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Monday, October 26, 2009

Sweet Treats

With Hallow'een just around the corner, it's time to put together some treat bags for my co-workers! Erik and I are planning a Scary Game Night at our house this year for a few couples also, so I will probably put together a few favor bags of treats for them to take home (just in case they don't get enough treats during the party!).

These treat bags (above) were simple and fun to make using card stock, decorative paper and rub-on transfers that I had on hand from Stampin' Up. I also usually have large and small gusseted cellophane bags on hand for various projects as well. I used plain black card stock and some decorative paper with green and black skulls on it. The "spooky" skull decorative element is a rub-on transfer which I put on Natural Ivory card stock and trimmed with my small paper snips.Inside the cellophane treat bags I have Jelly Belly jellybeans in green (Juicy Pear flavor), black (licorice flavor) and a mottled blue-purple (Island Punch flavor). I also put some chocolate and peanut butter foil wrapped "eyeballs" inside also! Gummi worms would also be a great addition too!

These are a little hard to see clearly in the picture, but they are very cute. These are chocolate caramel apples that I made and wrapped in Saran wrap. Around the wooden "stem", I tied polka dot ribbon in a new Stampin' Up color called Razzleberry. The treat tags also were made with rub-on transfers; these were in white instead of black. When most people think of Hallow'een, they think of black and orange, but I like to use other colors that are just as "spooky", like this combination of black and Razzleberry card stock that goes with the ribbon. I also tucked a plastic spider into the ribbon bow. I would have preferred to use cellophane, since it's crisper and prettier than Saran wrap, but I don't have any sheets of cellophane in the house and the large gusseted treat bags weren't wide enough to accommodate the apple. Still, they turned out really adorable and it didn't take very much time at all!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Today's Spotlight On: Happy Birthday Wishes!

My birthday is actually tomorrow, October 21, but here's a shout out and a 'Happy Birthday' to anyone else celebrating a birthday this week, or even this month!!!!  October is a great month for birthdays, in my opinion!

Also celebrating a birthday lately is my niece, who turned 3 years old on October 16. Here is a picture of her doll cake that my mom made:

My mom took cake decorating classes with her own mother, for fun, when she was a young woman attending college and ever since then she was hooked. She made all of the birthday, christening , baby shower, wedding  shower, First Communion and baptism cakes for our family, as well as for some of my cousins and other relatives. For a while when I was young, she even made wedding cakes. My younger sisters and my step-sister have all caught the cake decorating "bug" from my mom and have experienced the delight of making cakes for their own children's parties. Cake decorating is one crafty thing that I do not do. I have made one or two decorated cakes in my life, but since I don't have children, there doesn't seem to ever be much need for me to make cakes like this.  My sister made the birthday cakes the last two years, but this year, my mom wanted her only grand-daughter to have a doll cake and she wanted to make it herself. She made a doll cake for all of us girls at least once!

Here's my niece and my nephew waiting for the cake to be cut!


Friday, October 9, 2009

This and That: The Silverware in the Drain

We have an old house; a Queen Anne Victorian-era behemoth built somewhere around 1886-1887. Like most folks who own a Victorian house, we have an old kitchen. Usually the kitchen is the last (and most difficult) room in a Victorian house to be restored, not to mention expensive.

I've seen worse kitchens. Ours, at least, has the original hardwood floor; narrow plank maple like the rest of the house. It used to be covered by about 6 layers of linoleum, according to the previous owners, who were the ones who had it removed. The ceiling is a bizarre looking stucco. The walls, at least, have beadboard wainscoting, which isn't bad. The cabinets are vintage steel cabinets from the 1930s-1940s; I kid you not.  Most people find the steel cabinets, which are a somewhat sickly looking cream color, "charming".  All in all, the kitchen has a strange, retro 1940s look to it, which isn't as bad as some I've seen, but the steel cabinets are annoying, the lack of counter space and modern conveniences makes cooking somewhat more of a chore than necessary, and I'd kill to have more cabinet space for all my cookery stuff.

One of the few things I like about the kitchen is the sink. It's only a single sink, but it's quite large and deep and made of heavy, old porcelain, like an old-fashioned bathtub. The sink is probably about the same age as the cabinets, judging from the style; 1930s most likely. It is similar to the popular "farmhouse"-style sinks that I am seeing everywhere now. The scary thing about the sink, however, is the drain. It is monstrously huge. And even though it has a meshy drain cover, if the strainer thing is not in place, it's just a big giant hole, like the throat of a whale. There is no protective cross-hatch of metal in the drain pipe like most of them have today. I have sometimes been fearful that my small juice glasses actually might fall down the drain; it is seriously that large. Erik, of course, says that I am exaggerating; the drain hole isn't quite big enough for our juice glasses to fall in, but I personally think it's pretty damn close!

