Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Garden

One of my favorite quotes is from Cicero, "He who has a library and a garden wants for nothing".  And even though some will argue that's not exactly what he said, I don't care, I like it.  We have parks and gardens in our city and a library.  And now once again, along with my small library of favorite books I have my very own sitting garden.  
There is still much to do, but it's coming along nicely.  I'd like to attach some chicken wire to the deck, behind the fountain for sweet peas to grow on.  Either that or would like to plant hollyhocks behind the fountain.  They could be easily tied back against the decking. 

I hope to add more flowers during the month of June, but this is fine for now.  It is quite relaxing to sit in my chair with a book, while listening to the trickling water fountain and enjoying the lovely colored blooms.  Until next time...
Have a Happy Day! 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Where The Heart Is by Janet Lambert

Books have a funny way of finding me.  Sometimes just the right book comes to me at just the right time.  Lately, I've been missing the quietness of the country, and the small town life from which I came.  I've been looking for a book to divert my attention from where I actually am, in a town growing faster than it can handle, in a neighborhood surrounded by strangers.

So when I found Where the Heart Is by Janet Lambert at the local public library's Spring book sale I felt it was luck, with maybe a bit more than luck sprinkled in.  For a mere fifty-cents, this little green book with its worn cover and bent corners was exactly what I needed to help me slip away to the country life for 30 minutes every evening.

My well loved copy was printed in 1949, and it is a children's book, geared more towards teenage girls of that time.  It's about a family who temporarily moves from the city to the country. 

Because it is a children's book, the story is quite simple and easy to read.  It's the type of book I'd read on a rainy day, while sitting on a front porch swing (if I had one) with a warm quilt draped across my lap and a cup of tea on the side table. 

Mmmm, this would do, but it needs more cushions and maybe a cat. 
...The story revolves around 14 year old Christy Drayton, the youngest daughter of the Drayton family. Christy is one of those high spirited characters whose attitude is so sunshiny positive it almost makes you wanna barf.  But she is likable and as the story unfolds we find that the family is in a bit of a predicament.  The new house they've purchased in Philadelphia is still occupied and is not move-in-ready.  They've been living in hotels for weeks and have finally gotten permission from an old Aunt to use her son's (Cousin Edwin's) house in the country while he is away.  Clear as mud, I know, but it gets better.  They don't have keys to the house, so they set up house in the livable part of the huge barn that houses Cousin Edwin's prized horses. (This is New England and living in barns was apparently considered a trendy, artistic way to live at that time). 
This is kind of what I envision Cousin Edwin's farm to be like, except with more trees and the house would be farther away from the barn.  Uncle Edwin lives in the house and Christy and her family live in the barn.  They do his house cleaning and bring him breakfast every morning.
The barn is comfortable with a living room area, complete with a bump out window and cushioned window seat, kitchen and a bathroom down the stable hall (past the horses).  And much to the mother's chagrin, they must climb a ladder every night to sleep in a loft.  The mom is not very good at climbing ladders, but eventually gets the hang of it.
Christy becomes friends with Roger, the stable boy who lives down the lane.  Roger introduces Christy to the "whole gang" and together they have a summer filled with trips into the local village, hay rides, picnics, and bicycle rides down country lanes.  But then, Cousin Edwin comes home early (dun dun dun).  Will he kick them out of the barn leaving them homeless?  Will their house in the city ever be ready for them, or will they stay in the country?  Will Cousin Edwin ever smile!?  The ending is all very neat and tidy *sigh* and they all live happily ever after. 

Janet Lambert did write a second Christy Drayton book called Treasure Trouble and I hope to read that one as well if I can find it.  That's one of the hard parts about these great old books, they are sometimes difficult to find and even more difficult to purchase.

