Monday, January 31, 2011

Connie's Purse

Just a quick note to introduce you to my friend, Lakeesha, who has just started her own blog, Connie's Purse. Lakeesha lives in Chicago and recently lost her aunt, Connie, who was like a mother to her. Connie was only 53 and her loss was unexpected. In order to deal with her grief in a positive way, Lakeesha taught herself to blog. She posted her first entry tonight. In her blog description, Lakeesha says,  "I named this blog Connie's Purse because she had an eye for fashion and loved shoes and purses. As a Classy Lady she often had items you needed right in her purse. Just like most of the things we need in life are right beside us and we don't even realize it." So true.

I want to wish Lakeesha the best of luck with her blog. Maybe we've unwittingly started a new blog genre...creative grief. Not a club any of us wanted to belong to but one way to cope by sharing our memories of someone special who is gone too soon. So, Nancy and Connie...this one's for you.

Blogging about...Pineapples?

Can't wait to share our newest "toy" with amazingly simple little kitchen tool that actually works, and fast. This little baby will core and slice a fresh pineapple in less than a minute...honest!  There probably aren't many blog authors writing about pineapples tonight but this handy tool has definitely earned its own blog entry. 
We love fresh pineapple but always dreaded the work of cutting one up...until we got this. Here's how it works:

 Cut the top off of a fresh pineapple...
Place the corer/slicer into the middle and a corkscrew.
When you get to the bottom (just a few turns), here's what you get:
(And just think of all the frozen tropical drinks you can serve in the shell that's left after you're done!)
Since we got our corer/slicer as a gift, we have seen them in the produce section of our local supermarket (Shaw's) and at Bed,Bath and Beyond. They sell for about $8.99; ours has definitely paid for itself already. In a future post, I'll share Nancy's recipe for her famous Pineapple Upside-Down you'll have something to do with all that pineapple you had so much fun slicing. Meantime, it's upstairs to clean up the mess I've made in my craft room...the fun never ends around here!
p.s. maybe I'll bring up a few slices of pineapple with me...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Flea Market Finds

I had promised myself that today I would stay home and just putz around the house (I did get the living room mantle rearranged)...and, as usual, I didn't. I really like the idea of doing nothing but I guess I'm just not very good at pulling it off.  Instead, I invited my friend, Sandy, to come down and, maybe, do some crafting. And, as usual, Sandy and I never actually made anything, although, to be fair, we did spend some time in my craft room. Now those of you who don't know me may be starting to wonder if Sandy actually exists since every time I mention her coming to do crafts with me, we never quite manage make anything. So...just to reassure you that she is not an imaginary friend, I took her picture. (Anyway, imaginary friends don't teach biology and organic chemistry, right?) Sandy and I are both a little shy about having our picture taken...even fully clothed...but she did let me take a picture of her, here it is, proof that she does, in fact, exist.
Instead of jumping right into making something, I suggested that we might need a few more vintage craft supplies... just to get our creative juices flowing. (Sometimes I wonder if Sandy and I don't enjoy shopping for the craft supplies more than actually making the crafts...but that's a story for another day.) Suffice it to say that somehow we ended up in her Jeep headed for the local flea market in search of just the right inspiration for whatever it was we thought we might eventually make. So, instead of posting any finished projects tonight, I am posting photos of more flea market finds.
I couldn't resist buying this lot of old sewing items. I loved the wooden spools of embroidery thread in faded shades of white and ivory. They were perfect for this big jar that I had on hand.

With the thread were a couple of other items, including this little button which someone had careful sewn to an old church program and dated 2/9/12. On the bottom, the lady had written that the button was from "Mama's blue dress".  Also in the jar was a little pin cushion made from blue calico stuffed into a walnut shell, some tatted shade pulls, and a few creamy doilies.

I like how the jar looks on top of my old spool cabinet with some of my vintage autograph books. They are safe there...Nancy is watching over them.

I also found a set of four little hand-appliqued napkins which, of course, I had to buy. After just the right amount of dickering, I got these cuties for $3.oo for the sewing required and just right for Valentine's Day.

Sandy and I both love books...both to read and to pull apart or copy from for collages and paper crafts. We did a little more dickering and ended up with seven wonderful old children's books full of great graphics. These are the four that I chose:

One was We Look and See, an original Dick and Jane book. I'm sure that many of use "of a certain age" remember Dick and Jane...and, in this story, Sally is on hand, too. As a former English teacher,  I have to admit that the plot is a little thin...but I guess in 1st grade that didn't matter to us so much.

