Sunday, December 23, 2007

My most favorite Christmas Dress

In a moment of ebay craziness, I paid $22 a yard for this Christmas fabric. Yep, I won't pay more than $3-4 a yard at Joanns w/a coupon, but this was just a gotta-have-it moment. I was afraid to cut it! The finished product made me & Liv happy. The buttonholes were done last minute - I almost safety pinned it together! And not as neat as I'd have liked, but it looked adorable. Some day, Liv will say - "hey, is that fringe from an old bedspread?"

Guilty as charged.

And if I have time, she might get a pillow from the same fabrics!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Lemon Poundcakes

Blackberry Almond Tarts

I wish I could send you all one of these tasty treats. They are one of my all time favorites - the flavors - a hint of cinnamon, lemon, perhaps - I can't disclose that - the recipe is one of my best kept secrets! Ground almonds in a sugar cookie crust, and seedless blackberry jam. I usually make these in my spring form pan, but one is missing (Dana do you have it there from a cheesecake I brought up?) and another is missing the bottom. So, I used 3 of my small ones and my heart pan. Can you tell how happy I am with this change in tradition? Yep, I'll be doing that again.

I'm sending them to school with Cathrynn, along with my mini lemon pound cake. From another message board I've learned that teachers don't especially like gifts of baked goods and even worse, apple themed stuff, but the gift basket Cathrynn bought has a cool ruler framed magnetic board and apple magnets, she loves it and can't wait to give it to Miss H tomorrow. And that's what the season is all about, huh?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Merry Christmas Kitchen

I love the whimsy you can slide in at the holidays - aprons with kittens and bells - you betcha! Tie them to the kitchen chairs to enjoy all day. I'm starching some red&white doilies that my Gramm crocheted for me last year. I've decided to string them together as a cheerful garland in the kitchen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Past

These remind me of so much folksy/artsy stuff I see on blogs & etsy. They're one step away from being donated to the Vets.

I just can't keep all my parents' old Christmas stuff. There I said it, even I have my limit. And I'd rather have a box of someone else's old & chippy Shiny & Brites than these family heirlooms. I contemplated adding another tree just for them. But seriously, 9 (or is it 10?) trees is enough even for me.

So these 24 Partridges & an Angel are offered for a very short time on ebay, if they don't sell in the next 11 hours and 11 minutes I'll be sending them off to do their holiday duties.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

my sorrow

I've spent the weekend reflecting on the loss of my mom's cousin and his wife. They died in a horrific traffic accident on Friday evening. The type that makes the news.

Like so many, in the last decade or so, I've only seen them at the funerals of others, and the small bits I knew about them recently was from the Christmas cards with smiling faces of their grandchildren.

The accident happened on the way to visit their daughter and her family across the state. Which to me makes it so much worse.

I can't imagine. Comprehend. Understand. Fathom. It makes me a bit hysterical thinking about it. And angry.

My mom mentioned that she'd never been to a funeral for two people before. And that tonight she was afraid on the roads.

Two years ago, my cousin lost her mom on December 26th. She's an only child and had lost her father as a child. I can't imagine being parent-less.

I keep adding to the list of people for whom the holidays are beyond difficult. :(

I am swept away with gratitude for my healthy family & friends.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Ahh... the smell of...

Hot glue.

Yep, I've gone through an entire bag in the last 12 hours. This is hanging over my kitchen sink. I love these pretties and they'll make me smile while I do dishes. The tiny plate in the center is a pastel Christmas scene by Johnson Bros. I would love, love, love to have a set of them, but this tiny plate was a thrift store score several years ago. Hope to have the gluing done today so I can start on the baking!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Shiny & Brite

I'm not a Coach purse kinda gal - I'm the gal at the thrift store hoarding the boxes of Shiny & Brite Christmas ornaments. Having to open the boxes in the car and touch each delicate ornament. I was swept away by the dusty smell of the boxes - an instant journey up the steep stairs to my Grandma Vi's attic. I don't remember what I loved up there, but the smell I conjure up is coal dust and her crisp linens.
I hung them on the tree before I put the groceries away. But, hell I had some money left over for groceries so I can't be all bad. Do you see Rocket? Up near the tree!!!! Bad cat! Don't dare startle her...

Monday, December 3, 2007

That 70s Christmas

Mom and Dad unloaded the last of their vintage Christmas stuff and, of course, I was the lucky recipient. Years ago they stashed this old stuff and went with designer themed trees. I am thrilled to be the new owner of the sugar plum & plastic popcorn garland - I may spiff it up with some glitter spray (pictures to follow soon I promise). Most of the stuff the girls went nuts for - it's all pretty silly stuff - and a ton we made in ceramics, and are quite bright and funky!

