Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ghosts From Christmas Past

      Since I opened my Etsy shop I have become an avid internet shopper. It's that little shop that has made time my arch enemy.Shopping the internet saves me oodles and oodles of time. But before the internet I was a huge catalog shopper. Do any of you remember back in those days before computers and Amazon when deliveries from most catalogs could take up to 6-8 weeks? Oh yes the good old days.
 This year unexpectedly I received a catalog that sent me back a bit emotionally. I haven't ordered from this particular catalog for a while so seeing it really surprised me. It's called Bits and Pieces and it has some wonderful items but I shopped it mostly for the jigsaw puzzles. My dad was a big fan of puzzles and always had one on the dining room table in progress. So seeing this catalog this year after his death was very hard for me and took me back to a spooky moment we shared with him many years ago.
Not a great photo but back in the corner behind her was the old wagon with Amish dolls.

My dad was a very quiet, patient man who followed in his father's foot steps by going into banking. He served in the USAF as a radio interceptor during the Korean war. He was very neat and tidy and extremely organized! He lived his life by rules and laws, very conservative in his beliefs. Honor and loyalty was everything to him. Right was right and wrong was wrong and there were NO gray areas to him ever! My brothers and I wish we had inherited some of his neat and tidy traits, but sadly we did not. He had several strong, scouting, and more golf! But there was one other passion and that was jigsaw puzzles. So when he had time and wasn't playing golf he could sit for hours and work a puzzle. My mom wasn't interested in his puzzles at all they just weren't her thing.

They did however have a very sweet tradition with dad's puzzles. Whenever he finished one he would come and get her and she would then put in the last piece and they'd share a laugh and say they did the puzzle together! This was something that had gone on as long as I can remember.
Dad,me,Brent,and Barry the first Christmas after mom died having Sunday brunch at the country club.

After Mom became sick with lung cancer he didn't do any more puzzles. I guess taking care of her became a full time job. After she died we encouraged him to find his passions again and we all bombarded him with new puzzles.

A few weeks later when we were talking he asked me if any of us had touched his puzzle he was working on. NO I said absolutely not, none of us would ever go near it. We had been raised to never touch his things.....being a neat freak he would know immediately and throttle us. As a foot note I must also admit that we never walked into their bedroom either... that was just not done in our family. He went on to tell me that the last piece of this new puzzle was missing! He had started working a puzzle my brother Barry had given him. I thought to myself what are the chances that Barry would buy a puzzle with one missing piece, for heavens sake. Now in all the years, and I mean years that my dad had worked puzzles he had NEVER had a puzzle with any missing pieces!
I knew in my heart that no one had touched it but I called my brothers anyway and asked them. Both of them were like me totally puzzled about this (sorry I just had to say it).
I always looked for snowy winter scenes for him to take to Florida.
 So later on he framed the puzzle because he thought it was so strange that a piece was missing....he said "I guess your Mom took it since she couldn't be here to put it in with me". We all agreed but still it just seemed crazy. That started another tradition for our family. Dad occasionally would work a puzzle, glue it down and frame it for one of us.....always with the final piece missing. He never put the last piece in any puzzle after she died.....none of us ever do now, it's just our way of remembering her.

Many years later dad decided to move into a condo and my brother Brent bought the family home. One weekend we drove up there to help him go through things and pack up. My son Will and daughter in law Amy decided to join us to help box up and move some items.

As we were looking around tying to decide what would make the move and what would not we heard Amy shout "oh my gosh you better come in here". She was standing in the dining room with a strange look on her face holding one of mom's beloved Amish dolls. She said look what just fell out of the dolls apron!! We all just stood there staring down at a green puzzle piece, none of us moving to pick it up. We had nearly forgotten all about the missing piece, until then. Finally my Dad walked over picked it up and then proceeded to a spare room closet with the piece in hand. Sure enough it was the missing piece!!
Similar to her Amish dolls

We all laughed and tried to make sense of this discovery. Dad was not someone who tossed things about his house willy-nilly. Shoot he would get crazy if we kids sprinkled salt on the table or our dinner place mat was not straight while eating. There were no logical answers to this except one......did mom return and hide the piece? I don't believe that but we all laughed and said " Well she must have looked down and said if she couldn't put the piece in then NO ONE could".
I guess we'll never know for sure how the puzzle piece came to be inside of the dolls apron. We do know that dad being dad had cleaned around those dolls for years and years and it hadn't shown itself until that day.
I still carry it in my wallet. The green is nearly gone but the meaning still remains.
 I still carry this poor ole puzzle piece around with me and have thought that someday I should get charms made in this shape for each of us. To us it represents my parents and the sweet game they played together all of their married life.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I Don't Feel 60!

