Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Betsy's Wedding

It's no secret that I love children's picture books.  But as Autumn is getting older, I find myself browsing the chapter book section in our library a bit more.  In the past couple of years I have found that there are some excellent chapter books out there for children and for those who are children at heart.

While I grew up on Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume, I tend to like the older books better.
Autumn and I have read The Winter Cottage by Carol Ryrie Brink, The Betsy and Eddie Books by Carolyn Haywood, and all of the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  There are books like Sarah, Plain and Tall and Skylark by Patricia MacLachlan, and Mandy by Julie Andrews.  There are also the Besy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace.

My mother was telling me about the Betsy-Tacy books one afternoon, and I'd told her I'd heard of them but had never read one.  I thought they would be too simple for Autumn.  But then she told me something I didn't know (mothers do that often, you know).  She said that the Betsy-Tacy books were written over time.  Little girls who started reading Betsy-Tacy in the first grade grew with the books as they were published.  So the stories and the writing grew more complex to read as the readers grew with the books.  How brilliant!  So when I spotted Betsy's Wedding by Maud Hart Lovelace, I read it on my own.  It is the last book in the Betsy-Tacy series (leave it to me to start at the end.), but really sounded like the one I would enjoy the most.
Betsy is newly married to a wonderful man and they begin their life together.  The book is beautifully written and goes into great detail how Betsy learns to keep house, keep a budget, and still find time for her writing career.  She learns to cook and decorate their little apartment, and learns to weather little bumps in their marriage, with grace and a loving heart.  By the end of the book I felt as though I had become Betsy's friend and learned with her along the way. 
The book is set in the nineteen-teens, just prior to WWI.  It paints a picture of the simple ways of life during that time period. There were sleighing parties and get togethers and quiet evenings at home.  Many stories started at the breakfast table with just Betsy and her husband getting ready for their day.  And often we could find them in the evening, each in their own chair, quietly reading or chatting with each other.

Betsy's Wedding is a wonderful book for 10 year olds and up.  I'm way older than that and I loved it!  So much so that I had to purchase one for myself.  It's a must have for those blue, rainy days, when the world seems so discouraging and harsh.  It transports me to a happy place.. Betsy's warmly lit kitchen in the evening, with it's welcoming back screen door letting in an evening breeze, and the smell of a pot-pie baking in the oven.  (Can't you just hear the crickets through the screen?) That's what a good book can do.
Just a little house off the web that gives that quiet, evening feeling.

Maud Hart Lovelace was born and raised in Mankato, Minnesota.  Her childhood home has been restored and is now operated as a museum.
Maud Hart Lovelace's childhood home.
Maud Hart Lovelace
http://www.betsy-tacysociety.org/home  is a wonderful website dedicated to Maud Hart Lovelace and the Betsy-Tacy series of books.  Here you can see pictures of the her childhood home's restoration and also the home of Tacy.

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Fun Weekend with Cookies and Yarn

This past weekend was fun.  And I just realized, it's Monday evening and I haven't left the house since Thursday evening!!  Should I try for a whole week?  It's happened before and could very well happen again.

This weekend Autumn had her cousins over for a sleepover so we baked white sugar cookies aka: cutout cookies, aka: frosting holders. 
It went well and the girls had a blast decorating. 
They went a little crazy with the frosting, but they turned out beautiful, and delicious!

All I could think of is The Princess (Prince) and the Pea.

