A real motivator!!!

The invitation in the mail was a real boost to my spirits but those who follow the blog know how I love a good saying, proverb or, in this case, a cartoon.  This was on Facebook yesterday and I made several copies and they are taped to doors, mirros etc. I just LOVE this one....... a real motivator!!!


No Pity Party Allowed.....

When the kids left on Sunday I have to admit that I was exhausted... totally and as I went to bed I was thinking...."I can't do things like this any more! I'm too old!!!  What was I thinking when I planned all that.  The next time someone comes to eat here I'm opening a can of soup...  Would someone even care????  I'm too old.. I'm too old. " and I buried myself under the covers having a pity party....

The very next day I received a 2004 invitation in the mail from a friend.  As much as I love fancy dinner parties I used to love having a "proper" tea party.. usually for 12-20 ladies and usually a couple a year...one for daffodils and another when the roses were in bloom.
Inside it read in part:
You're invited to High Tea
 at Gerry Krueger's
 to celebrate the return
of the daffodils. 
If you have
something yellow, wear it.

My friend found the invitation as she was downsizing and sent it back to me to thank me for  a happy memory.  First I was touched that she had kept the invitation for 14 years and second I was touched she took the time to write a note and send it to me.  So I'm wrong...people do remember and care.  And when I'm dead and gone Sydney will remember the lovely dinner this weekend....  And maybe next spring I should have another daffodil tea....this time for charity and have someone help...!!!!!

The menu was also on the invitation... It would be fun to use it again and simplify it just a bit maybe.... what do you think!!!


Finally someone to carry on!!!

I had been waiting for this day for weeks.  I went out early this morning worried I couldn't find enough flowers for a centerpiece as the garden is dried and parched.  But the Oregon grape was loaded with purple berries and that combined with perovskia, yarrow and autumn clematis made a stunning centerpiece.

The table had been set the night before with my best china, crystal, linens, and silver.

For years I have written about my DH's beloved sour cream rolls baked for him by three generations of women...his grandmother, his mother and me.  Although everyone in the family loves them, no one wanted to learn to bake this time-consuming recipe.

But yesterday my Seattle granddaughter Sydney  and her beau Tanner arrived to learn how to bake them. This recipe is a two-day effort.  The first day the ingredients are mixed and then it needs a slow rise in the refrigerator overnight.

Here they are beginning.... not for the calorie conscious as you start with a whole pound of butter and two cups of sour cream.

It was Sydney's first experience with kneading a yeast dough but Tanner is an experienced baker and it showed.  

Just like on television when this batch of dough was ready to be refrigerated  there was another batch  I made the day before that I could whisk out.... all risen and ready to form into rolls.

This dough needs to be rolled out and folded again and again and again until you have at least nine buttery layers.  No short cuts here if you want flaky rolls.  Then they are cut into strips, twisted, and folded into knots, dipped in sugar and baked.

As an added challenge you have to do it quickly so the dough stays chilled.  It took a bit but they got more adept and the knots were neater and neater.

I just can't tell you how relieved I am that this family recipe is now passed on even though it skipped a generation.. I was afraid it was going to die with me.

Of course the final judgment was made by grandpa who over the last 80+ years has eaten thousands of them..  After his expert taste test he gave their rolls two thumbs up.

Then we all sat down to  dinner together to celebrate.  The menu was:
shrimp gazpacho
watermelon, cucumber salad
braised beef
multi-grain pilaf
squash with kale
fresh baked dinner rolls
And dessert was puff pastry cones filled with Italian pastry cream on a huckleberry sauce.
This was the last time I'll use this china.  I will pack it now and label the boxes for Sydney for when she is settled.  It is a full service for 12 so it will take a few boxes.


What you see is not what you have to have!

Sunday I  will be able to get back to my magpie pendant but I wanted to share how my final design comes about.  I both stitch and paint birds a lot.  They are my favorite subject in fact.  I start by looking at as many images as I can and look for something in each image  that appeals to me.  I do start with a few guidelines

1.  I want my bird doing something.  It has to be more than botanically correct.  I want it to be  eating flying etc. anything to give it a little personality.

2.  Except for owls, I avoid straight on views of a bird head.  Always want it side view or 3/4 view.. even better at a tilt.

3.  I make sure my birds most identifiable feature is seen... color, markings, etc. Of course with magpies it is the black and white.

