October 31, 2009

I'm On Break...

I'm back home and taking the day off today. I'm going to watch football with Handsome and just relax. Last night, I walked into the studio to check out my work table, where Handsome always deposits the mail and packages that arrive while I'm away. This is what greeted me:I grabbed my camera, took this picture, turned around and walked out of the room. I'll open them all later today and I know there are some things I'll be sharing with you! You can all be proud of me that I didn't tear into them last night, as I would usually do, but spending time with Handsome and Kes were just more important. Twelve more hours wasn't going to make a difference in the grand scheme of things. (Oh, and can you even believe it's November 1st already?)

Enjoy your Sunday. I'll be back tomorrow with reports on the contents of all these packages. (The jacket, I later found out, is a repair job for the Seamstress/Wife. It's good to be needed - my own form of job security.)

October 30, 2009

Homeward Bound...

I had a great time in Wisconsin. I got to see my BFF and relatives I hadn't seen in a while, as well as our immediate family. I enjoyed the time with Mum working toward a common goal. She's looking forward to selling her current home to be able to move to Florida.

Soon, I'll do the sales sheets and then, email ads to the local newspapers for her open house. She's anxious to have people in, hoping that she has a quick sale. We are, too. It would be nice if she didn't have to spend another winter up north.

My work in Wisconsin is done and now I'm homeward bound. Today, I'll be flying back (via AirTran, not a Halloween broom!) to Handsome and Kes. Life back to normal for us.

October 29, 2009

Staging, Knitting and Dinner With Our Kids...

All work and no play... You know the saying. Living room carpet was cleaned during the day, I had a little time to work on a project and then dinner last night with our sons, their wives and our grandchildren. My trip is complete having seen all of them. Too little time to spend, but I'm glad we could steal away for a family meal before I head home to Handsome on Saturday.

I've also been working on a doll coat and beret. I'm knitting it in a yarn called "Chinchilla" from Berroco. Nearly finished with the coat. I need to get a chibi needle to assemble the parts before I can add the front plackets and collar. I'll show it to you again when it's finished.

Tomorrow I'll be sharing final house photos from this week. I can tell you now that it's really looking nice and we're proud of the work that has been accomplished while I've been here. Now, to get the listings and sales flyers put together as soon as I get back home. Fingers crossed for a quick sale.

October 28, 2009

Lots of Paint...

I've done so much painting this week that I find it difficult to walk by the end of each day. All the calisthenics - up and down ladders, reaching over my head to cut in the top of the walls or on my knees to cut in the bottom of the walls. It's been easy to fall asleep at night!

I have a few photographs for you. I'm sorry that I forgot to take the before photograph of the guest room. Close your eyes and imagine a sort of 1970's acid yellow. There was a lot of furniture all lined up along the walls and nails left over from many now-removed pictures. Very bright and sunny and a bit cluttered. Now...
Soft green walls (dictated by the carpet, which wasn't going to change), a new blue, green and white chabby-look quilt which pulled the colors together, less furniture and a lot less on the walls...one plaque survived, actually. What do you think so far?

Then, I tackled the computer/sewing room. I admit that some things had been moved in there while other rooms were being cleaned, but even so...intense aqua walls just weren't going to be suitable for a sale. Here's the "before" photo:
And now, it has neutral walls in a color called Stonecliff, half the furniture removed along with most of the extras. What do you think of this room now? (Ignore the dog toy in the middle of the carpet. Hmmm, how did that get there?)
Mum is really happy with the results and even wants to duplicate the green when she moves to Florida. We think it's been worth the effort for the results. While I was busy with paint and set up, she was wrapping and packing up those removed items that she felt she couldn't live without. The rest was taken out to the garage and the Salvation Army truck came and hauled it all away. She's just as tired as I am by dinnertime, so meals are quiet with two weary women off to their respective rooms shortly after.

Today, I'll be moving into the bedroom of the Lady of the House, and Mum will be running a carpet cleaner in the living room. When that's done, I'll have more photos to share. Can't wait to hear what you think!

October 27, 2009

Taking A Break To Blog...

Another Needlecraft Magazine cover image for you today. This is from October 1925. I think I have about a dozen of these magazines. I've had them for years. A friend who knows I love such things gave them to me. I love reading the old patterns, looking at the old ads and well, you wouldn't even imagine the prices they show for sewing patterns, or machines! Those were the days!

