Saturday, January 19, 2019

Holiday Trip Part Two

Hello! My previous post had highlights from a trip we'd made before Christmas; today's post will cover the excursion we took just as 2019 was beginning. We traveled to the Chicago area, plus the Wisconsin cities of Madison and Milwaukee. 

Madison is not only the capitol of Wisconsin, but it's also the home of the flagship school of the University of Wisconsin system. With such important entities within this city, you'd expect a lively mix of shops and restaurants, and you'd be right. We focused on State Street, which runs near both the university and the state capitol building. Since neither the college nor state government were in session the day we visited (January 2nd), some businesses were shuttered. Still plenty to see and do, however, and those closures meant less people and traffic to clog up the sidewalks and streets. 

We began with lunch here: 

Himal Chuli, a Nepali restaurant. Tiny place, so online reviews mentioned it can be difficult to get a table. We had no such trouble on this day. We'd never eaten at a Nepali restaurant but the menu looked good. Many of the dishes reminded us somewhat of Indian cuisine. For instance, samosas, which I ordered, had the familiar-sounding filling of potatoes and peas. They were fine, but shaped differently than the Indian-style food of the same name: rather than looking like turnovers that lay flat on a plate, these were more like pyramids that rose up from my plate. 

What I liked even better was the cup of dal that came with my order. The menu called it a "mixed bean soup", and while it was much more broth than beans, it had a delicious flavor. I would like to try to replicate it at home sometime. 

After lunch my family of three split up to explore various shops along State Street - we each have different tastes. I checked out Madison Modern Market, which has a lot of cool items for kids and adults, as well as things for the home and fun gifts - all in all, a well-curated place. I saw many potential purchases, which is saying a lot for someone like me who normally shops secondhand. I did finally succumb to this:

Kikkerland's Rainbow Multipen, which has ten different colors. It's the type of pen where you swivel the top around to change colors. I'm a sucker for color variety in my artwork, so I happily paid three dollars for this. But I was sorely tempted to buy so many other goodies at this shop - that's the kind of store Madison Modern Market is!

We'd agreed to meet up at A Room Of One's Own, an indie bookstore around the corner from State Street on Gorham Street. As indie bookstores are one of my favorite places to browse, I made sure to give myself some time to look around before reconnecting with my family. I was attracted right away to a grouping of journals and planners near the front door. I'm also a sucker for these, so I succumbed to this:

Mary Kate McDevitt's Every Day Is Epic, "a guided journal for daydreams, creative rants & bright ideas". I liked the author's take in the introduction: "You may sometimes feel that if you aren't skydiving, cliff-jumping, or living the life of an action-movie stuntperson, your day somehow isn't measuring up. But every day has the chance to be just comes done to how you frame it. This journal celebrates embracing everyday events - from the mundane to the magnificent - that all add up to something incredibly awesome." 

And to prove her point, the author showed a sample from a "general notes" section, (part of most of the journal pages). Along with "moved to new studio" and "booked summer vacay", she listed "trash-picked a plant" and my favorite: "met a baby named Fritz". I found that last tidbit very amusing somehow!

Here's what a couple of the pages inside look like:

And a close-up:

I like the funky graphics! The layouts do repeat, but there are enough different ones that they don't feel repetitive at all. I'm happy with this purchase. 

Due to lack of time - my husband and daughter showed up before I got very far into the store - this was my only purchase from A Room Of One's Own. Well, that's not exactly true - near the cash register was a small shelf of uncorrected proof books. If memory serves me correctly, these were free with a purchase, although a 50c donation toward a jail literacy program was suggested. I scanned the books, and selected Ryder Carroll's The Bullet Journal Method (he's the creator of this planner system, which I've pondered using). And yes, I did give 50c for this book. 

Also of note: various promotional posters from book releases were for sale; I saw several mounted on the cash register counter base. Perhaps I've not been looking hard enough while at other indie bookstores, but I've not seen such posters, nor proof copies, on offer elsewhere. I liked that A Room Of One's Own had both. 

