Saturday, August 31, 2013

Job Jar - Month #8

Hello! I missed a few job jar days because of helping our daughter get ready to go away to college - now that was quite the job itself! But here's what I accomplished this month:

I practiced drawing, worked on some craft projects, carved a rubber stamp and wrote a poem. 

I researched new volunteer opportunities, was mindful of giving compliments, bought something to give to a friend, looked for ways to be helpful toward neighbors, made a treat for our daughter, and left guerilla art for others to find. 

I studied my camera manual. I had only skimmed through it before, when I first got the camera, but I decided to sit down and read it more thoroughly after drawing this job jar task. And what do you know? I learned things about my camera that I hadn't realized it could do. Well, duh! Always helps to read a manual thoroughly, doesn't it? 

I cleaned various parts of the house, did decluttering, caught up on filing, and cleaned the stove. The latter task refers to cleaning the exterior of this appliance. That may not sound like much of a chore, but if you'd seen what our stove looked like before I did this job jar task - well, let's just say that the exterior hadn't had more than a lick and a promise for ages - and looked it. But I put in the time and the elbow grease to give the stove a good cleaning and voila - it practically looks brand new again! I hardly recognize it. Now, if it would only stay that way...but with the way I cook, that is doubtful! 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Thrifty Acres: Fun Times In 1949 - Part Two

Hello! Time for another trip down Memory Lane with the Winter 1949-50 issue of McCall Needlework Knitting . Crochet . Home Arts & Crafts.  I always find ads in older magazines interesting, for they give one a sense of what it was like to be a consumer in a different era. 

And since today's post highlights "fun times", let's see what purchases would have been considered fun in the winter of 1949-50, shall we? 

 Part of an ad from the National School of Dress Design - "Add Zest, Thrills, Fascination to your Work" - not bad for a home study course!

Weavers take notice! "14 EXCITING NEW COLORS...created exclusively for you!" (this ad is courtesy of the Davis Cordage Company). Makes me want to turn a cartwheel - except that I never learned how to turn one. Oh well. 

Are you ready for some thrills? 

How about "a new sewing thrill", as in Lamikin Felt, produced by the Central Felt Company? Whee! Actually, 100% wool is currently a very popular crafting medium, so I pick it up when I find it at thrift stores - even if it's not from the Central Felt Company.

Picture this: the lady of the house proudly shows off her new slipcovers to her admiring neighbors. "What lovely fabric! Where did you find it?" the neighbors want to know. 

"Why, from here..." our lady of the house explains:

"You see, I made my slipcovers from a government surplus parachute!" 

The ad goes on to explain: "This is the finest, best, and strongest nylon and silk that Uncle Sam could buy". The cost for that 65 square yards? $14.95 - with a shipping/handling fee of only $1.00! Sounds like a pretty good deal to me! 

The ad, which is from the American Agency, also mentions the sewing of slips, dresses, negligees and all sorts of undergarments. 65 yards would make a lot of slips! Fortunately, half and quarter chutes (32 and 16 square yards, respectively) were also available, at lower prices, of course. 

Here's some real fun:

I agree, it's fun to make gifts, but I have to admit, I've never had the fun of making them with Jaymor leather accessories and 100% lamb's wool. 

And continuing on with the DIY fun, we have:

See, the ad screams "IT'S FUN TO MAKE IT YOURSELF!" With the help of "HOW-TO-DO-IT" books from Greystone Press, that is. I love the breathless sentence above each book shown in the ad (not legible in the above photo, I realize), such as "Color and Decorating Scheme for Every Taste!" for HOW TO USE COLOR AND DECORATING DESIGNS IN THE HOME, or "At Last! Embroidery Made Easy!" for THE COMPLETE BOOK OF EMBROIDERY AND EMBROIDERY STITCHES

Part of the description of that book reads: "Embroider hundreds of articles which you and your friends will treasure for years. And have fun, too, with the help of this wonder-working guide." 

Well, I'd say it's a "wonder-working guide" indeed, if it made the embroidery of "hundreds of articles" sound fun. I like to do embroidery, but not that much! 

