Wednesday, December 28, 2011

12/27/11--Tool Basket


My latest basket project--a Tool Basket that I completed on 12/27/11 (yes, I missed watching my Boilermakers in the Little Caesar's Bowl to make a basket!).

It was more advanced that anything I had done before, so it took a long time to weave this basket, but I love the finished project!  I had twined before and made a braided rim before, but using a wooden base and randing (the diagonal blue pattern in the "middle" of the basket) was all new to me. Actually, I am scared to death of the braiding, but you do get in a comfortable rhythm doing it and it does go quickly.  I repeat the pattern to myself to make sure I do it correctly.  I'm sure I drive my classmates crazy! :-)

I'll be taking it back to the shop sometime to have it stained a light walnut color.  It will give the natural reed in the basket a nice hue and also make the blues more prominent.  I chose the blues to go with my Pfaltzgraff Yorktowne dishes :-)

Basketworks and More, where I took the class, is the new shop opened by Cheryl McKinsey Dixon, who is the person I originally learned to weave baskets from (at her old shop "The Basketworks", which was located on Earl Avenue in Lafayette).  It's located in the West Lafayette Payless shopping plaza; stop by to see her baskets and her jewelry as well as sampling the coffees and teas she carries.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It's Winter...

"Watching You Watching Me" by Lowell Herrero
We have snow today in beautiful Lafayette, IN.  It's messy snow, very heavy and slushy, but it is white outside nonetheless.

This print, "Watching You Watching Me" is by the American folk artist Lowell Herrero and I thought it fit the day today.  Enjoy!

First Draft, My 2012 Resolutions

Yes, I believe in resolutions for the coming New Year and try very hard to stick with them.  I unintentionally stuck with one halfway through 2011; I did lose about 25-30 pounds by starting to exercise each day (30 minutes of walking) and being smarter about portion sizes when eating.  I have fallen out of the habit a bit, so guess what's going on the 2012 list?

This is my first draft for the coming year.  A lot of ideas have been floating around in my head and I want to get them on paper (so to speak) so I can be held accountable :-) :

  • Start incorporating exercise back into my daily activities
  • Rein myself in on my eating habits
  • Dr. Preuss, I promise to start flossing daily :-)
  • Make a dent in the Visa card balance
  • Continue to be a smarter shopper
  • Continue my creative journey--keep doing the things I enjoy, discover new outlets
  • Finish home improvement projects as finances allow
  • Look for the joy in every single day, because it's there if you do look for it
  • Keep in touch with friends--new ones, long time ones, ones I don't know I have yet
  • Give back
  • Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle
Seems like a long list--but they are all doable to me. Happy 2012 to you and enjoy the blessings, the small things, because some day you will look back and realize they really were the big things.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

An Artsy Christmas, Gift #2

"Santa's Coming To Town" by Charles Wysocki
Dropping by for just a few with a little Christmas present for you.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Great Songs For Christmas: "Sleigh Ride", Exhibit D


Just like a comfortable sweatshirt and pair of jeans, this version of "Sleigh Ride", recorded by the Boston Pops Orchestra under the direction of the venerable Arthur Fiedler, is the one you return to all the time.  And just like curling up in the chair by the window, watching the snow fall while sipping from a cup of hot chocolate, this version brings smiles and satisfaction to just about all who hear it.

Close your eyes and listen to each section perform their part of this very catchy Christmas tune--horns, winds, strings, percussion.  It is a musician's dream and a vehicle back to pleasant memories of holidays past for all the rest of us.

It is, IMHO, an impeccably classic arrangement of this Christmas legend.  Listen to it, and I dare you to keep from tapping your toes or singing along to the grand musical score.

Yes, Virginia...

Layaway Angels Appear At Lafayette Kmart

Yep, I am a resident of Lafayette, Indiana.  Not the most exciting place on earth, but a good place to grow up, a good place to spend a normal Midwestern life.  And at this very moment, after watching this story (see the link above) on the news this morning, I can honestly say I am very proud to be from Lafayette, Indiana.

The nightly news is always full of the bad things; murders, robberies, wars, intolerance, ripoffs, greed.  But this old world just happens to have something else very wonderful going for it; good people who are decent, moral, and still care for their fellow man.

Seems there are some very kind Santa's elves making their way into the Lafayette Kmart and paying off people's holiday layaway accounts.  Not just the small ones, either.  Bills of up to $300.00 have been.  A person who came in to pay off their layaway, upon finding that their account had been paid in full, paid off another layaway of someone completely unknown to them.

Christmas spirit at its finest, folks.  We all know how to do it, and these angels on earth are walking the walk and talking the talk.  Can this spirit be bottled and opened up throughout the year as needed?  The world would certainly be a better place for it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Great Songs For Christmas: "Aspenglow"


This is more of a winter song than specifically a Christmas or holiday tune, but "Aspenglow" by the late John Denver has to be what gently falling snow sounds like when set to music.

Everything about this song--the vocals, the instrumentals, the simple lyrics--shines crystal clear.  It's such a nice close-your-eyes-and-dream-of-winter-in-the-Rockies melody.