What a little snuggle bug.
Of course, while the girls were having fun playing and decorating cookies, I had a bit of time to crochet and listen to some old radio programs on the computer.  I tried listening to The Jack Benny Show but just couldn't get into it, so I listened to a George and Gracie and a couple Fibber McGee and Molly.  I only crochet about once or twice a year.  My sister-in-law crochets on a weekly (maybe even daily) basis.  She's always got a beautiful project going.  So between her and Pinterest, I was bound to pick up a crochet hook again sooner or later.  I got quite a few new Granny Squares done in a style I had never tried before.  It's called a solid block.  Here is the picture from Pinterest that gave me the inspiration to try the solid block.
So I was looking and looking at these thinking how pretty they are and I realized most of those colors are in my yarn box!  So I hopped online, learned how to make a solid square granny and went to work.
My Grandma Eva taught me how to crochet when I was about 13.  She is very good at it as many women of her time are.  And she made yarn doilies right up until the time she had to go into the rest home.  She was actually working on an afghan for Autumn which was about half completed.  Autumn won't let me finish it, she wants it just the way Grandma left it. 
When my Grandma Eva was younger she could make the prettiest doilies and afghans.  She made Christmas tree angels and potholders. She got many of her patterns from Workbasket magazine.  She also tried to teach me how to knit, but I liked crochet better.  She crochet every person in our family an afghan.  Mine was the rainbow colors ROYGBIV (I was like 10 years old and that's what I wanted).  She told me later that she always thought mine was the prettiest and most fun to do because of all the beautiful colors.  Sadly, she doesn't remember making any of them.  But I will never forget that she did.

So here is my first square done.  Not perfect by any means, but good enough for me as I am not picky.  Well, the funny thing about crochet is...once you start, it's addictive (it's like pinterest).  So I sat and crochet until almost midnight!
 The yarn I am using is all Caron Simply Soft.  The brighter skeins I bought right after Autumn was born and I made her a bright, rainbow afghan.  Then the softer colors I bought just last summer and made my little baby cousin an afghan with those.  So I am running low on some colors and am hoping they are still available at Walmart. 
The lighter colors.  The only two brighter colors I've been using are the hotter pink and lime green.  The green above is just a little to drab.
The other night I had a dream I was in a store (much like the one below) that had a whole wall of colorful yarn (yarn on the brain).  I don't think I purchased any.  I just stood there looking at the way the colors melted into the next, yellow into chartreuse, green into turquoise and so on.  It was a good dream and proof that I dream in color.  Here are some cute yarn stores I found while browsing the web.
Here is the yarn wall at Silver Threads and Golden Needles, a yarn shop located in the historic downtown district of Franklin, North Carolina.  I can just imagine myself walking down the sidewalks, a cup of coffee in hand, seeing this shop and fainting right on the spot. J/K  I could see myself dropping a few twenties in there though. 
Okay, how clever is the name!?  Purl Jam.  Love it!  (Loved the band by the way)  And this little house is the perfect setting for a lovely little yarn store.  Now, if I just knew how to knit and purl.  This little yarn shop is located in Califon, New Jersey.   
We had our own little yarn shop here in Minot called the Yarn Stash, but as I drove by last Wednesday night, I noticed their sign was gone.  Sad.  They still have their website online, so that's promising.  I kept saying I was going to go in there, but you know how it goes.

I will leave you with the address to a blog my Sis-in-law and I LOVE called Attic 24
 http://attic24.typepad.com/weblog/  She always has the most colorful projects and ideas going on in her head.  I just love the way she has decorated her house to be so bright and cheerful.  Take a look and enjoy!
Here is a crochet flower pillow from Attic 24.  Her work is flawless.  And her projects are just so darn bright and cheerful they make me smile every time I visit her blog!
Whew!  I didn't realized I had so much to say about yarn!  I will post more pictures when I get a few more squares done. 
Until then, have a very happy day.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mr. Bubble

Oh my goodness, this is the funniest vintage commercial I have ever seen!  Just pause the playlist at the right and have fun watching it.
"Tell her it's only 49 cents...she'll like that."  Autumn loves this commercial and so do I.  It tells a cute story, and is simple and quiet.  Okay, okay, so it does make fun of older people, but there are commercials today that offend more than this one!

In my opinion (oh boy, here we go) some commercials geared towards kids now-a-days are just too loud and obnoxious. 
They are quick and flashy, and my eyes have a hard time focusing on the product.  "There it is...nope it's gone....there it is with a crazy background...nope it's gone".  I recently saw a commercial for a children's party place, with the token machines, that serves pizza, gives tickets and has a giant talking mouse. (you know the one).  My brain got tired from watching it!  What were the marketing people around that conference table thinking?  Were they drinking too much coffee, or do they honestly think these flashy commercials are what children should be watching?