Well, that closes the book on the fun to be had in the winter of 1949-50 - at least according to this particular magazine!



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Thrifty Acres: Fun Times In 1949 - Part One

Hello! Once again, I will turn to a vintage magazine to see what was happening in a past decade - this time the Winter 1949-50 issue of McCall Needlework Knitting . Crochet . Home Arts & Crafts

Now, since I wasn't around then, I don't actually know what was considered fun in 1949, but according to this magazine, there was plenty of fun to be had in doing needlework, knitting, crochet, home arts & crafts! 

For example:

The model does look like she's having fun in this nifty ski sweater. "Let ski weather find you ready with the proper know-how - a ski set of glistening white, brightly spotted with fascinating four-color motifs. Notice those dancing girls in the border!" Huh? If I'm reading that sentence correctly, it sounds as if "proper know-how" consisted of wearing the ski set (sweater and matching mittens), not knowing how to ski. Maybe all the fun was in looking the part!

I'm not sure if kids ever think that "Back-to-School Is Really Fun!", but hey, the copy writers can say whatever they want. If that heading wasn't enough proof enough, here's the accompanying text for the sweater on the left: "Back-to-school with a pair of frisky white squirrels knitted into a warm, warm cardigan! Your sub-teener will be elated with this loaded-with-fun cardigan." See, there's that word "fun" again! What more proof do you need that going back to school is fun?

Well, enough of kiddie fun, how about good times for the grownups out there?

Let's party! "Wear it for bridge and late-day dress-up! The openwork neck trim, bow-tied sleeves, and lustrous crepey yarn all take up the party idea." Well, I guess the 1949 idea of parties!

These are labeled as "practical gifts", but the design is what makes this project fun:

The copy reads: "Floor show in the kitchen! With dancing dishes and top-hatted tumblers. Stage-struck dish towels may be embroidered in outline stitch to match kitchen decor...designs...not shown include, fat comedian (tea kettle) master of ceremonies (pot)". Such giddiness to be had in kitchen towels! They would have been fun to embroider. 

More kitchen crafting fun:

The accompanying text:  "Kitchen skylarking (note: not sure what that's supposed to mean) demands bright aprons! The amusing little figures on this manly, this feminine apron, show Mr. bringing home the groceries, washing dishes, mopping up, and Mrs. cooking the dinner, saying "Come and get it!" Will amuse friends, each other." Hey - it sounds like the Mr. did more work, at least according to the aprons. Sounds like fun to me!

Are you ready for some good news? Who wouldn't be? 

Oh, were you hoping for world peace? Or at least a new discovery on how to lose weight? Sorry, all I have is good news about cutwork squares! 

What's so good about them? Well, here's what our magazine writers had to say: "A magnificent tablecloth can be made by working it piece-by-piece in small squares, just as women who crochet have been working luncheon cloths in small medallions. It appeals to women of today who must do their needlework while commuting or in spare moments. These squares can also be tucked away in purses when not being worked." 

Hmmm...haven't women always done their needlework in spare moments? It's not as if one can cook dinner or run a meeting with one hand while doing needlework with the other. But never mind, let the magazine writers have their fun spreading such good news! 

I have shown off projects in this post, but in my next installment, I'll be discussing some ads within this magazine. And they're even more fun!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Good-Byes And New Beginnings

If you have read Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series, then you might recall that Mary, Laura's oldest sister, left home to attend a college for the blind. It was located hundreds of miles away from where Laura's family was living, which at that time meant a good deal of planning and expense. (Mary leaves for college in Little Town On The Prairie).

The night before she was to depart for college, Ma Ingalls asked Mary what she would like to eat for her last dinner at home, and Mary replied that anything Ma put on the table was good. 

Well, yesterday was my turn to be like Ma Ingalls and ask our daughter what she wanted for her last dinner at home - for she was heading off to college too. She didn't give me any suggestions, so I ended up making chicken fajitas. 

Then early this morning it was time to load up the car with her belongings and drive off to her new home, a college dorm. She's gone off before for a mission trip, school excursions and a summer camp, but this would be different. In fact, when your kid goes off to college, you realize that nothing will ever really be the same. And like probably all parents at this stage, you wonder just where the past 18 years has gone. And, of course, never to return.