We arrived in Milwaukee in time for dinner at Jalapeno Loco, which is located across from Mitchell Airport. Solid Mexican food. 

We visited more of Milwaukee the next day. We have a fondness for this city and its blend of old-fashioned neighborhoods and shops of interest.

I always try to make it to American Science & Surplus, my go-to place for containers I use for storing various all-natural DIY cleaning supplies and toiletries. I often find interesting craft supplies as well. And during a previous visit, my husband purchased a particular piece of lab equipment for around 20 bucks. It had been used, but so are the versions he'd seen on eBay - that go for a few hundred dollars! (The AS&S piece didn't have a sign labeling what it was, so my husband suspected the employees there didn't know.)

From AS&S, we trekked over to Outpost Natural Foods Co-Op for wholesome lunches at their cafe. Excellent bulk food section too. 

And speaking of bulk foods, you can't go wrong with The Spice House in the Old World 3rd Street area. We went there so I could find jalapeno pepper powder (the food co-op didn't carry it) - but I ended up buying a few other spices as well. This is a very nice store. Very high quality store, but it doesn't have the upscale feel that newer stores of this type tend to have.

It's become a Christmastime tradition for us to visit the holiday display at Mitchell Park Domes. A "Scrooge" theme was featured for Christmas 2018. I didn't feel this theme was covered very well, but the variety of poinsettias was breathtaking:

This is only a small sample of what we saw. I thought the blue-tinged poinsettias especially noteworthy since I'd not seen them before. 

With a busy but fun day in Milwaukee over, we headed down to Chicagoland and dinner at Rockwood Tap house in Downers Grove. My husband is fond of the beer menu and the food menu has many good choices as well. 

Before departing Chicagoland the next day we stopped off at one of our favorite area plazas. Also located in Downers Grove, the Downers Shopping Plaza has, among other retail establishments, a See's candy store, a Trader Joe's and a nice Goodwill. My husband and daughter busied themselves at the first two stores while I checked out the Goodwill. 

I found it loaded with a lot of good stuff during this visit. As it was so soon after Christmas (January 4th), I wondered if people had donated gifts they didn't want, or else had gathered up older possessions to make room for the gifts they'd received. Either way, there were a lot of purchasing possibilities! I was happy to find a pristine copy to replace my beat-up volume of Asian Noodles (Nina Simonds, author). And these really appealed to me:

A set of four chunky colored pencils with folk art flavor. 

A close-up:

So cute, and the group was mine for one dollar. 

I didn't know what these were, or who had made them. For all I knew, they were from a set of kids' colored pencils. But from searching eBay and Etsy, I learned that these pencils are based on Russian matryoshka (nesting) dolls and are considered souvenirs of that country. Like with most listings, the asking prices for vintage versions are higher than for newer examples. I'm leaning toward thinking mine are newer. Even so, the price I paid for four was a bargain. 

Our trip was over, other than taking our daughter back to West Lafayette, spending the night there and returning back home. The resumption of our everyday routines was about to begin. But we'd had two very nice holiday trips!



Saturday, January 12, 2019

Holiday Trip Part One

Hello! Yeah, the Christmas season is over and done and we're already over a week into January. With two out-of-state trips and an in-state visit with relatives, the holiday went by very fast for me! The days I was home, I was busy making special foods for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve. This is a long way of saying I should have blogged more recently about my Yuletide travels, but hadn't.

So I'll make up for that now, beginning with a little about our first out-of-state trip. It covered central Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. The genesis for the excursion began when, while traveling through Pennsylvania in the fall, I'd picked up a brochure about a Christkindl Market in Mifflinburg, PA - the oldest such event of its kind in the US (the market website, seen here,  states that the event was begun in 1987). I commented to my husband that it'd be nice to go there sometime - well, he took my casual comment seriously and made the travel arrangements. We visited the Chirstkindl Market on December 15th, 2018.

