Monday, February 28, 2011

I miss South Carolina!!

I told (warned) you I'd share more about our recent trip:

The weather here has been gray, damp and cool for the most part. I guess I got spoiled last week with the sunshine and warmth in South Carolina. It was unusually warm when we left home heading South and I was genuinely shocked to come home to snow after a week.
Saturday was really gray and threatening around here although the sun finally did come out in the late afternoon. (By then, we'd already decided to simply stay home for the day.) I let my mind wander to the great day we had last Saturday (in SC). It was 76 degrees and super sunny. We actually went to an outdoor festival!!! In February!!! We took lawn chairs and settled in to listen to some acoustic blues - outside - in the sun. It felt fantastic to us winter worn souls!

The event was the monthly open house at the Hagood Mill Historic Site in Pickens, South Carolina. It's an actual working grist mill. It was used commercially well into the 60s. Now, they run the mill once a month, actually grinding such things as corn meal, flour and even grits so they can show the public how mills worked in their day. They have quite a few stones (used to grind) on display and explain how the stones could be changed for different types of grain. Our friend bought a bag of true, fresh grits. You know, the kind that have to cook for a long while, not the instant most of us are familiar with these days.

There was an impromptu gathering of musicians under a tree. It worked sort of like an acoustic folk jam-session. Each time we went by, different folks were playing with the group. They were quite enjoyable. There were two talented ladies trading off on the bass (stand up) throughout the afternoon.

There were also demonstrations of spinning, hearth cooking, chair caning, leather tooling, blacksmithing and more. There is a working cotton gin on the property but was not being demonstrated that day. There were some ladies demonstrating old fashioned needle arts, too. An actual still sits on the property but is simply set up to perform as an educational exhibit. (We were hoping for samples to wash down the hearth-baked cornbread they were serving.)

There was an acoustic blues duo playing on a porch with an audience gathered round on the lawn. At the close of their performance time, one of the musicians was to conduct a harmonica workshop. He decided the weather was too great to waste by teaching indoors so he went in and asked the participant s to join all of us on the lawn. I was surprised to see about 14 folks come out to learn to play the mouth organ - even more surprised at how many were of the female persuasion. I'm not trying to be discriminatory. You simply don't come across many women palying the harmonica. We enjoyed watching this group and almost wished we had instruments to work with. (Our friend's dad had played and she has his old, good quality instrument at home but no one in the household knows how to play. She wished she had known.)

There were about 10 crafters selling their wares. I actually bought two pairs of leather earrings. The lady selling these is just beginning to "play" with her husband's leather scraps (He does large leather pieces) and they are quite basic but I've always liked the unique. The price was unbelievable, too!! I paid $1 for the first pair and $2 for the second!!!

There were two other jewelry makers present who did beautiful pieces using true gemstones and silver and gold components. Unfortunately, I feel these folks are going to suffer at fairs and festivals this year as the cost of their metals has risen so much they will no longer be able to produce wares that are "spontaneous" purchase prices. One had some fantastic hammered silver pieces but they were pried appropriately for what they were. This was considerably more than we planned to spend at such an event.

****Since 1996, the mill has operated, rain or shine, the third Saturday of every month from 10 a.m.-4p.m. These monthly "corn grinding" days have become mini-festivals of traditional arts, folklife and music. More than 25 regular demonstrators share their skills with the public. If you're in the area on one of these days, stop on by for a good time.

All in all, we had a great day in the sun - good music, interesting sights and, best of all, time spent with people we love.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Allright!!! Crabs are back!

Spring MUST be coming. Our favorite crab house opened for the season tonight! THIS is why we stay right here along the Chesapeake Bay!!
It was cold and damp and extremely windy but the smell of hot steamed crabs warmed our innards. Our crab house is a little, traditional venue filled with "regulars." For a few months a year (the "off" season) we don't see each other at all and then, once the crabs are in the steamer, we sit side-by-side, week after week, sharing news, laughs and discussing the world's news. Oh, yeah, we watch ball games on the big screen together, too. It's sort of like our "Cheers." (You DO realize beer is also a vital part of eating crabs, don't you?)
Seriously, I spent yesterday working on and listing some new merchandise in the shop. (So, my crabs were simply my reward.) I've revamped my little crocheted Mary Jane baby booties by adding a sock portion to the shoe. I think it looks soooo much cuter. At the moment, I'm still offering the old style, too, but I think they'll phase out as I sell them off. What do you think of the new ones?
I also listed a totally new painted set featuring sock monkeys. I'm hoping this one becomes popular as I love painting those little guys.
I may spend the weekend doing some sewing, finishing up some items that I've got started but have not quite gotten done for the shop yet. It's still not good outdoor weather around here.

