Friday, April 28, 2017

Thrifty Acres: A Creative Coup

Hello! As an artsy-crafty, DIY person, I enjoy reading and viewing media related to these topics. Besides the seemingly endless online content, it also seems that there's no end to the books and magazines covering the same territories. 

Such publications are wonderful eye candy, and can be great sources of creative inspiration as well. But alas, they can get pricey. So I was thrilled to pay a total of $3.51 for all this at recent thrift store trips:

Starting at left side of the back row: At Home With Pattern, by Sally Conran and Katherine Sorrell. The authors are based in the UK, a country whose shelter books I enjoy very much. There always seems to be an interesting mix of modern, vintage and funky interiors in UK shelter books, and this volume seems to be more of the same (in a good way).

Next to the book is the Fall 2016 issue of Do It Yourself, a specialty magazine produced by Better Homes and Gardens. I remember seeing this issue in the checkout display at the grocery store and had considered purchasing it. I was too cheap to do so, but now I'm glad I waited! 

Next row: three mixed media how-to books. My trio includes Collage Couture by Julie Nutting (a combination of fashion illustration and collage), The Artistic Mother by Shona Cole (wide variety of techniques and projects) and Acrylic Techniques In Mixed Media by Roxanne Padgett (all sorts of cool ideas!). 

Front row: Washi Tape Crafts by Amy Anderson. Not only is this book loaded with washi tape projects, it comes with 10 rolls of the stuff(in case you don't know what washi tape is, it's decorative paper tape). I've dabbled a bit with washi tape but don't have much of it. Now I've got more, as in 180 feet more! 

So I've gotten several new-to-me publications (and all are in great shape), and like I said, they cost me only $3.51. If I'd bought all  these at full retail price, the total would have $127.41. Such a deal! (in case you're wondering about the penny, that's what the DIY magazine had cost. I saved $4.98 by not buying it last fall!)

Of course, shelter books and artsy/crafty publications may not be your thing. But if you have the chance to do some secondhand shopping, you may find books and magazines whose topics resonate with you. And who knows - you might end up saving as much money as I did!


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Made It: DIY Postcard Swap 2017

Hello! I'm a huge fan of the multi-talented Hanna Andersson and her iHanna blog. A couple of years ago I participated in the springtime version of her DIY Postcard Swap (she also runs another swap around Christmastime). I decided kind of late to take part in this year's spring swap, but got my 10 postcards done earlier today in advance of Monday's mailing-out deadline.

Here's how my postcards turned out, followed by some close-ups:

Two postcards have a more solid-looking background, courtesy of some endpapers from a vintage Nancy Drew book. The backgrounds of the other eight came from vintage Reader's Digest magazines (mid 50's/early 60's; a fun thrift store find!).

Close-up of a vintage V-8 ad; loved the colors. Added some white acrylic paint stenciling, a strip of patchwork from a 1970's greeting card, and modern bits in the form of a stamped word and a phrase cut from a magazine.

I couldn't resist the "we bought a postcard" phrase, which came from a 1930's grammar book. And I assume the recipient of my postcard will enjoy the reminder to "craft daily".

It almost seemed a shame to cover up the layout of this bright Campbell's Soup ad! But cover up I did, with rubber stamping, words, a sunglass image from a hotel coffee cup holder (or whatever those things are called), and part of a job tag from our auto repair shop.

Pretty in pink: a Westinghouse electric blanket ad is loaded with  white acrylic paint stenciling, a vintage image of a man sitting on a chair, words and art paper scraps.

Above, our happy shopper insists on Saran wrap! I thought the produce sticker (just below the Saran wrap in the shopping cart) was appropriate. The added words and art paper bits may not be as appropriate, but they were a fun addition. I think I went a little haywire, though, with the leafy rubber stamping; shouldn't have put it over the woman image. But since I'd already affixed the ad to my postcard blank, I wasn't going to pitch it.

A woman is ready to "explore the world", or maybe at least write about it, with her Sheaffer pen. The snippet of a map (forget what city) near the upper left-hand corner fits the saying.

And "explore the world" I will, at least vicariously, through this DIY Postcard Swap. You see, the swap is international; Andersson herself is from Sweden.

