Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Be Resolute!

Have you made your resolutions yet? Plan well - 2010 is almost here!

This year, I resolve to be resolute!
[Resolute = marked by firm determination]

It appears that many of us make resolutions and then let them fall by the wayside by about April or May. I am guilty of dropping the proverbial ball on my resolutions almost every year. Oh, I start out with good intentions, but the determination seems to wane almost as rapidly as the list is put in the drawer.

We make resolutions in an effort to make the coming year a better one than the last. A resolution is typically defined as a promise or commitment people make to themselves to complete a project or alter a habit. Why make a promise to yourself and not keep it? (There are enough other people that disappoint us, we don't have to do it to ourselves!) I have succeeded at accomplishing and maintaining only ONE huge resolution in my whole life that I remember - quitting smoking. It's been 11 years since I made that commitment to myself. Talk about firm determination. (I know it's in there!)

As I ponder my resolutions for the coming year, I am focusing on these tips to help myself stay resolute:

1) Make an attainable resolution. If it's unrealistic, it's likely you will fail.

2) Focus on just one or two major resolutions. We try to do too much in too short a time.

3) Have a plan to achieve the goal in small steps. Set smaller goals on the path to achieving the main goal, and reward yourself for steps accomplished.

4) Don't fuss over failures - discover what caused the diversion and regroup.

5) Remind yourself of your resolution commitment - keep it out in the open on the fridge, the mirror, on top of your crafting supplies . . .

6) Remind yourself the benefits of succeeding.

7) Remember that it takes TIME to make changes to old habits. Resolutions take work and are not magically an overnight success!

I'm off to pare down my list of resolutions. That could take awhile :)

Best Wishes for a Safe, Happy, Healthy New Year! Boy, Twenty-Ten is going to be weird to say.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Just in the St. Nick of Time!

Finally. Got the lefse made, shopping and crafting done, and gifts wrapped.  I'm never this late - usually done by Thanksgiving, but the 'usual' routine has been a bit UNusual this year with hubby out of work. However, being out of sync has its way of putting things into perspective.  We've been more conscious of the donations we make and how they might affect others, and have put more thought into what is truly important in our lives.  It's easy to say 'family comes first' or 'the giving is more important than the receiving', but to really live those sayings opens not only your eyes, but your heart as well.  My 'Plan Ahead' nature has been forced to wing it a few times!  Here's to being able to roll with the punches and still be ready for St. Nick :)

The girls and I made the Christmas lefse Saturday.  We make it every year for my Dad's side of the family.  My cousin and I asked my Grandma to teach us how to make lefse a few years before she passed away.  That day is a great memory.  Boy, did we laugh a lot that day!  Grandma had the potatoes all ready when we arrived, and when we asked her how you prepare the potatoes, she didn't really have a recipe.  "You just mix in the flour until it feels glue-y" she said.  We got her to write a recipe down, and while she wrote, we rolled the lefse out thin.  (Or rather, we tried to roll it thin.)  The trick is to roll out the dough as thin as you can with as little flour as possible. (Remember, you are literally rolling out mashed potatoes!) We had dough stuck on the pin, on the counter, you name it.  Flour everywhere, and Grandma reminding us not to use any more flour.  Our attempts were hilarious, but we've provided the Christmas lefse every year since.  She would be proud!  And to think she helped her mother make it each Christmas Eve, on a wood stove.  (It's hard enough on a griddle with a control to set the temperature!)

We usually have a plate of lefse rolled up with butter and sugar on Christmas Eve.  We also usually have ham for dinner, so some of us like ham rolled up in plain or buttered lefse.  The girls and I like the 'mistakes' we make when making the lefse the best - hot off the griddle!  We have a picture of Grandma in a little frame that the girls pretend is watching us make the lefse.  They call her "Triple G" - Great-Grandma-Grace.  Grandma liked lutefisk with her lefse as a Christmas treat, but we have never carried on THAT tradition. 

I also make homemade turtles every year.  I get really good milk chocolate and caramel from a candy supply store, and use my cute little turtle molds to make the turtles.  Ted is allergic to nuts, so I always make some turtles without nuts.  See the one in the pink wrapper on the left?  There are several pink turtles in with the rest to note which ones don't have nuts.  They are the girl turtles.

