Thursday, July 31, 2014

Vacation Collages (ICAD Challenge)

Hello! I knew that the June/July ICAD (index card a day) Challenge would include the week we would be on vacation at the end of July. So, along with clothes, tourism info and other necessities, I packed some index cards, a glue stick, and scissors. 

Since I'd already enjoyed doing collage work on a few index cards, I thought it'd be fun to continue this during the trip - I'd grab brochures, newspapers and such to create collages representative of the areas we visited. 

I ended up doing four such collages, and I think they turned out pretty well! See for yourself:

#1 Pittsburgh, PA

My collage pays homage to the Pittsburgh Steelers (their fans are among the most devoted sports fans I've ever seen), Kennywood (an amusement park founded in 1898), the Strip District (popular restaurants, ethnic grocery stores and nightlife), the skyline along the river (there's rivers all over the place) and the historic neighborhoods. 

#2 Winterthur, a museum near Wilmington, DE

Since we only toured the Winterthur gardens this time, I didn't get to see the ongoing Downton Abbey exhibit. But since we used to be Winterthur members, I'm confident that the exhibit would have been worth viewing. Winterthur is a top-notch place; anything they do is worth viewing! 

My collage shows off other Winterthur highlights, such as one of the lavishly-decorated rooms one can tour, an example of garden statuary, and the Enchanted Woods, a fanciful children's garden. The upcoming "Truck & Tractor Day" is also geared toward kids. 

#3 Williamsport PA and surrounding area

The Little League organization got its start in Williamsport. The Williamsport Crosscutters, an A-level minor league affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, play at historic Bowman Field. 

For us, no trip to Williamsport would be complete without a trip to Wegmans, which is an upstate NY grocery store chain. For one thing, it's a short walk from the hotel we use (the downtown Hampton Inn), and has a good food court perfect for a quick meal. When we want a sit-down meal, we'll head to Bullfrog Brewery, also a short walk from our hotel. 

We didn't go to Woolrich's flagship store this time, but have been there frequently. It's a short drive from Williamsport. 

Also a relatively short drive away is the Pine Creek Rail Trail. Supposedly USA Today ranked it one of the top ten trails in the world. I don't know what the other nine trails on their list are, but I do know that the Pine Creek Rail Trail is very nice indeed. We walked along a short segment of it a few days ago. The scenery is wonderful!  

#4 Ithaca, NY

A two-hour trip from Williamsport, Ithaca isn't exactly a hop, skip and a jump away, but we like the funky college town vibe. Our visit began with an early lunch at the Ithaca Bakery, where I had the sandwich shown, Augie's New Spiedie (spiedie is a marinated meat preparation from Endicott, NY). 

For me, no visit to Ithaca is complete without a stop at Sew Green, a fabric/craft supply thrift store. This time I left the store with a craft book, two current craft magazines and a bulging bag of fabric scraps (pick and choose from several baskets, so I got just what I wanted). I paid a grand total of $4 for all. The price of those two magazines would have been almost $23 alone! But they were each 25c. 

Social justice and sustainability are important topics in Ithaca. Thus, a local business is "Food Justice Certified" and the county runs a Food Scraps Recycling program. 

Green Star Natural Foods Market is the local food co-op. We always tour food co-ops when we come across them. Health food stores just aren't quite the same.

"Hot Truck", I've gathered, is a local food truck beloved by Cornell University students. It's known for its pizza-like creations on French bread. 

And there you have it, mini-tours of four of our vacation stops, each with its own local flavor captured on an index card. I admit, it took a bit of time to make each collage, since I could only use small-scale images and copy. But it was fun to do and now I have four souvenirs, free of charge!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Vintage Mother-Daughter Ads

Hello! While going through some vintage magazines recently, I came across a couple of mother-daughter ads that I found amusing, so I'm sharing them here. 

From 1950:

Above, Mother and Daughter are look-alikes, from their matching hairstyles down to their ...well, no, their footwear isn't identical. Daughter wears Mary Janes with anklets while Mother wears - of course - strappy black high heels. 

Their facial expressions of delight are matching as well:

And as to why they're so delighted? Why, it's all due to Hero's "Measure Knit" knitting needles - "THE PERFECT KNITTING NEEDLES WITH THE RULER RIGHT ON THEM!" 