4.Be aware of their feet... They look awkward without feet and feet can add to the balance and activity.

5.  The bird and pose has to fit my space...With buttons it is a circle which is sometimes a real challenge.  With CQ it was usually a square or triangle.

I do not hesitate to crop off a body part such as ears or tail to make an image fit. BUT  the important thing is to make the eye think that it is still there..

A magpie has an extraordinarily long tail and in this image someone has just shortened the tail and it looks funny.  
 By the time I actually do a rough sketch my magpie on the disc it is a composite of bits and pieces of all the images I looked at.

Below is a tip from 2012 on ways to modify an image to fit your space.  It so happens I use this tip all the time mostly for button painting..  some times a subject does not suit itself to a round button shape and sometime changing an image makes it more interesting... Here are two examples... A rooster in full strut  is not conducive to a small circular shape but if I make a copy and a reverse copy and cut them up I can fiddle with position. By lowering the tail and reversing the head, it is much better for a round shape..
 The same is true for a quail in this position...a strong diagonal which heads right off the block or button.   By reversing the head, it is more interesting composition.

If you liked playing with paper dolls this tip is right up your alley...  


What's a 1-armed, nearly-blind woman to do?

What's a 1-armed,  nearly-blind woman to do to keep busy for another 3-4 weeks in a cast?  What I am doing might surprise you as it certainly surprised me...  In 2009 I started Robin Atkin's Bead Journal project and my initial plan was to do a bird  a month  and finish it as a tribute to the Dept. of Wildlife's "Bird Weekend" which they held in my garden for about 10 years...

I started with great enthusiasm and finished four parts, partially  finished two more and by then working with only beads became too tedious and boring so I packed it up and put it under my bed.  But nine years later when I started thinking about magpies I dug it out with renewed interest

The bluebird was about 90% finished so I gave it a try.  I need help threading the needles but learned long ago is all you need  is to run a needle through a pile of seed beads and they just jump on the needle.  All the outlining was done and it is very bumpy and random so being precise is not an issue and I was able to work in short spurts and finish the bluebird.

The quail was the other partially finished one and it  is about 80% done and so I am starting on it.  I should be able to finish this by next week.  I can only work in short segments of time as not only do my eyes tire, but the two useable fingers poking out of the cast get sore.  But it is so pleasant to have something different to do for a bit in the evening and I was ready for a break from the jewelry.

Even if I don't finish the last one, these six would be enough with pictures to make a great memory piece.  I never dreamt this project would ever again see the light of day again after all these years...

And the last one is a momma robin and has not a single bead on it....  It would give me a real boost to finish this project as those weekends were so special and I still have all the pictures.... so I will probably give it a try anyway and with luck could finish about the time the cast comes off.  You can read more about the bead journal project and class here.

And as I kept thinking about it,  I realized I'd never actually done a block with a magpie....only thought about it and the calendar block I thought was a magpie was actually a red-winged blackbird for the month of August. Just a little memory glitch again.


A cast, the day shift, and a dementia scare....

 Recently I posted about taking a fall and spraining my wrist.  Well after  couple weeks in a splint it was not getting better...quite the reverse.  Went to my doctor and she had x-rays taken and it was not only broken but broken in such a way that it was not going to heal without being immobilized.....so now I'm sporting this lovely blue fashion accessory .....

With previous casts I always have them yucky fairly quickly so now I cut the fingers off a rubber glove and cover it.
I am trying to type with one finger on left hand so LOTS of errors.

Thank heavens it was my left arm.

The day shift has arrived.  Every year I write about the huge old apple tree across the driveway which has literally thousands of apples..  They have started falling and every night the deer come and clean them up... but now so many are falling that the day shift is here.  Despite the drought my deer go into winter fat and healthy.
Without the deer I would be knee deep in rotting apples.

I had another kind of scare this week.  I take my mobile phone with me when DH drops me off at the doctor and he goes somewhere and drinks coffee and reads the paper and I call him when I'm done.  This last time I forgot my phone and with the ex-rays the visit was going to be much longer so I was going to have the receptionist call DH.  For the life of me I could not remember his mobile number.  I could visualize all the right digits (123579) but not the order. And the harder I tried the more confused I became.  Luckily he was worried that so much time passed and came to check on me.

