Thursday, December 29, 2011

It's been a while ...

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!! I made a true effort to actually get things done in time to sit back and actually relax on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and on the 26th. It felt good!

I've been such a bad blogger!!! I only posted once this month before this evening. December is such a busy month for all of us, hopefully, you had lots better things to do then bemoan my MIA status. (I know I certainly did! - Have better things to do, that is.)

There were all the usual holiday demands like putting up the tree, making gifts and dipping lots and lots of chocolates. If you've followed through any past Christmases or Easters, you may recall I'm the official family candy maker. This year, I made only about 35 lbs. of dipped candies, less than half my normal volume. I just didn't have the stamina for it this time around. I keep telling the next generation I need an apprentice or two but they really do prefer eating the candy as opposed to making candy!

I did get almost all the gifts I intended to make done. The only exception was a needlepoint Barbie boutique made on plastic canvas. I actually started that one back in September but quickly got behind on the production. If you were here last year, you heard about the fiasco of Barbie's music room and I did not want a repeat this time around. By Thanksgiving, it was clear I was not going to get it done without working around the clock or dropping everything else in my life so I scratched the idea of finishing it for Christmas. I went with another much easier project for K. I hope to finish the room in the Spring. I'll keep you posted.

The Big Guy keeps joking that K will outgrow playing with Barbies before it's done. BUT - I have a fallback position on that. We have 4 more little girls in the family that have not yet reached Barbie age! The youngest is only 6 months old. I'm bound to get it done before we run out of little girls!

So, what did I get made for gifts? Painted clothing and wine glasses for some of the adults, some entire outfits with accessories for some of the children, several shopping bags of hair accessories for some of the school-age girls on my list, three black board tables, some painted kitchen decor pieces for some of the young adults and a few more odds and ends.

On top of having all those gifts to make, household holiday preps and candy making, we had houseguests, family commitments and more to take up my time - and then, there were sales. I had a steady, solid flow of sales for my business this season !

That kept me quite busy. I had not expected to be so busy producing merchandise as I didn't do any regular craft shows or boutique sales this year. I was quite surprised at how many past clients sought me out to place orders. It felt very very good but it was exhausting keeping up!!

I hope to get back to posting on a regular basis now. I was going to wait until New Year's Day but really got the urge to jump in here tonight. I've truly missed blogging. I haven't even had time to read many blogs this month!

It seems every time I get things flowing on an even keel, I get a curve ball thrown at me or hit a speed bump or something. I kept drafting posts all month but then either needed to do some editing or add the illustrations or something and then just didn't get it done so I never hit the "publish" button. I was really proud of some of those pieces and put some real thought and effort into them. I've actually considered going ahead and "back-posting" those drafted posts with their original dates on them and leaving it up to my readers as to whether they wanted to go back and read them. For now though, I just wanted to pop in and touch base with all of you.

It felt good to sit down and have this little chat tonight. Hopefully, I'll see y'all again tomorrow, too.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

25 Days Till Christmas!!!!!!

December 1st !!!!!

Christmas is roaring toward us like a freight train! I don't know about you, but I haven't even begun to decorate. I think I'm looking at a few all-nighters coming my way!

Then, of course, I made this silly pledge to myself to post EVERY day till Christmas. Easier said than done! I'm taking the easy way out tonight and re-running a post from the past.

I'm not just really proud of my aunt who made this jewelry tree
(and many others like it), it also makes for a fantastic project and a really eye-catching, conversation starting decoration for the season. (I believe if I report this enough, for enough years, I'll get around to making one myself. I already have a bunch of pieces put away to get started with.)

A number of years ago, my aunt made what I thought was a really unique and spectacular holiday decoration for her home. She used to get it out and hang it in early November and leave it up through about mid-January (sometimes later). She now lives in a retirement apartment complex and it hangs on her living room wall year round.

She made this absolutely stunning Christmas tree from various pieces of bright, sparkly costume jewelry! This first of her trees (She's made quite a few since then.), was made using various pieces of jewelry with a family history.

Some people are "clothes horses", well, my grandmother (her M-I-L) was a "jewelry horse." She particularly loved huge, heavy earrings. (She had very large ear lobes. We all believe the weight of the earrings stretched them out!) When my grandmother passed and her belongings were distributed among the family, no one really wanted to wear those humongous earrings. Aunt M. put quite a few of them into this tree. There were other jewelry "remnants" floating about and they, too, found their way into this tree. The bigger and brighter the better!

The tree is fairly heavy and is mounted on a piece of plywood covered in velvet. I believe she used a jeweler's glue to secure the stones. Many friends and acquaintances have come to her and asked for help in making a tree to display some of their family jewels, too.