We also made some krumkake, and some mint-wich cookies.  Enough!  My hips are screaming already.  No more goodie-baking this year.

Sunday, the English Major and I went downtown on the new Northstar Commuter Train.  Great way to go downtown and not have to fight the one-ways and parking - we just hope the train is popular enough to add some more departures/arrivals.  There are only 3 trips down and 3 trips back on the weekend days for now.

Downtown Minneapolis is where Mary Tyler Moore lived - remember that oldie?  Here's the landmark statue in front of Macy's.  We visited Macy's to see the 8th Floor Auditorium Display of "A Day in the Life of an Elf".  Very elaborate displays for children - little rooms showing the elves bunkhouse, the kitchen with their breakfast being prepared, the North Pole animals in the forest decorating the tree, the overloaded mail room, etc.  There were, of course, tons of children there with us.  Wide eyes and excitement bouncing off the walls, let me tell ya!  At the end of the display tour, which takes about 15-20 minutes, there is a line to see Santa.  (Make that a horrendously LONG line.)  So, many of those wide-eyed children had their Christmas best on too.  I would have loved to have taken pictures of all these kids faces, but their moms and dads were doing a good job of that already.

So, on top of the Christmas baking and shopping and wrapping, we squeezed in a little seasonal enjoyment.  Christmas music, shining kids' faces and beautifully decorated storefront windows.  Sounds like some snow will be falling on Christmas Eve here - and could be quite an accumulation.  And so it goes.  Christmas is definitely here.

Whatever the traditions, I hope everyone has a wonderful, Merry Christmas.

Secret Santa from Singapore

Another Secret Santa gift arrived last week - all the way from Singapore.  Valerie from the Intatters group sent me this pretty red motif, along with some red and green thread, some mini-clothespins with Shamrocks on them, and some silver beads.  I have really enjoyed this exchange - and look forward to participating in more as time permits.

I will be learning to add beads to my tatting in the Phase II Artisan program that I will be working on in 2010. (And probably 2011 and 2012, too!)  The threads are pretty red and green - perfect for Christmas 2010, or maybe that green with the cute little clothespins for something St. Patrick-y.  We'll see!
I've gotten a little bit of tatting done this past week also - a couple of bookmarks and some incomplete snowflakes.  One bookmark is a gift, and one is FINALLY for me!  This is one I've made a few times now - I'd love to do it in several more color combinations just to have on hand.

And this one is from the thread that my coworker brought me from India.  The pattern is here, and was designed by one of my Secret Santas.

The threads that have that metallic thread in them have been a little difficult for me to use so far - it seems that  I always break the metallic thread or it's very twisty to work with.  This particular thread was beautiful to work with and seems strong.  It looks like the brand is "Red Rose" from India - or maybe that's the color?  I will have to look at the label again.   I really like this pattern too - it was very easy, and is a pretty one to use with variegated thread.

The tatting and sewing are now on break for a few days!  It all will be back out soon because I have time off between Christmas and New Year's with NO plans.  I love that unscheduled time!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dashing Through the Snow . . .

Another snowy, slippery Minnesota commute this morning - yuck.  I really don't mind the snow except when it makes for poor driving conditions.  And stupid drivers.  You'd think people who live here would remember from year to year, but some folks always seem to forget how to drive on snow.  There are the speed demons who must get to their destination faster than you can.  And then there are those that think they must crawl or they will slip off into oblivion somewhere.  I fall somewhere in between - I don't get too close to anyone, and I don't particularly care to race.  Moderation folks, moderation.  Sheesh.  And now for the deep freeze.  Temperatures will be dipping below 0F tonite, with a high of about 5F tomorrow.  I will take the snow before the below-zero temps!

(OK.  Enough weather.  It's just what we talk about here in Minnesota.)

I received another InTatters Secret Santa gift last week - from Imoshen in California.  This nice surprise in a stocking included some beads, some plastic rings, some thread keepers, a shuttle, and a pretty blue motif that I can add to something special:

I really needed those thread keepers - I have oodles of thread I have unwound from shuttles that could use some organization, and I will be learning how to tat onto rings and add beads and buttons in the next phase of the T.A.T. program.   I am still waiting for one more, and I think the Santa gifts I sent have been received. 