Two of the books were a little older, published in 1934. My mother would have been in 7th or 8th grade then so they were a little before our time. These stories were about "Alice and Jerry", two popular names from that era. My Mother's name is, in fact, Alice, so I was thrilled to find these.

A couple of vintage postcards made their way into my bag as well.  This one was so cute I had to have it...
Here's the back...

I bought the second postcard for my sister, Joanne (don't tell her!). It's an old photo of the church she was married in...St. Anne's in Kennebunkport, Maine...and it's dated 1906 on the back.

And finally, I bought these...I have no idea why. I actually only wanted the one on the bottom but they were being sold as a lot, so now I have the "hand" as well. Now, if Sandy and I ever do finally get our act together and make something, we'll each have a sign to hang on our finished creations!

This post is linked to Glenda's blog, Dab of This and That.
I am also linking this post to Junkin' Finds Friday at A La Carte.

Friday, January 21, 2011

50th Follower Giveaway

I can't believe that this little blog is already closing in on 50 Followers. It's been fun making new blog friends and keeping in touch with the old this way. And it's been a good way to keep myself sane while grieving for my sister, Nancy. It's wonderful to be able to share the wacky, vintage craziness we both loved with all of you. It keeps Nancy's memory alive while opening up so many new creative opportunities for me. So, thanks to all who share this blog with me as lurkers, readers, followers and means a lot.

As you know if you've read some of my previous posts, I got a little carried away making magnets one day (and I had so much fun I may make more!). So, to thank all of you and encourage others to join our little blog family, I'd like to give this "Love" magnet away as a Valentine gift to one of you. When we reach 50 Followers, I'll have one of my students draw a number 1-50 out of a hat and happily send this magnet to that person. I'll e-mail the winner and let all of you know who won. So...if you are not already a Follower, here's your chance. If you are, thanks for reading our little blog and Good Luck...this little baby could soon be finding its way to your refrigerator door!


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Buttons, Baubles and McCoy, Oh My!

The only thing better than a day of antiquing is two days of antiquing! We headed down to Nashua, New Hampshire last weekend for my "little sister" Joanne's 50th birthday party and made a much-needed mini-vacation out of it. New Hampshire is full of antique and consignment shops and we hit as many as we could along the way. I'm always on the lookout for anything old and funky, especially if I can find it at a good price. I especially keep my eyes open for peach or white McCoy pottery, M. A. Hadley pottery, old postcards and ephemera, and vintage sewing and craft items. Those of you who share the passion for vintage items surely know the thrill of the hunt and the fun of finding something you didn't know you needed until you saw it! Even better when you find it old, dusty, and under-valued. Here are a few of the treasures we brought home with us:
Two big Mason jars full of vintage buttons, a set of children's alphabet blocks, two wonderful postcards, and a bag of vintage lace...

I can't seem to resist old buttons. I'm not even sure of what I'm going to do with them all but they make me happy. Some will be used for sewing and craft projects and some will just live in old jars on the shelves of my craft room for awhile. Sometimes I just like to think about where the buttons may have come from and who might have worn the clothes they were once attached to. Were the rhinestone buttons on a special prom dress swinging to the music of Tommy Dorsey? Did the  scarred old red ones come off of a well-worn favorite apron? Maybe I caught the button bug from my grandmother. She, like many women of the Depression generation, never discarded old clothing without first removing the buttons to use on something else. Grammy had even taken the time to carefully sort and label her jars by of buttons by the number of holes they had. I still have her handwritten labels reading "two holes" and "four holes" and  like to think of her sitting there sorting through her buttons, as I now do.

I sort my vintage buttons into jars by color. I have to say, the white ones I bought on this trip were beyond dirty so...a little bleach...and voila! Think I have enough?

I think I might cut the blocks in half and use them on craft projects...

I was thrilled to find these two old postcards from Wells Beach, Maine. We spent our summer vacations there as kids and I love the memories these old cards invoke...

Couldn't resist this old hanky for $1.00. The old lace is for a Valentine project I haven't thought up yet...

This treasure was $14.00 in a consignment shop. It's an old blackboard that I will oil up and use in my dining room as a Menu board when our "Gourmet" group gets together...

