Sunday, July 20, 2014

Thrifty Acres: Christmas In July

Hello! Christmas may still seem far away, but it's Christmas all year long at some of the local thrift stores, and there are holiday goodies to be found at estate and garage sales as well. I'll show off some recent purchases in this post. 

Five Christmas magazines, ranging from 1965-1970. 

I was most interested in the top magazine, McCall's Christmas Make-It Ideas, which is from 1965. Always fun to see vintage craft ideas - never know which ones can be updated with today's more plentiful craft supplies. The close-up above of the cover shows "Pompon Santa...a merry yarn and felt toy" and "Clever lion hides a surprise" (ie,it's meant to be a gift box). I'm not tempted to make either project, but there's undoubtedly several others in this magazine that are worth trying. 

Newer magazines:

Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Ideas is from 1993, so not super-new, of course. Has a number of old-fashioned crafts and also features several artisans who do old-time crafts like woodcarving and turning eggs of various sizes into fanciful Christmas ornaments. 

Well-Styled Home Vintage Holiday Christmas is from last year. I was delighted to find this magazine at a thrift store since I had coveted it at the grocery store magazine section last fall.  The $9.99 price stopped me, but by waiting several months, I was able to save $9.49 - worth the delay.

I was especially pleased by this find since specialty magazines like this rarely show up at thrift stores and other secondhand markets - at least, not in my experience. Not surprising, really, since these magazines are loaded with beautiful photography and are more expensive than monthly magazines. They're meant to be more like keepsakes, I think. 

A couple of decorative items:

The fake greenery ball is tacky, I know, but I bought this for the little (about 3"h) elf on top. He's missing a boot and a bit of trim on his hat but is still plenty cute. No identifying label but I suspect this is a vintage "Made in Japan" decoration. 

Also of unknown vintage, but considered collectible:

From Butticki of Sweden, a wood and fabric figure resting on a wooden sled. The piece measures about 3 3/4"h x 3 3/4"l. Perhaps because they're handmade, items from this company sell for quite a bit more than the small price charged at a local thrift store. I'd never pay the original asking price, but don't mind paying under a dollar!

Now, to look over that 1965 McCall's Christmas Make-It Ideas magazine - bet it's worthy of another blog post!



Thursday, July 17, 2014

Made It: From Drab To Fab Part 2

Hello! A couple of years ago I purchased a heart-shaped, copper-colored wire form at a thrift store. The heart is 9 1/2"h x 8 1/2"w, and came with a 12" long hanger. At the base of the heart is a 2" long spike; perhaps a votive candle was supposed to be stuck onto it. Or maybe there's a missing part to the whole thing. Sometimes one plays a guessing game when the original packaging is absent. 

No matter - I figured I could dress up the heart in some way and turn it into a decorative outdoor piece. Inspiration finally struck yesterday, so I'll show off what I created. 

First, the "before" shot:

Dangling from the dining room chandelier, the heart awaits its transformation.

At first, I thought of wiring some beads around the four sections of the heart, but thought that winding fabric strips around those sections would look nice too. 

Ultimately I did both. I cut some colorful fabrics into strips and glued them onto the heart, then attached beads randomly with thin wire. Lastly, I dug into my collection of "bling" (parts of old costume jewelry and other bits) to add a bit more sparkle. 

And here's the heart now, all glammed up:

As hoped, the beads sparkle in the sun, and the hanging heart dresses up our front porch a bit. The project was very easy to do and I think it turned out pretty well. This sort of design can go from charming to clunky in an instant, so I tried to stop at "charming". I think I succeeded - if I decide differently later, I can always take the beads and bling off and try something else!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Eats: Remember When Cafe At Home Cookbook (And A Recipe)

Hello! Purchased this at a recent garage sale:

The Remember When Cafe At Home cookbook. Remember When Cafe was a local restaurant, now closed. I never ate there, but their cookbook recipes, especially those in the sandwich chapter, made my mouth water! I do love a good sandwich, so I thought it'd be fun to try some of those recipes.

The breakfast chapter is solid too, and I was charmed by the mention every so often that a particular omelet or pancake recipe was Officer So-and-So's favorite. I told a friend who's a local about the cookbook and she said she had it too. Unlike me, she and her family had frequented Remember When Cafe and indeed, police officers were often seen dining there.

