Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Thrifty Acres - fall decor

Hello! I just have a couple of fall decor scenes to show off today, but both demonstrate how secondhand shopping can be easy on the wallet and pleasing to the eye. 

For example, this planter:

I love the design and the rich dark mustard yellow glaze. Very fall-like, I think, especially filled with ornamental squashes. Outdoor shoot is just for lighting purposes; it actually sits atop our dining room table.

The bottom of the planter identifies it as Haeger. I don't know its exact age but similar pieces online were listed as being from the 50's. It's not ultra-valuable, but this piece is certainly worth more than the 50c I paid for it!

I purchased it at a garage sale last year run by a sweet older couple who lived just a few blocks away. I noticed piles of fur pieces for sale - I'm talking silver fox, mink and the like. Turns out that the man had been a furrier and had had a shop on the south side of Chicago - as a matter of fact, just down the street from the Sears store that had employed my father-in-law for decades. My father-in-law managed the menswear department there, so I'd like to think that surely he'd waited on the furrier at least once - the man said he had frequented that Sears store often. Small world. My father-in-law is deceased so I wasn't able to ask him if he remembered the fur shop.

I wasn't in the market for fur pieces, so instead I bought some odds and ends, including the Haeger planter. I happened to notice last week that an estate sale at the same location was being advertised for this weekend. I'm guessing that an estate sale service will be handling this event, so prices are bound to be much higher than what I encountered at the garage sale. I may check it out anyway if I have the time.

The second scene is courtesy of the Salvation Army - and Mother Nature!

My favorite corner of the backyard; I love the ornamental crabtree that someone had put in. I built the park-style bench beneath it this spring from a kit. I had pondered painting the bench in some sort of funky design but haven't been motivated to do so thus far. So I figured I could buy or make some pillows or a throw to put on the bench instead to dress it up. 

Didn't do anything about that all summer, but then last week I came across a small quilt at a Salvation Army thrift store. Here's a close-up:

I liked the colors and the price - $2.99. I'm guessing the fabrics are from the 60's or 70's. I will bring it in soon for the winter, but of course with subsequent outdoor use it will eventually deteriorate. No matter - there's plenty more decorative textiles waiting in the wings at thrift stores! Or who knows - maybe I'll get around to painting that bench sometime.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sugar Cookie Recipe

Hello! When I started this blog I believe I stated I would supply a recipe here or there, but have yet to do so. I'll rectify that oversight now!

Like many a mom before and after me, I wanted our daughter to have the fun of cookie decorating - the kind that are rolled out and cut with cookie cutters. However, I didn't want the hassle of having to make dough that to be chilled ahead of time, doughs that were too soft even after being chilled and so on. But then I encountered the following recipe on the back of the set of Wilton cookie cutters I was buying. Here's the recipe:

1 cup (two sticks) softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla 
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add baking powder and flour, one cup at a time, mixing after each addition. The dough will be very stiff. Do not chill. 

Divide dough into two balls. On a floured surface, roll each ball into a circle about 12" diameter and 1/8" thick. Dip cookie cutters in flour before each use. Bake cookies on ungreased cookie sheet until lightly browned. Baking time will vary from 4-12 minutes, depending on size of cookie. 

I've used this recipe many, many times now and it's always worked really well. Occasionally I've had to add a bit more flour, but as the dough isn't chilled, it's easy to tell right away when the proper consistency has been reached. 

1/2 of the dough yielded 30 cookies for me last night; that was fine as I needed two dozen to take for refreshments after our daughter's Orchestra concert tonight. I used my two leaf-shaped cookie cutters, buttercream frosting and various fall-themed cookie sprinkles. Here's how they turned out:

I know, the leaf shapes aren't the best - they're supposed to be an oak leaf and a maple leaf, I think. Still look nice, though, with their sprinkles!

A close-up of two oak leaf cookies.

Two dozen cookies ready to go to the concert. The plate was a dime at a church rummage sale - a nicer presentation than a paper plate but if accidentally left behind, I would be out only that dime. 

