Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sweet Little Nest Swap

All the goodies that my Sweet Little Nest Swap partner will be receiving soon:
An old vintage postcard that I found in an antique shop and thought would go nicely.
This is my first swap and I've been dying to do one since I started reading blogs. This was a lot of fun and I hope my partner enjoys it. I took a wooden box and painted/distressed/stamped it. Added scraps of vintage wallpaper and a "nest" of shredded old book pages. It is tied with vintage seam binding.

The cover of the box is embellished with three tiny porcelain flowers that I purchased from etsy.

This paper brooch goes along with the swap and was inspired by those made by Connie Govea Stuart. I used bits of vintage lace.

Here is my little handmade woolen birdie in her nest. She is embellished with woolen felt flowers and a green glass leaf. Happy Spring!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Birthday Week

This was my daughter's thirteenth birthday and she wanted her favorite ice cream cake. This is the easiest cake you could ever make and it's always a big hit with the kids- and so pretty too! I got the recipe out of a very old Better Homes and Gardens:

Two packages of soft cookies with a jam center (such as Archway)
1/2 gallon favorite good quality ice cream ( I used strawberry)
fresh strawberries
fresh blackberries or blueberries
Strawberry jam (warmed in a saucepan until liquid)

Line a souffle dish or bowl with straight sides with saran wrap leaving an overhang of about 6 to 8 inches on the sides. Soften up the ice cream to a spreadable consistency.

Line the sides of the bowl with the cookies standing on end with the jam centers facing outward. Line the bottom with more cookies breaking them up to fit. Spread 1/2 of ice cream in the bowl. Layer more cookies on top. Spread remaining ice cream so that it fills up the cavity. Cover up the top with the overhanging saran wrap. Freeze until firm ( a few hours).

Before serving: Lift out the frozen cake and unwrap. Place on a cake pedestal and decorate with the berries. (good to have these all trimmed and ready to go so your cake is not melting). Pour strawberry glaze over. Voila!

This was our birthday table.. my daughter did the decorating for her friends.

I found these cool flower pens which made a nice centerpiece and then the girls got to take them home.

My big birthday gift was my "Little Giant" ladder. I have been longing for one of these for ages and always make the guy demonstrate it whenever I go to a flower/garden show. My husband finally gave in and bought me one for my fiftieth. Now I can do my own demo!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

This Old House

This is my current project.. our front hallway has been in shambles for about 6 years now and I couldn't stand it any longer. I started stripping off the wallpaper- there are five layers. It's like an archeological dig through time. There was a fifties geometric print, followed by a red toile, then a green toile, then a 70's horror show with finally an 80's vinyl damask.

Unfortunately the interior walls of my house are this horrible stuff that the contractors called "beaver board". It was put up sometime in the fifties after the house suffered a fire. The outside walls are mostly plaster which is befitting the 1849 structure. The beaver board is a fibrous mess and comes apart if you try to get too close. I was able to strip off a couple of layers to a painted wallpaper and that will have to be good enough or the wall starts coming off too- a nightmare really.

My plan is to paint the walls. I can't commit to wallpaper. By the time I am finished wallpapering rooms, I'm sick of the pattern. I am having a hard time even committing to a color scheme. My daughter wants something bolder than the neutrals in the rest of the house. Maybe I'll be daring with color and hopefully won't regret it later.

These stairs are a mess. Looks like a job for the spackle queen!

More later... hope to be able to show off the after pictures and the big reveal just like on HGTV!

Doll of the Week: Two

This is the second installment of my Doll of the Week feature: Russian Tea Cozy. Doesn't she have the greatest face! I got this doll by way of my mother who worked with a college professor who was traveling to Russia. She requested he find a doll for me and this is what I got...just love her. She is large (about 20 inches) and quite a beefy lady. I love her thin eyebrows. They remind me of some of the older ladies who pluck them all out and then draw in new ones... don't get that at all. She has the greatest mischievious expression and you have to wonder what she's thinking!Her face is pressed and molded cotton fabric. She has colorful cotton costuming and a very thick padded cotton underskirt for the cozy part. She could easily accomodate a large tea kettle.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine Wishes

Happy Valentine's Day! Here is an old suitcase that I painted and decorated a couple of years ago to hold all the valentines I've given and received over the years. I love the way it looks both closed and..... Open! Like a true treasure chest of loving wishes.
I have a fabulous old circle taffeta skirt from the forties that was started but never finished. I took some of that great polka dotted taffeta and made a little ruffle for the pocket.