The previous time I did the swap, two of the 10 addresses I was assigned were from other countries. I was hoping that some of the 10 coming to me would also be from other countries, but that didn't happen. Nevertheless, between the 20 outgoing and incoming addresses, I learned a little geography from looking up unfamiliar locales.

Thus, I anxiously awaited the release of the 10 addresses I would use for this year's swap. They were sent this afternoon, so I learned I am to send four cards to California, two to Colorado, one to Arizona two to the UK - and one to Andersson herself! I was really happy to get her address - it'll give me a chance to write a note of thanks for doing the swap, having such a fun blog, and being a creative inspiration to me and countless others over the years.

If you'd like to see what I mean about her fun blog, and to learn more about the DIY Postcard Swap, go here.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!

Hello! If you and yours observe Easter, I hope you have a very nice day celebrating it. 

This has become a Holy Week tradition of mine:

I've listened to this CD over and over the week before Easter, enjoying it greatly. It takes me back to my childhood, when my parents had the original 2-album set (the above is a 2-CD set). I think I was around 10 when the album first came out. 

Back then, I attended a small, boring Catholic school, which was part of a small, boring Catholic church in a small, boring town. Now, I loved singing the old, traditional Lenten and Easter songs in church. But it seemed like a breath of fresh air when the rock music (along with a few other musical styles) of Jesus Christ Superstar burst onto the scene. 

And for us of the younger generation, it helped that older folks, including the older clergy, disapproved of JCS. That instantly made JCS even more cool. I got the impression, however, that the younger nuns at my school were okay with it. 

They must have been, for at some point my older sister's class hosted a production of JCS. It may have been a fundraiser for their 8th grade class trip. They lip-synced to the album, but followed  casting and staging within the limits of their class size. Perhaps because it's not unusual for a girl to be the tallest student in an 8th grade classroom, a girl in my sister's class was cast as Jesus. Well, after all, she was tall and slim, and had straight, shoulder-length medium-brown hair, so the teacher must have thought she looked the part! My sister was cast for parts in the crowd scenes. I enjoyed the production enough to attend both shows her class put on. 

As I'd said, some members of the "older generation" disapproved of JCS, but obviously my parents didn't since the album appeared at our house. I don't recall if they purchased it, or if one of my three older sisters had. My husband's mother, who was around the same age as my parents, didn't approve of rock music though, so his family never owned the album.

I don't know what became of my parents' copy; their "hi fi" system disappeared a long time ago and probably their small album collection with it. So for nostalgia's sake - and because it's still fun to listen to - I got a CD version of the album several years ago. And it's been on Holy Week repeat at my house ever since.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Made It: Crepe Paper Daffodils

Hello! In an earlier post, seen here, I showed off a crepe paper snowdrop I'd made. 

Well, now snowdrops are passe; daffodil season has begun! Due to all the rain and chilly temps we've had around here lately, it seemed to take forever for ours to start blooming, but they've finally begun to do so. We don't really have enough daffodils to cut for indoor enjoyment, though, so I made some crepe paper ones last night for this purpose:

My "daffodils" were a bit fiddly to make. I found it tricky to arrange the several petals just right around the trumpet, but did my best. And I think they look almost as nice as the real thing.

Just the same, I am very glad that we finally got some more sun today - and that warmer weather is in the weekend forecast. That should encourage more blooming of the real thing outside!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

An Eight-Day Odyssey: Part Three

Hello! Hope you're not tired of hearing of my recent road trip, but I promise, this is the last installment! In this post I'll show off some random pictures and discuss a few places I didn't photograph. 

Purity Chocolates (near Allenwood, PA) is a must-stop when we're in the Williamsport area. Since it was a Saturday, no candy making was visible through the observation windows at the back end of the store. But it was plain to see that the workers had been busy the day before creating Easter goodies. 

Mega-sized chocolate bunny, still resting in its two-piece mold. An assortment of smaller bunnies are in rows behind it.

A mate to the big bunny, wrapped up in cellophane and decked out with a big bow and curly ribbon. 

Or maybe you just want an Easter basket filled with candies? Okay, then, how about this basket:

A basket made of chocolate, with chocolate Easter eggs and "carrots" inside. Yum!

Traditional clothing decorating a wall of Aromas Del Sur, a Colombian restaurant in Ephrata, PA. Had never eaten at a Colombian restaurant before and wasn't sure what to expect, but our lunches were good. My husband had a shrimp dish. I ate lighter, with a couple of empanadas and a house salad. 