Autumn would like this book and if I can tear her away from her Nancy Drew Mysteries I will read it to her this summer. 
Have a Happy Day!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Victrola

Pause the play list at the right and listen to this little ditty.  It's one of my favorites!
One of the things we had the opportunity to do this weekend was play with a 1921 (we think) Victor Victrola.  We opened the top, cranked the crank, put a new needle in and set a record to playin'.
Since I've been listening to 1930's and 40's music this past year, I've was excited to see what kinds of records were stored in the bottom shelves of the Victrola.  Would they be Beethoven, or church organ music?  To my surprise there were popular songs that I had heard of!  What fun!
The inside of the Victrola top. 
This is the label inside the top.  The Victor Talking Machine Co. Camden NJ. USA
Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the Victor Talking Machine Co. 

"The Victor Talking Machine Company (19011929) was an American corporation, the leading American producer of phonographs and phonograph records and one of the leading phonograph companies in the world at the time. It was headquartered in Camden, New Jersey."

After some Internet digging, I believe this Victrola was manufactured in late 1921 or soon thereafter.
They could be purchased for 100$ back in the early 1920's, which was quite a bit of money back then!

The first record we played sounded scratchy so we set a new needle into place.  After that, most records we played sounded very good.   
Here are some needles in vintage packaging.  The smaller, cream colored package contains the needles and fits inside the more decorative, orange package. 
The back of the package says "Plays 12 or More Records with high Fidelity".  This made me wonder, if someone were going to spend an evening listening to records, how many times in an evening did they have to change the needle? 
This song made me laugh, but it's just so mean!  And here I though Arthur Godfrey was just a radio announcer! 
This one was still my favorite.
Playing the old Victrola made me aware of how far we've come when it comes to home music entertainment.
I found the picture above at this great website all about music from the 1920s

1930s (photo from flickriver)
1940s record player (photo from Etsy)
1950s portable record player!  I like this one and it's pink!

Then there was magnetic audio tape which was developed and used in Germany first, then brought to the US after WWII.  If you'd like to read more about magnetic tape here is the Wikipedia link.

Then in the 80's we had the "boom box" which played cassette tapes!
The late 80's and 90's brought CDs.  I heard CDs are no longer being made!  I wonder if that is true.
And now we have the ipod, phones and mp3 players.

Now we have ipods and MP3 players, that can hold thousands (like 10,000) songs at once.  All that music at our fingertips!  Are there even that many good songs?
This comedy routine from Tim Hawkins about ipods, cassette tapes and walkmans is pretty funny. Take a look!

It's true I'm not a huge fan of technology.  I'd rather read a real book than use a Kindle, and I'd rather write a story on paper than type it into a word processor.  But I will say that if it hadn't been for technology and my laptop with it's digital copies, downloads and youtube, I would not have all of this old time music and radio at my fingertips.  But because of technology, we can listen to old radio shows such as Fibber McGee and Molly or listen to music from the 40's and learn about the musicians through Wikipedia.  But once in awhile it's still fun to play the old tunes on a REAL Victor Victrola and think back to a time when that was all there was for music on demand.  I can imagine my great grandparents would be astonished if they could see the amount of information and music available to us everyday.  But more on that another day.  So long for now and...

Have a Happy Day!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Celebrating Children's Book Week, Rround 2

Here is a continuation of my list of favorite children's picture books, in no particular order.  I would've had them up sooner but wasn't able to load pictures last Friday.
Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes.  This book has wonderful characters in it, and such a nice lion.
No Jumping On the Bed! by Tedd Arnold is another book I collected during my high school years.  And, I got to meet Tedd Arnold my senior year but more about that another time.  I should totally create a Tedd Arnold page!
Cute story about a stray dog that is taken in by a Taxi Driver and they become best pals.  Great illustrations by Mark Buehner and fun rhyming text by Debra and Sal Barracca.  There are sequels to the book, but this one is my favorite.

This isn't really a picture book, but is more of an easy chapter book with pictures.  The stories revolve around the Meadow family and their farm at Blue Hill.  There is a story for each of the four seasons of the year.  I love Cynthia Rylant's books for younger children (including the Cobblestreet Cousins and Poppleton Books) but I think this one is my favorite.