Monday, December 19, 2011

I'm Dreaming of a Brown Christmas...

... and no, I don't work for UPS :-)

The latest advanced weather forecasts for Lafayette, Indiana indicate that we will be having a brown December 25th (read: no snow) this year.  Kind of a bummer for someone who loves the first snow of the season and snow for Christmas (you can have the rest of it after that time).

What is it about snow and Christmas and me and memories?  It just seems right, seems essential that we have snow for Christmas.  Driving in the snow to relatives' houses, playing in the snow with friends, neighbors, and then nephews, building snowmen and making snow angels, shoveling the wonderful :-) white stuff--it all plays into Christmas memories of my past.

Waking up on that most magical morning, a soft cover of sparkling white snow brings an ethereal appearance to the world.  It helps bring the Christmas story into focus, no room at the inn and a babe born in a manger.  I like to sit by the window early that morning and watch the tree lights come on in windows on my street, just imagining the ruckus going on inside each home as wrapping paper and bows start flying and dreams start coming true.

A lot of folks don't like snow at any time, but for me snow at the holidays brings a smile to my face.  I don't even mind shoveling snow at Christmastime, because of the memories that replay in my mind.  I enjoy the show, believe you me. 

Great Songs For Christmas: "Sleigh Ride", Exhibit C


As I said here last week, there are just too many great versions of the holiday song "Sleigh Ride" to limit to just one posting.  So here is Amy Grant's version, which is so modern yet has so many old-fashioned qualities to it.  Absolutely delightful, in my humble opinion.

Side note:  Amy, I want your hair and your outfit in the You Tube video I linked :-)

Side note #2:  I had read somewhere that Amy was ready to have one of her babies at any minute while posing for the photos for this album.  Good Lord, I'd bet every pregnant woman wished she looked THIS fantastic at that point!

Great Songs For Christmas: "That Spirit of Christmas"


The first time I ever heard this song was in the movie "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation", and it easily and quickly became a Christmas favorite of mine.  Can't miss with the late, great Ray Charles on this tune.

Very soulful and very much what the holiday is all about, I could listen to this song over and over again.

PS--why was there never a soundtrack album to "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" released?  It would have been such a monster seller, IMO.  I was told once that a soundtrack was released and was on the market for a very short period of time due to copyright issues with all the various musicians.  Can you imagine what one of those albums would be worth today?

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things, Part V

  • Pumpkin bagels at Einstein Brothers Bagels
  • Watching my nephews grow into young men
  • Making baskets
  • Good friends
  • Trustworthiness
  • Eating at small, out-of-the-way places
  • Christmas gifts from my wonderful neighbors
  • Capitol One Bowl Week on ESPN (lol)
  • A really good belly laugh, especially shared with a friend
  • Jack Russell Terriers
  • Hot chocolate
  • Pinterest (my newest obsession!)
  • Giving of myself to help others in this journey called life
  • Winter break from school and days off during said break :-)
  • Having enough money to pay my bills and buy food
  • Peace and quiet, wherever and whenever I can find it

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Great Songs For Christmas: "Sleigh Ride", Exhibit B


I got to thinking about this last night; there are so many great covers of the Christmas classic "Sleigh Ride" that I just can't pick one to feature on my blog.  Therefore, it is my mission to find and post as many as I can over the next week in celebration of the holidays.

 The Ventures are a 50's-60's rock band best known for the songs "Wipe Out", "Walk Don't Run", and the very popular theme song to the original "Hawaii Five-0" television series.  Whomever decided to write and record this version of "Sleigh Ride" was a genius, IMHO.

Kind of has a beach party feel to it; enjoy it and dance along, why don't you!

Great Songs For Christmas: "I Need a Silent Night"


Some songs are obviously Christmas classics, having earned that status and regard by being treasured by so many throughout the years.  Plus they have remarkable staying power; so many of us can recall ALL of the words to these songs.

This song by Amy Grant should be considered a "new" classic, IMO.  It speaks to all of us with good intentions and very little time because of all the things we are forced to fit into our lives, whether it be work, family, social obligations, community responsiblities, and all those little chores and tasks that become big ones when we can't get to them right away.

The most precious part of this song is the reciting of part of the Christmas story from the Bible by her daughter (I think her name is Corrina).  Daddy is the wonderful Vince Gill, so Corrina has some very promising musical genes.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Finding a Christmas Treasure

As you all know, decorating for the holidays also means finding temporary hiding spaces for the everyday household things that you move to make room. 

I was doing just that last night, putting some candles and candle accessories in the top drawer of my coffee table in the living room.  While I was shifting some items to make room for others, a small little loop of red construction paper caught my eye.  Recognizing it, I smiled and picked it up to look at it more closely.

In June 2006, my position was eliminated at a West Lafayette, IN chemical company.  Not having found a job by September of that year, I knew I needed to do SOMETHING to bring in SOME money.  I spent the rest of the school year as a substitute teacher in grades K-5 in the Tippecanoe School Corporation.

One class I subbed in was making a red and green paper chain for a Christmas tree for a local social services organization.  I helped those little fingers form the circles out of construction paper and glue them together and showed them how a link works.  After school that day, before all my walkers and bus riders and car riders had departed for home, one of my little day-long troublemakers walked up to me and handed me a single red link.

