Thursday, August 28, 2008

Vintage Thingies Thursday

So, I decided to participate in Vintage Thingies Thursday sponsored by The Apron Queen. Behold this delightful Bluebird 1 1/2 qt. covered casserole Pyrex dish. (Say THAT three times fast!) It was thrifted from Goodwill recently. I just couldn't take my eyes off the sweet little bird in that shade of blue! As I carried it around with a vice-like grip, others were eyeballing it. Too late! (insert evil laugh - mwooAH HA ha ha!) According to Pyrex Love, this dish was a promotional item only produced between 1959-1961.

I'm half afraid to use it, not because I'm clumsy, but because I'm really NOT clumsy and therefore I may become clumsy when using something so lovely only because I won't suspect that I might accidentally destroy it.
Sometimes I think that I just invent things to worry about...

Got A Rusty Knife? Either Way, Read On

This book found it's way to me via my in-laws and my recent birthday. It's been a good read for the 1-2 minute intervals that my daughter allows me to be away from her. (She's teething and not her independant-self lately.) So, here's a highlight of a few of the great tips that I've come across so far...
Ordinary item: Butter
Extraordinary use: Keep mold off cheese
How: Each time you use semi-hard cheese, coat the cut edge with butter before returning to the fridge. (And who doesn't like buttery cheese?)
Ordinary item: Onions
Extraordinary use: Remove rust from knives
How: Plunge your rusty knife into a large onion several times. (Behold, tears of joy.)
Ordinary item: Rubbing alcohol
Extraordinary use: Shapable ice pack
How: Mix 1 part alcohol to 3 parts water in tightly sealed plastic bag. Freeze. (No more ice block slabs on tender knees.)

For kids...
Ordinary item: Bathtub appliques
Extraordinary use: Non-slip kiddie pool
How: Prevent falls by placing these on the pool floor. (Now what will we film for AFV?)
Ordinary item: Candle
Extraordinary use: Make a secret drawing
How: Children make "invisible" drawings using a white candle. Then cover the paper with watercolor paint to reveal the picture. The wax prevents the paper from absorbing color. (This is day one of CIA training at headquarters.)
Ordinary item: Envelopes
Extraordinary use: Bookmarks
How: Recycle envelopes by cutting off the gummed flap and one end of the envelope. Slip the remainder over the corner of a book page. Kids can decorate these for themselves - or as gifts. (This beats my method of simply shoving an envelope between pages.)

Unfortunately, there are a few dud tips... like, make your own bumper sticker using duct tape and a marker. (There's nothing that I need to say that badly!) Or, use newspaper in an emergency to make a splint. (In an emergency, I'm not looking for a newspaper, I'm looking for a phone to dial 9-1-1!) But, overall, I'm looking forward to more useful discoveries.

And finally, a few tips from my own personal archive.

1. Use empty wrapping paper rolls to pretend you're Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. (Actually my older brother came up with that as a way to make me fight him when we were kids.)

2. Make a pencil cup as a gift using a tin can. It can be covered with fabric, scrapbook paper or (in my case) patchwork Partridge-Family-style squares. (Hey, I was 6 and my dad loved it.)

3. A tablespoon of ammonia in 1 - 2 cups of water in a squirt bottle will get just about any stain out of your carpet. Red wine, mysterious-giant-black-dingy circle from the previous home owners, shoe scuff marks, etc. (Trust me, just try this method first and you'll save yourself a lot of grief.)

Do you have any handy tips to share?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sister Thrifted

Oh, the time has come. And you know you're (not) the only one... Well, what's a girl to do with such a nifty-thrifted, green corduroy shirt? She is to give Svetlana a sister. Meet Irina (ear-REE-nah)...
If you're not so much about dolls, but you enjoy a little history trivia, read this. I do realize that my posts have been monopolized by matryoshka doll-related things as of late. Therefore, I promise a matryoshka-free post next time.

Until then, hug your pillow and you'll know what it feels like to hug one of these dolls. I'm having a hard time keeping Charlotte from squeezing-the-dickens out of 'em.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Meet Svetlana

My latest endevor has been doll-making. The shrinky matryoshkas were tiny, the japanese fabric matties were small, the three sisters were medium and now I've made a large, huggable matryoshka. Let's call her Svetlana. I have a feeling that she has friends. And they're probably on their way to being created very soon.

It took three muslin patterns to get the right shape and size. And by 'the right size' I mean the one that I had in my head. This is how is always goes. It started with my mom thrifting a banker's box full of fabric for $2.00. This fabric was in there. A lot of it. And I love it! (Thanks, Ma.) I just knew what I had to make.

She is about 12 inches in height and 6 inches wide. Her face is made with wool felt from Wool Felt Central and my hand embroidery. Then I added a wool felt flower button to her eyelet scarf and matryo-presto, there she was!

She's very huggable. I should know, because since finishing her, I've smothered her with joyful hugs at least 7 or 8 times. I'm so happy!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fill 'Er Up

Thaaat's right, more matryoshka dolls. My weekend was full of more sweet stitching. Made from japanese fabric, these dollies stand about 5 inches in height.
The backs are made with coordinating fabrics that I found in my stash.
So far, I'm on track for keeping the month of August productive. My plans for the dolls may include that possible new etsy store... or my trusty fall/winter craft shows. Either way, they're sure to find happy new homes very soon.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

What's Black And White And Yellow All Over?

Answer: My kitchen.

