Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Vintage Thingies Thursday: Decorative Planters

My favorite day of the week is here: Vintage Thingies Thursday, hosted by Suzanne @ ColoradoLady! Every Thursday we get together to show off wonderful vintage and antique treasures from our attics, basements, and shopping excursions. If you love vintage, or maybe have a question about something vintage that you own, join us for Vintage Thingies Thursday next week!
I have two planters to share this week. This floral one is a hexagon shape in a Japanese style with roses and birds painted on it to look like enamel. I can remember this planter being in my maternal grandmother's kitchen throughout my childhood. She was fabulous with plants, and whenever my mom had a sickly plant she'd bring it to Grandma to revive.
This yellow basket weave pattern is classic McCoy Pottery, and is from my dad's basement, of course. It has always been down there, until I took it about ten years ago. I don't ever remember my mom the plant killer having a plant in it, but maybe she did at one point. In both of these planters I have little vintage china plant decorations.
This Pinocchio is from a plant my paternal grandmother received when she was hospitalized kn 1948. The base of it broke off, but my resourceful mom fixed it with a plastic drinking straw; pretty smart!
I don't know exactly what this person it, I call it a scholar because he is holding scrolls in his hand. He always was in a plant on my maternal grandmother's kitchen counter.
Do you have anything vintage or antique from your family? Why not share it with us next week for Vintage Thingies Thursday with Suzanne @ ColoradoLady!?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Monday Reading Report 4/26

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly event hosted by Sheila at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books. Bloggers can list the books completed last week, the books currently being read and the books you plan to read this week.
Mailbox Monday, hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page is a meme where folks share the yummy books that showed up at our doors! WARNING: Mailbox Mondays can lead to extreme envy and GINORMOUS wishlists!! This week I've highlighted the titles of the books that arrived in my mailbox.
READ: Lots completed last week because it was school vacation here in Massachusetts and I didn't have to work.
  • Madonna of the Seven Hills by Jean Plaidy: Great story of Lucrezia Borgia's early years.
  • The Betrayal of the Blood Lily (Pink Carnation)by Lauren Willig: Sixth in the swashbuckling historical fiction "flower spies" series.
  • Rumor Has it by Jill Mansell: Hysterical British chick-lit I'll be reviewing in July.
  • The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponderby Rebecca Wells, author of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood books. This is her first stand-alone novel, just out in paperback. I'll be reviewing it next week for a TLC book tour.
  • The Black Pearl by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles: Sixth in the Moreland Dynasty series that runs through British history. Covers the years of the Restoration.
  • Sweet Misfortune by Kevin Alan Milne: ARC coming out in June. A nice love story about coincidences, fate, and divine intervention.
READING: Beginning tonight I"ll be reading Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson, an ARC from Hachette. From the publisher: An original and heartwarming portrayal of the lengths a mother will go to right the wrongs she's created and the distance a daughter will travel to escape the demands of forgiveness.

TO READ: I've got a few ARCs to read, and several books I'll be picking up from the library this week. 
  • The Blue Orchard by Jackson Taylor
  • Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English by Natasha Solomons
  • Cold Rock River by Jackie Lee Miles
    OTHER NEW ARRIVALS: From the goodreads book swap I received A Cup of Tea: A Novel of 1917by Amy Ephron, and Sunstrokeby Jesse Kellerman. I'm very excited to read the first novel from the son of 2 of my favorite writers, Jonathan and Faye Kellerman, but I'll be holding on to these until my ARC and library book piles go down!

    REVIEWS: I got three reviews written in one morning this week! Woo Hoo!
    • The Black Rose by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
    • Sweet Misfortune by Kevin Alan Milne
    • Farm Fatale by Wendy Holden (done!)
    • The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder by Rebecca Wells (done!)
    • Rumor Has It by Jill Mansell (done!)
      Did you read anything awesome this week? Receive something you've been eagerly awaiting?
      To see other people's rreading lists, be sure to visit Mailbox Monday at The Printed Page, and It's Monday, What Are You Reading at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books. I always find several goodies to add to my TBR through these memes!