She had decorated the link with little Santas, all drawn in pencil.  And she had inscribed the words "You Are The Very Best" on the outside of the link.  I smiled and gave her a hug, thanked her, and turned away so she couldn't see the tears in my eyes.  I had reprimanded this poor thing all day long and yet she gave me a gift from herself.  More than she will ever know. 

She has to be a middle schooler by now, and I hope she remembers the day she brought Christmas joy into Mrs. H's life.  I know I will always remember it.

Great Songs For Christmas: "Christmas Wrapping"


In 1981, this bouncy little Christmas rap tune came about.  I fell in love with it immediately at the time (freshman year in college) and still do count it among my favorite Christmas songs.  1981--REALLY?!?

I can't think of another song by The Waitresses, but this one is a keeper in my book.  And, although there are very few rap tunes I can stomach, this is one that sticks in your head.  Just way too cute and way too cool to leave off the holiday playlist.

The List Is Getting Longer...

Good grief, today is December 14.  Christmas Day is less than two weeks away!  Where in the heck does the time go?  It most certainly flies out the door when you are not looking, I think, as you become older.

And just to think that last Saturday, I was busy patting myself on the back because I had only one present left to buy.  I even have the stockings (nine of them!) done and everything wrapped.  Fast forward four days and I seem to have fallen off the organization wagon.

Wonderful neighbors have been dropping off plates of cookies with their Christmas wishes.  I love and appreciate all of them and need to add baking to the list for the next few days so I can return the good wishes.  Maple Street is a pretty wonderful street to live on!

My "victim" in the family Christmas present drawing is the one gift I have left to buy.  I need to hop on a few websites today and check some of my gift ideas.  Thank goodness I already have some things in mind.  Also need to check in with Mom on the price limit for gift buying so I don't go overboard like usual :-)

Christmas parties and social obligations are also starting to crowd my list.  I really did want to do a better job this year of working these things out in the most stressfree manner possible.  Oh, well, Christmas comes but once a year.  I hope my friends and family know how much I really do love and cherish them.

Lastly, I need some "me" time.  Time to do the things I want to do.  Time to reflect on the true meaning of the season.  Time to be with the people who make my life whole.  Time to remember Christmases past and the people who made them special.  Time to rekindle the fires within and get ready for another wonderful year of life.

The list is getting longer, but all of a sudden, I don't mind.

Great Songs For Christmas: "Sleigh Ride"


I think "Sleigh Ride" is one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs.  Many, MANY versions of this song have been recorded during the years and many, MANY versions of this song will blow your socks off.  Memorable covers include artists as varied as Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, The Ventures (of "Hawaii Five-0" theme song fame) and Amy Grant.

But this version by Ella Fitzgerald, a gorgeous woman IMHO and one of the true giants of the jazz world, remains my favorite.  Her smooth voice and the be-boppin' orchestral accompaniment combine to make this a very catchy holiday tune.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Day That Will Live In Infamy...

(To the Congress of the United States, December 8, 1941)

Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with the government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleagues delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

This morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.

Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounding determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, Dec. 7, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire. 


--Franklin Roosevelt

Shameless Self-Promotion...My Mary Kay E-Party!

"Sable"--I've got it
and am trying it!
My E-Party Shopping Link

Time for a little shameless self-promotion; I am having a Mary Kay e-party!  I am not the party-giving type, so this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity :-)
Limited edition eye and cheek color;
 it might not be around but could be :-)

My friend and MK consultant Lavonna has convinced me that I need to do this, and I'm in love with some of the newer MK products, so this show is gonna go on.  The e-party format really clinched it for me; who has time for a party at someone's house these days, especially right after the holidays?  Besides, we all need a little pick-me-up in the dead of winter, and, if you're like me, it's great fun to play with makeup!

The "party" is going to be held from Thursday, January 5 to Thursday, January 19.  You may shop on Lavonna's Mary Kay website with a credit card, or you can shop, give me your order and payment in cash, check, or credit card and I will make sure Lavonna gets your order.

Let me know if you would like to participate! 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Great Songs For Christmas: "Tennessee Christmas"


Another lovely Christmas song that makes me wish I was in a log cabin in the woods in front of a roaring fire, snowed in for days (let me go to the grocery first) is "Tennessee Christmas".

Many artists have sung this song, among them Amy Grant and B.J. Thomas, but Steve Wariner's version is the one I love the most.  Besides, Steve is a homegrown Hoosier boy, having been born on Christmas Day in Noblesville, Indiana (according to Wikipedia.com).  Go Steve!

I close my eyes when I listen to this song and I can hear love.  Call me sentimental, but that's what I hear.

12/3/11--Round Cherokee Pattern Basket


Here is my last basket of the Fall 2011 season of classes--a Round Cherokee Pattern Basket!  It is so lovely and the crosses "pop" in such a subtle manner.  Such a great addition to my holiday decor, too!

The other students in the class chose to make their baskets with the green reed and natural reed where I used the wine reed.  Those baskets were great and the crosses really "popped"; they were striking.  This was my first real color study, and I think it turned out really well.

