Not a "get-by" gal

I have a couple more small spider pins that will be on the bag some where...not sure where just yet.  These are about 1 1/4" ... small enough to tuck anywhere.
The one on the left is beautifully crafted piece of jewelry.  Not even sure where I got them as they have been in the jewelry chest forever.

The buckle is the star of the front of the bag but this magnificent large jeweled spider brooch is the star  of the back.
You might notice it is  missing one leg.  It was that way when I bought it from a street vendor in London.  I can artfully use a leaf or flower to hide that shortcoming.

You will also notice I had planned for three cats on the back... Well actually I had thought I could "get-by" with a plain velvet back but the more I thought about it the more I wanted a magnificent back....  But now that the time is approaching I began thinking maybe I could "get-by" with just one cat on the back.

But the more I thought about it and the fact that I had three
already transferred and ready to stitch, I finally decided that I am not a "get by" kinda gal and three cats it will be.

Today I had some friends for lunch and bridge and lots of laughs.  I served cream of carrot soup... actually lots of carrots plus sweet potato, squash and red peppers also with some allspice and cardamom as well.  It was served with an fennel and apple salad and  a sour dough roll from some of GD's Alaskan starter.  People often comment that it is so far to come out to the farm but if you feed them the farm is not so far after all... and I'm glad as the company does me a world of good.


End of this side in sight!!

 The end of this side  is in sight now.  All the blues and lavenders are on.  I am really happy with the final colors.  It never looks quite true on a monitor but they are muted as I wanted.  It is ready for the white accents and beads and buttons..

But before that can happen it will have a good long stretch and blocking on a cork board.  I urge stitchers not to skip this step.  It makes such a difference in the final piece.

We have had one of the most spectacular falls that I can ever remember.  The weather was warm right until just this week and the colors have been breathtaking.  We deserved it because we were robbed of the best part of the summer by wild fires smoke.  It was so bad that most outdoor activity

was cancelled.

It's the litttle joys!!

I love the little joys that just brighten my day...  and one that does it every day with a splash of color is "Design Seeds" blog.  If you subscribe every day you receive a color palette in your blog reader list.  No sales pitch, no hard sell...just inspirational joyous color..

It is a reminder just how exciting and dramatic just subtle changes in color can be...

 These are three recent ones... The bluish purple grapes were especially timely as I've been using those colors on my spider bag.


Time to pick up the brush.....

Last spring it was getting harder to paint as my eyes tired so quickly.  I had Madison's wedding stuff to work on and then there was Morris's vacation and then time to work outside in the garden.  Then I broke my arm.   I pretty much decided to let the Etsy site sell out and shut it down.  The orders kept coming in and I am about down to 30+ buttons on the site..

But I do miss painting on my little buttons as I've been doing it for so many years... Then I spoke at the Idaho State Button Society recently and they received my buttons with such enthusiasm that I decided to rethink the entire problem...  It was a definite boost to my spirits ..The garden is put to bed, I can't drive so I have long winter hours to fill at home,  I love painting the buttons and decided if I only paint during the daylight and discipline myself to short periods of painting and actually quit when I start losing focus and getting discouraged (that will be the hard part) ....I could do this. I can!   I can! I think I can!  I will try anyway...

So I made a partial list of buttons out of stock and the list got longer and longer.  I decided to start with my favorite things on the list and go from there... You notice cats and iris are not on the list.  I struggle with both.  I have a tray of cats partially finished and will complete them and no more cats for a while... It's too late to think Christmas so will start with Valentines and Easter buttons...first doves ...I haven't painted doves for a long time and ..................maybe castles and barns... I went online and ordered some more brushes...   

Now a bit if good news.  Every visit I dread seeing the retina scan...any red or white indicates bleeding and swelling.  The right eye continued to worsen and had failed to respond to any available treatment.  As a last resort the doctor inserted a slow-release steroid implant 6 weeks ago and all that green was a welcome sight. Here is the before and after.   Does not improve vision but slows the decline.



 Here was the progress last week with just the first flowers going on.

Then the second round.  At this point I have a lot more flowers but the webs are still too obvious...  The flowers are supposed to be a stronger element than the webs... which are kind of like my little secret.

So I bring it up in my editing program on the computer  and start adding splashes of color to see what kind of balance pleases me.  I definitely want quite a few pansies and mums and the webs more enclosed..  Right now it is slow going as the silk ribbon does not pull easily through the velvet and backing.  I have to use forceps on every stitch to pull it through.. slow and hard on my arthritic hands.

