Friday, August 29, 2008


Photo from Fruit Pictures

Spent some time today thinking about things I did as a kid that I'll never forget, and realized that an awful lot of my memories center around music, and especially singing.

I don't suppose that's surprising. We're a very musical family. We all sing, and our car was not a place for playing the radio, but for singing to and with each other. Mom and Dad harmonized love songs, sang us the songs their parents had taught them, songs they'd learned from the radio and record albums, and songs from the hymn book at church.

Those hymns, as I later came to understand, were not the usual fare for a lot of churches. Our particular brand of church was non-instrumental, which made learning to read music and sing parts pretty crucial. A capella music can be pretty boring if everyone's stuck on the melody line. It was not out of the way for the song leader to choose a song for which there were six written parts going in as many directions. He expected what he got--full-out six-part harmony. It was great. As my brothers and I got older and our voices changed, we progressed from Dad's strong bass and Mama's sweet soprano plus five pint-sized voices in unison with her, to bass from Dad, soprano from Mom, tenor or bass from the boys and alto from me. Our car rocked, let me tell you.

We had regular "singings", too. Often we'd gather in someone's home and sing all evening, just breaking to eat. When a month had a fifth Sunday in it, one congregation would host, and people would come from all over to sing the afternoon away. I loved Fifth Sunday Singings because you got to raise your hand and request songs. Sometimes the hands were going up before we finished a song. We all wanted our favorites.

I remember one day, though, when it was just Dad and me. We had seventeen acres of strawberries and young orchard. Apple and pear trees need about five years to grow and mature before they yield a cash crop, so Dad and Uncle Walt planted strawberries between the saplings, and they provided fruit until the trees "grew up".

Anyway, Dad needed to rototill between the rows of strawberries, kind of a high-speed way to weed, but he didn't want to damage the tender branches of the trees that were beginning to stretch out. His job was to drive the tractor. My job was to run alongside and just in front of him, grab the branches of each tree and hold them out of the way.

It was hot, and it was dusty, and there are a lot of rows in the ten acres we did that day, but what fun we had! We yodeled from one end of the field to the other, singing at the top of our lungs. I wonder if the neighbors down the road could hear us, and what did they think?

We came home, tired, hot, and absolutely covered head to foot with thick, brown, dust. I was one color from the top of my head to the sole of my shoes, and I remember holding up my hand in wonder, just looking at monochromatic me.

It was a wonderful day, and one I'll remember forever.

Photo from Serviceberry Farms


Etsy is having a contest right now for Handmade Kids items. There are seven categories, Art, Eco-Friendly, Furniture, Decor, Clothing, Toys, and Accessories, with forty finalists in each. You have to be registered to vote, but that's free, and takes just a minute, and each category you vote in places you in a sweepstakes to win a $350 shopping spree. If you aren't familiar with and registered at Etsy yet, you do want to be anyway. It's a great website, selling only handmade items, or the materials to make your own.

Anyway, I just went through all the categories and voted, and also created a mini of my favorites as I went. These are favorites, and I did vote for a lot of them, but not all, and some of the items I voted for have sold out and the picture isn't available anymore. But aren't these creations wonderful? (If you'd like to see more photos of each one, check out the prices, or see what else the shop owner has, just click on a picture and you'll be taken to the appropriate shop.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008


When's the last time you walked into a bathroom and said, "Wow. This is fabulous,"? For me, it was Sunday, towards the end of my grandson's birthday party. Let me tell you, my daughter-in-law is amazing, just amazing.

I hadn't been to the house since Kristy finished the kids' bathroom, and I was so impressed I ran downstairs to grab the camera.

Here's what Kristy had done:

First, paint the whole room deep, bright, turquoise, and then swirl white in waves with a dry brush:

Add some fishy wall art (aka Wallies)

For an underwater look, do the ceiling, too.