But back to that sandwich chapter - which of the many recipes should I try first? It just so happened that I had leftover steamed broccoli in the refrigerator, plus roasted red bell peppers (from last fall) and sliced ham (from Easter) in the freezer. With these ingredients needing to be used up, I turned to a sandwich recipe that called for them, the "Virginia Reel".

This wasn't my first choice from the sandwich chapter, as I wasn't sure if I'd like the combination of ham, broccoli and red bell pepper together. But it turned out pretty tasty:

As written in the cookbook, the ingredients made four sandwiches. I made one sandwich, so here's the scaled-down recipe, followed by my notes:

Virginia Reel Sandwich (adapted from Remember When Cafe At Home cookbook)

1/2 c. broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces, steamed
2 T. roasted red bell pepper, diced
1/2 t. vegetable oil
3 oz. thinly sliced ham
2 slices Swiss cheese
2 slices bread, buttered on one side

Combine broccoli and red bell pepper; heat in oil on 350 griddle. While warming, grill bread on griddle, buttered sides down. Heat ham on griddle. When bread is grilled to a light golden brown and vegetables and ham are warmed through, place 1 slice of cheese on bottom half of bread. Top with ham, vegetable mixture and second slice of cheese. Close with second slice of bread. Serves one. 

Notes: the recipe calls for fresh, not roasted, red bell pepper, but I used roasted since that's what I had on hand. My ham had been spiral-sliced and not thinly sliced, but it was fine. The recipe allows for a 4 oz. portion of the ham, but I thought 3 oz. was plenty. And lastly, the recipe actually calls for a bagel to be used, but I had some homemade Sourdough-Whole Wheat bread around, so I made my sandwich with it. 

And frankly, I think sandwich bread is a better choice for this recipe than a bagel. The sandwich was a little messy as it was, what with those bits of chopped vegetables wanting to pop out. A bagel half has even less surface area than a bread slice does, so I think the Virginia Reel would be even messier if made with a bagel. 

But what do I know? Like I said, I never went to Remember When Cafe, so I don't know if the cooks there had some tricks up their sleeves when making their sandwiches. But I do know that I'm looking forward to trying more recipes from the cookbook!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Made It: From Drab To Fab

Hello! I wanted to find a way to corral my collection of magazines and it looked like I found it earlier this week at the MSU Surplus Store - bought five cardboard magazine files for $4.00. 

They  seemed sturdier than the ones typically found at the office supply aisle; heavier cardboard had been used. The exteriors were a little beat up, but I figured I could cover them in some fashion to disguise their appearance. 

Here's a before photo:

The paper label says "Nematology Literature List", but  unfortunately none of my magazines pertain to that subject. So off that label went. 

A quick Internet search revealed several tutorials on covering magazine files and I decided this one looked good. However, I soon realized that all magazines files apparently aren't created equal. My 12"x12" scrapbook paper (a recent garage sale find) wasn't large enough to cover the angled sides of my files. They're obviously a little larger than those from the office supply aisles. 

I'd seen some online tutorials for covering magazine files with wrapping paper, but my on-hand supply of that material is low at the moment. Then I came across a can of white spray paint and decided to use that (I likely could have used acrylic craft paint, but spray paint would be quicker to apply.)

Even though I did it outside, the spray paint was smelly, but covered the sides of the file just fine. I let the paint dry overnight, then covered the tall straight side with a piece of scrapbook paper. I used decoupage for the glue. I had a hard time getting the paper to stick well, however, so either I didn't use enough decoupage or it's not strong enough for this project. 

Here's how it turned out:

All traces of the magazine file's previous life as an organizer of nematology literature have been obliterated. I'll be able to store my issues of Flea Market Style in it instead! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Get Carded: Birthday Card For A Boy

Hello! Due to a miscommunication, I didn't have a birthday gift or card to give to my nephew at the family birthday party last week. But once I found out what was on his gift list, I was able to make amends and send something his way. 

Boys' birthday cards tend to stymie me a bit, probably because I don't have sons. And in the case of my nephew's birthday card, he had turned 12 - was that too old an age to refer to on a card? You know, like the birthday cards for littler kids that say cheery things like "Now you're two!" and stuff like that. 