Despite being careful to always keep the drain cover over the un-naturally huge drain hole, inevitably it will sometimes not be in place, and all manner of gunk goes down, which recently resulted in our drain becoming clogged. There is a short distance of pipe before it takes a sharp bend, and looking into the drain was like trying to peer into the deepest, darkest part of Hell, so when my Liquid Plum-R failed to get the drain flowing as well as I'd like, I took a flashlight and looked down. I could see, despite a lot of crud on it, what looked like a fork way down in the pipe, caught in where the pipe takes a sharp bend. It was too far down to reach with my hand or fingers (which actually do fit pretty well into the giant drain hole) or even a long handled spoon, so I improvised and used a bent wire hanger. I made a small loop on the end to snag the fork and was able to drag it up far enough where I could grab it with the BBQ tongs. Yes. I used BBQ tongs. After this success, I once again peered down into the drain with the flashlight and was astonished to see another item that had been underneath the fork. It appeared to be yet another fork! Once again, the coat hanger and BBQ tongs did the trick and once again, I raised up a pretty gross and gunked up fork from the recesses of the world's largest drain hole.
However, I was not done yet, I soon realized! My third inspection of the drain hole via flashlight, revealed that there was even one more piece of silverware down there. This one too, turned out to be another fork; so all in all, we had three forks crammed down into the drain, which is probably why we got a plugged drain
to begin with. I'm surprised it didn't happen earlier. The first two forks, while dirty and full of crud, were clearly of the same silverware pattern as the rest of my flatware, but the third and last one, was not. It had clearly belonged to someone else who had lived here before us and judging from the pitted, rusted and generally degraded look of the fork, it must have been in there for quite some time; probably it had fell into the drain during the tenure of the previous, previous owners.

Erik was with me during the fork-rescue expedition (it was actually his idea to use the coat hanger), but I couldn't resist exclaiming, "A-ha!" to him after we retrieved our dubious booty from the drain, in my smug attempt to prove to him that my worries of us losing items down the gigantic drain hole, like silverware (and possibly juice glasses) was not entirely unfounded.

Above: The fork-eating drain in our sink. Note: it does not appear large in this picture, but it is, I assure you!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Vintage Voice: Milk-Glass Pedestal Cake Stand

Here is my other fabulous find during my "retail therapy"; a milk-glass cake stand. I've been wanting one of these forever!
Milk glass was first made in Venice in the 16th century, but it came in other colors besides white. 19th-century glassmakers called it opal glass.
The name "milk glass" is  fairly recent. The white color is achieved by adding tin dioxide, or bone ash, to the glass, which is either blown or pressed ( pressed glass is often referred to as Depression glass.)
Some of the more well-known makers of art glass, like milk-glass, include Fenton, Westmoreland, Imperial and Mosser.
Milk glass was very popular in the Victorian era, with a resurgence of popularity and reproductions of many old designs in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

Though unmarked, mine is a Fenton Hobnail Pedestal Cake Stand. It seems that Fenton did not mark their pieces until 1970, and even then, it was only on certain items. It wasn't until 1974 that all of their pieces bore a logo on the bottom, which tells me that my cake stand was made before 1970. The color and weight, and the density, tell me that my cake stand is probably older than the 1960s, more than likely it was made in the 1950s. Hobnail patterns on milk glass was introduced by Fenton in 1939 and became their top-selling line.
Fenton Art Glass Company, which was founded by two brothers, also was the first to introduce carnival glass, which is also a very popular collector item.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Vintage Voice: Embroidered Linens

I have an addiction problem; I am not only addicted to all things Victorian and vintage, but I also have an addiction within an addiction. Specifically, I am speaking of table ware and linens. I cannot get enough of vintage linens and table/serve ware. I went into raptures over a silver mustard pot and a silver water ewer, I nearly peed my pants in excitement when I found a beautiful embroidered linen cover for a bread basket, to keep rolls and bread warm, and I have been looking for vintage embroidered pillowcases for ages. Preferably, I wanted lace-edged (either tatted or crocheted lace) pillowcases that said "His" and "Hers", but I wasn't going to turn down anything else that might tickle my fancy.

It has since occurred to me that because I know how to embroider (and enjoy doing it as well), I might just make my own embroidered pillowcases, and save myself the trouble. However, that didn't stop me from digging through piles of vintage linens obsessively whenever I would see them in antique shops and at flea markets. Occasionally, I would find some I liked, but usually the ones I liked were only a single pillowcase, with no mate. This would not do! Other times I would find pairs that I sort of liked, but they didn't have a lace edge, or I didn't like the pattern ( a frequent and oft-used motif was bells with ribbons, butterflies or a bonneted maiden) or they used too many bright colors (which was also popular at the time), so there would be  bright yellow,  dark blue, purple and pink. While the use of multiple colors was popular, it was not quite to my taste. I was hoping to find embroidery in plain white, ecru, or light blue (to match my bed linens).

At last! , today I was successful in finding vintage pillowcases that had a charming scalloped edge, trimmed in lace; the embroidery was done in light blue floss, and the pattern was simple yet beautiful : big, open roses!

And here is one of them, already washed, ironed and put on my bed! I am in love !

This and That

Following a difficult week and the heartbreak of losing a beloved pet, my sister suggested some "retail therapy" was in order for this weekend. Unfortunately, budget constraints do not permit me to indulge in much 'retail therapy' these days, but I did manage to find these darling little wonders at Target for a very budget-friendly $4.99:

They are slipper socks; soft and warm sock-like top, but with a non-skid bottom,  perfect for running around on hardwood floors! Even better, they have skulls on them, not to mention  a very adorable Argyle pattern in Hallow'een colors!  I'm in heaven!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

R.I.P. Beloved Baby, my most loving, adorable cat....

He is gone. I miss him terribly already, but it was the right decision. He was dying and without any way to tell anyone of his suffering, he looked to me to let him go, and I have done so.

"All creatures great and small, the Lord God made them all...."