Here's a cute photo of a mama and baby that I scanned from an ad. If I remember correctly, it was for Carnation Evaporated Milk. I just love the innocence in this image.
I'm finished painting rooms and rearranging furniture. I'll have photographs to share tomorrow. Oh, yes - I'm also knitting a sweet coat and beret for an American Girl doll when I sit down at the end of the day. I'll be taking photos of them to show you, too!

October 26, 2009

When You're Here, You're Family...

Another day painting, but the big payoff yesterday was dinner with my niece and nephew. My niece, Jordan, is also my second goddaughter. My nephew, Logan, is quite simply, one of my favorite people. I'm crazy about both of them.

We made plans to meet halfway between where they live and where I'm staying at Mum's house, so the destination was the Olive Garden restaurant. Well, we ordered food at and then proceeded to talk for two and a half hours. My nephew was actually the only one who finished all his dinner. Too much lost time to make up for to actually spend time eating! We talked until they turned up the lights to signal they were closing for the evening.

It had been over a year since I'd seen them in person. Handsome and I were in Minnesota for their cousin's wedding. I had spent a month making a wedding gown for my eldest niece, who is also my first goddaughter. We drove north for the festivities and hand-delivered the wedding gown and attendants' dresses. We had the grandest time, but hadn't seen Jordan and Logan since. Kind of hard to just hop in the car for a visit when there are fifteen hundred miles between us.

Before we left, I walked into the lobby where the hostess stood and said, "Is your motto still "When you're here, you're family"? She giggled and said, "Yes", to which I replied, "Great! Here's my camera. Please take a photograph of me with your cousins". She happily obliged and this photo is the result.

I was so glad to see them. It's been way too long. Thanks, guys for taking the time to drive down for dinner. I love you both.

October 25, 2009

A Great Birthday Party...

I promised a little post about my grandmother's
ninety seventh birthday on Saturday.

I was invited to the party by my sweet Aunt Eli who told me all her kids and grandkids were going to be there and that they were anxious to see me. How could I possibly refuse? I borrowed Mum's car and followed my brother's vehicle to central Wisconsin. Grandma hadn't been told that I would be there. It was a complete surprise for her.

I walked in behind my brother and saw Gram leaning to one side to try to see who came in with him. When she realized that her eldest grandchild had come all the way from Florida to celebrate, she was fairly over the moon. (I didn't tell her that I'd come north to help Mum prepare to sell her house.) I overheard her tell her daughter (my Auntie Jan) that now her birthday was complete. When my aunt asked what she meant, she said, "Donnie's here". (That's what she calls me.) I admit that I had to smile when I overheard her say that.

We managed to get a great photograph of four generations of my family, and also a picture of Grandma with her eldest grandchild (me) and her youngest great-grandchild (my two-month old cousin, Phinneas).

It was so wonderful to see all my aunts, cousins and their children, along with my brother, sister-in-law and godson. We had a great time getting caught up since our last visit. I'm sure I don't need to explain all that to you. Suffice it to say - good food, great conversation, much laughter and a celebration of ninety seven years for Grandma. We sure made her day special for her.

October 23, 2009

Vintage Magazines...

I'm still in Wisconsin and enjoying time with my mum and other members of my family. My blog post will be short for today, but I'll be catching you up soon on what I've been up to. We won't be discussing the cold, rainy weather.

I own a dozen vintage Needlecraft magazines from the 1920s. I've scanned covers and will share some of them with you over the next few months.

This is the August 1925 cover. I love the image and feel of it. I've also manipulated it into full sepia tone for another look. Be sure to click on the image to get the largest view for use.


October 22, 2009

My Best Friend...

Wednesday night, I flew to Wisconsin and my best friend, Lee picked me up at the airport. We had dinner together and then went to her home, where I spent the night. We sat up and talked until after two o'clock in the morning, and it was nearly three by the time I finally fell asleep. (Well, it was actually more like I just passed out from exhaustion!)

When we both got up this morning, we shared breakfast and talked over coffee, and later, we shared lunch together. By late afternoon, she and I finally got back in the car and drove to my mum's house. Mum had been anxiously awaiting our arrival and we were all glad to see each other again.