A few scenes from the event:

A festive entrance to the market.

Entrance to one of the small buildings used by vendors at the market. This seller was skilled in scherenschitte, German-style paper cutting. 

Lovely examples of this craft!

We watched a folk dance troupe perform a variety of European folk dances. When the group went through the steps of a Dutch dance, my husband and I were reminded of the Dutch dancing done during our town's famous tulip festival. One big difference: the people above weren't wearing wooden shoes!

We enjoyed seeing the various examples of German-style and American-style arts and crafts at the Christkindl Market, but we also enjoyed viewing some of the older buildings around town:

Mifflinburg is a very old town; it was first settled in the 1700's and became a village in 1827. 

When we first arrived at the market, it was late morning and not terribly crowded yet. But as the day went on more and more people appeared, and eventually it became one of those events in which you can barely move due to the crush of people. Of course, people were there because it's a fun, unique event, but it made it hard to take pictures, let along shop. So after lunch from a couple of the many food vendors, all we bought was a small glass-blown snowman figurine for our daughter.

To escape the crowds, we started walking through the nearby downtown blocks. But I was quickly distracted by a sign pointing the way to a pop-up artisans' market. We followed the arrow and found ourselves at a small events center a couple of blocks away. I was taken with the upcycled sweater mittens crafted by this vendor:

Alas, she'd sold out of my mitten size; she's standing by men's mittens. I tried one pair on and found them to very warm and soft. I liked how she combined different sweaters to create each pair, and she even had the cuffs of men's blazers repurposed as mitten cuffs. Her prices were good too. She and her husband were very nice and I felt bad that I couldn't buy anything from her. If I recall correctly, this was her first craft show, and I hope it went well for her. I wish her luck in her future endeavors!

Would you believe I didn't even get this talented crafter's name? However, I did pick up one of her business cards, and learned that her business is called Recycwool Mitten Co. If you'd like more info, go here.

From Mifflinburg, we headed toward Williamsport. Along the way, we stopped at one of our favorite candy stores, Purity. I'd blogged about seeing their candy canes being made last year in this post.

I was content this year with just going to the store to buy more candy canes without seeing them being made first (some viewing sessions had already taken place that day). Like the Christkindl Market, it's a fun but very crowded event. And without the hordes there, I was free to take some pics:

Employees busy behind the scenes, with trays of chocolates and a large chocolate Santa in front of them. 

A cute chocolate cottage.

And for the white chocolate fans:

I'm not a fan of snow, but I'd make an exception for these snowmen!

Once in Williamsport, we ate at my favorite restaurant there, Boom City Brewing. I don't care for beer, but I like the cozy atmosphere and good food served up there. 

We went to bed with the hopes of going for a hike the next day, but unfortunately the weather gods, who usually smile on us, didn't cooperate. We were stuck with an all-day rain, which meant no outdoor activities. So instead we decided to visit the Woolrich outlet store, which was a short distance away. 

And where is the Woolrich outlet store located? Why, in the small community of Woolrich,PA, of course. Here is the festive scene outside the shop:

Once upon a time, the Woolrich store had a nice selection of their various fabrics, sold by the yard, and I think they had some sewing patterns and notions too. Now there is just a very small section of fabrics - perhaps the better to make room for the gift shop-type offerings we saw. But a big selection of Woolrich brand clothes are available, of course. I tried on a corduroy shirt from a sales rack, but it didn't fit right, so no purchase. (My husband did buy one of their knit hats.) Still, it's a fun place to poke around and even in rainy weather, a pleasant drive from Williamsport. 