      I am soooo soooo sorry that I tend to disappear at times. After working so hard to gain all of you wonderful followers I feel as if I let you all down. How on earth do you do it all? Some days I sure could use a magic wand.

The main reason I have been MIA is that my Etsy shop's holiday season started a lot earlier this year. Etsy shoppers are getting very smart,and are shopping earlier! So Needless to say I have struggled with finding time to sit down and write. All I've basically had time for lately are little comments on my Hopewell Creek facebook page. I would love for everyone to stop by my page and become a follower. It's certainly a quick and easy way to stay in touch these days.

Then this last weekend we celebrated my 60th birthday. The kids asked me what I wanted to do especially since it was such a big milestone. I told them I wanted to do what I love the most....crafting with friends and family. So that's what we did!
A dear friend of mine volunteered to come and teach us the basics of wood carving. She said the easiest way to start is to carve a Santa Claus face using sweet potatoes. Kathy is a great artist in woodcarving. She has been featured many times in Santa magazines as well as Christmas and holiday magazine issues. She has taught this technique in schools and nursing homes. I must admit I was a tad worried that someone would cut themselves,but she assured me that wouldn't happen, and it didn't!

She is currently selling in her online shop Scattered Seeds these beautiful doves. They are intended to be used as a comfort for anyone who may be going through some difficult times. They have been designed to fit in the palm of your hand and you pray. Stop by her shop and check them out they would certainly make a great gift this holiday season!

 Everyone was amazed when they saw a few samples of some she had done years ago. They had the look of a piece of driftwood.Young and not so young participated and no hurt themselves, not even a paper cut.

It was absolutely too much fun and a wonderful experience! We can't wait to see our creations after the drying process. Once dried they are ready to paint, or leave simply leave natural.

After the class with Kathy and all of the slivers of potatoes were swept out of the garage we moved on to other crafts. I tried to keep the crafts centered mostly around Christmas ornaments. My daughter in law brought the supplies to make an ornament that has been floating around on Pinterest. It's where you pour a tiny bit of floor wax inside of a clear glass ornament and than add glitter.
I am here to tell you that they look great! And you don't have to use the exact brand of floor cleaner/wax that the directions say you do. We didn't and they turned out fine.

Since we knew there would be a lot of small ones who probably wouldn't care anything about crafting we decided to rent a bouncy house to keep them busy. This is what two of my grandson's looked like at the end of the day! Yes they stayed very busy until the bitter end!

We played with paper clay,polymer clay,beads,stamps,stencils and paper....and etc!

On top of all of the crafting we all fought over holding the new baby. She is such a joy and everyone is so tickled to have a new baby, especially at the holiday's!

It was the best crafty birthday I could have ever imagined! Kinda took the sting out of turning that big milestone after all!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween: An Excuse to Dress Up and Act Silly

         We just recently went to our kids annual Halloween party and as always had a great time. They do such a great job of hosting a family friendly party for parents to bring their kids and for their teenage son to have his friends too.
I wanted to share a few things we did and some creative ideas I found our there in blog-land. First from Formal Fringe I found a great idea for some illuminated skeleton hands.
I really wish I had found this idea before the party. I did however do something I saw a while back and I honestly can't remember where I saw it. I apologize if I'm not giving someone credit for this. But its little light up eye balls made from ping pong balls placed over battery operated votives.
You simply cut a hole and using permanet markers draw on a black dot and some red squiggly lines around it.
This photo does not do them justice,they were very cool!
We placed them all over outside and I have to say they did look great!
I also made these little favor bags for the kids to take home with them that I saw on Pinterest.

