Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Get carded - two milestones

Hello! There were recently two milestone events in my family, so two handmade cards were called for. Here is the first one, to celebrate a niece's college graduation:

White cardstock

Scrapbook piece (I hardly ever buy these, but came across piles of them some time ago at a garage sale; they must have been salesperson's samples or something along those lines. Many different occasions were represented, and best of all, the prices were something like 25 or 50 cents apiece - even for packages marked with retail prices of up to $5.00!)

"Happy" and "Emily" stamped in black StazOn ink

Vintage matchbook cut into flower shape, white vintage button in center of "flower"

The graduate, by the way, is on her way to graduate school for rehab psychology. Way to go, Emily!

The second occasion was a wedding:

White cardstock stamped with large "love" stamp in azure StazOn ink

Dark blue cardstock scrap

Light blue art paper scrap

Vintage "bridal bingo" card, cut into heart shape and edged in azure StazOn ink

Sheer white ribbon glued to top of heart

Vintage white button glued to heart

Names of bride and groom stamped in azure StazOn ink on white cardstock scraps

I liked the way this card turned out, if I say so myself! As I had mentioned in my previous post, I like to use vintage bingo cards in my projects, and what better use for a "bridal bingo" card than a wedding card?

Congratulations to Martin and Leann! It was a very nice ceremony and reception.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Thrifty Acres - small price, big vintage fun

Hello! Went to a nearby estate sale yesterday. Alas, thought it started one hour later than it did, so I didn't get there right when it opened. Don't know what I missed, but for a small sum, still was pleased with the few things I got:

This is a set of ten vintage swizzle sticks; I paid one mighty dime for all. What else can you buy for a mere dime?

I paid a whopping 75 cents for this Sun, Moon, and Stars Stamps set produced by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It's from 1996 and while I don't know what it sold for back then, I'm sure it was way more than that! (Looked on the Internet and didn't see it listed for anything lower than $12.95, though admittedly it was a quick search). This is a set of 16 rubber stamps, only three of which had ever been used. According to the pamphlet inside, these celestial images are based on items in the museum's collections dating from 1390 to 1624. I'm a big fan of medieval-era art, so I will love using these!

Another vintage item above, a bingo game from Warren Built Rite Games. I loved the graphics on the box. Not sure of the era, possibly the 1950's or early 1960's. 

Above you see another view of the bingo game, with the two types of bingo cards found in the box. The yellow and red cards are the ones that came with the game; I think that the beige ones are older. 

I like to use vintage bingo cards in various crafts - have altered them and decorated them in various ways and they've turned out well. Think of them as a mini canvas if you will. Oh, and the price? Fifty cents for the whole set! 

So, I spent a grand total of $1.35 for my entire purchase. Not bad at all for things I will enjoying displaying or using!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Thrifty Acres - recent finds

Hello! Hadn't had a lot of thrifty finds lately, but my luck improved a little in the last week or two. Here's some goodies:

Shown in the above photo: a package of 13 hearts with a shiny red finish; 13 for $3.50. I don't know what shop they were originally from but the tag on one of them says "Made in Indonesia", so I wondered if they came from Pier 1 or a similar store. Will alter these for Valentine's Day. 

The glass bottle-type vase does not have a flat bottom for standing up, so I assume it's meant to be hung up. I will get some heavy copper wire to hang it outside and then use it as a vase for cut flowers. Should be very pretty! I paid two dollars for this at Goodwill. 

The item with the floral design is meant to be hung up. Perhaps this was a recipe card box. A little beat up but I loved the floral design on the lid. $1.50 at a local thrift store. 

Decorative metal planter, $1.00 at a local thrift store. The $11.99 price tag was still on the bottom. No way would I have paid that much for this piece, but a dollar, no problem! I easily punched several holes in the bottom with a hammer and a roofing nail so that water will easily drain out of it. Will fill it up with herbs and have it out on my deck.

These two items were purchased at a local estate sale. The people running it were very nice; said their grandfather had recently died. For a total of fifty cents I got the early 1960's Hammond's Comparative World Atlas and some subtraction flashcards that date to 1927. The flashcards were an interesting size - 4 1/4" by 7" - and are in several different colors. Definitely not the run of the mill flashcards! Both purchases will be used in craft projects. 

 I know that this didn't photograph well, but it's a framed poster print; Caroline Purday daisies is what is says near the bottom of the print. It came in an Ikea frame. It was $8.00 at Goodwill and I thought that was a pretty good price for its size (about 20 x 28).