Hope y'all have a good one!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Spring IS coming!! Honest.

JUST A REMINDER: Spring arrives in just 25 more days!!!

Proof that there is life after snow!!
Little green shoots were evident in a flower bed at
the Tennessee/Virginia border last week.
Can they be far behind here at home?

Spring DOES arrive (astronomically) at about 11:20 p.m. on March 20. So, if that danged rodent up there in Punxatawney (You know who I'm speaking about, Phil.) was right, this snow should be melting instantaneously and the temps shooting right up there.

I think I'll pull out some of the Spring stock for my Etsy shop today and tomorrow to get us in the mood.

For now, I think I'll cuddle back under this afghan for a little longer.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Home again - jiggity jig.

Sorry I've been missing in action this past week but when a gal has an opportunity to squeeze in a vacation, she's gotta grab it with gusto!! And it was wonderful!!!We finally managed to get that much postponed trip to the South Carolina foothills. It was a great week to be there, too. The sun was out each day and the temps soared to the 60s and 70s. We even squeezed in an outdoor festival on Saturday when the thermometer actually made 76!!
I had thought I'd be able to blog from there but had my arms full snuggling, hugging and playing with a very sweet and happy addition to our gang. Who could find time to blog?!? Seriously, we were just enjoying spending time with folks we love and miss very much. I didn't want to waste a minute sitting at the keyboard. (NOT that I don't love all of you, too!)
We squeezed a tremendous amount of activity into just a few days and , of course, we feel like there was so much we didn't get a chance to do. Most importantly, we were together! We DID have some fantastic home-cooked meals, ate at a few new restaurants, attended a terrific stage show, did a little sightseeing, went to an outdoor festival (in February!!), sat in on a harmonica workshop (Some things just happen spontaneously!), saw a movie and put together our obligatory jigsaw puzzle (In record time, I might add. some traditions can't be messed with.) I'll slip a few pics and comments about the trip in here and there over the next few days.

Now, it's back to everyday life at home - in the snow. Yep, we left the warm, sunny South and came home to several inches of snow. Thank goodness for wonderful neighbors. We came home to a perfectly clear driveway and steps which made coming in so late and tired last night really easy. Thank you, Tony!!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A family kind of Sunday ...

I finally got back to doing some painting this morning.

I wasn't working on stock for the shop but for a family baby shower coming up next week and I needed to make some special gifts. This was a bit of a challenge. We don't know the gender this time. It's been so long since I had to think "neutral" when preparing a shower gift. I really didn't want to suffocate the poor child with yellow and green so I did have to think a little harder. Everything is still drying so I can't take pics to post yet. (The new mama doesn't read my blog.)

After a few hours of painting, I had to go to a bridal shower for a niece who's getting married next month. We won't be going to the wedding as she has chosen a beautiful beach in Hawaii to do the deed. The Big Guy just doesn't feel he's physically up to such a grueling flight. (Remember, we're on the East Coast.) He did it once 30 years ago and ended up flat on his back with painful spasms while he was there - and he was young then!! After a 3-week honeymoon in French Polynesia, there will be a local reception held here for them. We will NOT miss that affair!!

Today's event was a fairly small affair with a few close friends and family but we enjoyed having an opportunity for just us girls to chat. Of course, there are always those that we just don't see often enough and it's always good to have such an excuse to get together.

Hope y'all had a great day today, too.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Englishtown Auction and Marketplace

Once again, we've had one of our stimulating misadventures! This time I'm chalking it up to a combination of mid-winter blues and cabin fever. I HAD to get out in the world!!!
Picture is from Englishtown Auction's website.
We saw clouds and piles of snow!

