Saturday, August 25, 2007

Hall Pottery at Mom's

Today it's a quick visit to my mom and dad's house. I need to take some better pictures... Mom always sets a beautiful dining table. She has always had red dishes, even when red wasn't trendy. These blue ceramics are part of her Hall pottery collection. She has a set of matching bowls and remembers eating from them as a child. I envy my mom's dining room that is usually available for dining. Ours is a sewing room, office most of the time and when we dine in there, I have to camouflage the piles of stuff I've cleared off the surface of the table.
Vintage CenterDecoration at Mom's

In one of her dining room drawers is a most terrific collection of vintage thread crochet potholders and trivets. This one is made by someone's grandma out of bottlecaps. My mom uses it regularly and the other thread crochet potholders make great coasters. Vintage Crochet Trivet I've got to bring my camera over to my parents place sometime and take more pictures. She's got like 50 vintage beaded purses in their downstairs bathroom. One lovely cabinet is packed with Torquay Mottoware and Cottageware. She has a trunk full of feedsack fabrics and tablecloths. She collects vintage childrens books, particularly Basal Readers that predate Dick and Jane. Mom gives me hankies all the time, but has a drawer full of her own collection along with vintage embroidered pillowcases and lovely handtowels.

Here's my mom and dad around the time they were in college. They went to high school together, but my dad was a few years older and hadn't noticed my mom until he met her after his post college stint in the Navy. Mom was a waitress at Howard Johnson's earning spending money at the end of her last year of college. A mutual friend introduced them and Dad got Mom's phone number. She went to the drive-in with my dad and very quickly dumped her longtime boyfriend. Not long after, they moved to Chicago and have made a happy life there. They still go back to their hometown of Waterloo, Iowa. Mom just celebrated her 50th High School Reunion.
Mom and Dad 1

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sweet Home Chicago

I edited the title from "My City is Better Than Yours". I still think it is, but I just finished watching the most inspired musical ever, The Blues Brothers.

Ahh.. Chicago.. Nevermind that I almost live closer to Milwaukee where it's an even mix of Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packer fans. We only have a few days until school starts so I took my kids downtown to the Art Institute of Chicago and Millennium Park. Millennium Park was something of a debacle that cost nearly half a billion dollars, but it sure is a nice showcase of a park.

This is the faces splash fountain. My son says this is the best splash park ever! It is really great. The faces are always changing and are quite mesmerizing.
2007 08 14 044_edited-1Periodically, they "Blow" water onto the wet kids underneath. 2007 08 14 042_edited-1A friend of my parents is one of the faces. I think it's on a several day randomized cycle, so it isn't as though you can just sit there and wait for a particular person to come up.

Millennium Park also has Cloud Gate, but no one really calls it that, it's "The Bean". I love the way the features at the park have the backdrop of stunning Chicago skyline. Our fair city is the birthplace of the skyscraper and citizens of Chicago take a big interest in her architecture.
2007 08 14 055_edited-1
Also at Millennium Park are many gardens including this lovely prairie garden. You can see a glimpse of the Sears Tower in the background. For a longtime, the Sears Tower was the tallest building in the world. now it's like second or third.
2007 08 14 059

Prior to our visit to Millennium Park, we'd been in the Art Institute of Chicago. My son, at age 10 is kind of interested in the nudes. "Artists are always interested in the human form." is what we said. Anyway, The Art Institute has the best collection of impressionists in the world.
I love the beautiful ladies by Renoir. Probably because they share the same hobbies as me: 2007 08 14 009_edited-22007 08 14 014_edited-1
Here are a few other iconic paintings at the Art Institute. We barely had time to scratch the surface. I didn't photograph any Picassos, or Mary Cassatts, or Matisse, or Gauguin and we didn't see much outside of this period. Click the pictures to enlarge and see the artists names. Sorry they are wonky.. I'm really an amateur:
2007 08 14 021_edited-12007 08 14 008_edited-12007 08 14 027_edited-22007 08 14 033_edited-12007 08 14 034_edited-12007 08 14 028_edited-12007 08 14 032_edited-12007 08 14 031_edited-1

Remember when Ferris Beuller went to the Art Institute on his famous Day Off? click HERE for the clip.

My children were great at the museum although it does get to be visual overload. They brought along their sketch pads and did some drawings, but they were pretty anxious to get out to the splash park. There are dozens of other worthy things to do to enjoy Chicago. Maybe we'll even get to have the Olympics here. It's a long shot, but we are in the running!

My blog is really not for dialup is it? Sorry! I love big pictures...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Giraffe Mascot and Tree

Giraffe and tree2
This is the Giraffe mascot and little tree I made for Christina in our swap on Craftster. The giraffe is from this book, ISBN 4834755894: isbn4834755894 Felt Mascot book

The giraffe is a pattern, but I worked out the tree myself.
Felt tree
I have this hammer punch made by Sizzix (but discontinued) to cut out the little leaves. I wanted to use those heavy plastic beads that you use to weigh down stuffies, but I don't have any at home and I really wanted to finish sewing this, so I put a little stack of coins in the bottom and that worked great and the tree can pretty much stand up on it's own.