My goal is to finish this side by the end of next week and start on the back....  The back is entirely different and more CQ.. same theme -cats and spiders - but a completely different approach.


A great button find......

The initial roses I did were too "pinky pink" so I redid them all in a more antique rose and added them.. 

It all looks rather disjointed now but the next step are lots of blues and purples which will bring it all together.  At the end will be some white sprays of flowers as accents.

The very last step is the spiders...

I started going through my old metal buttons looking for some that had floral images and found this one about the size of a quarter.  When I was polishing it I noticed an engraving on the back.... extra superfine Scovills.  So I looked on Google and found that if it says Scovills/ extra superfine it would date it around 1827-1840 and it was probably a ladies coat button.  It is a two part button with a heavy shank.. It will definitely find a place on the bag.


Spectacular Holiday Cranberry Trifle

This bowl is the size of a small punch bowl (one gallon) and I used to use it several times a year.... especially during the holidays but not so now since we entertain a lot less and in smaller numbers.  It was stored in the barn and just bringing in  evoked lots of great memories... how many bowls can do that?  Tomorrow we are going to a charity bridge function and I volunteered to bring a dessert to feed 20/24 people.

 This holiday trifle is perfect because, except for the whipped cream, it can all be made the day before.  In fact it is better if it is made the day before.
Cranberry sauce
Make fabulous cranberry sauce from scratch.....
6 cups cranberries
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup apple cider (or orange juice)
1 t. cardamom
1 t. allspice (I use Chinese 5 spice instead)
I did not give an alternate because there is NO good substitute for homemade cranberry sauce and it is so easy to make.

Make 4 cups rich custard from scratch or ...........

2 pkg Jello "Cook &  Serve" custard mix  with  4 egg yolks
 Do not substitute  vanilla pudding mix. Yuk!

Pound Cake
Bake large pound cake from scratch or.......
2 pound cake mixes
Mix according to directions
Bake 25 min. in four 8" cake pans

4 cups Sherry

Then it is a layer of cranberries, a layer of cake brushed with sherry, cranberries, layer of custard, layer of cake brushed with sherry, layer of cranberries, layer of custard and so on.  Then all is mounded with real whipped cream...  Because I have to transport this in the car, I am taking the whipped cream separate and applying it on site.  Because of the size of the crowd I filled this more full than usual...  Now it will sit overnight in the frig with all the flavors blending deliciously.


Vintage shoe buttons save the day...


When I do a large floral area such as this I attach the flowers one color at a time.  I start with the medium size flowers and then the larger one and finish filling in with the small one and accent stitching..

Here the yellow are the medium.  You might notice I added some colored lace besides the green leaves previously added. 

And if you hadn't been reading when I was working on this last spring.... after the flowers were made I misted them lightly  and put them in the book press for a couple days.  I was aiming to get the "smashed" look of vintage millinery flowers.  I'm not sure if I'm succeeding but still forging ahead.

My secondary goal for this project is to use a goodly amount of my most precious buttons that I have collected.  That includes the black glass and vintage metal buttons leftover from the suffrage quilt.  I keep my these buttons in these vintage office flat files... unlike all the other buttons kept in large jars in the barn.  Just below is my entire supply of seed beads.

I also want to use the last of my buttons I bought in London several years ago.  Lower right in this picture is a card of shoe buttons I bought in a tiny (and I mean micro tiny) button shop on Portobello Road.  I was told they were dyed bone but when I was removing the pin shanks one looked like dyed MOP.

I've already used all the ones I bought at "The Button Queen" which was a very upscale shop that took me forever to find.

I loved the subtle color of the shoe buttons and they are perfect centers for the yellow flowers. If you look closely at the larger picture above you will see that each one is a different color.


Let the spider bag burst into bloom.

Let the spider bag burst into bloom.  These flowers are just scattered on here but it gives you an idea how fabulous it is going to look...  I want to make more flowers from ribbon and add beads and ribbon embroidery as well.  I added a slight padding to the cat before I appliqued it on the bag...

Last spring when I started this bag I check ebay to see what a limited edition Carl Tasha's spider buckle was listed for.....$150...  Now one   is listed at $175 and considered one of his more rare buckles.. and I got it for $10 all those years ago in Colorado...