When we arrived at the school, the woman in charge told me, "You made an effort - not everyone did" and removed brownies on a paper plate from a prominent spot on the table and put my plate of cookies in their place. I got puffed up a little with pride at this, but after the concert was over, I noticed that there were still two cookies on my plate - and the brownies were gone. I guess chocolate wins every time!

Oh well, it's still a good recipe, and besides, I had fun using those colored sprinkles. (I've gotten them at Amish grocery stores in PA, IL and IN).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Get carded - birthdays and a wedding

Hello! There's been several birthdays and a wedding this fall, so a small sampling of the cards I made for these occasions follows.

White cardstock, wallpaper sample, art paper piece, vintage picture domino cut in half and edged with red Staz On ink, vintage bingo marker (age of birthday girl, of course), shiny rickrack piece, and "Happy Birthday" stamped in brown Staz On ink on a piece of beige cardstock.

Birthday card 2:

White cardstock, art paper piece with William Morris design (from a book I got free at a garage sale), sample paper from a paper company (from a set of sample papers I got for 50c at a thrift store), bird stamped on white cardstock with black Staz On ink, then stamped with other colors, "happy birthday" stamped in black Staz On ink and scrap of decorative ribbon at the top. 

The ribbon placement was necessitated by the wording on the sample paper piece touting the color of paper produced by the company. Of course I didn't want that to show! The colors from the sample paper set perfectly matched the colors of the William Morris paper set, and as I had six cards to make, that made my task easier. I used the same basic components but mixed and matched papers, ribbons and stamped images. 

Of course, a boy of eight would not care about perfectly-matched tones of William Morris papers, so he got his own card design shown above. I used:  white cardstock, piece of vintage menu that I'd painted and stamped, art paper scrap, cardstock piece, vintage playing card (birthday boy's age represented), cotton yarn piece and stamped message with black Staz On ink.

I'd mentioned a wedding card and here it is:

White cardstock, 1880's ledger paper stamped with handmade stamp in red acrylic paint, "happily ever after" stamped on off-white cardstock scrap in red Ditto ink, "bride" and "groom" game pieces from a vintage Bridal Shower bingo game (bright red of the game pieces muted a bit with ivory acrylic paint), piece of red cord, ivory and red vintage buttons and a small floral embellishment. I really liked how this one turned out!

Well, I gotta run - I just remembered that the younger sister of the niece who got the first card shown has a birthday of her own to celebrate - so another card is needed!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Return to Pennsylvania

 Hello! We went to Williamsport, Pennsylvania for a short trip last week. Although we were there in August, we like visiting in the fall the best, when the hills are ablaze in glorious fall colors. 

I happily explored the area on my own last Monday while the rest of my family was off doing a hike. I began my excursion by making a visit to a local thrift store, where I purchased some vintage Christmas lights. I will show them off in a future post. 

No trip to the area would be complete without a stop at Purity Chocolates, where part of the fun is seeing the candies being made in the room just beyond the retail store. Looks like the folks at Purity are thinking ahead:

Above, chocolate turkeys and snowmen have been set aside to dry after being unmolded. 

Above, a five-pound solid chocolate turkey had been decorated with fall leaf-shaped cake sprinkles on its tail and was finished off with cellophane wrap gathered with colorful wired ribbon. At $29.95, this costs more than a real turkey does per pound, but tastes even better! I always say that if anyone were to bring this as a hostess gift on Thanksgiving Day, they would surely be invited back again!

From the Purity business it was a straight shot down US 15 to Lewisburg. From previous visits, I knew there were many old buildings worth photographing, but first I took a picture of a storefront:

The shop was called Treasures of Japan, but unfortunately it was closed that day. I would have loved to see what this store carried. 

There are many well-preserved older buildings in and around downtown Lewisburg, such as: 
This is the Lewisburg Hotel. 

Pretty detail on a front door panel.

