Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Exchange of Valentines

Hello! It's me Elizabeth! No, you aren't about to celebrate the wrong holiday, I just just couldn't wait until the 14th to share the Valentines I have been making to exchange.

There are several of us in this community who are busily creating heart-shaped sentiments to send in the mail. I can hardly wait for the first to arrive.

Making Valentines with such sweet vintage images is beyond fun. Once you make one, you immediately want to make another.

 Don't let this fun project pass you by. A Valentine made especially for you is such a wonderful thing!

I love the month of February, and I love Valentines in the mail!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lake Street Penny Rug

Oh my goodness! Is this penny rug ever cute in person! Sometimes I tickle myself at the cuteness of a finished project, and this is definitely the case with this one. A very simple project taken step by step, I hope you will be inspired to make one of your own.


SUPPLIES: 1/2yd white felt, 15" lt. blue felt, miscellaneous small pieces of felt in colors of your choosing. Same color floss to match felt, 1 skein white, lt. blue, small amounts remaining colors. Scissors, pinking scissors, needle, pencil, iron.

ABBREVIATIONS:  BS=Blanket Stitch, OS=Outline Stitch, TS=Tacking Stitch, TKS=Tacking Knot Stitch, FK=French Knot

FELT:  I have used woolfelt which I order online from Joggles. Regular craft felt works just as well and can be found by the yard at JoAnne's.

CUT: Pattern pieces as many as directed. I hand cut triangle beaks for bluebirds and circles for flowers. Center circle was traced with pencil using a standard 10" dinner plate OR trace pattern 4x. Cut two white center circles, cut one blue. Using pinking scissors cut 1/2" from edge to form blue border.

Eye:  Position bluebird on one white circle, slipping beak under edge as reference for eye position. FK eye with darker shade of blue through both layers of felt. Repeat 15x.
Bluebird: Stitching from L to R beginning at point above eye, BS edge of bluebird catching beak. Repeat 15x.
Beak:  From beneath, TS beak without penetrating top layer of yellow felt. This technique is used when you do not want stitches to show. Repeat 15x.
Circle: BS beginning where white meets blue felt from L to R. When you come to blue felt, keep needle behind blue felt. Stitches will only show on back of white felt. Repeat 15x.

Roof: TS white trim to red roof, set aside. Trees: TS pink roses, set aside. Window: TS  bottom edge of  white window shade, set aside. Door: BS heart to door, hidden TS doorknob. BS door to house. TS window to house as well as window box.

Blue Sky: Position tall green trees and yellow house. Use pencil to draw puffy blue sky. Use 3 strands darker blue floss and OS. Your pencil line will not show.
Cottage: Position tall green trees and yellow house tucking sidewalk under door edge. Use 1 strand floss and long running stitches to hold pieces in place. BS Trees lifting edge of house as you go. BS House hiding stitches at bottom door edge.
Walk: BS walk STOPPING 1/2 inch from bottom. You will finish walk after sewing lt. blue border in place.
Roof: BS top edge of  roof, TS bottom edge under white scallop.
Miscellaneous: BS heart and bushes. TS flowers in place.

Blue Border. Using 2 strands floss, TS between every other valley of pinked inside edge. BS around outside edge. Center of rug is now complete, time for the MAGIC!!!

IRONING: This is my most favorite step in making a penny rug! Truly what you think is already cute will become wonderful after ironing. Using a steam iron at about a 4-5 setting,  iron THE BACK of rug with iron directly on felt using medium pressure. Iron until no visible wrinkles are present. FROM THE FRONT KEEPING IRON SKIMMING SURFACE OF FELT LIGHTLY until piece appears flat and free of any wrinkles. The pieces will "felt" themselves together creating the most beautiful effect! LOVE this part!!!

Using 3 strands floss, BS white center circle back to center circle front.
Using 2 strands floss, slip needle between center rug circle, catch BS thread from bluebird circle and center circle and take a TKS. Repeat this 3x. Do not cut thread.
Slip needle between layers of bluebird circle coming out at tip of lt. blue felt. Hold a second bluebird circle with lt. blue points matching and take 2 TKS.
Needles again slips between bluebird circle layers to top center where you will take 3 TKS to center circle.
Repeat with each bluebird circle added.

From the back again steam with medium pressure until piece is flat. From the front, skim the surface with the iron until piece appears without wrinkles.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

When Will She Know?

There has been such a transformation in my Twirly Swirly Girl since she has come back to the nest to live. Gone is the Chef, gone is the Hippie, gone is the Police Officer. She has asked her father and I might we get her hair extensions as her one and only Christmas gift. It seems, she says, that boys only like girls with long hair.

