Monday, October 26, 2015

Galena Again

Hello! My family visited Galena for the first time in August, and this past weekend my husband and I made a return trip. Then, the weather had been very hot and humid. Saturday, it was overcast and in the upper 50's. It was supposed to be sunny all day but the sun apparently didn't know the forecast and stayed hidden the whole time. The pretty vistas on the way to Galena were shrouded in fog.

We hoped the iffy weather would keep people away but it did not. We'd thought Galena was crowded enough in August but it seemed there were even more people in town this visit. Later on, we were told that fall is Galena's busiest season. Nevertheless, we had a pleasant afternoon there. 

One advantage of the cooler weather was going here for lunch:

Otto's Place is highly rated on the online restaurant review sites, but its daytime weekend offerings are more along the lines of breakfast or brunch. The food seemed a little heavy for the blazing hot weather during our August jaunt, but the menu looked perfect for cooler weather. 

Like so many buildings in Galena, the structure that houses Otto's Place oozes charm - dark red exterior with nice trim details, and inside there was a tin ceiling. The building dates from 1899 and is named for the man who had it built to house his own eatery. (Sadly, he died before it could open, but the Otto's Place owners named their business after him.)

It is a bit off the beaten track, on the edge of a neighborhood located a few blocks away from the busy downtown. The quieter setting made the restaurant all the more pleasant, we thought. 

Waits to be seated aren't uncommon, but we lucked out and were shown a table almost right away. I was a bit dismayed when the waitress informed me that both of the two entrees I was trying to pick from to order were both sold out. I "made do" with a spinach, Swiss and bacon omelet. It was perfectly made, as were the home fries that came with my order. My husband had a veggie omelet, also very good according to him. 

Thus, I can recommend Otto's Place if you visit Galena. 

As I'd said, Otto's Place is in a neighborhood, and as I hadn't been to this part of town during the previous visit, I decided to walk around and take a few pictures:

The above plaque, which reads "Miner's Cottage Circa 1840" hangs by the side porch of the house in the first photo. 

A bit of gingerbread trim.

Besides Christmastime, older homes seem to look their best in the fall.

This looks like the sort of house that could be haunted. There is a ghost tour business in downtown Galena, but I don't think this is on the tour. 

The neighborhood is also home to Grant Park, named after one-time resident U.S. Grant. The park sits atop a hill, giving visitors a view of the downtown area and beyond:

Note the houses up on the hill. Part of downtown Galena is in the foreground. 

A statue of Grant presides near one end of the park that bears his name.

It's a short walk of maybe all of five minutes to take a pedestrian bridge across the Galena River from the neighborhood to downtown. The crowds were in full force there, strolling up and down the blocks and popping in and out of shops. I did the same, but didn't buy anything. It was too crowded in some of the stores to even get a good look at the wares. That's okay, I wasn't really in a buying mood anyway. I was perfectly content with windowshopping. 

Actually, I did make a couple purchases - at a sale being run by an antiques dealer getting rid of some of his stuff; it was going on a couple of blocks from Otto's Place. Prices were reasonable. I spent a whopping two dollars for a large piece of fabric and a vintage wooden Santa figurine from Sweden. I collect wooden Scandinavian Christmas objects, so this little Santa will be grouped with the collection come Christmastime. 

It may sound like a rather tame day away: eating breakfast food for lunch, followed by time spent looking at looking at old houses, buying a couple of things at a garage sale and ignoring all the brand-new, pricey goodies in downtown Galena. But I had a very nice time anyway!



Saturday, October 24, 2015

Thrify Acres: Back to 1876

Hello! We've had "Back To The Future Day" recently, so now I'll go back to the past, as in 1876:

Above, the Illustrated Historical Atlas of the counties of Ottawa and Kent Michigan. This is a facsimile of the original 1876 version. As the publication date of my facsimile was 1975, I suspect it was issued as a centennial edition. 

Sure, I'd love to have an original edition, but it'd likely be rather expensive. I'm fine with the two bucks I paid for this at a local thrift store. 

I'm not from either Ottawa or Kent counties, so the historical write-up in the volume is lost on me. There's enough info to be interesting to natives of the area, though, and I might even look through it sometime. 