Along the way, she has made quite a few as gifts or to sell at various bazaars and such. The best places to find such jewels are yard sales, church bazaars with white elephant tables and flea markets.(Those old-fashioned brooches are true finds with this project in mind!)

Of course, you should start with the jewelry box you've been stashing those orphaned earrings in!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fun With Oyster Shells

I've been terribly neglectful of this blog lately. Life has just gotten in the way and some things had to give here and there.

I find writing here therapeutic and, boy, have I missed being here. Tomorrow starts a new month and a fast countdown to Christmas. The "Busy Season" for most of us. I'll need therapy to get through the next 25 days, believe me! So, I'm pledging, here and now, to post each and every day until Christmas. Please hold me to it. Push me, pull me, cajole me into posting. Send me notes, etc., whatever it takes. I need you, all of you!!

Well, we've now worked through most of the Thanksgiving leftovers. (Which in our case is pretty good as we didn't do our turkey dinner here until Monday! We go to another family member's home on the true holiday.) One of the "leftovers" I had from Thursday was a box of empty oyster shells. (It's a Maryland thing - raw oysters for appetizers!) So, what's a creative painting gal to do?!?

Start painting!! The shells have a natural flow with ridges and lumps and natural lines to follow. Each is different of course. I kind of let each one speak to me and tell me what it is. (Okay, a few glasses of wine helped that creative flow along a bit. I'll admit it.) Suddenly, I was surrounded by Santa faces and more.

Some shells wanted to be so much more than just the Jolly Guy's face, some wanted to include his body, some wanted to stick him in the center of a wreath, or be his sleigh. One shell aspired to be a tree and one, I think it was female, wanted to be an angel. I gave each one some leeway to become what they wanted to be.

I think the results were quite rewarding. I added some ribbon loops and am working at giving each a listing of their own in my shop tonight. Well, sort of. some are going there in pairs - you know, the old two-by-two thing!

I'm thinking of playing with some sand dollars tomorrow!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Still have that "charcoaled turkey" smell in the air at your house? Okay, so it was a little well done.)

So, did ole' Tom stay in the oven just a little (or a lot) too long? Were your local firefighters unexpected guests at your meal yesterday? (Hey, there IS a reason why they work on holidays, isn't there?)

There is a silver lining to burning the bird, honest. Check out these twelve reasons to be thankful your bird was, well, let's just say, incinerated!

* Salmonella won't be a concern.

*No one will overeat.

*Everyone will think it's Cajun Blackened.

*Uninvited guests will think twice next year.

*Your cheese broccoli lima bean casserole will gain
new found appreciation.

*Pets won't pester for scraps.

*The smoke alarm was due for a test.

*Carving the bird will provide a good cardiovascular workout.

*After dinner, the guys can take the bird out to the yard
and play football.

*The less turkey Uncle George eats, the less likely he will be to walk
around with his pants unbuttoned.

*You'll get to dessert quicker.

* You won't be eating turkey sandwiches for the next three weeks.

So, simply grit your teeth, smile, and go shopping!! Shopping cures most ills!! (or so it seems!)

** Yeah, I did run this one last year but I really do think it makes you smile!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving to All !!!

"...No one will remember the perfect Thanksgiving anyway. Five and ten years from now, family and friends will be laughing over the time the turkey burned and you had to order in Chinese food. Or the impossibly hard biscuits Aunt Beth insisted on making every year. All the perfect food will be long forgotten. ...relax and enjoy [yourself]. It's the mishaps and the funny incidents that create the best memories --Sophie"
So says Krista Davis in The Diva Runs Out of Thyme

As you rush about today, doing all those last minute preps for the big meal, keep these words in mind. They are, oh, so true. Go ahead and ask your family about their most memorable Thanksgivings (if you dare). I'm sure the ones that stand out will be the "imperfect" events. A bonus of doing this is the laughs you'll all share as a family reliving those unique memories.

Want to read some tales of Thanksgiving meals gone wrong? Check out this thread on the Etsy Forum. There's everything from a turkey flying off the tray across the kitchen and right into the dining room, to flour covering the cat just as the doorbell rings, to a miraculous diving catch of mashed potatoes. Some of these will make your worst story sound pretty good.

Now, go ahead and get that pie in the oven, today!

Then, sit down and have a glass of wine while you contemplate all the rest of that work.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Our Fall 2011 "Southern Tour" (in pics)

Could you ask for a prettier day for a road trip?

One of those landmarks that tells us "We're almost there!" (Time to get excited!)

For this Big City gal, our arrival in our destination town was like a step back in time!

Who needs pumpkins when you get greeted by this Halloween Sweetie?!?

The Big Guy auditioned a new partner for his attempt to get on Dancing With The Stars.
He might want to get her some higher heels!

The colors in the Great Smoky Mountains (Maggie Valley, NC) were at absolute peak that day. We were on our way up the mountain to Cherokee, NC.