Rather than just drop me off, Lee sat down and visited with my mum. The reason I'm at Mum's this week is to help her clear, destash and stage her home to put on the market to sell. Once it's sold, she's going to move down to Florida so she can live near Handsome and me. Lee knew that moving furniture was on my agenda, so she immediately pulled up her sleeves and said, "I'll help. Let's get this furniture moved."

We unhooked the wiring for Mum's television and Lee marked the cables so we'd know where everything went for the "replugging". We moved furniture, big and small and then revamped the window treatments...all the while calming down Mum and assuring her that this "look" will help sell her home faster. We know that the whole experience is more than a little traumatic for Mum, but Lee helped me bolster her so that she could feel more comfortable with what was going on. Afterwards, the three of us had dinner and then Lee left to go home, care for their dogs and get some rest before going back to work tomorrow.

If you're very fortunate, you too have a girlfriend like mine. You may not speak with each other regularly, but you can rest assured that if you're thinking about her, she's thinking about you. You know that she's missing you just as much as you're missing her. And, you know when you see her, it will be like no time has passed at all since your last visit...even if it's been months or years. Today she shared my burden and made it lighter for us all the way around. Thanks, BFF.
The photograph of the two of us was taken when Lee was at our home in Florida. Instead of standing outside in the warm, Florida sunshine, today was windy, wet and cold in Wisconsin. When you're with your best friend, it's easy to find your own sunshine. So, in spite of the weather, today was just perfect!

October 21, 2009

Call Me Creatively Paranoid...

On October 1st, I read that my blog friend, Cheryl of Zany-mayd lost her entire blog! Phhhhhtttt! Two and a half years of blogging, gone! Just like that. She had to start over. You've got to hand it to her. I have only been at this since March, but I'd have needed a prescription for The Prince (Valium) if that had happened to me.

I came across this link over at Cutest Blog On The Block (who provides my beautiful blog background), where you can get your blog printed - you know, in book form. (There's also a less expense pdf version, which is another alternative.) You choose the style for the cover, any images you want there, and then link them to your blog. You tell them the dates you want to encompass and they take it from there. In less than two weeks, your order arrives where you can see yourself in print! How cool is that?

Cheryl's experience sort of scared me into immortalizing my thoughts and words into something more permanent...and safe. I did mine in fifty-post hardcover books (pictured), but they can be done in hundred-post books, too. Oh, and there's the added bonus that you can offer the books to your followers. So, if any of you are interested in a Brynwood Blog book, (really?) just email me and I can steer you to the site where you can get one of your very own.

If you're like me and just a little paranoid that all those carefully chosen words could disappear into cyberspace in an instant, this is a way to make sure you have some memory of all those thoughts.

October 20, 2009

Puppy Size...

I'd like to share a story that was recently shared with me
by my friend, Marrianne in New Zealand.
She tells me it came to her via an email. It's called "Puppy Size".

"It has been weeks now since we started all of this," the mother told the volunteer. "What is it she keeps asking for?", the volunteer asked. "Puppy size!" replied the mother. "Well, we have plenty of puppies, if that’s what she’s looking for." "I know. We've seen most of them," the mom said in frustration.

Just then Danielle, her daughter, came walking into the office. "Well, did you find one?", asked her mom. "No, not this time," Danielle said, with sadness in her voice. "Can we come back on the weekend?" The two women looked at each other, shook their heads and laughed. "You never know when we will get more dogs. Unfortunately, there’s always a supply", the volunteer said. Danielle took her mother by the hand and headed to the door. "Don’t worry, I’ll find one this weekend", she said.

Over the next few days both Mom and Dad had long conversations with her. They both felt she was being too particular. "It’s this weekend or we’re not looking any more.", Dad finally told her in frustration. "We don’t want to hear anything more about puppy size either," Mom added.

Sure enough, they were the first ones in the shelter on Saturday morning. By now, Danielle knew her way around, so she ran right for the section that housed the smaller dogs. Tired of the routine, mom sat in the small waiting room at the end of the first row of cages. There was an observation window so you could see the animals during times when visitors weren’t permitted.

Danielle walked slowly from cage to cage, kneeling periodically to take a closer look. One by one the dogs were brought out and she held each one. One by one she said, "Sorry, but you’re not the one.’"