We left Williamsport the next day and began the trek west to return home. Stopped in the Cleveland area for the night. The hotel we stayed at was so uncrowded, we got stellar service from the breakfast bar employees the next morning. They came around with refills of coffee, asked us if we needed anything - all the niceties they don't always have time to do. My husband has often commented that Christmastime is a good time to travel. There's usually few business travelers, and I guess enough people stay with relatives for the holidays that they're not in hotels either. So you end up with lower-priced room rates and excellent service from the bored staff!

From Cleveland we journeyed to the Cincinnati area to visit Jungle Jim's in suburban Fairfield. It's undoubtedly one of the largest grocery stores in the country and always worth a visit. And if you're an Ikea fan, then do as we do and stay at one of a cluster of hotels in nearby West Chester. (we've used the Homewood Inn there.)There's an Ikea so close by you could literally walk to it, except there's not sidewalk all the way there. But of course that means it's just a very short drive away.
The next day found us at our daughter's place in West Lafayette, IN. She'd just finished another grad school semester, so it was time to pick her and take her back to our house for Christmas. 

I'll talk about our post-Christmas trip in my next post.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Birthday And Christmas Together!

Hello! A friend and I did an ornament exchange earlier this month. But before I handed her the ornament I'd made for her, I gave her a birthday card and gift. (at the time of the ornament exchange, my friend's birthday had been almost one month ago, but we hadn't been able to get together to celebrate that occasion. 

First, the card:

And a close-up:

Materials used:
  • white card stock
  • woman image from 1940's magazine
  • vintage button "hat" glued to hair
  • "say...wasn't it your birthday last month?" - lettering stamped in black ink on vintage file folder tab pieces and pieces of art paper scrap; a variety of alphabet fonts was used.
To me, it certainly looked like the woman was saying the phrase I affixed to the card!

Now on to the ornament:

And a close-up for this project as well:

This is a small cross-stitch picture of a girl in a folksy-looking outfit. The cross-stitch chart came from the vintage counted cross-stitch booklet I'd written about here.

I'd shown this booklet to my friend awhile back and while viewing the stitched example in it, she commented that the girl's outfit looked Dutch. I agreed and since my friend is of Dutch heritage, I thought I'd stitch up the girl and turn it into a Christmas ornament. 

After I'd stitched up the image, I bought a small unfinished wood frame at Hobby Lobby. I rubbed a walnut stain on the frame and then brushed on gold glitter glue accents.

I glued light blue felt to the back of the cross-stitched piece for a nice back appearance. I also glued on strips of the felt to the front edges of the piece. By doing so, the blue felt showed through the frame in the front. A nice touch, I thought. Added a gold cord hanger on top and the ornament was ready for my friend's tree. 

My friend said she liked her birthday card and Christmas ornament, and I liked making them for her!



Sunday, December 9, 2018

A Nightmare For Christmas

Hello! I'm fond of vintage Christmas craft magazines, so when I spot them at secondhand sources, I scoop them up if the price is right. Thus, this magazine came home with me from an estate sale over the summer:

The 1962 issue of Woman's Day Best Ideas for Christmas. 

If these were, indeed, the "best ideas for Christmas" that year, then I'm grateful I was a mere toddler at the time and thus too young to do this kind of crafting. Many of the results look like a house of horrors in December! A nightmare for Christmas? No thanks, but I feel compelled anyway to show off these creepy craft projects. 

Above, a "Santa Gift Pail". Now, it may seem like a nice idea to stash some goodies in a dressed-up container, but those construction paper eyes look just plain weird to me. Not crazy about the use of crumpled-up foil for the beard and hat either. By the way, the pail is  a paper paint bucket. Not sure what that item even is. 

A "Paper Strip Santa" is seen here. I suppose this isn't horrible, but again, the face looks weird. The eyes and nose are small Christmas ornaments, with foil cutouts around the eyes. 

But as weird as those eyes look, the collection of figures here seems even worse:

These are "Choir Boys for Buffet Table". Styrofoam balls form the heads of these, the better to attach faces out of paper cutouts and map pins. Mostly-bare styrofoam is a no-no in my book; it just looks plain cheap to me.