I saw a post awhile back on Crazy Mom Tats' blog on using floss threaders to hide thread ends.  I thought it was a great idea, and included some in the Secret Santa packages I was sending out.  I assumed that other tatters knew that the floss threaders are used for hiding ends, but the first recipient of my gift admitted she wasn't sure what they were for.  (Imagine that Kodak look on her face as she wondered why I would send dental floss threaders . . .)  She did inform me that they can also be used as bead threaders.  I guess I will learn about that soon!

The tatting I've been doing lately is minimal - I am such a slow tatter I don't seem to finish much.  And of course, this is a busy time of year!  By the time I sit down and have time to tat, my eyes are done for the day.  Last week I had theater duty on Thursday night for "A Christmas Carol" and on Saturday a.m. for "A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas".   Then to lunch and shopping on Saturday, and a little baking on Sunday. 

I'm trying not to rush around like a madwoman and just enjoy the season, but it seems like there's so much to enjoy!  This next weekend the girls and I will make lefse and krumkake on Saturday, and then we will try out the new Northstar Commuter train on Sunday.  This new train system opened in November, and is a very welcome alternate way to commute to downtown Minneapolis.  We will go to Macy's and see the 8th Floor Santaland and display of "A Day in the Life of an Elf".  We haven't gone to this annual display since the girls were little, so it will be a fun girls day.  I believe the last time we went was when I was a daycare provider, and we made little hats and went to the Pinnochio display.  Or maybe Puss N Boots.  In any case, they are beautiful displays.   Dad would sooner poke needles in his eyes, so Scrooge he will stay home.

I hope everyone is remembering to slow down and ENJOY this season of music, kindness, and giving. 
And for heaven's sake, drive safely if you are in a winter wonderland!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ho, Ho, Ho!

A Secret Santa gift arrived last week from Oregon - what a fun package to get in the mail! Beautiful Lizbeth thread (Jelly Bean and Spring Green) and a pretty bookmark. I can't wait to use this thread :)

This Secret Santa exchange is through the InTatters group.  Funny, I had been thinking that I needed to make a bookmark for myself one of these days, since I continue to give away every one I make.  The English Major has most of them.  It's special to receive one knowing the time and effort put into it.  After admiring my gifts for a little while, I realized that the thread actually matches the gift wrap too - how fun is that? 

I am enjoying meeting other tatters through this group and the exchanges they share.  Everyone is so willing to help with questions and eager to share tips and patterns.  It's especially nice for me since there don't seem to be many tatters or groups near me.  We have the Minnesota Lace Society involving many types of lace, but nothing specifically for tatters.  That group meets every month, but it's a bit far for me to trudge after work when I'm not interested in the other types of lacemaking.  (Or rather, I don't want to become interested in any more hobbies!)

Speaking of no time for new hobbies, this is the only tatting I have been able to accomplish lately - a few wreath ornaments to include in packages and cards:

I am working on a snowflake or two as time permits, but have not accomplished a WHOLE one yet.  LOL.  If nothing else, I am learning that one must pay attention to the pattern and not let the mind wander.  Else one attaches to the wrong picot (or forgets to attach anywhere). I really need to learn to slow down.

 I am getting into the Christmas spirit now!  I'm off to get the tree up and the house decorated for the season.

More Secret Santa stuff to come this week.  And soon it's time for the girls and I to make the Christmas lefse!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks Today

Today I give thanks.  I'm thankful for my family, my friends, my health, and my job.  I have a roof over my head, food to eat and a bed to sleep in.  I even have a little extra to share.  I am so fortunate in so many ways, that I can't even put it into words. 

Mom is staying with me this week while the men in the family are deer hunting in Wisconsin.  We have been discussing how lucky we are to have this time together as our annual tradition. All week we run all around town shopping, eating, cooking, crafting, and whatever else we can think of.  We make a traditional turkey, dressing, sweet potato, mashed potatoes and cranberries meal for our Thanksgiving dinner - mostly so we have leftovers!  Some years we go to other relative's homes, and some years we go out for a buffet, but most of the time we just hang out at my house.  The girls and their boyfriends sometimes join us, sometimes are off with other families.  This is just how it is for Thanksgiving at our house.

Army Girlfriend's BF is home so we will spend some time visiting with them, and the English Major is home too, so she and her BF will be around as well.  My little girls have grown up.

