Thursday, January 29, 2009

Vintage Scottie Pin And Apron

There's nothing that can brighten a gray day like finding a vintage Scottie pin.

I had one like this when I was a child. It was a favorite of mine, but like many a childhood possession, one day I looked for it and it was gone, lost forever, and soon forgotten.....until I saw this one in a glass case at the antique store. I could hardly wait for the merchant to unlock the door and hand the small treasure to me. "There you are" I thought to myself, knowing all the while that it wasn't actually the one that I had lost so many years ago, but it felt like my long lost friend, just the same.

I decided that it was the perfect accent for the pocket of this apron of the same era. Very "Mary Engelbreit" don't you think?
I hope you find a treasure to spark a sweet memory as well.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chinese New Year Card

This card wishes you "Happy New Year." I created this greeting card in Photoshop, from paper cutouts of children in traditional celebratory dress, that I scanned into my computer.

The color RED is used in all aspects of preparing for the 15 day New Year celebration. Flowers are an important element in decorating for this auspicious occasion. Red and pink blooms are the colors most used.

Colorful clothing with red accents, like the outfit my granddaughter Molly is wearing, are traditionally worn.

My daughter made a 7 ft. long silk Temple Lion costume. Five people lined up underneath the cloth, standing hands to shoulder, will be needed to animate this colorful fellow during the "Lion Dance."

Gifts of money, sealed in red envelopes, are an important part of the New Year celebration. It's thought that experiencing good fortune during this celebration period insures it's continuation throughout the rest of the year, therefore bosses give annual bonuses at this time to bolster their workers prosperity. Children delight in receiving red envelopes too. I scanned in some currency that I brought home from China with me. I created the red envelope in Photoshop.

Most evenings are spent playing games. Mah Jongg, is a favorite. I learned to play this game during a visit to China. The set in the picture was a birthday present from my husband.
I found this little Mah Jongg set at an antique store. It's from the early 1920's. The playing pieces are "Bakelite." The front cover, with it's brass name plate, lifts off to reveal four little drawers. The first is sectioned. I love the small brass pulls.

The Rules Book is red with a bamboo border around the printing.

This game was copyrighted in 1920 by the J P Babcock Co. and again in 1923 by Parker Brothers.

Here is my New Year's wish for you......"May your year be filled with an abundance of Happiness, Friendship, Peace and Love."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Dreaming Of Spring

The months of January and February are the coldest of the winter months here in the southern United States. The cold temperatures and gusty winds have stripped the garden of it's lush foliage and plant material, leaving only the bare skeletons of the trees and shrubs for viewing. This clean slate offers an opportunity to ponder the changes you envision making come spring. This ritual is one I cherish. Gray day? only have to open the cover of your favorite garden book, to pour over page after page of beautiful photos of rose blooms, colorful borders, and lush shrubbery. Instant gloom buster. There are three gardeners whose design philosophy have influenced my garden style. They are Martha Stewart, Rosemary Verey, and Tasha Tudor. I've been fortunate to have met all three of these talented ladies. I met Martha Stewart at a book signing. Her "Gardening Month by Month" has long been a favorite reference for me. The photos in this book are breathtaking.
She autographed my copy. Tasha Tudor's gardens are filled with perennial plants, flowering shrubs, fruit trees, herb beds and vegetables. I attended a lecture by Tasha Tudor. She walked barefoot onto the stage, dressed in her signature 1830's ankle length dress and kerchief. I was struck by her slight frame, since I knew that she performed much of the labor about her home. She tended the gardens, milked her goats twice a day, gathered fire wood, cooked her meals, did laundry, sewed her own clothing from flax she grew and spun, and still made time to sketch and paint. She reached the easel and pastels that awaited her, lifted the chalk and began to sketch as she told the story of her life. The sketches that she completed on stage were to be auctioned for charity, after the event. I was outbid....Sigh. I did stand in line to have her sign my copy of her latest gardening book. At number 524, I was about midway in the line. She only took a 30 minute break before I reached her. What a woman! Each person in the signing line also received this sweet picture of Tasha in her straw bonnet.My long wait was so worth it. When it was my turn, she sweetly shook my hand and asked me about my garden. She was interested in knowing what plants grow well in the southern climate. Then she signed my book. Rosemary Verey has long been a favorite gardener and author of mine. She signed my copy of her book, "Classic Garden Design," at her home in England. Barnsley's garden is one of the most photographed gardens in the world, but it's so beautiful that the photos can't do it justice. I bought this old brass ladle at the antique shop located on the ground floor of the manor.This lovely lady with her hat and pearls, is one of a pair of statues that flank the entrance to the potager. Strangely enough, I think she vaguely resembles Queen Elizabeth. What do you think?
Unfortunately, two of my gardening icons are no longer with us.

