A definite challange

I spent almost the entire summer outside banishing weapons (aka as tools) such as shovel, spading forks, hammers, drills, and saws.  It was a great stress releaser to bang, prune, repair and attack everything in general..  If it was raining I was in the kitchen banishing different weapons but still stomping about as I was listening mostly to the   music of the Statler brothers.  All in all it was a very physical summer.

But like stitching, button painting was at a complete halt for months  except for one special project... a commission by a grandmother for two buttons of a cat  co-owned by two sisters.

The cat was named Hex and I found his eyes mesmerizing.  I happen to have two large MOP buttons that had  very unique coloration which seems perfect for Hex.  I did not paint the background...I just used the natural color of the mother of pearl.

There was another granddaughter who had a pet lizard and I was asked it I could paint a lizard.  I hadn't heard anything for some time so I thought my chance to paint a lizard wasn't going to happen but today I received some photos of and am eager to start.

The elongated body does not lend itself to a round button so it will probably be a head pose.  Meet "Bask!"


Using "filet" crocheted pieces for journal covers

 This was an easy project and I will share my  secret  with you for making it even easier.

I often make journal covers for gifts. I like them to slip on and fit snugly but still be removeable.
What I've always kept a eye out for over the years are these simple "filet" crocheted doilies/placemats. Since they are not fancy they are usually very reasonably priced.  I have gradually filled a small drawer with them and use them often as a base for lace work or covers.
 I even buy them with filled areas as it will all be covered anyway.  The grid is so nice to work on.  I buy odd sizes also as I often have to piece a couple together.  Again they are covered so it matters not that they match.

When I use this one I will probably cut out the center section and piece the two outside parts together so there is lace all around.

Again damage does not matter as it will be covered and then the price gets even cheaper.

You start with something retangle.  It doesn't have to be a correct size....just wider so any extra hangs out top and bottom  and longer so you can have flaps to fold back..  You could even combine two (or more) pieces to make the rectange...  This time I started with a rectangle doily (or doilies) about the size of a placemat....

I added all my bits and pieces before I folded the flaps back. All the laces have been stitched on the outside and it is ready to put on a journal. So here it is with the flaps folded back and the elastic cord "loosely" woven around...see arrow.  I do not pull the elastic snug until all the cover is finished and it is on the book.

  Then when slipped onto the journal it fits just perfect and the elastic keeps it tight and from slipping about plus it gathers the excess lace just a bit....

When I added the elastic cording I started in the middle (both top and bottom) and went across one way going through the flap and then turned and went ALL the way across through the other flap and back to the middle... Then I could knot the ends and leave a little hanging for adjustment... 

Here is another journal cover I finished the cover for a Christmas gift.

The piece of filet lace I used for the foundation was not long enough to make the flap so I added an extra piece of wide lace to either end.

You can clearly see the elastic cording I threaded across the top and bottom to hold it snug.  And it makes it easy to transfer the cover to another book.

It is exactly the same technique I used when I covered the journal I use to record stitches.


The potting of pies about to begin.....

We went to London in 2015 and fell in love with   Beef and Ale  pies in the pubs.  On return I started making them at home when I found a recipe for "proper" English beef and ale pies.  Last winter I branched out and added seafood and turkey pies.  Each time I made about eight and froze them... There's always soup in the freezer for nights I can't cook but the pot pies were a nice alternative.  Now we are down to the last two in the freezer and I've been giving them some thought before I started on a "pot pie" marathon...

Even though the meats are different I pretty much use the same vegetables... onion, celery, carrots, potatoes, peas and red peppers and top them all with a pie crusts.  This winter I want to add lamb and pork pies to our list and I want each type of pie to have a unique taste so I have been trolling through some recipes for ideas and here is what I have come up with for inspiration.

Yesterday and today I did:

Chicken pie with stuffing crust..... usual veggies but added prosciutto, sweet potatoes,  and spaghetti squash.

Pork pie with corn bread crust .... usual veggies plus broccoli, corn, sausage and apples in a apple cider cream sauce.

In the future I'll try these:

Lamb pie with puff pastry crust .... usual veggies plus extra garlic, sun dried tomatoes, wine, spinach and garbanzo beans.  I have one very large lamb shank in the freezer and it would be perfect.

Seafood pie with pie crust....shrimp and cod.... usual veggies plus frozen whole onions, fennel seeds, pernod, kale, tomatoes and clam juice.

Beef pie topped with mashed potatoes... usual veggies but cooked in stout and added a variety of mushrooms, parsnips and leeks.

I have over the winter acquired a large supply of pot pie dishes from the thrift store that go well from freezer to oven...  Let the potting of pies begin.  Soon be ready for looooooong winter.


One has to begin somewhere!

It has been so long since I posted I'm not sure there is still anyone reading but one has to start somewhere.  Same with stitching....I haven't threaded a needle since March but I am ready to try again with new lights, magnifiers, and most important a new attitude and determination.