I lucked out in the last consignment shop we checked out and and found this piece of signed peach McCoy for $18.00 and 20% off...had to buy it to add to my collection. This one will probably be used for a centerpiece or as part of a future trayscape in the dining room.

So...thanks, Joanne, for turning 50 and giving us an excuse to get away for the weekend. And thanks to Andi and Dave (sister #2 and her husband) for a lot of fun antiquing together (Dave turned out to be quite the treasure hunter himself!) Once I actually make something with all of these buttons, blocks and trims, I'll try to post photos of the results...anybody got some new craft ideas to share?

I am linking up to:
Show & Tell Friday at My Romantic Home
Friday Pretties at I Love Pretty Little Things
Junkin' Finds Friday at A La Carte

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Magnetic Snow Day

The snow started falling in Maine early this morning. For my fellow teachers and me, that meant a snow day...a perfect chance to spend an afternoon in my craft room.
I recently discovered a wonderful blog, Mamie Jane's, that inspired me to try to create something new out of things I already had. First, a little about Mamie Jane's. It is named for the blog author's great-grandmother, Mamie, a beautiful woman who is pictured on the blog's home page. Since I have such wonderful memories of days spent with my own grandmother, I decided I wanted to explore this blog more.

Jane takes all sorts of mismatched "junk" that she has collected and combines it to make amazing furnishings and accessories for her home. Some of the pieces she starts with are things that most people would throw away and yet, once she puts them together, they look as if they belong in the Pottery Barn catalogue! I love the plate displays made from old drawers and the craft storage unit she showed how to make in her January 9th post. She even used rusty old trowels (found for 50 cents each) to make clever photo holders. I hope you'll check out her blog...the link is on my sidebar.

Jane's creativity inspired me to scour my craft supplies for a project I could do with what I had on hand. My project was not nearly as unique as Jane's but I had a lot of fun doing it. I decided to use vintage buttons, old belt buckles, vintage letter tiles, and bits of this and that to make decorative magnets. (maybe it was that photo of the trowel that gave me the idea!)

Now, of course, I'll obsess on "magnet-making" for the next week or so and will soon be scouring my desk for more photos and appointment cards to hang up. By the end of January, our house will probably be at the center of its own magnetic field; unsuspecting visitors wearing heavy jewelry may find themselves unable to move away from large metal objects like the refrigerator. (Of course, my friends and I don't move far from the frige when we're together anyway!) Here is how my little magnets came out:

This blog entry is featured on the "Blog Party" at Savvy Southern Style this week...hope you'll pay a visit to Kim's blog!
p.s. These photos are the first I've taken for the blog with my new took me 180 trial shots to get them but I think I'm finally starting to get the hang of it...lots more practice needed!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The New Camera!

My new camera finally arrived today and I am almost as excited as I was the day I got my new label maker! It's not a fancy SLR but it will do macro and black and white photography...once I figure out how to use it, that is. I'll miss my trusty old EasyShare but will still use it when I want a camera that can fit in my purse. That old camera has endured some pretty rough treatment, including being  submerged in a river in Tennessee on an ill-fated tubing expedition...and kept on clicking. (Note to self: Avoid storing new camera in bathing suit.)

Tomorrow I'll probably be out shopping for a tripod...blogging is becoming an expensive little hobby! I really admire the photos on some of my favorite blogs and would love to learn enough to create one or two amazing ones of my own someday. Every time I visit Brenda's blogs, Cozy Little House and A Fairy In My Garden, I'm inspired to try my hand at "real" photography. Other bloggers whose photos I love to look at again and again are Joyce at I Love Pretty Little Things, Amy at Into Vintage, and Laura at 52 Flea. These ladies have set a pretty high standard but I think I'll have fun taking baby steps with my new Nikon while I continue to visit their blogs for inspiration.
On another note, this little blog now has 40 Followers! That makes me really happy because I feel as if those are 40 people who are honoring Nancy's memory just by being here. Some of you knew Nancy and loved her and others are just getting to know her through this blog. Either way, the number of Followers is a tribute to her, to her positive spirit, and to the things she loved. If you haven't decided to click that little button on the left of your screen and Follow us yet, I hope you will.

Well, it's been 3 1/2 hours since initial plug-in and the new camera is finally charged. So, I'll end this post and go play with it for awhile....although at this hour my photo ops may be a bit limited. I'm not sure Hank would appreciate my first close-up being of him asleep in front of the Celtics game! On second thought, maybe I'll start tomorrow...