      Thursday, April 22, 2010

      Finished For Friday: Summery Jewelry

      Finished for Friday is sponsored by Three Under Two at Lit and Laundry. People share so many things they've finished up during the week, from big decorating projects, to reorganizing the sock drawers. I've spent this week of Spring vacation working on things for my etsy shop, Little Somethings. Last week I found a great background layout for my pictures, so this week I finished photographing all of my jewelry, and I'm slowly getting it all up on etsy as I crop and resize. I've also made a few new, summery pieces of jewelry. For some reason I see macrame jewelry as very summery and beachy. I've got a few different styles of anklets, which are so much fun to wear with shorts and capris in the warm weather.

      I love the colors of this anklet, it goes with everything and really catches the eye.
      Perfect for all those summer barbecues and long holiday weekends.
      On this bracelet, I put dark blue hemp inside the natural so it peeks through. It looks great with these tribal style beads.
      I think of this bracelet as being a really traditional style of macrame, with both square and spiral knots. The stone-looking beads keep up the whole "natural" theme.
      I'm madly in love with the glass fish beads on this anklet!
      Using the colored hemp is a lot of fun and brings a new look to a very 1970s craft, don't you think?
      I hope you'll check out my shop's Facebook page or Little Somethings on etsy to see the other styles I've been working on. I'd love some comments or suggestions for other color combinations or styles.
      Have a great weekend, and be sure to visit Lit and Laundry and see what other folks have Finished for this Friday!

      Wednesday, April 21, 2010

      VTT: Hog Scraper Candlesticks

      It's Thursday, the day to whip out our vintage treasures and share their stories. Vintage Thingies Thursday is hosted by sweet Suzanne from ColoradoLady, who seems to collect everything under the sun. Be sure to stop over and see what she's got for us this week.
      I actually have some antique items this week, and they didn't come from my dad's famous basement. About 20 years ago my parents gave me one of these candle holders for Christmas. They found it at a collectibles fair and knew that I liked rustic things. MY dad is always on the lookout for tin items, which I love, and this being a little beat up made it a perfect item for me. For several years my candlestick was an only child, until I was making enough money to start collecting things on my own. Now I have three, which makes a great grouping, and an official collection!
      These hog scraper candle sticks were one of the most common style used by average families in colonial New England, along with the fish-oil burning betty lamp a style popular with German settlers. While the wealthy brought their silver candlesticks from Europe, and the poorer farmers would make their own candlesticks out of wood, a family with a little bit of money could purchase these tin candlesticks, which were made here in the New World. They are called hog scraper candlesticks because of their curved handle's similar shape to hide or "hog scraping" tools. I've always loved the little elevator in them, so a really long candle could be used and just pushed up as it got too short. Most have a curved-up lip which would catch the candle drippings, and then when the candle was pushed up the drippings would be re-used, which was very economical. It's been difficult to find them for a reasonable price in stores lately. I found the third just a couple of years ago at a shop in Maine. There are plenty on eBay, but many are reproductions in brass and iron, which were very popular during the "Colonial" decorating style that was popular 40-50 years ago. Of course, if you have one of these reproductions, it's still a vintage collectible!
      For more wonderful vintage thingies, and the stories behind them, visit the Vintage Thingies Thursday participants listed at Colorado Lady. And think about the neat things in your own attic or basement that you could share with us next week.