Since I have to begin somewhere it will be doing a cover for the guest book for my oldest granddaughter's wedding in March.  I will be using all my "good stuff" on this project..  You know - the stuff you save forever because it is too precious to use... Tomorrow I will trip on out to the barn to go through my favorite silks...

Those around for a while will remember posts about this particular adventurous granddaughter, Madi.   Madison has traveled all over Europe, Asia and South America  SOLO with a backpack, a budget, youth hostels and cheap transportation.  When she ran out of money she stopped and worked and then kept on. I was wondering if she would ever settle down.  She had plenty of scary encounters along the way.

But now at almost thirty she has found her "fella" and he loves traveling and the outdoors as much as she does.  To propose he took here back to the first mountain they climbed together....how romantic is that?


The Winner and the menu

I'm happy to announce that the winner of the little book of Norse children's tales is Connie Kalina. Send me your mailing address and I will post it to you directly and I can rest assured that some one else has the responsibility of caring for this treasure...

The table last night  was a success and the menu was:
Foie gras, asst. Cheeses and Grapes
Broccoli Salad
Rockfish with a Tapenade Sauce
Corn-studded baked Polenta
Spaghetti Squash and Swiss Chard Medley
Lemon Gelato and Banana Bread
 The event yielded   a couple of surprises.  First the label on that thrift store  $2.50 table cloth (which was very large....102") was Cynthia Rowley which it turns out is a well-known linens designer and her paisley tablecloths that size sell for $70+. So it makes the find even more whimsical.

The second surprise was the last minute find of a new recipe which is fantastic, beautiful and a definite repeater.... Spaghetti squash and Swiss Chard  It was especially nice as I harvested two laundry baskets of spaghetti squash from the garden yesterday..  It was so colorful and so tasty...


Kitchen Chatter

Here in the northwest US we are surrounded by wildfires and the air quality is extremely hazardous and everyone has been ordered to stay indoors.  So our planned BBQ of hamburgers outside has turned into a meatloaf in the oven indoors.

 I have often tried new meatloaf recipes in the past but my favorite is in this book....well used as you can see.  I received this Good Housekeeping cookbook in Sept. 1957 as a wedding gift... 60 years ago.. and I still use this recipe and try as I might have never found a better one. The book automatically opens to this page.  In the last few years I have started searches for the "Best" biscotti, banana bread, stollen, lemon cookies,  and scones among other things.. Every so often the old and tried recipes turns out to be the best.  I have stopped trying new banana bread recipes forever as this one is truly the very best...  http://gluesticksblog.com/2013/07/bakery-style-banana-bread-recipe.html
and how could it not be when it uses eight bananas.

So besides the meatloaf I made a double batch of the very best banana bread, a huge supply of homemade granola that will last until Christmas, and stollen for DH.  I got to use my stollen mold I bought in Germany this spring.  It is adjustable in length and has no bottom...you just set it on the baking pan and it shapes the loaf....  I just love it.  Morris was on kitchen duty all day just waiting for any little tidbit that might fall to the floor.  He didn't want me to slip and fall on anything...such a thoughtful dog.

This last bit falls under the category "Why I love thrift stores!!!!"  I love setting a pretty table so I check the kitchen aisles first thing.  Last spring I found these neat plates for $1 each.  I was waiting until fall to use them but none of the tablecloths I have seemed right.

 So when we were thriftin' on Monday I was looking for a new tablecloth and found this one which was whimsical and different and fun...  $2.50.  I liked it because it wasn't the usual fall leaves, pumpkins, etc.

Then at the next thrift shop I found these snazzy salad plates..  They were only 50 cent apiece and I bought all eight as I can see them used for desserts also any season.

We have a dinner party coming up Sunday and another in a couple weeks and I'll use my new purchases for both parties...  I can hardly wait to set the table.  It is finding these unplanned treasures that keep me at the thrift stores over and over again.  I'm sure all this new would have been over a $150 and for $10.50 I have new table settings for this winter and in the spring I will donate them back and get new sets for spring...


Giveaway - 95 year old children's book

This is one of those precious belongings I always wanted to do something special with... well I can see that is never going to happen now and I would love to see it go to someone who would do something with the stories and illustrations.

As you can see it is a small book (41/2" x 6 1/2") and almost 100 years old I found it at a thrift store years ago and fell in love with the illustrations.  I always planned to print them on fabric and make a book but time is slipping away.

William Andrew ("Willy") Pogany   (August 1882 – 30 July 1955) was a prolific Hungarian illustrator of children's books and others.  He is best known for his pen and ink drawings of myths and fables. His works included not only books but magazine covers, stage and movie sets and was widely known for his art pieces as well... more about him ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willy_Pogany

There are numerous illustrations throughout the book.

If you feel that this book should belong to you, tell me why by leaving a comment on my blog and on Sunday September 10 I will let my husband pick a lucky recipient.. I will mail it anywhere in the United States.


Lost is found and table finished.

