Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More on Cornbread - the Secret's in the Mix

     Wow! My last post sure brought out all the cornbread lovers! LOL!  Let's hear it for corn pone!  
    This is my favorite cornbread mix of late (Good ol' Martha White):                  My BFF Janet has been begging for my special recipe.  Okay, you busted me!  I have no special recipe, unless you count the one on the back of the package:
     Some people like to add a tablespoon or four of sugar.  I sometimes will layer some cheese in the middle of the batter as I pour it into the skillet.  Yes, skillet.  Iron skillet.  I have no idea why cornbread seems to taste better baked in a cast iron skillet but will tell you this:  it tastes even better when you heat the skillet before you pour in the batter.  Love those crispy edges!  
     Good news!  We found a van!  We'll pick it up tomorrow.  We decided on a 2004 Chevy Venture with about 78,000 miles on it.  That's the same mileage that was on my now-extinct (we had it crushed) Windstar when we bought it.  I'm hoping that's a good omen.
     I've been cleaning house most of the day and it looks sooo like I've never touched it.  Don't you hate that?  Maybe I should let it get so rotten, stinking filthy that everybody will notice the difference as soon as they step foot in the door.  (Suddenly remembering a few rotten, stinking, filthy houses that I've been in ... )   Never mind.  I'll let it remain a thankless job, at least for right now.
     Tomorrow is October 1.  Another monthly Giftaway will begin and September's will have come to an end.  Maybe the winner will be you!  ;)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cornbread & Beans and a Rainy, Lazy Fall Day

You can certainly tell that Autumn has arrived in East Tennessee. Glance outside our home and you'll see overcast skies, raindrops on our outside furniture, leaves on our butterfly bush drying and losing its blooms, sunflowers turning away from the sun (of course, there is always the one exception). Leaves are dressing themselves in reds and golds (this weed looks like it has the Fall Measles). I allow certain weeds to grow because they provide fall and winter berries like these for the birds.

Come on inside today and you'll be greeted with a staple of the American South: Beans and cornbread. My hubby cooked the pinto beans; I don't think he trusts his raised-in-the-American North health conscious Filipino wife to make them. It probably has something to do with the fatback and salt he cooks in with the beans. It is at this point that I generally suck in my stomach, tighten the straps on my 60 year old sagging boobs and remind him that I am NOT just a trophy wife! He did entrust the cornbread to me. It is necessary, of course, to always bake cornbread in an iron skillet.
The rest of the day will be pretty much kick-back and quiet. Reminder: Leaving a comment will qualify you to be eligible for this month's Giftaway.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Still Van Hunting and a Tassel Tutorial

Searching for a new used vehicle can be exhausting! We looked at several vans but test drove only three. Let me just say that I underestimated the price of replacing my van. Make that substantially underestimated the price. I sure hope that, when I get the bill to replace the car I hit, that I didn't substantially underestimate that as well.
Anyway, no firm decisions were made. Maybe Monday...
Meanwhile, my quest to clear out the excess of arts and crafts supplies that I've accumulated over the years continues. My goal is to not purchase any more fabrics, buttons, etc., etc. until I've used up or gifted away what I've hoarded down to a manageable level. Hmm. What a confusing sentence that was. Presuming that you followed that thought, I'll also presume that you will thoroughly understand that, if there would happen to be fabrics or other arts and crafts supplies in a box lot that I purchase at an auction (say, for example, hidden underneath some really cool vintage hats that will surely sell at the shop), that it really wouldn't be my fault and would have to be an exception to my goal to not purchase any more supplies. Oh, okay! So some goals have to adjusted occasionally.
Here's an example of my latest attempt to use up what I have: The little chalkware bird was in one of the box lots in question.

It was accompanied by yet another little bird and two twin puppies. I had been hoarding wondering what I could do with them when it finally dawned one me that they would make cute tassels.
After I made the pink one, I thought of you. Actually, that's not right. You were not an afterthought. The idea that you might want to know how I did it was an afterthought. So, just in case, here's a little tutorial.
This is what I started with: A knick-knack, yarn that was in a box lot from eons ago, ribbon that was in still another box lot and some eyelash yarn that I can't remember whether I purposely bought or came in (you guessed it) one of those famous box lots. Keep in mind that the way I make these are probably not the best, correct, or recommended way to make tassels. In other words, you may want to Google a more correct or easy way to make them. If you're game to try it "my way", here goes: Decide about how long you want the tassel to be, then make continuous loops with your yarn to accommodate that length.
When the thickness of those loops is about as fat as you want your tassel to be, tightly wrap a separate length of yarn around one end and tie it securely. This will be the part that you'll stuff into whatever it is you're using for the top. Don't worry if it doesn't fit the way you were hoping. You can always add more yarn or pull some out.
Put a ring of hot glue around the opening of the piece you've chosen for the top. Use the tip of a screwdriver, paintbrush, etc. to stuff the yarn into place. If you want to add beads, ribbon, feathers, or whatever to the base of your tassel, you can apply a little hot glue to one end of your beads, etc. and push it into place. Tweezers come in really handy for this. You'll need a way to hang your piece. I chose to use ribbon and glued the ends to the sides before adding the finishing touches.
You can finish it off by gluing buttons, pretty ribbon, etc. around the bottom.
There ya go! Let me know how yours turns out!

