Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Up to my eyeballs

Well, Emily has a homemade costume for Halloween this year. I'm afraid it is destined to be her one and only homemade costume tho because I don't like to do hems and I don't like gathers all that much either. In my fusty, perfection-striving way, gathers are so loosey-goosey, seat of your pants kind of things if you know what I mean. This pumpkin princess dress had gathers at the waist that were sewn onto the lined bodice with waist poofs--and this was all done in one step. Oh, the posssibility of bits sewn in the wrong places was immense.

All is well that ends well however--the dress is done and Emily loves it to death. The pumpkin wand is the crowning glory. :-) I took a sparkly mini pumpkin from Hobby Lobby and poked a glitter-covered dowel rod into the bottom of it along with a few curly ribbons. Emily has dubbed everyone around her a pumpkin queen, king or royal dog.

Now, we are all set to go trick-or-treating! Happy Halloween!!


Thank you Elaine and Hanna for your comments!! :-) Makes me smile!! Thanks "T" and Sis, you make me smile too! :-)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Leaves and Acorns

These are some playing cards from the Czech Republic. Have no idea what game is played with the deck but the graphics are hard to resist. Besides the leaves and acorns there are hearts and balls to round out the suits. Some of the pictures are of common fairy tales like little red riding hood or of princes and princesses but I don't know the rest. Does anyone know common Czech fairy tales?

Hope your Thursday is going well, ours has been filled with the regular, school, chores, errands, etc. but the sun is out and the air is cool--yes, I'm enjoying my snuggly turtleneck. I made a chicken crockpot dinner. It is topped off with stuffing. I've made something very similar in the oven but this way I don't have to think about it--I am usually faced with no ideas for dinner at 5:30--I don't plan very well.

The original recipe is from the Busy Woman's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Sharon & Gene McFall. (page 142-Play 'n Eat Chicken Dinner) I fiddled with it a little bit for what I had on hand.

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
couple of squirts of Italian salad dressing
1 can cream of celery soup
1/3 cup milk
6 oz. stuffing mix (I used Pepperidge Farms Herb Stuffing)
1 2/3 cups hot water

In the crockpot, place chicken and squirt Italian dressing over it. In a small bowl stir up soup and milk and pour over chicken. Combine stuffing with hot water and butter. Place on top of soup-covered chicken. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Thank you Charlene for your comment! :-)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


A beautiful splash cloth I found in an antique store. It roughly translates from Czech "Good fortune will come to you if you clean your stovepipe" These splash clothes were hung above the dry sinks or kitchen table to keep the wall behind them clean. I've got this one way above my sink as a window curtain/decoration in the kitchen.

This picture is of a little thing I made for Emily's room when she was a baby. The redwork pattern came from a library book which I'm sure is still under copyright. The calico buttons are reproductions ordered from a CA company named Chile-n-Crackers.

And finally this baby quilt that is from my family. I have started to copy the patterns from it and want to share, so keep checking back (one is below). I have to post them in jpeg format because I can't figure out any other way right now. Feel free to right click and save, print or whatever. I don't know where the patterns came from so please don't use them for commercial purposes. They are mostly mother goose oriented with some sunbonnets and babies thrown in. You might be able to tell from the photo above that the quilt has some serious mildew damage and browning. Does anyone have advice on how to safely remove any of this?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Good, trustworthy people

I have loved wooden dolls ever since my mom made me a penny wooden from a kit when I was a kid. I looked up a bunch of information on wooden dolls last year--make sure and check out Lotz Doll Pages--and just recently when I was googling pictures of wooden dolls I came across digiBooks in the Czech Republic that has old Czech and German books on CD's. (the website has an English language tab) Long story short I ordered the titles that had lots of color plates of wooden toys and folk art of Europe. The man who corresponded by email with me knew some English and so we arranged for me to send him payment and he would then send me the CD with the books on it. I could ethier put money into the company account by international bank transfer or send the money in the mail. The international bank transfer was incredibly expensive and the money in the mail was risky, what if they just kept it and didn't send me anything. This is where the good trustworthy people come in.....I decided to risk just sending cash thru the mail overseas. It worked and I got plenty of emails telling me where I was in the process and it was pretty fast overall. I received the CD today (I sent the money on 9/28) and I can't believe what a rich source of inspiration this is for me. Here are two images from the CD (books are in PDF form). The color plates are just fantastic. :-)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Go figure--I'm in shorts, but it's fall!

I'm of two minds..I love wearing shorts and I love the sunshine but I can't help wishing for cooler temps. I like wearing big bulky sweatshirts and the brisk cool air of a more typical fall. Still, a walk in this beautiful weather has got to cure me of all the frankly, whiny wishes. :-) Enjoy the day!