I bought the atlas for the illustrations; there's great details in the black and white drawings and thus a fascinating look at life in 1876 emerges. 

"Farm Res. of A. C. Ellis Esq. Polkton T.P. (township) Ottawa Co. Mich." Looks like Mr. Ellis had a very tidy farm.

Horses and grazing livestock at the "Farm Res. of Eliphalet Walcott, Sec. 14 Wright TP Ottawa County Mich."

"Lake House on Fisk and Reeds Lakes". Boats, people on shores, trees - all beautifully rendered.

However, I'm not sure if the following was drawn as well:

I didn't realize that cows had backs so straight that you could get a table on them! This illustration just looks all wrong to me.

Back to the landscapes, which is where the artist excelled:

Well, okay, so it looks like the man is riding on a giant pumpkin instead of a loaded haywagon, but I liked this anyway. 

Note the border of leaves around the pigs. 

Wonderful drawing of a horse, as befits one whose name was Highland Golddust. 

The atlas goes on and on with illustration after illustration of towns, farms, and livestock - just way too many to show off here. So instead I'll close with a couple of businesses that were around back then:

"William O'Connor's Grocery & Liquor Store, 537 Division St Grand Rapids, Mich." Since the address was given, it'd be interesting to go to that part of Grand Rapids now and see what's there. I'm sure the store is long gone.

"General Store of J. A. Liebler, Caledonia, Mich." The drawing shows a woman pushing a baby buggy, a horse pulling a wagon load of barrels, a woman by the doorway, and others on the street. And look! Not only did Mr. Liebler run a general store, but he was also an undertaker, as seen on the small structure next to the store building.

Sure, it's fun to go back to the future, but I enjoyed going back to 1876!




Sunday, October 18, 2015

Made It: Painted Pumpkins

Hello! A stroll through our farmer's market yesterday took me past a vendor whose stand featured dozens of hand-painted pumpkins. Many of the painted designs featured logos of locally or regionally popular sports teams. 

Between my husband and myself, there were two teams to cheer for yesterday, both of which were represented by some of the painted pumpkins. However, since I have plenty of acrylic craft paint at home, I decided to buy some unpainted pumpkins and do the decorating myself. I was a little anxious about one of the games, so I figured painting a pumpkin to support the team would help pass the time until kickoff. 

Pumpkin #1:

Our "good luck" pumpkin, painted to support our alma mater, Michigan State University. Serious intrastate bragging rights were on the line yesterday, with the Spartans traveling to U-M's home turf for the football game. I had no way of knowing it at the time, but the game would end with one of the most bizarre finishes in recent college football history. Happily, the result was a victory for the never-say-die Spartans, so bragging rights were secured for another year!

Pumpkin #2:

My husband, a native Chicagoan, is a Cubs fan, and that team is playing the New York Mets to decide which one will move on to play in the World Series. This is a big deal for the Cubs, who haven't been in a World Series since 1945, and haven't won one since 1908. They lost last night, but the series with the Mets is four-out-of-seven, so there's a lot of baseball yet to be played. 

I painted the Spartan "S" freehand, but drew around small bowls to get the circular shapes for the Cubs logo. I should have made that "C" a little wider, but my husband said it was fine as it was. 

Although the farmer's market stand had painted pumpkins of various sizes, I used two small pumpkins so it'd be quicker to paint my designs. I only needed one coat of paint per design, so it didn't take too long to do this project. 

And as you can see, I added a matching ribbon to each pumpkin stem, just for fun. 

Speaking of fun, this is a fun activity to do with kids. I used to paint small pumpkins with our daughter when she was a kid, only we did funny faces then. 

Painting funny faces was fine, but sometimes you just have to support your teams. Go Green! Go White! Go Cubs!


Monday, October 12, 2015

Thrifty Acres: From The Church Rummage Sale

Hello! I love church rummage sales for their usually-low prices and interesting selection. I'm always on the lookout for vintage wares at such events, but will buy newer items if they're something I need. Plus, these sales are always for a good cause, so I'm happy to support the fundraising efforts.