But that is how it is - life changes, but life goes on. We were all sad as we said our goodbyes this afternoon, but we are truly glad for our daughter and this new beginning in her life. We hope that she makes great new friends and has great experiences! 

And unlike Mary Ingalls, we know that it'll be a lot easier for our daughter to come home from college for a visit or vacations. In Little Town On The Prairie, two Christmases and one summer go by without a visit from Mary. That must have been very hard on the Ingalls family, and it's mentioned occasionally how much they miss her. It probably would have been easier on them if she had been able to come home more often. 

Oh - and as far Mary's last meal at home: "It is so hot," Ma said. "I believe I will have cottage cheese balls with onions in them, and the cold creamed peas. Suppose you bring some lettuce and tomatoes from the garden, Laura." Cottage cheese balls with onions may not sound like much, but it would have been cottage cheese Ma made herself, with milk from their own cow. Imagine how nice and fresh that would have tasted!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thrifty Acres: From The Ridiculous To The Sublime - Part Two

Hello! Yesterday I discussed what I liked from the Fall-Winter 1965-66 issue of McCall's Needlework & Crafts - ie, what was "sublime". So, of course, today I get to talk about the ridiculous ads and projects in this magazine!

Are you ready? You'd better be, for first up are these knitting projects:

Now, I'm all for staying warm in cold weather, but seriously?! Even if I was an accomplished knitter, I could not make these in good conscience, lest the kid wearing either item get laughed off the playground. 

The accompanying text reads: "GIRLS' FACE MASK...Fringed yarn bangs and pompon "hair" are amusing". No, they're not - the girl just looks like some freaky clown. 

"BOYS' SKI MASK: Warm little Indian wears his feathers knitted over pipe cleaners, his war paint of duplicate stitch. Knitted nosepiece sewn on". Guess it was okay in the winter of 1965-66 for boys to run around pretending they were "Injuns" in war paint! 

Native Americans who lived near water caught and ate fish, of course, so perhaps a boy who liked to pretend he was a Native American would have also liked a pretend fish skeleton hanging up in his bedroom. After all, the caption reads "Fanciful crafts animate a young boy's world". 

I don't doubt that statement overall, but I tend to think there are better craft projects than those that are meant to replicate dead fish! I'll give the project designer credit for "fanciful", all right - as in the use of a ice cube tray divider for the fish skeleton. 

I think we can all tell that this knitted toy is supposed to be a dog, but can anyone guess what breed this is supposed to be? 

If you answered "basset hound", then you are correct, according to the magazine. However, the body shape doesn't really resemble that breed, so I don't know why the magazine folks labeled the toy as such. 

But if you think that was odd, wait till you see what was used to design the following necklace:

Can you tell what those white things are? I'll give you a hint - they're related to one of our most popular holidays. 

Did you say "turkey bones"? Yes, this "bead-bone necklace" uses seven vertebrae from a cooked turkey neck. There are explicit directions on how to achieve the cleaned, white state (boil, then soak in bleach water overnight, then dry bones in the sun) - but my question is - why? I wondered if anyone actually made this. It was suggested as a holiday bazaar item, but I'd call it "holiday bizarre".

But that was far from the only repurposed item from nature shown in this magazine, for we also find:

Since the picture is in black and white, it may be hard to tell what these are supposed to be, and what they were made of. So, I will tell you the name of the project: "Corn Stalk Zoo". I guess this isn't too bad, but it just struck me as a little odd. 

Last but not least is an ad; it is what inspired me to do a blog post on this magazine:

Of course, there's nothing wrong with wanting to start one's own business, and there are plenty of knitters today who have their own yarn shops. But how much business would the owner get if she had the same demented look on her face while running the shop? 

A close-up:

You can just hear her cackle like the Wicked Witch of the West as she counts her money. "Today the yarn shop - tomorrow the world!" she chortles evilly. 

Why anyone from the Yarn Paradise company allowed this to run in a nationally-distributed magazine is beyond me. Surely they could have found someone who could have drawn a more pleasant-looking face!