Decided to look through my collection of playing cards - many of them have interesting designs on the back that I like to use in crafting my greeting cards. Happened to come across a playing card that had the number 12 on it. It didn't look babyish in any way, so decided to include it in my design.

Take a look:

Materials used:

  • white card stock
  • art paper scrap
  • scrap of page from vintage house plans book, hand-painted by me
  • part of a Mexican playing card, used because 12 is the birthday boy's age
  • Happy Birthday stamped in blue ink on white card stock scrap
Close-up of that regal figure:

Not at all like the superhero figures my nephew would recognize, but I still thought this king was pretty cool. Wasn't sure what he's supposed to be holding in his hand, so looked up some info online:

The four latin suits are swords, batons, cups and coins. In each suit there are normally three picture cards - a king, a horseman and a jack or maid - and some numeral cards. Cards with latin suits are commonly used in Spain and in parts of Italy, North Africa and South America, and are also found in several other places. There latin suits cards in common use can be divided into two main types: Spanish suited and Italian suited.
sword 7 baton 6 cup king coin horse In the Spanish suited type, the batons are knobly clubs or cudgels and the swords and batons are drawn separately on the pip cards.

So, it's a "knobly club" that the king is holding. Glad I found that out - otherwise I might have thought it was an overgrown zucchini.

Other than that confusion, I liked the artwork on the playing card. And I hope my nephew likes his birthday card!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Get Carded: Happy 19th Birthday

Hello! Another birthday today as our daughter turned 19. So, the big decision: what birthday card would I make for her this year?

Over the past few years I've often used vintage images of young women (cut from magazines or catalogs) for her cards, but decided upon a different look this year:

Materials used:
  • white card stock
  • 1880's ledger paper scrap
  • "19" cut from page of a 1974 catalog (catalog was an estate sale find)
  •  "U" and "R" stamped with black ink on card stock scrap
  • Happy Birthday stamped with black ink on card stock scrap
  • red card stock scraps on two corners of card
I liked the juxtaposition of the really old papers (and I'm sure even the 1974-era paper is "really old" to our daughter) with the text message-style letters (but even those were stamped with letters from a printer's set that's at least 65 years old) 

If you look at the upper right-hand corner of the card, you can see the number 19 - that's the page number from the ledger book. And barely visible near the red paper bit on the left-hand corner is the word July, referring to the month in which that page had been used. I had taken the page out of the ledger book without noticing that the month and page number fit in perfectly with the month of our daughter's birthday and the age she was turning. Talk about a happy coincidence! 

I don't think she noticed these tidbits, as the excitement of cake, ice cream, present and a friend took over. But overall she did seem to like her card.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Made It: A Pretty Simple Painting Project

Hello! I'll admit it: although I use a variety of craft techniques, painting is not my strong suit. However, when I had to take down a collasped wooden lattice a previous owner had put up (an overgrown trumpet vine had gotten out of hand), I set aside some of the lattice pieces to decorate with paint at some point down the road. 

I had envisioned finding a pleasant garden-themed quote to inscribe onto one of the lattice strips, but hadn't gotten around to this yet. So instead, recently I decided to use some simple stencil designs to decorate a couple of the strips. 

I already had the "Fiesta" set of Deco Art's Patio Paints (leftover from a rock-painting project a few years back), so I was set to go. 
But would my lattice strips end up looking folksy-cute or crappy (as in, why did I even bother?)

First, an overviews:

On top, I made a tulip stencil and on the bottom, I used a circle stencil I already had. 

Some close-ups:

Considering I'm not much of a painter, I think they turned out pretty well. The colors of the "Fiesta" set are cheerful, which helps. In the case of the lattice strip with the circles, I just used the colors in the order they appeared in the set, repeating as necessary until I ran out of room.(the dab of black paint in between each circle came from a separate bottle of Patio Paint.)

For now, I stuck these two decorated strips on the back exterior wall of our garage, to give our neighbors something more pleasant to look at than just that decrepit structure. But as I still have more lattice strips stashed in the garage, I really ought to try finding that just-right garden quote to paint on one of them too. That is, if I think I'm up that painting challenge!