So, for years, I've been hearing tales of a wondrous marketplace "up the road" in New Jersey. The Englishtown Auction combines a farmers market, outlet center shops, flea market, food vendors, arts, crafts, antiques, and, oh yeah, auctions, too. All this on just two days a week, Saturday and Sunday, year round. It's been happening there since 1929!!!! They have five large buildings and 40 acres of outdoor vendor space. It is the largest of its kind - anywhere. --- And, we had never been there before!!

With decent weather forecast for the day and nothing else on our schedule, it seemed a brilliant plan. Earlier in the week, I'd been online looking for a particular item and finding they don't sell it online but they do have a shop at Englishtown, I had that extra push I needed. It is about a 2 1/2 hour trip so I expected The Big Guy to shoot it down but he actually knows folks who have gone there frequently and I think I sparked a little curiosity in him.
So, not so bright, but early this morning, we set out for New Jersey. We hit almost no traffic so the trip was easy, until we got off the main highway. I had printed out the Mapquest directions but forgot to grab Samantha (our GPS) from the other car. I should know from experience, MQ sometimes has problems differentiating its right from left when it comes to turns. This was one of those occasions.

After proceeding an extra 1 1/2 miles down a country road looking for a specific intersecting road, we turned around and went back to the main highway and tried going the opposite direction. Aha!! There was the road we were looking for! Things got back on track until we came to the dreaded DETOUR. Seems the bridge was out! After some finagling and backtracking, we finally stumbled upon the Auction site. In good weather, it might be awesome!! (See pics.)

Today was cold, cloudy and windy (not in the forecast) and the parking lot was full of piles of snow with narrow driving paths and limited spaces available but we found a spot. The semi-paved and gravel surface was very muddy and a bit slippery to walk on but all that mess was on the parking lot. The sales area itself was plowed clean and the pavement there was dry.

I was shocked to see how many outdoor vendors were set up on this day. We were also disappointed to see how many indoor shops were closed. (I'd say half.) One vendor told me, "It's February. They go South." You really can find just about anything there. I saw garage-sale shoe rejects, brand new mink jackets, appliances and musical instruments, endless sock vendors, foods of all ethnic styles - both ready to eat and grocery supplies. Clothing, jewelry, audio equipment, car supplies and more. There was one great shop full of vintage toys. I'm talking 1960s era G I Joes and wooden Fisher Price. Just imagine what's there when they're all open.

I found the guy I was looking for but he didn't have what I wanted. After chatting a bit, he promised to send them to me later this week when the items come in and simply mail a bill with them. He told me he's still trying to develop a way to sell online through his website. We did manage to spend a whopping $47 (including a really tasty lunch) at the market plus the gas for the 3 hour drive each way and $9.70 in tolls. I should say $10.70 as we got shortchanged by a toll taker on the NJ Turnpike. I'd already started rolling when The Big Guy realized it. He says we probably won't go back - too far, too big, TOO EXHAUSTING!! (He's really getting grumpy in his old age!)

On the upside, we needed to pass his favorite casino on the way home. (I use the word "pass" loosely here.)

***Oh, we stopped at one of the rest stops on the Turnpike and I saw plain white T-shirts featuring the green Turnpike logo. You know, if the best souvenir you can find on vacation is a shirt featuring a turnpike logo (for ANY state), you need a better travel agent!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Can you spare some thoughts and prayers?

Another blogger and crafter and her family that I know from the Etsy community is desperately in need of positive thoughts and prayers at this time.

Cindy Boardman of Charlotte, NC, and her family suffered a massive 2-alarm fire early on February 3. Their 11-year-old son died of injuries after being flown to a trauma center in Columbia. They also lost 10 family pets. (The barking of 4 dogs led firemen to their son who had collapsed in a hallway.) In addition to these devastating losses, they also lost EVERYTHING in their home. Cindy and Bob and their older son, Tim, were able to escape the fire but were unable to get to Kevin. They all also required treatment immediately following the blaze. I can't begin to comprehend how one can cope after such an experience. (This came on top of the death of Cindy's mom in December.) They have located temporary housing.

They have no local family there but her husband's employer has jumped in to help by setting up a fund which is accepting donations for the family. They will also forward cards and other expressions of personal condolences. Her Etsy family has also created an online method to make donations through Paypal and are undertaking other efforts to show support. For more detailed information as to how you can help in any of these efforts, click here.