I will relax today, and just be thankful from the bottom of my heart for everything in my life!

Happy Thanksgiving :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gifts from India

One of my coworkers recently made a trip back home to India for her brother's wedding.  She shared pictures with me of the wedding, and explained some of the culture and tradition surrounding weddings in her family and religion.  I don't have permission to share the pictures, so I will just tell you a little about them.  The bride wore a beautiful cream colored sari with lots of beautiful gold thread accents for the ceremony.  During the ceremony, the groom "ties the knot" by tying several strands of gold colored thread with a gold cross/pendant into a necklace around her neck.  Immediately following the ceremony, she changed into a sari given to her by the groom's parents.  This bride's new sari was a beautiful salmon/pink color with gold accents.  A day or so after the wedding, a gold chain is added to the pendant, but the threads must stay and dissolve on their own - as this is the important tied knot.  Traditionally, the wedding ring is worn on the right hand.  The family photos were fairly casual with the groom in a suit, other men in dress clothes, and the women were wearing the beautiful, rich-with-color saris.

I love to learn about other cultures and family traditions - it's so interesting to see what stands out in any given celebration, and helps to understand why we sometimes have such different opinions on many subjects. Last summer we all learned a bit about becoming a U.S. citizen from this coworker too.  It's very interesting to see it from the perspective of one not born into it.  I have never studied other cultures - I prefer to hear it first-hand.  "Tying the Knot" has a whole new image with the meaning to me now. 

Before she left, she asked if she could bring me anything from India.  Not knowing what might be available, all I could think of was fabric or some thread.  She agreed to look if she was able to do any shopping.  I knew her trip would be a very short one for a significant family event, so imagine my surprise when she returned with this:

I may have to hoard these things for a bit while I decide what I should make!  She even brought me sewing thread to match one fabric, as she was able to get it very inexpensively.

And she knows I love all shades of blue, so she got this ball of a variegated blue thread (pretty colors show better above),

and this colorful, metallic thread too. 

She is so thoughtful to bring these all the way back from India.  I treasure these items and the fact that she even remembered during her short visit with her family for such a special occasion.  Now I just need to figure out what I'm going to make!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

T.A.T. Artisan Phase II

It has arrived.
My goal is to accomplish this phase in less than the 3 years the Apprentice Phase took. 

Wish me Luck.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Snail Mail Encouragement

How's this for cute mail?  Tatting on the envelope was pretty darn cute!  I'm going to remember to do that - it adds some fun.  I got some encouragement and instruction from Fox on that problem of joining that last pesky ring to the first.  For some reason, that concept just eluded me and made me crazy every time I tried it.  Fox sent me some instructions that helped her out - the book Tatting by Cathy Bryant explains this technique in a way I hadn't seen before, and Fox had said it helped her.  She is a wonderful tatter, so her suggestions are most welcome!  Funny how the same instruction just put a different way can be so helpful.  Thanks Fox - I think I got it!  Online tatting friends are so helpful.  And generous.  Fox also sent me some pretty thread to play with - and a postcard.  I think I really miss getting snail mail more often in this emailing/internet world.

I tried the same snowflake I had goofed up on before, just to have a comparison.  However, I'm such a doo-dah that I used heavier thread with metallic in it just because I thought it was "Christmas-y".  That probably wasn't a good idea, as the thread was a bit harder to practice with as far as watching the twisting goes.  But, I got that last join done without pulling out my hair.  I think I did it right :)

I need to find a fairly simple motif to do over and over again to practice.  I worked the same small pattern when I was learning to crochet, and it helped to become really familiar with the pattern and how the stitches were supposed to look when finished. It's just boring to do the same pattern over and over again.  I think this is a pretty snowflake shape - but I can see it definitely needs to be done in smaller thread to be as pretty as it should be.

I've also been working on some more of these bookmarks to have on hand to include in a Christmas card or two.  I really like this pattern - it's easy and works up quickly.  I like it best when done in Perle Cotton 12 - I'm finding I really like that particular thread.

On top of being wildly busy at work for the past week, I have been working on figuring out some Secret Santa gifts for the InTatters December exchange.  I've only participated in a couple of exchanges, so it will be fun to see what ideas everyone comes up with!  Any ideas welcome . . .