 The above building houses a restaurant.

 Cheerfully-painted brick exterior.

 As I was taking the above photo, a woman came from around the corner and approached the house - turns out that it was hers. I quickly explained that I was visiting from out of state and that I was taking a picture of her front door because I loved the colors. She chuckled and said they were going to have the exterior repainted in the next few weeks. She said her house was 150 years old.

Pretty stained-glass window detail on a church.

Two more lovely older homes shown above.

I could have taken pictures around Lewisburg all afternoon, but I did want to make time to visit the Roller Mills antique mall. I was tempted to buy a few things, but decided to stick to window shopping instead.

I will leave you with one last photo:

I have always loved the name Spook Hollow Road. I don't know the story behind this name, but it's appropriate for this month of Halloween hauntings. The road is off of US 220 between Williamsport and Jersey Shore. 

I came back missing the hills and historic architecture of Pennyslvania, as both are in short supply where I currently live.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Holidays - some Halloween favorites

Hello! Got around to putting my Halloween decorations up today, and while I don't go all out for this holiday, I do have some favorites to show off:

A talented friend sent me this card that she'd crafted so well, as she always does:

Another very talented friend made the following:

And another friend made the skull-like ornament you see hanging up in the display rack I'd mentioned a few posts back:

I made the ATC's that are hanging up on either side of the skull ornament, using my usual mix of vintage papers, rubber stamps, art paper scraps and whatever else struck my fancy. 

I also made some of what you see in the following picture:

I painted the bare wood pumpkin shape in the back, and in the front are wooden blocks I decorated, again using a variety of vintage and newer papers and rubber stamps. The blocks were seconds from Learning From Scratch.

I didn't make the following, but it was so charming and so reasonably priced at a craft show that I snapped it up:

This little witch ornament has a place of honor of top of the tabletop-sized reproduction feather tree that I change with the seasons. She's only 5" high but has a lot of detail for her diminutive size. Because of that, I thought the $4.00 I paid well worth it. Purchased at the Covered Bridge Festival in Parke County, IN.

I also did not make the next item, and it was even cheaper - $3.00 at a thrift store this summer. I had a hard time believing they didn't try to get a higher price for it:

She's nearly 3' long and very well made!

I love decorating with vintage items, but vintage Halloween pieces are very pricey. Therefore I was delighted to find the following two items to hang up in my windows:

I paid a quarter apiece a few years back at a garage sale run by a woman who was closing down her daycare. I could tell that these decorations been around awhile, but didn't know how old they were. Looked at them closer today and saw that one still had its original price tag on it: 25c at F. W. Woolworth. You don't see prices like that on today's Halloween decorations! (and of course you don't see Woolworth's anymore either) So I knew these had been purchased some time ago. Looked on eBay for more info - and saw sellers listing identical decorative items and stating they were from the 50's or 60's. Noted that one seller had listed their item for $29.99. Mine are a little beat up, so perhaps they're worth the $9.99 another seller was asking. Either way, a far cry from the quarter I had paid!

I love the following jack-o-lantern:

I got it at a cute gift shop in southern Indiana, a place we used to frequent while doing day hikes on the Knobstone Trail in that region. If I recall correctly, the sales clerk told me that the pumpkin was made from a coconut husk.

The witch hanging below dates from 1978. I was a freshman at Michigan State University when my family sent it to me. Everyone at home had signed it, and the various family pets (at that time several cats, several gerbils and one dog)had their names added as well.

It was rare that I got something special in the mail from my family when I was at college, so I treasured this and have hung it up every year since then. It's even more special now that two of the family members who had signed it have since died. 

One of these two was my mother, who had crafted the following witch doll:

She made the doll in 1996, when our daughter was 15 months old, and mailed it to us. We were living in suburban Philadelphia then, so it was a special way for my mom to connect with our daughter, who loved the doll from the start. My mom did a ton of sewing for her many grandchildren!

That's all for now - hope you enjoyed seeing what I have!