You may be familiar with Cindy's work. She has created beautiful jewelry for over 25 years and maintains an Etsy shop, Designed by Lucinda. She has also blogged for quite some time although she has not posted since late December when she posted this poem following her mother's death.

* * * * * * *
The elephant sits on my chest
and I tell myself
"Just breathe,
just breathe.
Get through the moment,
get through this minute,
just breathe."
And the pressure diminishes
but it never ceases.

Just breathe, just breathe.

* * * * * * *

I can't begin to fathom how to go about breathing and moving on after all such a crisis.

Please send thoughts, prayers and huge cyber hugs of support to Cindy and Bob to help them get through this. I'm sure they need every ounce of support we can forward their way.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ditzing ...

I was out doing my ditzy blonde act today while running some errands. (O.K., so maybe it's not ALWAYS an act!) I have a friend that has created a verb out of that - "DITZING". I think my mind just wasn't staying focused and I ended up retracing my route and actually going around in circles. I passed the same road construction crew three times - in about 5 minutes. Yes, they DID notice. I had to stop to wait for them to wave me through each time. Seriously, I must have been quite a sight. My hair had gone schizoid with static electricity and was really standing up strangely. On the last pass through, they stood and laughed at me first!!

Thank goodness I don't have a 5-year-old in the car with me to report on this adventure at dinner. (My sister-in-law says that's the worst - when even the little kids know it's funny! Her grandchildren are always eager to announce when they've gotten lost with her on errands and it DOES happen a lot. The woman needs a GPS!)

I may be ditzy at times but I was behind a truly crazy man at a red light. While waiting for the light to change, he actually opened the driver's door and bent down to pick cigarette butts up from the gutter. It wasn't like he was cleaning them up. (There's a few hundred at that particular curb.) It actually looked like he was picking some that could be relit and smoked!! Ewwwww!!!! Gross!!!!!

I have seen this sort of thing before when I saw some young guys pull up to the curb in front of our closest casino and jump out to swipe cigs out of the big ash pots by the door. I will admit, there are usually almost whole cigs put out as folks enter the casino (no smoking allowed inside) but I can't imagine grabbing some stranger's butts to smoke! (Yes, I did smoke in my younger days but was NEVER that desperate! Of course, cigarettes only cost 35 cents a pack in those days!)

Speaking of off-the-wall behavior....

Or just plain stupid, a burglar in Montgomery County, Maryland was caught the other day after breaking and entering a number of residences over the last few weeks. Seems he was in a house, robbing the joint, when a resident returned home. He managed to get out of the house but when police arrived, they found a cell phone that did not belong to the residents sitting in a charger plugged into the wall . You guessed it! They were able to trace it back to the burglar, finding many of the recently stolen goods in his home. Turns out the burglar lives in one of the areas that lost power for an extended time during last week's snow storm. Guess he had to find someplace to charge the phone! "Stupid" (?) or just "resourceful"(?) -- You decide.

Then there are the smarter criminals that seem to have kept their activities under wraps until FATE steps in. Seems a driver lost control of his BMW back in December in Howard County, Maryland. The vehicle careened into a house, killing the driver. Emergency workers found numerous marijuana plants in the house as well as hydroponic and lighting equipment used for the growing operation. During the accident investigation, police obtained a search warrant and found additional smaller plants. The homeowner has been indicted on various drug charges including possession, manufacturing and intent to distribute. If only that guy had hit the neighbor's house, this enterprising businessman would still be in business!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday, Monday ....

So many times, I can't think of a thing to say here and there are days like today, when there are so many subjects rolling around in my head, I don't know where to start. (Wouldn't it be nice if there was more brain matter in there to keep all those random thoughts in their place?)
Super Bowl ...

First off, Congrats to the Green Bay Packers for doing what my Ravens couldn't - beat Big Ben and his gritty men of metal!! I'm sure you're all glad to have the Lombardi trophy back in town!

I'm not even going to comment on the musical entertainment. So much has already been said today. It's "like beating a dead horse" to use a cliche. Hey, NFL, bring back the old guys next year!