Waiting for her college courses to begin, she is enjoying working full time at a shop in the mall. It turns out she has quite the knack for selling and will major in business at school. She is making friends with co-workers, after work burgers and blind date arrangements made.

There is a flurry of text messaging seen for days, a few dates, selective sharing of information, parents whispering from pillows in the dark, every detail discussed for a glimpse of happiness found. "It wasn't meant to be." not this time.

Puppy Patrol couch sleeping, covers under chin, Mom and Dad kisses without causing her to wake. "When will she know True Love's grace?"

This is my Christmas Prayer.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Dream for a Bobwhite

The Saturday after Thanksgiving was the most anticipated weekend for the Bobwhites. It marked the opening of our outdoor ice skating rink, Tucker Road. Nestled in a valley whose hills were thick with fir trees, branches heavy with snow, we couldn't wait for our first glimpse of red jackets. Rink Guard boy crushes for the season determined, unbreakable rules argued. First dibs, first smile, first hello, first to be helped up, first to be asked to couple's skate. Any first and your crush was chosen. Endless sleepover discussions for long winter nights.

After school taxi in my mother's car, we could barely contain ourselves as we began the steep decent of Tucker Road. Trees on both sides hiding our view, neck craned silence held for just a moment. Glistening snow in the broad valley opening before us, the most magical place on earth to be. Stand in line tickets, bench room squeeze, laces tied, anticipation hanging in the murmur above our heads. Shoulder to shoulder wait behind the glass, "All Skate" the moment we had waited for.

Group of girls arm in arm, barely moving at all, excited giggling as red jackets flew by, their grace of movement  as comfortable as their handsome youth worn with confidence. Boy crushes claimed right away. Long hair and bell bottoms, cool skating moves, a nod in our direction sealing the deal.  Complete silence separated me from my friends as true love found it's way. "I'm going to marry him." Moments later, a fall on the ice, a hand extended to me, "May I help you up?"

In that night's morning hours my mother would sit on the edge of my bed and tell me about a dream that woke her from her sleep. It seems she had spoken to the Rink Guard in the red jacket. In the morning I would find a painting on her easel with a note attached for me.

"Elizabeth, This painting is the story of your life. You are the tree just to the right of the little cottage, not many branches, so very afraid of life. The tree next to you is the young man you have met, and he will be your husband. His arms will shelter you and allow a safe place for you to grow.
You will have a son and a daughter as you see by the little trees sheltered under yours. The trees just behind the cottage represent the people who will be most important in your life together. A beloved mother who passed away, a mother who took her place, a father, and the aunt and uncle who sheltered this young man when he lost his mother at such a young age. The dense forest represents an extraordinary family who will always see that you feel loved. Brothers and sisters are the pine trees in the left foreground who will make you one of their own. They will have many children.
The cottage represents your marriage. Dark footprints outside the door represents trouble to your marriage  only coming from outside of it, but the bright fire glowing through the window assures your love will be the forever kind.
The stream in the foreground represents change. Your husband will take time to find contentment in a career, and you will move frequently.
The little bridge is the gateway to your life, and I am the little  twig bush. I will not be apart of your life, but I will always be watching, and I will only allow good to come your way. Your loving mother, 1975."
I was 16 years old.

Three years after my mother painted, "The Dream" I would marry my Rink Guard. We would move to Lake Ann, Michigan and live in a Honeymoon cottage on a stream. Across the street was an A-frame!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Gooseberry Patch

I know by heart the story of how JoAnn and Vickie began their company after numerous chats over their adjoining neighborhood fence printed inside of all their published books. I read it again as though a greeting from old friends knowing that I live just streets away from where they met and that for a time I was a member of the Gooseberry Patch family.

Imagine a place to work where offices have window sashes hung with aprons for curtains, walls of lavender and yellow, spring green and robin's egg blue. A real front porch for your supervisor to supervise and shelves upon shelves filled with vintage inspired wares to sell. Magical, simply magical.

I learned so much as a Personal Shopper whose job it was to describe and assist customers with their purchases. I might say things like, "If you are getting our latest Christmas cook book then you must get our vintage inspired cookie cutters. They are as cute as can be and are wonderful stored all year round in a glass jar on your kitchen counter."

It was my job to know 101 additional ways to use items you just knew you could not live without. It is from my time with Gooseberry Patch that I have a blog cute as can be to share. I was surrounded on a day to day basis by the most creative people and artist I have ever had the honor to know. I absorbed every single detail of every moment there because it was all so inspiring.

"Welcome to Gooseberry Patch, my name is Elizabeth." is how I began each call from a customer. A smile in my voice, sincerity in my heart to share with others my love of all things Gooseberry Patch. Today I welcome you!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Snowmen on a ME Monday!