It was the last cage on this last day in search of the perfect pup. The volunteer opened the cage door and the child carefully picked up the dog and held it closely. This time she took a little longer. "Mom, this is it! I found the right puppy! He’s the one! I know it!" she screamed with joy. "It’s the puppy size!" "But it’s the same size as all the other puppies you held over the last few weeks," Mom said. "No, not 'size'. It's the 'sighs'. When I held him in my arms, he sighed," she said. "Don’t you remember? When I asked you one day what love is, you told me love depends on the sighs of your heart. The more you love, the bigger the sigh!"

The two women looked at each other for a moment. Mom didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. As she stooped down to hug the child, she did a little of both. "Mom, every time you hold me, I sigh. When you and Daddy come home from work and hug each other, you both sigh. I knew I would find the right puppy if it sighed when I held it in my arms," she said. Then, holding the puppy up close to her face, she said, "Mom, he loves me. I heard the sighs of his heart!"

Close your eyes for a moment and think about the love that makes you sigh. I not only find it in the arms of my loved ones, but in the caress of a sunset, the kiss of the moonlight and the gentle brush of cool air on a hot day. They are the sighs of God. Take the time to stop and listen; you will be surprised at what you hear. ‘Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.’

Thank you, Marrianne, for allowing me to share this message...and Happy Birthday, my friend. I hope your days is perfect and your life filled with Sighs!

The puppies are from Bryn's first litter (our own breeding). See the darker yellow pup lying down in front? That was my sweet Bannor as a puppy. He was Kes' uncle. He stole my heart from the instant he was born and I held him. The other photos are also Bannor. He was my faithful friend for sixteen years. I still miss him.

PS. Today is a travel day for me. Handsome is dropping me off at the airport and I'll be flying to Wisconsin for ten days. No worries...I'll be updating you while I'm away from home.

October 19, 2009

My Finished Birds and Berries Quilt...

This one has been a long time in the making. All that was left to do yesterday was sew my label onto my newest completed quilt. I spent Saturday afternoon doing all the machine quilting on the Birds and Berries lap quilt, so that I could bind it on Sunday evening. With all that work complete, sewing in the label was the last step.

I pieced this quilt years ago, when I first started quilting - before I knew that all the pieces should be squared up before sewing them together. Of course, I know better now, so this would never happen again.

What that means for this piece is that I had to finesse the machine quilting between each of the squares. It made for an interesting day. After I did the "ditch stitching", I meandered through the borders, which was a lot more fun. I've learned a lot about piecing and arrangement since making this one. (Note to self: Next time, meander all over the quilt if the lines don't exactly match up!) See the little birds and strawberries on the fabric strips? I really liked these fabrics.

This quilt is on its way to Wisconsin now. Rather than pack and hand carry it through the airport with my luggage, I'm sending it to myself at my mum's address. I will be gifting to my aunt. She's been more than just a sister-in-law to my mum - driving her to doctor's appointments or sharing a meal when Mum's not up to making dinner. Mum has had a few health problems lately, and my aunt has really gone above and beyond to care for her. She's been a good friend. I'm looking forward to seeing my aunt's reaction when I give this quilt to her. I sure hope she likes this small token of appreciation from Mum's eldest daughter.

October 18, 2009

Lucky Girl...

This is one photograph from a series taken while where we were posing for our annual Christmas card a couple of years ago. Our friend, Richard, just kept the shutter going while we descended into unbridled mirth. The whole series hangs, framed, above our bed. (You can click here to see them.)

I just want to tell you a cute little story today. When Handsome and I were at a car show quite a while ago, I came upon a booth with a t-shirt printer.

There were lots of pre-made shirts, like "I'm with Stupid" and "Stupid" (yeah, right); and "Baby on Board", or "Your Village Called...Their Idiot Is Missing". You know. You've seen them, too. But what was different about this booth was that the vendor also did custom shirts while you waited.

So, in keeping with a sweet joke between the two of us for years, I had two shirts made for Handsome and me. His says "What a guy!" and mine reads "Lucky Girl". He laughed out loud when I took the shirts to him.