I guess I just don't remember commercials being so loud and flashy when I was a kid.  So what has happened?   As I have gotten older has the connection between my eyes and my brain gotten slower?   Or am I just to darned old fashioned?
Just a thought to ponder.

And seriously, why are there so many nasty children's cartoons?....We work so hard to teach our preschoolers manners and "social and emotional development" with great shows like Max and Ruby and Blue's Clues. Then, when they turn seven, we give them shows like Spongebob and Kick Buttowski that undo everything they learned as preschoolers!!!  What is wrong with this picture?!  As parents we need to be careful about what our children watch!
Why can't there be more cartoons like Phineas and Ferb? Long live Phineas and Ferb!! 

Well, I've certainly let my opinion know again today.  I meant for this to be about Mr. Bubble, but I guess I was feeling a bit feisty. Sorry about that, I'm stepping off my soapbox now. 

Tomorrow, something happy and crafty!
Have a Happy Day!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Rub a Dub Doggie

My favorite commercial as a kid was the rub-a-dub-doggie commercial.  I still know the song by heart (not sure that is something I should be admitting). 

My brother and I got a rub-a-dub-doggie for Christmas back in like 1983.  He was special (the doggie, not my brother)...just kidding little brother, you are special too.

A Rub-a-Dub-Doggie for Christmas.  Please ignore the horrible 80's perm.
Thanks to my parents who kept many of our things from when we were little, I still have my Rub-a-Dub-Doggie and Autumn played with him when she was little.  And my Care Bear, and my Rainbow Sprite, and my Cabbage Patch Kid....she's got them all.  Why haven't they re-introduced the Rub-a-Dub-Doggie I wonder?

Do you know that some Rub-a-Dub-Doggies on Ebay are going for like eighty dollars?!  Are you kidding me?!  Well, I'm not selling mine.  Not unless I'm having to eat noodles everyday, then maybe I would.  "I love you Rub-a-Dub-Doggie"!

Friday, January 27, 2012


Remember Spirographs?  Man those were fun....but frustrating as hell when you were just learning how to use one.  Just when you'd have the most beautiful creation forming in front of you, your outer wheel would slip just a fraction of an inch and the whole design would be off-kilter.  But they were fun.  I remember getting mine Christmas evening at my Grandma Henderson's house.  I spent the rest of the night on her kitchen floor trying to make the pretty designs they showed on the package.  Relatives just stepped over me for leftover turkey sandwiches, I was too busy to move.  Spirographs came with 4 colored pens, which was a pretty big deal to a kid like me who had, up until then, thought pens only came in black or blue.
According to Wikipedia, Kenner Inc. introduced Spirograph to the American toy market in 1966.  But, drawing toys made with gears have been around since 1908.
These are kinda fuzzy but you get the idea. 
Oh, how I wish I still had my Spirograph.  Such good times, especially when you'd be on your 5th or 6th design and the smell of the ink from the pens would start to make you see things like purple flamingos flying outside your window. (Just kidding Mom and Dad).  Here's a nice, calm and dreamy commercial from the 1970's for Super Spirograph.

I like this one from the 1960's even better!

What a great toy!

Thursday, January 26, 2012


I love lemons.  They are yellow, and cheerful and are the daisies of the fruit world.  Around the month of January I start to get the winter blues.  This year has been a bit of an exception as we have very little snow, and it has been unseasonably warm.  But, even with this mild winter I sometimes feel the winter blues and put a lemon on my windowsill.  My mother used to do it, and growing up, I never knew why.  Now I understand.
A lemon in the window makes me happy.
A kitty in the window also makes me happy.
A kitty sleeping on a lemon in a window, that makes me REALLY happy!
This was taken a couple of years ago.  He had this habit of laying his head on whatever was sitting on the sill with him....
...including tomatoes.  We now have items on the window sill that prevent him from laying on our food.
I've always wanted a vintage lemon label in a frame for my kitchen and this particular one would be perfect.  The dark blue is the color of my kitchen walls!