This was also my first experience with wrapped handles.  Not hard at all to do, but making them stay in place while lashing the rim onto the basket was a different story entirely.  But I got everything to stay where it was supposed to stay and it looks great.

Sad that the fall schedule of basketmaking classes is over, but I am so looking forward to the spring schedule!  And, a new basketmaking shop has opened in West Lafayette, so I am also looking forward to exploring it and seeing what they offer in the way of classes.  It will be so nice to have supplies close by!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Great Songs For Christmas: "Milk and Cookies"


This is an absolutely charming Christmas song about the arrival of Santa Claus as seen through the eyes of a five-year old boy.  Clint Black's voice and the bright, bouncy music give this song the perfect sense of frenzy and orneriness and I can see a little guy vividly in my mind's eye, being ready to burst at the excitement of Santa's big visit.

On a side note, I just want to say right here and now that I think teachers at holiday time and at the time of the first snow have THE most difficult job in the entire world.  If all that excitement and enthusiasm could somehow be captured and corralled, they could power the world for years to come.

I hope that listening to this song recreates that childhood feeling of magic and excitement for you.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Great Songs For Christmas: "Christmas Dreaming (A Little Early This Year)"

This is one of my all-time FAVORITE Christmas songs, and I am tickled pink that I was able to find a link to the Dick Haymes version, which is the first version I ever heard of this song.  I have found wonderful covers of it by Frank Sinatra and Harry Connick, Jr., but this one remains my favorite.

Dick Haymes was a big band singer and actor, also working in radio during the 1940's and 1950's.  I remember seeing him in the 1945 version of the musical "State Fair".  His voice was perfectly suited for this song; it is pretty darned dreamy, if you ask me.

A little secret:  I have always wanted to dance to this song with someone special.  A perfect Christmas slow dance by the Christmas tree.  I hope you enjoy this song as much as I do.

1930s Feedsack Fabric Prints



One of my favorite fabrics to collect and to work with are 1930's replica feedsack fabrics.  The very resourceful women dealing with the financial hardships of the Great Depression years used to repurpose animal feed and flour sacks into clothing, curtains, quilts, and a lot of other necessary handsewn things.  The prints are always bright and cheery and have a neat retro, vintage feel to them.  Once again, I can go into a quilt/fabric shop with nothing in mind other to windowshop and, more than likely, come home with two or three new fat quarters to add to my stash.

A quilt with many of these vibrant colors and patterns is definitely on my must-do list.  It would be an honor for me to pay tribute to those women of the past by creating my own little piece of their lives.  Quilts are sewn together with love; this one would have some history and resourcefulness thrown in for good measure.

Monday, November 28, 2011

An Artsy Christmas, Gift #1

"Pure Red"

Art and music; they make the world go 'round, don't they?  Here is one of my favorite Christmas prints from the artist Pat Richter.

Note to those of you that receive Christmas cards from me in the mail each year:  this is the card  you are getting in 2012 :-)

My Pinterest Has Been Piqued...


Introducing my new obsession--Pinterest!

What is Pinterest?  According to their website:

Pinterest is a virtual pinboard.
Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.
Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

If you get a chance, be sure to stop by the Pinterest website and browse the boards currently featured on the site.  This is going to be SO much fun!

Wish me luck on my Pinterest journey!  I am chomping at the bit to create my boards and pin my favorite things to them.  As I learn more, I will be sure to tell you all about it.

Great Songs For Christmas: "Rudolph Mambo"


I am a huge fan of Christmas music!  I know many of you are, too.  I listen to it whenever the mood strikes.  One of my favorite times to play Christmas music is when I am sewing.  What is THAT?  It just puts me in a festive mood when I am sewing something and it's 90 degrees in the shade; it gets my creative juices flowing.

I started a list this fall of my favorite Christmas songs that I hope to share with you all during the coming days and weeks.  The first one--"Rudolph Mambo"--was discovered quite by accident while my coworkers and I were looking for videos to play during our office Christmas party a few years back (our department was in charge of the party that year).

This YouTube video was created by "Lilly LaRose", who made it her 2007 video Christmas card.  The song itself was recorded by Billy May and His Orchestra in 1953.

It is quite cute and choreographed so well.  And, it's a tribute to my favorite all-time Christmas program, which, by the way, is on CBS tomorrow night 11/29 at 8:00 PM Eastern time :-) (shameless promo).  I hope you enjoy the kickoff to the holiday song season on my blog; there's lots more to come and hopefully more video links to post!

The End of the Year Is Coming So Quickly!

I can't believe (but probably should by now) that Thanksgiving 2011 has come and gone.  I'm having trouble with the concept that Christmas is less than a month away, according to the calendar.  Does time really fly by that quickly as you get older?

2012 is quickly approaching.  New Year's resolutions (yes, I do make them and really do try to stick with them), gathering the materials to prepare my tax return and pay My Man Mitch and Uncle Obama, continuing to delve into the handcrafts that make my heart happy and my hands sing, and realizing my true self-worth have quickly appeared on my to-do list for the new year.