Friday, September 26, 2008

My Vintage Aprons for FLEA MARKET FRIDAY & other things (for me) to do...

     Have you checked out Flea Market Friday?  I've jumped on their band wagon and am including some of my vintage aprons.  Click out my link HERE to see my offerings and note that THERE IS NO SHIPPING on my aprons!
    Today will be a busy one - lots of things to finish tagging before putting them in the shop (the Corner Nest, Elizabethton, TN).  I've also scheduled a repairman for my stepson's hot water heater.  The poor kid hasn't had constant hot water since he moved in his new place.  (Those who read this blog regularly know that he has some MH problems and needs assistance.)  
    My search for another vehicle starts this weekend.  I still haven't driven since my accident, so although I need my own vehicle, I'm not really looking forward to this.
    AND, of course, there are yard sales to visit, things to see...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

This Month's Giftaway, Playing with Google & Welcoming Fall

     Okay, here it is - the complete Giftaway package for this month!    You already knew about these two items:        But you didn'know the package will also include this absolutely adorable little pink and white crochet apron that was handmade probably (I'm guessing) some time back in the '50's.     Isn't it cute??   The lucky winner will also get a little "bling".  I'm adding in this retro spring-wire bead necklace (it's comfortable to wear and easy to put on because there are no snaps!)     AND this sweet little hearts bracelet.  It's not signed but I'm guessing it's probably retro, too.  Don't worry whether it will fit because you have a large wrist; I have large hands and it slips over them!  Good luck to all of you who leave comments!
  Oh - regardless of where you live, you are eligible to win when you leave a message.  So, whether you are in Japan, Thailand or even Nebraska (just kidding, Nebraska!) you are eligible!        Have you checked out the goodies that Google has to offer?  I've been loving Google Docs (access it through igoogle by signing into your Google account - if you don't have one, create one and play!) for quite awhile now and, just the other day, decided to check out Google Reader.  I love it!  You can list all your favorite blogs and will be notified when they are updated!  My morning routine was to sit down at the computer and click on each and every one of my favorites, checking whether they had been updated - a simple but time consuming little task.  This is soo  much simpler, not to mention timesaving.  And yesterday morning I finally downloaded their browser (Google Chrome).  It took a few minutes for me to get used to it and am deciding that I'm loving it, too.      I love the tab browsing feature that Firefox has but I have had major problems with Firefox crashing and don't even open it anymore.  Internet Explorer is nice because it's familiar and "comfortable" to me but it doesn't have tab browsing and more importantly, it's not secure.  So, I'll use this Google browser for awhile and see how it goes.      And no, I'm not being paid nor even urged by Google to talk about them.  I'm also loving this cool Autumn weather!  It invigorates me; I used to look so forward to Summer but, in the last few years, I've decided it is not fun to move around my yard with my clothes sticking to me, frizzy hair and perspiration dripping from each of my cells.   So the other day I was rummaging around the attic and found this old cinnamon scented broom (with the scent long gone) and decided to turn it into a really simple trash-to-treasure project that could help me welcome Fall.  Before we go on, let's pause for a show of hands.  How many of you have had one of these brooms in your possession at least once in your life?  Uh-huh.  That's what I thought.  Okay, now be honest - how many of you have stuffed at least one of them deep in  your trash?  Okay, that was no surprise, either. Okay, let's do something with them.  Grab some ribbon or a strip of fabric, your glue gun and your imagination.  Here's what I did with mine:  Here's a closer look: That's all for now!  Be sure to leave a comment so you'll be eligible for this month's Giftaway before you go!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Oh, the ThingsWe Used to Do

