Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Paper Bag Journals and Memory Boxes (And the Making of a Childhood Criminal)

Yesterday, in my list of weird, personal factoids I listed the fact that I truly have a paper fetish. Along with that love for all things paper is a love of collage. I also love boxes. Boxes are paper. Boxes can be covered, embellished, and transformed into treasure chests. I also love paper bags. They, too, can be transformed into a myriad of useful objects. Recently, I tried paper bag journals...that is to say, I took several lunch sized paper bags and turned them into a book, a blank canvas on which to write, paste, or decorated to my heart's content.
I took old childhood photos and made a memory book from them. Notice the picture of me on the pony. This is perhaps my favorite childhood photo. I remember how each summer, this gentleman would visit my neighborhood with his pony and for a fee would let you wear his cowgirl outfit and take pictures of you on his pony. Even my Mom has a picture of herself as a little girl in a similar situation. It must have been a fairly common occurrence in those days. Don't you miss those days? (When people were not so worried about being sued.)

Well, I am straying from the subject at hand....paper. I will tell you a little story from my childhood. It was 1964, and I was in second grade. Mrs. Klinger was my teacher. She always kept a large stack of white lined paper at the front of the room next to the pencil sharpener. Each day, whenever we would have an assignment to write, we would have to walk up to the front to get a piece of paper. Well, I would walk to the front and very stealthily take at least 10 sheets of paper each time and then hide my loot in my desk. Now, please understand, I was a really well-behaved, good kid with no tendancies toward crime. But I just could not resist taking a little more paper than was needed. I was enthralled by paper...the feel of it, the smell of it, the things you could do with it. I just couldn't get enough! It was starting to become an obsession.

One night as I lay in my bed, waiting for sleep to carry me away, I started to feel that nauseous awful feeling that comes with a guilty conscience. My paper theivery had gotten the best of me and I had to come clean. I called my Mommy into my room and bared my soul...through tears and choking...I came clean. I confessed to my ongoing obsession with paper. I admitted the ugly truth....I was a paper hoarder. And not just that, but a sneaky, stealing, paper hoarder. Amazingly, I thought, my Mom did not chastize me but instead told me that she thought it would all be allright if I just returned all of the paper to the teacher the next day. Oh sweet relief, now I could sleep. I had been absolved...or at least absolution was imminent.

The next day I marched into the classroom, cleaned out my desk and returned every last piece of paper to the pile at the front of the room (well, maybe not every piece...but most of them!) It was then that I vowed that I would work very hard in life so that some day I could afford to buy any type of paper that I desired! My life of crime was short-lived, but my love of all things paper continues still today.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Oh My, I Have Been Tagged!

I opened my e-mail to find a notice that I had been tagged by my MaryJane's Farmgirl buddy....Amy (Amyartgirl). Well, I am obligated to tag a few more people. Also included in this game is for me to write 7 unusual factoids about myself.

So, here are the rules......if you decide to play with me.

Once you are tagged, link back to the person who tagged you. Post the rules on your blog. Post 7 random or weird facts about yourself on your blog.Tag 7 people and link to them.Comment on their blog to let them know they have been tagged.

Now for the hard weird facts about myself.....and these are really weird!!!!!!!..........

1. I truly have a paper fetish. I absolutely love to hold it in my hands, write on it, cut it, glue it, you name it....I love to do it with paper!!!

2. I took formal dancing lessons...white gloves and junior high school. Every Tuesday evening I would get dressed up and don my white gloves and learn to box step, Lindy, fox trot, waltz with other pathetic adolescents like myself.

3. Here is a really weird one....I love to pick zits!!! Unfortunately (or fortunately), at my age they are few and far between.

4. I can fit 18 grapes in my mouth at one time.

5. I absolutely love Lebanon bologna (a PA thing) slathered with cream cheese...ever had a boloney roll-up???

6. I have jumped out of an airplane with a tall Dutch man strapped to my back.

7. I love to swim, and I cannot run to save my soul!

So, look out friends....I will be tagging you also!!!