I know I'm not alone when I write about my husband. I've read many posts from those of you who have your own blogs and share stories about yours. Handsome and I share a joyful life together. One of the most important aspects to me is that shared sense of humor. It carries a couple a long way when times are a little rough. And it sure adds a wonderful facet to daily life.

My wish for all of you is that you have someone with whom you can share an inside joke, a knowing smile, or a downright raucous laugh. We all need that. We all deserve that. I always remember that I really am a Lucky Girl.

October 17, 2009

Gifts From Debra Of Common Ground...

The mail carrier sure made my day yesterday!
I received a box from my blog friend, Debra of Common Ground blog!
She drew my name for her incredible 200th Follower Giveaway package,
and to say I was excited is a real understatement!
When I opened the box,
the first thing I saw was the prettiest pink package for moi.
Inside the envelope was a pretty card with a sweet message from Debra,
along with her Victoria Bliss-worthy business card.From there, I commenced to figuratively drool over
each and every component of my prize package.

A package of Cranberry Walnut Cake Mix, wrapped in
a beautiful Thanksgiving turkey tea towel...
A red toile fabric bag which I'm going to repurpose...
A bar of herbal soap in the sweetest fragrance...
A Somerset Holidays publication loaded with inspiration...
A vintage card with two sweet children, which
Debra decorated with wire, ribbon and a button. So beautiful!
A vintage chippy clock face that I coveted from one of
Debra's posts about her booth. She GAVE it to me!

My most favorite prize of all...
This breathtaking 2010 journal.
It's going to be my well-loved datebook for next year.
Just look at this image - multiple pages devoted to birds and the seasons!
Check out the inside covers. See? ACORNS and oak leaves!
Obviously it was meant to be mine!
Debra, dear...I love, love, love every single thing in my package.
To use one of my Mum's terms...I was gobsmacked!
(That's a good thing!)
Thank you so much for your generosity! I wish you all of life's blessings.

October 16, 2009

A Sweet Award From A Friend...

How exciting! I received an award from my friend, Mary Wadsworth of Blooming Ideas blog. It's always gratifying to be recognized by another blogger, and I'm grateful to Mary for thinking of me.
In the spirit of the award, I need to tell seven things about myself (I'll try to think of a few things you may not already know about me), and name seven blog sisters to receive the award from me.

Hmmm, let's see...
  1. I love caffeine and chocolate. Two of the Four Basic Food Groups. I think the other two are chips and dip. I guess I've got 'em all covered!
  2. I love to cook for groups. Not too large, but Thanksgiving and Christmas are always fun if there's family around to feed.
  3. I have a serious B.S. gene. Handsome keeps me in check most times - with the use of his personally patented "Fraud Monitor", but some days are really hard.
  4. These are my favorite books: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand; The Life of Pi by Yan Martel; My Side Of The Mountain by Jean Craighead George; Is She Coming Too? by Frances Hammerstrom and I've read all of the Harry Potter books. When a new one comes out, I read it start to finish, usually in about 11 hours.
  5. I love kitchen gadgets. (See #2) And my favorite gadget is a specific egg timer, the Eggsact Egg Timer. It's fabulous, and anyone who boils eggs should own one.
  6. I took seven years of piano lessons when I was a kid...and can't read music well enough to sit down and play. Dirty, rotten shame, I think. My parents and I were robbed.
  7. I can drive a stick shift (manual transmission) car. I'd love to own a vintage Jaguar in a dreamy sky blue with a white leather interior (sigh).
Here are my choices of bloggers to receive the Kreativ Blog award. They are inspirational bloggers who I visit every time they update their blogs with new posts. I love them all!
  1. Christine Edwards of A Work In Progress
  2. Ruth Harsham of The Beautiful Life
  3. Texas Brenda of Cozy Little House
  4. Drucilla's Mom, Missie of Crafting With Cat Hair
  5. Missouri Debra of Common Ground
  6. Texas Cathy of Mille Fleur
  7. Texas Barbara of Purple Goat Lady
and I want to recognize Michelle May (Shell), my friend in New Bern, NC. I love, love, love her blog and her beautiful bunnies, Razzie and Sugar, featured in her blog Tales From The Raspberry Rabbits. I'm glad that Mary Wadsworth already chose her for the Kreativ Blogger Award, because I absolutely agree with her!