As I was ironing one of my vintage aprons yesterday (getting it ready for sale, BTW! ), I realized how seldom I iron actual clothing for my hubby and I to wear. What a difference from not so long ago, when I (gulp!) ironed literally everything, from my brother's white t-shirts to the linens on my bed. Yes, the linens on my bed. Fitted sheets and permanent press thankfully cured me of that. Here's one for you younger gals: I used to also iron jeans. And I wasn't the only one! There actually was a time when a well dressed person, young or old, wouldn't dream of leaving the house without their jeans having a nice, crisp crease down the front of the leg. All pants were ironed before being carefully folded by matching leg seams on each side and smoothing them over a hanger. (I still match seams before hanging them. Old habits die hard.) But I'm sure you've heard similar stories from others, including those touting the times when ground beef was 49 cents per pound and candy bars were a nickel each - and larger than they are now. So I won't bore you with those same stories. However, the task itself of ironing brought back other memories of those days. Like, for example, the first time my then-two year old son saw the ocean. He had been used to paddling around our midwest apartment swimming pool, so for our visit to southern California I made sure he was prepared with pail and shovel. He stood still and solemn, pail and shovel in hand, and stared at the waves. "What do you think of all that water," I asked him. Without hesitation he replied, "They should have made a baby pool." What a beautiful scrapbooking moment that would have made. Then, there was the time in Church when the pastor was allowing the preschoolers to sing their favorite songs. My girlfriend's son (about three or four, I think, at the time) took the microphone firmly in hand and turned toward the congregation with great confidence. He's going to be the very best one, she thought to herself as he straightened himself for what she thought would be the greatest debut performance in church history. In great voice and presentation, he burst into stanzas of "Rocking my Baby Tonight" instead of the anticipated "Jesus Loves Me". If you're not familiar with the song, let me assure you it is not a melody having to do with an infant in a cradle. With those fond memories, I leave you with pictures of our last pepper harvest of this season. They will be washed and prepared for freezing, except for the hot peppers that we grow for our parrots. They will take their places on drying racks. My next post will show you the rest of this month's Giftaway Package. Remember, all you need to do to qualify is leave a comment!

I almost forgot: Click here for my apron flea market!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

This Month's Prize Package, Prayers and Blessings

Thanks so very much to all of you who have called, sent emails and/or left comments concerning my accident. It is so humbling to know that you have been praying for me and for the young man whose vehicle I hit. Thanks so much for your encouragement and uplifting messages. What wonderful people you are! Know that the Lord is looking on you and smiling.
I really am doing fine, physically. I'm still a little shaken emotionally. To know that I am responsible for damaging someone else's property is difficult; thank God he's unharmed. The knowledge that our worlds can change in a degree of a second is staggering. It's so easy to take things for granted.
Have you noticed that I haven't yet posted any hints or pictures of this month's Giftaway Prize? Well, the wait is over. Hold on - make that partially over. Let's just take a peek at part of the package!
Let's start out with something sweet and feminine, like this:

This little photo frame isn't vintage but it has a vintage look to it. I've seen these spray painted white to make them look less Victorian and more shabby or cottage-chic. This one will arrive at the winner's door as you see it now; I'll leave the choice of whether to paint up to you! ;-)
Look at her face. Doesn't it look like she's searching for something or someone? I hate for her to look lonely. Tell you what: Let's add this vintage cologne spray bottle!
It's in perfect shape and came from an estate where the lady took very good care of her treasures. I know that whichever of you wins it will treasure it as well.
I'll add a couple more items in a few days. God has been very generous to me, saving that other driver and myself from harm. Yes, I will be responsible for his auto damage, but as I indicated previously, it could have been so much worse. I believe that He is calling upon me to be more generous as well, more giving of my time, my possessions and of myself. The winner of this month's Giftaway will be the recipient of a special package, as I believe that whoever's name is pulled will be His Will.
Here's a few more things I've been working on - some cards and tags, and a French Country pillow I finished.
I now leave you with good thoughts and these photos! Until later...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Blogging, Blessings and Stupid Stuff