A local church had a rummage sale this past weekend, so I checked it out. Came back with several vintage items, such as this:

A 1963 Clue game. The box is a little beat up, but then again so is one of my brothers, who was born the same year. 

View of the game board:

I like the graphics on these game cards:

Another game:

This is from 1957.

And here's what one of the bingo cards looks like:

This could be cut into a heart shape, decorated, and glued to a blank greeting card to celebrate a wedding. 

And one more game:

I don't know how old this is. The only directions inside are a couple of small scoring charts, which have been taped to the backs of a business ad. A 5-digit phone number(not seven)is given for the business, so that tells me the game is likely several decades old. 

I bought the game primarily for the graphics, seen above on the top of the box and below, on the sides:

The "Hearts" logo could be cut away from the box and used for a Valentine's Day craft. I wouldn't cut the box up if the game was complete, but it doesn't appear to be so. 

For creative pursuits:

Not sure exactly how old this Tapex eyelet set is, but the company address does have a five-digit zip code, so it's no older than the early/mid-1960's. The package is pretty beat up, but it's never been opened. 

Below the section that holds the eyelets is the statement "EXCELLENT for use in the office...EVERY desk should have one." Well, I didn't have an eyelet plier, nor did I own 300 eyelets in assorted cool colors. Now I do! 

Even more cool colors can be found in this:

A box of Eberhard Faber Nupastel Color Sticks "CLEANER STRONGER THAN PASTELS". Not sure if that's true; I'm certainly no expert on pastels. 

This was a big set of pastels - excuse me, Nupastels - when new. There's 75 slots inside. It was obvious that these color sticks had been used a lot, but there's still plenty of usage left, as demonstrated below by my two-minute sketch:

Remember, I said I wasn't an expert on pastels! I just enjoy working with color in a variety of media. 

I don't know when this box of Nupastel color sticks was manufactured, but there's a sticker on the  box lid that shows the name and address of an artist supply company. The address has a single-digit postal code, which means that the business sold this sometime between WWII and the early 1960's. 

Not all my purchases were vintage:

An Early American Cornhusk Doll Kit. I paid 75c for it at the bazaar; according to the price tag on the back, full price was $9.95. I thought this would be a nice fall-ish craft to make. 

Not shown but also newer stuff: a very nice skillet, a large clay plant pot and a few craft supplies. The skillet was by far the most expensive purchase, but is in good shape and it's something our daughter said she needed as she cooks her way through the school year. It was reasonably priced, just a lot more money than the el cheapo prices I favor.

So is it any wonder why I love church rummage sales? Cool, fun old stuff, fun or useful new stuff, all at good prices - what's not to love?



Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Back In Berea

Hello! Took advantage of a long weekend to do a little traveling. As it suddenly got quite chilly where we live, we hoped for warmer weather in Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Kentucky. After all, these places are a ways south of us. 

However, cool weather had come to those areas as well. While watching the TV news last Saturday night in our Louisville, KY hotel room, we learned that a record-low high temperature for the day had been set. The high was in the upper 50's, I think, but it was supposed to be in the 70's. Oh well. 

Actually, we'd been more anxious about the rain that was supposed to be near-constant in Berea, KY, which was where we'd planned to spend most of Saturday. As it turned out, although it was quite chilly and overcast, the rain never materialized. The storm system stayed to the south, so we lucked out! 

This was our third visit to Berea, and the sun has yet to shine while we've been there. Still had a nice time, though -  it's a cute town with a eco/funky/artsy vibe. 

Began the visit with lunch at Village Trough, a new eatery there. The menu has a localvore emphasis, which means area farmers are supported and the food is fresh. 

A local food purchase was also made at the Berea College Farm Store:

A bag of stone-ground cornmeal:

"Grown & Processed by Berea College Students". During the winter months I'll gladly use this purchase to make cornbread to go along with soup.

The college farm store also sells stone-ground whole wheat flour along with college farm-raised meats and produce. It's a fun place to shop. 

Berea is a small town but has many shops, both college-run and otherwise, that sell handicrafts. We'd last visited this past spring, but new businesses have opened since then. One of them was a watercolorist's gallery. His paintings were wonderful, but we ended up talking so long to him, it cut into the time we'd planned to visit other shops. Oops!