The thing that bothers me, though, right now is that my life seems to be in a state of major disorganization.  Things are uneasy, things are uncertain, things are tight financially, things need to be done yesterday.  I am usually a fairly organized, responsible person, but having my bank statement not reconcile for three of the past four months has discombobulated me.  Tears seem to be my constant companion nowadays.  My house is a bigger mess than I EVER remember it being.

I am hoping and asking God for a Christmas miracle; that all the loose ends will fall into place and my heart will be at ease and happy again.  Most of all, I know I need to have faith and relax.  God usually does make those things happen.  God usually does deliver.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving From Me!

I don't know exactly when I will get to a computer tomorrow, so I wanted to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Celebrate the important things in your life--family and friends, good health, abundant food to eat and a roof over your head.

Offer up a prayer for those less fortunate than yourself.

Thank God for the bountiful harvest, the beautiful seasons, for being alive and for being with you at all times.

Remember that the best things in life are not things.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Another Gift of Thanksgiving


From one of my favorite artists, Kathy Davis.  The colors are so beautiful and so appropriate for this season of thanks, the season of bountiful harvest.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Gift of Thanksgiving

"Butternut Farm"

One of my favorite artists ever is Charles Wysocki.  The painting above is entitled "Butternut Farm" and the minute details and warm, autumn colors won me over the first time I ever laid eyes on this composition.

Wysocki (1928-2002) was a commercial artist who worked on his Americana/primitive style of painting in his spare time, according to his website.  Eventually, his primitive painting style proved to be so popular that he was able to leave the commercial world and focus entirely on his favorite styles.  We should all be so lucky as to be able to create a career out of something we love to do!

I never had children, so I missed out on the "Where's Waldo?" craze.  But I think I would have loved those books and illustrations, all the tiny, important details and the lines for the eyes to follow.  Charles Wysocki's artwork, to me, is kind of a "Where's Waldo?" for grownups.

These Guys Might Be Getting A Little Nervous About Now...


I do believe that these are some of the ugliest creatures known to mankind.  But, boy, do they taste GOOD on Thanksgiving Day!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My New Old Kitchen Cupboard

Like many folks, I am struggling with finding storage space in my entire house, but especially in my kitchen.  Even for just one person, there is so much stuff that needs a home.  So much stuff that needs a garage sale, too, but that's another story...

Therefore, I have undertaken a major organization project in many areas of my house--and it looks like it right now.  Boxes everywhere, unvacuumed floor, stacks, stacks, and more stacks.  And Christmas decorating season right around the corner...oy vey!

I have a space underneath my kitchen windows that would be perfect for a piece of furniture with some storage capacity.  My original two plans were either a bench with storage cubbies underneath or a kitchen island cart.  Neither, however, could be over 38" in length at the most because of the egress of the basement door on one side and a large cabinet door on the other.

Well, as luck or fate or whatever you believe in would have it, I was in a local secondhand store on my lunch hour the other day when I came upon this kitchen cupboard for $50.00.  Hoping it would still be there the next day, I went back; it was; and I walked across the street to the bank to get the $$$ and back to the store to buy it.  Picked it up with the help of my mom and dad tonight after work (thanks, you two!) and got it moved into place in my kitchen.  LOVE IT!  I really love the pierced metal panel and the slight degree of rust on that panel.  Gives it a timeworn, primitive look which I adore.

Now, forward march with the reorganizing...

11/5/11--Round Storage Basket


I know I'm kind of behind on my basket postings, but better late than never!  Here is my Round Storage Basket from my Morton class on November 5.

 We had to twine the bottom and weave the same number of beginning rows to "upset" the basket into its round shape; then we were encouraged to do whatever the rest of the way.  We had many materials to choose from and Bev taught us some new weaving techniques.  My basket turned out to be a "sampler" of sorts.  There were reeds that I really liked and wanted to use, plus the triple twining and the arrow twining carried out the theme.

Tomorrow night, 11/17, we were supposed to weave a lid for this basket, but the class was cancelled due to low enrollment.  Bev will meet with those of us that want to weave the lid, however, so I am going to get the lid one way or another!

One more thing--yes, this basket is a biggie.  It is about 12" in height and a tick under 16" in diameter.  Storage indeed; I can't wait!

I am so thankful that I rediscovered basketmaking and have added it to my repertoire of handcrafts.  There is a time, a reason, a season...I am glad it came back into my life.

Another "I Miss Substitute Teaching" Story

OK, cute story for you all from our tornadic experience yesterday 11/14 afternoon.

Our school corporation did not dismiss the elementary kids because the warning came 1/2 hour before they should have been boarding buses. One of the principals was making frequent intercom announcements during the storm, one of the last ones advising that school would be dismissing in approximately 15 minutes.

One of his kindergarten teachers told him later that a little boy in her class, hearing the announcement, looked at her worriedly and said "did Mr. (principal's name) just say something about a missile?".

I absolutely LOVE the way those little brains work!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Q: What Do Grown Women Do During a Tornado At Work?