Oh boy, all of my other friends have already played!!!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ending on a Positive Note

Well, in spite of this morning's little disasters, I was able to completely finish my Western Mini aprons and experiment with making dishtowels for a farmgirl swap. Here are the finished results of both. The teatowel is a work in progress...I think I will keep this one and keep experimenting on the ones for the swap. ( I need a reliable ruffler attachment...and someone to tutor me in it's use!)

Ruffled Feathers

I keep hearing the accolades of using a ruffler attachment on my sewing machine when doing "gathering". So, I bit the bullet and bought a ruffler at Hancock's Fabric. This is what it looks like attached to my machine. And this is what it looks like ready to begin ruffling...

After about 2 hours of playing with the stitch length, tension and all of the adjustable parts of the ruffler, I had successfully made 8 inches of ruffled fabric. I had also thrown away about a yard's worth of unsuccessful disasters. The climax of the experience was two metal bolts that vibrated out of the ruffler causing it to fall apart....rendering it completely useless and me unable to fix it! Drats!! Back to gathering by hand...

The Big Green Monster and Other Sad Tales

I know you are eager to see the sewing machine that I brought home from Pittsburgh. I suppose I am still in a state of shock over it! I am not sure what I expected, but what I knew was: that I was going to pick up an industrial machine that could potentially handle the felted wool that I need to assemble. This is a picture of the machine in the back of E's car. First of all, let me tell you that sucker was HEAVY! and although calling a sewing machine "ugly" seems blasphemous to me....I have to say it is UGLY. So, we load it in the back of my Element and home I drive...all the while wondering if I have made a huge mistake. (I think I might have.) The sad thing is this...the presser foot lifts no higher than my home machine... and I am unable to fit two pieces of heavy felted wool between the presser foot and the table. Well, at least the day was a beautiful one for the drive and I so enjoyed E's company. Her children are adorable. We had dinner together and visited for a while and that made the trip worth it!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Road Trip Today

This morning is a busy one...I have to quickly get the required housework finished and then finish up a few last squares for my first quilt. This quilt is a nine-patch type quilt made from fat quarters that I found on clearance. I just have to figure out a pattern to arrange them in. So far, I have 48 blocks finished.
Then, I am off to Western PA where I will meet up with Elizabeth. Elizabeth bid on and won an industrial sewing machine that was listed on Ebay. The problem is... she wound up with two machines (like that is really a problem) . I am going to relieve her of one of the machines as it will be perfect for assembling felted wool items. This also gives me an opportunity to take a treadle machine that I have been holding for my friend Jess, from Indiana, and Elizabeth will then take the treadle to Jess in Indiana. Sewing machines are serious business for us gals....and we travel all over to find just the right ones!!

Monday, January 21, 2008

On to Western Minis....

Ok, so I am jumping the gun a bit. There has not even been a sign-up for these little mini aprons...but I know it's coming and I am going to be prepared well in advance this time. So here is the beginning of my little Western Mini. I still need to add pockets and embellish (wonder where I can find a teeny tiny little holster and six shooter?). It's a start.....and a good thing to work on, on a cold day like this!
Between loads of laundry and ironing(supper is in the crockpot) I am also constructing mailing envelopes and embellishing them...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Anticipating Spring

Today we have been hit by a frigid arctic blast. The wind is whistling outside my windows. There is no sign of wildlife today.....too cold. That makes it a perfect day to sit by a crackling fire, with a hot cup of tea and pour through seed catalogs. I am planning this summer's garden. I will order the necessary items like bird netting and landscape fabric (to keep down the weeds between rows of berries and veggies). Then I am free to explore all the produce possibilities. Each year new catalogs arrive...ones that I had never seen before, and the world of possibilities grows and grows. I am thinking that this year I will order some heirloom vegetables from around the world. If I close my eyes and concentrate, I can almost feel the warm, loamy soil sifting through my fingertips and the salty-sweet juice from the first bite of a plump, rosy, ripe tomato as it drips off my chin. Ahhhhh...counting the days til Spring as the wind continues its wintery refrain.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sewing in the Land of the Lilliputians