Strange looking "cloud" hanging over the mountain!

Hmmm, our suspicions were right
. That IS snow on the ground - in North Carolina in October!! (Okay, so we were pretty high up in the mountains BUT it is the South and it WAS October!!!)

Lots of great food, loud music and loads of fun at the Oktoberfest in Valhalla, SC. (It was super crowded ! I didn't quite expect all those people at an event in such a small town ... and it was competing with a home game at Clemson, just down the road!!)

**Incidentally, Clemson won.

Everybody did a little toe-tapping at the Oktoberfest, even the scarecrow!!

Just one of the reasons to hate running out of time on this visit!
(Although an even better reason to return soon!!)

While still colorful, some areas along the Blue Ridge Mountains had already passed their peak on our return trip.

The Tennessee Visitor's Center atop the mountain gave a fantastic view of the surrounding mountains (any direction you looked!) Trees of every color formed a true Autumn palette of color.

Had an interesting lunch at a diner about mid-way up I-81 in Virginia - an "open-face chili burger"! I really liked this one!! Basically they laid the roll out flat and placed an average-sized burger on each half and piled lots of spicy chili on top, topping it off with shredded cheddar and chopped onions. (A blob of sour cream was optional.)

The trees in Harper's Ferry, W still had a lot of changing to do!!

And that brings us back to home!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Bits 'n' Pieces

I make lots of notes when watching TV - quotes, comments, funny lines and even interesting terms that strike my fancy. Here's a few I've come across lately:

Alexis Stewart (Martha's daughter) says she "was raised with a glue gun to her head."
As a crafty woman myself, I've got to ask if that's really a bad thing. Shouldn't we encourage creativity in our children?

Commenting on noticing attractive women despite his long and solidly happy marriage, Tom Selleck said, "Just because you're on a diet, doesn't mean you can't look at the menu !"
I remember my dad referring to it as "window shopping" when sitting on the porch of our hotel and watching the girls stroll by on the boardwalk at the ocean resort.

"That Girl", Marlo Thomas, is playing a Golden Girl type character on Broadway !!! Who'd a thunk it !!
Whatever happened to that sweet young girl who tried to take over the Big City way back when? Did it really take all these years for her to get her name on Broadway?

Paula Deen announced she's coming out with her own clothing line. They're still in the process of lining up outlets. Most of what she's wearing on her book tour are from this new line.
I hope she lines up Target or Sears or such. (For better or worse, my figure identifies with Paula's. Must be her recipes I keep trying!)

Today's college grads are part of the NINJA generation according to Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) in Wall Street Money Never Sleeps.
NINJA = No income, No jobs, and no Assets
Hmmm, pessimistic view or truth-sayer?

"Mantiques" = collectibles that appeal to men (Sister Pickers)

Kelly Ripa, commenting on a gal with attitude, "Stop being a 'Jersey Girl' ! "
Kelly can get away with this 'cuz she IS a Jersey Girl (for real) - born and raised!!

Suzy Orman, giving advice on cutting out frivolous, unnecessary spending - "Don't spend money you don't have to impress people you don't know or even like !"

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Rob and Laura have been around for 50 years!!!

The Dick Van Dyke Show is celebrating it's 50th anniversary this year. TV Land recently ran a Dick Van Dyke marathon to mark this milestone.

I thoroughly enjoyed the trip down memory lane - especially the episodes from the debut season - 1961. Many of you were not yet born but have watched the show in it's eternal syndicated reruns. I was there to watch way back then but I really didn't remember those segments. Guess I was simply too young and really don't recall those specific episodes being shown in the reruns.
In those very early shows, the cast and writers were still finding themselves. The Petries had not yet gotten their famous ottoman. Come on, you KNOW you all sat there in suspense each week, waiting to see if Rob fell over it or did a quick side-step as he entered the living room. What do you think was the deciding factor o that for the directors?
Laura frequently referred to Rob as "Robert" that first year. I really did not remember that in later years. When Rob was trying to sweet talk Laura way back then, he'd call her "Laurie". Again, something eliminated in later years. Personally, I found that sweet and endearing. They should've left kept those little touches in later years.

Particularly noteworthy was a bidding war between Rob and Laura. He needed her to attend a business cocktail party with him and she wanted to stay home as she felt Richie was "coming down with something." The final agreement came down to her attending the party in exchange for rob attending 2 "decorator shows" and 5 PTA meetings!! (Why did Laura think Richie was getting sick? "He turned down his cupcake!")
Watching their happy and loving escapades must've put me in a nostalgic and romantic mood as a few days later, The Big Guy and I were slow dancing to an Eric Clapton tune at an Oktoberfest. The thing is, we weren't anywhere near the band. We were actually heading for the exit when our companions jumped in a food line for something to take home. While we were waiting for them, I commented that we were leaving just when they played one of our favorites.