I'm not a knitter, so I don't know if there are knitting needles still made with "the ruler right on them". Seems like a good idea though. 

Not sure of the date for the next ad, but it could be from around the same time as the first one.

Similar matchy-matchy look, although the hairstyles are different - braids vs. a short do. But both are wearing short-sleeved yellow tops with black skirts. Footwear is similar to that shown in the first ad. 

I love the retro kitchen and the mother's modelesque pose

but the whole purpose of the photo is the modeling of the aprons. They were made from commercial patterns and were described as follows:

"JUNIOR PINAFORE, just like mother's apron, makes learning to cook lots more fun. White organdy shoulder ruffles, dainty embroidery trim in lazy-daisy flowers...Pattern with blue transfer, 25c"."

"MOTHER'S APRON, sweet as a little girl's pinafore. Party pretty in pastel percale, with flattering crispness of organdy at shoulders. Embroidery, one tone darker than apron color...Pattern, blue transfer, 35c." 

So let's see - first Mother and Daughter (that is, if Daughter is learning to sew as well learning to cook) were to sew their own aprons, including the ruffled organdy bit, then embroider them before setting foot into the kitchen. After all that work, I'm not sure I'd want to let my daughter wear something so fancy while cooking. Come to think of it, I wouldn't want to wear such an apron while cooking either! 

I did make an apron for our daughter when she took a cooking class as a youngster. It was a very easy pattern though - no ruffled organdy, no embroidery. Shame on me! 

(Note: I was curious about those 25c/35c prices, so using 1950 as the year, I plugged those sums into this calculator to see what the costs would be today. The results were $2.47 for the junior pinafore and $3.46 for the mother's apron. Those are good prices by today's standards, as sewing and craft patterns have gotten expensive.)


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Made It: Rainbow Spiral Stitchery

Hello! At the end of May I showed off a stitched piece, seen HERE.   As stated in my blog post, I learned that the mesh included in the hoop appeared to be something called "radio weave cane" and was used in chair caning. 

This was a new one on me, the use of that material for counted cross-stitch. But lo and behold, I came across another radio weave cane/embroidery hoop combo a few weeks ago, at the same thrift store where I'd purchased the first one. This time, the mesh had been inserted in a 8" diameter embroidery hoop.

My friend Ms. Kayak Chickee thoughtfully gave me copies of several counted cross-stitch patterns that she thought might work for this hoop. I settled upon the one that depicted a fanciful spiral.

For embroidery floss colors, I thought a rainbow would be nice, but wasn't sure which of the hundreds of DMC colors would work. Fortunately, an online search revealed that someone else had already done the picking for me. Her choices looked like they'd work well together, so I went with that. 

Here's how it turned out:

A close-up:

For the record, I used DMC colors 321,740, 743, 704, 799, 550 and 311. Going in that order of floss used, I switched colors after every row and repeated the order until I was done. 

Not sure if I like this, though - maybe would have been better if I'd stuck to one color? The design also seems a little plain by itself in the hoop. Perhaps I'll add some backstitching  around the perimeter of the spiral to expand on the design a bit. 

Or maybe I'll take it apart and stitch something else in its place. At least I've gained a list of DMC colors to use the next time I want to stitch a rainbow!

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! 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Get Carded: Many Happy Birthdays

Hello! Tomorrow's a big family birthday celebration - my dad's 92nd, plus the honoring of some nieces' birthdays as well. My family is too big to celebrate birthdays as them come, so we just lump them together in one big bash every so often.

The first two cards are for youngsters, a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old:

Materials used:
  • white card stock
  • scrap of vintage sheet music, painted
  • art paper scrap
  • game piece from vintage children's game
  • happy birthday stamped in black ink
In a similar vein:

Materials used:
  • white card stock
  • scrap of vintage book page, painted
  • piece from vintage children's game
  • circle, flower and letter A cut from art paper scrap
  • happy birthday stamped in black ink
Yes, I used very similar materials for both cards. Once you have a bunch of supplies out, it's easier to use them for more than one card rather than having to start all over with other supplies. 