What was your favorite ad? I think the one I liked best was the Doritos spot where the house sitter brings back the dead goldfish, the shriveled up plant and even Grandpa (from his urn) simply by sprinkling a few Dorito crumbs on them. Apparently, that was just me as no one mentioned it today! I also liked the Darth Vader bit, too, which seemed to be the big winner on all the news and talk shows today. I think quite a few of the ads just went way too far to make a point. Story lines for a 30-second commercial were just so involved to get there, that I lost interest before I figured out what they were selling.

There was quite a bit of discussion about the Joan Rivers spot for Apparently she tweeted something about that being her real body. Come on, folks, let's get real (pun intended). Was there really any question in your mind? Don't get me wrong, I'm sure she was able to say it with a straight face. In fact, she probably couldn't make any other kind of face. What hasn't been botoxed, is really pulled nice and tight. On the other hand, possession is 9/10ths of the law, or so they say, and she is definitely a woman possessed (by something.)

As for today ...

I had a good shopping day. I actually got the nearest non-handicapped spot at FOUR different stores!! That almost never happens. I had extremely nice cashiers and even got a few excellent, yet unexpected, deals! The only bad thing was, I needed to go to three different stores to get the color yarn I needed for the Special Olympics scarves.

2011 Special Olympics Scarf Project ...
It was gray and damp here on Saturday, so I stayed in and made three scarves with hopes to make at least three more before the mailing deadline. I had only bought one skein of each color so my yarn supply was getting a bit low. I had bought the last skein of Turqua at Walmart on Friday so I didn't hold out much hope they'd restocked over the weekend. They didn't. Michael's was also sold out of those colors. AC Moore came through for me though with plenty of both colors on hand.

I hope the fact that it was hard to find means knitters and crocheters in my area are frantically working to help Maryland's Special Olympics meet their goal by their 2/18 deadline. I have set my mailing date as this coming Friday so they have time to get to their destination. I think I'll move on and make some for Virginia after that as their deadline is considerably later and they are way behind on their goal.

For more information about the project and how you can help, check out the website at They're also blogging at and you can also find them on Facebook (Scarves For Special Olympics) and Twitter (USAScarfProject).

Friday, February 4, 2011

Painting Senior Marbles (or, "Saggy B - - bs")

My (older) sister tried her hand at painting wine glasses this week. Her first efforts were less than successful but made for a good story. I asked her to write a Guest Blog about this venture.

So, without further ado, I present My Sister:

Since I have reached the venerable status of "senior citizen," I have made a startling, and not so thrilling, revelation that at this stage of life, everything in your life takes on a different look, attitude or slant.....i.e. middle age, or worse yet, "senior-aged".

When I wake up in the morning, regardless of the pep in my step, there is an old lady staring back at me from my mirror. Some days she looks sooooo tired and in need of some (a lot) of that so-called rejuvenating cream that is advertised on TV. Doesn't it just burn your buns when the promoter asks someone like Christie Brinkley, "How have you managed to stay so young looking and you are already 45?" Gasp, cough, gag!!! If I was 45, rich, had a personal assistant, a manager to handle all my finances, a personal body trainer (although in my case it would take a body training team), and someone who helped me raise my kids through all of the terrible twos, fours and teenage years, I, too, would still look young and feel young. What didn't look young, would be touched up by my personal make-up artist.

Stepping back into the real world, even my hobbies reflect my advancing years. For instance, when I decide to bake something decadent, I have to make a special trip to the grocery store for real butter instead of the low fat, low cholesterol, heart-healthy spread I usually use. I recently decided to take up painting on wine glasses. This new project involved gluing those half marbles (like those used in the bottom of flower vases) to the side of a glass goblet, then painting a dress over them. The purpose of which was to create a 3-D picture of a sexy girl on the side of the glass.

I purchased the glassware, the glass paint and made sure that I purchased "glass glue". Of course, I didn't purchase a book teaching me how to do that. "I don't need no stinkin' instructions." (Oops, there goes a little of the masculine side of me.) After all, I have been painting and crafting all my life.

I started right in gluing "boobs" to all of the glassware I had purchased. One who is as experienced as I....or maybe the term is over-confident.....never does just one item to test or practice the technique. I always figure "Why make one when you can make many?" Well, I glued all the marbles on all the glasses and laid them on their sides to dry. I was really anxious to start painting. Then I went out to the laundry room to throw in a load of wash, feeling so proud that I was multi-tasking.