The My First Little House Books are wonderful!  They are a great way to introduce little ones to the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  The illustrations by Doris Ettlinger and RenĂ©e Graef (depending on the book) are so entertaining and each one helps to tell Laura's story.    
That's all for today!
Have a Happy Day!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Celebrating Children's Book Week

Happy Children's Book Week!  Because this is such a special week for anyone who loves children's books, I would like to share a few of my favorite picture books for children. 
They are listed in no specific order, some are my absolute favorites and some are just favorites.
The Plant Sitter by Gene Zion and Margaret Bloy Graham was written in 1959 and is a fun read about a little boy who makes extra money over his summer vacation by taking care of every one's plants while they are away on their vacations. 
Gene Zion and Margaret Bloy Graham also wrote and illustrated Harry the Dirty Dog along with many other books.
Farmer Brown Shears His Sheep A Yarn About Wool by Teri Sloat and Illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott.  I enjoy Westcott's colorful style of illustrating.  The rhyming text is funny and takes us through the steps of shearing sheep, cleaning, dying, and spinning the wool.  This book is a fun read-aloud!
Prairie Town is an amazing book!  I recommend this book to everyone and it's a wonderful gift idea for anyone who has lived on the prairie or in a small town.  It seems each time I look at the detailed illustrations I see something I hadn't seen before.  The author and illustrator take us through a year in a small town, sometimes giving us a bird's eye view, other times a street level view.  There are many happening throughout the year including a fire, carnival, blizzard, a wedding and a funeral.  Bonnie Geisert wrote the text and her husband, Arthur Geisert created the illustrations.   Other books in the series include Mountain Town, Desert Town and River Town.
Lilly's Secret by Miko Imai is a favorite of both Autumn and I.  It's about a shy kitty named Lilly who is self-conscious of her paws.  But then she meets a new friend and.....well, I don't want to give the whole story away. 
Milly and Tilly by Kate Summers and Illustrated by one of my all-time favorite illustrators, Maggie Kneen!  This is a version of the Town Mouse and Country Mouse story and it is so precious, it's like candy for the eyes. The illustrations are very detailed and the little mice characters are so cute I just want to scoop them up and pet their little noses.
That's all for today, I'll share more tomorrow!
Have a Happy Day!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Flea Market Finds

Found these cute little blue bird salt and pepper shakers at the Flea.  I thought maybe they were Lefton, but are not.  But they are similar and are a cute addition to my window sill for now.
Back in April, I went to the Flea with my parents, and I saw an antique card table that was somewhat unique because it could be folded by sliding the legs back.  It was a bit more than I like to spend at the flea, but the table itself was a great deal because they are found online for much more than what this seller was asking.  I passed it up but regretted it the very next day.  I figured it would be bought by someone else and that it just wasn't meant to be.  But that silly table stayed on my mind for TWO whole weeks.  I thought of all the ways I could use it, and what a unique table it was.

So this past weekend I went to the flea and saw that it was still there!  I had my father inspect it as he is a carpenter, and he said it was in good condition.  So now I am the proud owner of an antique card table.  Why that makes me so happy, I don't know, but it does.
Back of table.  The legs fold up.

The pattern on the top is printed in a needlepoint fashion.  When the sun shines on the surface, it shows it's flaws and where the image is beginning to wear and fade.
A vintage tablecloth covers and protects the table from our wild games of Yahtzee.
A closer look at the embroidery on the vintage table cloth.  Those are bullion stitches that make up the little roses.
Now Autumn and I love have a place to play our vintage Yahtzee game on lazy Sunday afternoons.  She's a Yahtzee shark and kicked my behind twice!  She's not as good as Grandma Holly though, with her 3 yahtzees in one game.
Have a Happy Day!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My First Dresden Flower

Yesterday evening I completed my first Dresden flower! It was surprisingly easy to sew together. Now comes the hard part, sewing it onto it's backing. 
My parents were here for the day on Saturday and my mother, bless her heart, brought her collection of fat quarters with her and let me have some of her "feed sacky" type fabrics.
With the six fabrics I received from my mom (top of the picture), and the five fabrics I bought at the quilt shop downtown, I now have a wide array of colors and patterns for my flowers. Thanks Mom!