But, after all, this blog post was about that which was ridiculous. And as I commented in yesterday's post, ridiculousness makes for cheap entertainment!



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Thrifty Acres: From The Ridiculous To The Sublime - Part One

Hello! I've said it before, and I'll say it again now: vintage magazines can be inexpensive history lessons - and they can also be a source of cheap entertainment as well, in the form of head-scratching, "what were they thinking back then?" when read today. (btw, when I say "inexpensive", I mean anywhere from a dime to fifty cents).

When the vintage magazine is the fall-winter 1965-66 McCall's Needlework & Crafts, the ads and projects shown range from the ridiculous to the sublime. I'll show off some of the "sublime" ads and projects today, beginning with:

This quartet of sweaters, made with imported Danish wool yarn, would still look great today. And see that rectangle in the upper right-hand corner? Its purpose was to inform the would-be purchaser of this:

Not sure why a French airline was used to fly a Danish product over, but still quite the jet-setting yarn!

From another yarn ad, this outfit:

According to the ad, Shan-Isle was "an exciting fleck tweed wool yarn in nine highland-fashion colors". Although it's hot and humid as I write this, I must admit that this sweater set is very nice. 

The Scottish look continues with:

The above outfits are "Scotch Miss" sweater/skirt kits, which included yarn to make one of the sweater styles shown above, plus a skirt that only needed one seam sewn to complete the project. I remember having plaid skirts like these when I was a little girl (I was almost six when this magazine came out in the fall of 1965), so that must have been the thing then. 

I like the "shaded diamonds" pattern in these sweaters and sweater vest; that is the pattern name according to the ad. Again, I think these would look pretty sharp today!

Of course, it wasn't all ads in this magazine; there were plenty of projects included as well, like this:

These "Swinging Separates", we are told, "go where the fun is!" And as for how the outfit is constructed: "Close-fitting knit top from Paris (they're referring to the designer here) has a shoulder zipper; flaring skirt is crocheted in wide bands of lace stitch, worn in the short, short style loved by the very young."

Upon reading that last statement, I looked closely at the magazine photo to see exactly where the skirt's bottom edge fell on the model - and it appeared to be just a few inches above the knee. "Short, short style", eh? In the near future, the fashion world would see mini skirts, micro-mini skirts and short shorts. Those garments had what I'd call "short, short style"!

But the writers of this magazine didn't know this yet - nor did they know that decades later, I would alternately be amused or appalled at the some of the crafts they had created for the issue. 

And the ridiculousness of such projects will be the subject of my next post!


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Eats - Here's Help For Your Farmer's Market Frenzy

Dazzled by all the great produce showing up at your local farmer's market? Tempted by the offerings at a roadside stand? Did you decide to go to a U-Pick place and came home with more fruit than you had planned on? 

Awhile back I stumbled upon, which is a huge, comprehensive site devoted to just about everything produce-related you can think of: where to find farm markets and U-Pick fields, how to know when to pick produce, how to can, freeze or dry produce, recipes, and a lot more! 

I first came across this site last fall when I wanted a refresher on how to cook a fresh pumpkin, and consulted it again recently when looking up info on how to freeze eggplant.

I haven't looked over the whole site, but I've enjoyed what I've read thus far. If you want to check out for yourself, go HERE.

Enjoy those fresh fruits and vegetables in season - and beyond!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thrifty Acres - Fabulous Fifties Food Styling

Hello! I enjoy looking at vintage cookbooks, but they are not without negatives at times. In the case of recipes, what passed for a suitable entree or dessert decades ago may not be my cup of tea today. I've seen enough recipes for prune-based desserts and bland pork chops to make me glad I wasn't around back then. 

And although I always get a kick out of vintage cookbook illustrations, older cookbooks that used photographs are another story - often they're either blah black-and-white or blurry color pics. This is not the fault of the publishers, of course - it was just how the technology was - but it can make for a less-than-appealing presentation of the very foods I'm supposed to want to make. 