Most of the kids who come to the party each year are in theater with our oldest grandson. Theater kids are always ready to help out on the "scary walk" through the woods that the little ones....and the older ones enjoy. They have to hide or position themselves to look like a statue and of course come to life and scare the pajibbers out of everyone. A lot of acting goes into this and the giggles and blood curdling screams always make me laugh.....from far of away of course! You see I'm a chicken and very "G" rated so I don't do haunted houses....or backyard scary walks of any kind!!

Everyone in our family waits to see what Jason ( our youngest son) decides on for his costume. Last year he was Batman complete with theme music. We wondered how he would ever top that....but he did! He came as Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer. Of course he won all of the big prizes!!
He's here with our little Cat in the Hat Niece.
My husband and I went as Frankenstein and I was the Mad Scientist who created all wives have to do over many years haha! Shhh don't tell him I said that!
The costume that I thought was the cutest I've seen in a long time was Patrick( our oldest grandson) and his girlfriend. They came as the 1940's end of WWII famous photo (often called) The Kiss.
These aren't costumes they are the real deal. I think they are a couple of little old souls they both really enjoy nostalgia. So they searched for the actually clothes. His is a Navy uniform from that time period and hers is a 1940 Red Cross nurses dress. I just loved it,what a sweet idea. I get rather worn out with all of gory costumes so this to me was rather refreshing!
The host and hostess!
So many great costume ideas! We ate too much, laughed too much and the kids and Abe Lincoln danced the night way to Dance Central 3!

                There's no better place to be for us than partying with the kiddos!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Babble's Top 50 Etsy Parents Shops and Little Ole ME!

     Thankfully it is the end of another busy and stressful week here in construction land where I work by day. What would we do without weekends to re-charge ourselves? So as I was about to leave the office I decided to do a little web surfing and found my shop in The Top 50 Etsy Parents Shops on Babble.
I'm kind of excited,tickled,thrilled but mostly very,VERY honored......all at the same time!! Go here to see the list of all 50 shops.

There are six catagories, Vintage,Home Goods,Paper Goods,Jewelry,Clothing and Handmade Dolls and Toys which is the catagory I'm in. I am among 12 wonderful toy shops.
If you haven't shopped on Etsy than you have truly missed out on some of the best places to shop. I go there first before I go anywhere else.....and have found so many great gifts from all over the world!

For me making felt toys is my passion.It truly was an Ah ha( moment as Oprah says)when I opened my Etsy shop. I realized what I was suppose to do at the ripe ole age of ....well lets say over 50.....way over 50 haha! I'm never not thinking about ideas or picking the grand-kiddos creative brains. I have so many ideas and never enough time it seems to sit down and create them. I am always happy when I am sewing!!

Stop over and see all the great Etsy shops on Babble, I'm among some of the most incredible artists!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

In Love With Fall But NOT Spiders

Some examples of leaves from down at the creek. I love the contrast against the purple bench.

          It happens every year and still I remain in awe of how incredibly brilliant the trees become this time of year. I am a mid-west girl at heart and I guess couldn't imagine God's amazing color display this time of year. Some mornings as I drive into work the trees look as if they have been set ablaze as the sun comes up!
I took this photo on a back road while waiting for a train to pass.

Is it just me or do your tastes change with the seasons? This time of year I'm loving squash,persimmons,caramel apples, and pumpkin roll....well actually pumpkin anything! But it's no wonder since we are totally surrounded with the most amazing yellows,oranges,and crimson reds.

Since I'm talking about all things fall I must confess something else. You see I have a passion for fall leaves, pine cones, but especially acorns. If you walked into either my office or my work room and opened just about any book you will most likely find a few colorful leaves pressed inside.

 I just can't help myself they are just too pretty to walk past. Besides I might just need a few for a project someday. Ha! Ha! yes I'm well aware that is what all hoarders say on that reality TV show!

Who could resist picking this up?!
 I also may be the only women in America who has ever boxed up and moved a (decent size haha) collection of acorns before! More than likely my purse has a few acorns in the bottom of it from a walk to the car and back. I hoard them like a squirrel or..... like just maybe they aren't going to make them anymore. Oh well we all have something we do that makes us unique......don't we!

And one more quick item I want to share with you. I recently saw a quick and easy way to make spiderwebs for your Halloween decor. Our local Ben Franklin shared this on their facebook page and I just had to try it.