I decided to sell a lot of 1970s Christmas stuff on ebay. And found out that the 1976-1979 Hallmark ornaments are highly collectible. Weird, huh? One person's trash indeed. Keeping my fingers crossed for a very happy ending to this story.
These babies are a thrift store score, buried at the bottom of a box of ratty, broken cheapo ornies, they are delicate glass walnuts from West Germany and oh so fragile. Also offered on ebay.

Off to unload tote 17 of the Christmas decor...! ttfn!

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Last Thread

I ran out of black and white thread last night. Five Steelers totes in one week was obviously my limit. Let's say that's what lead to my emotional breaking point yesterday, yeah let's - and not the other stuff - hormones, beckoning holiday stress complete with money woes, that my son is going to be 21 in a few short days...

After a tearful day (sorry guys!) the final straw was the last black thread running out when I was this close to finishing bag six of the black&gold at midnight.

In defeat, I decided to do a tote that I really, really love for someone that I really, really love.

A long time ago, my wise friend Lorna made the astute observation that I was not going to do well in a sales venture. She pointed out that I was not motivated by money. Yep, she was right. I have never done anything in my life solely for the sake of making more money. Yes, I've worked two jobs to support Vince, but I never married for money, never took a job that would have required me to sell stuff to people who didn't really need it just to make the deal. Is that a bad thing? It feels like it when you start adding up the holiday expenses and wonder why you didn't go back to work and send your kiddos to daycare so you could buy them really great presents. Or that trip to Disney that everyone in 1st grade seems to be taking this month. Did I mention that I loathe Disney? Yep, I still do.

An early morning pep talk from Dana and Liv's joy at her new tote were nice reminders of what's important. Not shipping the girls to daycare today, hanging out with them & still in my jammies at 1pm - yep, those things matter. I'm not a money making machine any more. I'm not gone 50 hours a week at work. Even my totes... well, I make them to make me happy - I put more time and materials into them they're currently selling for, thus worth, gotcha Frank - I realize that, thanks for the daily reminders.

Here's Liv modeling her new dance bag, complete with bed head, pink jammies, rose colored glasses and Cinderella's glass slippers. Now that's priceless.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Vintage Christmas Handbag

At an outdoor antique show last summer, Dana and I were elbows deep in vintage fabrics. It was the kind of haul that you wish you had much, much more money left in your pockets. Even though the vendor was selling his wife's stuff, was good stuff, and the prices reflected that. We were able to buy some separates and miss-matched pieces from the piles of heavy old drapes.

One of my favorite pieces was a tiny, valance in a 1940s graphic floral pattern with deep reds and greens. I'm pretty sure the red ticking strip is newer upholstery fabric, and the nubby green&red tweed is from a vintage suit. For fun I added a leather string of buttons, baubles & beads that bounces happily. I love that it's seasonal without being obvious!

I have used the very last piece on this Christmas-y tote. Knowing it's the last of this fabric, I may keep this tote. Sshhhhhhhh...that'll be our secret.

UPDATE: It's a keeper! I needed a little pick me up today and this tote was the answer. Love, love, love it. If you see it out and about the local thrift stores, antique malls & Joanns- you'll know it's me!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

One less at tomorrow's dinner...

This is the first holiday without Gramm. Everything feels different... usually I'm in psycho mode of cleaning, shopping, baking, cooking but this year we're going to Sandra & Eric's house. No MIL or SIL visiting this year. Not even Vince. He's going to Caitlin's parents' house for Thanksgiving. No pies baking, no turkey thawing, no leftovers. It's soooo peaceful and quiet here at the moment - and for that I'm quite thankful.

I made this memory book last year, it keeps the recipes that I scramble for at the last minute and some special memories of Thanksgivings past:

Thanksgivings at my grandparent’s house in Cecil… the adults gathered at the dining room table and the kids and cooks were in the kitchen. The food was always buffet style at the island counter top, but due to the cramped quarters the women served the food (and barely ever sat down!). Papa’s spot was at the head of the table, of course.

It was usually the same group – Grandpap & Grandma - Mom, Dad, Kim, DeDe & me – Aunt DoDo & Uncle Buzzy, Donald & Michael – Auntie Ei & Sandra – some years Aunt Carol & Uncle Dom, Craig & Chris - Aunt Nini & Uncle Joe & his sister, and others.
The list doesn’t seem so long now.