Here is my little lemon jelly bowl that I use for a sugar bowl.  It has a little spoon that sticks out the top.  See what I mean about the dark blue walls.  They are kind of hard to decorate with but yellow looks good in front of them!

Here are all of my little fruit sugar bowls together on my kitchen counter.  I'm keeping my eyes peeled for a grape bowl with spoon.

Here's an adorable, vintage-looking potholder from Etsy. 
And when you are done looking at your cheerful lemon, you can cut it up and make lemonade!
Here's a colorful advertisement for Minute Maid Lemonade that I saw on Chronically Vintage's blog. 
I've never heard of Sun Drop Lemonade but apparently it was around in the 1940's.  I don't remember where this image came from, but it was just too vintage not to include it!
Have a juicy, lemony yellow kind of day!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New File Folder Game

I have three kids that are 4 years old and they LOVE to sit and color.  I've notice that kids usually go through this stage at age 4.  Autumn did as have many of my other daycare kids through the years.  Having finally mastered fine motor skills, they are able to color beautifully.  Usually the "coloring phase" starts with them only wanting to use one color (usually their favorite) and this goes on for a couple of months.  Mom's start to say, "Oh...another orange tractor" or "Oh how nice another orange zebra".  I gently reassure them that it's totally normal and no, their child is not necessarily colorblind.  Then, after a couple months of monotone madness hanging on the refrigerators at home, it's as if they discover the mysterious crayon box of life, and they realize they can use DIFFERENT colors!  At this point all they want to do is color.
So, I've been sitting with them while the littles are taking their naps and we color together.  I use pencils, they use crayons, and all is good and happy for awhile.

So here is my latest "coloring" project.  Because the kids have been watching me color this they are very excited to play with it.
It's called Polar Bear Patches.  The pattern is from a Monday Morning book (I don't remember exactly which book) and he teaches number recognition and number word recognition.  He's not an actual "file folder" game as he is not in a file folder.  I will make these and keep them in page protectors in a binder.
Here I have matched all the patches that have anything to do with the number ONE.  I laminated him, front and back, using clear contact paper.

All the game pieces fit into a pocket (envelope) in the back.  I glued the envelope to the card stock back, then laminated over the entire back (envelope and all), then cut a slit across the top of the envelope to allow it to open. 
So that's one of the things I've been busy doing with the kids.  If you are interested in Monday Morning Books they have a website.  http://www.e-junkie.com/mondaymorningbooks  and sometimes their books are available on Amazon.
Have a happy day!