 They couldn't be easier. Simply squirt Elmer's Glue on a piece of wax paper in the shape of a web and then sprinkle any color glitter you like over the glue while it's still wet.

Once it completely dries peel it off of the wax paper and voila you have a pose-able web to add to your decor. They are really very glittery the photo doesn't do them justice. The one thing I won't add is a spider!! Nope no spiders in my decor EVER!! I once threw out a brand new National Geographic magazine because it had a spider on the cover.....yep you guessed it I have a few other small quirks to deal with =)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pretty in Pink

          A few weeks ago I hosted a baby shower for my daughter-in-law who was expecting our first grand-daughter. This is new territory for our little family since we have two sons and three grandsons. Our life has been boys,boys,boys!!

Needless to say pink was the main color of choice since it's a color we rarely ever see.
Since the kids were doing her room in shades of pink with fairies, I decided to do a Woodland Fairy theme shower. Now the woodland part I felt comfortable with.....but pink fairies was a brand new world for me.
I love the wooden trays I found -The right is from Crate n Barrel the left Target

Luckily this seemed to be a popular year for gnomes and fairies so I found almost too many great items.Target, Etsy and our local garden centers seemed to be the best places. It was so hard to narrow it down to just a few. In one of the above photos you will see one of my favorites a lime green gnome candle. That little sweetie came from Target and he was on clearance!

Next I found the cutest little succulent plants to use as favors from a shop called Sanpedrocactus. They were absolutely adorable. To keep them in woodland feel I wrapped them in small squares cut used coffee bags. Then I added a soft pink and white fluffy yarn around the container to hold the burlap in place.

 I just felt like it extended the woodland feeling, to have each guest take home a living thank you. What really finished them off were the tiny pink mushrooms I found on Etsy that I included. The shop is called Small Old Things. I also found a cute little outdoor fairy door that I used as a prize. As my Mother always said "It's all in the details". So I tried to pay extra attention to all of the details of the event.

I decided to try my hand at making a pendant banner which I am now very into and may make one for each of grand-children's birthdays. Tons of ideas are now bouncing around in my head!

The center of the fireplace mantel I found the cutest fairy doll from a shop called Happy Dolls by Lesya to use as a center piece, and as a gift to little Hadleigh. Check out her shop she has so many beautiful dolls.

I also made lots of little moss pots and felt toadstools to sit around and give every little corner a woodland fairy feel.
Many of these moss pots and toadstools the Mommy-to-be was able to use in the baby's room. That made my clean up and "what to do" with these little items so much easier!

Having the shower at the end of a season really helped the cost because nearly everything was either on sale or found in a clearance section.

Family members playing one of our games.
I went back and forth about whether to do games or not. I just wasn't sure if it was really still popular. In the end we decided yes on the games, and the ones we chose we very funny.If you know my family funny is very important. This game was to draw a baby on top of your head. Then the mommy-to-be picked her favorite. All of my prizes were also centered around the woodland,fairy, and garden theme.

So keeping with the woodland feel and attention to detail I decided to order these twig colored pencils to use in the games and for each guest to take home with her.

I also added these carved radishes to the salad to give it a woodland fairy feel too. They are very easy and really didn't take as long as I had thought they would. I did them the evening before the event and stored them in the refrigerator.
I tried to use wooden trays for serving as much as I could and when it came time to set up my main table display I was stumped as what to use as a lift.
Then a trip to the back of our shop solved that problem. I noticed two logs chunks from a downed tree just perfect for this. I plan to use these in a million different ways all year.

We had a great day together celebrating our first baby girl. But with time running out we knew we had to finish her room.

So Jason and I spent many evenings and weekends painting a window on her wall as a peek into a fairy garden.

We added little fairies around her room as if a few have escaped their world and into hers. This is something I so enjoy with my son.....but was certainly a new and strange territory for us. There is still a few details to add when we have time......because as you can see our sweet grand-daughter has arrived!!

We are more than over joyed and ready to spoil her and love her as much as we have our three wonderful grandsons!

As a footnote I wanted to include a couple of other Etsy shops I used. The first one is for my invitations I found that were just darling from a shop called Gracie Girl Notes. The other is the cutest pink striped straws from a shop called Bon Fortune. I used them with the pink grapefruit Izzy 's that I love.