First, the main blessing: Nobody was hurt. More of this later, the cause of the blessing to be filed under "Stupid Stuff".
Another Blessing comes from the blogging world. Well, I'm sure she had parents. Let me rephrase that - I found her through the blogging world. She's a blessing to many of us in the blogging world, to blogging crafters and crafters who read crafting blog. She's Linda Walsh, a true blogging queen who somehow manages about a zillion blogs.
She steps "behind the scenes", letting others take the center stage that she sets for them. She's never asked us for fees, favors or even thanks. Through her sites, she introduces us to one another, publicizes our websites and blogs and encourages us to try new techniques and crafts.
Today she has featured me on her I Love Crafts and Craft Blogs blog. Please pay her a visit, check out her blogs and let her know she's appreciated! Thank you!
On to stupid stuff. Specifically, my stupid stuff. Yesterday I totalled my van. I was always taught that if you do something well...so I aptly totalled the Honda in front of me, too. Stupid, stupid. Stooopid. That's not all. I let my insurance coverage lapse. Told ya - stooooopid. I was coming home from getting my Remicade infusion, knew I was still feeling tired from the three-plus hours that the infusion takes and from the Benadryl they give me before each infusion. What I didn't realize was that my focus on driving wasn't as clear as it "normally" is. The car in front of the young man who was immediately in front of me signalled to turn left. I wasn't going fast but I slowed down as I approached. The car turned but the one in front of me didn't. I don't know why he didn't go on. It doesn't matter. What matters is that I obviously applied my brakes too late and plowed into the back of his vehicle.
Hubby thinks my battery must have been crushed on impact, releasing acid onto the mess of wires, etc. that lived under the hood of my van. I remember smelling something burning but it wasn't until a gentleman urged me to get out of my van, calmly informing me it was about to catch on fire, that I realized what it was.
The impact forced the passenger side doors on the other vehicle together. His car is driveable but the passenger doors won't open. Hubby and I think the frame is probably bent, thus rendering the vehicle a total loss.
First and foremost, I thank God for protecting us, that neither of us were hurt. I thank Him that neither the young driver (nor his father, when he arrived at the scene) ranted and raved at me for being careless. I thank Him for getting the paramedics there so quickly, that they could check both of us out and that they were a calming influence on my shattered nerves. I thank Him that the officers on the scene were polite and soon had traffic flowing once again. I thank Him that he somehow let my husband know (through one of those "funny feelings") that something was wrong and told him to call me as I was talking with paramedics and that he works only minutes from where the accident took place so he could be there with me. I thank Him that the vehicle I hit was a '92 Honda and not a brand-spanking-new Hummer. I thank Him that my husband was more concerned about me than the loss of our vehicle. I thank Him for readers like YOU who keep us all covered in prayer.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

This was done to us...

We wish it didn't happen. But it did. We want to forget. But we cannot. This was done to us, to you and to me.
To our families. To our friends. To each and everyone we know.
God bless and keep us, every one of us. This is 9-11.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Quest, a Mission and Dinosaurs

Are you wondering what the three things in this blog post title have in common? Well, you could kind of blame the whole thing on a blog I recently discovered, Oodles and Oodles. Her Back to School post features a vintage penmanship exercise instructional and briefly hits on the fact that she never used a fountain pen when she was in school.
*BIG FLASHBACK* (Insert Twilight Zone music here...) I was suddenly in a timewarp. The year was 1955. There I sat, wearing a red plaid dress, solid red sweater and saddle shoes, in Mrs. Fried's (pronounced freed) third grade classroom. With a No. 2 Ticongeroga pencil in my sweaty hand, trying with all my might to emulate my teacher's perfectly formed O's. I tried, but there was the proof, one right after another, line after line of somewhat football-shaped O's that were mindful to me of my drawings of smoke rolling out of a house chimney.
She is suddenly over my shoulder, correcting my posture and, with her hand over mine, coaxing me to slow down my writing and pay closer attention to the curves that were her O's.
I was frustrated, as I knew that if I couldn't master cursive writing to her expectations, I would never be able to advance on to using a ballpoint pen. It had become my quest. Glancing to my right, I saw Janet Corbin looking sympathetically over at me. She was one of the first to receive Mrs. Fried's approval to bring a coveted ink pen into class. (At least, Janet wanted to help me. Not like Donna D., who sat ever-so-smugly with her more advanced instructional, confident that she would soon trade her ballpoint pen in for an actual fountain pen.)
And so it was, in Indianapolis, Indiana at P.S. #49 back in "my day".
But today, in 2008, what has become of fountain pens? I thought of my Dad and his Parker.
It had been given to him as a parting gift from some of his students when he left the Philippines and is the only writing tool I saw him use. I now have that pen but never use it. The only thing I need is a bottle of ink, as the pen has a top that unscrews to reveal a "pump" that is used to fill the bladder.
It was in that moment that I decided to toss aside my ballpoints and resurrect my own use of a fountain pen. Filled with sudden determination to not allow cursive writing and fountain pens to fall from the edge of the earth, I was now on a mission. I do not want fountain pens to be forgotten about, to be a long-ago thing of the past like so many other things that have become dinosaurs in my lifetime. I want my grandchildren to see me use a fountain pen. I want them to want to learn how to use one, how to properly hold a pen (in lieu of forming a fist to hold a pen). Now, to find some ink...