Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Seasonal Snippets

Sore throat. Blech.

Runny nose. Blech.

Sore nose from wiping with tissue so much. Double blech.

I'm glad I got the Christmas decorations and tree and outside lights up this weekend. Because I don't feel like doing it now.
K. helped me put the tree up. We turned on the Christmas music and sang and danced while we decorated.

Well, okay, I sang and danced. 

K. looked at me skeptically. Except one time, out of the corner of my eye, I saw her dancing a little bit. No way did I let on that I was watching her. But my heart felt glad to see her swept up in the holiday mood. 
My new pillow. I heart it.

Red backgrounds and white snowflakes. Love that combination.

I plan on making some more pillows with this idea. Easy, cheap pillows that can be made to order in just a few minutes. 

How great is that? 

Really great, that's how great it is, people. Now go buy some placemats and sew, sew, sew. 
Even though I'm posting some Christmas snippets, I'm not quite done with Thanksgiving yet. I have a few pics from the weekend and I will post my Nan's bread stuffing recipe for everyone who asked for it. We just finished the last few morsels tonight and I'm kind of sad. 

But wait, Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, and I think I'll make a turkey so I can have some more of Nan's stuffing.

There, I feel much better. 
I don't quite remember where I got this old ornament from but I. LOVE. HIM.

Beat-up, rickety and barely holding it together, he reminds me of the story about the steadfast tin soldier. I think that was the first romance I ever read and I still cry when I read the story.

But my soldier isn't going anywhere near windows, or fires. He's tucked safely away, amidst my other special decorations. 

I smile every time I see him.
Worked on a possible Christmas picture. 
Home for the holidays. That's what this one is called. I've been playing around with it and aging it some. Looks very Waltons-ish. I like it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010



That's what I think of when I start preparing for Thanksgiving. Mostly because of Nan, my grandmother. Tomorrow I make the stuffing. Nan's bread stuffing has been handed down to my generation for quite a few years now. She learned how to make it from her mother, and probably her mother taught her. 

I was talking with Nan tonight and asking her about the recipe. 

Because there is NO other stuffing that tastes this good. At least not for our family. And I wanted as many details about this recipe as I could get.

Nan remembers her mother toasting the bread in the stove because they didn't have toasters then. For the Thanksgiving stuffing, her mother would slice three loaves from the 10-15 loaves of bread she would have made for the week. Then she toasted the slices in the stove for a long time. That's what Nan said, it took a long time to toast the bread.

It takes me about 45 minutes to toast three loaves of bread in my toaster. I bet my great-grandmother was quicker with the stove.

Nan also remembers toasting slices of bread on top of the stove for breakfast, slathering them with butter. That was real food. Real bread and real butter, no preservatives. No wonder she thinks the food tasted better when she was a kid. It had to. There weren't any preservatives or chemicals in it.
Tradition is a funny thing. You don't even know you're creating tradition until lots of years later.

So when the little girls were sleeping over this past weekend, and we made pumpkin chip muffins for breakfast,  I showed E. how to level the flour. And she showed me how to stir the batter, making sure you go around the bowl once or twice and then up through the middle a couple times. That makes sure you get all the stuff in the middle, Auntie. Mommy said that's how your mommy showed her how to stir batter.

Yup, tradition.
A tradition I started a few years ago was finding a Christmas craft and doing it after we finished Thanksgiving dinner.  I was going to use these cute little snowglobe ornaments, but I couldn't wait. They were looking too cute in my mind and I had to see them come to life. 

They're pretty simple and the girls had fun putting their scenes together. You can find the instructions here

Rats. Now I have to find another Christmas craft for Thursday.

Leave me a comment with some of your family traditions. I'd love to hear about them.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pre-Christmas Shiny Stuff

I was out rummaging around in the barn today, looking for stuff for the upcoming holidays. After shopping with Sissy this morning, and buying that sweet little sign above, I was definitely getting in the it's-the-most-wonderful-time-of-the-year mode.

And, no, the sign is not up on the barn yet. I took it down right after I snapped a few photos of it. Of course, if my neighbors saw it while I was shooting, I look like a crazed neighbor, decorating for Christmas way too early.

Geesh, it's not even Thanksgiving yet. I feel like people are starting to steamroll right over Thanksgiving, with stores displaying their wares for Christmas starting in September. And I fall right into it. I can't resist the holiday stuff - it's way too shiny, and sparkly.

Like a moth to a flame, I am.
While in the barn, I peeked upstairs to remind myself what I had out there. And I found these jingle bells and sparkly stems.

It was like shopping, only free. 