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Right or Left-Brained?

I always thought I was right-brained.  You know, mostly artistic and creative.  But then, I have that practical, serious, perfectionist left-brained personality too.  What a conflict!  It seems I have an insatiable desire to accomplish everything before I can even learn it.

I tried a little tatting this week, but most everything I attempted came to a screeching halt for one reason or another.  Not only did I abandon several attempts at figuring out patterns that might work on a Christmas ornament, but I also got sidetracked trying to figure out how to do those self-closing mock rings (SCMR's).  When I couldn't master that, I decided I was getting ahead of myself AGAIN, (as usual) and promptly sent off for the Artisan Phase II of the T.A.T. program to torment myself learn some more.  The logical, orderly, practical left side of my brain knows that it's time for me to slow down and learn the basics, and quit trying to do everything perfectly the first time at record pace.  I really do like tatting, it just frustrates the heck out of me when I can't figure out a pattern or a technique.  What is even more frustrating is that I don't have the time after work, supper, etc., to really research the internet for the answers I need, so I end up abandoning my tatting for awhile and working on something that I can be successful at.  The creative, imaginative dreamer right side of my brain makes me turn into a mad-woman with a burning desire to accomplish something.  (You should see my sewing/craft room - it currently looks like a tornado hit it.) The left sided perfectionist in me makes me even more determined to learn to shuttle-tat, and learn it well.  The right side wants to tat every beautiful pattern I see, and design my own patterns. I wish the left-side and the right-side of my brain could agree more often.  They did agree long enough for me to get three of Heather's Hearts for Tracy tatted and get them sent off in the mail, but I forgot to take any pictures of that accomplishment in my haste to get them to her on time.  Does anyone else have this right-left brain conflict? 

After abandoning the tatting, I decided to read a book.  I have found Jennifer Chiaverini's Elm Creek Quilt Series to be easy, entertaining reads, so I got the newest book The Lost Quilter at the library, and proceeded to devour that.  You don't have to be a quilter to enjoy the books - they are wonderful stories of women, friendship, quilting and history.  A good escape when the right brain and the left brain are disagreeing!

My biggest accomplishment this past week was finishing one last doll quilt. For Elmo.  Elmo required a smaller quilt than the others, and since I had Friday off from work my goal was to finish it for this bunch I am donating to a local Crisis Nursery.  Back in September, I blogged about making some quilts and that some coworkers agreed to donate some stuffed animals to go with them.

My generous coworkers didn't disappoint, and added some personality to these little quilts. Aren't they cute?

These guys are off and ready to be loved as needed. 

This week I will get back to trying some tatting again.  Fox was kind enough to send me some encouraging mail and some pretty thread to try.  More about that another day :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Significant Things in Life

#1 Significant thing in my life this week is that the English Major turned 21 yesterday.  (Yikes)  I really can't believe my baby is 21!  Significant for me because, well, it makes me feel sort of insignificant now!  I know that isn't true, but now both my kids are really adults and I can't make rules for them or dole out consequences or take away privileges anymore.  They are now truly responsible for their own actions.  I think we've raised them to be loving, responsible, productive adults.  Significant?  Yes.

We drove the 1+ hours to the English Major's apartment to take her out to dinner and buy her a legal drink, and then home again.   The Army Girlfriend couldn't join us because she had to work, but gave her little sister this cookie:

That cookie is one-half the dough of a whole batch!  Cute.

Tonite is another performance at the theater for me (Little Shop of Horrors), and then I will have a chance to work on tatted hearts for another significant lifetime event.  #2 Significant thing - The Tarnished Tatter blogs about her friend's diagnosis of Stage 4 Breast Cancer, and asks for tatters to send her tatted hearts with notes of inspiration so she can deliver them to her friend post-surgery.  Get all the information and the pattern for Tatted Hearts for Tracy HERESignificant?  Yes.