This is one of my favorite patterns my mom gave me.  You'd think I'd at least iron it before taking this picture, but no, I had things to do!  New fabric to cut up!
Here are some red white and blue patterns.  I might even try to make a red white and blue flower if I can collect a few more scraps in those colors.
Here are all the fabric colors lined up in a fan.  I never thought I'd end up with so many!
The next step is to find some white backing fabric, cut them into equal squares and start attaching my flowers to the backing.  It'll be tricky, but I'm excited to do it because I know how pretty the blocks will be when they are all put together in the end.  It's defiantly a learning process, but the ladies at the quilt shop downtown seem happy to answer all of my "beginner" questions.
Have a Happy Day!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dresden Quilt

The other day I stumbled upon a blog site that had the most beautiful quilt I'd ever seen.  The lady who had bought it at auction called it a Dresden Quilt.  The quilt was from the 1930's and the quilt top was made using feed sack scraps of cloth. 
Dresden Quilt from A Prairie Home Blog.
Pretty isn't it?  I think so.  So I looked up Dresden on the computer and after watching a couple of tutorials I thought I could try that!  Yeah, 'cause that's what I need in my life is yet another project. (sarcasm).
For years I've said to myself (and others) that quilting is the one thing I would never want to do.  Pottery is another one;  now watch, 10 years from now I will be begging for a potter's wheel.  But quilting has never really appealed to me because it looks like a lot of work.  I like quilts and quilt shows, but I never thought I'd want to sit down, learn how to use a machine and actually sew peices together.  Too much time, too much effort and too many fabrics to choose from.  
Then, I saw and slept under the 1930's quilts at a Scrapbooking retreat last fall and really liked the style and colors of those antique quilts.  I love the reproduction feed sack material that the local quilt shop carries, so there is the answer to what type of fabrics I like.  Then, Shannan gave me a sewing machine for Christmas, and although it looks complicated it's fairly easy to use.  So now I really have no excuse for not quilting (right?). 

1930's Quilt from the Scrapbooking Retreat
Antique Crazy Quilt from the Scrapbooking Retreat
I already have a stash of reproduction 1930 feed sack style fat quarters that I've been using on the bottoms of my embroidered tea towels.  And last night I stopped by JoAnns fabrics and picked up a fat quarter of purple material and a Dresden Template kit (with coupon was only 5$ woot!)  We have a whole sheet of left over batting from a home theater project Shannan was doing.  So all I really need is a few more fat quarters, some kind of lighter fabric to be the block that I sew each flower to and backing fabric.  The project should stay fairly inexpensive (I hope).

So, this evening I had fun making all kinds of little Dresden Petals!  But first I figured I'd better wash my fabrics.  I don't own a pinking shears so the edges were raw edges.
Here are my bright and happy fabrics ready for the wash.

And here are my wet and tangled pieces after.  I learned a lesson and that is to wash small pieces of fabric by hand.  Luckily, there was no harm done and they all untangled and ironed up nicely.
Here are a few of the pieces just placed together.  The circle will ultimately be tighter because the pieces are sewn together using a 1/4 seam allowance.  I think it takes 16 petals to make a full circle.  There are 17 here.
Then I really started to have fun.  I tried many different color combinations.

But my favorite is all of the colors and patterns together.  I'd like to find 5 or 6 more colors/patterns at the quilt store downtown, then I would have a nice variety and wouldn't have to repeat so many of the colors over and over.
It might take me years to finish an actual quilt, or I might start my first block and decide quilting is not for me.  In that case I can always make a pillow.  But I might surprise myself and crank out 3 or 4 blocks by the end of summer.  It will be something new, interesting and challenging and that's just what I need right now in my mundane little world.
Have a Happy Day!