But I realized I needed to know that number.  First I put it in my wallet and then I put sticky notes all over the house.... (on mirrors, doors, cupboards, bedstead) and I think I have it committed.  Anything like that immediately has me thinking dementia. And if I ever do get a tattoo it will be my husband's mobile number......


Answer to button question.

Andrea read the button-painting tutorial and asked a question and blogger would not give me her email so I could not answer.  But she persevered and reached me through Etsy.  Since the answer was going to be lengthy I thought I would post it here in case anyone is curious how I started or where I got buttons and what about those pesky holes.  Her question was: "When you use putty to plug the holes on the buttons do you take the putty out when you’re done? Which is more desirable?"  and "Where to buy buttons."

I started painting buttons about 15 years ago and I did them to add to each round robin block  as a personal touch.  For a long time dear Susan Elliott kept urging me to paint and sell them... It took a while but I finally listened to her...  At that time a woman sold buttons on Ebay under the name Button Glutton.  She had bought a house that had an outbuilding that was packed with inventory from a turn-of-the-century-button factory.  I initially bought her lovely 1 1/8" blank mop buttons as she posted them on ebay and finally contacted her and bought all she had (400) at $1 a button. After I went through them I bought all her 1" buttons...now long gone.

 Then I started painting the vintage ones with a wire center shanks.  I still have about a quart of these antique ones left.

 The shanks in the center were a problem and I handled it in several ways.

First I incorporated the metal "nub" into the designs....the nose on the rabbit.

Another solution was to take the shank out and paint a design around the hole and someone could attach it with a bead that would blend with the design.

But to answer Andrea's question  often when I fill a hole or holes with putty I add a metal shank to the back.  These shanks are readily available on Etsy.

Now the question where to buy buttons... The really old ones are so expensive anymore that it is not practical to paint them to sell.  The antique 2" ones of mine which I used to paint pet portraits are all gone now. I did the portraits for $25 and I only see this size for sale for $20+ per button unpainted.   I never see the quality vintage 1 1/8" and 1 1/4" ones at any price. The ones you see on ebay and etsy are thin, warped and very poor quality. I have been painting for the last couple years on really nice, high quality MOP blanks I found and adding shanks to them.  I did the same as before and bought in bulk when I had the chance.

Now having said all that.... who says it has to be mother-of-pearl.... I just happened to start with gorgeous antique ones and became addicted to the luminosity of MOP.  There are perfectly lovely plastic buttons that would work just as well and I have some fantastic old flat brass  ones I've used for barns but would be good for anything...

And I used some of the cheap warped square ones and painted on them to use to back the anniversary quilt...fantastic.


Prince charming and downsizing

I love doing frog prince charmings... 

They have to be ugly enough to make you hesitate to kiss them but have enough gold on their crown to be tempted.  Is this your prince charming in disguise?

 Besides the hand-painted pendant, this particular piece  has many found or salvaged components. I'm enjoying  combining my miniature paintings with   bits and bobs from my collection of vintage costume jewelry to create one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry.  This is getting addictive.

I just added the Prince charming to my jewelry  Etsy site along with the yellow and red piece with the African hand made and hand fired beads.

I am making headway on the downsizing issue... By making headway I mean I am seriously thinking about it and making plans....a start for me.  Actually I have to separate things to downsize....my CQ stash and my excess MOP buttons and painted button inventory and I have some tentative plans.. First  I want to phase out the Etsy button site. There aren't that many left as they keep selling and I have had to stop  painting the 1" buttons.  The smaller blank  MOPs will probably do best on Ebay as most are antique.  I used to paint on some 1/2 and 3/4" buttons and have a lot of those left.

 The bigger task is the CQ stash. I've decided that most  of the CQ stash I am going to pack into bundles and have giveaways on the blog...a lot of them....  Just the threads, ribbons and lace alone are formidable.    Have to decide the best way to bundle them... maybe do a couple bundles a week as long as it takes.    I want to finish my spider bag this fall  but the rest will all go.  A good winter project. I am still in the process of moving all the jewelry making supplies into the two narrow white cabinets.  The CQ stuff that was in them is now in big laundry baskets in the barn which I want gone, gone, gone.  I also want the large black tool cabinet to be gone, gone, gone and once empty it should be pretty easy to sell.