When I returned to my project, there it was. The ugly truth! My whole life had ventured into the dreaded "senior world". All of the "boobs" had slid down the sides of the glasses. Visions of my sugar plums shifting when I lay flat on my back in bed at night flashed in my head. Even my painting has made the quantum leap into senior-hood. Now, I needed to figure out how to dislodge the misplaced boobs and return them to their original "perky" state. I only hope I can remember what "perky" is.

A call to my sister, Ramblin Mama, saved the day. She told me how to save the saggy boobs. WOW, she's better than a "Glasstic Surgeon". After reconstructive surgery, I started gluing again - slower, more carefully, and, definitely, wiser. I have decided to make a series of glasses with "old gals" on them. You know, we love 2 for 1 Happy Hour Margaritas and don't forget the Strawberry Daiquiris.

Now, all I have to do is find long tear-drop shaped half marbles. Better known as "senior marbles".

I'll be back with more stories about life as a "Silver Diva"(TM) (women over 50 with a passion for life).

Thanks, Sis (aka Silver Diva)!!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Scarves for Special Olympics

Okay, I know most of us are surrounded by snow this week. A great many of us are stuck inside and those that aren't, can truly appreciate the benefits of a good winter scarf. And, on that note, let me tell you about a very special scarf program.As a symbol of unity, community and support within the Special Olympics Movement, handmade scarves will be gifted to the athletes, coaches, families, volunteers and supporters of each participating Special Olympics Program. Thirty-one state programs are participating in this year's Scarf Project. This means every athlete and coach in each of those programs will be given a scarf made of the same two colors. This year's colors are blue and turquoise. All those folks standing together in their scarves should look like a beautiful Caribbean breeze!

A beautiful vision - if only enough scarves are received. The deadlines are approaching fast. (Each participating program has it's own deadline.)

For a crocheter or knitter, producing one simple little scarf does not take a lot of work. If each of my yarn-talented readers made just one scarf, there would be a lot of happy athletes wearing a gift!! The only rules are that you use the specific yarn colors (Red Heart Blue 886 and Red Heart Turqua 512) and they ask that the finished scarf measure 6" x 54"-60". You can use any pattern or design you like or go their website and obtain a free pattern.

For more details and to find where you can send your finished scarf, check out the 2011 Special Olympics USA Scarf Project website or go to their FB page (Scarves for Special Olympics), Twitter (USAScarfProject) or check out their blog at

Your help is needed and it is needed now. If you don't knit or crochet, tell those folks you know who do. I have one friend who is all thumbs, but she bought her mom a couple skeins of yarn and Mom's busy turning out a scarf or two a day!!

I hope you will take time to check out the website and the project and, hopefully, you'll whip out a scarf in the next few days. After all, knitting and crocheting are perfect activities for a cold snowy evening.

I'm off to work on another scarf.

Yea, Phil ! ! !

Punxatawney Phil predicted an early Spring this morning!! I, for one, can't wait.
As the legend goes, if Phil sees his shadow, we'll have six more weeks of winter. Normally, this ceremony attracts an early morning crowd of 10,000-15,000 onlookers at Gobbler's Knob, located a bit northeast of Pittsburgh. This morning it was 35 degrees and raining. Sleet and snow were forecast. The crowd was small. Most importantly, there wasn't enough sun to form a shadow ! !

So, just how accurate is a groundhog's prediction? Turns out - not very ! He's been right only 39% of the time. Good news is, he's been more accurate when he's predicted an early Spring than a longer winter. His early Spring forecasts have actually come through 47% of the time!! (Incidentally, the National Weather Service only claims a 60% overall accuracy rate and they use all kinds of sophisticated equipment and charts and such.)

Ever wondered how we've all come to ask a groundhog to predict the weather? Seems an old German superstition says that if a hibernating animal casts a shadow on February 2 (the Christian holiday of Candlemas) winter will last another six weeks. If no shadow is seen, the legend claimed there would come an early Spring. Now, which would you rather disturb - a sleeping bear or a small rodent ?!?

I guess that's why we have come to celebrate Groundhog Day and not Grizzly Bear Day !!