I will be working on some hearts for this significant event in a stranger's life.  Maybe you can too!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fabric Giveaway

Since I love my sewing and quilting as well as my tatting and crochet, I've been surfing the blogs again.  In my blog hopping, I came across this great fabric giveaway at the Pumpkin Patch Primitives Quilt Shoppe.  Even my stash is drooling!  Entries close at midnight on Halloween, so if you could use (and who couldn't?) 27 fat quarters of Red Roosters Pumpkin and Spice fabric line, just comment on the giveaway post and post a link on your blog.  Not that I need any more competition.  My luck does not usually include winning giveaways, but one doesn't know if one doesn't try, right?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Flurry of Snowflakes

Well, that was the plan anyway. A flurry of tatted snowflakes. Ha.  It took me all of last week to get just one snowflake done.  I think I started over about 3 times because I wasn't concentrating.  (I have such limited time to play with tatting that I think I hurry a little too much to get something done without focusing on the technique or the "neat" part.)  And then when I got to the end, it got the best of me. This always seems to happen at the end of a piece.  Trying to join that last ring to the first ring just doesn't make sense to me yet.  I can't "see" how it should go, so I try a couple of things and pick, pick, pick them out.  I'm certain I am making it much harder than it is.  Even looking at examples online, like here, and looking back through my T.A.T. binder, it frustrates me every time.

I was feeling pretty smug and thought it was looking very nice.

After that join made me crazy, apparently I lost track of where I was in the pattern and messed up the rest of the end too.  If you can't see it, I'm certainly not going to point it out, but here's the final product.  Harrummmpph.

I wanted to find a snowflake pattern that I can use as a cap on a Christmas ball, and I found this snowflake motif in my DMC Festive Tatting book. There are ornament covers in there, but I thought this one looked the easiest and prettiest for a beginner like myself.

And after a week and all that frustration, I'm not even sure if I think this snowflake covers the ball enough.  I used size 12 cotton perle on this one.

I have this collection of satin balls that I've squirreled away for years with intentions of making some ornaments.

My plan is to accomplish at least 4 ornaments to go with these cute bags I made and use them for Christmas gifts.  I found this cute little friendship bag tutorial here.  (And here's a variation.)

Unfortunately, at this rate I'll be lucky if I can complete a flurry of two snowflakes!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Do YOU believe in Ghosts?

On a perfectly dreary night this past week, some friends and I trudged around Anoka, Minnesota hearing stories of the ghosts thought to still be haunting the various homes and businesses in town.  (All in the Halloween spirit, of course, since Anoka is the "Halloween Capital of the World"!)  One ghost is a prankster, randomly ringing the doorbell and turning lights off and on.  Another is believed to be a previous merchant in one of the stores on Main Street who throws things around the store (a Halloween store, no less!)  Another is a retired military man that cares for the people in the house, tucking the children in tightly and providing comfort for the family when they are ill, just like he cared for injured soldiers during his military career.  Some ghosts are timid, others are bold.  There are many stories by the current families in these homes, but all families agree that the apparitions are not scary at all.

The Ghosts of Anoka Walking Tour, put on by the Anoka County Historical Society, is described as "a skillful weaving together of history, conjecture, and fact, sprinkled with a flair for the dramatic and seasoned by good story telling." The history of the city and some of the old homes was very interesting.  Whether or not you believe in ghosts is up to you.

Back in about 1920, Anokans awoke to find their cows roaming Main Street, their windows soaped and their outhouses tipped over, and they decided something had to be done.  Anoka, Minnesota is believed to be the first city in the United States to put on a Halloween celebration to divert its youngsters from Halloween pranks.  Anoka has a schedule of events every year that includes the Orange Tie Ball; well-attended costume parades; pumpkin carving contests; haunted houses; huge costume contests & parties; and fundraisers - something for everyone.  I think this is fun, especially since most elementary schools and many churches now ban the evils of Halloween.  It's actually a great way to pull together a community.

I look kind of tall and thin, don't you think?  LOL.

This jack-o-lantern sits on top of City Hall.  It was a gift to Anoka by a neighboring city, but given as somewhat of a prank.  Anoka was invited to participate in a contest to see which city could produce the largest pumpkin, and the winner would be announced at Anoka's annual pageant.  Much spying was done on the neighboring city to see how the growing was going, but Anoka could never find the other city's crop of pumpkins.  At the pageant, Anoka wheeled out their humongous pumpkin for the judging, and the neighboring city brought in this neon sign they had made.  (No specifications had been given as to how to "produce" the pumpkin!) Nice gift in the Halloween spirit!

