Sunday, November 30, 2008

Blue Drive

Almost every Tuesday I drive over an hour into Boston to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I take the back roads which is very pretty drive in the spring and fall especially. Since beginning my participation in Blue Mondays I've really started to notice all of the blue around me. These are some things that I pass every week.Tuesday is recycling and trash day in Walpole, one of the towns I drive through.
There's always construction somewhere on my drive, and the guys need a home base, if you know what I mean!The Longwood medical area has most of the Boston hospitals and teaching schools.Blue signs mark everything very well, because so many people come here from out of state or other countries.The Boston MFA is just down the street if you can fight the traffic. It's easier to take the "T".This Vespa is always parked on the corner by Brigham and Women's Hospital, no matter what time of day I am there. It has only been missing twice since I've started keeping track!When I arrive, I am welcomed no matter what language I speak!

I hope you enjoyed seeing a little bit of what I see all the time. Be sure to visit Sally and the other Blue Monday participants. Maybe you'll join us with your own blue post next week!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ice Princess

I am so excited about my Pink Saturday contribution this week! I think it is my Favorite Christmas Thing this year! I got this unique ornament on eBay about a month ago. I was just looking around at vintage ornaments and stumbled upon it. I thought it was very unusual so I read the description and the seller showed a picture of underneath the ornament where someone had written 1957. To me this was kind of a sign, since my mother graduated high school in 1957. Probably it was given to some young lady as a gift that year.She is still in very good shape, although her fur is a little squooshed. Her body is a mercury glass ornament and the hands and feet seem like some kind of duct tape material. The pink color is bright and her face hasn't chipped off at all. Someday I will give this ornament to my niece, but she wouldn't appreciate it right now, so it will hang with honor on my tree for many years to come.I rarely buy any of my vintage things, so this one is special in that respect, also.
Sarah at Thrifty Decor Chick is hosting My Favorite Things for Christmas. Stop by and see what people are loving this year!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Christmas Pins

Welcome to Vintage Thingies on Thanksgiving Thursday! This fun weekly event is hosted by Suzanne the ColoradoLady. Visit her for the list of all the participants you can visit. There are always so many neat things that people are sharing. I am also linking in to Angie's Holiday Show & Share at The American Homemaker. There are all sorts of great Christmas crafts, recipes, and decorating ideas, so visit those ladies, also!
I know I'm jumping the gun, but by the time everyone finishes with their busy holidays and sits down to read this we will all be thinking about Christmas! I checked the calendar, and including Thanksgiving and Christmas, there are only 5 VTTs, and I have tons to show you. Some things may be shown on other days, even if they are vintage, so you might want to look around a little more this month.
I apologize in advance for the blur on these photos. I took them myself and you know I have the shaky hands! I may be able to have someone re-do these shots and I will change the pictures.My sister and I each have one of these stocking pins. Hers has a kitten and mine has a poodle. They are attached with a little lever to the stocking so they kind of bob around when the wearer moves.This is another one from my 1970s childhood. I really like it because it makes a statement and is big enough to wear on a coat.Ah, the bells! I'm sure my parents just adore the person who got us these. They have a nice strong ring to them! When I wear it now I tape the clapper down.This Santa head has a fuzzy beard and still lights up! However, the little pull cord has become detached and I can't get it back on properly. Since the red on his nose is worn off, I just wear it as a pin. People really like this and always ask about it. You can still buy these new; I found them at The Vermont Country Store, which has all sorts of retro items. If you are a lover of vintage/retro, you really need to check it out some time!This fun Christmas tree was my mom's. Technically it probably still is, since she lent it to me about 5 years ago! When I was bald for Christmas (twice, by the way!) I had a great black furry hat that I would decorate with different pins every day for work. I conveniently forgot to return the pins I borrowed. The tree is enamel with pearls and rubies. It's only missing 2 stones, which is pretty good in 60 years.The gold and pearl tree is also missing 2 stone. I don't know if it is better to replace them so they look better, or leave as-is for their value as originals. No one ever notices that they are missing, they just see the overall design.Finally, my favorite of all, the 50s reindeer! I just love his style and form! The metal is a matte brushed silver. He looks great on a plain red sweater.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving My Thanks

I can't believe that Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I have not shared all for which I am thankful! I should have been keeping a list on my sidebar as some friends have. I'd like to thank my friend Jewelgirl from Sandwiched Mom for passing on the 2 things I'm Thankful For meme and prompting me to acknowledge all for which I should be grateful.