Lastly, this is obviously not a thrift store purchase - but instead a local thrift store's float that appeared in the parades for the local tulip festival. I wonder how many independent thrift stores create their own parade floats? Proceeds benefit a local private school system. 

Well, that's it for today's Thrifty Acres!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tulips Are Blooming...

Hello! It's the month of May and around here that means the very popular local festival honoring the tulip! Thousands are planted every fall and are now blooming more or less on schedule just in time for the Tulip Time festival this year (there are have unfortunate years in which the tulips were all done blooming before the festival began - locals called it the "Stem Festival" when that happened). 

Signs like this one direct visitors to the various tulip-lined streets:

And once you begin your travels down a tulip lane - or at least the ones that are boulevards - this is what you'll see. The plantings are continuous for blocks and blocks per tulip lane:

Notice the red object in the far left background of the photo? That's a tour bus from Minnesota turning onto the street. The festival gets tour buses from all over the region as well as visitors on their own. The average speed limit of these travelers on this tulip lane has been about 2 miles an hour as people roll down their windows and hold out their cameras to take photos. 

The tulip festival features three parades, the first of which was today. It was the Volks (People's) Parade - called that because anyone in a Dutch-style folk costume can march at the beginning of the parade with brooms, buckets of water and the like to sweep and scrub the parade route street clean (just for show, of course; they don't really clean it!) Here's an example:

The rest of the parade is like parades everywhere else: marching bands, floats, and various dignitaries. It's traditional that the governor of Michigan will march in the Volksparade and yes, Rick Snyder, who took office in January, was there. He, like previous governors wore a traditional Dutch folk costume.

I mentioned marching bands. Yes, they're a staple of parades everywhere, but how many march in footwear like this?

In case you can't tell, those are wooden shoes on the feet of the marching band from the local high school. Their signature song for the festival parades is "Tip-toe Through The Tulips" and as you can see in the above photo, they are performing a side dip; they do this at frequent intervals of the chorus. Imagine doing all that - playing an instrument, marching in wooden shoes, and doing that dip countless times during each parade - wow. They always get a lot of applause, and deserve it indeed!

Another extremely popular event at the festival is Dutch dancing, also known as klompen dancing ("klompen" being the name of the wooden shoes worn by the dancers). The dancing routines are not really authentic to the Netherlands, but the costumes are - they are based on Dutch folk dress and have been researched for authenticity. The people running the festival take the Dutch dancing costumes VERY seriously - only certain patterns and fabrics can be used (a local fabric store stocks these) and when finished, the costumes are inspected for correctness. For those not up to the sewing challenge, a list of approved seamstresses is offered. 

(The costumes worn by the "street scrubbers" at the beginning of the Volksparade don't have to be inspected, by the way). 

And who does Dutch dancing? The bulk of the dancers are students from local high schools, but there are also two sets of adult dancers: alumni, those who had done Dutch dance when they were in high school, and community, those adults who hadn't done Dutch dance while in high school (because of doing other things like spring sports or having lived elsewhere then). 

We like to watch the Dutch dancers at the local city park - actually they dance in the streets surrounding the park, making for a big rectangle of dancers the whole way around. And here is a team from one of the local high schools:

It used to be that only girls could do Dutch dancing, and even though boys are now allowed, there are still more girls on the Dutch dance teams, so some of them get men's costumes made. Doesn't seem that anyone minds this - in face, I think at least of the girls would rather dress like the men (in a related note, our previous governor was a woman, and although she wore a woman's costume the first time she appeared in the Volksparade,  she wore a man's costume in subsequent years. This made sense, as her usual style was dress pants instead of dresses or skirts).

In an amusing portion of the dance routine, the women scold the men, though I don't know what they're supposed to be scolding them about:

That's all for now! Hope you enjoyed some of the sights from the festival!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Eight Years Ago Today...

Hello! My family had a special event that took place eight years ago today - a new addition to our family! And here's what she looks like today:

Oh, you thought I meant a person? Sorry, no. But above you see Beauty, who came to us as a six-week-old kitten eight years ago. She has developed into possibly one of the most spoiled cats in the county. Don't know how that happened. :)

Our daughter, then seven, made her First Communion eight years ago today. My brother, her godfather, had already suggested to me that a kitten would be a perfect First Communion gift. What he really meant, of course, was that our daughter's event gave him a perfect excuse to try to get rid of a kitten from the litter his cat had just had. But since I'd been promising a cat to our daughter, I told him to bring along a kitten - if any of them was a calico. (My parents had a calico cat at that time and our daughter liked that cat.)

