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.

Friday, October 2, 2009


OK, so I volunteer for somewhat selfish reasons. Art is involved. And the word FREE.

In 2008, I was fortunate enough to see some theater performances not only in Minneapolis, but in New York City as well. I went to New York City over Thanksgiving, and saw "South Pacific" at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. On Thanksgiving Day, we had a backstage tour of Radio City Music Hall, and then enjoyed the "Christmas Spectacular" with the famous Rockettes. For some reason, opportunities just kept arising to see various plays - I saw "Movin' Out" (Billy Joel), "Wicked" and "Phantom of the Opera" in Minneapolis, "The Miser" at the community college my daughter was attending, and "The Boyfriend" at a local community theater. I have never gone to that many performances in one year, but I realized how much I really enjoy it.

Then this recession hit more personally - income changed, planned purchases were postponed, and the budget got tighter. Fortunately, we are pretty practical most of the time, so it's not too difficult to pull in the reins a little more. But, "fun" things like theater and music and eating out had to be cut down to a minimum. (OK, mostly cut out all together.)

Then another opportunity hit - volunteering at a local community theater allows one to see the performances for FREE! (My favorite four-letter word.) A coworker and I signed up to work once during each event for 1 hour prior to a performance, and then enjoy the show. For FREE. I did not realize that the actors/musicians all perform at the community theater for FREE either. I never really thought about it, but obviously they are passionate about theater to put the time and effort into performing. FREE for me to attend, and the participants do it all for FREE as well. Art for FREE! Is that so selfish?

Tonight's performance - a capella music by artists from Minnesota. They have traveled around to state fairs and opened for the Beach Boys. I love a capella music.

I'll be enjoying for FREE volunteering for this tonight.

I think I will be singing all the way home after the show. (Fortunately, in a soundproof car all by myself.)