Family gatherings were such special occasions, and Thanksgiving was the prelude to Christmas, complete with the “Grab Bag Drawing” for Christmas day. The food was abundant but my memories are more of the excitement. When I close my eyes & remember – I can hear the voices, the laughter, the heated discussions, the telephone ringing, the general loudness – until the guys retired to the living room to nod off in front of the TV & yell at us kids to stop running. And the women took to the dishes, where they washed & dried and talked in bits & pieces - whispered or s-p-e-l-l-ed out their secrets & stories, and mingled over coffee, until the guys & kids were ready for dessert.

I wish you and yours a Thanksgiving filled with people you love. Kelley

Forever on Thanksgiving Day the heart will find the pathway home.

-Wilbur D. Nesbit

Never say Never

When I started making totes last summer, Frank said, "wow, you could do Steeler ones and they'll sell like crazy".

I tried. I really did. I bought the black & white graphic brocade with those intentions, and then paired it with everything but. 'Cause my love & motivation is the vintage fabrics, not sports stuff, or much to his dismay - not even making money. Just like I mentioned that I loathe Disney mass merchandised stuff - well, add black & gold stuff is high on that list. And I won't tell you what I think the black & gold fleece that'll blanket our city this winter... shudder.

Then, a good junquey friend offered a tin of vintage buttons in exchange for some mini-totes for her grandbabies. Yep, I sold out. Just like I tell my dear son, Vince, who's in school for graphic design, "you have to do stuff you don't like, that's life". (how's that for pearls of wisdom!)

So, I'll be making more of these cute boutique bags and offering them on ebay. At least I put my own unique, junquey touch to them...

Monday, November 19, 2007

my totes & purses

Great gifts for the holidays (If I do say so myself!!) :

My handmade purses/totes are being offered on Ebay through the holidays. My blog friends get a 10% discount off the auction closing price. Be sure to email me if you win before paying!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

M-I-C-K-E-Y mouse!

Did ya know it's his birthday tomorrow? Well, if you have a child in preschool you might. Liv's teachers celebrated yesterday - and the kids were encouraged to wear Mickey attire. Perfect opportunity to tell you that I loathe the Disney store?

And pretty much all mass produced stuff? (unless, I can get it at a thrift store and it's not some walking billboard advertisement!)

So, to avoid a trip to the mall and since I was already at Joanns (busted again!) I gave Liv the job of helping find some Mickey fabric. Luckily, it's almost Christmas 'cause this is the only fabric they had in stock. I had a sketchy idea based on the oodles of OOAK boutique outfits on ebay.

I used a pair of capris that were going into storage for the winter and a cheap white tea from J's and started embellishing. These outfits sell for $50+ on ebay, but my cost was less than $10 - how cool AND I'll be cutting those buttons off when she's done with it. Since the material is Christmas, she might even get another use.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

glue, glitter & girlfriends

Yep, I've been MIA. My longest blogging break ever. I've been busy, busy, busy! Last weekend, we kicked off Craft Season 2007! Nothing like glue, glitter & girlfriends! We dined on yummy veggie soup & pumpkin bread, and Dana's husband put a fire in the fireplace to keep us toasty. The incomparable Darly was too busy with the tedious life stuff, but Dana's mom, Marlene, took her maiden voyage into our creative world. Hot glue held us all together as we laughed and teased each other. We hung our creations on a sad little tree in Dana's antique booth. I also sold seven totes, and have been busy replenishing my stock.

So, what happened to my 100 post give-away? Loyal friends, I'm working on it. I have the best intentions to make it a good one. Just too scattered to make it happen. Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Great Pumpkin

Until I get the film developed, here's one I snapped with my cellphone with Liv, too. Her stuffing was a bit squished by then, but that's what happens when you insist on wearing your costume ALL day. She was just a banana short of being Carmen Miranda, dont'cha think??? That's what happens when I get a hold of a hot glue gun - watch out!

I'm coming down from a T-O-T hangover. What an event here in suburbia - Liv's preschool even rented a bouncy thing, had a pinata, parade... Truly, this was up there with Christmas in the amount of planning and activities. Add chocolate and sugar and it's not pretty!

I've been snuggling under a blanket on the sofa all morning. I never, ever do that. Wish I could do it all day, lol!