Homer Laughlin China

I'll admit it...I have an addiction to china.  No, not the country, the plates, the cups, the saucers....THE TEAPOTS!  It's a tricky thing to love when space is limited.  So I have to get creative in how I store and display my favorite finds.
My addiction to beautiful china comes from my mother.  She also collects china, and has a beautiful china hutch, that once belonged to my Great Grandmother. 
My mother has been kind enough to store my full set of Bavarian China in the Blue Garland pattern for me.  I found the Bavarian China in an antique store in Williston for a very reasonable price.  My Uncle (who is an antique dealer on the side) has helped me find extra pieces here and there.
Because my china isn't here, I couldn't photograph it.  But I found this exact cup and saucer on Ebay, so I'll borrow the image to show you.   It is NOT microwavable because of the silver edges.  Found that out the hard way!
The other set my Mother stores for me is the china I inherited from my Grandmother.  It is a set of Royal Albert china in the Silver Birch pattern and is very pretty.  My Grandfather bought them for my Grandmother when he was stationed in Alaska during WWII.  When he returned on the train, he carried them on his lap the whole way so they wouldn't get damaged.  I have half of the set and my Aunt has the other half.  My Uncle has helped me collect other pieces of the set including the sugar and creamer. 
Again, I don't have the china here so pictures from the web will have to do.  See how colorful they are!  It's been said that the pattern contains the state flower of each Canadian Province.
I love the thrill of finding a good piece of china at a garage sales or thrift stores for 25 cents.  The following are all garage sale and thrift store finds!
Here is the little display that sits on my antique sewing cabinet. 
Sorry the pictures are so fuzzy, low light.  This is a Homer Laughlin Eggshell Georgian Pink.  This was a garage sale find.  It was in a box of dishes marked $5.00 but I explained I only wanted this particular little bowl and she was kind enough to let me have it for 25 cents!
This is another beautiful pattern from Homer Laughlin.
This is a serving bowl by Homer Laughlin.  I like both the blue boarder and the pink.  Would have a hard time choosing if I were having to pick out a whole set of china.
This is another serving bowl, but this one is unmarked.  Someone once told me that dishes in this pattern were grocery store premiums back in the 40's and 50's.  You received a dish each time you spent a certain amount of money or bought certain products.  I have a platter just like it that was my Great-Grandmothers that is also unmarked.  I'd like to learn more about grocery premiums but there isn't much out there on the web about them.
This one's kind of hard to see, but is also Homer Laughlin and sits on my high dresser chest.  (That's Foxy Loxy standing next to it.)  This platter has seen better days, but I still think it's pretty in a shabby chic sort of way. 
I've always liked this pattern Homer Laughlin Eggshell Georgian.  This isn't one of my cups and saucers, I found this photo on the web.  But I do so love it!
I wish I could remember which blog this picture was from!  I'm not positive but would say that these too are Homer Laughlin Eggshell Georgian. 
I think it would be fun to hang a collection of plates and platters above the bed in the bedroom.  I know that the idea is becoming quite cliche and can be found in just about every shabby chic book and magazine on the market, but it's a neat idea for display. 
Here's an example from the blog Love and Life at Leadora.  I would use flowered plates instead of just white ones, but the concept is the same.   By the way, I'm totally coveting that wrought-iron headboard.
I'd need about 5 more saucers to do it successfully, so this summer I will be keeping my eyes peeled for flowery saucers at the sales.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Caldecott 2012 Winner Is....

"A Ball for Daisy" by Chris Rashka
Cute, but I have never seen the actual book.  I will have to check it out soon!
Yea!! The two books I had chosen "Blackout" and "Grandpa Green" both won the Caldecott Honor!!!  Woo hoo!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Paper Roses

My goal for this year is to learn how to make these!  I love them!  And get this, they are made out of cone coffee filters!  I know, I was shocked too.
Here is the tutorial (and video) from Martha Stewart.com


Friday, January 20, 2012

Baby It's Cold Outside

So, after my previous blog I thought "well, that wasn't very upbeat" so here's a happier entry for today.

When my coat makes crackling and crinkling sounds as I'm walking to the car, I KNOW it's cold outside.  It sounds as if I were wearing a paper bag. 
We were lucky all through early January, with temperatures in the 30's and 40's which is very unusual for this region in January.  Now, we are back to normal.  Well, not normal, but it feels more like January. All this week we have been in the below zero range.  Yesterday, it was 17 degrees below zero air temp and 35 degrees below zero windchill.  Mittens are a must.
These are the sweater mittens I received for Christmas from my mother-in-law.  They are made from recycled wool sweaters and are VERY warm.  I won't accidentally leave these in a restaurant booth!

I made these magnetic matching mittens for the kids about 5 years ago.  They were so much fun to design and color!  I've always wanted to do a few more so that the children have to look at the pattern not just the color to match them together. 

I think the blue ones are my favorite.

The kids made snowflakes this week.  Glitter and glue make us happy!!  Just cut Q-tips to the size you want, dip the cotton ends in glue, arrange them and sprinkle with glitter.  Snowflakes!
Kitten's Mittens Game
Her mittens fit inside her front pocket!
Here's a kitty who has 4 little mittens.
Honey is staying warm and snug in her little blue house on the deck.  On warmer days she kicks her blanket out of the box.  She comes into the house for a few minutes in the evening but refuses to come in during the day.  She's getting used to us and is letting us pet her.
 This weekend it will warm up to 30 degrees above zero.  It's going to feel like a heat wave!