      Tuesday, April 20, 2010

      Giveaway & Book Review: Watermark

      Vanitha Sankaran has brought me my favorite book of 2010 so far! Watermark: A Novel of the Middle Agesis an interesting and compelling story that will entrance lovers of historical fiction, and hold the interest of readers who love a sweeping adventure. This debut novel brings an era of time to us of which little is known, the Dark Ages.
      In 1320s France most people cannot read or write. But Auda, daughter of a paper maker, has been educated beyond the bounds of everyone in her village. Reading and learning the intricacies of her father's craft delight Auda, an outcast in the community because of her white hair, very pale skin, and piercing blue eyes, who is considered cursed and was made mute on the day she was born. In a time where anyone different might be accused of witchcraft, Auda rarely is seen in the market, and is content with her quiet life at home. But this life cannot last forever and outside pressure forces Auda's father to look into marriage possibilities, to give Auda a protector when he is gone. Auda's excursions into the larger world bring her and her father under scrutiny, and tragedy destroys Auda's happy little world, sending her out into the world to survive on her strength of spirit alone.
      Watermarkis a fabulous story of strength and perseverance of spirit, as Auda works to reclaim her heritage and gain a true sense of self and her place in the world. With her sense of exploring and improving knowledge, bettering skills and methods of work, Auda brings light and hope to a little corner of the Dark Ages in France. I eagerly await Vanitha Sankaran's next novel.
      Because I loved Watermarkso much, I begged the folks at Avon Books to let me give a copy away. The giveaway will last until 11:59 PM on Monday, May 3. Winning the books is simple, and there are several ways to enter.
      • Leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite era of history to read about. (required)
      • Leave a comment telling me you are a Follower of this blog. (+1)
      • Tweet about this giveaway, and leave a comment with a link to your Tweet.  You can do this once a day! (+1 each time)
      • Mention the giveaway on your blog with a link to this post. Again, be sure to leave me a comment so I can check. (+1)
      • I will announce the winner on Tuesday, May 4.
      This review is part of a TLC Book Tour, so you can read reviews from others on their Watermark page, and see if anyone else is giving away a copy.
      I have linked this review to Cym Lowell's Book Review Party. There's always great books being shared, so click on over and check it out! After you enter my giveaway, of course!
      Official FTC Disclosure: Other than the uncorrected advance copy of Watermark, I received no compensation for this review.

      Magdalene Jewels

      Meet Pam, my EtsyBloggers Street Team colleague, and the creative designer of Magdalene Jewels and Magdalene Knits on Etsy. I wish I could remember how to knit and crochet, but I haven't used those skills in 30 years! It would have certainly come in handy for the nearly 4 years I was bald during chemotherapy treatments!
      Pam has made some very cute hats that she is donating to Relay for Life, like this one. It's perfect for a bald head in the spring and fall because it is lacy and lets in some air, while still being cute and soft. Her crocheted creations range from baby clothing and toys to adult items.
      Her jewelry pieces are also varied, with some delicate, sparkly pieces and strong pendants that make a real statement.
      You can get to know Pam and her family at her blog Magdalene Jewels. She has so many great ideas for creating and using things she makes to help others!

      Saturday, April 17, 2010

      They Say It's Her Birthday!

      This week's EtsyBloggers Team Carnival is celebrating the birthday of our glorious leader, Joey and Aleethea by writing about birthdays. I have had so many wonderful birthdays that it's hard to pick one to write about, so I have several tales to tell.
      When we were children in the 1970s, our mom always did AWESOME parties at the house. There were always games that she devised, except for the year I insisted on the store-bought pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey.
      Giant potatoes in spoons for a relay race, pushing peanuts with our noses, 3-legged races, all the classics. When we were old enough to read there were elaborate treasure hunts. She would put the clues all around the yard, our little grove of woods, which at the time seemed like a forest, and house while we were at school. The clues were riddles or rhymes and must have taken a while to devise. Everyone would take the school bus to the party and all was ready as we arrived. And when we were even older and allowed to run around the neighborhood like "wild Indians" there were scavenger hunts begging neighbors for a matchbook that had never been used, a dirty sock, or a colored paper clip. She always made the cake, and even took a cake-decorating class My sister has taken these traditions and really run with them for her children, make 3-dimensional firetrucks, princesses, and Power Puff Girls, having fun games like panning for gold and conducting science experiments depending on the theme of the party.
      As an adult I enjoy celebrating my birthday, but don't feel the need to have it acknowledged with gifts or celebrated on the exact day. I've had a few fun parties for myself, including a Chuck E. Cheese  party the year I turned 25. I know my friends thought I was nuts, but once we were there playing Skeeball and Air Hockey, it was one of the most hilarious evenings we ever spent together. A few years ago I had a jewelry party at a local bead store. Everyone got to pick out their beads and make something, and the woman from the shop showed us how to put the crimping bead on to hold everything in place, and then use the pliers to attach the clasp. The store was closed for the evening so we had the whole place and a table for our "cake" of whoopie pies!
      My best birthday of recent years was when I turned 40. As a single person and a teacher, saving large sums of money is a challenge, but the week before I turned 40 I was able to close on my first home, a pretty yellow town home in a great location, with a nice deck and protected town forest in the back. The feeling of home ownership is so amazing, and almost every day I look around and get a little internal giggle that it's all mine!
      So what's your great birthday?