Today I feel like Gulliver...I find myself surrounded by mini aprons. If Barbie were in need of an apron these would work nicely...that's how small they are! I have been furiously finishing up 23 of these little Valentine numbers for a swap on MaryJane's Farm. And I am excited to complete this swap because when I get back 23 different Valentine mini-aprons from all over the country, I will replace the Christmas aprons that still hang on my kitchen tree. I hope to keep swapping all year long and have appropriate mini-aprons for every season. Well, back to work...I still have 18 heart shaped yo-yo's to finish for embellishing these little aprons.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I need a title for this picture......

Photobucket I found this little nest out by the barn. It was constructed entirely of horse hair from the tail of one or more of our horses. I love how birds use whatever raw materials they can find to lovingly build their nursery. I am not sure why I thought that the crook of my old typewriter would be a good final resting place for this abandoned nest, but somehow I like the contrast. The eggs came to me by way of my Mom (her neighbor has an egg-laying cockateel) and the feathers are from our guineas. This photo seems like a still-life collage to me. Please leave me a message with a good title for this picture (by the way....anyone can leave me a comment)

Addendum: Suggested titles thus far inlude..."The Nesting Type", "Keys to Flight", "By The Letter, and "This'll Do". Wow, you guys are creative!! Any more?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Altered Ego

Ok,so today I get to be "Queen For a Day"...well, maybe queen for an hour. I have always had a fascination with collage and altered art. Add to that a love for tag art and voila: altered Me! I especially love the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote that is emblazoned across my waist..."What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us". So true, so true. Do you suppose it also took Emerson 50 years to come to this conclusion? So here is the truth - you cannot change the past and the future never arrives. There is only ever today.....Live it like a cello-playing, flower-picking, courageous, happy Butterfly Queen!!!
(PS. I play the piano, not the cello.)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Napoleon, the Wood Duck

About a quarter mile from our home is a small park with a large duck pond. All year long this pond is inhabited by a flock of non-migrating mallards, 3 Pekin ducks, and one lonely little wood duck.
I first noticed Napoleon, the wood duck, last year. He is much slighter than his compatriots with a noticeably squeaky quack. What impressed me so much about this little fellow was how desperately he tries to blend in with the rest of the gang. Most of his day is spent tirelessly paddling in double-time to catch up to the rest; only to be once again left behind when they change direction. On occasion he can be seen trying in vain to bully the others. Sadly, though, no one seems to take him seriously. This whole scene was not unlike ones that I have witnessed on child desperately seeking "friend". How many bullies are really only lonely, insecure souls?


A sudden flash of inspiration upon retiring last night led to a mild case of insomnia and new ideas that wove their threads through the fabric of my dreams. I took my copy of Artful Blogging to bed with me and entered a beautiful new world of self-expression. I have been blogging for almost a year now. Up to the point, blogging has been more like show and tell. I think I am ready for the next level. What I want to share with you is this.... a combination of my creative endeavors and the amazing inspiration that this world offers to me. I would like to journey down the road of self expression through that which I am passionate about.

Sew.....what am I passionate about? So many things! husband, my children, my friends, my animals, nature and this big beautiful world around us, my sewing (aprons of course!!), quilting, rubberstamping and altered art, writing, photography, gardening, cooking.

A word about the title: The words for the title came to me as I fell asleep. Not wishing to disturb my dear husband's slumber, I chose not to turn on the light and find the implements to write them down. Afraid that I might forget the idea by morning, I opened the drawer to my nightside stand...knowing that seeing something out of place the next morning would jog my memory. I used the word "sew" for obvious reasons and "fourth" instead of forth because this is my fourth attempt at blogging.

I have entered the second half of my life (yes, I am going to live to be 100, God willing). It is my hope that I can express my love for my family and friends thru creativity. This blog is my gift to you.
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