But lo and behold, I recently purchased the 1953 A Picture Treasury of Good Cooking, by Demetria M. Taylor and Lillian C. Ziegfeld, photographed by Albert Gommi. It was produced by the Tested Recipe Institute, Inc. Yes, the cookbook is 60 years old, but the recipes sound - and look - quite good, and I enjoyed the food styling. (this was a thrift store purchase, by the way)

Not surprisingly, it was all carefully planned:

I'd say that Annette Rhys (food stylist) and Ernestine Stowell (accessories and table settings) did a "grand job" indeed! To show you why I say that, I'll present some photos from the cookbook. 

Hamburger Grill with broiled tomatoes and banana scallops (the things that look like Tator Tots). I like the dinnerware set used here. 

French Fried Shrimp flanked by tartar sauce, a basket of potato chips and a tossed salad. Still would make for a nice dinner!

Baked Macaroni And Cheese, garnished with bacon, with a tossed salad and hot tea with lemon slices. Not sure that I'd want hot tea with my mac and cheese, but I like the vinegar and oil cruet set to the left of the salad. 

Caesar Salad - made the (now) old-fashioned way, with anchovy fillets and a raw egg. Shown with a loaf of crusty bread.

Golden Potato Salad with a basket of kaiser rolls and a platter of cold cuts. Picnic, anyone?

Fruit Salad With Cottage Cheese. The cottage cheese has been lightly sweetened with honey, and the small bowl to the left holds a dressing of mayonnaise and sour cream mixed together. A small platter of tea sandwiches and glasses of iced tea are behind the salad. I think I'd prefer a dressing of a fruit-flavored or vanilla yogurt instead of that mayo/sour cream blend, but other than that, this looks like a pleasant summertime luncheon.

At Eastertime - Hot Cross Buns, accompanied by butter, jams, hot tea - and an adorable grouping of a stuffed bunny and some baby chicks. I also like the pretty design of the tableware, and the glass butter dish is quite nice too. 

Rise and shine! Who wouldn't want to get up with this breakfast: Buttermilk Griddlecakes, sausage links, maple syrup, hot coffee and milk. The cheery yellow placemat and blue-and-white plaid napkins would wake up a sleepyhead as well.

Another eye-opener: a fancy dessert; this is Silver Cake. Undoubtedly Rhys and Stowell were going for a special occasion look, what with the bowls of mixed nuts and mint patties, as well as the delicate-looking tableware. The cake is on a footed serving plate; very nice - and the cake itself looks great!

And last but not least, that classic dessert, Old-Fashioned Apple Pie. It's shown with a fat wedge of Cheddar cheese, cups of hot coffee - and a nifty candle holder adorned with red apples. Quite a-peel-ing! A good apple pie is worth the work of peeling the apples, though. 

These are just a few examples of the good recipes and even better food styling found within the pages of this cookbook. It made me hungry just going through it to photograph these pages. Time to make dinner!


Monday, August 12, 2013

Thrifty Acres - Estate Sale Blues

Hello! When I spy an estate sale listing in our paper, advertisting fabrics, craft supplies and patterns, I'm anything but blue at the prospect of finding such things on the cheap. But it can be a bit heart-wrenching attending these sales when they're being run by family members sad at the prospect of selling off a relative's belongings. 

Went to one such sale over the weekend, where it was evident that a talented painter/quilter had once been very busy creating all sorts of decorative items. The woman taking my money looked as if she had been blinking back a few tears, so I commented that the sale represented the output of a very creative person - her mother, the woman replied. I told her I could relate some to what she is going through, as my childhood home is currently on the market, with an estate sale in the future there. 

But in an effort to cheer her up, I added that because of the estate sale, her mother's efforts would now be enjoyed by people all over the county.  That seemed to cheer the woman up a bit; she said she hadn't thought of it that way.

My purchases:

Fabric pieces

Buttons and a small "acorn" (acorn cap and fabric) ornament

A few quilt squares that had been mixed in with the fabric pieces

Heart with pieced front. It's only 4 1/2" high, so the fabric pieces are tiny. None of them are bigger than 3/4"! I have a bedroom in pink and green, so this heart will be hung up there. 