      Thursday, April 15, 2010

      Working on My Photos

      I'm excited to have something to share with Lit and Laundry's Finished for Friday this week. I haven't been doing a lot of creating, but this week we had great weather and I had time to work on taking better photos of my jewelry for my etsy shop, Little Somethings. I've tried a lot of things over the past year, including a hand model, laying things on different colors and textures of fabric, and even on just plain plastic. I've definitely learned to always use natural light, so the great weather was an opportunity to go out on the deck and try something new. I laid out my black velvet, which absorbs light, and then put down frosted glass pieces.
      I think it worked the best of all the layouts I've tried.
      I've also gotten better with the camera settings and the angles of the shots, as well as with using Photoshop to make the pictures look better.
      Overall I'm much happier with my more recent photos and just need to get out there and finish with the rest of my jewelry. These pictures can all be enlarged for better viewing, just by clicking on them. I'd love some opinions on the different backgrounds, cropping, and any advice you've got about taking good sales photos, without having to go buy a professional camera.
      To see other people's great finished projects, visit Three Under Two at Lit and Laundry where all the Finished For Friday participants are listed.


      Wednesday, April 14, 2010

      VTT: Infant of Prague

      Happy Vintage Thingies Thursday, hosted by Suzanne @ Colorado Lady! This is a fun day to show off your vintage and antique finds, junk store treasures, and family heirlooms. If you've got something to share, think about joining us next week!
      Do you recognize this guy? He's pretty famous in the Roman Catholic world. It's the Infant Jesus of Prague. He's so famous he even has his own Official Website! He has stood on my mother's dresser for as long as I can remember, and she has her plain wedding band hooked over the cross on his royal orb. My sister and I always enjoyed pulling the Maltese cross out of his crown; very disrespectful! My mother got it from her mother, who always kept it on her dresser. Where did it come from originally? My grandfather's gift and card shop in Middletown, CT. He was brought home when one of his fingers broke off and he couldn't be sold!
      The original wax, doll-like statue can be traced back to 1628 when Princess Polyxena von Lobkowitz brought the statue, a wedding gift from her mother, to Bohemia. The Princess became very attached to the Discalced Carmelites, and presented them with the statue, saying, "Venerable Fathers, I bring you my dearest possession. Honor this image and you shall never want". When knowledge of the order and their vow of poverty came to the attention of Emperor Ferdinand II, he sent them 2,000 florins and a monthly stipend for their support. When the Carmelite novitiate moved to Munich and left the statue behind, Bohemia was thrown into years of war, and the statue disappeared into a garbage heap, until it was discovered by Father Cyrillus in 1637. One day while praying before the statue,  Father Cyrillus heard a voice say, "Have pity on me, and I will have pity on you. Give me my hands, and I will give you peace. The more you honor me, the more I will bless you." Since then, the statue has remained in Prague and has drawn many devotees worldwide to go and honor the Holy Child. People from around the world visit the Church of Our Lady Victorious in Malá Strana to pray before the Infant.
      The altar designed around the Infant is so ornate he's almost lost in its intricacies!
      Like a doll, the original Infant has many different robes to wear, but is most often seen wearing red. Here he is in green.
      Many of these images came from Galen Frysinger's travel photo website. I always find great things there!
      I always enjoy learning about the history behind the objects in my family, as well as those shared for Vintage Thingies Thursday, don't you?