Rosemary Verey - 21 December 1918-31 May 2001

Her grave marker reads: Mother, Churchwarden, Gardener

Tasha Tudor - 28 August 1915-18 June 2008

"When I die I'm going right back to the 1830's."

-Tasha Tudor

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cozy Sofa, Warm Fire, Good Book.....NOT!

Is it cold where you are? It's freezing here. All Friday afternoon as I went about finishing up the everyday chores that are "the mechanics of life," my eyes kept wandering over to my favorite cozy spot on the sofa, where on a blustery day like today, I love to sit and read. The desire to ease myself down onto that cushion (the one with the crater-like indention which is, strangely enough, the exact size of my back side) was palpable. Really! I was drawn like a moth to a flame. I announced to my husband, "grab your coat...we're eating out tonight" and we ventured out into the cold, which only reinforced my burning desire to curl up and read. We had a lovely dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant Then we stopped by the book store, where I purchased several magazines and Ken Follett's "World Without End." I read his "Pillars Of The Earth" years ago and loved it. My new purchases should keep me occupied for a while, since Follett's book alone is about the size of "War And Peace." I digress. We couldn't get back to our warm little house fast enough for me. As soon as we hit the door, I went straight upstairs and changed into my comfy slippers, while my husband produced a roaring fire in the fireplace. With reading material in hand, I curled up on the sofa, placed a warm throw over my lap, put on my glasses, opened my book and began.....Chapter One. I was about two paragraphs into it, when my sixth sense (mothers, grandmothers, and dog owners have this) began to send a strange tingling sensation up the back of my neck and I became keenly aware that I was being watched. I slowly removed my glasses and peeked over the top of my book.
THERE THEY WERE! Two big brown eyes, staring at me with "how about a little game of tug?" written all over them.

"Ohhh nooo. Not gonna happen." I replaced my glasses, adjusted my throw, and re-read the first paragraph. "WOW ! this book is going to be good," I thought to myself as paragraph two came into view.... again. Then the tiniest little whimper drifted over the edge of my wonderful book and floated into my ear. I stopped, and lowered my book for a second time. The pleading had begun in earnest. She was pulling out all the stops. She was giving me her very best "pound puppy" look. "Don't give in," I warned myself. "Stand your ground"...but before the thought had completely formed in my brain...I felt a crack forming in my resolve. I tried not to make eye contact as I shakily raised the book once more and searched for paragraph three... "Ah, there it is." I didn't begin reading right away. I hid behind my book...waiting for any further interruptions. Thirty seconds......forty seconds......forty-five seconds......nothing. "Well! That's more like it. I guess we know who the alpha dog is in this house." I wanted to feel smug. I wanted to resume reading...............but...................