Here is a shot of my mantle which I try and decorate for each holiday. I made the doll years ago and she is pretty primitive but I still love her. The large hand coloured photograph in the frame is my great aunt Helen. She was my grandmother's sister and their father took this photo and handcoloured it himself. My grandmother painted the frame and this was a most treasured possession that she wanted me to have. Her sister Helen tragically died when she was a young woman and I think this photo gave my grandmother a lot of comfort. I am happy to have it grace my mantle through all the seasons.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Doll of the Week: One

I thought I would start a little "column" on my blog that would showcase my doll collection week by week. I have been collecting dolls since I was six years old with my first Ginny Dutch doll. Since I turn fifty next week (yikes.. can hardly believe it!) and still play with dolls, I guess that collection was the start of a very good thing!

I know a mother is not supposed to have favorites but this is definitely one of mine. I named her Marta (after the littlest girl in "The Sound of Music"). I acquired her from a friend who was visiting Saltzburg, Austria. I have never been but it is a dream of mine to go someday. I asked her to try and find me a unique handmade doll and was I thrilled with her find! She found this family of dollmakers on a side street in the city. I still don't know their name- the doll has the initials B.E.R. written on the back of her neck but that's it. She didn't come with any tags what-so-ever. I think I paid around $200 for her (around 1985) and that was a lot of money for me to spend at the time. Now I wish I had bought two!

A close-up of Marta's beautiful face and blue eyes. Her head is made from a very heavy clay type substance and has lovely handpainted details. Because her head is so heavy, she sits a little hunched over but we can forgive her bad posture.
Her body is softly stuffed cotton stockinette and her clothes are made from old fabrics and lace.

I know this is undignified but I wanted you to see her hand knit underwear and cami.. it gets cold over there in the Austrian Alps!

Her hair is made from flax and styled in a traditional Austrian braid on the side of her head.

Old millinery flowers
and an old wide silk ribbon on her straw hat.

Handmade leather shoes and hand knit stockings.

This will be a great way of documenting my collection and telling a little story about each one, which is something I have been meaning to do for some time but it seemed a little overwhelming. If I approach it week by week, it will be fun. Sadly, most of my dolls are boxed away and have been for most of their dolly life. I have never had a proper space to display them all. I don't know if I would want to display them all at once anyhow. This way they can come out of their box to have their fifteen minutes of fame on my blog!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Bits and Bobs

These are some Valentines I've been working on. I got the shoe idea from an issue of "Somerset Workshop"- love that magazine. These are fast and will be fun to send out. The little matchbox banner is one I made for my favorite Valentine sweetie Miss India.

Here is a good idea that I got from an old issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. It is also good for people like me who can't bear to throw out even the tiniest scrap of anything interesting (it's a problem, really). I took a dollar store photo album and stitched down the middle to make more small pouches. I think the article used a nice clear slide folder which would be good but this is what I already had lying around. It's fun to play with colors and textures and use these little "mini collages" for inspiration.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Finally February and More Pocket Journals

It's such a dismal day here in New England. I can hear the sleet pelting the slate roof of my old house which is sort of a fun tinkling little sound. I'm surprised that they didn't cancel school (much to my daughter's dismay). I have spent the day holed up in my attic studio cutting and pasting away making these little journals. They are quite addictive to put together. I keep thinking of ideas for new ones as I am making them. Even if I can't sell them, they make great hostess/teacher/best friend gifts so I'll be prepared!

I am relieved that it is finally February because that means you can finally feel the days getting longer. It becomes noticeable at last. I can bear winter just fine but the short days really get to me and my productivity in general really drops. Tomorrow the ground hog will tell us that Spring is on its way!