A close-up:

Ugh, I think that one in the middle will give me nightmares unless I move along real quick now.

And so I will, only to show off this next:

This Nativity set is made from...various breadstuffs. Now, I remember bread crafts in which a dough was made and tastefully formed into a wreath or other holiday shape. After baking and cooling, the bread was shellacked for reuse in years to come. 

Not so with this Nativity: we are told "Be sure to use very fresh bread". So yeah, you may start out with that, but how long will cut-up breads stay that way? And unless you're sure that your house is absolutely mice- and/or bug-proof, I sure wouldn't want to leave anything edible like this out. Perhaps the folks at this magazine only meant for this Nativity set to be left out a short while, but they don't say that anywhere in the directions. 

Besides, it rather seems like a waste of the "...variety of loaves, rolls, crackers, (English) muffins and bread sticks" one selects for the project, along with map pins, glass headed pins, beads, corsage pins, cafe curtain rings, brass washers, pipe cleaners and felt. The pipe cleaners are used to form shepherds' crooks. "Attach the crooks...with a stapler", we are informed. Well, what do you know, I learned something new! I never would have thought I could use a stapler on a chunk of bread! 

This "Pony-Tail Angel" is a fantasy in styrofoam, or at least the crafters at Woman's Day seemed to think. Both body and head are made of this material. At least the body is covered with pink gift wrap paper, but the head is not. Paper facial features and gold upholstery fringe are pinned to that styrofoam ball, leaving the majority of the styrofoam exposed. Besides the recurring nightmare of mostly-bare styrofoam, the eyes of this angel look bizarre (and the figure isn't well-photographed to boot.

I'm old enough to remember when circus clowns were merely considered funny and happy, but my daughter informs me they're definitely looked upon as sinister now. But even if that weren't the case,  this "Bottle Clown" would give me the creeps rather than the warm fuzzies. 

Here we have yet another bare styrofoam ball for a head. Although we aren't told what the facial features are made out of, they, like the yarn hair and bottle top hat, are affixed to the ball with jeweled pins. A bottle, presumably the one belonging the the cap, makes up the body. 

There are a number of other unfortunate-looking crafts in this magazine, but I'd better not show off anymore! After all, who really wants a nightmare for Christmas?



Thursday, November 29, 2018

My Kind Of Black Friday Shopping

Hello! I've never been one to participate in the big Black Friday sales, but now that some of the local thrift stores have their own Black Friday sales, I'm all in those! 

I visited two such sales last Friday, where clothes and/or housewares had reduced prices for the day. I did check out both categories, but I couldn't resist the already-low prices of various Christmas items, such as:

A vintage Hallmark Beverage Ensemble- 16 coasters and matching napkins. Not sure how old this is, but I'm guessing from the 1960's. Similar NOS (new old stock) sets on eBay go for several dollars more than the one dollar I paid for mine. 

A nice assortment of vintage Christmas craft magazines. The one on the right is the oldest, dating from 1969. The one on the left is the newest; it came out in 1979. The two publications in between are both from 1976. The pieces of paper sticking out of these magazines were used by me to write down the page numbers of projects I may want to try in the future. 

Don't laugh - it's not unusual for me to see projects in these magazines, and realize I'd seen very similar crafts in their present-day counterparts. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that vintage craft magazines are perused by the folks at Martha Stewart Living and all those holiday "special publications" from Better Homes & Gardens to come up with ideas for their own issues. Of course, these modern crafters take advantage of present-day craft supplies when they write up their instructions. Naturally, I do as well.

At any rate, it was fun to look through these magazines; made a Thanksgiving weekend car trip fly by! Not bad for a total of one dollar for all. 

Another possibility for Christmas crafting, this time an older hardcover book:

Leslie Linsley's Christmas Ornaments and Stockings, published in 1982. I've picked up other craft books by this author at secondhand sources over the years. Most of her patterns are full-size, have good directions and are easy to make. This book is no exception; I saw many projects that would still look good today. 