Check out our swap gallery HERE. People make the cutest things!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Magic Scrubbers

Halloween Crochet Scrubbers

These were crocheted for me in a swap on Craftster by my partner Christinacoghill. Thanks, Christina!

They are the 3 Spookietos. Carey is the non scary ghost with dreams of being a world Frisbee golf champion. He remains undeterred by his lack of Frisbee tossing hands.

Peter is the pumpkin who wants to be a gourd and listen to himself rattle after he's old and dried up.

Barney the bat hates eating bugs and his mother has to make sure he eats enough so he doesn't stay so skinny. (I have that problem with my own son.)

They can be used as little puppets, or for washing up. I think we'll enjoy them on display for awhile and then the kids will use them in the bath around Halloween.

I have 2 Magic Scrubber books and now have renewed interest in crafting from them.

ISBN 4834764206 This one is Magic Scrubber Book 7, ISBN 4834764206
ISBN 4834764206 Detail

ISBN 9784834762945
This one is ISBN 9784834762945. It has crochet and knit patterns but they aren't always cute little characters. All the patterns use international crochet symbols which take a bit of getting used to. I happen to prefer charted crochet patterns to the traditional hieroglyphics...
ISBN 978434762945 Detail

Again, I don't have the book with these cute seasonal Halloween scrubbers, but the other 2 are at YesAsia HERE.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

New Japanese Craft Book

Kids Bags Book
This book is ISBN 4277430902. The Title is Kids Bags and Variety Goods. I found it at my local Mitsuwa Marketplace bookstore. I'd hoped to find some felt craft books, but this is a good substitute. Here's some photos for you to enjoy:

Kids Bags Book detail4

Kids Bags Book Detail3

Kids Bags Book detail2

Kids Bags detail
Posting patterns out of these books is a big no-no for me, but this is just to give you an idea what the instructions are like in the bag/pursemaking books. I have absolutely no trouble with the felt mascot books and the crochet pattern books are pretty easy too, once you understand the charts. This, however is a little bit more tricky. This book has a packet of full size patterns for the appliques and fabric, but I'd recommend knowing a little bit of what you are doing with bag construction.

I tried doing a search at YesAsia to see if they carry this book. I couldn't find it, but they might have it in eventually...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Rick Turns 40

It seems all my old friends are turning 40. This particular friend has been hosting us every summer for more than 20 years at his family lake cottage in Wisconsin. These friends come from far and wide to do Cabin activities like eat too much, swim, forget to shower, play games, and of course, swim, water ski, and tube.
My friend Rick happens also to be the boy who took me to my prom. We went in a group with 3 other couples and 7 of the 8 friends are regular Cabin Weekend attenders. Back in high school, I almost took AP Chemistry with Rick, but quickly dropped out of it when I realized that the incredible workload would be too much for my schedule. Of course he thrived in science classes and was the first of my friends to earn his PhD, in physics. Recently, the whole gang traveled to his city when he married his terrific wife (in the photo above) who organized several surprises for his birthday. Rick and our other friend Rob have an encyclopedic memory of The Brady Bunch, even recalling a long lost, rarely seen Christmas Special. We laughed at how the guys have hit the age where they noticed the Mom on the Gilmore Girls is cuter than the daughter and for years it's always been the other way around.

My gift to Rick were these embroidered napkins:
Rick's embroidery 007_edited-1
Rick's embroidery 006
This fire is from Sublime Stitching and was the favorite motif of my friends. Our friend, John is the fire master and tells the best stories at the campfire.

Rick's embroidery 002
A weekend in Wisconsin is not complete without fresh beer brats. Ketchup is not allowed! Don't worry, we serve hummus to the vegetarians.

Rick's embroidery 004

Rick's embroidery 003 The lake has a spring where the waterskiing is the best. This motif actually bugs me because the cattails are on a little hill and real cattails grow in low flat areas...

Rick's embroidery 001
I did all these nature motifs because I could not find a good motor boat or waterskier that I thought I could embroider at the last minute.

Rick's embroidery 005
I like this little cabin, but it had the most difficult details. The pattern for all the nature motifs and the cabin are from Aunt Martha and I found the packet at Hobby Lobby. The napkins are 3 sets from WalMart.

I am so grateful for the wonderful friends in our life. Every year we can hardly believe how great it is that we all still get together and have the best time. Cabin Weekend never comes back around fast enough. Happy Birthday, Rick!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Owpen Box of Chocolits

Am I the only one who feels that crafting for men is like being trapped in the 7th Circle of Hell?