Well, let me count the ways...
  • Texting
  • Watching The Weather Channel app on smart phones
  • Flying paper airplanes
  • Throwing paper wads
  • Listening to music on iPods
  • Texting
  • Talking on cell phones
  • Enjoying soft drinks, sweet iced teas, and various snack items
  • Singing along to the music on iPods
  • Facebooking on smart phones
  • Playing video games on smart phones
  • Giggling
  • Playing charades
  • Texting
  • Getting up and walking and stretching
  • Looking out the plate glass windows at the storm
Just like a big 'ol slumber party, except at 3:00-4:30 in the afternoon.  Indiana weather--unpredictable but oh, so fun!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thanksgiving



Don't these Norman Rockwell paintings say it all about the upcoming holiday? 

The left-hand painting (both of these were also among Rockwell's many Saturday Evening Post covers) reminds me so much of Thanksgiving Days at my Grandma and Grandpa Jewett's farm.  That side of the family is literally "cousins by the dozens" (Grandma and Grandpa had eight children, who all had at least two children of their own, and so on, and so on...).  I remember two large dining tables; the adults would eat in the dining room, while the kids would eat on the makeshift table set up on the covered back porch.  The food was always delicious and there was always plenty for everyone.  The cameraderie was wonderful and something that was very much anticipated every year.

The right-hand painting also reminds me of my Grandma Jewett and her kitchen; she even had a little table and chairs like that inside the back door.  Every time I look at this painting, I wonder what the two of them are talking about.  I also get the feeling of thanks that both of them must share; she that her son is home and is safe and healthy, he that is home amongst familiar, safe surroundings and around those who love him dearly.  Such wonderful emotions are shared in these compositions; no wonder they are so beloved, even today.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Laurie's Book Review: "The Help"

Wow.

I just finished the novel "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett.  It's been a long time since I have read a book that I fell into so deeply and it touched me to my core.

Set in Jackson, Mississippi during the early 1960's, when the civil rights movement was sweeping the nation, the story is told by three main characters--Aibileen and Minny, who are black housekeepers for white Jackson society women, and Miss Skeeter, a white recent Old Miss graduate who was raised on a cotton plantation by a black maid, Constantine.  Each chapter belongs to one of these three women and weaves this colorful, detailed tale of race, bigotry, discrimination, society, and life in those turbulent times.

Very strong secondary characters include Miss Leefolt and her toddler Mae Mobley, Miss Celia Rae Foote, Louvenia (another servant woman), Minny's abusive husband Leroy, Miss Skeeter's "suitor", Stuart Whitworth, and Miss Skeeter's former beauty queen mother, Miss Charlotte Phelan.  The worst of the worst, though, is the absolutely evil Miss Hilly Holbrook, Old Miss sorority girl, Junior League of Jackson president, wife of a State Senate candidate, and absolute racist to the core.  Also knit into the fabric of the story are true historical events, such as the assassinations of President Kennedy and Medgar Evans, the March on Washington, and cultural tidbits such as the arrival of air conditioning and remote controls for TV's.

If you are offended easily or shocked by certain things, don't read this book.  It's all in here.  Man's inhumanity to man (or, in this case, woman's inhumanity to woman) is also on vivid display in these pages.  It is a thoroughly engrossing book, however, and I am a better person for having read it.

The Joy of Fat Quarters

I am a fabric fondler.  Yes, I admit it here in this public forum.  When I am stressed, bored, happy, curious--it doesn't matter; one of my favorite things to do is to find any kind of fabric shop, go in, admire the colors, and run my hand along the bolts of fabric on the shelves.

For an instant mood-booster, I go to a fabric store or quilt shop and buy fat quarters.  The technical definition of a fat quarter is "One-fourth yard cut of fabric that usually measures 18" x 22" instead of the typical 9" x 42" quarter-yard cut"; all I know is that they are the perfect size and amount of fabric to have on hand once the creative mood strikes me.  I also know that they are an addiction; I can't leave without two or three new items for my stash.
A bundle of fat quarters!
I'm sure the shopkeepers aren't real thrilled at the thought of my hands all over their fabrics, but it really does bring me a sense of peace and contentment.  Maybe it really is the hand of the fabric.  It could also be the possibilities I can see when I look at patterns and colors and textures.  The wonderful experiences I have had creating with fabric--clothes, home items, stuffed animals, holiday gifts and projects, quilts, pillows--have to weigh in there somewhere.  Remembering the wonderful things that my Grandma Jewett could do with a bag of scraps, and the lovely sewing that my mother and my sisters can do.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thoughts By Special Request...

"If we love and work and trust and believe and have faith--the sky's the limit."--me

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I've Got Plenty To Be Thankful For


"I've Got Plenty To Be Thankful For" by Bing Crosby

I was thinking the other day.  I had so much fun looking for Halloween-themed songs--and I hope you enjoyed them, too--that I started brainstorming songs for the Thanksgiving season.

The only one that popped into my head is the wonderful old hymn "We Gather Together".  While that is certainly an appropriate song, why aren't there any more?  Seems like being thankful for your blessings would be a wonderful thing to set to words and music.