After lunch we went to Shady Maple, a huge local grocery store. I bought some spices in the bulk food section, and we gaped at some of the bizarre offerings on the in-store bakery shelves, like whoopie pies the size of a small layer cake. And I always like the check out the pretzel/potato chip aisle, where locally-produced, small company versions of these snacks reign.

And the reason I ate so lightly at lunchtime was to fully enjoy my dinner that night in Cockeysville, MD (near Baltimore): a smoked beef brisket sandwich from Andy Nelson's Barbeque. I paid a bit extra to have my sandwich topped with some of the house-made coleslaw. Wow! I think it was my favorite meal of the trip, and we had a lot of good meals. 

On the way to Baltimore's Inner Harbor: chalkboard art at a lunch stop, Pratt Street Ale House. My husband's salmon salad looked very good. I had a crabcake sandwich. My husband thought enough of the made-there beers to buy a six-pack on our way back to our hotel. 

Painted on a sidewalk a block away from the American Visionary Art Museum: "Don't Pollute The Bay  Throw It Away". (Chesapeake Bay, of course.) Good message, colorful stenciling!

A library inside a library: "seed library" in a vintage library card catalogue, housed inside the public library in Berea, KY.  I peeked inside one of the labeled drawers (not all the drawers were in use) and saw small plastic bags of seeds inside. They are for the taking with one's library card. 

In a similar vein, I noted that various garden tools can also be checked out from the library. Like the seed library, this tool-lending program seems like a great idea! Don't know how widespread these gardener-friendly initiatives are, but I haven't seen them at other libraries I've been to. 

Also in Berea, KY:

Handcrafted walking sticks at a gallery in the Old Town section. They were reasonably priced so I would have considered buying one, but alas, the gallery was closed the day of our visit. 

Thrift store stop of the trip: Sans Souci, Columbus, IN; proceeds go to a local non-profit. We'd stopped in Columbus for lunch at Yat's, a regional chain with a Cajun fast food menu. I thought my chicken dish a bit overpriced, but it was pretty tasty. 

Anyway, since I hadn't been to a thrift store yet while on vacation, I wanted to visit Sans Souci after our lunch. My husband proposed walking there from Yat's, a distance of around 1 1/2 miles. That was fine except that the further we walked, the more rundown the neighborhood looked. But since we'd once lived in an Indiana town with plenty of rundown neighborhoods of its own - Terre Haute - we just felt like we were back in Terre Haute. 

So all was well until we heard a sound of breaking glass coming from a house we'd just passed. And just a moment after that we saw two large dogs come out onto the street and check out a man who was walking by.

Then they came after us, barking a bit. I wondered briefly if they would try to attack us, but no, they just wanted to check us out too. They followed us for maybe all of 30 seconds, then turned away.

Judging from the timing of their appearance so soon after hearing that broken glass, we figured the dogs must have broken a window and escaped their quarters that way. I couldn't help but wonder that if the owner wasn't home at the time, what he or she must have thought upon returning and finding that broken window - and two missing dogs! (I assume no one was at the house since we didn't see or hear anyone come out and start yelling at the dogs to come back). 

Sans Souci turned out to be worth the walk. It looked like there were a lot of great clothes, but I didn't have time to try any on. There was a good-sized used book section, and I did buy some of those books, plus some kitchen stuff.

(By the way, Columbus, IN is worth a visit beyond Yat's and Sans Souci - it's well-known for its outstanding modern architecture. I'd read a National Geographic article about it years before my first visit back in the early 1980's.)

Also visited during our vacation: Jungle Jim's in suburban Cincinnati, an even bigger grocery store than Shady Maple. Have been here many times before, but it's always worth a return trip. It is a fun place! And if you like Mexican food, there's a good restaurant, Taqueria Mercado, nearby. We ate there for lunch before visiting Jungle Jim's. 

Some of our vacation time was spent driving around from state to state, and we enjoyed pretty scenery along the way. It was nice to see the hills of Pennsylvania, western Maryland and West Virginia. But I confess, I also like the peaceful flat farmland of northern Ohio and central/northern Indiana.

Okay, that's finally it for my vacation posts. I have to admit, though, that writing them up made me wish I was going on vacation again!