Artwork at the studio of Grace Wintermeyer; she turns her drawing into prints. (I showed off her squirrel print in this post.)

Wintermeyer and several other artists work out of Gallery 123, with studio space in the back and gallery in the front of the building. Two new artisans had joined the venture since our springtime visit, but the Herb & Willow pottery business was preparing to move out and into their own shop down the street. 

A portion of Herb & Willow's wares awaiting the relocation:

Eventually I made my way over to Berea College's Student Crafts on the Square Shop, where one can watch students make brooms, weave, work on pottery and more.

A student had stepped away from this loom shortly before I took my photo . 

Close-up of her project:

Very nice work!

As I was walking around the store, I overheard a guy, obviously another Berea College student, pointing out various wooden cutting boards on display to his companion, another guy. "I made this one... and this one... and that one over there..." he explained. Not the usual talk one hears at a college-run business! But then again, Berea College isn't the usual institution of higher education. 

In spite of all the wonderful arts and crafts I viewed, I didn't buy anything new. There was too much stuff to see and too little time to decide what I wanted. But I did come home with a couple of "souvenirs", which set me back all of two dollars. Both came from a so-so antique mall. 

I spotted a vintage (1958) candy tin with a cute Dutch design in one of the antique mall's booths. (I'm always on the lookout for that themed decor since I live in a town settled by the Dutch.) It was priced at $6.99, but a man - that booth's vendor, obviously - suddenly appeared by my side. "You seem to like it. I don't. You can have it for two bucks." he told me. So I agreed to that markdown. 

I really do like the graphics on the tin:

This is a great design on what would seem to be a rather mundane item, a tin of Mrs. Leland's candy. But a search on eBay showed that the company apparently had several candy tin designs, most of which are equally charming. 

The deals at this antique mall weren't over yet though. As I went up to the counter to pay for the tin, I spotted a slate with a cute painted winter scene hanging on the wall behind the cash register. I couldn't see the price tag so I asked the guy at the register how much that slate piece was going for. "Oh, you can have it for free," he told me. "I painted it last year." I tried to give him some money for it, especially since upon closer inspection I saw he had priced it at ten dollars. But he refused to take anything from me. I felt a little bad about that; I have no idea why he insisted on giving it away. 

Here's the wintery work:

I don't care for all the snow we get around here, but it's going to arrive whether I like it or not, right? So I might as well make the best of it. It measures 16"h x 8"w, so a just-right size to hang outside our side porch come winter. 

Hmm, the makings for cornbread and a winter-themed painting - guess the cool weather outside had me thinking ahead to even colder temps! 

But wouldn't you know it - the next day, when we'd had indoor activities planned for the Cincinnati and Indianapolis areas, it was sunny and in the upper 70's. Oh well yet again. 

Still, we'd had a nice time back in Berea. Who knows, maybe sometime the sun will actually be shining while we're visiting there! 


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Bang For A Buck #4: A New Bathrobe

Hello! A local thrift store has weekly sales, so when I stop in I look to see what the current markdown category is.

This week it's sleepwear and bathrobes, so I browsed in that section. One particular robe caught my eye, for it looked in much better shape than the baggy teal robe next to it. Then I spied the price tag still on it, which meant it had likely never been worn. 

And with the weekly sale on, I paid a grand total of one dollar for this:

A close-up of the floral design:


I already own two bathrobes: a lightweight one when I need just a slight cover-up, and a heavy one for the winter. My thrift store robe is brushed flannel, which means it's perfect for cool-but-not-cold weather. In other words, the morning temps we've been having the past couple of days (low-to-mid 40's). 

The label identifies this garment as a Target product. Since the price itself had been torn off the bottom of the tag, I wondered if the robe had been given as a gift. I couldn't find any information on it online, so I suspect the robe had languished in someone's closet for some time before finally being donated to the thrift store. That didn't bother me; it's not as if bathrobe styles change!

Since I couldn't find out how much this robe had originally cost, I don't know how much money I saved, but I was pleased I only spent a dollar to buy it.