Pin Teeny Beanies to the wall and ceiling

Continue the theme with an octopus on the counter

Stencil a quote on the wall, and add fish-themed bath towels

Top with a colorful shower curtain and overlapping rugs

Monday, August 25, 2008


I joined a new (to me) Etsy team last week, Etsy Bloggers. One of the things they do is feature a different artist's Etsy shop every Monday. While it isn't required that team members "echo" that feature, it seemed like a nice thing to do. So this week's Etsy mini belongs to CREATEaTHOUGHT

You can read the entire article/interview here: Etsy Bloggers

(I tried to put the actual mini here, and it showed up properly in ScribeFire, the blogging software I use, but for some reason not here. Creating minis for someone else is becoming quite frustrating for me. I cannot figure out how to do it, even though "they" say it's simple!)

Saturday, August 23, 2008


When Auntie Jewel died this spring, Mama and I inherited a lot of her sewing and craft things. Most of them were in a three-drawer chest, one of those new plastic ones, and Mama and I sat in her living room one afternoon, sorting through, dividing, talking about what we found and reminiscing. It was fun, in a rather sad way. We'd certainly rather have Auntie Jewel than her small treasures.

Anyway, I got, amongst many other things, two little plastic doo-hickies that purported to be needle threaders. I looked at the odd little gizmo and thought, What in the world? How could that possibly thread a needle?

But I decided to actually read the directions, and give it a shot.

Let me explain first that my eyes aren't the greatest. My usual method of threading a needle is to hold it up and look for the eye. Sometimes I can see it, so I do the threading like anyone else would. Other times, it just looks like a bit of featureless wire, but I know there's an eye there somewhere, so I just start poking the thread at the place where the eye should be. If I think the thread has made it through, I try moving it from side to side, and if it won't jiggle sideways, I know the needle is threaded. It's a bit trying, this non-visual trial and error. Finding a "machine" that would take actually seeing what I was doing out of the equation would be a very good thing.

So here's the gizmo:

Am I the only one who's never seen one of these before?

Lay the thread across the vee

Drop the needle in the chimney

You don't have to worry about which direction the needle's eye is facing. The threader turns it, if necessary.

Press down on the little paddle

If you look closely, you can see thread and a fine wire poking out now, above the paddle. The thread I used was rather thick, so the wire shredded it just a bit where it pushed it through, but I just cut that part off later.

Pull the thread through

Release the paddle, and grab the thread, pulling it through until the free end comes through the hole in the gizmo.

Lift the threaded needle out

The "chimney" of the needle threader is slotted at the back, so when you lift the needle out, the thread comes with it, and you're holding a threaded needle in your hand.

Is that the coolest thing, or what? It is, hands down and eyes closed, my new favorite tool!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


For some time now, I've been admiring a pair of daughter Laurie's capris. They're denim, with a wide turned-up cuff.

Funny, isn't it? Fashions seem to have about a twenty-five to thirty year turn-around. I had a pair as a child, and then when my eldest was about twelve they came back into style, and now, here they are again. That daughter is now 36, but I'm never going to forget trying to find a pair that fit her "back in the day".

The women on Mama's side of the family all have actual calf muscles. Let me tell you, there are no bird-legged women in this family, or even close. (It's probably all the Native American blood.) By the time I found a pair that would fit around Mel's calves, which were even stronger than heredity gifted her with, due to years of soccer, the waist and hips were miles too large. Oh, well. And I digress.

Suffice to say, I wanted a pair of those denim capris for myself. I just didn't want the pain of shopping for them! So, Monday, I pulled a pair of pegged (Do they still call them that?) jeans from the drawer and went to work.

Here's what I did:

First I tried them on, turning up the cuffs to the desired length, and making sure they were both exactly the same.

Then I marked the place where the fold fell, and split the outside seam to that point. That's easier than splitting the inseam, since most jeans have a flat fell seam there, but not on the outside.

Then I ironed a crease at the bottom. Because the legs narrowed all the way to the ankle, turning the cuffs up left a V-shaped opening at the side seams, and the hem was not horizontal, at right angles to the inseam. I cut off the hem, and straightened what was now the top of the cuff as I did so.