Sweet bird painted on a small wooden plaque.

It took me a bit to figure out what the following artwork had been painted on:

I eventually realized this sailboat scene had been painted on a Leggs pantyhose container, but it did not look plastic-y at all - nice job! 

The other side of this "egg" has this scene:

Ye Olde Dutch Windmill. Thus, I can use this piece as a decoration next May as well during the local tulip festival. 

After paying for my purchases, I wished the woman good luck with the rest of the sale - not much more I could really say under the circumstances, but I will remember her mother when I look at the painted egg and the pretty heart. 



Thursday, August 8, 2013

Eats - Cheesecake In A Jar

Hello! I have a small family, so there's no sense in making a dessert unless all three of us will eat it - unless I can find a small-scale recipe, that is. 

Case in point: cheesecake. My husband doesn't like it, but our daughter and I do. I suppose I could have just scaled down a cheesecake recipe for the two of us, but never bothered to do so. 

Then awhile back I came across a recipe for Cheesecake In A Jar from the King Arthur Flour website. Their recipes are usually pretty good so I took notice of this one, in which seven 1/2 pint canning jars are filled with a cheesecake mixture, then baked in a slow cooker. 

I didn't have any canning jars around at the time, but before I could find them in thrift stores (they often show up there), a friend asked me if I wanted some old canning jars that had been her mother's. Problem solved! 

The King Arthur recipe states that it makes 14 rich servings (two per jar), so I cut the recipe in half and used four jars. The instructions are written for using an electric mixer, but since I was making a half recipe, I beat the mixture by hand, making sure that the cream cheese was well-softened before I began. 

The cooking time is between one-two hours in the slow cooker, and the instructions caution that cooking times may vary. I cooked our cheesecakes for around two hours (they definitely weren't done at the one-hour mark), but I think I could have shortened the time a bit. 

I found it convenient to make these after dinner last night, then I refrigerated them to have for dessert tonight. 

Here's how a jar looked before it was opened:

And here's about a quarter of the cheesecake scooped out for my serving:

Result? Tastes good, like a cheesecake should!

You may have noticed that there are two layers of graham cracker crumbs in the jar - I should mention that the recipe instructions say to add the crumbs as one bottom layer, but one commenter complained that it was too hard to get to the crumbs when spooning the cheesecake out. She said she was going to try layering the crumbs next time. That made sense to me, so that's what I did.

Would I make these again? Well, even with a half recipe, these are still pretty rich for two cheesecake eaters, but this dessert would be fun to serve at a party or to give as small gifts (they keep up to a week). 

If you'd like the recipe, you can find it HERE.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Town And Country Vacation: Part Two

Hello! Yesterday I talked about the "town" part of our recent vacation, so today I'll conclude by talking about the "country" places we visited. 

We left Pittsburgh on a Monday morning, taking State Route 28 up to I-80 in the Brookville area. Route 28 starts as a limited-access highway but eventually becomes a two-lane road. Plenty of nice scenery and a few old villages along the way, and I saw a number of small white churches that would have made for nice photo ops. I love the scenery in Pennsylvania!

Our destination was Williamsport, PA, but shortly before we got there we made our usual stop at Purity Chocolates near Allenwood. I've written about this business before. Sure, there are many chocolate shops around, but not all of them have their factory connected to the retail shop, visible to customers. 

Looks like a sports theme was going on the day we visited:

Appears to be footballs on the top rack and baseballs below them (plus there's some flat molded chocolates underneath the baseballs, but I couldn't tell what they were meant to represent). Football season will begin soon (high school football is huge in these parts), and as for the baseballs - well, the Little League World Series will also begin soon - several miles away on literally the same road. I think a chocolate baseball would be a great souvenir of a visit to the Little League World Series!

Speaking of that sporting event and of souvenirs, I did manage to combine the two during a visit to the American Rescue Workers thrift store in Williamsport: I purchased a t-shirt celebrating a local team that made it quite far in the tournament in 2011. It was a big deal at the time in the region, of course, and we were cheering for that team to go all the way, but they didn't. The t-shirt was in fine shape; looked practically brand new. I paid $3.50 for it, but I bet it had cost at least three times that much new. 