Main Street was once lined with several of these sidewalk sections of the Halloween logo, but when the street was widened some years back, this is the only survivor - and is now placed on the walk in front of City Hall.

What do you remember about Halloween as a kid?  I remember our garage windows being soaped up by pranksters on Halloween night.  Adults throughout the neighborhoods feared other pranks like egging, toilet-papering, tipped over garbage cans, etc.  Nothing too drastic, just annoyances.  All we wanted to do was dress up and collect our CANDY, and hoped that one neighbor wouldn't really make us do tricks again this year for our treats. 

So, on with the costume-making, face-painting and ghost-busting!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fall colors . . .

. . . in the Midwest are supposed to look like my backyard did on Friday:

It was a beautiful, sunny, fall day in Minnesota on Friday. Like it should be in OCTOBER. Temperatures in the upper 50 degrees F are pretty average, and wandering about outside in a sweatshirt and jeans is comfortable.

On Saturday, we woke up to a little of this:

White is NOT a fall color. We are not ready for this until November. Late November, thankyouverymuch. We woke up to more of this today.

Not to worry. Just an "impulse of moisture" the weather guy said this morning. (An impulse! I guess Mother Nature even has impulses, huh?) The overnight low tonite is predicted to be in the 20s. It will be back up to 60 degrees by Sunday. Even though our temperatures and weather change drastically from one day to the next, we don't get "used" to it. It can go from 80 degrees to 50 overnight - summer to fall in one day - and likewise dropping temperatures take us quickly from fall to winter.

The snow is actually very pretty when it sticks to all the trees like it is today. It's falling slowly right now, just like in a snowglobe. But it's OCTOBER! We haven't gotten through Halloween yet. I think snow is much prettier in December.

People joke about midwesterners and how we talk about the weather. I don't know if it's so much the weather we are talking about as it is the shock to the system!

Since I have the day off today, I am changing my summer capris and Ts out for turtlenecks and sweaters. I've got the house smelling good with Pumpkin Spice Bread I found here, and some baked oatmeal with cinnamon & cranberries in it.

At least the house smells like FALL. In OCTOBER.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Shuttle Pig

I feel like a pig! A shuttle pig. Just look at this shuttle stash. (My pictures are a bit dark, but you get the general idea of the hoarding going on here.)

Awhile back, I posted about all of the thread I received a couple of years ago, along with many lacemaking books and shuttles. I think pretty much all of these shuttles came from that one wonderful inheritance.

After seeing Fox's post (here) about her recent Ebay auction win, I realized I had even more of a treasure than I thought in my shuttle inheritance. Don't get me wrong - I am certainly grateful for this stash of shuttles. I just didn't realize I had a couple of shuttles that tatters envy!

There are these larger shuttles - I haven't tried working with these at all yet. The copper and gold ones are pretty, but metal seems so harsh to hold after using plastic.

There are so many of the Boye shuttles, I'm guessing they must've been a favorite of the original owner. The little wooden ones are nice and I did try them, but the thread doesn't flow easily off these.

Then there are these metal ones with the removable bobbins. These do seem like they would be very nice to use, but I got my thread caught in the hook too much when I tried one - might just take some getting used to.

I've left this package intact as it was obviously collected from somewhere. It is a shuttle and some sort of a hook. I'm not sure who to ask about this, so here it sits as received in my collection. Anyone have any knowledge or thoughts on this?

This one also appears old and well used:

I have no idea how to tat with needles, but these are in there too. I definitely feel the need to learn how to shuttle tat before I attempt to even try needle tatting. I've seen this other type of shuttle many times before, and in some cute shapes - but I haven't tried using it yet.

And here I have two Milward shuttles and an English Aero. I've left the one Milward on the card as I received it. I did try the Milward shuttle, and found it to be nice and light to use - but I missed having a point for picking out stitches as I tend to do a lot of that! The English Aero shuttle apparently isn't even made anymore. I haven't tried it at all, but it sounds like it's one in high demand.

I love having this collection of all different types of shuttles. I think I would like to display them somehow, maybe in a shadowbox of some kind that I could open so that I could still get at them to use. And, piggish as it may sound, I would still love to collect more shuttles! (oink, oink)

With all of these shuttles though, I have to say that these little Clovers are my favorite ones to use.

I won't even tell you how many crochet hooks I inherited.