Tuesday, July 21

A Nice Surprise on a Hot Summer Day

One of my buddies called to let me know that an essay I wrote about my mom and sewing made it into today's local paper--yippee!

Here's the link:


And, here's a sample of her work (just the '70's dress, not the tux)

Thx to the Lord!

Tuesday, July 14

Mats, Frames, Blood, Sweat & No-Tears

When I met Uncle Grumpy back in '76, he was transitioning from the photography business to the floor covering business.  One of his many ploys for winning the hearts of impressionable young women was to take photos of single flowers, sleeping puppies or brooding forests and inscribe a Bible verse on the bottom of the framed picture, then give it as a "friendship" gift.  It worked every time.  I got wise to his ways when I began making friends here in RVA and noticed the same scribbly handwriting on the nature pictures adorning their apartments, many times over.

He still has his framing toolkit and it was put to good use yesterday: 

Five years ago I bought a beautiful egg tempera print from Richard Toft http://www.toftstudio.com/  He had a booth at the 43rd Street Festival of the Arts and I would have liked to have taken all of his prints home with me.  Good thing I didn't because even this one, lonely print sat in the waiting to be framed station for a long time.

What spurred me on to finally frame it was the fact that I bought a second print from him just last May at the Arts in the Middle Show arts festival in Urbanna. http://www.artsinthemiddle.com/ Talking face-to-face with the artist and telling him how much I loved his work made me quite ashamed of not even having my first purchase up on the wall.

So, we pulled out the framing toolkit, all of my reclaimed mats and frames from the storage closet and set to work.  If you ever wonder why custom framing costs so much at the store don't give it a second thought; it's worth every penny because of the labor!

Only one mat worked for just one of the prints, out of my whole stash.  Needless to say, the "vanilla" mats are going to the donation center this week. 
7-15 Update:  Those frames are available at Thrifty Quaker as of this morning.

  We went to plan B for the print without a matching mat, using a smaller frame that suited the colors in the picture.  All we had to do was carefully square up the print with the frame and cut off the excess background paper.  Lots of careful measurements but minimal trimming.
 We had a perfect double mat for my original purchase, but cutting through the joined double mat board was more than I could manage without excess slicing and dicing of the mat.  Stand aside, Mr. Muscles to the rescue!

I think it turned out beautifully.  Uncle Grumpy made the frame years ago, from reclaimed wood.  It's a little rustic for this finely detailed print but they look beautiful together.  Hmmm, rustic and rough-edged matched up with detailed and beautiful, what does that remind me of???
Update 7-15:  Two more framings completed; one for an original painting I've had since about 1970!

Thursday, July 9

Cooling Off in the Yard

Yesterday was too much of an "indoor" day so I planned to be outside as much as possible today.  It was, however, quite stifling here in RVA.  How to stay cool outside?

After following the shade with my trusty watering can for awhile I decided that the outdoor furniture and my smaller pet rock were greatly in need of a scrub.

This rock has a built-in watering hole for the blue-tailed skinks skink stuff that lurk in the shadows.

Out of respect for my conservation friends, and because I felt so guilty for using water on such a hot day, I placed a few drop pans where I could to catch some grey water while rinsing off the suds.
Uncle Grumpy was charmed into repairing a loose part of the chaise lounge seat, which was drooping lower and lower with each use.
First, procure the manly tools.

Good as new.
It doesn't feel like 94 degrees when you're drenched with water and working in the shade.

Wednesday, July 8

Rock Hound Heaven

My good OT buddy, Betsy, told me a few weeks ago that she'd send me a few cuties from her rock-hunting collection.  Well...there was a very heavy flat rate box from sunny California waiting for me on the steps this afternoon.  What might be inside???
The unearthing begins:

More than half the rocks were nestled in little pieces of paper, describing their ID and where Betsy discovered them.

The fern green quartz in this is beautiful in the sunlight.

Love petrified wood!

Crumbly, just like salt--duh.

T-Rex?  Stegosaurus?

Look closely to see the patterns.

This is 1/3 of the stash--love 'em all!
Thanks Betsy!  Thanks to the Lord for making the rocks and giving me such generous friends.

Monday, July 6

Many Benefits of Being a Decluttering Advocate

Because my friends know I enjoy de-cluttering and helping others do the same, I tend to be the recipient of great pass-along treasures when people make the break from their abundance:

My buddy, BC, has given me beautiful kitchen-related items over the years as she sorted through her parents' home.  She even brought me Tupperware that a friend saved for her to give me!  Here's a photo of the pink T-ware from a while back plus two items from the box of goodies that BC gave me last Saturday:

The sea-foam green tray perfectly highlights this African violet plant, sitting in its "Wizard of Id" baby cereal bowl:
Today, our mutual buddy and arteest supreme, AW, came by to work in her garden and answer my pleas to see if she'd like any of the gift stash from BC.  After she was coerced to pack a few items into her pail I asked for some advice with arranging my farmhouse treasures from my mom, plus items given by friends.  Well, I got the best deal of the day because my hearth and mantel went from haphazard and boring to this:

A rock from Betsy, crocks from Phil's aunt and uncle in Fork Union, milk bottles & carrier from Joan, cherry pitter & mixing bowl & ladle from my mom and...now it's easy to see and enjoy it all.

The Lord has given me generous friends.  I'm very thankful.


Friday, July 3

The Last Stages of Sorting the Junk Drawer

Yep, after a few days of the initial sorting of the junk drawer Uncle Grumpy saddled up to the kitchen counter and asked, "I'll just put this all in a can for the shed, right?"  Not so fast, Mister.