Did we know to love snowmen before Mary Englebreit? I don't think I did until seeing her personal collection in her wonderful magazine Home Companion.

I can't tell you how many years I have wished at this photograph for snowmen of my own.

Snowmen used in crafts? How perfectly perfect! A snowman craft to share with you.

A small jar with lid becomes a cute as can be place to hold red buttons. A Christmas ornament looked at in a new way is hot glued to a round topper. A strip of  felt pinked to make icicles glued around the rim of the jar, a little glitter, ready to go!

You can't have a collection unless there is two! Another snowman craft for you. (Please for one moment make this your screen it?..... Wishing you a joyous holiday season! Elizabeth)

SUPPLIES: Large and smaller Styrofoam ball, paper clay and water, toothpicks, peppermint stems formed by twisting two white and two red together, hot glue. Paints; white, black, red, stiff larger brush, thin liner brush.  Tacky Glue or Modge Podge, varnish, clear glitter.

Step 1: Use thumb to press small amounts of clay onto smaller head form until a thin layer completely covers all Styrofoam. Form small ball, score both surfaces, use a we finger to smooth away edges of nose.

Step 2: Insert toothpicks 1/4th way into bottom of head.

Step 3: Insert arms and legs into body to designate placement. Remove and set aside. Do you see the little snowman in the background? My inspiration for this craft!

Step 4: Body covered in clay, stems inserted, head positioned leaving just enough space for clay to dry. (I also inserted ornament topper to create holes) Set aside to dry overnight. On to the cutest trees ever!

SUPPLIES:  1 packaged same color mixed sized flowers. (Michaels $4.99 will make 5 trees), Wilton's candy sticks (extras will be used in up coming peg dolls as arms), miscellaneous buttons, thin red ribbon, hot glue.

Step 5:  Small amount of hot glue at top of candy stick, spiral ribbon down length, secure with hot glue at bottom.Vintage buttons turned over make perfect bases for the trees. Make one tree without a base for your snowman! I had to slightly enlarge slits in centers of flowers to slip onto sticks. I added a little hot glue after each layer added to hold in place.

My tree without base made,  now back to my snowman!

STEP 6: I have used a stiff brush to paint my snowman all white. (It is very easy to paint around stems) Use pencil to draw eyes, go over with black paint. Paint nose and mouth. When dry, cover eyes and nose only with varnish.

STEP 7: Use Tacky Glue with drops of water added for ease in spreading or Modge Podge just as it is. Completely cover head area avoiding eyes and nose. Sprinkle with glitter. Tap off excess. Cover half top of body with glue and glitter, tap off excess. Hold by leg stems to complete rest of body area. Let completely dry. Now for the fun part...

I think this is one of the cutest crafts I have ever made! I used my "What's on Hand" motto to complete my snowman. A large vintage spool of ribbon becomes his base, buttons his snow. I made little mittens with red felt scraps, and a little buckle found at the scrapbook store many years ago.

My little brother in his Christmas red striped pajamas was the inspiration for my snowman's legs. Oh, the sweetness of memory is such a blessing!

Mary Englebreit, I love that you shared your vision of the world with us through your wonderful Home Companion and I especially love being able to share Snowmen with you on a ME Monday!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

White Velvet Sugar Cookies

Today I thought I would share my own personal favorite cookie, White Velvet Sugar Cookies.

I love to make these cookies not only because they are snowy white and yummy but because they remind me of my days at Gooseberry Patch. My GBP reindeer cookie cutter from GBP was the inspiration for a penny rug made last year. My first year working the holiday season, I became so caught up in selling Christmas that I completely forgot about it in my own home! There were several dozen cookies not made that year!


CREAM: 2c butter (room temp.), 1 (8oz) cream cheese (room temp.), 2c sugar, 2 large egg YOLKS, 1t vanilla
ADD:  4c flour + 1/2c for rolling out
CHILL: 3 hours. Let come to nearly room temp.
ROLL OUT:  Flour counter well as well as brushing dough and dipping cookie cutters into flour as needed. Roll dough 1/8" thick.
BAKE:  Air-Bake or shiny aluminum baking sheet 350* 12-15 mins. Remove to cool (will be very delicate)
ICING: 2c powered sugar, 1 egg white, 1t vanilla, drops of water until smooth. I use the back of a spoon to dab the icing in place. Betty Crocker tubes of white icing microwaved for several seconds until pipes smoothly will set beautifully and taste delicious! Place red hots as you ice, and sprinkle cookies with sugar.

I giggle to think how many customers at Gooseberry Patch I told my icing "secret" to. I do hope Betty Crocker heard about it!

 And here is my Dash Away All penny rug pattern for you!

Preview image, choose percentage that is right for you.