When I was wishing for someone with a long elegant neck to model my jewelry, was I thinking of the wrong part of the anatomy? 


Memories and next?

I know I have said at times that the house wren is my favorite bird or that a hummingbird is  my favorite but if the real truth were known it is the magpie that is my really truly favorite.  They delighted me for more than twenty years until the ravens moved in and drove them away..  Not too far... only about 1/2 mile down the road  to another farm but I miss them dearly... I get the occasional visit from one but not the daily chattering I adored.

When I was working on the Bead Journal Project I did this piece about (4x6") and somewhere I did a magpie block but now I want to do a magpie pendant for a necklace.  Somehow I want it to be slightly three  dimensional and will have to do some deep thinking...  I've never really done that so my first thought is to sculpt it on the MOP with E8000.  I'll have to see if there is a chemical reaction between the glue and the sealer...  Stay tuned on this project.

Magpies, in some cultures. are regarded as a good luck symbol of joy, marital bliss, and long lasting fortune. The ancient Romans viewed the magpie as a creature of high intellect and reasoning powers. I've always felt a special kinship to magpies because they  are so attracted to shiny bits and pieces and especially so since I have been doing the jewelry...

Going back in the blog I found several posts about my funny magpies.  One about their outrageous huge nests which they enter and exit from the underside.

Another post was the year I was able to watch the young magpies fledge from the nest in the hawthorn tree by the sheep pasture.  That nest was so low that it was at my eye level.  What a treat that was.

And now that I'm thinking about it I'm wondering whatever happened to that magpie block.. I will have to keep an eye out for it as I'm sorting through CQ stuff.  I think it was for a magazine or calendar or some such thing...

But my favorite post was how the magpie nest was part  of the squirrel's  "What's for dinner this  winter drama!"


What now?

I have the first lot of jewelry done and the Etsy site up which was a lot of detail work as they keep changing things to make it much more complicated than it should be.  I have these revolving racks with the necklaces hanging on them on a buffet in the living room.   I need to find more of these racks. With these the top  and bottom levels move in unison but I only find ones that the level move independently ...seems a small matter but it does matter.

 I love walking  by and seeing them sparkle...  Now I can relax a bit and get them on Pinterest and others sites.  But also now I want to make some smaller more sellable necklaces as well with smaller buttons, charms, stash etc. I found some old lockets and cool earring parts  Its definitely giving me a new creatively outlet.  We are in for some over 100 degree weather this week so it will be nice to have something to do in an air-conditioned house...

Shirlee commented today and I spent a most frustrating time trying to answer through blogger.  It used to be hers and other  comments came to my gmail and I could answer from there. Blogger ended all that and only Hotmail comes up when I try to answer.  I complied with all their wishes and still came up with "incorrect address" and "please edit" and I finally gave up...  They wanted me to make Hotmail my primary email address and if I didn't I had to use my Google password to access the Hotmail and it still wouldn't work with the address THEY had given me. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!


Yesterday I was able to get most of the descriptions, etc. done on the new Etsy shop.  There is still some fine tuning but it can open at this state...  I will gradually close down the button site as time goes by.  I want to use it to sell some of my extra MOP stock that is too small to paint on. 

I do have a new logo designed for the new site but for some quirky reason I have not been able to upload it. I'm sure I'll find other errors as I finish up.

I look at this site as a resting place for the jewelry I create. I have priced things with my actual time in mind plus the rising fees of both Etsy and Paypal. We all know that everyone loves something handmade but few want to pay for the time involved.

Ideally a piece will sell now and then but not often enough to make me feel pressured to produce.  This whole new venture is supposed to be fun and relaxing and take the place of needlework which I miss so dearly..

Over the years my customers have used
my buttons in their jewelry ....such as the bluebird, frog, and goldfinch buttons here.  I have been also giving some thought to using some of the smaller painted buttons in stock in smaller pieces of jewelry...something to think about.  I have some old lockets that would work up nicely...

A long time CQ friend and button customer in Canada, Marilyn Nepper,  did the frog prince pendant with soutache.  I was amazed.

So I will be painting no more 1" buttons and focusing only on the jewelry... and glad to be moving on...

Stop by the new Etsy shop  and I hope you enjoy seeing my  efforts there. https://www.etsy.com/shop/UpcycledGemsbyGerry?ref=seller-platform-mcnav

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