      Men & Dogs: a Review

      Men and Dogs.What a great title for an interesting, sometimes hilarious, and always thought-provoking novel. Often I am given books to review where the title or the cover art don't make sense to me after reading the book, but Katie Crouch and the folks at Little Brown have hit the nail on the head with both on this one. The men in the heroine's life and her disparate relationships with each are the forefront of the story, and the beautiful photo of a young woman in a fishing boat with her back to us is representative of the central mystery which she is trying to answer.
      Like many people, Hannah Legare's life has been formed completely around an event from her childhood, the disappearance or death of her father while he was out in his fishing boat. I say death or disappearance because although the incident is investigated and declared a death, without a body Hannah has always refused to believe that her childhood hero is gone. Her brother and mother move on, but Hannah's insistence on bringing up the topic, planning her life around his possible return, and resistance to her mother's new husband crack their relationship almost to the breaking point. Now it's twenty years later and Hannah lives in San Francisco,on the opposite coast from her family, and rarely visits. Her once thriving business built with her husband, Jon, is bankrupt, and Hannah's out of control behavior with men has pushed her saddened and defeated husband to leave her. After a horrible accident while Hannah is trying to win back Jon, she is "sent" to her mother's in North Carolina to recuperate physically and hopefully mentally. Being back in Charleston brings out even more wackiness in Hannah, and she begins an investigation into her father's disappearance, looking through old photos, questioning her family and long-time family friends. Instead of answers she gets more confused, and the and the small webs that had begun to repair the cracks start falling apart as she alienates and frustrates those around her.
      Many interesting, well-thought-out characters live in Hannah's world of Charleston, NC. I especially enjoyed her stepfather, DeWitt, a boisterous good ol' boy who wants everyone to have fun and enjoys writing checks for Hannah and her mother Daisy. Daisy, wife to one of Charleston's wealthiest men and organizer of numerous charity events is hysterical in her thrift-store clothing and frequent Goodwill shopping, especially seen through Hannah's eyes.  I enjoyed the relationship Hannah has with her former teacher, Virginia, who is also the mother of Hannah's high school boyfriend. Virginia is an artsy, earthy woman, who takes time to listen to Hannah both as a teen and an adult, and tries to guide her in her decisions, to little avail.
      The side story of Hannah's brother Palmer, with his separate remembrances of their father's death and his own childhood show that she is not the only one who has held on to childhood events, but instead of yelling his issues from the rooftops Palmer holds everything in and, like Hannah, is destroying his relationship with his partner, Tom. This makes Hannah, who might have been a somewhat unsympathetic heroine, less raw, as I was able to understand that she was not the only one hanging on to the event, she was just the loudest about it. Hannah is bright, creative, and funny, sometimes an ostrich with her head in the sand and others an owl hooting questions into the night. While she is spouting questions and theories all over town, she is ignoring the fact that her husband has filed for divorce, she hasn't done any work for their business in several months, and when informed of their bankrupt status she just ignores that too. As a professional procrastinator I can definitely relate to that (!) as well as wanting to ask questions about family events that happened before I was born or before I was old enough to remember, albeit nothing as huge as a disappearing father. Hannah ends up with some answers to her questions, and some insight into the behaviors of others, and eventually gets her act together so she can begin building a new life as a single woman in a new career.
      Katie Crouch's Men and Dogsis thoughtful and quirky, with quick-witted descriptions and interesting characters, making it a story that will appeal to many.
      Official FTC Disclosure: I received no compensation for this review, other than an advance copy of the book from Hachette Publishing Group.