I spread out the mess on a couple of towels and started sorting. 
With just a tad of protest UG joined in.  We ended up with one pile to file in the newly-organized junk drawer, a small assortment to take to the manly shed plus a pile to keep in the house, tumbled together with no rhyme nor reason. 

What to use to keep the no-man's land stash??? Tupperware to the rescue!

I knew there was a reason to buy that lunchbox at Goodwill way back when.  It's been sitting on a shelf in my Tupperware shrine for several years and now it's back on duty.

Monday, June 29

The Final Frontier--the Junk Drawer

It took several days of leaving the contents of the big junk drawer out all over our kitchen island, but Uncle Grumpy stuck with it and went through each item before returning it to the drawer:

No purchased organizing supplies for this thrifty twosome!  Empty stationery boxes and other recycled containers worked just fine.

Now, all we have left is the dreaded stash of washers, bolts, fasteners, unknowns:

UG stated, several times, that this should all be dumped into the time-honored coffee can and taken to the shed to store with the multitude of tools.  We didn't exactly see eye-to-eye on that point, so I've hidden the bowl until he comes around.

Tuesday, June 23

In the Cool of the Morning

Walked with a buddy today who lives in Woodlake, a community built on the west side of the Swift Creek Reservoir.
We were treated to a lovely breeze in the mid-morning, just in time to bolster our nerves for the 100 degree plus temps expected in RVA today.

Friday, June 19

Thrift Store Repair

Tiny stitches, up and down, side to side and then diagonally, trying to repair the binding on a beautiful, once-expensive flag that I found this week at my favorite thrift store.  The sky blue fabric along the top edge was faded and there were just a couple of little rips from where the flagpole had rubbed some areas a few too many times, but I knew I could mend it easily; sewing is in my blood.

Coats, dresses, pants, silky blouses, costumes, curtains, bedspreads, pillows, slipcovers--my house and my parents' house are filled with my mom's handiwork.  Growing up poor on a farm she received a new dress at Christmas, sewn by her mother, and that was it.  She must have had clothes for school but there are so many photos of her as a teen, wearing overalls and a man's shirt, working in the fields every spare minute.  In high school she made her first dress, horribly tight at the shoulders, and wore it until it wore out.  By the time I was old enough to sit and watch her at the sewing machine, she was mastering complicated Vogue patterns.

Patience was her best friend.  She read the pattern directions over and over before even washing her fabric in preparation for cutting.  Maybe she loved following along with the orderly steps and seeing it clearly in her mind before starting or maybe each project was a difficult challenge for her, I'll never know.  She sewed scrumptious designer dresses with tricky materials--chiffons, satins, silks.  Herringbone, stripes, plaids--everything had to match perfectly at the seams. Even today I shop for clothes like a detail freak--turning shirts inside out to see if the seams are well finished and ensuring that the fabric design on the front and back meets exactly at the side seams and continues across the arms.

She also loved to fix and patch her clothes when they had seen too much wear.  Ripped inseams would be reinforced and re-stitched.  Tears, even in noticeable spots, would be patched from her remnant stash.  Darning was a standby, with the aid of an upturned glass or her wooden darning egg.   My dad told me the story of how he had proudly shown off his darned socks to the guys at the office after he first got married.  Even though he had grown up poor as well, he had never before worn anything that someone had made new for him.

Although she tried and tried to teach me the intricacies of making bound buttonholes, setting in shoulder seams without creating that little ridge and the hemming stitch that magically curled up the edges of a scarf as you pulled the thread snug, I only observed sewing and didn't love it like she did.  My skills consist of stitching straight lines, following a few curves, and repairing great thrift store finds.  Because of what I learned at home I can usually spot stitching on a cushion or clothing that will last versus one that will fray before its time.  Whether it's a couch or a coat, I look for matching fabric designs at all the seams.  Some folks might call this being "picky," but my mom would approve of my critical eye.  She would consider it getting your money's worth.

The repair job on this otherwise-lovely flag isn't pretty but it's functional.  When this temporary fix eventually gives out the next step will be to just create a shorter flag by cutting off the faded, torn top binding and making a brand new one for the flagpole to slip through, or even replacing the binding with a contrasting piece of material from my stash.  I can see in my head how to do it, even if my fingers aren't as fine-tuned as they could be.  There's always a way.  Thanks, Mom. 

Emily in her mother-of-the-bride dress.  Nope, she didn't sew the tux.


Thursday, June 18

RVA first-person--3 months with the KonMari Method

Happily surprised to read Sarah Fought's account of her three month journey to simplifying her home/life/mind, using the KonMari Method.  I'm very jealous of her having just one item posted on her refrigerator.

Toward a less-cluttered life

I love the book, too.  The principles and techniques work wonderfully, even if you don't talk to your belongings like I talk to my cat.

Tuesday, June 16

The Start of Summer

Despite the record heat of RVA, today was pretty nice.

Swept out the playhouse and unfurled my new-to-me decoration; a real steal from Thrifty Quaker this past winter--about $4.00 for a double-sided, well-sewn flag.  The decks of the playhouse are wide and I plan to relocate a comfy chair on the side that faces the back yard.  Great shade and not too many mosquitoes.  Saw a wild turkey scrounging for treats right below the deck this evening.


A more recent find from the same thrift store--a carved parrot.  He looks right at home with the deer skulls (found in the woods, thank you for your concern) and should make for some interesting conversation when Uncle Grumpy and his buddies hang out and enjoy their stogeys.