The 2-year-old's big sister is part of the birthday gathering as well. She's several years older than her little sister, so her card looks different:

Materials used:
  • white card stock 
  • cake shape cut from scrap of vintage atlas, painted
  • frosting, flame and letter Z cut from art paper scraps
  • happy birthday stamped in black ink
Now for the oldest of the birthday relatives, my dad - as I'd said, he turns 92 tomorrow. Here's his card:

Materials used:
  • White card stock
  • scrap from vintage ledger book page,  painted
  • art paper scrap
  • DAD cut from 1943 booklet on money-saving tips during WWII
  • Happy Birthday stamped in blue ink on white card stock scrap, then affixed to card
I got a special kick out of using that WWII-era booklet, since my dad is a veteran of that war. 

But I also got a kick out of crafting with that vintage ledger book. A Milwaukee teacher had kept his records with it over 130 years ago. Every time I use some paper from his ledger book, I wonder what he'd think about that. 



Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Made It: ICAD Project - June

Hello! On June 1st I blogged about the 61 Day (June and July) ICAD (index-card-a-day) project. I managed to alter one index per day in June, so now it's time for a bit of show and tell. 

Some cards were designed with the help of books:

Fingerprint animals, based on designs shown in Klutz Press' Fingerprint Fabulous (thrift store find). 

Funny faces, drawn with the help of Ed Emberley's Drawing Book Of Faces

Some designs were my own though, like:

This design started with an off-center X, then each quadrant within the X was filled in with another X. And so on and so on, filling in X's with more X's. If you have a very fine-tipped marker, like the Pigma Micron 005 I used, then even something as small as an index card can take awhile to fill! When I first started out, the design looked a little like stained glass (minus the colors) - but ended up looking more like broken glass!

Above, a series of circles (traced from stencils) have been colored in where they overlap. Looks kind of like bubbles, I think. 

In honor of Flag Day (June 14th), red lines were made with a rubber stamp and red ink, while the blue rectangle with white stars was painted by me. I then added random lyrics from patriotic songs. 

I wanted to use ephemera on some of the index cards, and ended up adding various scraps of vintage stuff to several cards, such as:

Above, I cut a vintage postcard into strips, wove them together and glued them to part of the index card. The words "blessed", "flower" and "gardens" were on the postcard as well (the word "love" came from a magazine), for it was a scene from a shrine in southwestern Wisconsin. Much to my surprise, I learned that my husband had been to that same shrine as part of a class trip in the early 1970's. 

This turned out okay, but then I started doing more collage-style cards. I think these turned out pretty well if I do say so myself.

An index card was painted and stamped, then a figure of St. Paul was glued on. I recall that I picked up the St. Paul prayer card (not too long after it had been issued in June 2009) while on vacation somewhere, thinking at the time that it'd be good to use in a collage. (the cut-out words on the index card came from the same prayer card). Finally found a use for it, five years later. 

Another figure from long ago:

Don't recall now who the man was supposed to be, but he shares index card space with a paper company sample, a scrap of art paper, and the phrase "Silas had prominent, short-sighted, dark eyes" (cut from a 1930's grammar book). So "Silas" it is!

A themed collage:

Every bit you see - printed waffle recipe, the female figure (from a story about apron patterns) and the phrase "How in the world she managed to make the waffles so crisp" came from either the 1930's or 1940's (yep, the phrase is from the 1930's grammar book again). I like this one a lot!

No real theme to the next card, just a bunch of odds and ends glued down:

In this case, the odds and ends included a scrap of 1880's ledger paper (garage sale find), piece from a Loteria game (the rooster image), a fabric scrap, two paper scraps from a 1943 booklet on money-saving tips during WWII, the name from an ad in a vintage cookbook (Art's) and last but not least, paint dabbed onto part of a page from a 1950's home builder's pamphlet. 

Some of my cards were based on the written word - a short story snippet, a copied recipe, and a to-do list. These fit the bill for doing an index card a day, but aren't all that exciting to view, so I'm not showing them here. 

And I'm vain enough, I admit, to not show off the duds - the hand-carved stamp that didn't turn out so great, the attempt to weave silk ribbon into a design, the spiral that doesn't look all that spiral-y, and a few others. Other cards really aren't duds, just didn't turn out so great.You win some, you lose some, but overall I enjoyed working on this project in June.

July will be a busier month than June was, so I'd better get going and work on ICAD Day 31!