Finally in my cleaning out and sorting my jewelry supplies the lost pendant I bought from a street vendor in Germany this spring surfaced....much to my delight.

I definitely have a "style"  and it is jewelry with some substance.  I'm just not a delicate type of person... I love one-of-a-kind and so prefer to make it myself.  And I adore colorful jewelry...  So this pendant spoke to my heart.

I have all the beads strung and will do the final assembly today.  And as a bonus it has a story.  The pendant is from our anniversary trip to Germany last April, the yellow beads are raw topaz I bought in a tiny shop in Seaside Oregon last fall, the red glass beads are from a trip to CA to see Susie W., I bought the blue beads on Etsy and they are recycled glass beads from Africa and last but not least ALL the metal beads are from one necklace I bought at a thrift store for a little over $3...years ago.

I did finish the "pansy" necklace  before I found the pendant.  This brooch was worn by my late mother-in-law  Mary Krueger whom I adored so it has special memories as well.

Now that everything is dug out and sorted I might as well keep going and do several before I put everything away.  My friend Kathy LeFrancis came over one morning  and showed me some of the finer details in finishing with crimps, wire guards, etc and I didn't even remember I had an  actual crimping tool..

And I did finish the table last weekend.  It is fanciful and fun but I have to admit that it qualifies as "primitive" artwork.  There was no way I could position the table, lights, brush, and magnifying glasses in a way I could actually see what I was doing... But even a little rough around the edges, it too suits my taste... one-of-a-kind and colorful... a definite statement in my living room..


Once again a big search!!!!

When we were in Germany in April I bought a lovely pendant from a street vendor and after we got home I ordered some beads from recycled glass on Etsy.  We have a couple events coming up and I wanted to assemble this necklace.  A small project...an hour or two..  But I can't find them and I have looked and looked.  What I have found is all this:


Everywhere I looked I found more jewelry parts.  I haven't done any work with jewelry for about 10 years but that hasn't stopped me from continually buying jewelry bits and parts over the years.  One thing  that I always feel the need to rescue are old brooches from the 40s and 50s.  Nobody wears a brooch any more.  I like to incorporate them into necklaces and must have at least thirty or forty waiting.  A few are missing stones and need repair but most are just lovely.  When I was in London recently the Victoria and Albert Museum had a breathtaking display of reconstructed jewelry..  I was so inspired by it...so inspired I may soon get around to doing it. 
What I found amazing is that I have this massive amount of turquoise beads and jewelry.  I do not own ONE piece of clothing that is turquoise.  How did this happen?

What I do wear is a lot of purple and have very little purple jewelry.  On this whole table I had one small plate with a pansy brooch and coordinating beads. 

At first I thought since I had it all divided into colors that I should sort it into smaller projects.  But the more I thought about it, it was overwhelming and so I will bag the color groups and put it all aside until winter.  In the meantime I will continue to search for the pendant I bought in Germany.

At this time I need to be painting buttons...not doing jewelry. The small table will be done this week.

The tiny Bewick wrens that were nesting in this basket in the entry have fledged.

So I took the basket down and carefully pulled out the pansy arrangement.  The nest was entirely of small twigs and only about 2 I/2 inches across in the hollow of the nest... a very small bird.  It was amazing she could even build a nest in such a small space and right next to all the traffic in and out of the house.

This last note fall under "miracles I love and shall appreciate"  For 25 years I had one massive clump of asparagus that we fed off of every spring.  Weeds had grown up around it and one day about 4 years ago in haste I accidentally sprayed it with weed killer.  I was just devastated.  But asparagus have a strong deep root system and I just kept praying it would send up a new shoot one day...  And sure enough it finally did... 3 tiny shoots which I will guard with my life and build a fence around it as well.


By any other name... a cellar is a cellar

We have a cellar....not a basement...but a small bonafide cellar.  Just the kind you would expect in a house that is 111 years old.  It is dark and dank and ground water seeps in during the winter and spring and a sump pump keeps us from floating away..  
There are a few shelves down there up on blocks and DH does keep a few bottles of wine down there....so over the years I have called it his wine cellar... When we bought the place and added on the only way to access it was by a trap door
That was 37 years ago and at the time I thought it would be fun to paint the trap door "trompe-l'œil"  like a wine cellar.  Well it only took me 37 years but I did it in the barn last month.  I had to wait until last week for my handy man to have a day to install it.  You can see it is tucked behind the kitchen island.
But now when you walk into the front door it is the first thing you see. It has to be the longest incubation period I have had for an idea to come to fruition.
We have a small open entry area before our front door and I hang my garden tools there and also this very small basket of silk pansies....right next to the opening and just the height of my head.   As I was preparing to sweep the entry out yesterday I heard a cheep, cheep, cheep...and found a nest with newly hatched bewick wrens in it.  The mama flies in through a dog door and up to feed them.  The bewick wrens are known for making nests in the most unusual places.
 Also yesterday the first of this year's baby wild  turkeys visited the garden.  The chickens weren't sure if they liked this encroachment in their territory.
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