I AM THANKFUL FOR:My family, where everyone goes out of their way to accommodate my medical condition and help where they can. My parents visit every fortnight for several days and help with projects such as switching the seasonal clothes, organizing things I can't reach, pulling holiday decor from the basement, etc. My mother is a whirling dirvish doing chores and finding things that I never thought to do and with which she helps me. The day my father got up to get me a drink of water and walked without his cane to the kitchen was amazing. My sister goes to so many of my medical appointments and her husband rearranges his work schedule so he can be home with the kids while she is with me. My nephews and niece help with chores and errands. I couldn't be living on my own without the help of all of them. (Wait a minute, if I wasn't living alone, I'd have to live with one of them, so maybe that's why they do it!)My teachers' union sick bank. I donated one sick day to the bank when I was first hired by the town. When my sick days ran out almost two years ago, I was able to apply to the bank for more days, and all of my requests thus far have been granted, which means I continue to receive pay even though I am not at work. Having a chronic medical condition is scary on many levels, but at least I can pay my bills right now. My health insurance company. I have an EXCELLENT insurance plan, which I thought I knew, but I didn't truly realize until I got really sick. They pay for everything, and nothing has ever been questioned. They have a nurse liaison who calls and checks on me to see if there is anything I need or if I have questions about my condition or insurance. In five years of being sick, other than prescription co-pays, which I find very reasonable, my biggest expense has been paying to park at all the different city hospitals and facilities. That really says something!
My friends who have stood by me even though I can't do as much with them as before. My neighbor Carol, who puts out my trash, the friends like Susan, who call me to check in often, Mary who drives 45 minutes to visit me regularly and helps me with chores, Tom & Paul who make me get out of the house for our breakfasts every fortnight. Everyone jumped in and wanted to help when I was first sick, but it's those who've persisted in continuing our friendship, even though it has had to go a different way, that I truly appreciate.Modern technology. With the Internet I can do all of my shopping and have my groceries delivered. But more importantly it has opened up a social world to me where I have met so many wonderful people on message boards and discussion groups who inspire me to create, decorate, read new genres and authors, try different films, and think about things from perspectives I may not have had in the past. I truly appreciate everyone who visits my blog and comments, which encourages me to write interesting posts and share my limited world with you. It cannot be said enough, the Evil Overlord's Entourage has some of the most fabulous people on Earth!Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving, whether it be peaceful or crazy, as long as it's with those you love, celebrated in the way you love.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Animal Candy Cane Holders

It's Tuesday, so it's time for the Holiday Show & Share with the American Homemaker. Visit Angie and the other participants for great recipes, traditions, decorating ideas, all things holiday!
The Santa candy cane holders were such a big hit, I thought I'd share the horse and the mouse that so many people mentioned. There are patterns for both at the bottom of this post. Just like with the felt Santa, be sure to use a thick craft glue, not regular white school glue.The mouse is super quick and easy. Cut a large tear drop shape and an ellipse for the ears. Pop on the google eyes embroidery floss whiskers, pom pom nose, and make a few cuts for the ears and candy cane to go through, and it's done! I've seen people embellish the body with a child's initial or some glittery swirly design.The horse is a little more difficult, at least for me, because it is glued at angles and I always have trouble lining things up. He is double-sided, with an eye and an ear on both front and back. The mane is made by cutting angled slits in the felt. The eyes are a circle of felt with a sequin in them, or a google eye. I've also seen this made with fancy gold stitching around the shape of the head instead of glue.

Let me know if you try any of these or modify the designs. I love to get new ideas!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Disgraceful!

Happy Blue Monday! This week I will be sharing a vintage book with a little story behind it! A Disgrace to the Fourth by Christine Chaundler is part of a type of book known as the Girls School Stories, written in the 1920s-30s.In researching this book and author, I learned that School Story books for both boys and girls are highly collectible right now in both the UK and Australia. People are buying them more for the stories than as untouchable collector's pieces, which I think is interesting. I have read this book many times since I first discovered it on the shelf of my school library in the fourth grade. I think that's why I picked it up, the title was fourth, I was in the fourth grade, and at the time I was into reading books written in the past like Little Women.I enjoyed the story of life in a boarding school, and the way the book was published with small illustrations throughout the text. I loved the drawings of the clothes and hairstyles.At some point this book belonged to Gay, which was a popular name in the 30s. This message is written with a fountain pen and looks like a younger person's handwriting.The book itself is from England, according to the publishing information, but no date is given. How did Gay's book get to the Seymour School library? Maybe Gay grew up and passed it on. Maybe some bookseller got it in a box of stuff and didn't want it and sold it for 10 cents. Who knows, but somehow it found its way to the US and to me!The book was put into circulation in my school's library in 1972, according to its card. I checked it out twice, May 1977 and November 1977. The last person to check it out was Fiona Micheli in 1978, the only person I knew who read as much as me!The book sat on the shelf for almost another 20 years not being read by anyone. I kind of feel like it was the Velveteen Rabbit of the school library, shoved away and forgotten. About 15 years ago they were finally discarding books and came across my name on the card twice. The librarian brought the book to my mom, thinking I might like to see it and my name on the card. Remember, I grew up in a teeny-tiny town, so this wouldn't be unusual. And that's how it ended up with me! Kind of neat, huh? BTW, I have read it twice since becoming its owner, and might read it again soon!
Be sure to visit Sally and the other Blue Monday participants for other blue items and stories!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Perennial Favorite