All of the women I've mentioned above keep me inspired, amused and enthused as I go about my joyful life. Thank you for being among my blogging friends. I love you all! Please take a few minutes to visit each of their blogs today. Really, they're wonderful!

Thanks again to Mary for thinking of me. You're too kind.
I'm in the process of adding new items to my Brynwood Boutique. You can visit the Boutique by clicking here, or by linking through my Boutique button located at the top of my left sidebar. Once you're there, you can scroll down to see all my offerings. I'll continue to add items through the weekend. Thanks!

October 15, 2009

Kitchen Makeover And A New Boutique Offering...

I kept my word today. I started by taking a short road trip to a nearby quilt shop to drop off two of my quilt tops. Garden Magic and Cotton Candy are now out for machine quilting and should be back so I can bind them by the end of November. I think the hardest part is always waiting for them to come back!
When I got back home, I proceeded to tear the kitchen apart. Handsome helped me empty the shelves and then refresh buckets of hot water and cleaner while I scrubbed them. I'm ashamed to say I hadn't cleaned the tops of those cabinets in a while and they really needed it! I dare say you could eat off them now.

In the mosaic above, the first two images are "before" pictures. The rest are a progression as I emptied, cleaned and re-staged the kitchen. You can click on the mosaic and it will take you to my Flickr album where you can see enlarged photos.

Please let me know what you think now that I'm finished. Well, almost finished. I looked at the "after" photos and decided that the two large wooden bowls on the floor of the south wall (the wall with the blue & white turkey platter and other blue & white pieces) need to come out of the kitchen. They make for a sort of black hole in the room. I'll be selling those. I also noticed that the little box on the bottom shelf of the island looks out of place, so I'm moving that, too.

What did I do with the other things you no longer see in the kitchen? Well, the pitcher and creamer collection is now carefully packed and stored. I don't want to part with those (at least for now), but there is no specific place for them, so off to storage for now. The Toby face mugs will be sold. I only found out today that Handsome really doesn't like them. I'm not attached to them, so away they'll go. Same for the majolica pig pitcher I have. Everything else is on its way to Goodwill or one of my sales outlets. Feel free to contact me if you saw something you might like. I promise I'll give you a fair price!

All in all, I think this was a completely worthwhile project. The room looks lighter, more cohesive and it's definitely more clean! If you ask me, I think we did pretty well with this makeover.

Thanks again for all your comments. They really helped! Oh, by the way, click on her blog title here to link over to Anita's blog Bloomin' Workshop and read her post from yesterday. It's Halloween-type spooky that we wrote about darn near the same thing! Right down to the Scandinavian furniture reference! Whew!

I don't want to forget to tell you about my new offering in my Brynwood Boutique! I'd love to know what you think of my sweet Dotty Cat Pincushion!
Click here to visit my Boutique!

October 14, 2009

Simply The Best...

I want to start by saying that I really have the best friends in Blogland! You were all so gracious with your comments! First, to say that my rooms don't even look cluttered. Then, to give me some great ideas to consider for dealing with the items in question. And last, but not least, the fact that you cared enough to leave a comment in an effort to either help me out, or support my decor. I love each and every one of you for that. I'm going to take all of your suggestions and "play in the kitchen" today. I'll have photos for you tomorrow so you can see what I came up with.

I'm heading over to a local quilt shop today, too. The owner has a Gammill machine set up in a side room where she'll be quilting my Cotton Candy and Garden Magic quilts. I want to get these back and in my hands as soon as possible so I can bind them and get them finished.

The Garden Magic quilt is going to stay here and go on our guest bed, but I'm thinking I'm going to put the Cotton Candy quilt (the pieced top is shown in the photograph above) in my Brynwood Boutique. As promised, I'll be posting photographs of both finished quilts so you can tell me what you think. I'm hoping that I'll be able to get them back by the time I return from Wisconsin on the 31st.

I don't leave to visit Mum until the 21st, so I'll be working on a few other quilts in the meantime. My French General quilt is on hold until my fabric backorder arrives. I have a lovely yellow and red lap quilt in the works, so I'll probably tackle finishing that one next. I've called it Pretty Pathways and you can see it here. Miss Ellie sure has been busy lately.

Thanks again for all your comments. You're all Simply The Best!