Tuesday, December 31

Happy New Year!

Hawk taking a break in our front yard tree during a snowstorm
I can't believe that the holidays are really over.  It felt so short this year!  Now all of the Christmas decorations are put away, we've seen all of the family, and my vacation didn't really feel like a vacation at all.  Hubby is fighting a stubborn cold.  This is the time of year when I get the blues. 

Here are a few pictures from the Toledo Zoo Lights Before Christmas this year.  Time to look ahead to the new year, and before I know it spring will be just around the corner.  Enjoy!

Most everyone is talking about their resolutions for the new year now.  I find resolutions are easily broken and hard to keep, so I really don't make them.  I resolve to not make resolutions!  Join me, won't you?

Happy New Year 2014!

Sunday, December 1

Christmas Bells!!!

Sleigh bells...they bring to mind Victorian paintings of families in horse-drawn sleighs out for a ride in the beautiful snowy countryside in a time before automobiles.  They conjure memories of seeing Santa ride through town in the Christmas parade before the world went crazy and banned the term "Christmas".  They're nostalgic, and while they are heard only infrequently at most nowadays, I love them.
"Sleigh Ride 1838" by Thomas Birch
"Sleigh Ride" by Thomas Kincade
I mentioned last year that I had purchased a set of antique sleigh bells from our local antique store.  Knowing that the place I wanted to send them for restoration, Classic Bells, would be quite busy around the holidays, I waited until January to send them off for cleaning and re-setting on a leather strap.  Earlier this week, I received a notification that my bells were finished and on their way back home, and I was so excited to see the finished product!  I highly recommend them to anyone who has antique bells to be restored.  Their finished product is well worth the wait!



I absolutely love them.  It's hard to believe that they are the same bells!  They are just as I imagined they would be...the perfect size for the door, and just in time for Christmas decorating!

We just got our Christmas lights up this year, and our decorating is almost done.  I love decorating for Christmas, but since it's a short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, we're just going to put our fake tree. 

Also because of the short Christmas season this year, I'm going to take a break from blog posts until after the first of the year.  I wish everyone a blessed and joyous Christmas season!

Sunday, November 24

Making a Grungy Primitive Ornament

Let me start this post with two confessions that will make sense in a moment:

I love primitives.  I love colonial American architecture, decor, and life. 

I hate paying for things.  I'm not a thief (thou shalt not steal!), but if there's a way for me to make something as opposed to purchasing it (especially mass-produced items at big-box stores), then I'm all for it.

I'm busy making items for my shop, Punkin Stuffins.  I had a wonderful customer a few weeks ago who purchased nearly all of the pumpkins in my shop, which was great!  But now, I'm low on stock and need to make more items, and with the holidays fast approaching, I'm spending all of my spare time trying to restock.

Enter: primitives.

I've wanted to make some little primitive ornaments for a while now, but wasn't sure how to go about making the "grunge-y" look.  I came across some instructions on eHow, and decided to share my steps with you.  I think that there are several ways to make something look old and grungy, but this is a good starting point for anyone.

You'll need some instant coffee, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and water.  You'll also need a sponge brush, a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil, and an oven set to 170 degrees (because my oven won't go lower than that).

In a glass or other non-staining bowl, put a half cup of instant coffee granules, two teaspoons of vanilla, one teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, and two cups of hot water.  Mix together until everything is combined.

Place your fabric on the foil-lined cookie sheets and spread the mixture as lightly or heavily as you want on the fabric, then sprinkle on the allspice and rub it in with your fingers.

Bake at 170 degrees for 10 minutes at a time, checking until they are dry.  If you've stained both sides, you'll want to flip the fabric every 10 minutes.

Once dry, remove them from the oven.  Rub the fabric with your fingers to blend the stain and brush off any excess granules.  You can also use sandpaper to grind down the stain if you've applied a thick layer.

Embellish with embroidery and hand-stitching.  Here's mine!