Williamsport is actually a "big city" for its region; we stay there because it has the best choices of hotels and eateries. But like every other town in the area, hills and rivers are close by. 

And we saw plenty of both during a walk along the Pine Creek Rail Trail. We first walked along this trail during a visit last summer. This year we parked at the Ross Run Access Area and walked to the village of Cammal area and back, a distance of around five miles round trip. 

Saw nice scenery, of course:

View along Pine Creek.

Cottages along the way; Pine Creek is visible in the background of the first photo:

Houses in or near the village of Cammal:

The third photo is actually of the garage belonging to the house in the middle photo. I liked the numerous birdhouses decorating the little building attached to the garage on the side. 

For years we have passed this stone house on the way to hiking trips on the nearby Black Forest Trail, and I've always liked it. It was for sale a couple of years ago and obviously someone had bought it, for a lot of work has been done recently. It appeared that new windows have been put in, and while we passed by I could see workmen fixing up the garage. I don't know the history of the house, but it must have one; this isn't a common building style in the area.

We encountered several people on bikes and one pedestrian couple. Should have taken a photo of an older couple we saw on bikes: they came pedaling up to stop at a bathroom facility along the trail and we chatted with them for a bit. Their bikes had matching baskets attached to the handles, which I learned the woman had woven herself. The design was Native American, she said. Very nice design at that - and the basket was just the right size to hold their neighbor's dog, who had happily come along for the ride. 

The day after our stint along the Pine Creek Rail Trail, we headed up to Ithaca, NY. Ithaca is a college town and so doesn't exactly have a small-town feel, but it's a bit off the beaten track, so it seems like it's out in the country. 

You can get quite a workout walking to the campus of Cornell University from downtown Ithaca - it's a steady climb up. We've all done that before, but this time just my husband did the climb while our daughter and I checked out the shops in the downtown area. 

Of course I had to visit Sew Green, a thrift store devoted solely to fabrics, trims, yarns, patterns, craft books and a few other odds and ends related to sewing. (of these categories, they have more fabric than anything else). They also offer sewing classes for all age groups.

Sew Green had expanded since my first visit there two years ago; it'd now doubled in size. I was happy to see that; more room for browsing! I bought a couple of fabric pieces that were on sale plus a pattern for making a fabric wallet. I also rifled through the "free" box and selected three pattern leaflets. 

There are a number of charming shops in downtown Ithaca but I made only one other purchase there, also at a secondhand store: Judith Fertig's Prairie Home Cooking cookbook, from the used book store Autumn Leaves. Lots of solid recipes here, including some that were new to me. For instance, did you know that you can make a flavored syrup from peach leaves? (unsprayed, of course). I had never heard of this, but Fertig says the syrup has a delicate almond flavor. 

I loved this pottery at Handwork:

The same potter also had a shelf devoted to doggy-decorated wares. I saw a lot of things in this shop that I would love to have!

Creativity abounds in Ithaca:

I'm not sure what this is called, so I'll just call it a "utility box". We saw several of these around town, each painted in a different way. 

The pedestrian mall, called Ithaca Commons, is currently undergoing some construction, so a typical wooden barrier was set up around the work zone. And probably typical of a town like Ithaca, sections of the barrier have been painted to represent various community groups and businesses. I took the picture of the artwork for Bandwagon Brew Pub because that's where we went for dinner. It's a microbrewery with a small menu; locally sourced food is a strength. 

A more crude example of artwork:

This large painted wheel was residing at the Tompkins County Workers Center, found on the second floor above Autumn Leaves. We don't know much about this center, but  we enjoy walking around in it to see what's going on with local social justice. This wheel is part of an anti-fracking organization housed at the center. I also saw  a table of fundraising items, including bumper stickers and anti-Walmart buttons. Two men were seated at a long table nearby, one giving earnest advice or expertise to the other. Basically, this is a place for the "little guy" - nice to see people looking out for workers instead of just the bottom line!

With that, I conclude the "country" portion of our vacation. I hope you enjoyed traveling along with me! We had a great time.