He responded by tucking his cane under his arm and pulling me close. This sort of thing was definitely out of character for us, but it felt so good and right and reminded me of the "old days" when our love was new and not so routine. I didn't even mind the stares as folks wandered by and - yes, most gave us a smile !

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

One last ocean day...

Just before we left on our little vacation, The Big Guy and I made one last trek to the Boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland.

Back in the day, we made those one-day runs just to soak up a few last rays before the season ended completely or to catch an act at one of the clubs. Now, we love to go and simply stroll the boards, stopping occasionally to just sit on a bench either facing the beach and watching the waves roll in or checking out the sights on the Boardwalk itself. I LOVE to people watch and this is the place to see it ALL!!

It was one of the last warm sunny days around here. (Actually one of the few sunny days we've had in the last few months.) It was warm enough to be comfortable yet not so hot to run for shade. The perfect day to sit on a bench and watch kids play on the beach. That's just what we did - for hours! It just felt so good ! There was one particular family we watched. The kids just had the best time just running and flopping on the sand, rolling around it and giggling - lots and lots of giggling. One couldn't help but smile at them.

The balloon man was busy buzzing around in his power chair making balloon sculptures for any children (of all ages) he found. He simply has a little "donations" basket posted and does this simply to make folks happy.

The local police patrol the entire boardwalk (3 miles) with only a few officers now that the season is over so they bring along their 4-footed partners to make it easier. This particular team did some fancy stepping for us (a parade march) and took lots of time to let all who wished pet this magnificent creature.

For most of us in these parts, one of the summer's great traditions is eating your way along the boards. There are some foods that simply say "Boardwalk" to us . We had to take one more gastronomic walk there for the year. (We may still go there to walk but most of the businesses will close completely for the season soon.) We had our hit list in mind: Thrashers fries, a fried soft crab, a piece of fried chicken, something from Dumser's Ice Cream and, if time permitted, also some frozen custard from Kohr's Brothers. We needed some hot caramel popcorn and maybe some fudge or taffy from Candy Kitchen. Well, we missed out on Dumser's, skipped the taffy and took some fudge home for later, but we did manage all the rest!

We love it there this time of year. The crowds are thinner and you don't feel like you're being pushed along. You can stroll at your own pace and find a seat on a bench just about anywhere whenever you're ready. Since most everyone else is in this relaxed, laid back mode, too, folks talk to one another and are friendly with total strangers.

Days like this make me miss the days when I lived just down the road and could go there anytime. Makes me wonder, too, how my life would have been different if I had stayed there and opened the little shop I had in mind over 30 years ago. One of those "would'a, should'a, could'a" moments. Then I consider what I did instead and where I am now and I think, "It's not a bad life!" Of course, the sound of crashing waves and a sea breeze all the time could really make things a lot more perfect!!

Monday, October 31, 2011


Not sure what has happened, here. Can't believe it's been two weeks since my last post. (Almost sounds like confession - "Forgive me readers, for I have failed y'all...")

Seriously, I do know what happened. We went on vacation and my scheduled posts just didn't post. (I generally only have about a 60% success rate with advance posting.)

Okay, that explains the first week. The second week? Just don't know where that time went! Chose not to simply back-publish the missed posts. I'm probably the only person who really missed them, anyway!!

Be careful out there tonight. Halloween trick-or-treating can be so s-p-o-o-k-y !!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chores and a friend's give-away, too!

I've been quite busy the last few days and have had trouble finding time to sit down to post. I've been scrambling to produce merchandise, fill a few orders and keep up with our daily lives in general.

Don't you often wonder who really wears all those clothes that end up in your hamper each week? I sure do. Seems laundry takes a disproportionate amount of my time. While we're wondering, who actually dirties all those dishes, too, and where on earth does all that dust come from? And now, we need to start thinking about holiday shopping, too!!! I need more hours in my day!!!!


Only a couple days left
to enter my friend's give-away featuring NINE (yep, 9 !!) great items for both your sweet little one and Mommy, too. (Did I tell you one of those prizes is a turkey apron from my shop? You can get it to fit either your little gal or Mommy.) Just take a gander at all that loot -- (ALL of it goes to ONE winner!!)

I told you about this one a few days ago and, at last check, the odds of winning look pretty good. There haven't been that many entries, yet! Can you believe it? One of the blogosphere's best kept secrets, I guess!

Entering is really easy.

Just go to Brianna Bean's blog here and follow the easy steps to get your name in the running.

Talk about getting a leg up on Christmas shopping!!!

Hurry!!! The last day to enter the Give-Away is October 15th!!

Don't miss this great opportunity!