I think that I'll be adjusting my stain formula because it was too much for what I wanted, but this is a good starting point for anyone interested in making prims.  Just have fun, and enjoy your handiwork!

Wednesday, November 20

Birthday Reflections and a Simple Side Table Mat Pattern

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.--2 Cor. 4:16-18

Well, here I am, another year older.  My birthday falls in my favorite season of the year...when I look out the window and see the trees in vibrant colors, with a carpet of fallen leaves covering the ground.  Many trees are a topaz yellow color, with some splashes of ruby, emerald and orange garnet interspersed.  I enjoy the coolness in the air and the smell of fires burning.  I enjoy the cloudy gray days and cool rain, but I also take pleasure in seeing a sapphire sky behind all of the beautiful colors of nature on a clear day.  I anticipate the arrival of winter, when the snow blankets everything in a dazzling display of glittering diamond snowflakes.

There's so much to be thankful for, too.  During this time of the year, we start to turn our thoughts toward Thanksgiving--traditionally a time to give thanks--but it's important to stop and realize just how blessed we really are all of the time.  Every time I come into the house from outside, I think about how glad I am to have a warm cozy house to live in.  I'm thankful for my health, despite the problems I've been having.  I'm so thankful for my wonderful husband and best friend.  I'm grateful that we always have food to eat in the fridge, and the extra income to eat out if we so choose.  I'm blessed to not have to worry about any basic need being filled.  There are many who can't say that.  Mostly, though, I'm thankful for the gift of salvation that I have been given, and the assurance that when I leave this life, I'll be with the One who created me, and there's no greater gift to be thankful for in life.  There's a total peace that comes with that knowledge, and nothing on earth can offer that.

In the midst of all of my reflection, I took the time to start making things with my new fabrics.  I created a simple, yet pretty, set of table mats that I thought I would share with you!  The instructions below are for making two matching mats.

You will need:
4-3" x 13" strips of border fabric
4-3" x 12" strips of border fabric
2-9" x 12" center panel of contrasting fabric
2-16" x 13" coordinating backing fabric (I used the same fabric for the backing and front border)
One spool of matching thread
2-2 1/2 yd. packages of matching piping

Do this:
Pin the long sides of the center panel to the long sides of the 3" x 12" strips, right sides together.  Sew these edges using 1/2" seams.  Iron the seams open.

Pin the 3" x 13" strips of fabric to the sides of of the middle panel, right sides together.  Sew these, making sure to keep the seams flat on the sewn piece.  Iron the new seams open.

Cut lengths of piping to slightly larger than each side of the panel.  Pin the piping to the right side of the fabric edge of the top panel.  Line the bottom edge of the piping up to the raw edge of the panel on the right side of the fabric.  Overlap the piping on each corner, and sew along the edge of the piping (usually 3/8").  You can use a special sewing machine foot, but my regular foot worked fine for me.

Pin the backing along three sides of the panel and piping, with the right sides of the fabric together.  Leave the fourth side open for turning out.  Sew along the same line that you created when you sewed on the piping for a guideline.  Iron the edges flat, then turn the last raw edges inward and pin.  Sew along the edge of the piping to close the mat.  Iron the remaining edge flat.

Repeat the steps for your second cover.  You should now have two table mats for your living room end tables!  Great job.  Your overall size should be about 15" x 13".  You can be more creative than me and add batting and quilting, or you can simplify it by leaving out the piping (and skipping a step or two in the instructions).  This is just a basic, simple pattern that you can use as a base for whatever you can create!

Monday, October 28

Busy Weekend!

I spent time up in Michigan with family this weekend.  I had a good time, did some shopping, ate some good food, and went to some great places.  While I was there, I found a delightful quilt shop in Frankenmuth that I'd never visited before, The Front Porch Quilt Shop.  My mom and I decided to stop in, and spent over an hour looking at some gorgeous fabrics.  They had a great selection, and their fall and Christmas fabrics were on sale!  We both left with several pieces of fabric, and I even went back on Saturday before we came home to get a few more pieces.  I have grand plans for all of this beautiful and festive fabric!

