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


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"


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"