I don't know if I have ever posted about this poor little "Wednesday" dish towel.  It is from a set I embroidered when I was just seven years old.  My very first piece of embroidery and it is a miracle that one of the set has survived all these years.  My mother and her sister had just divorced their husbands at the same time.  They bought a snazzy yellow convertible and took off to California to celebrate. My mother was only 25 years old and her sister 3 years younger. To keep me quiet and occupied she bought a kit of dishtowels with the design stamped on them.  I worked on them nonstop even in the car...   It is stained and tattered but it is one of the things I want buried with me....along with my favorite needle book.


Ray of sunshine on Monday

Sometimes a ray of sunshine lands right in your life...out of the blue and unexpected.  That is what happened to me on Monday when Simone Carbonneau-Kincaid came to visit.

In late August I read about the Idaho  Button Society having a conference in June 2019 near where I live.  I tried to contact someone in charge to see I could do a presentation on my painted buttons.. It turned out the person in charge was Simone who invited me to speak last week at their local club meeting. 

All went well and she wanted to come to my house to get more material for an article for that same conference.  She was able to find out all the history behind my button painting - where, how, etc. and I dragged out lots of work for her to see.

But I also learned a lot from her as well during that visit.  First she makes these delightful button "boards" that match vintages images with vintage buttons.  This one has a Union Pacific poster surrounded by metal Union Pacific buttons.  She had done the same with postman, firemen, policemen, etc.  Both the images and the buttons were fascinating bits of Americana. I'm looking forward to seeing more of these in the future...

She was able to look at my trays of buttons and tell me how to tell which were ocean mother-of-pearl, fresh water mother-of-pearl, and green snail ocean mother-of-pearl, etc..  Something I  should have known after all these years of working with mother-of-pearl buttons.

She had written a book on vintage black glass buttons. Photographing or scanning anything black is a challenge and she had lots of tips and tricks that I will be able to use making images of my buttons.  She brought her own scanner but it turned out to be the same brand as the one I use...an Epson.

But the best thing I learned from her was one word..... I'm always telling people I love to paint on vintage mother-of-pearl because it has an inner light and glow.    It gives life to my little pieces of art like no other surface.  It turns out there is actually a name for this phenomenon - "chatoyance"  A word often used to describe qualities of certain gemstones that have  a glow just beneath the surface that shifts and reflects light.  This inner glow is specific to ocean mother-of-pearl.. and not found at all in fresh water mother-of-pearl. This quality also makes them a challenge to photograph so I will be trying some of Simone's tips... All in all a very fun, informative day with a lovely new friend...

And last night I was so tired I was ready to go to bed only to find it was 7:30... If I went to bed that early I would wake up about 2am so I decided to clean and sort a bit more in my work room and lo and behold I found the missing silk ribbon flowers...  Hooray!!!



Dining suite saga - Last chapter

Remember a while back when I posted that I had disassembled my dining area chairs to paint them and recover the seats.  Well here is the before and after of this project.  The tapestry on the seats now was a valance that I got at a thrift store.  I had to pick out a lot of stitching and get it cleaned but I love it..

My dining "area" furniture  (I don't have a proper dining room) has a long complicated back history of its own and it starts with the  chairs which I purchased in 1977 and at that time I had a long narrow table.

A year  later I purchased this sideboard.  It had long legs and was about waist high.  I didn't buy it to use in the dining room.  It was in the basement family room and I bought it because it was long and narrow and perfect base for a Victorian doll house I was building.  It is a genuine antique and I got it cheap because one drawer does not close properly. It was brown.

In 1979 I found this upper part of a china cabinet at a "ding and dent" furniture store and it was really cheap because the door was slightly warped and didn't close properly. It was brown also but a different brown than the sideboard.

So I cut the legs off the sideboard so the top would fit on it and I painted both pieces the same color.

Now a base with a drawer that didn't close properly and a top that had a door that didn't close properly seemed to me to be a match made in heaven.

Then we moved to Spokane and had no proper dining room and the long narrow table just didn't fit and I found this table at the goodwill.  It was all brown so I painted the top to match the china cabinet and left the base brown to match the chairs. And I moved the long narrow table out to the gazebo.

Besides painting the top to match the china cabinet I added roses to both pieces to seal the union.

Now the latest and last  chapter in this saga is the painting and recovering of  the chairs from 1977 and here it is all together.  Some folks just go out and buy a dining suite but mine has taken over 40 years to evolve.