My black and white spoon art is finally done! Aside from a few temporary wall hangings, this part of my butter yellow kitchen has been bare since we moved in 3 1/2 years ago. My mind could never settle on a "final" idea for this wall. (I don't know why I have trouble giving myself permission to change my mind.) Then the vision for multiple spoon silhouettes appeared. Of course! It's not really a surprise since I love black and white... and silhouettes. And thanks to dear H, they went up right away.

Traveling clockwise, starting at top left, they are: embroidered white spoon on black linen fabric, graphic paper spoon on white linen fabric, written recipe spoon on black and white polka dot fabric and tiny floral print fabric spoon on "vertigo" fabric.

To me, my kitchen finally feels finished. I guess when you're happy, you don't want to change your mind.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I have a problem. A serious, bias-tape problem. Remember when I said that I was cutting myself off? Those words had meaning, but apparently, only as they were being typed. At the thrift store, there were bags of bias tape for $0.49! Each bag held 5-6 packages of bias tape or trim. I snatched up 6 bags quicker than I could remember my oath. Thirty-one packages of bias and trim for $3.00. Couldn't. Stop. Myself. I ended up buying more than I already had in my stash. But, it's so beautiful! All the rick-rack... And only three packages were open. Just so you know, I wasn't a complete glutton... I left behind two bags for someone else to discover and celebrate.

So, to redeem myself, I made some things. Of course none of it included sewing with bias tape. I sketched, drew, traced, then colored until my fingers were nearly numb. They are matryoshka doll bobby pins made from shrinky dinks. The shrinkies have been waiting patiently to be used for bobbies. (Finally, I'm checking things off of my list instead of adding to it.) The first ones turned out tiny. They'll be turned into clippie embellishments for Charlotte. But, the second batch.... voila!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sweet & Sour Watermelon Salad

This refreshing summer salad recipe appeared in our local paper (The Sacramento Bee) last week. Thanks to my mom for recycling her newspapers to me. The salad was quick and easy, we had all the ingredients and served chilled, it really hit the spot. My only suggestion is to save it for after dinner as a type of dessert salad. Yum.

1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar (or stevia to taste)
1 tablespoon poppy seeds (we omitted these)
salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch of scallions, trimmed and chopped
3 cups seedless watermelon, cut into chunks
1-2 cucumbers, peeled and sliced

Combine all ingredients, except cucmbers and watermelons. Place cucumbers and watermelon in a serving bowl, pour marinade over the top. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for an hour before serving. Toss gently before serving.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Three New Girls

My latest creations are these Matryoshka dolls for Charlotte. Usually, the russian nesting dolls are made of wood and are hidden inside each other, but these softies sit comfortably in a pouch. They are 6 inches, 4 inches and 2 inches in size. The faces are hand embroidered (utilizing my first attempt at french knots!) then machine zig zagged. The hair is recently thrifted, soft, vintage brown corduroy.
Matryoshka dolls have been everywhere lately and I can't get them off of my mind. There's also plenty of inspiration on etsy. These little gals are my first attempt to make the vision I had in my brain. They're preeetty close. Granted, I had no real pattern, just some sketches (and drawing is not my strong suit.) But, I learned a lot about what to do and what I will do differently next time. I hope to make more... maybe for my own etsy store someday.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Make Your Own Lightbox

Which picture do you like better? Bavarian coffeepot #1...

...or Bavarian coffeepot #2?

Of course, #2 looks muuuuch better because of my recently built lightbox. I was tired of my sad looking pictures. Too dark... sometimes fuzzy... and just all around drab. The pictures just weren't doing any justice to our newly inherited coffeepot from Grandma. I don't have white balance on my camera and was often frustrated with how colors showed up. Then I read this on Photojojo. There's a link to make your own lightbox (softbox, macrostudio, etc.) So, I found a trusty 18" cardboard box and began cutting away 3 of the sides. Cut out a square about 2" in from the edges for stability. Next, I used scotch tape to secure tissue paper covering the 3 sides. Then, I placed a trimmed piece of white posterboard in the back for a seamless backdrop. Because I don't have powerful lighting, I had to place lights on all 3 sides of the tissue-papered walls. Voila! Picture taking has never turned out so well for me.
Now, I just need a lightbox to take pictures of my new lightbox...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me

Well, it's a belated Happy Birthday to me... and it wasn't just a day. It was a long birthday weekend of being spoiled. It started on thursday morning and lasted through sunday afternoon. (Saturday was the actual day that my mother suffered so greatly those 36 years ago.) There were 5 meals of celebration. And I received this lovely peacock plate from my hubby. We spied it recently at Anthropologie, then lo and behold, it's mine! He also gave me the cookbook that I asked for...
No, I don't particularly like the title "Deceptively Delicious" by Jessica Seinfeld, but I think it can be overlooked since the idea is to nourish your family by infusing pureed vegetables into the recipes. It seems that my daughter and my husband have no trouble (yet) with veggies, but it is I who needs the 'deception'. Don't get me wrong. I buy veggies. I look at them. I serve them to my family. But, I poke at them and then fill up on rice. It seems that in my 36 short years here, I've yet to crave broccoli. Ever. And I still don't like to cook, but I asked for a cookbook. Mom, note the day and time.
H also gave me a beloved photo album with photographs from our honeymoon. We had never gotten around to printing out those easy-to-print digital photos. I only expected a paper envelope of pictures at some point, but a black leather album with white stitching was all put together for, us.
Many other wonderful gifts (and food) were received for my birthday. A big thank you to all who celebrated with me. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
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