Yay for free shopping. 
I was a wee bit obsessed with the light being refracted in the sparkly stems.

I told you. Shiny, sparkly things catch my eye every time. Ask Sissy.

When we're out shopping, she can't be talking to me while I'm looking at shiny things. I'm much too distracted and can't really listen to what she's saying. Of course, she knows this about me and lets me ooh and aah over the shiny stuff.
And on my way back downstairs, I saw this little sweetheart. I think I'm going to use white sticky paper and make it look like a peppermint candy. 

But not until next Friday. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Japanese Crochet

Happy smiles. 

My package from Japan came yesterday. I couldn't blog about it last night because, well, it was the word of the week day for P. and me. And because I waited until everyone went to bed to open the package. Then I could sit in peace and quiet and savor this tiny little package of smiles.

The house is much quieter when everyone else is in bed, or at least holed up in their rooms. Nobody's calling my name, looking for this or that, like I know where all the this' and thats are, hitting me up for money, or begging me to go shopping just this once. Or wondering where their jeans are, you know, the ones I washed two days ago.

Two days ago? And you thought they'd still be in the dryer. Ha.

Nope, got all that out of the way, and then I opened my package. All the way from Japan.

That still amazes me.
 I knew it would be written in Japanese.

I just thought that through some sort of international crafting osmosis, I would understand the Japanese it was written in and be able to decipher these patterns.

Double ha.

Have I mentioned that I bear some resemblance to Pollyanna?

But I am not giving up. No sirree, not me.

I went to that handy dandy site, Google, and typed in "how to decipher Japanese crochet patterns".

And guess what? There are sites out there that do this stuff. Here's a very good one.

Holy Babel Fish, Batman! Now we're cookin'.... 
These are the sweetest patterns and I'm eager to try one.  

Never let it be said that just because I can't read, write, or speak a language, it will stop me from messin' with their craft patterns.

After all, I made a bag that I found in a French magazine, Marie Claire Idees, last year. Of course I speak a little French, and Babel Fish helped a LOT.
But I think I'll start small, like with the padded hanger above. Recognize that photo from a few days ago? Yup, that's why I bought this book.  Everything in it is Just.So.Sweet.

Even the biscuit tin. Love.it.

On a totally random note, did anyone else see the message that Apple had on their home page yesterday about a big announcement coming from iTunes today?

When I opened Safari tonight, it was The Beatles.

That's the big announcement. The Beatles are now on iTunes.

Huh? I didn't know they weren't on iTunes. What a letdown. I mean I like the Beatles and all, but I have Beatles CDs on my iPod. I've been listening to them for years on my iPod.

Please don't hype me up unless it's a really big announcement, like a price drop, Apple.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sweet friendship

So the Man came home from work last week raving, and I mean raving, about these cookies. A coworker had brought some in and apparently no one could stop eating them.

Harumph. I make good cookies.

When I choose to bake.

After hearing about these cookies for many days, I told him to bring home the recipe so I could make them.

Rats. They're pretty good. No, they're very good. Actually, they're a perfect fall cookie.

So I made the Man taste test them to tell me if they tasted like the ones his coworker made. 

His answer?

Yours are better, honey.

Ha. He's been married a long time. He knows how to answer those kinds of questions.

Smart man.

Some high school friends and I got together for dinner Saturday night. We were kind of a small group this time, lots of us couldn't make it.

But the ones that were there had a great time. Lots of conversation, wine tasting, delicious chicken cordon bleu for dinner. Such a good night.

We talked for hours. Hours. You would think we would run out of things to say but, nope, not us. We talked politics, even though we're not supposed to. We shamelessly bragged about our children, and when needed, admitted they're not the perfect little darlings we'd like them to be all the time. Nope, they're human.

We dragged out our yearbook and ran through it, trying to recall names we hadn't heard in a very long time. We caught up with who was living where, which classmates were no longer with us, the parents of friends that have passed away.

Time. And life.

That's what we were really talking about. And how glad we were that we had all reconnected.

It's going by so fast. And there's so much left to do.

Gotta get busy.

But slowing down with some good friends, and a warm meal, and a glass of wine is needed too.

Thanks, girls. I feel recharged.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ready, Set....Actions!

Went shooting with my friend A. today. We grabbed K. to take with us. And a few props.

There's an awesomely grungified section in the town next door to us. Perfect location for grunge shots.

The sun was shining all day and we were shooting in the middle of it. Not a great time to shoot. Very harsh shadows and blown out pictures. Ugh.

We wandered around until we found some decent lighting. Loving the colors of K.'s scarf.

As I was looking around the house for props, I found my birdcage. I had this idea.