(The tops aren't straightened in this shot, and I also cut off the seam allowances where I'd split the seam.)

I thought I was going to do a narrow hem and leave the cuffs like that, with embroidery around the edges, but when I tried the jeans on that way, they looked like a pirate's trousers! Well, that wasn't gonna work, not for me, lol.

So I folded the points of the cuffs down, forming a triangle of reversed fabric on the fronts and backs of the legs, with the bottom at lower outer seam edge, and the top on the inseam. I tacked the edges invisibly, stacked two red buttons on top of each other for a trim, and sewed them on, and Presto! New capris from old jeans!

Now the only problem is that they aren't actually what I was trying to make, although DH has declared them "Really cute!" (And I do just love it when he uses words like that, which are totally uncharacteristic of him.) Tch. I don't know. I may have to try it again. In the meantime, though, these have become my new favorite pants. YES!

Sunday, August 17, 2008


There are people, and I know this for a fact, for whom staying organized comes naturally. Some of them are even near relatives--my Mama, my niece Cathy, two of my daughters. Maybe I'm a foundling. For me, organization is a struggle, but I comfort myself with the fact that I do struggle. Constantly.

Luckily, the struggle is sometimes quite pleasant. Today I sorted buttons.

I used to have a fairly large stash of buttons. Then I started making bracelets from them

I've made quite a few of the bracelets now, and sold all but these, plus one I won't sell because one of the buttons is special to me, a gift from Mama. So now, bunches of bracelets later, my stash has, well, grown. I have more buttons now than when I started!

It's funny, and interesting, and wonderful, but once you start using a particular recycled material, people start gifting you with it! I have many of Mama's buttons now, from her stash that dates back decades, and all of Auntie Jewel's, similarly vintage, and jars and baggies of others acquired elsewhere.

A quiet afternoon at the table in my blessedly cool basement was definitely in order today.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Here, in the land of the evergreens, water is in short supply, and a green lawn means you have plenty of money to throw at your lawn. Beyond that, I'm aware that it's a waste of the earth's resources to pour water on dry ground, just to have green grass at unnatural times of the year.

And yet, I do love a nice, green, lush lawn. A green lawn cools the yard, and the feet, and soothes the soul. My own, as I type, is the color of bleached hay, with edges that still harbor life.

A couple of weeks ago, I began to wash whatever I could outside, mostly the glassware I use for the China and Mega Blossoms. I used the hose, and let the water run toward the tables I use, and later would stand, barefoot, in the shallow puddles to work. Keeping my feet cool will go a long way toward cooling all of me, and temperatures are hovering between 90 and 107(!) degrees right now. (That's between 32.2 and 41.6 Celsius.) In that range, I'm just practically useless if I can't cool off.

Then yesterday I got another idea for helping my lawn survive. I'd cooked up a pot of macaroni for salad, and rinsed it, pouring the pasta into a colander and standing the colander in the pot I'd used for cooking, now full of cold water. I lifted the colander out of the pot, poured the macaroni into the salad bowl, turned back to the pot of water, and started to tip the water out, then thought, Why am I pouring that water down the drain, when it could do some good to the yard? No second thoughts necessary. I picked the pot up, carried it outside, and poured the contents on the parched grass near the deck.

That was a good start to something permanent, I think. The pot stands in the sink under the faucet, and when I rinse my hands or a dish collects the water I use. When it fills, which is surprisingly often, outside it goes. I don't know how much good it will do, but it can't hurt, and it doesn't use any water that hasn't already come out of the tap.

You know what? I'm going to run outside and take a picture of my poor grass, the way it is now. In a week, I'll take another, and see if there's a change for the better.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Do you ever just have to make something, in spite of the fact that you're supposed to be doing chores and errands and other mundane things? I plead guilty. I was busy with other things, but dang! The china and glass on that table next to the deck just kept calling my name. Every time I walked by, there it was, sparkling in the sunlight, gleaming with color or crystal clarity.