By the way - this is my 99th post. Hmmmmmm... shall the 100th post bring something fun? Maybe a give-away? Maybe. I promise it won't be a box of all the cheapo TOT leftover candy. You'll have to come out of the closet and leave a comment though. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I never thought Cathrynn would be anything but a princess or fairy for trick-or-treat. Wrong, she wanted to be a witch this year! But, she is bewitching as a good witch. I had my doubts but some great clearance fabric made a magical cape and I got a bit carried away with blinging the hat. When she came home from school and saw the finished product (yeah, yeah on the 30th cause that's how I operate, as my 8th grade teacher once dubbed me - the procrastinator), she was awe struck.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Vintage Teacup Fall Swap - Part 2

This is the goodie basket I sent off to Rebecca for the Vintage Indie swap.

I love the delicate acorns on the teacups... they were made a short distance from here, at the Taylor Smith Taylor plant, in the 1940s. I tucked a few fall hankies in the basket - one even had acorns on it, an old Florida spoon, maple syrup in a maple leaf glass jar, apple butter, tea, and hot apple cider mix... I love this season!

Innocence Lost

I accidentally deleted this... forgive the repetition!

Last year, my dear daughter, Cathrynn came home from kindergarten rather upset after she'd sang a bit from Both Sides Now, and when the teacher recognized it & sang along. My girl was devastated to realize that it wasn't original to our family. I imagine her teacher, Mrs. C., stifling a smile & laughter as my dear sweet girl sang her own rendition of her MOM's song. In the face of such betrayal, I made sure she knew I was also not the lyricist for all her other favorites - The Sun'll Come up Tomorrow, The Rainbow Connection, Hush Little Baby, the Happy Birthday song...

That's what happens, you send your five year old to grade school, and they learn about life beyond the happy, safe, innocent world I've created for them. They learn that a much more talented lady came up with Both Sides Now when I was still in grade school. That there are soldiers fighting a war. That not everyone wants to be their friend. That other kids are watching High School Musical while they've been happy to watch Noggin. That people do say stupid because it really isn't a bad word (although it will always be in our home).

Why so melancholy this morning?

I was having bloggers block and getting my inspiration from some of my favorite blogs instead. Charlotte Lyons wrote one of my most favorite craft books. I like to say she wrote the book on crafting! She recently reflected on a trip to Starbucks. And summed up my feelings about life in general.

Somehow, I've advanced in life to a really good place, except when standing around chatting with the other preschool moms. Most of these women are closer in age and life experience to my son, Vince. I am a lifetime a way. I am staring menopause in the face. I am mature.

Would I change places? NO! Not for one split second would I go back to my 20s. Yikes. I like my 40s. I just don't like when I hear a song and realize how far away I am. My 25 year high school reunion next year? That must be someone else. The math is wrong. I am young at heart. Wise. Mature. Cynical.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Vintage Tea Cup Swap!

I received my package from Rebecca - a gorgeous hand stitched tea towel which will be displayed in my vintage inspired kitchen. I'll have to tell everyone "hands off"! I've never had anyone stitch something just for me. I am delighted!!! If you're in the market for a treasure like this, please visit her Etsy store - MelysBaby!

The cup & saucer are one of my favorite brown transfer ware patterns. I've never owned transfer ware in brown but I'm happy to say that on Friday I found a matching lone plate at a thrift store that I plopped the fragrant candle down on. The start of a lovely Autumn-y china collection.

I'm hoping that Rebecca is as pleased as I am...I was not as speedy as she was at mailing hers out, but I hope by Monday she'll be enjoying it. I'll post a pix then so as not to spoil her surprise, in case she's reading this.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Do you remember being a little girl and doing trade-sies with your girl friends & sisters? Of course, with 3 daughters my mom put her foot down on several occasions, or we'd all have lost our favorite toys on a whim & promise!

As grown-ups (ahem, loosely defined) my girlfriends & I do our own version of trade-sies - bartering, swapping, sharing, trading - whatever you call it! We have a pretty steadfast rule - no money changes hands, but we all end up with some new-to-us-stuff. Heck, half my house has been furnished that way (thanks Dana & Darla!). I left the house on Saturday with a wing chair, drop leaf table and two odd dining room chairs and returned with this settee(sans cats & cool wall sconce) : Cool, huh? I'll be attempting a slipcover for my bedroom. And I Can't wait to see what magic Dana does on the table & chairs.

Last month, I went out on a limb and decided to do the Vintage Indie Tea Cup Swap. Hoping we'll both be quite pleased! I'll post a few pix of my package as soon as I can :D

Pretty in pink...

Cotton shirts.  Love 'em. Usually can't wear 'em.  Too tight. Pull at the boobs.  Or, shrink in the first wash.  And being a plu...