Teenage girls get their hearts broken all the time. Right, girls?

So they need to lock their heart away until the right one comes along.

Waiting for Mr. Right.

I like that.

Sometimes I look at K. and marvel at her beauty. 

We had K. holding the birdcage with (her) heart in it and sitting next to the word "rat". 

That seemed too obvious. Ha. 

Obviously I'm playing with some new actions I just got.

Can't decide whether I like the softer look in the picture above, or the more defined, sharper look. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think. 
While we were shooting here, the door next to us opened up and a gentleman stepped out to find out what we were doing. He seemed hesitant at first to have us shooting back there, but we assured him we weren't going to smash any windows or try to break anything.

Then we started talking shop.

He minored in photography. He knows a LOT about Photoshop and Illustrator. We talked for a half hour. He invited me in to his shop whenever I have questions about how to do something.

I love this hobby of mine. You meet all kinds of people.
You had to know I was going to find a way to use my new Carnivale mask as a prop. 

Obviously I'm having issues with decision making here. Sharp? Dreamy? Clear? Fuzzy?


Too many choices. And I only have about a dozen actions to play with. I can't imagine what I'll be like when I have more to choose from.

I need to get a backbone, gosh Pete, and make some decisions.  

Thanks, A., for a fun day. And thanks, K., for being such a patient, good-natured, beautiful model all afternoon.

Now here's your twenty dollars.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Carnivale and Sunsets

Sissy and I stopped in at a local home decor shop today and I found this magnificent mask on the clearance display.

Thank you very much. Time to go home with mama.

I fell in love with these multicolored, over the top colorfied masks when we were in Venice but didn't want to buy one. I was afraid it would get crushed before it got home. This little beauty was made in Venice, Italy. Clearly, it was meant for me.

And I know colorfied isn't a real word, but it sounds good. *Note to self: call Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.

The two photos above are from Venice. Don't you just love the colors? They make me want to get dressed up in a fancy, full ball gown and go to a masquerade ball. We need more fancy parties in our time. Enough with the pizza and beer parties. I want to see some minueting and waltzing, people. And pretty masks, now that I own one.

Er, sorry, digressed a wee bit.

As far as the mask I brought home today, I saw a decorating idea for next Halloween using one of these masks. 

And won't it be perfect around Mardi Gras time?

Even the New Year's holiday. Really, the decorating possibilities are endless. And all for a clearance price.
The day ended with me chasing this sunset over the river and through the woods.... 
The sky was on fire tonight. God painted a spectacular vista and I marveled the whole time I was following it all over town.

Down the road, next to the farm. by the church, in the cemetery. 
It lasted as long as it was supposed to and I captured a good part of it.

Thank you, God. I really enjoyed Your work tonight. 
See those little tiny white dots at the bottom right part of the picture? Those are headlights. They make me feel very small when put into the context of this scene.

P.S. Can you tell that today was a lesson in how to photograph silhouettes? That's what I love about photography. I could learn something new every day for the rest of my life, and still not know everything there is to know about this hobby of mine.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Snowy, Blowy, Wonderful Day

Snow, drizzle, slush, wind....what's a girl to do on a day like that?

Go on a photo shoot with some friends, that's what she's going to do.

One of the women I shoot with found an herb and flower farm for us to use yesterday. And she got a model too. 
The caretaker kindly let us wander around the greenhouse, moving furniture, climbing on top of things, trying to get different angles. His dogs were thrilled to have four women doting on them, petting and cooing at them. 

Beautiful Australian shepherds, well-behaved and sweet. Plus a cat, or two.
After warming up a bit, we headed out into the wintry day. Steel gray skies, bare branches, empty snow covered fields. Much too early for that kind of weather. With the wind blowing, and the drizzle tapping our faces, we shot outside for as long as we could stand it.  
Edward let us warm up in the house, where he had a deliciously warm fire roaring in the dining room. We waved hands and toes over the warm air, snapping photos when we could but mostly just wanting to warm up and chat with Edward. 
A photographer's dream, that's what this place was.

Hundreds of clay pots, abandoned bee hives, piles of sheep's wool, wooden potting tables, empty bird cages - so much visual candy it was impossible to stop shooting. 
Edward invited us back anytime. He said he would serve us tea next time. 

And we promised we'd bring him homemade cookies.

Peanut butter are his favorite. Because his mom used to make those for him when he was a small child.

So he'll get four different kinds of peanut butter cookies. 
And we'll get to check out all the barns.

And see the gray horse he rides. He promised we could use her in the shoot next time.
An absolutely perfectly delightful day.