And on top of that, it's been raining at night the past few nights, taking me by surprise. Now those dishes needed to be rinsed, and what better way to do that than by turning on the hose and splashing them with cold sprays, and oh, just incidentally, cooling my feet, and stealth watering just a little patch of grass?

So I did a few, just a few, and now I'm posting pictures of two or three of them. Observe:

None of them are shown on their stems because I haven't attached the stem holder assembly yet. Tomorrow, and then they're completely finished.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Ah, the Trillium Artisans store . Being there means seeing the marvelous creations of artisans who specialize in making art from materials most people would throw away. I spend a lot of time browsing, thinking, Wow. Why didn't I think of that?!, and even more time making a cross of my two forefingers and silently intoning, "Step away from the craft. Step away from the craft!" It's so easy to get sucked into new and fascinating paths! So far, I've managed to resist scrapbooking and felting, and I can't seem to get the hang of knitting. But oh, the lovelies, the goodies you can create if you just learn to do....Okay. I'm digressing here. This is a blog about Jacob Deatherage's Book Journals.

Another digression: Doesn't he have a great last name? Talking to him, I split it into its two components: Death Rage.

"Yeah. Kinda grim, huh?" (I think grim was the word he used. Jacob, feel free to correct my memory!)

I said, "No! Not at all. It's like Raging Against Death. You won't go easily. It's great."

Anyway, Jacob takes old books and turns them into journals you can write in. (Ooooh. I wonder if he does custom orders? Must find out. I want one with graph paper pages, my favorite handwriting paper.)

Tch. I'm so long-winded today. Enough. Pictures are waiting.

Three Favorites

I especially like the three journals above, one for the art on the cover, and the other two for their titles. I mean, a personal journal titled, "The Road to Nowhere"? Or one called "A Marvelous Work and a Wonder"? Perhaps the humility, not to call it pessimism, evidenced in the first title would lead to the production of the second. You just never know, do you?

One of the most charming things about these journals is that the pages aren't all blank. Jacob intersperses plenty of writing material with selected pages from the original book, as in the Dr Seuss below:

What will that next page say, anyway?

When I manned (womanned?) the Trillium store Sunday, Jacob had his books out at the Lents Farmer's Market just around the corner, so I wandered over and shot a photo. This shopper's intensity, I think, mirrors my own:

You can find Jacob's Book Journals here: Book Journals and at the Trillium Artisans store if you're in the Portland, Oregon area. (Clicking on the link will take you to a map, address, and more information. Do check it out if you can!)

Friday, August 1, 2008


As far as I'm concerned, any vacation, anywhere, has to include visits to every thrift store in the area. Our trip to Hood River, for Lavender Daze, was no exception and Mama and I hit (hold onto your hats) all both. We made up for the dearth of stores by going to one of the them twice. No kidding. In one day.

We found some serious scores, but arguably the best thing we found was something we didn't buy, because it was an easy (really, really easy!), cheap (really, really cheap!) way to keep flies out of the house.

In the picture below, you can see two screen doors, the black one we paid good money for, which is useless a good part of the day because we leave it open so the dog doesn't drive us crazy wanting in and out and in and out take my point, I'm sure....

And the other one, the one I put up yesterday, the one that looks like two sandwich bags full of water.

Water, water, everywhere. To a fly's eyes.

Yup. That's my other screen door.

Apparently, because a fly's eyes are compound, made up of hundreds of lenses,

Image from ThinFilmsBlog

the baggies will not be seen as little containers of water, but as an entire wall, filling the doorway. I got to watch the action after putting the "screen door" up last night, because I didn't remember it until after we had let in a couple. DH and I sat at the table and watched one head repeatedly for the out-of-doors, only to veer away from the door when it got near the bags. Is that cool or what?

Try it. No tools involved, and next to no money. You could even use bags that had already been used for something else. Just fill two with water, zip shut, and tack to the door jam. E-Z breezy, so to speak.

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