Then, while drying my hair this morning (I get a lot of good ideas while drying my hair; must be warming to the brain!), I thought of one: "I've Got Plenty To Be Thankful For", written by the great Irving Berlin and sung in the movie "Holiday Inn" (1942) by the great Bing Crosby.

"Holiday Inn" is one of my favorite movies, although the political correctness police would be on my butt in an instant for loving a movie with a blackface routine (I have to admit I cringe a little when it is on) and a black Mammy-style maid with her two ragamuffin children.  But it's a product of our history and we can't go back and change it, no matter how much we want to.

Listen to the words and think of all you have to be thankful for.  I know I have many blessings that I need to acknowledge to the man upstairs.

"I've got plenty to be thankful for
I haven't got
A great big yacht
To sail from shore to shore
Still I've got plenty to be thankful for

I've got plenty to be thankful for
No private car
No caviar
No carpet on my floor
Still I've got plenty to be thankful for

I've got eyes to see with
Ears to hear with
Arms to hug with
Lips to kiss with
Someone to adore

How could anybody ask for more?
My needs are small
I buy them all
At the five and ten cent store
Oh, I've got plenty to be thankful for"

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Trick Or Treat Message From Me...

(getting up onto my soapbox)

Halloween is a fun holiday for me.  I can't wait for it to get dark each October 31 so that I can switch on my outside light and wait for all the cute ghosts and goblins to knock on my door and yell "trick or treat", "guess what I am", "hi", or whatever comes into their tiny little heads at that moment.

However, please note:  if you are in middle school, you are TOO DAMN OLD to be trick or treating.  You may think you are being funny and cute, but you're not.  Trick or treat, in my opinion, is for the little ones.  It is a rite of passage just like you had once.

I've got nothing against you dressing in a costume and having a good time.  Why don't you stay home and help your mom pass out Halloween treats?  Or, better yet, have a costume party with your friends.  Just leave the actual door to door trick or treating to the little ones who will someday follow in your footsteps and will need a good example to follow.

It's awkward and it's hard to leave that part of your life behind; I certainly understand that.  But it's also the right thing to do.

(stepping off my soapbox now)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Great Songs With a Halloween Theme: "Thriller"


"Thriller" by Michael Jackson

Well, it's the mother of all Halloween songs.  How can you go wrong with zombies, incredible dancing, and Vincent Price all in the same song?  Of course, Michael Jackson, too.

The creaking door and footsteps that go from ear to ear when you listen to it--so very cool.  And hearing Vincent Price say the words "the funk of 40,000 years" just cracks me up!

Listen, remember, dance, sing along, and enjoy!

"The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom

And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller..."

10/27/11--Raised Side Market Basket With Braided Rim

In the two pictures below this post are my completed project from basket making class last night 10/27/11.  The pattern is a Raised Side Market Basket with Braided Rim.  It was the first time I had ever done a braided rim, and it really takes some concentration.  I would like to do another braided rim basket just to "confirm" what I learned making this basket.

Detail view of rim

Wow, look at that messy office!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Be a Light In a Child's Life This Christmas



I used to send these adorable cards for my Christmas cards every year.  The cards are created by children who are or have been patients at James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, a place filled with angels who work very hard to save lives and make futures for very ill children.  This is a place where, truly, miracles happen. We are lucky to have such a place in our wonderful state.

Each card comes (on the back of the card) with a short biography of the child who created it. And at a price of 10 cards for $8.00, these holiday greetings are very affordable.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Just In That Kind of a Mood Today...

Christopher Robin and I walked along
under branches lit up by the moon.
Posing our questions to Owl and Eeyore
as our days disappeared all too soon.
But I've wandered much further today than I should
and I can't seem to find my way back to the wood.

So, help me if you can I've got to get
back to the House at Pooh Corner by one.
You'd be surprised there's so much to be done,
count all the bees in the hive,
chase all the clouds from the sky.
Back to the days of Christopher Robin and Pooh.


Winnie the Pooh doesn't know what to do,
got a honey jar stuck on his nose.
He came to me asking help and advice
and from here no one knows where he goes.

So I sent him to ask of the Owl if he's there,
how to loosen a jar from the nose of a bear

So, help me if you can I've got to get
back to the House at Pooh Corner by one
You'd be surprised there's so much to be done,
count all the bees in the hive,
chase all the clouds from the sky .
Back to the days of Christopher Robin and Pooh,
back to the days of Christopher Robin,
back to the ways of Pooh.

Lyrics to Return To Pooh Corner / Kenny Loggins, 1970

Monday, October 24, 2011

This Is What I'll Be Doing April 14, 2012...



I did this for the first time last year (thanks, Kelly and Kris, for talking me into it!).  There is no better way to wake up on a spring Saturday morning and walk in honor of those who have lost their valiant battle with this horrible disease, and to celebrate those who have persevered over this evil enemy.  All have fought the good fight and the Challenge is a great way to show your appreciation and respect.

Hoping the weather is a bit nicer in 2012(!), but I'll be there just the same.  The blisters, that blasted slight incline on McCormick Road, crossing the finish line--it's all worth it.  Join me next April 14.