Our daughter was thrilled with the kitten and immediately named her Beauty. Yet even though Beauty was supposed to be her kitten, somehow the tasks of making sure Beauty had food, water and a clean litterbox fell to me. So who really got a cat? Me, of course!

Perhaps because Beauty was so young when we got her, she developed a nursing substitute that she seems to think requires my presence. I have to lay down on the bed, preferably on my left side, then she'll plop down beside me, pull her tail to her mouth, and suck on that tail until she thinks she's had enough. She begins the routine by purring loudly and kneading her paws against me as well. While I'm sure that there are other cats who do this, the cat care books I've read have never mentioned this particular behavior. It's funny that I apparently have enough cat-like attributes in her mind that she likes to nurse her tail in this manner. She gets rather aggrieved if I don't go upstairs to the bedroom when she thinks a "nursing" session is in order! 

This nursing routine can be a pain at times, especially at night when I'm trying to get to sleep and she's noisily nursing her tail next to me. But in general she's a very well-behaved cat and is very loving. And we love her too!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Eats - Better Late Than Never: Slovak Easter meal

Hello! We spent Easter Sunday with my family, so today my husband, daughter and I had our own Easter dinner.

As far as I know, I don't have a drop of Central/Eastern European blood in me, but my husband is 3/4 Slovak and 1/4 Czech. I was fascinated by his family's Slovak Easter dinner customs and have adopted them as my own. 

I liked that there are many traditional foods for a Slovak Easter and that they are symbolic of various things. I simplified the meal, since there are just three of us, but here's what was served today:

On the left side is a platter of ham; symbolic of the great joy of Easter and a sign of abundance.

Center is the lamb cake; symbolic of Jesus being the Lamb of God.

On the right side is a platter of Pascha (Easter bread), which is symbolic of Christ Himself who is our True Bread; and Cirec (referred to as a "cheese", but is really a very firm cooked egg custard); bland but sweet, it is indicative of the moderation Christians should have in all things.

My mother-in-law would also always serve klobasa (sausage, like the Polish word "kielbasa"); its links remind us of the chains of death which were broken when Jesus arose. My father-in-law and his sister Auntie Mary would eat horseradish along with the klobasa; symbolic of the bitterness and suffering of Christ which culminated in the Resurrection. (I can tell you that the horseradish they favored was so strong that eating too much of it at once would cause suffering!)

We didn't get around to dyeing Easter eggs this year, but yes, they are included in a Slovak Easter dinner as well:  brightly-decorated eggs are a symbol of New Life, the life Jesus gave us by rising from the dead. 

(There are other foods that are common, but I think I've listed most of the main items).

As for the embroidered cloth in the photo, that is connected to another Easter custom, the taking of the Easter food in a basket to be blessed at church by the priest the day before Easter. At my in-laws' church in Chicago, just a portion of each part of the meal was packed into the basket, then covered with a nice cloth. However, when we lived out east and attended basket blessings at a Slovak church in Bridgeport, PA, it appeared that at least some families would pack the entire dinner to be blessed at the church - even the kids' Easter baskets, already filled with candy!

One year my in-laws' church was selling an embroidery transfer, presumably of a traditional design, to be used in making a basket cloth. My husband's Auntie Mary bought me one, so in due time I embroidered a nice fabric with the transfer and took it to Chicago the next Easter. Now, although my in-laws' church had always done basket blessings, my husband never remembered his family taking part in the custom. I hadn't realized this, but my mother-in-law was a good sport. Instead of making the Easter meal on Saturday as she had always done before, she and I fixed the foods on Friday so that it would all be ready for the basket blessing the next morning.

The phrase on the cloth, "Pan Jezis Kristus Vstal Z Mrtvych - Alleluja!" translates into "Lord Jesus Christ Has Risen From the Dead - Alleluia!" With its tendency toward using lots of consonants in a row before throwing in a vowel, Slovak wasn't easy for me to learn, but I tried my best when that language was used at my in-laws' church. (it closed in the early 1990's and I still miss it). 

This is just a brief summary of Slovak Easter customs that I am familiar with, but I hope you can see why I adopted the traditions so readily. As I had mentioned already, I like the fact that the foods are very traditional and so meaningful as well. And except for the cirec, which I can take or leave, everything is very tasty as well!

(Note: symbolic meanings were taken from the April 1990 issue of Zenska Jednota and from a handout I had saved from one of the basket blessing events).