Do you have any oatmeal boxes?

I came across this project in an old McCall's book--more on this book later--and I had to post about it. You see, I helped my mom clean up her closets a while ago and found she had a huge stash of oatmeal boxes because "they were so handy to store things in". I gave her a really hard time about it "you can't see into them, therefore you don't know what you've got" and convinced her to give them the toss. I must eat my words a bit now (humble pie-one serving coming up)seeing this handy-dandy yarn keeper. I guess it would help the yarn from running off your lap and across the floor. :-)

And thanks again, Mom for the box of yarn scraps. This means that I'll have to work on my horribly basic knitting skills so I can make some doll hats or socks or something. Right now some of the yarn looks pretty nice in Grandma's wooden bowl tho.

Library book sale

Struck some kind of gold at the library book sale a couple of weeks ago. I found a copy of McCall's Giant Golden Make-it Book from 1961. How about these Halloween costumes! :-) I remember those pj's that had snaps all around at the waist--Carter's? I think......

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dolly love

I found these two Japanese kokeshi nesting nodders at an antique store in New Glarus, WI. The town is known for its Swiss heritage and was quite nice. We would have stayed at the Landhaus hotel there had it not been for the huge wedding that had booked up the hotel. There was a roster up at the front desk listing the 3 shuttles that had been set up for the wedding guests. Wow--that is a BIG wedding.

Anyway, the two nesting dolls are probably from the late 40's-early 50's based on some ebay listings showing similar dolls. The inside of the tall boy seems to be missing one doll inside but I don't care. When I spotted them on a low shelf in the shop I broke into cold sweats thinking they might be way too expensive. But, I held them close when I found that they were only $4 and $3 respectively. Their faces are so delicately painted and I love the red polka-dotted bow in the girls hair.
I read in a book on Russian Matyroshka that the raw wood of the dolls is covered in a liquid starch in a first step to prevent the colors from bleeding up the grain of the wood. The several coats of varnish at the end are put on with bare hands--sticky! I will have to try that starch trick and see if it works. I have some small wood santas that I have had forever but the two that I painted were so frustrating. The paint wanted to travel into the other colors and they were just a mess.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Weekend trip to Wisconsin

Traveled up to Wisconsin for the weekend and visited Old World Wisconsin. This is a 256 acre park run by the historical society which has about 65 buildings from original settlers of Wisconsin. They have painstakingly brought the structures to the park, reconstructed and furnished them of the time. Each is then a part of the living history of the park, with interpretors who work the land, answer questions and bring each area to life. There are German, Finnish, Norwegian, Danish, African American, and Yankee areas--I think I've listed them all. The place is all spread out with lovely trails throughout as well as a tram for the weary. There was a woman in the Finnish dairy farm that was just outstanding. She just lit up when we asked her questions about cooking on a wood cookstove and about the farm. She had one pie cooling and pumpkin simmering on the stove for another.

Fall Skirt

Emily is all ready for school in the skirt that I've made for her. I used Butterick pattern 4722 and altered it to accomodate the three different fabrics. Em loves to dance in our front hall, especially with clacky shoes or boots. I hate the tile because it is so cold-looking but it is practical and easy to clean. It was hard to redirect Em towards the car with all this swirling going on.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Leaf piles and autumn

The weather is finally cooperating and is seasonably cool. I love it when it starts getting cold and the leaves change and fall off the trees. Makes me want to go for a walk in the woods and then come back for some hot cocoa.....or go to an orchard and pick apples for apple pie a la mode. In the meantime I will bundle up in a cuddly jacket and take the kids to school. :-)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

doll clothes

Back in August I made some clothes for Em's new doll. I promised to put up pictures of the outfit and I am finally getting to it. The doll from the Corelle company in France is the same size as the Marie & Claire dolls from that magazine of the same name. Anyway, Em's new doll was still in the package and I tried to make clothes based on a pattern I found in one of the Marie Claire Idee's issues. The clothes turned out great and were fun to make--except the lacey part on the blouse--I poked my finger with a pin on that part--ouch! The biggest problem overall was that when Em opened the doll and tried to put the little summer blouse and capris on they didn't fit. I thought that the seam allowance was included in the pattern and it just wasn't--rats. I thought that I would make the outfit again right away, only larger, but I haven't had the heart--I was so disappointed that it didn't fit. Oh well, the sandals fit--one missing for the picture and the beach bag works! Em wasn't all that bummed out, the doll came dressed in a ballerina outfit so that was a big hit.