Something was amiss. "Just look at her lying there all I'm not paying any attention to you." "It's written all over her plain sight...for anyone to read." "She doesn't care if I play tug or not.... in fact, she wouldn't play tug with me if I begged her." It's a wise person that knows when they have been bested. I took off my glasses, laid down my book, stood up and said....."Come on my girl....who wants to read when there's a nice game of "tug" to be played?" Furthermore, I could swear that she smiled as she trotted off to get her toy.
Have a lovely weekend,

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Backyard Musings

I'm very fortunate to have, in my family room, a wall of windows with a panoramic view into my garden. Interest is at a premium during the months of January and February...blooms come and go as the seasons dictate, but the constants in the garden are the birds. These beautiful little creatures never cease to entertain. This morning I watched as our family of six Cardinals ventured into the partially frozen water of the birdbath, splashing about like children playing in the surf, with no apparent regard for the cold. My husband laughed as I voiced my thoughts. "What keeps their itty bitty feet from freezing? Seriously! There's so little volume. I know that they fluff up their feathers, trapping air between the feathers and skin creating a down filled sleeping bag effect for warmth. I know that shivering increases their body heat.....but what about their feet?" He just shook his head and laughed.
This little carved bird with it's feathers all fluffed out was a gift from one of my granddaughters.
It's a favorite of mine.

I bought this old, framed "Baby Blue Jay" print at an antique store for six dollars. I removed it from the frame, cleaned it up, scanned it, and added a quote.

Then I printed it out in several sizes, ready to be decorated with ribbon, glitter, and buttons for use in various projects.....I even added a few of the birds to my blog banner. Keep warm.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Random Acts of Kindness

I would like to thank all who have left kind comments re: my brother-in-law's very serious automobile accident. It has been a very long and difficult process. He has spent almost 6 weeks in the ICU. The hip, that was crushed in the accident, has been pinned and plated. (the trauma was too great to do the total hip replacement that he needs, at this time) He had so many pulmonary emboli, that surgery to install a filtering system was necessary, but he continued to throw clots. He then suffered a heart attack and a stroke. He was then moved from the Trauma ICU to the Cardiac ICU. The doctors still couldn't find where the blood clots were coming from. After many tests, it was discovered that he'd had a hole in his heart from birth and the trauma from the accident had caused pvc's, which caused his heart to throw clots. Surgery was scheduled to close the opening, but, once in, it was discovered that he had three major artery bypass was necessary and the hole repair became a separate surgery which took place yesterday. The filtering system had to be removed before his cardiac surgery and will need to be reinstalled after he is stable. ( Sounds like an episode of "House"... doesn't it?) He had a good night and is having a good day today. We are seeing some signs of improvement. We pray for more. My sister is exhausted! She has been by his side the whole time. We so appreciate all of your random acts of kindness.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Turning The Page and Handmade Gifts

The past month has been such a flurry of activity! Planning gatherings, hosting gatherings, buying and wrapping gifts, decking the halls, cooking and baking...and preparing the bedrooms for house guests, again and again. One group leaves, and another arrives. My son-in-law has dubbed my home "The Holiday Flynn".....but early this morning, the last of the visitors departed. My daughter, and my granddaughter, Molly, with their little dog "Snowflake" in tow, hopped in the car and drove away........
Molly and Snowflake
....leaving Me, John, and our little dog "Lady", standing in the driveway in our PJs and robes, (I'll spare you that picture) waving until the car had disappeared from sight. As we walked back into the house, wearing our long faces, because we missed them already, it hit me...the deafening sound of SILENCE. The unmistakable sign that the old year had ended, with much celebration, and that the new year had begun.....a page had turned.

Handmade Gifts

Molly, in addition to being my granddaughter, is also my kindred spirit. She is an artist who enjoys the creative process. This Christmas, she surprised me with two beautiful gifts that no sewing basket should be without. I must add, that she not only designed the gifts, but she sewed each of them by hand.

The first is a lovely yellow and blue needle book. Notice how she added a decorative edge to the blue fabric.My needles will be well protected in this fine needle book.

The second gift is a wonderful pin cushion. The pin cushion that I currently use isn't big enough to accommodate the number of pins that I use in my projects, but that problem is now solved. I won't have any trouble finding space for my pins on this cushion.Two very nice, handmade pieces..... created by a very nice eight year old. Just had to share!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

Best wishes for a happy, healthy "New Year".....
May your skies be filled with stars to wish upon, and may all your dreams come true.