Thus, it was no mystery that I'd fork over 50 cents for this book. What was a mystery to me is how this book ended up in West Michigan. It was once in the collection of the Bayard, Nebraska public library! 

Lest you think I just bought things that are decades old, here's the last purchase from my Black Friday thrift store shopping:

The current issue of Midwest Living magazine. I don't recall what its newsstand price is (maybe $3.99?), but it's certainly more than the quarter I spent! 

Such good deals I found on Black Friday! And just think, the same two thrift stores I visited then will start marking down their Christmas items in a couple of weeks or so. More shopping ahead for me!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving And Scenes From Plymouth, Massachusetts

Hello! I've never actually never been to Plymouth, MA, but I bought this recently at a thrift store to add to my Thanksgiving decor:

It's a fold-up postcard. When its front and back covers are separated, several scenes around Plymouth around Plymouth are revealed.

The rock that started it all, Plymouth Rock, of course. 

The Fountain to Pilgrim Mothers, and the Pilgrim Maiden statue.

National Monument to the Forefathers, and a drawing of Priscilla and John Alden.

Myles Standish Monument and Statue of Massasoit, Protector of the Pilgrims. 

The Mayflower, Pilgrims Going to Church, Sarcophagus, Coles Hill and Model of the Mayflower, Pilgrim Hall. 

Above, Grave of Myles Standish (in Duxbury, MA) and below, Grave of Governor William Bradford. 

These are just some of the scenes in this set. The (presumably) original price of 10c is written on the front right-hand corner; I paid a quarter for it. Not bad, when a current eBay listing for this item is $14.99. Not sure how old this postcard is, but the seller states it's from the 1940's.

Well, whether one's been to Plymouth, MA or not, here's wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!



Saturday, November 17, 2018

Thrifty Acres: The Miracle Of "Modern" Radiology

Hello! Recently I bought a small plastic case full of vintage needlework supplies at a church rummage sale. Sure, I was glad about my one-dollar purchase, but the icing on the cake was this unexpected find at the bottom of the case:

A vintage medically-theme booklet: "prepared by E. R. Squibb & Sons", as it states on the inside back cover. But here, the front cover shows a woman dressed up in dress, heels, hat and gloves to visit the radiology department.

Not sure what year this booklet was produced, but judging by the clothing, I'd say sometime in the 1950's or 1960's. 

So, why is Milady heading to Radiology? We'll learn that soon, but first we must learn this:

Yes, indeed, "X-rays are medical tools of great importance"!

Now we get to the crux of the matter: "Sometimes the gallbladder or ducts become infected or stopped up. If your gallbladder is not functioning properly, you may feel indisposed". Milady may feel merely "indisposed", but the illustration shows her grimacing with the pain in her side. 

But never fear! "The radiologist is a specialist. He has had years of training and experience." 

Therefore: "Pretend that you are going to have your picture taken and sit back and leave all the details to your radiologist or his technician. They will take one or more pictures and the procedure will be entirely free of discomfort and pain". 

Things must have gone well, for the back cover shows this illustration:

Milady's "picture taking" finished, she is now fluffing up her hair. After all, it must have gotten mussed up from having to put on the hospital gown shown in the previous photo. 

All's well that ends well, thanks to the miracle of modern radiology! 

(Note: if the name "E.R. Squibb & Sons" sounds familiar, it's because the firm is now part of Bristol-Meyer Squibb company. Edward Robinson Squibb had a very full life in medicine: he worked as a Navy doctor during the Mexican-American War, and after that started his pharmaceutical manufacturing business in 1858. He obviously had success in this endeavor quickly, for his firm became a major medicine supplier for the Union Army during the Civil War. The Squibb company merged with Bristol-Meyer in 1989.)