According to several "top pick" lists, America's top three favorite Christmas movies are It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, and White Christmas. I know I will lose some readers when I write that I am not a big Wonderful Life fan. It's just a little too sugary-schmaltzy for me. And speaking of schmaltzy, a word I first heard in White Christmas, it too is a little goofy, but I love the music and costumes! Miracle on 34th Streetgives me the spirit of Christmas, in a film that doesn't really seem to age or to be too sentimental. A few years ago I received this vintage copy of Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies as a gift from my parents. It is a mass-market Pocket Book paper-bound publication from 1952.The cover is beautifully illustrated on both front and back. I also love the red sketch illustrations throughout the book, with the giant letters at the beginning of each chapter.The film and book were released in 1947, a wonderful time of hope and belief for the American public. Valentine Davies, the author of this classic story, wrote several Broadway plays, was president of the Screen Writers Guild and general chairman of the Academy Awards, but few of us know his name. Valentine Davies won the Academy Award in 1947 for best original story, Edmund Gwenn, who played Kris Kringle, won an Oscar for best supporting actor, and for best screenplay it was George Seaton, who adapted Davies novel. The film was also nominated for Best Picture, but lost out to Gentleman's Agreement.Do you remember about 12 years ago when someone decided it would be a good idea to colorize the black and white classics? At the time, I thought it was a good idea, having grown up with only color films. But then I saw one and was horrified! Skin looked blueish, eyes were too white, it all was just kind of creepy. I'm sure it would be better if done today, but I've aged and come to appreciate things in their original form.I don't know how you could have gotten away with not seeing this perennial favorite, or either of the other two I mentioned! If you have, get them now; I'm sure your local library has them for check out! As I do every year, I will watch all 3 at some point before Christmas, usually with a fun Christmas snack!

Do you traditionally watch any of these films? What are some of your favorites?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Gift Ideas

Welcome to a very chilly Pink Saturday here in the Boston area! This fun blog carnival is hosted by Beverly at How Sweet the Sound. Be sure to check out her pink offering this week, as well as those of the over 100 participants!
I didn't have anything good of my own to post for Pink Saturday, so in the spirit of handmade gifts, I thought I'd highlight a few Etsy crafters and show you some pink ideas!
Artsy Phartsy has mosaics for everyone! Mirrors, coasters, frames, and wall hangings like this pink teapot, that I know many of you would love to own.At Renee's Fashions I found this fun polymer butterfly and an aadorable stocking with a snowman applique. Her items are varied and come in many colors.
Sypria's Shop has many nifty things, including this cool felted necklace. I've never seen anything like it!lindylou2 has totes and bedding, as well as this cosmetic bag and pillow cover.

Remember to buy handmade when possible during this gift giving season. Go on now and visit Beverly and the other gals to see their pink postings!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Patchwork Ornaments

There is something about a quilt that always makes me feel cozy, safe, and at home. I have a beautiful quilt in autumn shades on my bed and I just love it! I have made a couple of small wall-hanging quilts, but that's about it. When I taught elementary school we did many crafts with the students, and this was always popular. I actually got the idea from an ornament my sister made as a first grader that still gets hung every year, and looks great! The base of the ornament is a 3 inch Styrofoam ball. I have also made them larger, and some of my friends have tried the egg shapes. They all look great, it just depends on what the store has in stock and your own style.The handle is made of wire, which I put on before anything else. I've tried different types of wire, but I like using a thicker gauge and sticking it completely through the ball. I loop one end and pull it back up into the ball, locking it in place, and make the loop at the other end.I've also used very thin wire and wrapped it around the ornament, but it is more of a challenge to put the covering on the Styrofoam with the floppier wire. I've seen some people just cover the Styrofoam and then use thin ribbon wrapped around the ornament and glued to make a hanging loop. I like to use the loop to hold the ornament while I am working, and without it I'd be constantly touching it and messing it up.
The ball is covered with fabric that I pre-cut with pinking shears into approximately 1 inch squares. I like to sit and watch TV and just cut, which is why I have 3 gallon Ziplocs full of fabric squares!In addition to scraps of red, green, and Christmas fabrics, I have scraps of regular colors for those who like to do a color theme. Only once have I seen someone do their entire ornament in the same fabric and it didn't look very good, at least to me. If you're going for a patchwork quilted look you want several fabrics.
The squares are glued on with regular white glue, although you can use Mod Podge if you like. Use the wire loop as a handle, and avoid touching the fabrics as things start to dry. If you are working with kids, you can't emphasize this enough! They love to go back to an area and smooth things and when they lift their fingers often the entire fabric covering comes off and they have to start over. Bummer! Also, be sure their hands are really clean. Just the normal dirt of everyday will embed into the glue and make the whole thing dingy. Don't worry about some of the fabric lifting up around the loop because it will eventually be covered with ribbon. I like to hang these to dry along a clothesline, which is where the loop comes in handy again.Once they are dry, I brush on a thin layer of Mod Podge and hang them to dry again. I check the bottom of the ornament a few times because hanging there it gets a bump of glue on the bottom. I like to do 2 thin coats of Mod Podge, and I vary shiny or matte depending on the style I'm going for. The final step is a big cheery bow on top! For some reason I really got into using lace for a while; it gives an even more homemade look.
Besides these easy ornaments, I have a table of Santa Candy Cane Holder Ornaments and holiday cards made from re-used & recycled materials. I hope you'll take a look at those, too!