More Halloween Artwork As We Get Closer To the Big Day



Some more Halloween artwork to brighten your day and get you ready for the big holiday, which is one week from today!  Susan Winget is another wonderful artist with a flair for whimsy that I enjoy so much.  Again, she is very diversified with many products available with her wonderful pieces of art.  As a matter of fact, the photo above is a panel of her licensed fabric designs.  If you find a Lang Christmas card display, chances are you will be looking at many of her charming designs.

I hope you enjoy the artwork I post here as much as I enjoy finding it for you!

Great Songs With a Halloween Theme: Theme From "The Munsters"

Theme From "The Munsters"


More Halloween fun from television world came in the form of the sitcom "The Munsters", which, according to Wikipedia.org, ran at the same time on CBS at the same time "The Addams Family" ran on ABC.

More from Wikipedia:  "The family, while decidedly odd, consider themselves fairly typical working-class Americans of the era. Herman, like many husbands of the 1960s, is the sole wage-earner in the family, though Lily and Grandpa make (short-lived) attempts to earn a little money from time to time. While Herman is the titular "head of household," Lily actually makes most of the decisions."

The Munsters starred the great Fred Wynne and the very lovely, IMO, Yvonne DeCarlo.  Never quite could figure out what Marilyn had to do with everything, but hey, it's TV, right?

Believe it or not, there were actually lyrics to the theme song, part of which were:

"If you should meet this strange family
Just forget what some people have said,
The Munsters may shake your hand clammily
But they're not necessarily dead."

What I Did Sunday...

The first leaf haul of Fall 2011 on Maple Street

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thoughts About The Internet...

"The trouble with quotes on the internet is that it’s difficult to determine whether or not they are genuine."

Abraham Lincoln

(Thanks to Mike Pinto for providing the above quote in his Morning Message e-mail today!)

HORRORS! Remember This Guy?



If you grew up in Indiana during the 1960's and 1970's, you sure do.  I present to you Sammy Terry, the undisputed king of campy late night horror!

From the website link posted above:  "In the early 1960's, WTTV's Bob Carter and producers developed the character of "Sammy Terry" as an on-air personality. A cloaked, pale-faced ghoul who rose from his coffin on Friday nights, laughed ominously and introduced Horror films as well as provide commercial-break entertainment. Renamed Nightmare Theater and with the banter mostly ad-libbed, the show and Carter's portrayal of "Sammy Terry" won him a large-scale following in the region, which allowed him to be ranked with other horror hosts of the era who operated out of much larger broadcast markets."

Remember his spider named George?  I recall staying up late to watch Sammy Terry on Channel 4 out of Indianapolis; good, funny memories of my teenage years.  Sammy Terry was a staple of slumber parties, too, as I remember.  Sammy's alter ego, Bob Carter, still makes public appearances and draws huge crowds wherever he goes, although he must be at least in his 80's by now. 

Long live Sammy Terry!

Great Songs With a Halloween Theme: "Abracadabra"

"Abracadabra" by the Steve Miller Band


Man, do I have a fascination with witches/black magic or what? :-) 

An interesting fact I dug up while researching this song; according to Wikipedia.com, "Abracadabra" was written by Steve Miller and inspired by Diana Ross (yes, the singer), whom the band had met on numerous TV appearances in the 1960's.  Wow!

More great instrumental work on this song.  Oh, and just go ahead and sing along already :-)  Enjoy!

"I see magic in your eyes
I hear the magic in your sighs
Just when I think I'm gonna get away
I hear those words that you always say..."

Behold the Power of Grilled Cheese

I have written in my blog a number of times this fall about the Chamber of Commerce weather we have been having in Lafayette, Indiana, this autumn season.  Yesterday, October 19, 2011 was NOT one of those days.  Low to mid-40's temps all day, rain that was light or heavy, sideways or straight up and down, a constant cold breeze.

I had just filled up my gas tank in the inclement weather, and gotten chilled clear through in the process, when the thought hit me--grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup would ABSOLUTELY hit the spot for dinner that night.  I went immediately to the grocery store and bought all the fixin's, and when I got home I made myself two grilled cheeses for dinner.

I ate slowly, savoring each melty, cheesy, drippy, warm bite.  What is it about grilled cheese that just warms you to the bone on a cold, unforgiving day?  It might be one of the most perfect comfort foods ever invented.  Add the tomato soup (I am definitely recommending that you all try Progresso Hearty Italian tomato soup--OMG!) and some pickles on the side (I am a pickle connoisseur, after all!) and I was a happy little camper for the rest of the evening.

Grilled cheese was also a staple of my childhood.  It would have been easy, and relatively cheap, for my mom to fix quickly with three little girls underfoot.  Maybe that accounts for some of the comfort factor that a good grilled cheese sandwich brings me.

Whatever the reason, I was one warm and happy girl last evening after eating my sandwich in my warm little house in the midst of the wind and rain and cold outside.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Great Songs With a Halloween Theme: "Witchy Woman"



Were The Eagles just the best band ever?  And this song is one of their best!  Great guitar work and great song that fits the Halloween bill.

"Raven hair and ruby lips
sparks fly from her finger tips
Echoed voices in the night
she's a restless spirit on an endless flight "