As of last Friday, there are officially two months until Christmas.  This time of the year always goes by so quickly!  Thankfully, I didn't have any housework that needed to be done on Sunday, so while the hubs watched football, I got Christmas crafty.  I spent all day making these adorable little snowman & tree sets that are available to purchase on Etsy.  They turned out just as I had pictured them, and I'm very happy with them.  I think I'll keep one set of each color for myself.  If they sell well, I'll make more!
You can visit my Etsy stores here:
The Sunflower Tree
Punkin Stuffins
I'll be adding new Christmas items soon!

Did you know that I started a new blog?  I am making recipes from an antique 1845 cookbook that I own, and revising them to today's recipe standards.  It's a lot of fun.  I'd love for you to stop by and check it out: The Colonial Cook!

Tuesday, October 22

It's Getting Closer...

It's here.

The word that many dread.

The weather phenomenon that instills fear in the hearts of drivers young and old.

That four-letter word.


No, we don't have any yet.  It's in the weather forecast for this week, though!  It is a little early, but not unheard of.  I remember going trick-or-treating as a child with a heavy winter coat on, and snow on the ground some years.  It's been a while since it's been forecast this early, but I don't mind it--I always anticipate the first snows of the year.  I just think it's beautiful, and I love being inside, bundled up in a quilt, snuggled up all nice and warm with my hubby watching a movie.  Plus, it means that the holidays are getting closer!  I love this time of year.

Speaking of quilts, I received an early birthday present this year: this quilt that my mother-in-law made for me.  I've always wanted a hand-made quilt, but no one's ever given me one made especially for me.  I love it; it's just gorgeous!

I love receiving hand-made things, so it's perfect.  She made it with Christmas fabric, which is great, because it's my favorite holiday.  I love all things Christmas.  Bronner's Christmas store in Frankenmuth, Michigan is my favorite store.  If you've never been there, it's worth the trip, I promise.  You know, I would leave Christmas decorations up all year if I could.  Except for maybe July.
Well, that's it for now.  If you're anywhere in the northern half of the US right now, stay warm!

Sunday, October 13

War of 1812--Battle of Mississinewa

Is it just me, or is the fall the busy time of year for others too?  I find my task list seeming to be a mile long at times.  Things seem to pop up on the weekends, and the weekends are my only time when I feel like I have the energy and focus to do the larger tasks that need doing.  The big thing on my list right now is making more pumpkin puree to freeze--but finding time to go out to the pumpkin farm is not easy!  I hope I don't have to forgo making the puree this year due to other commitments, but it's not looking good.

This past weekend, the hubs and I traveled to Indiana for the annual Missisinewa 1812 reenactment and camp.
This commemorates the battle that took place in December of 1812 on this site, where American troops clashed with the local Indian tribe, but is not a re-enactment of the actual battle.
Hubby and his family went to this every year (usually) when he was younger, and we've gone several times since we've been married. 
Hubby, who has a degree in History, spent his time as a graduate student studying the War of 1812 as his history concentration, so he's well-versed on all things War of 1812, and he always enjoys seeing the battles replayed. 
I enjoy it too, because I love living history. 
There are food vendors, general store tents, furriers, potters, jewelers, and all sorts of other fun things to see. 
I love seeing the re-enactors cooking over a wood fire outside. 
I love all of the artisans and specialists that sell unique items. 
I purchased two hand-made wooden spoons, a bar of tea tree soap, and a tube of all-natural mint lip balm.  However, this year, we went on Friday, when all of the schools also take field trips to see the battle.  Without going off on a tangent, it was a bad choice, and the kids were so ill-mannered and rude that we regretted the decision to go.  But I was still able to take many pictures, which I love to do.  So enjoy our time-travel trip back to the War of 1812!