming fewer and farther between. . . . .and so while we didn't actually get around to visiting one (#3), we did manage to stumble upon an antiquarian book show. Surprisingly hubby came out empty handed but have no fear I gladly made up the difference!

The Butt'ry Shelf Almanac was a very welcome surprise. . . . . I've had the companion cookbook to it for years and years and always wondered what delights awaited me within the pages of its mate. I suppose I could have ordered it off Amazon long ago but it's so much more fun to stumble across one that's waiting for you to find it!

This, however, was the true treasure of the day. . . . . The Mary Francis Sewing Book! I can't wait to follow along on her "adventures among the thimble people." Intended for young girls, each chapter introduces a new sewing skill along with a project that utilizes that skill. By the time the book is completed an entire wardrobe for one's special doll has been created, everything from an apron and a nightgown to a fancy dress and coat. I'm trying not to peek to much into it but it does seem as if all work is done by hand AND that all the pattern pieces are intact! Of course now I'll have to be on the lookout for my own special doll in the appropriate size to make all these pieces for.

In the meantime, however, there is no shortage of fun to be had with Lily Red around. Her tea party (#42) was a huge success. Lucy arrived with a basket full of confetti which was a great way to get the party started. Lucky for me I had that adequate supply of freezer jam, as Lily Red asked specifically for me to bring some as a side to her scones. Miss Prim Rose came, parasol in hand, and ready to share her sunny disposition with everyone! And not only was Lily Red the most gracious hostess, she also had a little something special for all her guests. . . . .

. . . . . the recipe to her special Cranberry Chocolate Scones! The ingredients are quite common,

and the directions none to difficult. I can't think Of anything better to make now that the cool autumn days are on their way.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lily Red Riding Hood

Humor me if you will in the presentation of yet another Lily. Being a special order, Red Riding Hood is actually in route to her new home, and more so than usual I am finding myself missing her presence in the sewing nook. As of yet I haven't created a single Lily to call my own but am thinking this one may have inspired me to do so. Perhaps it's the combination of the red gingham, the embroidered cape, and the mohair braids. Whatever the case may be, bear with me while I post a few photos to reference back to.

I have to say my favorite part was making the embroidered cape. I had so much fun stitching those little vines and leaves and found it was much easier than anticipated. The mind is now making a metal list of any and all things I could put needle and floss to in such a manner. . . . . . currently a new valance for the kitchen window holds fast to first place while my offer to adorn the new school clothes was firmly refused!
I made the cape removable primarily because its fun to play dress up, but it also allows you to see her lovely auburn braids. I was able to buy the dyed mohair from Gail Wilson Designs to make a wig similar to the ones I attempted in her basic doll kit. My braiding skills still leave quite a bit to be desired but in this case I actually prefer to have them more "relaxed" in order to be in better proportion to her head. Now if I could only get my hands on some curly blond hair to work with I'm sure Goldilocks would come round for a visit!