I finished my manly project, but thank God he's married because embroidered napkins are the kinds of things a wife figures out how to use. (Sexist, I know... but you know what I mean.) I'll share that epic project later. I like the actual crafting, it's just all the doubt that the man will like the frivolous stitchy things I make...

My sweetie daughter drew this for me:

Box of Chocolates
It's a "box of coclit" Shes a good reader, but the spelling is still coming.

Open Box of Chocolates
Here's the "Owpen box of coclits"

Yummy! My husband actually did come home one day last week with an actual box of delicious bon-bons. He has never done this, ever. He wanted me to try them out to see if they were good enough to give his customers. I can handle that job! They passed with flying colors. I'd love to have a side career as a treat tester...

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Tea Towel Tour Swap

I did a tea towel tour swap on Craftster. We passed around our towels in a circle, stitching a motif for each towel as they came to us. My partners did a great job stalking me and coming up with patterns I love.

Tea Towel Monkeys
Sublime Stitching Monkeys by ChelleyF.

Tea Towel Hello Kitty
Hello Kitty by rectangel.

Tea towel Marge
Chef Marge by doo_leroux

Tea Towel Curious George
Curious George by cupcakeguru

Tea Towel Tour Swap
Here's the whole towel so far. I still have to do my own motif which will be Homer eating a pink doughnut. PinkyK chose it for me and sent along the embroidery floss too.

You can see the whole craftster gallery of motifs HERE. I highly recommend clicking the green tab that says "Show Images Only" or you'll be reading lots of chit chats and encouragements.

The swap was great fun and I think we bonded over the experience. Thanks ladies!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Grandma's Red Quilt

Grandma's Red Quilt

I unearthed this already basted quilt top from a hiding place behind my craft storage. Before my Grandma passed away a few years ago, she gave me a pile of quilt blocks she'd hand pieced and saved. I honestly don't know when she made these, probably during the 80's. She liked to hand piece and mostly liked block construction. She'd sell the blocks at the church Bazaar and then inevitably regret it later... She sold a big pile of hand stitched grandmother's flower garden hexagon blocks and always felt bad about it. She liked hand work, but hated hand quilting just like I do.

Quilt detail 003

When she passed away, I got inspired to arrange the squares in this lightning bolt arrangement. The backing fabric is from the stash of "calicoes" she also gave me. Grandma always called these prints calicoes. Now I guess it's called "quilter's cotton". She kept a stash in her closet. Even when she was unable to leave their apartment, a generous friend who looked in on her and my Grandpa would purchase pretty printed cotton for her from the fabric store.

Quilt detail 004

It's been pin basted for at least 2 years. It's a little bit irritating not to be able to use these great curved quilters pins for other projects, but it's my own fault...I can't decide how to quilt it on my machine. I want it to look lively, and I think I want to emphasize the angles of the red "lightning bolt" sashing... I plan to keep it out for awhile and hopefully I'll get that walking foot loaded onto my machine and get it quilted.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Rockin Girls

Rockin' Girl Blogger Badge

Floresita nominated me as a Rockin' Girl Blogger last week. Thanks so much! I sort of can't believe people I've not met in real life read this. Actually, it so happens that the people I do know in real life don't read it either, only the ones who are craft obsessed...

Yesterday, I was reading up on various people's accounts of the BlogHer conference that was here in Chicago last weekend. Did you know that bloggers (particularly I gather, Mommy Bloggers) get approached by PR people? I have never heard of that. Does this happen to crafty bloggers too?

Anyway, Amy Sedaris was the big star at BlogHer, eclipsing Elizabeth Edwards and the winner of Project Runway, Chloe. I did not attend, but was pleased to hear that Amy Sedaris livened things up for the crafty types. At one point she pointed out that her book "is very visual so it's good for for illiterate people." See a video clip HERE.

Well, that's a roundabout way of saying that's the kind of blogs I like best. The ones with giant colorful pictures of luscious crafts and a cute or funny story here and there. I just started using Google Reader and now I can browse gazillions of blogs every day.

So now I should nominate 5 people.

I adore Floresita and her Vintage Transfer Finds blog. Flor also contributes to Feeling Stitchy.
Does she count though since she's already been nominated?

I love reading Craft Critique.
My friends over there just might get me started collecting paper crafting and stamping supplies.

Have you seen Softies Central? Almost every day she posts pictures of the best handmade softies around.

Kleas is another crafter who prefers needlework like I do.

Sunshine's Creation's has lots of the wonderful traditional things I love. She's inspired me to find my tatting shuttle and get going on some trim. And today she's got gazillions of yo-yo's photographed. One day I'll get going on more yo-yos too.

Wardi.DK makes beautiful projects.
Check out her gorgeous pincushion HERE inspired by the colors of Denmark.

There is so much inspiration, I can scarcely tear myself away from the computer to get my crafting done! I've been kind of wordy lately for someone who likes big juicy pictures. I did do some stitching today, but for a swap, so it's Top Secret.