Started off frustrated but ending well

GD Leigha brought me a jar of her Alaskan sour dough starter and I used it  last weekend to make luscious dinner rolls and today was the first day I was home long enough to make a multi-grain dark bread.. I was working the dough and it seemed stiff and I looked over and saw about a half cup of liquid I failed somehow to add.    Very difficult to work in more liquid at that point but I tried and wasn't sure what I'd end up with...  Probably pretty dense bread but DH and the chickens will   love it.

But things looked up as I started a Dresden Christmas Stollen ....a special treat for DH.... just like his Gma used to make.  I soaked the dried fruit and currants in an orange liqueur overnight... after I drained them to add to the dough I sipped on the sweet liqueur leftover... yum my ...special treat...  I used the stollen mold I bought in Germany last year and just love it.  It is expandable which is a very cool feature.

Since I'm making dark bread and stollen I decided to make meatball  stroganoff in the slow cooker.... a whole eastern European  kitchen day.  My secret ingredients to my meatballs is Montreal Steak Seasoning.... not really a secret as I saw it on the internet but it makes a truly tasty meatball.... and I roll them in flour before I brown them and then add beef broth, onion soup mix, and stout to them in the cooker and leave it about 4-5 hours on low before I add sour cream and noodles.  If you are a fan of using a slow cooker then you would love this book.  I found it at a thrift store last spring and use it a lot..

And an update on the "hair rebellion".  I am still resolute in letting it grow and it has been over six months now... I figure by Valentine's Day I'll be able to get it back in a clip....finally. DH has been subtly  hinting all summer that he would be glad to take me to get a hair cut... He was going to get his cut this morning and thought I should come along and get mine cut also... I declined... The longer it gets, the less subtle he will be.     This was my first attempt at taking a selfie.. seems like it should be easy but it wasn't.

Sorry to add that the missing silk flowers are still missing...


good news and bad news

Well the good news is that today I gave a slide show about painting on buttons and using them in CQ to the North Idaho Historical Button Society.  These ladies are really serious about buttons and I wasn't sure if they would be interested in my whimsical approach to buttons.  But they were warm and enthusiastic and I had a grand time and they loved all the examples of CQ I toted along especially the suffrage quilt.

Now the bad news... I'm ready to start applying the silk flowers  I made last spring to the spider bag and I can't find them anywhere.  First I started looking in all the likely places and then all the unlikely places and then the most remote possible places.  Now I'm so desperate that I'm actually starting to clean and sort.

It doesn't look like much in that bowl but there are about a hundred flowers there.  Before I give up and start making more flowers I will go ahead and do the cats for the back of the bag. These cats are small and go fast and hopefully the missing silk flowers will appear.  I found all the other parts including the bag of silk ribbons.  I remembered I took them in the book press in the barn  to flatten them and checked there too...  I just hate it when something is missing. And one thing is absolutely certain.... I have too darn much stuff.


Loving "The cat" and new Santa Image

I finished "The cat" last night and it's going to fit nicely.  It is just pinned in now and I will tidy the edges when I attach it.  I want to enlarge some of the webs as I'm not happy with them so close in size.  Then I can move on to the ribbon flowers which were mostly done from last spring when we went with Morris on his vacation to the sea..

The needlework is not as neat as I would have done in the past but I can let that go easier now.

Most of my larger CQ blocks are mounted on stiff pellon so I can pop them in a tote bag  and take them anywhere to display on stands.  I did this years ago when I was speaking at retreats and it worked well.  But I have three that were never finished that way and I am speaking at the Idaho button society on Wednesday and want to take them along to show how I use buttons.. besides just painting them. . I can't quite remember how I did it so will have to go back and refresh my memory at the tutorial I did then and maybe edit it a bit...

We had a going-away dinner for my granddaughter last night.  Her fella flew down from Alaska and it was the first time we met him.  They seem very well suited which made us happy and relieved.  I had the camera sitting right by my plate and still forgot to get a picture of them together.

Today is rainy, chilly fall day and a good day to paint so will start on my Santas.  I found another great face image  on Facebook.  Actually my niece posted it and it is her husband  Chris at Oktoberfest in Germany.  But he has the twinkle and great eyebrows..

It has been a hectic busy two weeks and I'm ready for a quiet rainy day painting as next week looks to be intense also.

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